The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/17/2017
Show: The Rachel Maddow Show
Date: March 17, 2017
Guest: Glen Caplin, Robby Mook
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: And that is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Congratulations on your book launch, Chris.
I`m super psyche for you.
HAYES: Thank you.
MADDOW: I am looking forward to talking about your book on my show on
HAYES: On Monday.
MADDOW: Thank you for starting with me on that. I appreciate it.
HAYES: Awesome, let`s do it.
MADDOW: All right. Thanks, man.
And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour. Happy Friday.
If you have an image in your head for General Douglas MacArthur, it`s
probably this one, right? The iconic hat, the awesome sunglasses, you
know, before Biden, right? Douglas MacArthur`s sunglasses, obviously the
giant corn cob pipe.
When Douglas MacArthur was the commanding general for U.S. troops in the
Korean War, China sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops over the
border into North Korea to help the communist side in the Korean fight and
General Douglas MacArthur went to President Truman when that happened and
he told President Truman that he wanted the United States to wage war on
China in response. He wanted to start bombing China and quite famously
President Truman fired him for that. Fired him. Removed him.
And that was a really big hairy political deal at the time because General
MacArthur was really, really popular. He was so popular that they threw
parades in his honor when he came home from being fired. You`ve seen this
footage before in all likelihood. Some of the most iconic footage of
gigantic ticker tape parades in the Canyon of Heroes in New York City is
from the enormous parade that New York threw for Douglas MacArthur after he
got fired by the president. Literally, millions of people turned out in
tribute to him after he got fired.
MacArthur was really, really, really popular, even though he maybe wanted
to start World War III.
All the legends about Douglas MacArthur were larger than life. In World
War II when he was ordered to leave the Philippines during the fight there
against the Japanese, Douglas MacArthur famously said when he was leaving
“I shall return.” And then, two years later, he did come back. He waded
assure on Leyte island and he said “I have returned.”
Quite a bit of the legend of General Douglas MacArthur is associated
specifically with the Philippines. He lived in the Philippines for years
before World War II. He lived there while he was running the training of
the Philippine army.
And because he was larger than life, when he was living in the Philippines
training the Philippine army, where he lived while he was doing that was in
the fanciest room in the fanciest hotel in the whole country. While he was
training the Philippine army, Douglas MacArthur lived in the penthouse
suite of the manila hotel. Other than the presidential palace, it was
basically the ritziest place to live in the entire country.
And his suite at the Manila Hotel is still there, upgraded and partly
preserved. You can, if you`ve got enough money, you can still rent the
General Douglas MacArthur suite at the Manila Hotel in Manila in the
Philippines. You can soap up history along with your Jacuzzi bath and the
other amenities of your luxury stay.
Today`s news someday becomes tomorrow`s history. And that dynamic still
holds. And I`m sorry to say that the General Douglas MacArthur suite at
the Manila Hotel now features in a new footnote in history – or at least
it will someday, because right now, in today`s news, it`s part of a lurid
international military bribery case which everybody calls the Fat Leonard
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Three Navy officials have been arrested and it`s cost the U.S.
Navy millions. At the center of the scandal is Leonard Francis, owner of a
Singapore-based company that provides dockside service to Navy warships.
Federal indictments accused Francis of bribing Navy officials with large
sums of cash, prostitutes and even tickets to Lady Gaga, to steer the
Navy`s business his way.
A second commander, Jose Sanchez, is accused of accepting $100,000 and
after provided with prostitutes, allegedly sent Francis a Facebook message,
“Yummy, daddy like.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ugh. Leonard Francis, the guy at the center of this, is Fat
Leonard. He doesn`t mind if you call him that, everybody does. Fat
And in 2015, Fat Leonard pled guilty to bribing U.S. military officers with
everything from Spanish suckling pigs to luxury hotel rooms to expensive
watches to expensive booze and so on. But, you know, you can`t have a
briber without a bribe, and it turns out in this criminal case, there are a
lot of bribees.
Before this week, 20 former or current Navy officers were charged in this
case, 20. Thirteen of the 20 pled guilty. That was before this week.
Then this week this happened this week, federal prosecutors announced
charges against another nine Navy and Marine officers, including an admiral
and the details in the charging document, I have to admit, they start out
as kind of a fun read but then they take a sudden turn into oh, my god.
You get a lot of detail on their dinners, foie gras, duck confit, cognac
they were drinking at $2,000 a bottle, $2,000 a bottle cognac. Cigars that
were smoking that were $2,000 a box.
“The Washington Post” reported the menu on a different meal that was also
allegedly part of the bribes, an $18,000 dinner that started with black
truffle soup before moving on to pan-seared duck liver. This is how the
defense contractor, Fat Leonard, bribed officers of the U.S. Navy`s Seventh
Fleet. And in exchange, those officers would allegedly give him classified
information about the movement of U.S. Navy ships and confidential
investigation about other contractors that Fat Leonard would use to
undercut them so he got the contracts.
They even reportedly fed him information on criminal investigations into
the bribery by his company so he could keep beating the rap, so he could
stay ahead of those criminal investigations. Fat Leonard built himself a
$200 million business, supplying U.S. Navy ships in ports abroad and he
built himself that business by stuffing U.S. Navy officers full of foie
gras and cognac and other stuff.
For example, there was in May 2008, what the indictment describes as a,
quote, “raging multiday party with a rotating carousel of prostitutes in
attendance, during which conspirators drank all of the dom perignon
available at the Shangri-La Hotel in Manila. Room and alcohol charges born
by Fat Leonard for this escapade exceeded $50,000.”
Days later, the commander of the USS Millius wrote Fat Leonard a thank you
note, to say, quote, “I finally detoxed myself from Manila, that was a
crazy couple days, it`s been a while since I`ve done 36 hours of straight
drinking.” Straight drinking all the dom perignon in the hotel, no less.
Here`s the part that crosses over where it fits into the news cycle. I
mean, for context here, there are 30 different admirals who have been
investigated in conjunction with this bribery scandal, 30. Prosecutors say
more than 200 people have come under scrutiny in this scandal. It`s really
big. It`s the biggest corruption case in the history of the United States
But even given that scope of it which itself is striking it`s the
particulars that stick with you on this one. I mean, a lot of the alleged
bribes, the dinners and the booze and the watches and jewelry and the
prostitutes, a lot of those stories circle in Manila around this hotel,
around the Shangri-La hotel. But not all of them.
On page 24 of this indictment, we get to the part that allegedly takes
place in the historic Manila Hotel and actually in one specific room of the
Manila Hotel. Quoting from the indictment, “On or about February 8th
through 10th, 2007, Fat Leonard hosted and paid for a lavish party and the
services of prostitutes in the MacArthur suite of the Manila Hotel.” The
indictment then lists the U.S. Navy officers who were allegedly there at
this particular sex party. And then it says this, quote, “During the
party, historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were
used by the participants in sexual acts.”
Thankfully, the indictment does not spell out which memorabilia was
involved or which acts. What exactly do they have of MacArthur`s in the
suite? I will say pictures of at least one hat and one corn cob pipe have
been put on the Internet over the years who say they have been to the
Douglas MacArthur suite at that particular hotel. So, there`s that to go
But I feel like this story, the Fat Leonard story, is amazing in its own
right, but because it`s so amazing, it`s a really specific piece of
evidence as to where we`re at as a country right now, because, honestly, it
seems impossible that a scandal this lurid with details like this hasn`t
taken over your local newspaper by now, right?
I mean, it`s impossible that something this big and over the top and this
ridiculous is not a scandal of national fixation. But it`s really not.
It`s really not because, honestly, where we`re at as a country, as scandals
go, this thing can barely compete. I mean, there`s no room in the scandal-
absorbing part of our brains anymore because so many things are cooking all
at once right now.
For example, there`s the case of the Health Secretary Tom Price who bought
and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock in health care
companies while he was writing and sponsoring and voting on legislation
that would affect the price of those stocks. In some cases, he was buying
stock in multiple companies, and then days later taking action as a
Congress that would have the affect of inflating the value of that stock he
just bought. I mean, aspects of his stock trading while he was chairing an
important health committee in Congress were reported by the “Wall Street
Journal,” by CNN, by “ProPublica”, by “Time” magazine, tons of places.
But Republicans still confirmed him as secretary of health and human
service services. Well, you know what, sometimes that stuff comes due,
news becomes history and now, tonight, “ProPublica” has a hair-raising
report that when Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, when he was
fired last weekend, unexpectedly and suddenly by the White House, one of
the cases Preet Bharara was overseeing at the time, according to ProPublica
was a criminal investigation into Tom Price and his stock trades while he
was in Congress.
“ProPublica” is citing one source in their report. We tried all day to get
further comment from anybody involved. The White House told us they
weren`t aware of any federal criminal investigation into Health Secretary
Despite our repeated efforts to reach Tom Price himself and ask him if he
has been notified that he is the subject of a federal criminal
investigation, we got no comment from Tom Price or from his department,
from HHS about it.
And, actually, in fact, we didn`t even get – we didn`t even get a no
comment. We literately got no comment. We get dial tone. Nobody home.
Nobody even there to tell us no. Nobody even, you know, usually what you
get is “I`ll call you right back” and then they never call, we got nobody.
If anybody out there knows how to reach the Department of Health and Human
Services, let us know. We could not get a singing freaking person to
answer the phone all afternoon long today. www.sendittorachel.com.
I mean, this Tom Price thing, this is the kind of thing that will hopefully
result in Congress making some inquiries, right? It`s no small thing for a
cabinet secretary to be under federal criminal investigation, just as it`s
no small thing for a U.S. attorney to be fired in the middle of overseeing
such an investigation, if that is what happened here. So, that`s a big
potential scandal and we can`t get anything out of the administration on
it. Maybe Congress can.
That said, Congress is busy right now. On Monday morning, in a normal
universe, the biggest thing going on in the country would be the start of
the confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch, the nominee to be the next
Supreme Court justice. That is obviously a big deal. Those hearings are
expected to go on for four days starting Monday.
Democrats will likely oppose him in large numbers if not unanimously.
Democrats may also act procedurally to slow down this thing, to slow roll
his nomination as long as possible. Substantively, Democrats appear to be
focusing on his work defending torture and his enthusiasm for Guantanamo
during the George W. Bush administration, but lines of inquiry of potential
scandals can be hard to predict before these things get started. So, we
will see starting Monday morning.
That said, I have to tell you, even the confirmations for a Supreme Court
nominee starting Monday morning, even those hearings are likely to be
overshadowed by the other hearings that are starting on Capitol Hill at the
same time on Monday morning. Monday morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, we get
the first public congressional hearing into the links between the new
administration and Russia.
Former Intelligence Director James Clapper and FBI Director James Comey are
due to testify Monday morning in the first open session testimony that
we`ve got about the Russian intervention into the election to help Donald
Trump and any ties that may exist between Russia and the Trump campaign.
We have been reporting our hearts out on this all day and I can tell you
that there are a lot of rumors circulating right now as to what Director
Comey will testify about on Monday, what he will or won`t describe in terms
of ongoing investigations into links between Trump and Russia.
But despite our best efforts, it`s rumors only at this point. It`s nothing
we can report with confidence as to what Comey is going to say. I mean, in
this case, we`re going to learn it anyway. We`re going to learn what he
has to say by waiting. He`s going to be testifying Monday morning. That`s
Also today, the other inquiry, the one in the Senate, they made their first
announcement about what`s going to be their first public hearing into the
Russian attack on our election. Senator Richard Burr on the left of your
screen, Senator Mark Warner on the right of your screen, they together
announced today about a week and a half after we get Comey and Clapper
testifying on Russia on Monday, but a week and a half later on Thursday,
March 30th, we`re going to get the Senate starting their public inquiry
into Russia as well.
And the Senate hearing, I`ve got to tell you, something I would definitely
sign up for if it was a college class and I was still a surly college
student. Look at the title. I have to say, this sounds awesome,
“Disinformation, a primer in Russian active measures and influence
And it`s in two parts. The first part in the morning is going to be the
history and characteristics of Russian disinformation campaigns and the
second part is going to be the role and capability of cyber operations in
support of those activities. Yes, please, and can I sign up for office
hours now with the T.A. and the professor. That sounds great.
What`s the title again? “Disinformation, a primer in Russian active
measures and influence campaigns.” I would read that – I would read that
if that was a novel. But that was just announced today. That`s going to
be on Thursday, March 30th.
And we also got a related big piece of news today in the form of something
that basically in the form of something that wasn`t announced. You might
remember earlier this week, the NSA, FBI and CIA all got a letter from the
top Republican and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
That letter asked about this guy, Mike Flynn.
You know, it is a scandal in itself. It is a scandal surpassing and even
eclipsing the alleged use of Douglas MacArthur memorabilia in a U.S. Navy
sex and bribery ring in Manila. It is a scandal already of immense
proportions that the national security adviser had to get fired 24 days
into his tenure because of the content of his communications with a foreign
government, with Russia. That is an enormous scandal in its own right, one
that has a lot of unanswered questions around it.
And one of the important things that remains unexplained about Mike Flynn`s
firing as national security adviser is how anybody knew what he was talking
to the Russian government about. Michael Flynn`s calls with the Russians
were apparently listened into by U.S. agencies who were surveilling those
calls. It`s one thing to listen in on Russian government officials but
Americans are not supposed to be surveilled by U.S. agencies, unless
there`s a court-ordered warrant that says it`s OK to do so.
Michael Flynn was surveilled. Why? Was Michael Flynn the subject of a
warrant? If so, was it a warrant for a criminal investigation? Was it a
warrant for a counterintelligence investigation?
And in either instance, if he was on the warrant, if there was a court-
ordered warrant to surveil him because of one of those types of
investigations, how on earth did the White House end up appointing him to
be national security adviser under those circumstances?
So, the CIA, the FBI and the NSA all got a letter demanding that
information about Michael Flynn by today. Why was Mike Flynn surveilled?
Why was Mike Flynn – why were his contacts with the Russians surveilled by
U.S. agencies? Tell us by Friday, March 17. Tell us by today.
That letter sent to the NSA, FBI, CIA, by – it was sent to them by one of
the committees that oversees those agencies. FBI, CIA, NSA, they really
can`t refuse to hand over this information to the intelligence committee.
But apparently, they`re not doing it.
I almost – I almost can`t believe it. This is really, really not normal.
The intelligence chair put out a statement today sort of cryptically
worded, but what it says is that of these three agencies who were sent this
letter, who were told to explain this Michael Flynn thing, told to respond
Of those three agencies, only the NSA, quote, “partially responded.” The
NSA apparently promised the committee that they will fully respond by the
end of next week. But the CIA and FBI - apparently, they haven`t responded
at all. They haven`t said beep, at least not by 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time,
they hadn`t. That`s nuts. I mean, that`s impossible.
That`s at least not normal. That is at least a really big national
security deal. I know it seems like an arcane thing about who you
communicate with and who you have to answer to, but you know what? If
agencies like the FBI and CIA won`t hand over information like this to the
committees that oversee them, that`s a really big national security deal.
That`s not the way things work.
I mean, those agencies may not want to hand it over, but they have to.
They may not want to release that information publicly but they have to
release it confidentially to the committee.
These agencies, FBI, CIA, NSA, right, these agencies are overseen by
Congress. They cannot say no to a request like this from Congress, but
apparently, they`re not answering that`s really strange. What`s going on
I mean, one possibility is that mike Flynn ended up on that surveillance in
error. That it was done improperly or illegally. They shouldn`t have had
him on that surveillance, and in that case, the FBI and/or CIA may be
trying to get its ducks in a row because it may be people who work for
those agencies are about to get in big trouble for mishandling this.
That`s a possibility.
Another darker possibility is that there is some damming information about
Michael Flynn here, about him being the subject of a warrant of some kind,
and maybe the administration folks who now head up the CIA and Department
of Justice, maybe they are somehow impeding the release of this information
to Congress because it will look bad for Mike Flynn and it will look bad
for the administration. I don`t know – we don`t know.
But the FBI and the CIA not responding to the intelligence committee on
this? Uh-uh. That doesn`t fly. Our Constitution doesn`t work that way.
They have to respond and their non-answer is a big deal.
The Russian attack on our election last year, the unexplained connections
between the Trump campaign and Russia during that time, during the time of
the attack, the strangeness, particularly, the strangeness of the FBI in
its treatment of this matter, it`s unsettling. It`s unsettling not just
because this is one scandal among so many scandals for this young
administration. So many scandals that some are being ignored because
they`re not big enough to warrant attention amid other scandals, right?
This is unsettling not just because it`s one scandal among many. This is
unsettling because if the worst is true, if the presidency is effectively a
Russian op, right, if the American presidency right now is the product of
collusion between the Russian intelligence services and an American
campaign – I mean, that is so profoundly big. We not only need to stay
focused on figuring it out, we need to start preparing for what the
consequences are going to be if it proves to be true. We need to start
thinking about how we`re going to deal with the worst revelations if they
do come to light, if they are proved true.
And so, tonight, we`re doing a special report. Tonight, what we`re going
to do with most of the rest of the show is we`re going to start to try to
do that thinking. Tonight, we are going to talk to some of the people who
were the first victims of what happened to us as a country when the
Russians launched the attack. Real people who got hit first, who saw it up
close and got hit in real-time.
They haven`t told their story of how they experienced it and what damage it
did at the time before the country figured out what was going on, but
they`re going to do that starting tonight, starting here. They`re going to
start telling that story. That`s our special report, it starts next.
MADDOW: Last year, 2016, June 1st, as part of staffing up for the
California primary, the Clinton campaign added somebody new to their
communications team. Normal hire, normal expectations.
But then a couple weeks after that new staffer got there, his job got
suddenly very weird, because something weird started happening in the
campaign and it became his beat, his unexpected responsibility to try to
make sense of it, to try to explain it, this thing nobody planned for which
is that Russian government hackers had broken into the Democratic Party`s
computer servers, helped themselves to anything they wanted. Those lifted
documents and e-mail stolen from the Democratic Party and ultimately from
the chairman of the Clinton campaign, they ended up becoming ammunition in
an attack, a foreign attack on the U.S. election, an attack designed to
weaken the Democratic candidate, weaken the Democratic Party, disrupt their
strategy, disrupt their communications and ultimately help the Republican
candidate, Donald Trump, win the election.
It`s easy enough to say that now but in the moment, in the chaos of the
campaign, it was hard to persuade the public to pay attention to that
bigger picture, right, that the election was being disrupted, it was being
tilted. It was being externally operated on by a foreign government in
favor of the candidate that that foreign government preferred. But for
that new Clinton staffer whose job it was to deal with this, this was his
life. He was living this everyday.
As that campaign nightmare was playing out it became this new staffer`s job
to learn everything there was to know about this hacking so he could
explain it to the world and answer everybody`s questions about it. He
watched this hijacking of our election, this attack on our election in real
time, he saw clues about what was happening early on, he had to figure it
out fast, firsthand, live. And now as the country is woken up to the
magnitude of what happened to us last year, that staffer is ready to talk
about it and I think his perspective on what happened is really valuable in
terms of us really understanding what happened and starting to unravel it.
Joining us now for this special report is Glen Caplin. He`s former senior
national spokesperson for the Clinton campaign. His responsibilities
included handling questions about WikiLeaks and hacking and Russia.
Glen Caplin, thank you for getting a babysitter and coming back.
GLEN CAPLIN, SENIOR NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON OF THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Thank
you for having me back.
MADDOW: Yes, I really – I just – I want to get this right. I really
want to hear this, so I`m glad you were able to come back. So, you started
to tell us the story last night. I want to basically back up and start
again at the beginning.
From your perspective, what happened first? What was the first thing that
CAPLIN: Well, the first thing that got weird was the “Washington Post”
broke the story in mid-June that the DNC had been hacked and that was the
first that it started to get weird that –
MADDOW: You didn`t have any indication before that report that that had
happened to the DNC?
CAPLIN: No, we had indication once the report was happening, you know?
They reached out to us for comment and we were aware of the story a day or
two before it broke. But that contact was the first we were aware of the
DNC hack, that was the first time it got weird.
Where it got disturbing was when a couple days later, Guccifer 2.O through
D.C. Leaks started dumping that information.
MADDOW: And Guccifer is – Guccifer 2.0 is like a hacking nom de guerre,
right? It`s a persona?
CAPLIN: It`s a persona that is believed to be Russian intelligence by the
MADDOW: OK. And those – the Guccifer 2 leaks ended up on D.C. Leaks web
site which is something that didn`t exist prior to the campaign. Nobody
ever heard of.
CAPLIN: Correct. And that dump was a massive amount of data, of documents
that was not user friendly and was very hard to get your arms around what
was there. And therefore, it did not get an enormous amount of coverage
and an enormous amount of attention.
MADDOW: What kind of documents was it? It was all stuff internal to the
Democratic Party. Was it donor lists?
CAPLIN: It`s like donor lists. It`s, you know, research, books, which a
compilation of clips of vulnerabilities of yourself and your opponent. I
believe a Donald Trump research book.
MADDOW: So Democratic oppo research on Donald Trump.
CAPLIN: Right, but remember at that time Donald Trump wasn`t paying for
CAPLIN: So the fact that that research book was in there was quite
interesting to us and we believed very, very – from the first dump that
this was intended to help Donald Trump and undermine Hillary Clinton and
the Democratic Party. This wasn`t about her – trying to hurt both sides
or just undermine the election itself.
MADDOW: Well, certainly, in the case – I remember reporting at the time
that in the case of the oppo sort of dossier – the Democrats oppo dossier
on Donald Trump there is – that being published in June meant that any
ammunition the Democratic Party politically had against Trump was then
spent, was then out there –
CAPLIN: It felt like a gift to Donald Trump. That research book being out
was not hurtful to Donald Trump, that was a gift to Donald Trump.
CAPLIN: That was one of the tells that very early on, this was about
MADDOW: And that happened in– so–
CAPLIN: That`s mid-June.
MADDOW: Mid-June. OK, then what happened next?
CAPLIN: Well, what happened next was the WikiLeaks dump on the eve of the
Democratic Convention. So, if you think about it, this is sort of three
shifts, the first is a dump of information in the first place.
The Russians have done espionage for decades. That`s not new. Every
campaign for going back for years has probably been surveilled and there`s
been espionage. It was the information actually being weaponized and put
into the public arena that was new.
MADDOW: What do you mean by that, weaponized?
CAPLIN: Meaning, actually, put in the public arena as opposed to
collecting information for a foreign government`s information and knowing
what campaigns are thinking and things like that, which is the normal –
MADDOW: Rather than them stealing it to use for themselves as the Russian
government, they were redeploying it into the American bloodstream to have
an effect on the way we were dealing with each other as Americans.
MADDOW: All right. You talked about how there was a big shift, an
operational shift that you saw between that Guccifer – the first leak and
the WikiLeaks one, that it was more sophisticated in terms of how it could
be weaponized, how it could be used here.
MADDOW: I want to get into more detail with you on that in just a second.
We`re going to take a quick break.
MADDOW: Glen Caplin is our guest tonight, former senior national
spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton campaign, specifically on the issue of
the Russian attack at the time.
We`ll be right back with more in just a second.
MADDOW: Continuing our discussion now with Glen Caplin, who`s a former
senior national spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, who spent his part
of the 2016 election studying the Russian interference in the campaign and
trying to craft some kind of response in the moment.
Glen, when we left off at the break, you were saying that after this had
been this initial leak with Guccifer that was posted on D.C. Leaks, the
second thing that happened was seemingly more sophisticated leak that came
CAPLIN: Much more. The first one was sloppy, had Russian metadata on it
was not user friendly.
MADDOW: Russian metadata meaning?
CAPLIN: Meaning traces on the actual documents. You could tell there was
Russian language on it.
MADDOW: So, you could tell it was Russian hackers?
CAPLIN: Now, we`re going to WikiLeaks timed on the eve of the convention,
highly searchable user friendly search function, we could very easily cull
the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, in terms of the e-mails and
reporters were able to very quickly search for the Bernie e-mails or the
DWS e-mails. That got metastasized very, very quickly.
MADDOW: And you said in the earlier leak, you had talked to somebody who
was an expert in these things who told you that the Russians were very good
at obtaining stuff but bad at deploying it for propaganda purposes. The
second round, the second level of the attack cured that for them.
CAPLIN: Correct, and the Guccifer 2 persona claimed publicly to have given
that information to WikiLeaks at the time.
MADDOW: What was the affect on the campaign? The timing was insane,
right? This was – this all happened the day after the end of the
Republican convention, the weekend – literally on the eve of the
Democrats` convention. What was the effect?
CAPLIN: It created a lot of stress on the campaign at the convention.
There`s no question about that. But it was also – it`s hard to overstate
how disturbing it is to have this unprecedented intrusion in our democracy.
And we tried very hard to tell that story from the candidate herself, she
spoke about it in all three debates.
Our campaign chairman John Podesta spoke about it aggressively. Our
campaign manager Robby Mook, our communications director, all down the
line, and we tried to tell the story of the much – of this unprecedented
disturbing intrusion in our democracy and unfortunately –
MADDOW: Didn`t stick.
CAPLIN: The coverage tended – was more about what was in the e-mails as
opposed to why these e-mails existed, who is responsible for putting the e-
mails into the public discourse and why and that was – that was
MADDOW: And that was – effectively your job was to try to explain this to
people in a way that would make them get it.
MADDOW: It was just a completely unreceptive media environment.
CAPLIN: Yes. Look, I think there are a couple lessons that need to be
learned I think from this experience. I think political campaigns have a
lesson to learn because this is not a theoretical threat. This is a real
and present danger for every campaign going forward. This is something
they have to deal with. So, political campaigns have to learn the lesson
of how they protect their information going forward.
I think the media needs to learn the lesson of how do you cover something
like this when an adversarial foreign government is – wants you reporting
on the details of this information.
CAPLIN: In the end, none of the e-mails themselves were particularly
damaging but for the last 35 days of the election, it was a headwind that
was constantly in the news.
And third, government – what does government do? And that`s why it`s
disturbing to see a president who rather than taking this issue on doesn`t
believe the intelligence on –
MADDOW: Did you feel like you had support from the administration in
dealing with this as a national security concern or a crime?
CAPLIN: Remember, the administration on October 7th attributed this hack
to the Russian government.
CAPLIN: But what happened on October 7th was after the announcement, you
had the “Access Hollywood” tape, and then an hour later, you had the first
dump of Podesta e-mails.
MADDOW: From WikiLeaks.
CAPLIN: And so, one wonders if that`s a coincidence or not.
MADDOW: There`s one – on that point of whether it was a coincidence,
there`s obviously a very – these signs point in a worrying direction.
It`s been addressed specifically by Jen Palmieri, who was one of your
colleagues on the campaign. I want you to comment on that and I`m actually
going to bring your campaign manager, Robby Mook –
MADDOW: – into the conversation right after this break.
We`ll be back with Glen Caplin and Robby Mook right after this.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re back now with more on our special report on Russian
interference in the presidential election as it happened. We`ve been
talking with Glen Caplin, who is a senior spokesperson for the Clinton
campaign. He got a very early, very close look at the Russian attack on
And now, also, I want to bring into the conversation his boss from the
campaign, Robby Mook, who ran the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Mr. Mook, thank you for joining us tonight. I`m really happy to have you
ROBBY MOOK, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: My pleasure. Thanks.
MADDOW: I know you`ve listened in on my conversation thus far with Glen,
let me ask you about this point that Glen was making about how frustrating
it was to feel like you guys were describing this accurately, you were
putting appropriate emphasis on what was going on here, about the
outrageousness and the unique nature of the fact that Russia had interfered
in the campaign, but it just couldn`t be heard.
I know you well enough to know from our considerations on the air to know
that you were frustrated. Looking back with a few months in hindsight do
you feel like there`s anything different you could have done? Is there any
– is there something you wish you could have changed about the way you
handled it to make people understand better?
MOOK: Yes, it`s a really good question. I think we were frustrated
because as Glen said, when the story first came out in the “Washington
Post”, it was a one and done. I know when that first leak through
WikiLeaks happened at the DNC, I was on TV Sunday morning trying to point
to the fact this was the Russians and part of a strategy. And I think most
people just treated it like spin, and I think part of that is just because
it was so unprecedented. It seemed like something out of a spy novel or
In retrospect, I wish we could have tried to muster more national security
officials to work with reporters and background them, to really understand
how it wasn`t just that this was very possible, but it had to be true based
on, as Glen said, there were Russian – there was Russian language in the
metadata, the hackers that went into the DNC, they were observed for a
little while before they pulled up the drawbridges and they were working
Russian hours. They weren`t working on Russian holidays.
It was totally clear that this is what`s happening and I wish we could have
done more to try to provide that baseline of information so it didn`t seem
so fictional really.
MADDOW: And it`s partly that maybe people didn`t believe it, they weren`t
prepared to believe it, but also, even if they did believe it, I`m not sure
people understood just how unusual and radical a departure this is from the
way things go. We all hear about, you know, there being data breaches in
private companies or even government agencies all the time and we`ve sort
of – it`s become background noise.
This was an international attack by a foreign power to try to change our
MOOK: That`s right and to be honest with you, I think to this day it`s not
being taken as seriously as I think it should in some circumstances, and I
don`t know that the urgency is there to try to root it out, because it`s
not just the fact that they steal information and selectively leak it out,
there`s also a network in place through social media to disseminate
disinformation – as you said Russian active measures to create confusion
or spread things that aren`t true.
If we allow these sorts of behaviors to remain and become entrenched in our
political process, it could have enormous impact on the legislative
process. That`s what I`m particularly worried about actually. You know,
we complain about super PACs and how they overtime through punishing
legislators who don`t vote the way, you know, a corporation or wealthy
people like, that legislators start to fall in line and they make a
decision on how to vote with the idea that punishment could come.
And I`m concerned a legislator could now say, well, I`m not going to take
that vote against Russia because, gosh, you know, they could hack into my
personal e-mail, the e-mails in my family, into my campaign.
We cannot allow that to happen. That`s why we have to take action to
prevent this in the future.
MADDOW: There`s – the prospect that this wasn`t just a Russian attack,
but that it was a Russian attack in which the Trump campaign was complicit,
is obviously yet further level of concern.
I have one last question for each of you on that point. I`m going to ask
you that after the break.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We`re back now with our special report on Russian interference in
the presidential election as it happened.
Glen Caplin was a senior spokesperson for the campaign. Robby Mook is also
joining us from Washington. He, of course, ran the campaign.
Glen, Jen Palmieri is one of your senior colleagues on the campaign. She
said a couple of weeks ago here on MSNBC. She said about the Trump
campaign and the Russians, “I believe that there was collusion. I believe
that the Trump staff, Trump associates in some form, were at a minimum
coordinating with WikiLeaks. And the timing of the leaks, they were just
way too prepared.”
She said, “When WikiLeaks came out with their leak du jure in the morning,
the Trump campaign was ready to go with their statement about that.” That
she`s saying it was her impression.
What is your view on that point, and what did you observe in that regard?
CAPLIN: I – there is a lot of connections to the Trump campaign and
Russia that we need to fully understand. So, yes, what Jen is saying, I
But I think every American, whether they`re a Trump voter or a Hillary
voter, deserves the answer to this very, very important question and we
need to get to the bottom of it.
MADDOW: But when you were seeing stuff happen in real time, did you feel
the WikiLeaks stuff that was happening and the Trump campaign stuff, did it
seem coordinated? Did you see evidence of anything that –
CAPLIN: We were seeing RT tweet, the WikiLeaks dump of the day before
MADDOW: That`s collusion between Russian government and WikiLeaks.
CAPLIN: And, you know, Roger Stone admitted – during the campaign said
that he was back-channeling with Julian Assange. He seemed to predict the
Podesta e-mails. He recently came out that he was direct messaging with
Guccifer 2 over Twitter.
MADDOW: And so, not a – not a formal campaign adviser but a long-time
associate of Mr. Trump?
CAPLIN: A long-time confidant and associate who, by the way, has publicly
taken credit for Paul Manafort getting the job as campaign manager.
There`s a lot of connections here. You need to follow the dots and the
puzzle`s coming together. We need to understand the full picture.
But every single American deserves an answer to this question.
MADDOW: Robby, same question. Obviously, collusion is the big scary
possibility here. And we`d – you know, nobody said that they have direct
evidence of collusion. In your experience of it, did you see evidence for
MOOK: Well, as Glen said, I think we`ve got to answer this question. It
can be pretty simply done. Congress can get to the bottom of this and they
seem to be beginning that process, that`s good.
You know, as Glen mentioned, Roger Stone admitted that there were some
communications there. I would also just say, you know, let`s step back for
a second. The whole reason we`re having the discussion about Michael Flynn
and this wiretapping is because the NSA was tapping Russian agents. And in
the course of tapping those agents, those agents were speaking to Trump
And so, we know that there were conversations. We just – we`re waiting to
find out what they were about. And as I said, Congress can solve this
The last thing I`d say about it, though, is it`s so important that this not
be seen as re-litigating the election or a partisan witch hunt. We`ve got
to get to the bottom of this to make sure it doesn`t happen again. And
I`ve been encourage at least very much on the Senate side, and we`re
starting to see on the House side, bipartisanship to do this together.
MADDOW: Robby Mook and Glen Caplin, both formerly of the Clinton campaign
– thank you very much for helping us with this tonight. I have a feeling
we may ask you back on the same topic as we learn more. Thanks, gentlemen.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, as you know, alongside the first public Trump/Russia hearings
in the House Monday morning, in the Senate Monday morning will be the first
Supreme Court nomination hearings for Neil Gorsuch. To get ready for those
Gorsuch hearings, Sunday night 5:00 p.m. Eastern, MSNBC is going to be a
special look at Gorsuch and those hearings. It`s going to be hosted by the
one and only Ari Melber. You should watch that Sunday night.
Ari is also sitting in for Lawrence tonight because he works too much.
Good morning, Ari.
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