Paul Manafort sentenced to 47 months in Prison. TRANSCRIPT: 3/7/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Mike Quigley, Joaquin Castro
Transcript:

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  The story not over.  But by the standard of what

he was looking for and his team was looking for, quite a lenient sentence

for Paul Manafort coming out of Virginia tonight. 

 

Thanks to my entire panel for our special coverage.  This has been THE BEAT

with Ari Melber.  Don`t go anywhere.  MSNBC breaking coverage continues

right now with “HARDBALL.` 

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Four years.  Let`s play HARDBALL. 

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. 

 

We have breaking news tonight.  Just moments ago a federal judge in

Virginia sentenced Paul Manafort to four years, 47 months all together. 

That sentence that was just handed down was just moments in the eastern

district of Virginia just across the river from here where Manafort was

convicted of eight felony counts last summer. 

 

Speaking in his own defence during this hearing today, Manafort addressed

the court quote “to say I have been humiliated and shamed would be a gross

understatement.  I ask for your compassion,” well, he got it. 

 

But it could be worst for him next week for his campaign manager - for

Trump`s campaign manager for 2016 because another judge is coming next

week.  Today`s sentencing is just one of two cases against Manafort.  He

will be instanced on two additional charges of conspiracy here in

Washington D.C. next Wednesday.  That means that Manafort still face a

possible consecutive sentences up to ten more years on top of what he got

today.  This marks a stunning fall from Grace, of course, for the

President`s 2016 campaign chairman who played a crucial role in winning

Trump the White House in 2016. 

 

I`m joined by Glenn Kirschner and Paul Butler, both are former federal

prosecutors, Betsy Woodruff, a politics reporter with “the Daily Beast.” 

 

But let`s see with NBC`s Ken Dilanian who is outside of the Virginia

courthouse where Paul Manafort was just sentenced. 

 

Ken, I have to believe that this judge doesn`t much like the prosecutor,

Robert Mueller.  He faced that this guy is squeezed, Manafort.  He is being

charged and sentenced for something that wasn`t really about bank fraud. 

It`s about his association with Donald Trump.  That`s my thinking from the

outside.  What do you think?  What do you know? 

 

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER:  I

completely agree with you, Chris.  And I think that`s 100 percent clear. 

It was clear before Manafort`s trial when judge Ellis basically said as

much in comments in pretrial hearings and the only reason he thought Paul

Manafort was in the court room is because he went to work for Donald Trump. 

And he said to the prosecutions and Mueller`s team, you don`t care about

the bank fraud and tax fraud.  You only care about whether you can squeeze

him to get the President. 

 

Nevertheless, this result, a four year sentence, is a shocker because it is

so much lower than guidelines of 19 1/2 to 24 years.  I mean, there were

predictions of potentially 12 years, eight years.  I didn`t hear a single

prediction of four year in this case because, you know, not only was he

convicted of eight felonies here in this courthouse behind me, Chris, but

then he went on to commit other crimes after he was convicted.  He reached

a plea deal with the special counsel and then lied and broke the plea deal. 

 

And essentially what Judge Ellis just said is that conduct doesn`t amount

much to him.  He is going to treat Manafort like any other white collar

offender and give what many people would perceive s a relatively light

sentence. 

 

Particularly Chris, because in the statement that Manafort made to this

court, truly before being sentenced, he did not apologize.  He did not

express remorse.  He essentially talked about how painful this had been for

his family and that he had been humiliated, that he had been in solitary

confinement but not one word about by his conduct and by his crimes. 

 

It was so surprising that some people looked at him and said, well, this is

a man who expects to get a pardon or he is crippled by self-destructive

arrogance.  But that`s what happened.  Ellis did mention that he was

surprised that Manafort didn`t express regret but he didn`t reflect that in

the sentencing, whatsoever, Chris. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Ken Dilanian, we will be back to you later in this big hour

news. 

 

Anyway, the judge at Manafort sentencing right now said he disagree with

the 19 to 24 year guidelines the prosecutors wanted for Manafort, saying

these guidelines are quite high.  I think this sentencing range is

excessive.  That`s the judge talking today. 

 

The judge also said at Manafort he has been a good friend to others, a

generous person.  He has lived an otherwise blameless life.  All in the

record today in giving him a lighter sentence. 

 

I want to go to Glenn Kirschner right now.  Shocking news. 

 

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Shocking.  And I tell you, as a

former prosecutor, I`m embarrassed.  As an American, I`m upset.  Because,

you know, what did we hear Paul Manafort say after he landed the position

as Trump`s campaign chairman?  How do I use this to get hole with the

Russians?  And then Judge Ellis will basically throw that out the window in

favour of giving him a sentence so far below the guidelines that it is an

outrage. 

 

And you know, just as proud as I was to be in the courtroom when Judge

Emmitt Sullivan called out Mike Flynn for being a traitor to the country

and for disrespecting everything the flag stands for, I`m just as

disappoint would judge Ellis who apparently knows better than the

guidelines sentencing commission who said for these crimes this man

deserves 19 to 24 and he said 47 months.  It`s an outrage and it is

disrespectful of the American people. 

 

MATTHEWS:  So Paul, is it knocking off a convenience store?  This looks

pretty light, it seems to me to for the majesty of what we`re talking about

here. 

 

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  To be a rich white man in America, you

get a whole different kind of justice. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You think judge was (INAUDIBLE) because they thought he was a

regular or middle class, wealthy middle class guy. 

 

BUTLER:  Again, he got to keep two homes worth $4 million.  He was found

guilty of $30 million he basically stole from the American people, what he

didn`t report bank fraud, tax fraud.  A jury convicted him of eight counts

and then he admitted those counts of the jury didn`t convicted him of, I`m

actually guilty of those other counts as well.  And then, sensing, he

presents himself as the victim.  If his name was (INAUDIBLE) or Pedro, he

would be going up the river. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, a lot of people look at this maybe not on those terms

although we have a problem with equity in America.  But this thing about a

guy who stonewalls the case, who doesn`t give any help.  According to what

I read today in the sentencing, he gave no help to the prosecution.  All

that 50 hours they sat in those rooms, nothing came out of it.  All he fed

them was stuff he knew that Mueller already knew.  He was playing the game

and he got - you think he would be punished by some way, he can still get

pardoned for his four years. 

 

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST:  There`s no way to

interpret this sentence in any other way than Judge Ellis delivering a

stunning criticism of the Mueller investigation.  This is a federal judge

saying that Mueller and his team have been essentially misleading them,

mischaracterizing Manafort and running a prosecution that this judge

through this incredibly comparatively light sentence as you put that so

clearly that this judge is repudiating.  That`s what this is. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What his –?  What he has got to be he has spotted about

Mueller?  Is that he really thinks it`s a miscarriage or he just doesn`t

like the Democrats climbing on or rolling up the square?  What (INAUDIBLE)? 

 

BUTLER:  The concern he has expressed is that this case has nothing to do

with collusion or obstruction of justice which is Mueller`s mandate.  But

when the - Mueller is investigating and he finds evidence that Paul

Manafort is a stone cold thug, what he supposed to do?  Is he supposed to

ignore that?  So he did what he should do, what other prosecutors would do

which is present the evidence to a jury. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s not forget the language of the mandate says also beyond

the collusion any matters of crime that came up in the investigation to

come across. 

 

BUTLER:  Exactly.  So Judge Amy Berman Jackson our nation turns its lonely

eyes to you.  Next week in that sentencing, you have the power to correct

this tragic injustice. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Channelling Paul Simon.  Thank you. 

 

Let`s go to Ari Melber who has being held over here for this because of

this big news tonight. 

 

You and I have been watching this case.  We thought it was developing into

a story of massive sentencing.  He was going to get a big sentencing

tonight of maybe 15 years, 18 years and on top of that, perhaps a

consecutive sentencing by the judge next week here in D.C.  Now he starts

with four.  Does that mean he ends up at 10, do you think like Glenn

suggesting or does it mean we are going to get more compassion next week? 

 

MELBER:  He could definitely get more years.  You guys are ripping on Paul

Simon.  I think the question about judge Ellis tonight is he a one-trick

pony who is constantly giving the prosecutors a hard time and there can be

prosecutorial overreach, Chris. 

 

But look.  If Americans have been going to law school throughout the

Mueller probe and learning all of these different things as we go, tonight

is one of those night where as your panel just hammered, we all remember

what we learn about our legal system in America.  It does not operate with

equal force for anyone.  And Paul Manafort got the special clubby (ph)

Washington elite, friendly treatment for individual who had stacks and

stacks and stacks of crimes.  And the only reason he was convicted of

crimes in multiple places is because our system found him guilty of

felonies in multiple places. 

 

MATTHEWS:  My father worked for the court system in up here.  He was the

dean of the court reporters for 37 years.  And he always said to me if you

are guilty, get a jury because you can never forget a jury.  He said get a

judge if you are innocent because might be able to get off on that because

the judge will look at the facts and there will be no emotion.  But looks

like this guys has emotions. 

 

KIRSCHNER:  Yes, this guy had emotion and for all the wrong reasons.  And I

agree with Paul.  If this defendant was a young minority who robbed

somebody or burglar the house he would probably go away –. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What do they mean by otherwise blameless life?  He has been a

lobbyist for the pro Russian people trying to kill the Ukrainian republic. 

That`s what he`s been doing. 

 

KIRSCHNER:  And Chris, was he blameless when he caught his first felony

charged and then what did he do?  He started tampering with witnesses. 

That`s what got him step back by judge Amy Berman Jackson.  Thank goodness

Judge Jackson, sitting in the federal court in Washington D.C. can now

clean this up unjust mess that Judge Ellis made. 

 

MELBER:  And Chris, I can imagine, people who are watching are wondering,

what are the point of guidelines if you get 19 to 24 and you come in at

around four years, what is the point of the guidelines, right?  And this is

the larger debate.  But the problem is yes, you could find an exemption

that someone who is really, really sorry and a first time offender and did

all the right things might be a candidate.  But why would Paul Manafort

given everything that everyone knows and everything that has been displayed

and everything that he did post-conviction to continue to try to lie to

Mueller and upset the system and obstruct justice, why would he be a

candidate for this?  It something is off here. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I will start with you because you can do politics and

everything, all right. 

 

Let me ask you this.  Trump is watching this in real time.  He is having

dinner tonight.  He is watching on TV, he watching on FOX.  And he is

learning that his guy he though was going to face real bad time, maybe 15

to 18, whatever you said, more next week, he seems getting, you  know, a

much better deal.  You know, he is older man but still it is a pretty good

deal knowing that you are going to be out in four, at least as of this

week.  Is he going to get a pardon now to wipe away the four years?  Is he

more less likely to pardon him now? 

 

MELBER:  I don`t know if he`s more likely.  I know that there were reports

that Rudy Giuliani is that White House now.  There`s a lot of pardon talk. 

I do think that as a public matter, the shorter the sentence, the more that

people will have the association or the idea that perhaps it wasn`t that

serious.  Although, we have documented exactly how serious it was. 

 

If he gets the maximum, Paul Manafort, next week in Washington full ten

years, that would put him at about 14 years and he would still be under the

guidelines for what normal people who are not viewed as friendly by a judge

would get tonight in Virginia. 

 

But I think Chris, your are putting your heart on the matter where this

heads, which is, is this the kind of sentence, depending on what happens

next week that gives Manafort and other people who are on the wrong side of

Mueller, the idea, that even before they get to Trump they may have

sentences they can beat, sentences they can lived through get out in good

behavior and sill be alive at the end of it.  So I do think this has real

precaution potentially for where this all heads. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I have been watching this.  So everybody who watch

this probably this trial, Paul.  And the way these guys commute the

sentencing, I mean, Bill Cosby.  He comes at his point, lowest point, I

don`t know.  Then Manafort comes in with his wheelchair.  Michael Cohen

brings his daughter in.  Everybody is - I mean, the performance.  The

clothing choices today by Manafort, the wheelchair, the jump suit or

whatever it was.  Some white shirt underneath it.  What is this?  Is this

gamesmanship or what? 

 

BUTLER:  You can`t argue with success.  It worked for Paul Manafort.  He

got slap on the wrist. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

BUTLER:  In part, you know, we can think about collusion.  One of the

things we know Paul Manafort is that when he was he campaign chair, he

handed private polling data to a Russian operative.  And he –. 

 

MATTHEWS:  To help the Russians collude.  To help the Russian interrupt our

campaign. 

 

BUTLER:  Yes.  And the judge in D.C. found out that he lied about that even

after he was convicted.  This is a thug and he needs be put under the jail

and this judge did exactly the opposite. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk to you about the whole political things.  The

headlines tomorrow in the paper.  I still think of the paper the next day

what it`s going to be.  Light sentence for Manafort, right? 

 

WOODRUFF:  No question. 

 

MATTHEWS:  The president says - with his crowd of 47 percent in this

country believed in him say, hey, must have been pretty innocent.  Ten

percent of tea pipe, right?  This is no big deal.  Four years he knocked

off a candy store.  What are we talking about here? 

 

WOODRUFF:  Absolutely. 

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s the way he is going to ring out in the country. 

 

WOODRUFF:  The criticism of Mueller based on what this judge has ruled,

those criticism is right themselves.  That said one thing I can tell you if

we have numerous conversations with people close to Manafort over the last

couple of days leading up to this is that one thing they are quite

concerned about is first off what judge Jackson is going to say.  There is

still a high level of tension even after those sentences has come down. 

That Manafort will end up spending the bulk of his life in prison. 

 

And then in addition to that, they are very much wonders when it comes to

what state attorney general can do.  We know that attorney generals in

several different states have potentially eyed against Manafort if he were

pardoned, illegally, that puts him in some kind –. 

 

MATTHEWS:  There`s a double jeopardy. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go in to this whole question next week.  The judge next

week can compensate for the leniency to put it lightly.  Explain. 

 

KIRSCHNER:  Yes.  And she will. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Consecutive sentences. 

 

KIRSCHNER:  And she will give him a consecutive sentence and he will punish

him appropriately for what he did.  The crimes that he was convicted of,

the crimes that he admitted to and the witness tampering which strikes at

the very heart of the integrity of our criminal justice system.  How Judge

Ellis said he has lived a blameless life when he tried to tamper with

witnesses and get them to lie even after he was charged with felony

offenses, I just I find that incomprehensible. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s go to Malcolm Nance, one of our great colleagues here who

wrote “the Plot to Destroy Democracy” is that grieve is what you heard

right now in the judge`s sentencing, this leniency? 

 

Look.  He has given about one in five years that the guidelines provide,

one in five.  That is a deal for not talking, for stonewalling, for

tampering for witnesses, his reward is a real break.  That is his reward

for going on the wrong stuff. 

 

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM EXPERT (on the phone):  Reward is an

excellent way of putting this because as you know the parameters of his

conviction are all of the activities that he did leading up to where he

became the campaign manager for Donald Trump.  And this is working for

foreign dictators.  This is working for the Kremlin government and Ukraine. 

And for him to have stolen money from the people of the United States and

now gets to walk away, as Paul Butler said earlier, with two houses worth

millions of dollars and to walk away from this and put him in the ball park

of a pardon shows that this is a breach of justice. 

 

Now the judge is about the exact same age as Paul Manafort.  And maybe he

felt that sympathy.  But this man does not have a blameless life.  And

right now, this place is in jeopardy.  People has trust in the system. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Great.  Well, let me get back to the question here. 

 

I can start with you on this, Malcolm.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend. 

This judge doesn`t like Robert Mueller, doesn`t like the prosecution. 

Doesn`t matter - used the way they have got that evidence so far and all

these prosecutions, all of these convictions so far.  They had played

HARDBALL, this prosecutor.  He has been hired to do the job, get the bad

guys, including crimes which have been unearthed as part of the

investigation, going after Manafort for that reason. 

 

Why is he so sympathetic on Manafort?  Is it his way of saying screw you to

Robert Mueller?  Enemy of my enemy is my friend? 

 

NANCE:  I think it`s less - more of a screw you to Robert Mueller than

essentially that he feels the American system of government has a separate

rail and that this rail should apply to people like Paul Manafort.  He

transmitted that punch by his blameless lies statement. 

 

I`m not so sure if it`s all about Robert Mueller or the prosecution itself. 

Because we really haven`t seen Mueller`s punch related to conspiracy and

other charges that could have been added on to this.  This is about his

money laundering.  And to certain extent that money laundering and this

theft of money from the people of the United States really don`t seem to

matter to the judge.  And he is obligated the system that we came to trust. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, last month, the federal judge overseeing Manafort`s case

in Washington one coming up next week ruled that Manafort lied to

prosecutors about his communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business

associate with ties to Russian intelligence specifically Manafort liked

about sharing internal campaign polling data with Kilimnik.  And discussing

a so-called peace plan for Ukraine that would benefit Russia.  In other

words, to screws the Ukraine. 

 

Among their contacts, there was a meeting at the grand Havana room, the

cigar lounge up in New York.  I think it is in 6th Avenue on August of

2016.  A meeting that included Rick Gates who is cooperating with

prosecutors. 

 

As Mueller`s prosecutor told the court that meeting and what happened on

that meeting was of significance to the special counsel of ruling that

Manafort lied about those context last month, the judge in that ruling and

the judge questioned his loyalty to the United States saying this is a

problematic attempt to shield his Russian conspirator from liability and it

gives rise to legitimate questions about where his loyalties lie. 

 

Let`s bring in David Corn, the Washington bureau to “Mother Jones” and an

expert on this whole Russian thing, the whole escapade. 

 

The facts they had that meeting.  I think I went there one night with

somebody, someone who is at NBC.  And I got to tell you something.  It`s an

interesting setting.  It is all sort of very comfortable chair.  Mostly men

I think sitting there, smoking expensive stogie.  They chose that setting,

to me, because they figured would be protected from public observation and

now to say nothing happened there.  Tell me what it was about, David?  Tell

me (INAUDIBLE) of that meeting that Manafort has never come clean on? 

 

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES:  Yes.  And this is not

part of what Manafort was charged with.  But it has come out in the

prosecution of this case.  And as direct example of collusion as you would

want. 

 

Paul Manafort at the behest of a Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska who

is close to Putin`s regime was leading with Konstantin Kilimnik who is

alleged by FBI to have Russian intelligence contacts, and what are they

discussing?  They are discussing a so-called peace plan for Ukraine, which

is really a pro-Putin, pro-Moscow peace plan that could lead to the lifting

of sanctions on Russia imposed by the U.S. and the European Union.

 

So, think about this.  While Manafort is running the campaign for Donald

Trump, and – this is important – while Russia is attacking the election

to help Donald Trump, he`s sitting down with a Russian intermediary and

talking about a plan that could help Russia get rid of the sanctions. 

 

If they`re not stating this out quid pro quo directly, it sure raises the

possibility that that`s what they`re all thinking about.  And it`s a pity

that, in the Mueller filings, that we don`t have more details on this.

 

And I`m sure hoping that, if Mueller doesn`t get to the bottom of this with

any report, that Adam Schiff and others in Congress will tell us what went

on there and whether there was this grand deal between the Trump campaign,

or at least its manager, and people acting on behalf of the Kremlin. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back – thank you so much, David Corn. 

 

Let me get back to Ari, my colleague.

 

Ari, it seems to me that all this does end up connected.  We`re talking

about a judge giving a guy a light sentence and saying he has had an

otherwise shameless life, when, in fact, we know what his life was about

was selling U.S. influence, working on behalf of the bad guys in Russia,

the oligarchs, including Putin, against the – in this case the legitimate

Republic of Ukraine, which has tried to be independent, and Putin wants

back in the Soviet empire.

 

That`s how big this story is.  He wants to rebuild the Soviet empire that

he misses dearly.  And part of getting it back is hiring, well, people that

work for money, like this guy, and they – Manafort, Paul Manafort.  He`s a

mercenary.  They hire an American mercenary to use his influence in the

Congress and in the United States government to rebuild the Soviet empire.

 

I mean, this is something that`s damn serious. And it`s not just about a

judge having warm feelings about somebody his age. 

 

MELBER:  It`s as serious as a heart attack.  And these are convicted

felonies.

 

This is not one of those stories at the beginning where we talk about the

presumption of innocence on both sides.  We`re at the end, convicted of, as

you just described, something with serious national security implications,

which is why this kind of trading is illegal, why you have to declare when

you are doing foreign lobbying, because we have laws that say, we don`t

want people running a campaign for president while working for foreigners

without everyone knowing about it. 

 

There are good reasons for this, as you say, Chris.  And so I think it`s

quite, quite serious to see that all laid out in open court, and then have

this sort of mind-set, whether you want to call it a certain elite Beltway

mind-set, or what some political folks call the swamp, the mind-set that

this should be dismissed, that this was OK, that this was business as

usual, that this was – quote, unquote – “blameless.”

 

It`s not blameless.  That`s why there`s so many felonies.  And if Paul

Manafort was, as he claimed before the court today, under penalty of

perjury, if he is so humiliated, as he said, when was he humiliated, Chris?

 

Was he humiliated when he first got caught and he kept fighting it?  Was

humiliated when he lied to the prosecutors on the Mueller team and said he

would help them, and then lied to their face and committed new felonies,

which have been proven in court?  Was he humiliated when he kept back-

channel conversations going, allegedly, with Donald Trump`s White House

team for whatever reason, trying to feed misinformation to the Mueller

probe on a matter of legal and national security?

 

When exactly did he have his change of heart?  Judge Ellis spoke from the

bench tonight and said:  I was surprised you didn`t express repentance. 

But you get four years out of 20 anyway. 

 

I mean, I think there`s a lot of surprises here.  And the judge has this

power under our system.  As we often say, if we don`t like certain

outcomes, you need to look back at the rules and why our system is so

tilted in ways that are racial…

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

MELBER:  … in ways that are – have to do with class and money and race. 

We know all that.  We have covered all that. 

 

But bottom line, to your point, Chris, these are serious crimes, and

they`re not getting a very serious punishment. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Excuse me, Ari.

 

Let`s listen to the lawyer for Manafort.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was

involved with any collusion with any government official from Russia. 

 

Thank you, everybody. 

 

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s all he had to say. 

 

Thank you. 

 

Go ahead, Ari.

 

MELBER:  I think we were just listening, as you said, Chris, to Kevin

Downing, Paul Manafort`s longtime lawyer.

 

That message right there, that wasn`t for the judge.  That certainly wasn`t

for next week, where he`s in trouble on other crimes.  We just heard a

denial of something he`s not charged with, which goes back to your

organizing question earlier on the broadcast on HARDBALL, Chris.

 

Who`s the audience?  Is this for a Trump pardon audience?  Because they`re

out there denying collusion. 

 

I will tell you this.  And I`m not here to second-guess Mr. Downing.  He

obviously got a good result today in court for his client.  But I will tell

you this.  They don`t need to deny collusion for next week`s hearing, which

is their only legal priority.

 

If they`re out on this front steps, as we just heard, denying collusion,

that`s for a different audience. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, look, he got four years for not telling the truth, four

years for basically stonewalling, four years for not apologizing.  If he

had done any of that, he would have got a trip to Disneyland out of this

judge.

 

Anyway, thank you, Ari Melber. 

 

MELBER:  Thank you. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You`re great on this stuff.

 

MELBER:  Appreciate it, Chris. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I want to thank – bring in, by the way, Democratic Congressman

Mike Quigley of Illinois, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. 

 

Congressman, you have been with us a lot of times on this conversation

about Russia, all the criminality involved that the special counsel is

looking at, the House Judiciary Committee is ultimately going to judge on

in terms of impeachment. 

 

What happens when you see that the criminal courts give this guy this

break, one in five years?

 

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS:  You know, my ears are still ringing with

the “lock her up, lock her up,” my Republican colleagues shouting in

Cleveland a little over two years ago.  And now we`re at this point in

time. 

 

Look, the system is going to frustrate us.  But we can`t give up.  We

remember there`s still next week.  And I do want to take the word collusion

out of our vocabulary for a while. 

 

This isn`t collusion.  This is a conspiracy.  It was a conspiracy to attack

the democratic process of the United States.  And those people closest to

the president of the United States were involved.

 

And, fundamental – I think it`s a point your guests were getting to – is,

it goes well beyond the criminal activities of those surrounding the

president.  It goes to whether the president was involved in those criminal

activities and whether those activities influenced the policy of the United

States, between Flynn and the Saudis, Mr. Cohen and Trump Tower with the

Russians, and clearly now with Ukraine and Mr. Manafort.

 

Is the United States less safe because of this conspiracy?

 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I look at this thing, it`s just like a criminal – or

a mystery story.  But it`s not so mysterious, because, in Cleveland, which

you just mentioned, at the Republican National Convention, the – magically

– magically, the Republican platform that most people don`t pay much

attention to was rewritten by mysterious forces to advance the causes of

Vladimir Putin, against the legitimate government of Ukraine. 

 

Why would something like that happen under the good offices of Paul

Manafort, who works for the pro-Russian forces against Ukraine`s forces?  I

mean Ukraine`s interests.  Doesn`t – don`t we get fingerprints?  I mean,

it seems to me there`s – follow the signature.

 

Who changed that?  And there was Manafort taking credit for all this.  I`m

sure he took credit to his – to his clients.  They know what he did.  Are

we going to find out?

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

QUIGLEY:  We are going to find that.

 

We have the gavels.  And there`s nothing to block us from the truth.  At

this point in time, it`s important that we reflect on just what you`re

talking about here.

 

The fact of the matter is, from day one, it was about this extraordinary

connection with Russia and Ukraine, an area that they were attempting and

have been attempting to dominate.  And the fact the matter, it just – it

was changing the new world order in presidents` policies from – designed

after World War II.

 

The new world order is under attack by its – its primary architect.  And

we have to address that.

 

Remember, Mr. Mueller and the Southern District of New York have different

responsibilities than the House Intel Committee and Judiciary and

Oversight.  Mr. Mueller and others` job is to decide who to bring to

justice. 

 

Our job is to find out who attacked the democratic process, who conspired

with them, and to educate and inform the American public. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about obstruction of justice right now today.  It`s a

good time to do it, after this light sentencing of Paul Manafort, the

president`s campaign chair and his – and his convention chair.  He ran the

convention for the president.

 

It seems to me that Donald Trump has made it clear from the beginning he

doesn`t want justice.  He basically goes to the head of the FBI and says,

lay off my friend Michael Flynn because of these meetings he`s had with the

Russians. 

 

He had his picture taken over there with Putin.  Lay off the guy.  He`s a

good guy.  Lay off of those meetings he had with Kislyak.  Lay off him. 

And when the – when the FBI director didn`t play ball with Trump, he fired

him.

 

And then he goes and fires his attorney general because he dared to recuse

himself.  Under Justice Department rules, he can`t be involved in

adjudicating a – or prosecuting a matter that he was personally involved

in, running Trump for president.

 

All along the line, he`s obstructed.  What more do you guys need to

impeach? 

 

QUIGLEY:  Look…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  It seems to me we have got this broad daylight robbery of our

Constitution right in front of our faces and all the other stuff with

Russia, working for the other side.  And they are the other side, the

Russians.

 

All this stuff`s been going on in plain daylight.  It`s all there.  What

more do you guys want? 

 

QUIGLEY:  You forgot the dangling of pardons. 

 

It was interesting to me when they were referencing whether or not someone

was seeking a pardon.  I don`t think anyone needed to seek.  I think the

president of the United States foretold, the pardons he gave the sheriff in

Arizona, in the same way he foretold and offered these promises of pardons

and dangling of pardons to people for some time now. 

 

So, look, we take that very seriously.  But if we had listened to those who

wanted to move forward with impeachment when they initially started, we

wouldn`t have had any of this information about Mr. Cohen, Mr. Manafort and

Mr. Flynn.

 

I do believe we are getting close to a point where we have enough

information.  But, again, as a criminal defense attorney for 10 years, I

can`t say strongly enough, you don`t stop an investigation when you think

you have enough.  You stop an investigation when you have found out exactly

what took place. 

 

Just this last week, we learned a considerable amount from Mr. Cohen.  And

I believe there will be key witnesses that follow that will give us an

extraordinary amount of information. 

 

This isn`t just about deciding whether we have enough as well.  It`s also

the court of public opinion, which I believe will drive our – any

opportunity we have toward this end in the United States Senate. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, nothing`s going to crack the Republican phalanx.  Don`t

wait for that to happen, Congressman, because they`re at 88 percent, and

climbing.  The more guilty Trump looks, the more they`re with him. 

 

Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Michael Quigley of Illinois.

 

QUIGLEY:  Thank you.

 

MATTHEWS:  By the way, last month, Robert Mueller`s prosecutors floated the

idea that Manafort lied because he hopes to be pardoned by the president.

 

Asked about that prospect last summer, Trump praised Manafort as a good

person. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

QUESTION:  Will you pardon Paul Manafort?

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t talk about that.  I

don`t talk about that. 

 

I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad, when you look at what`s going

on there.  I think it`s a very sad day for our country.  He worked for me

for a very short period of time.  But you know what?  He happens to be a

very good person.

 

And I think it`s very sad what they have done to Paul Manafort.  Thank you

very much.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  It wasn`t a short period of time.  It was the entire time he was

running the campaign.

 

Anyway, Trump was more direct about a pardon late last year, telling “The

New York Post”: “I wouldn`t take it off the table.  Why would I take it off

the table?” 

 

Anyway, Congressman Joaquin Castro, Democrat from Texas, joins us right now

on the phone.  He`s on the House Intelligence Committee.

 

Congressman, you`re part of this whole effort to try to get to the justice

here.  How did today help or hurt the cause of justice and truth? 

 

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS:  Oh, well, I mean, I think it makes clear

that the president has been surrounding himself, and at the highest levels

of his organization and his campaign, with people who have lied, people

that have associated with Russian agents, folks that have engaged in

witness tampering. 

 

And I think this continues to be the tip of the iceberg.  Even – I know

that Mike was just on.  And he talked about the interview that we had with

Michael Cohen this week.  And from what I heard, I believe that there will

still be more indictments to come. 

 

I think that the information I heard leads me to believe that the president

– members of the president`s family could be in legal jeopardy.  So, I

think that there`s still a good bit of investigation to do. 

 

And I also think that we will probably see more prosecutions. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think`s coming before we get a full report from

Robert Mueller?

 

I mean, the defendant has had a good day today and in a Virginia court,

four years, instead of 18 or so, one in five years.  But what do you make

of the fact we have been reading a lot about this, about Ivanka could be –

Ivanka could be in trouble, Jared more so, perhaps?

 

Are they facing prosecution? 

 

CASTRO:  I think so.

 

I think that there are folks that could be – could be prosecuted for lying

to Congress.  There`s certainly testimony that I have heard now that

contradicts what was told to us by Donald Trump Jr., for example. 

 

So, yes, I do think that there is – there is a legal jeopardy for some

members of President Trump`s family.

 

MATTHEWS:  Is anything leaking out of the special counsel`s operation that

gives you more confidence that something like that is coming imminently,

prosecution of other individuals, including those in the president`s

family?

 

CASTRO:  That`s hard to say, Chris, because they have run a pretty tight

ship over there.  And they have run an independent investigation, even from

the congressional investigations. 

 

But, based on what I have heard, I think that – and I`m sure that the

special counsel knows everything that Congress knows at this point.  I

think it would be hard for them, as prosecutors, to ignore what seems like

compelling evidence that some folks knew more than they admitted to when

they testified before Congress.

 

I was saying months ago that I thought eventually Roger Stone would be

indicted.  And, I mean, that doesn`t seem like too big a surprise, but, for

a long time, it didn`t happen.  And then, finally, it did happen. 

 

And I think the same could be true about some members that are – that are

closer to President Trump. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think Roger Stone`s probably in the business of judge-

shopping right now, because, when you get deals like this today, you may

look for one of those for yourself. 

 

He, by the way, is his old business partner of Manafort. 

 

Congressman, thank you so much, Joaquin Castro of Texas, for coming on

tonight. 

 

CASTRO:  Thank you.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, sir. 

 

Let me go – let me go to Glenn on this. 

 

Let`s wrap this up.  Where`s this heading now?  We got the news.  Headlines

tomorrow, this guy gets a soft treatment by the judge.  Next week, he faces

another judge who has a different attitude. 

 

KIRSCHNER:  So, I`m a big believer in the judiciary, but what we just saw

was an unjust result. 

 

However, Bob Mueller will get the last laugh.  And here`s why.  When David

Corn a few minutes ago talked about the Havana Room meeting…

 

MATTHEWS:  The cigar bar.

 

KIRSCHNER:  The cigar bar, where they`re meeting with Kilimnik, where

Manafort is giving over polling data, that is circumstantial evidence of a

conspiracy to defraud the United States, to undermine our free and fair

elections. 

 

Everybody has confused Mueller`s silence on the conspiracy with a lack of

evidence on the conspiracy.  He`s saving the best and the biggest and the

central charge for last. 

 

And I agree with what`s been said.  A conspiracy indictment is coming.  And

don`t be surprised if we see Paul Manafort on the receiving end of the

unusual hat trick of federal cases, because he may get rolled into that.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Paul.

 

What would you need to prove this in court, that the president, as sort of

a RICO-type leader, a ringleader, he`s got people meeting with Russians,

and they`re talking about advancing the Russian cause in terms of Ukraine,

getting rid of sanctions, laying off them in terms of their territorial

ambitions, to put it lightly?

 

How much does he have to say, go do this, and how much does he just have to

say, just keep checking in with me on that stuff?  What does he have to

know about it? 

 

BUTLER:  We know that Robert Mueller believes that Roger Stone communicated

information about the hacked e-mails to Donald Trump. 

 

Now, I do think it`s not enough for Trump to just know about that.  But if

he was involved in any way with how those e-mails were deployed, then he is

a co-conspirator with those Russians who stole it. 

 

MATTHEWS:  He`s advancing the conspiracy.

 

BUTLER:  And, again, I think the next step will be Donald Trump Jr.

 

If there`s justice in America – again, Mueller has indicted Roger Stone

and Michael – Michael Cohen for lying to Congress.  According to the

Democrats on the Hill, Donald Trump Jr. told those same lies.

 

What this verdict today means is that we`re not guaranteed equal justice

under the law in the United States.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

BUTLER:  If Mueller wants to prove that that`s not true, he needs to let

everybody know that Don Jr. isn`t getting a break because he`s the

president`s son.

 

If other people commit crimes, and Mueller indicts them, then he needs to

indict Don Jr.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Betsy on a political – larger question – I hate

to say larger than justice, but it`s politics – are the Democrats nervy

enough to go after the president`s kids?

 

Now, I even heard – heard that today they may be a little – a little

dodgy on this.  Oh, my God if we go after the kid, he will explode.  And on

the other hand, are some Democrats who are really political saying, we

don`t mind if he explodes, because these kids have done something wrong,

and we`re going after them?  If he explodes, fine.

 

Which way are they?

 

WOODRUFF:  The Democratic – the House Democratic Caucus is not a monolith.

 

There are some members who are very, very keen, especially to go after

Ivanka Trump, who wasn`t even listed on that 81-number list.

 

MATTHEWS:  I think Elijah Cummings is looking at the family.

 

WOODRUFF:  She`s very much someone who some members believe they aren`t

doing enough to scrutinize.

 

At the same time, a bunch of new Democrats in the House won in districts

that Republicans have traditionally held.  They`re politically more

moderate.  They`re worried about their reelections.

 

And if they – and if they believe that they can be accused of being part

of a family-focused witch-hunt, which is an allegation Republicans will

level, whether it`s valid or not – that`s something that`s coming. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

WOODRUFF:  They are weighing the political costs there. 

 

So it`s certainly something that`s caused some tension and friction within

the Democratic Conference.  How exactly do they handle this very

politically complex question of going after somebody`s kids?

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

I think the kids – I met them years ago, and they were very well-mannered

and well-brought-up and all.  But they are so much a part of his operation

now.  The nepotism doesn`t work.

 

WOODRUFF:  Right.  They aren`t just kids.

 

MATTHEWS:  In most cases, it doesn`t work.

 

WOODRUFF:  They aren`t just kids.

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you so much, Betsy. 

 

Anyway, thank you, Glenn Kirschner.  Thank you for your passion about

justice here.  And, Paul Butler, the same.  You guys know your stuff.  And

you also care.  And that matters.

 

Betsy Woodruff, thank you so much for your reporting.

 

Ken Dilanian, my colleague, fabulous having you over there tonight for this

rock-`em, sock-`em bit of pathetic news.

 

Let`s bring in Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern

District of Michigan. 

 

Barbara, you have been in there watching this thing.  Tell me, were you

surprised by the appeal for compassion, the fact he wore the jumpsuit, he

comes in, in a wheelchair?  I mean, this is sort of Edward Bennett Williams

sort of stuff.  This is theater or the highest level here.  Did it work?

 

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  It may have worked. 

 

It seemed that Judge Ellis did take some time in considering what the

sentence ought to be, and imposed what I consider a really shockingly low

sentence of 47 months.  I mean, it`s far lower than the 19 to 21 years that

he could have been facing.

 

Judge Ellis has a reputation for being somewhat lenient in white-collar

cases.  And he sure proved that to be the case tonight. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, thank you so much, Barbara McQuade, for that expertise we

need. 

 

We`re going to go right now to John Brennan, who joins us right now. 

 

John Brennan, thank you…

 

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  Good evening, Chris. 

 

MATTHEWS:  … the former director of intelligence, CIA.

 

What do you make this?  Look, we got to, as we say in our business, segue

now.  We have got to go – we can`t ignore what just happened tonight. 

It`s not your bailiwick.  It`s justice, though, and it`s America. 

 

This justice apparently gave this guy a pretty good deal today. 

 

BRENNAN:  Yes, it`s an extraordinarily lenient sentence, in light of the

extent and scope of Mr. Manafort`s criminality.

 

It just shows that there`s a lot of power vested in the hands of judges.  I

think this sentence says a lot more about Judge Ellis than it does about

Paul Manafort. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What`s it say? 

 

BRENNAN: It says that he has an attitude towards a person of Paul

Manafort`s ilk who has defrauded the government, as was demonstrated. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Does he know what a mercenary is, this judge?  I mean, the guy

who`s basically take on a career to make a lot of money defending the bad

guys in Central Europe.  You`re basically taking people who are – you`re

working for somebody who wants to crush the independence of Ukraine on

behalf of a tyrant, Putin. 

 

BRENNAN:  Well, that`s what the guidelines, you know, calling for many more

years.  Guidelines are used for a reason.  But obviously, Judge Ellis felt

that he could just decide unilaterally on this one. 

 

MATTHEWS:  He said he`s had an otherwise blameless life except for jury

tampering. 

 

BRENNAN:  Well, that is just mind-boggling, you know, why he would say that

Paul Manafort has an otherwise blameless life.  I mean, Paul Manafort has

demonstrated track record of criminal, unethical, unprincipled behavior. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s talk about the way these things work together.  The

way in which the Russian probe, which continues, as it well stated by

(INAUDIBLE), it`s really about a conspiracy that was advanced by Americans. 

Begun by Russians, advanced by Americans, co-worked on this stuff.

 

BRENNAN:  Yes, it was – 

 

MATTHEWS:  I mean, selling out your country

 

BRENNAN:  Yes, a number of U.S. persons still work with the Russians in one

form or another, I think it`s been demonstrated now that there was this

active engagement.  And I`m hoping and I believe that Bob Mueller and his

team were going to uncover a lot more that is unknown. 

 

I think as got mentioned, there is a lot that special counsel`s office has

been involved –

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you smell coming between now and the final report from

Mueller? 

 

BRENNAN:  I smell more indictments. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Family members? 

 

BRENNAN:  Well, I believe that if there are going to be family members

indicted by the special counsel, it would be the final raft of indictments,

because I think Bob Mueller and his team know that if they indict somebody

of the Trump family, that Donald Trump would not allow Bob Mueller to

continue.

 

So, I think on the conspiracy side –

 

MATTHEWS:  You think he`d fire the guy? 

 

BRENNAN:  Oh, yes, absolutely.  I think criminal conspiracy and family

members.

 

MATTHEWS:  This gets to the heart of the whole thing the connecting rods of

the whole thing.  You`ve got presidential offspring and in-laws, basically

the son-in-law, who were refused FBI clearances.  I mean, everybody gets in

the Peace Corps gets – maybe not for the highest level, a top security. 

 

But what was it?  People have speculated his relationship with the crown

prince in Saudi Arabia, too tight with Netanyahu, too tight with the

Emirates.  Was it business dealings?  The fact that the president`s own

daughter couldn`t get a top security. 

 

What does that smell like to you?  Why would that happen?

 

BRENNAN:  I don`t and I think we have to be careful about speculating too

much here, because Ivanka –

 

MATTHEWS:  Chief of staff to the president and his lawyer both went along

with the FBI said, don`t give these people clearances. 

 

BRENNAN:  Right, there was something clearly that could not be resolved by

the investigators.  But yet, Donald Trump decided to overrule that

component, whether it was the FBI or somebody else, as well as his chief of

staff and the White House counsel, decide to overrule it for nepotism

purposes, to give those clearances.  So, I think it again says a lot about

Donald Trump and how he just totally tramples the system and process and

whatever integrity the system has. 

 

So, again, I don`t know what it is, that Jared Kushner or Ivanka had in

their past or their concerns about.  Financial entanglements with foreign

entities is something the investigators will look very carefully at because

they don`t want individuals with this nation`s secrets to be in any

situation that could be compromised because of those relationships that

they have. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you see him – it`s always hard to make references in history

who Trump is.  I mean, I think of him as someone who`s come in to our

system, trashed NATO, trashed our alliances, made friends – publicly

flirting with people like North Korea`s Kim Jong-un, publicly flirting to

his family with MLB, or whatever his name, over in Saudi Arabia, a killer

of an American journalist.  Flaunt all of the rules of what we thought of

ourselves as a good guys of the world, and we hung around with other good

guys, and we fought bad guys, either through diplomacy or war, whatever it

took, or containment, we always knew what side we`re on.

 

It`s like Trump has jumped the balance, jumped the tracks and he`s just

joining the other side.  What do you make of that?

 

BRENNAN:  Well, I think he has no sense or knowledge of history, of the

Constitution, of law, of system of checks and balances, but more ominously,

he doesn`t care.  He only cares about himself, and that`s why over the last

two-plus years, it`s been –

 

MATTHEWS:  When did you come to that conclusion this is a show up, showing

off? 

 

BRENNAN:  Pretty early on in this presidency.  I was very skeptical that he

was going to be able to rise to the occasion.  I thought he was going to

continue to carry out his duties and work the way he has many years which

is by skirting the law, by skirting ethics and principles and just pursuing

a very unilateral agenda. 

 

And that`s why I think –

 

MATTHEWS:  What happened to our belief, because you`re – we`re the same

age roughly.  And I got to tell you, when you grow up with the idea that

the office would change a man – that maybe not in Nixon`s case because he

was a mixed bag and a bad guy in many ways, but actually a mixed bag, but

Harry Truman taught us, you know, a guy of limited ability, maybe has

patriotism will come in and do a good job and make the right decision. 

That`s always been our sort of populist notion of democracy.  You don`t

have to be a PhD in political science or whatever else, Ivy League or

anything because if you have the right instincts, you`ll make a great

president.

 

BRENNAN:  Yes.

 

MATTHEWS:  It doesn`t work lat with him. 

 

BRENNAN:  Well, it shows if you`re a master charlatan, a snake oil

salesman, and that you can snooker so many people, you can get away with a

lot.  And that has happened with Donald Trump.  But the people I blame most

are those people who know better, our senators, congressmen of the

Republican Party. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Mitch McConnell. 

 

BRENNAN:  Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, how they`ve sold out their

principles in this country, how they`ve held their nose over what Donald

Trump is doing.  I think history is going to treat them very, very

accurately which is they really sold themselves because of Donald Trump. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Because it was George Marshall, Truman and Eisenhower, and all

those – Kennedy and all, they really did build this world order that made

sense and we won the Cold War because of it. 

 

BRENNAN:  Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and the icons of both parties

over so many years.  Donald Trump is nothing like any of those people.  He

is his own person.  But, unfortunately, he has been able to get a lot of

people to just unfortunately kowtow to him. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about North Korea, could it have been worse?  He

could have given away the 38th parallel?  Just giving it away, we`re

pulling our troops out. 

 

BRENNAN:  Yes, some people claimed it`s a success because he walked away. 

Well, no, he put this thing together and it is collapsing unfortunately,

and we see now that there`s additional work that is being done in North

Korea. 

 

So, I guess it could have been worse, but the fact he continues to suspend

the military exercises, the ones that the U.S. military relies on in order

to insure the interoperability and coordination between not just the United

States and South Korea but also our regional partners and allies.  This is

really hurting our national security interest. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to it could have been worse, because I like –

there`s hope now.  If he cut a deal with Kim Jong-un and said, OK, if you

get rid of all your weapons, you get rid of your production facilities,

fusion, everything else, you get rid of all of it, we`ll pull our troops

out of the 38th Parallel and leave the door open for invasion, that would

have been worse, wouldn`t it?

 

BRENNAN:  Well, yes, and there are a lot of worse things.  But I do think

what perturbed the North Koreans was the apparent misrepresentation of

Donald Trump of what the North Koreans were asking for.  Donald Trump`s

claim that they wanted total sanction relief and the North Koreans came out

publicly and said no, we don`t want that. 

 

I still think they were asking for too much, but you need to be able to see

some type of accommodation to move down the path of denuclearization.  It`s

not going to happen overnight, but we need to continue to engage.  So, I`m

hoping that the experts on our side are still working with –

 

MATTHEWS:  They did finally get him to Vietnam, didn`t it?  Just kidding. 

 

Anyway, thank you, John Brennan.  You`re an expert and a patriot.

 

Much more ahead in the breaking news tonight.  The big news, President

Trump`s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort sentenced in months, just 47

months in prison.  They thought he`d get 18 years for tax and bank fraud.

 

Much ahead.  Stick with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back. 

 

We`re continuing to follow the breaking news tonight out of Virginia, just

across the Virginia here, across the Potomac.  President Trump`s former

campaign chair Paul Manafort was sentenced to nearly four years, 47 months,

for eight charges he was convicted of last summer.  Well, after the

sentencing, Manafort`s lawyer Kevin Downing made some brief remarks.  Let`s

listen. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT`S LAWYER:  As you heard in court today Mr.

Manafort finally got to speak for himself and made clear he accepts

responsibility for his conduct, and I think most importantly what you saw

today is the same thing that we had said from day one.  There is absolutely

no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved in any collusion with any

government official from Russia.  Thank you, everybody. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Any government official.  Wasn`t that clever, David Corn? 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Barbara McQuade is also joining us.  Malcolm Nance

joined me, MSNBC investigative reporter. 

 

But you first, David, the place where it`s so obvious.  Go ahead. 

 

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES:  You caught it.  He

didn`t collude with any Russian government official.  And submitted by his

own attorneys and Robert Mueller`s team, we have this meeting in the cigar

bar that you and I have discussed, in which Paul Manafort appears to have

colluded with a former business partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI

says was an associate of Russian intelligence and the meeting was happening

because of what a Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska was and a quid pro

quo between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. 

 

So, yes, nothing we`ve seen has him talking to a Russian government

official.  But notice he didn`t say there was no colluding with any Russian

interests.  He did not say that.  Why?  Because it`s probably not true.

 

MATTHEWS:  And also, the issue in trade craft of this kind of dealings,

international under table dealings, you deal with cutouts.  You know, Putin

doesn`t meet at the cigar bar.  Doesn`t show up there on Sixth Avenue with

a big stogie and say, let`s deal.  He sends people then he can deny later.

 

Let me go to Barbara McQuade on this.

 

You were there today at the hearing.  Tell me about the feeling of the jump

suit and the wheelchair and call for compassion.  There was all that

theatrics, well, schmaltz – does it have an impact on the judge? 

 

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR (via telephone):  So, I wasn`t in

the courtroom, Chris.  Bu I think judges can see beyond that.  I think

judges sometimes fall for that sort of thing because they are not in

courtrooms frequently enough to know those kinds of things.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

 

MCQUADE:  But I don`t know that had an impact on the judge.  It is a low

sentence and, you know, the sentencing guidelines are not something the

prosecutor made up out of whole cloth.  The U.S. Sentencing Commissions

creates those numbers based on real data of real cases around the country. 

The purpose is to have uniformity in sentencing around the country, so that

if you`re sentenced in Washington or Virginia or New York or Texas, you`re

likely to get the same sentence. 

 

So when the judge says I think these guidelines are too high, he`s

substituting his judgment for the U.S. Sentencing Commission.  The judge is

allowed to vary, but only he can articulate a reason why the guidelines

overstate the conduct in this particular case, and I didn`t hear him say

that. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Tom, what are you – joining us right now– Tom, it seems to

this judge talk gives sentences like he`s a sequestered juror, like he

doesn`t know this whole matter we`re talking about.  He doesn`t seem to

understand the business – the business that Manafort`s been in all of

these years.  He`s workings as a mercenary for Putin`s people.  He acts

like a blameless life, what`s he talking about?

 

TOM WINTER, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER:  Chris, you raised the exact

point I was going to make, that this is not in a vacuum.  The sentencing is

not in a vacuum and you really can`t consider some of the things that David

Corn and you have been speaking about, and others have been talking about

as it relates because it wasn`t charged in this case, his interactions with

Konstantin Kilimnik or anything involving Russia. 

 

What he needs to consider and what he was told about because it was entered

into the docket, because we watch it every single day, was the lies he told

to special counsel as part of his cooperation.  It was his behaviors, his

lies to the grand jury, what a judge is counterpart in Washington, D.C.

determined that he lied on three separate occasions to the special counsel

after he`s pleaded guilty, that he was involved with witness tampering

because he was notified of the charges that were brought in Washington,

D.C.

 

So, the judge can`t look at this in a vacuum, and just I`m frankly very

surprised and I don`t use those words lightly, that he didn`t look at the

totality of the behavior of him in court filings, the totally of the

behavior that he`s been charged with, that he was notified of.  So, if he

wants to look at it from purely a bank and tax fraud perspective and what

other people have been found guilty of before and sentenced to before, I

can see the kind of the downward move from the sentencing guidelines, but

that`s not case here, Chris. 

 

And I think another thing that we really need to consider with respect to

the judge and Barbara McQuade, is unsurprisingly, perfectly accurate when

she says that he has a reputation for being light on white collar crime. 

He does.  What the judge is not kind of understanding here, Chris, and what

I think is surprising is that when you look at his conduct and you look at

now time served being added to this, there`s not much difference between

Michael Cohen`s sentence of three years and what is now essentially just

barely above three years for Paul Manafort.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

 

WINTER:  And you look at the tax and bank fraud differences between those

two people, and the gulf is enormous.  Now, granted Michael Cohen`s also

being sentenced for the campaign finance crimes.  But when you look at the

– when you look at the totality of the behavior here, it`s really very

surprising. 

 

Malcolm, how are they viewing this in Moscow, do you think today?  As Putin

saying my buddy got off pretty easy.  What do they think of our justice

system that a guy who was facing up to 20 years got four, less than four? 

Malcolm? 

 

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR (via telephone):  I think the Kremlin

believes that they now have managed to engineer the U.S. justice system by

putting their man in the White House and through his influence and through

his stature, he has managed to get someone who was really an agent of the

Kremlin, someone who has been paid by Moscow for almost two decades now to

carry out their operations in the Ukraine and other parts of the world. 

 

You know, if I was Robert Mueller, I think now is the time to throw a

secret haymaker.  I would bring him up on Espionage Act charges for his

contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, or something along the lines of

conspiracy to defraud the United States.  I wouldn`t let this stand and I

would make it clear that there are more tricks in the bag of the special

counsel. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Malcolm, so much of this case has been about his relations

with Russia, the obstruction of justice matters, which I`d deal with the

next several months, I expect.  For example getting – going to Comey, the

head of the FBI, the top police force, investigative unit and saying layoff

my director of national security because he was dealing with Putin and

dealing with Kislyak and lay off of him, and then he fires the FBI director

because he wouldn`t lay off, then he fires his attorney general because he

won`t – because he recused himself and wouldn`t help Trump in this matter. 

 

Over and over the president has not only done stuff but doubled down in

obstructing justice against himself and today, he must be having dessert at

the White House.  Your thoughts on that, Malcolm?

 

NANCE:  Well, absolutely.  And again this shows the puppet strings go from

Moscow to the White House and now into the U.S. judiciary.  Whether the

judge had any influence at all, that doesn`t matter.  It`s the fact the

lawyer came out and said there was nothing to do with Moscow, that shows

where the influence really lies. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much. 

 

David Corn tonight, as always, sir.  Barbara McQuade, as always.  Malcolm,

as always.  Tom Winter as well.

 

Thank you all.

 

That`s HARDBALL for now.

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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