The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/15/2017
Show: The Rachel Maddow Show
Date: February 15, 2017
Guest: Chris Murphy, Cristina Jiminez
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: You can find my full unedited conversation
with Susan Sarandon and Josh Foxx on our web site.
And that`s “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I feel like I`m sweating. I`m not really
sweating but I got a little schvitzee.
HAYES: I was sweating.
MADDOW: Intense stuff. Well done, my friend.
HAYES: Yes, thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
OK, Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon, his title at the White House is chief
strategist and senior counselor to the president of the United States.
Aside from the president himself, Steve Bannon is the other identifiable
person who appears to be running things, directing things for the White
House and the new administration.
And it is interesting for somebody like him to have that impressive, that
powerful a political job not just because of his own ideology, his own
politics or anything else you might be interested in about him, it`s flat
out interesting for him to have such a high level in the federal government
specifically because of the fact he`s never had a job in politics before –
at all. This is his first time ever working in government or in politics
and he`s the chief strategist and senior adviser to the president of the
United State states.
I mean, in terms of his background, he was in the Navy for a while. He
worked at Goldman Sachs for a while. He made some profoundly ridiculous
movies for a while. Famously, he ran a right wing pro-Trump website until
Trump tapped him to run his presidential campaign this past summer.
But if you go back to the mid-1990s, go back like 1995/1996, what Steve
Bannon was doing then was living in southern California. He was running a
small investment firm that focused on investing in movies and TV shows and
And we can get really, really specific as to some of what Steve Bannon was
allegedly doing at that specific time of his life, because some of what he
was doing at that time in his life is accounted for moment by moment in
this police report. According to the police report we`ve got from the
Santa Monica Police Department on New Year`s Eve, New Year`s Day 1995 into
1996, Steve Bannon that night slept on the couch in his family home. He
was newly married at the time. He and his wife had seven-month-old twins.
Actually, the narrative is pretty comprehensive here, so I`m just going to
let the police report take it from here verbatim. “On New Year`s Eve, on
December 31st, 1995, Mr. Bannon slept on the couch in the living room. On
New Year`s Day, January 1st, 1996, she”, I believe that`s Mr. Bannon`s
wife, “she got up to feed their twins and Mr. Bannon got upset with her for
making some noise.”
This part is hard to read here in the police report. I think it says, “At
approximately 0845 hours”, although depending on how you read that
handwriting, see it could be 0815 hours. In any case, it`s some time after
8:00 in the morning, he, Mr. Bannon, started to leave the house and his
wife, that`s the reduction there, his asked him for the American Express
card so she could go grocery shopping. He said she did not need the
American Express card and that she should just write a check.
She then – excuse me – “He then went out to the car, she followed. She
asked him why he was playing these games with the money, he said it was his
money and then outside in the driveway, the two of them argued.”
Apparently, the way it went down is she was sit standing in the driveway,
he was sitting in his car and they were arguing.
Continuing from the police report here, quote, “He reached up to her from
the driver`s seat of his car and grabbed her left wrist. He pulled her
down as if he was trying to pull her down into the car over the door.”
According to his wife, according to what she told the police, quote, “Mr.
Bannon then grabbed her neck, also pulling her into the car. She said she
started to fight back, striking at his face so he would let go of her.
After a short period of time, she said she was able to get away from him.
She ran into the house with him following her. She told him she was
calling 911 and she grabbed the portable phone as she headed for the living
room where the twins were.”
Remember, they had seven-month-old twins at this point. “As she headed for
the living room where the twins were, she was dialing 911 on that portable
phone. When she got to the twins, she says, Mr. Bannon jumped over her and
the twins, jumped over her and the twins to grab the phone from her. Once
he got the phone, he threw it across the room. After that, Mr. Bannon left
the house. His wife then found the phone in several pieces and could not
So, that`s all basically verbatim from the police report as you see here
and at this point in the timeline, this point in the chronology that`s when
the police enter the scene.
So, here`s the police officer who wrote the report writing in his own voice
in this same police report, quote, “On January 1st, 1996”, so New Year`s
Day, “at 0850 hours, so, 8:50 in the morning, I received a radio call to”,
and then there`s a redacted area there, presumably the address. “I
received a radio call to x address, the radio call was about a 911 hang-up
where the telephone operator verified the phone was off the hook. On my
arrival, I was met at the front door by”, again redacted, presumably Steve
“She appeared as if she was very upset and had been crying. I saw that her
eyes were red and watery. She first said, `Oh, thank you, you are here.
How did you know to come?` As I started to tell her about the 911 hang-up
call, she started to cry, it took her three or four minutes to calm down
until she could tell me what happened.”
She then describes the beating, describes the argument and the beating and
him – Steve Bannon chasing her and him grabbing the phone out of her hand
and smashing it. The police officer writes it down in the report.
She then shows the police officer her injuries. Quote, “She complained of
soreness to her neck. I saw red marks to her left wrist and the right side
of her neck.” These injuries were photographed by – and then you get an
ID tech name from the Santa Monica Police Department.
So, again, this is all verbatim. This is a police report concerning Steve
Bannon who is now chief strategist and senior adviser to the president at
the White House. And this police report is about an incident that happened
on New Year`s Day in 1996.
The month after this police report, February, 1996, local prosecutors
office decided to bring charges against Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon was
arraigned on charges of domestic violence and battery and dissuading a
witness. Now, the dissuading a witness charge ends up being very important
here because under the California penal code you get charged with that if
you, quote, “prevent or dissuade another person who`s been the victim of a
crime or a witness to the crime from reporting that to a law enforcement
officer or to a prosecuting agency or to a judge.”
Dissuading a witness – they arraigned him for that, they charged whim
that. And part of that could be him grabbing the phone out of his wife`s
hand and throwing it across the room and smashing it to the point where it
wouldn`t work while she was in the process of calling 911 on him. That`s
what led to the 911 hang-up call and the police officer verifying the
smashed phone when they responded to the silent 911 call. It could have
But it could also have been the way Steve Bannon got off in this case. In
court documents filed as part of their divorce proceedings, Steve Bannon`s
wife explained what happened after she called 911 on New Year`s Day. After
the police showed up and documented what he had done to her, after they
took pictures of her injuries, after local prosecutors decided to bring
charges, after he was arraigned.
She says that he basically intimidated her, so that she wouldn`t testify
against him at trial. She said that`s how he made the charges go away.
Quote, “Respondent told me I had to leave town. That if I was not in town
they could not serve me and I would not have to go to court. He told me if
I went to court he and his attorney would make sure I would be the one who
After receiving that threat, she in fact took her twins and got out of
town. She was not there for the trial date. She said she didn`t return to
the area, quote, “until the attorney phoned me and told me I could come
So, when Steve Bannon finally went on trial for those domestic violence
charges and battery, dissuading a witness, when he finally went on trial in
August, 1996, what the report records say for the trial that day is, quote,
“victim/witness unable to be located.” All right. Because he told his
wife to get out of town and not testify against him or else.
And so, she got out of town and couldn`t testify against him. They could
not locate the victim/witness. And so, the case was dismissed.
So this incident was reported this past summer in august when Steve Bannon
was named CEO of the Trump campaign. You might remember he got named CEO
of Trump campaign after the former campaign chairman got ousted over
concerns about his ties to the Russian government, after Paul Manafort got
ousted because of that, they needed a new guy, they found Steve Bannon.
And after they picked Steve Bannon for that high profile job, Politico.com
posted this police report from the Santa Monica Police Department and NBC
found further documents from the divorce filings and the abuse claims
around the divorce filing.
The Trump campaign actually never commented as to whether or not they were
aware of this stuff in Steve Bannon`s past when he was brought on to run
the campaign. And, you know, eventually that story just faded out of the
news. To be fair, there was a lot going on at the time.
And honestly, I think part of the reason that story went away after it was
first reported in August is because in, you know, late August or early
September, nobody really believed Donald Trump could conceivably win the
presidency, right? So, whatever kind of characters he was bringing on
board to rescue his sinking ship of a campaign, I think everybody assumed
they would be out of the news sooner or later, why bother going into too
But then, they won. And Steve Bannon leapt from the campaign to the White
House where he is now apparently the most powerful figure in the
administration who does not hold the job title “President of the United
States.” And now today, today has been another one of those days in this
new administration, this young administration where things really did not
go well for them.
They lost a cabinet nominee today, first time that has happened to them –
something that really shouldn`t happen to you if you`ve got a majority for
your own party in the Senate, right? But today, they lost a cabinet
And, you know, I think it`s worth being specific here as to how they lost
him because when the Trump administration picked this guy, when they picked
the CEO of Carl`s Jr. to be their nominee for labor secretary, they knew
what they were getting, right? I mean, they were not exactly picking Tom
Perez here. Part of the appeal for picking the Carl Jr. guy, was I`m sure
these unpolitically correct ads that he made his burger places famous for
in his time as CEO and that he gleefully defended in his time as CEO.
When he became the CEO of Carl`s Jr. and Hardee`s, those fast food joints
rocketed to the charts in terms of federal employment discrimination cases
filed by employees at those two companies. There`s a reason why there have
been protests at his restaurants and corporate headquarters by people who
thought Andy Puzder labor secretary given how he had behaved as an
employer. I mean, people even dressed up like robots to highlight the fact
he openly lamented that he couldn`t replace his pesky workers with robots
who would be so much better at doing the work because he basically hated
But you know what? The administration knew that – knew all of that about
him when they picked Andy Puzder to be labor secretary, right? That stuff
was a feature, not a bug. They didn`t see any of that as a down side.
It`s not like they were trying to pick somebody who would be good on labor
rights for god`s sake.
And so, you know, I think that Democrats and the groups who protested
against Andy Puzder and all his employees who got brave and came out of the
woodwork to say what a terrible CEO he was, I think those folks are right
today to crow a little bit about Andy Puzder having his nomination pulled.
He`s the first cabinet nominee of the Trump era to fail in the confirmation
process, and that is a big deal.
But I also think it`s worth being clear why he was pulled, why this
happened today. I mean, honestly, all the stuff about his terrible labor
record has been known about him all along. That`s why they picked him,
right? It`s not a surprise that with a record like that, he was going to
get zero votes from Democrats for his confirmation.
But they didn`t need Democrats to vote for him for his confirmation. They
could have confirmed him just with Republican votes.
And on the Republican side of this story today, there`s all this noise,
particularly into this evening, about how Andy Puzder didn`t get confirmed,
of course, he had to get his nomination yanked because he wasn`t right wing
enough on immigration. You see noise about this today, right?
And, you know, Andy Puzder did hire an undocumented worker in his home and
he did not pay taxes on here. OK, but if that was reason enough to stop
the Andy Puzder nomination, why hasn`t it stopped all the other Trump
cabinet nominees who have that same problem, who are all steaming ahead
through the confirmation process? OK, then, they say it`s not just the
undocumented worker in his own home, it`s his politics on immigration. He
wasn`t right wing enough, he wasn`t anti-immigrant enough in terms of his
policy views on immigration, that`s why he lad to go.
Well, you know what? Those politics have been true about Andy Puzder.
Those have been on display and known about him since before he was picked
for this job. The Trump administration knew all about them, all that about
him when they picked him.
Republicans have known those were his politics on immigration. If any of
that was a problem about Andy Puzder why was Mitch McConnell as of
yesterday still saying oh, yeah, Andy Puzder is going to be confirmed? Why
did John Cornyn, the number two Republican of the Senate, why did he say as
recently as yesterday, quote, “He`s good, full speed ahead, I`m confident
he will be confirmed, he`s a good nominee”, right?
If any of this stuff, left or right, if any of this stuff was truly a
problem for the Andy Puzder nomination, why was his nomination fine until
now? Why was it fine until today? What changed today?
This changed today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA FIERSTEIN, EX-WIFE OF ANDY PUZDER: The most frightening thing was
leaving because once I made that break and once I made it public and
remember my ex-husband was a public figure, everyone knew him and knew what
he was doing and once I made that public he – he vowed revenge. He said,
I will see you in the gutter, this will never be over, you will pay for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Turns out what changed today is the nature of Andy Puzder`s Steve
Bannon problem. Steve Bannon`s domestic violence charges were from 1996.
This Oprah Winfrey episode, which we all got access to today, this was
And what changed today, what led to the yanking of the first Trump cabinet
nominee was at that at 1:00 in the morning this morning, politico.com
posted online these clips of Andy Puzder`s ex-wife wearing a disguise
appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show on a program titled “high class
battered women.” She used a pseudonym, she wore a disguise, including
those big glasses and she discussed the same alleged physical abuse by Andy
Puzder in their marriage that she testified to in their divorce proceedings
two years earlier.
She filed court documents where she said that Andy Puzder, quote,
“assaulted and battered me by striking me violently about the face, chest,
back, shoulders and neck without provocation or cause, leaving, quote,
“bruises and contusions to the chest, back, shoulders and neck as well as
two ruptured disks and two bulging disks among other injuries.”
And you heard her say in the Oprah clip, right, “My ex-husband was a public
figure.” Andy Puzder was a well-known public figure at the time. He was a
prominent crusading anti-abortion activist lawyer in Missouri at the time
that all this went down with his ex-wife.
And those claims from the divorce proceedings, they tracked broadly with
what a newspaper called “The Riverfront Times” had reported about him and
his divorce in 1989 and they had reported, it become newsworthy thing
because he was such a well known public figure. What they reported at the
time was this, “Puzder`s ex-wife alleged he had hit her and threw her to
the kitchen floor and unplug the phone after she tried to call police for
help during the altercation. Puzder acknowledges police responded to that
altercation between him and his wife, his wife sought a protective order
against him. In seeking the order, she alleged that he, quote, `attacked
me, choked me, threw me to the floor, hit in the head, pushed his knee into
my chest, twisted my arm, dragged me on to the floor, threw me into a wall,
tried to stop my call to 911 and kicked me in the back.`”
Andy Puzder denied those allegations when they became public in the press
in Missouri in 1989. After her Oprah appearance in 1990, his wife also
later rescinded her allegations of his physical abuse as part of their
further divorce proceedings and the child custody wrangling.
Since Andy Puzder has been a Trump administration cabinet nominee, his ex-
wife has further recanted those allegations saying none of it ever
happened. She made the whole thing up.
But there are these contemporaneous claims, right? I mean, some of what
was in their divorce filings has been reported on, it`s been made public,
some other parts of those divorce filings interestingly were sealed by the
court the day after his nomination was announced to be labor secretary in
December. That was a little strange.
An activist group has been suing to have those divorce records fully
unsealed given the public interest and Puzder`s potential ascension to high
public office. But it is one thing to see these allegations in court
filings. It`s one thing to read the handwritten police reports from the
responding officers describing the smashed phone and the evidence of the
It`s another thing to see a woman on tape talking about in the first
person. Here`s what he threatened me. Here`s what he said he would do to
me. Here`s why I was afraid.
We knew that this Oprah tape existed. We knew that for several weeks. We
and lots of other news organizations had tried to get it. You bead
surprised how difficult it was to get but the Oprah Winfrey folks this past
week, they quietly made a screening room available for U.S. senators to
come in to personally and privately watch that episode of that show so they
could see this part of Andy Puzder`s past for themselves.
But even as they were showing it to senators, nobody had access to it. You
could not find it anywhere online, nobody could see it. Nobody could
circulate it, nobody could judge for themselves in the public. No press
could comment on it.
Until 1:00 a.m. this morning when “Politico” finally got it from one of the
other battered women who appeared on that show who had a personal copy of
it all these years and who handed it over to “Politico”. They uploaded the
tape at 1:00 a.m. and by 3:00 p.m. today, Andy Puzder was out.
In the space of a week, they`ve had their first major policy initiative
destroyed by the courts, they have lost their national security advisor in
a huge and spreading national security scandal. They have also now as of
today they had to pull their first cabinet nominee, and it`s worth being
clear about it.
You may – if you`ve watched the show for a while you may notice that I`m
really not one of those people who makes those, you know, people on the
right and people on the left are both wrong about this. I`m not one of
those, you know, people on the right, people on the left, or both wrong
about this. I`m not one of those people who does this left/right facile
equivalency thing. I don`t do that. You know me, I never argue things
But in this case, there really are people on the right and people on the
left who are understandably crowing about Andy Puzder`s nomination being
pulled as if it is their scalp to claim, but all the issues people had
about him both on the right and on the left, they had them all along. The
issues on the right, the issues on the left, they have been known about
from the beginning. Neither of those sets of issues, right or left, was on
track to take Andy Puzder out.
And then the day the public gets tape about his now recanted domestic
violence history, the White House, this White House, whoever`s in charge at
this White House, decides that this is not the conversation they want to be
having right now. This is not the type of heat they want to be bearing
right now. This is not the kind of stuff they want stirred up.
President Trump said as he took office that he was going to sue the living
daylights out of all the women who accused him of sexual assault. He was
going to sue them all, force them all to recant. That threat so far has
faded away as has the news coverage of that particular scandal about the
The other most powerful American the White House is Steve Bannon. He
personally has lurid, detailed, well-documented allegations of domestic
violence in his past. You can read the police report yourself. But that
too has faded as a news story, as people have found whole new worlds of
stuff about Steve Bannon to freak out about instead.
And so, you can criticize this landmark moment today in the news, this
first failed cabinet nominee. You can criticize Andy Puzder for any number
of things, depending on your ideological views, depending on where you`re
coming from. But the one thing different about today, the day they decided
to pull his nomination, the one thing that is different about today is that
today we got that tape.
That is a 100 percent guaranteed dredge for all of the same kind of dirt on
the president of the United States and on the guy with whom he is running
the White House. And that they could not allow to happen, and that is how
this went down.
MADDOW: Ronald Reagan`s first national security advisor was a man named
Richard Allen. Ronald Reagan actually went through six different national
security advisors in his time in office, but Richard Allen was the first.
And less than a year into that gig, Allen was accused of taking money,
taking a thousand dollars, basically as a bribe in exchange for him
arranging an interview with First Lady Nancy Reagan for a Japanese
He sold access to Nancy Reagan for a thousand dollars. Also, two nice
Seiko watches. They were digital watches.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Newspapers in Tokyo today said Richard Allen accepted two
wristwatches from the Japanese magazine that interviewed Nancy Reagan last
January. The magazine showed Allen with writer Fuyoko Kamisaka (ph) and
Tsikiko Takasei (ph), two friends who asked him to arrange the Reagan
Now reports here say that before leaving for Washington last January, the
two women stopped at a duty-free discount store like this one. They
purchased two ladies wristwatches, one silver colored. Writer Kamisaka is
quoted as saying that on January 16th, before Allen became a government
official, Mrs. Takasei gave Allen the gold one for his wife.
Other reports say that later, Mrs. Takasei told him he could swap that
watch for the silver colored model. “The Manichi (ph)” newspaper says he
answered, “In that case, I might as well keep them both.” That was said
after Allen was a national security advisor and thus came under a $100
limit on gifts. Ms. Kamisaka said each watch called 30,000 yen, almost
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When they ask you “gold or silver” the answer is, “no, neither,
can`t do it, thank you.” Wrong answer, “I`ll take them both.”
In the end, the Justice Department cleared Richard Allen of wrongdoing in
that bribery scandal, but he was forced to resign as national security
advisor after less than a year on the job.
Before long, another Reagan national security advisor was forced out in a
different scandal. Bud MacFarlane resigned in the middle of the Iran-
Contra scandal. He pled guilty to four criminal counts of withholding
information from Congress to cover up that scandal. He eventually got
pardoned by George H.W. Bush.
The guy who succeeded But MacFarlane was also forced to resign because of
his role in Iran-Contra. He was convicted of multiple felonies for lying
to Congress and obstructing the investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal.
Eventually, he got his felony convictions reversed on appeal.
But, you know, bottom line here, not all our national security advisors
have hit it out of the park. You know, we`ve had national security advisor
scandals before. Heck, we had three big ones in one presidency under
But this thing we`re going through right now with Michael Flynn and him
being forced out as national security advisor after just 24 days, we never
had had a scandal like this. A lot of the beltway reporting on the Flynn
scandal is focused on who he told about his conversations with the Russian
government during the transition. What did he tell them about those
conversations? When did he tell them that they happened? Was the vice
president lied to and for how long? Why did the president wait so long to
fire Mike Flynn after the Justice Department told them he was lying about
his contact with the Russians and the Russians could therefore be
And, you know, all of these are reasonable questions and none of them have
been explained well enough yet. But here`s the forest these trees keep
falling in. We have multiple reports now, each citing multiple sources
saying Michael Flynn had repeated contacts with the Russian government
during the campaign before the election.
And it`s not just him. We now have reporting from the “New York Times”
last night and CNN later last night again citing multiple sources saying
that it was not just Flynn, it was several people from the Trump campaign
who had repeated contact. In CNN`s words, constant communication with
Russia, including Russian intelligence officials during the campaign –
while Russian intelligence was interfering with our election to help get
Donald Trump elected. Right?
These contacts are concrete and verifiable things. Intelligence sources
say there are call logs, there are intercepts, there are transcripts of
them. And officials at the top levels of this White House, up to and
including the president himself, have nevertheless been denying up and down
that these things ever happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: Did you or anyone in your campaign have any contact with Russia
leading up to or during the campaign? Nothing at all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any
contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP ADVISER: Absolutely not. And I discussed that
with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never
happened. I hear people saying that like it`s a fact on television. That
is just not only inaccurate and false, but it`s dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the president-elect –
CONWAY: And it does undermine our democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to button up one question, did any adviser have
any contact with the Russians trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course not. I think
to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that
have swirled around the candidacy.
REPORTER: Back in January, the president said nobody had been in touch
with the Russians. Today can you say definitively nobody on the Trump
campaign, not even General Flynn, had any contact with the Russians before
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don`t have any – there`s
nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with
respect to that time period.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Let`s diagram that sentence, “There`s nothing that would conclude
me that anything different has changed with respect to that time period.”
So, that`s a no?
The president, vice president, top White House officials have all just
flat-out denied that there were any contacts between the Trump campaign and
Russian officials. It now seems that those denials were all lies. There
was contact between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.
Why did they all lie about that?
In addition to the ongoing FBI, CIA and U.S. Army investigations into Mike
Flynn, we also just tonight got this letter from the Senate Judiciary
Committee requesting a full briefing from the FBI and the justice
department on, quote, “the circumstances that led to the recent resignation
of Michael Flynn” – keynote here, this letter is not just from the
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. Oh, this letter is also from Chuck
Grassley, the Republican chairman of the committee.
Then again, it`s worth remembering the head of the Justice Department that
from whom they are asking for this briefing, the head of the department is
now Jeff Sessions who, of course, was part of the Donald Trump campaign
while the Trump campaign was talking to Russia during the campaign, Jeff
Sessions has said he has no intention of recusing himself from any Justice
Department investigations of the Trump campaign even though he was part of
it at the time that`s now being investigated or that ought to be.
So, what happens next here? I might know. And that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Jeff Sessions was chairman of
the national security advisory committee alongside General Michael Flynn.
He was a senior adviser in the Trump campaign. The first senator to
endorse the president`s campaign and nominated him at the Republican
National Convention in Cleveland. Attorney General Jeff Sessions must
recuse himself immediately. Any investigation headed, directed by or
influenced by the attorney general will be jaundiced from the very start.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer arguing that a senior
official of the Trump campaign can`t be in charge of an investigation into
the Trump campaign for obvious reasons.
Whether or not that investigation is about something as sensitive as the
Trump campaign`s alleged contacts with the Russian government, while the
Russian government was trying to influence our election.
This has to do with the Trump`s contacts with the Russian government.
Tonight the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked the
Justice department for a full briefing on the mike Flynn and Russia
situation. Your guess is as good as anyone`s in terms of how much worth
there might be in a Justice Department briefing on this subject now that
the head of the Justice Department is Jeff Sessions who, again, was part of
the Trump campaign.
But in addition to that question, there`s also some brand new breaking news
right now from the “Wall Street Journal.” Can we put this article up on
the screen please? Can we make a full screen out of this? Yes, thank you.
You see the headline there, “Spies keep intelligence from President Trump.”
Again, this is just posted by “The Wall Street Journal.” I just read you
the lead here.
“U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from
President Trump because they`re concerned it could be leaked or
compromised.” Citation here is current and former officials familiar with
the matter. Again, quoting from “The Journal”, “In some of these cases of
withheld information, officials have decided not to show the president
sources and methods that the intelligence agencies used to collect
information. Those sources and methods could include, for instance, the
means that an agency uses to spy on a foreign government.”
They`re not showing him that stuff because they`re not sure, in short, if
he can be trusted with it. He`s the president.
Joining us now is Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Foreign Relations
Committee, one of the fiercest critics of National Security Advisor Mike
Flynn up until the time when he left his job this week.
Senator, it`s nice to have you with us. Thanks for being here.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Good evening.
MADDOW: So we just got this report from “The Wall Street Journal”. I
don`t know if you had a chance to see this yet.
MURPHY: Yes. No, I`ve seen early reports and it`s consistent with what`s
been happening since December. Listen, there is a war being waged between
President Trump who after the election accused our intelligence services of
politicizing the report about Russian interference in our election to hurt
him. And now, clearly members of the intelligence service are pushing back
by releasing information to news services about these contacts between the
Trump campaign and the Russians and if these reports are true perhaps
withholding information from him.
Listen, this is not good for the United States but clearly the intelligence
services are watching Trump and his advisers withhold information from the
American public. They watched for 14 days as the Trump administration did
not reveal to the American public what they knew, which was that Michael
Flynn had conversations with the Russians and they are taking matters into
their own hands.
Ultimately, Rachel, this is why we need a credible investigatory process,
whether it be through the intelligence committee or independent commission
because the – in an ideal world, these leaks or these whistle-blowers
would be coming to the investigatory body rather than leaking only to the
MADDOW: And that – to me I feel like that`s the crux of the matter right
now. I mean, we`ve all been worried about the new administration and their
attacks on the press and calling the journalists of the United States of
America fake news and elevating pro-Trump blogs as if they`re equivalent to
the “Washington Post” or NBC News or something in the press briefing.
We`ve all been sort of watching that as kind of a media business story.
Clearly, in terms of this story about the context with the Russian
government, we`re seeing the “New York Times” and the “Washington Post” and
the “Wall Street Journal” and NBC and CNN and all these other outlets do
good work in terms of getting this information to the public.
My question remains, whether or not, we should expect this to continue to
be just a journalistic enterprise or whether there will be any part of the
U.S. government that gets to the bottom of this that does the investigatory
work and that ultimately brings prosecutions if this turns out to be a
MURPHY: Well, therein lies the problem. Right now, there is not a
credible investigation in the United States. You have investigations open
in both intelligence committees, but both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell
have hamstrung them so they can`t get to the bottom of this affair.
Because Jeff Sessions at any moment could interfere with the FBI
investigation, you can`t trust that that investigation won`t be
Remember, we, you know, got used to Attorney General Lynch deciding to give
Director Comey free range with respect to the Clinton e-mail issue, but
there`s nothing stopping Sessions from coming in and telling Comey what he
can and cannot do. And then to the extent that the CIA has been looking
into this or the Army is looking into this, those are agencies that Trump
has a lot to do with and say about as well.
So, right now, you don`t have a credible non-partisan investigation that
these individuals in the intelligence services who may have information can
give it to and trust it is going to end up getting all of the doors that
need to be unlocked unlocked.
MADDOW: Do you expect because of that – and that`s really alarming, what
you just laid out – do you expect because of that that the pressure to
have a special counsel, to have a truly independent legislative
investigation – legislatively sponsored investigation into this, do you
think there is traction there? Do you think there`s any chance that will
MURPHY: Well, listen, I think you`re seeing this issue move by the hour.
Richard Burr, who is the head of the intelligence committee, today made it
a little bit clearer that he was hope to letting his investigation go
wherever it led. Lindsey Graham who has been on the front lines of this
since the beginning opened the door to supporting an independent
investigation or special prosecutor today.
So, by the hour, you`re seeing more and more Republicans understand the
gravity of this. And I think that they`re looking at the scope of history,
they`re wondering what a year from now or two years from now will look like
if they stood in the way of this investigation happening.
So, I don`t ultimately know whether Mitch McConnell will let this non-
partisan or independent process play out. But you`re seeing movement
happen in that direction in real-time.
MADDOW: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut – thank you, sir. Clearer
and actually a little scary which is happening more and more each time we
talk. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
MURPHY: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Again, that breaking news tonight just posted from the “Wall
Street Journal,” the headline, “Spies keep intelligence from President
Trump.” U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence
from the president because they`re concerned it could be leaked or
compromised. Officials in some cases have decided not to show the
president sources and methods that the intelligence agencies use to collect
information because they don`t trust that it`s a safe thing to communicate
Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the new things about the Trump era that is not easy to
report on – in which the government, I think, is purposely making it
difficult to report on – is what`s happening to immigrants now that the
Trump administration has taken over. We can confidently report that in
less than a week, since last Wednesday, more than 680 people have been
rounded up in immigration raids in at least 11 states.
ICE, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, they say they have arrested and
deported people in California, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin. And
the new president campaigned on building a wall and he campaigned on
vilifying Mexicans and Mexican immigrants in particular as a uniquely
criminal class of people.
Well, now, he`s in charge and these new raids are, we`re told, a direct
result of the executive action he signed making it easier for ICE to deport
anyone, making it easier to deport anyone with even a minor criminal
record. That`s how we got here with hundreds of deportations in less than
a week, ICE mostly calling it routine. People in immigrant community
saying they know what routine looks like and this is not routine.
One of the other things that we are seeing is resistance to this change in
policy and to these raids. Late last week, the immigration reform group
called United We Dream, they launched what they`re calling a new network
called “Here to Stay”. And this is a radical tactic. What they`re saying
is, listen, if you went to an airport when you heard about the travel ban
and said “refugees are welcome here” or if you said “immigrants are here to
stay”, now is the time to follow up on that.
The idea behind the “Here to Stay” network is to get people to pledge, get
volunteers to promise to show up bodily to be there on the spot, to try to
protect immigrants who are at risk of deportation because of the Trump
administration`s policies, to physically show up, engage and try to stop
people from being taken out of their homes, taken out of their workplaces
and having their families taken apart.
They launched this new network before midnight last Thursday. Again, it`s
called here to stay. Tonight, United We Dream says that more than 24,000
people have signed up as part of this network, pledging to bodily stand up
for immigrants in their communities.
Joining us now is Cristina Jiminez. She`s a community organizer and co-
founder of United We Dream.
Ms. Jiminez, thanks very much for being here. Really appreciate your time
CRISTINA JIMINEZ, UNITED WE DREAM CO-FOUNDER: Thanks for having me,
MADDOW: So, let me ask if I explained that right. It wasn`t a lengthy
explanation but that`s what I understand in terms of how you`re approaching
this tactically and what this network is for. Did I basically get it
JIMINEZ: Yes, you got it. This is a network of allies, of folks all
across the country who are committing to join us in this moment to protect
immigrants from deportation. What we are seeing right now is a direct
result from Trump`s executive orders.
This is Trump`s America where no one is safe. If you are an immigrant, or
if you look like an immigrant like myself, you`re at risk, and no one is
MADDOW: What are you asking people to do? You asking for demonstrations
or for civil disobedience or direct action? We`ve seen some very dramatic
action earlier this week in Arizona, or late last week in Arizona with
people actually chaining themselves to the wheels of a van that was taking
away one woman whose case had become a real cause celebre in the Phoenix
What are you asking people to do?
JIMINEZ: Well, we`re asking people to do, and we`ve already seen it,
Rachel. When we know a family or someone in our community is in danger of
being deported or ICE agents are around in your neighborhood, show up.
Show up to people`s homes. Provide your church. Show up when people have
to show up to court or when they have to do an ICE check-in.
So, for example, just today, Jeanette, who is an immigrant woman who was
supposed to show up to an ICE check-in actually took sanctuary in Colorado.
And thousands of people showed up with her and have opened the church and
are supporting her so that she doesn`t get deported.
Similarly, Daniel who is a doctor recipient actually was detained by ICE on
Friday. He is still in detention in Seattle, Washington. And we`ve had
hundreds of people that already showed up and that have committed now to
have an action, a rally outside of the detention center over the weekend as
So, we are already seeing this. And what we are seeing is that people are
really eager and interested. Because they are against what Trump is trying
to do in our country.
This is not what America is about. And people want to join us in stopping
these deportations and saying, “We are here to show up to ensure that
immigrants are here to stay.”
And everybody watching right now, if you are against Trump and his agenda
of hate and deporting people like me and my parents, this is a moment for
you to show up. There`s no more time to be in the sidelines and people
can join the network by texting “here to stay” to 877877. And you can stop
us in stopping deportations.
MADDOW: Cristina Jiminez, co-founder of United We Dream, which is starting
up this “Here to Stay” campaign – thanks for helping us understand what
you`re doing. Keep us apprised as to how this organizing effort goes.
JIMINEZ: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks a lot.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Every so often, the news gods give us a story that is so
outlandish, that is so baldly frankly up-front ridiculously, that you kind
of get pass on being outraged about it. You can be outraged about it if
you want, but you can also just –
The news gods I think are in good humor tonight, because they`ve given us
one of those. Maybe it`s been a hard week for them too. I don`t know.
But we`ve got this one final story. We just got it in tonight.
It`s nuts. It`s laugh out loud nuts. And it is about bare-naked
corruption, naturally. That story is next.
MADDOW: This is outrageous. It is also the funniest thing I`ve heard all
day. You might have read recently if “The New York Times” they reported
that a wealthy real estate family was in talks to buy the Miami Marlins
baseball team. And if you`re thinking when you see the headline about
that, Kushner family, is that any relation to Jared Kushner?
Then yes, grand slam for you. Jared Kushner is the son-in-law of the
president, also senior adviser to the president. And it is that Kushner
family, led in this case by Jared`s brother that is reportedly in talks to
buy the Miami Marlins baseball team. We knew that.
Tonight, here is the update. In addition to the news what the Miami
Marlins are possibly being sold to the White House-connected Kushner
family, we`re now hearing that the owner of the Miami Marlins is up for a
nice new ambassadorship. Want to be ambassador to France?
Think the Kushner family might possibly get a better deal on the baseball
team deal if they throw in the ambassador to France to go along with the
negotiations? Just asking. Just wondering.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD”. Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence
Good evening, Ari.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY