The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/23/17 Manchester bombing update, Trump overseas trip
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: May 23, 2017
Guest: Julie Zebrak, Jackie Speier
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We are following several different stories that continue to develop into
the late evening tonight. In terms of the time difference, it is five
hours ahead of American East Coast Time in England. So, it`s after 2:00 in
the morning now in England.
That country is now not only dealing with the aftermath of that horrific
bombing of that pop concert in Manchester, England, last night which
claimed 22 lives. They are also now officially at what they`re calling a
critical alert level in Britain. We used to have that color-coded alert
system in our country after 9/11. We no longer have that. We now have
something called the National Terrorism Advisory System, which sends out
targeted alerts for specific incidents and specific places.
But in Britain, they`ve still got a nationwide alert system, and tonight,
British Prime Minister Theresa May raised their nationwide alert level to
critical which in the prime minister`s words means that another attack may
be imminent in Great Britain.
Now, this critical alert level means that they are deploying troops in the
streets. They are putting the British military in the street alongside
British police. There have been raids today in Britain. There has been at
least one arrest reportedly in conjunction with last night`s bombing.
There has been a lot of controversy about U.S. officials and U.S. news
sources publishing the name of the man who`s believed to have been the
bomber, the suicide bomber. We`re going to have more on that story. We`re
going to have the latest from London and from Manchester coming up just in
just a few minutes this hour.
Here at home, today, new developments in the scandal plaguing our new
presidential administration continue to overshadow more current events
continue to overshadow the footage and the pool reports from the
president`s first overseas trip. We don`t know why, but two of the
president`s very top advisors, his senior strategist Steve Bannon and his
chief of staff, Reince Priebus, they appear to have been sent home early
from the foreign trip. We know that each of them made it as far as Saudi
Arabia, which was the first stop on the trip and the White House insists
that the plan all along was for them to just go to Saudi Arabia and then
fly right back, but honestly there is no contemporaneous record of any such
plan for Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon.
And although we do not know why they have now been sent home early while
the rest of the administration is still abroad with Trump, it would not be
strange given the circumstances if the administration felt like they needed
to get some of their top people home right quick, even in the middle of
that trip, to try to keep a lid on what`s going on here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: We issued
two subpoenas to the two Michael Flynn businesses that we`re aware of,
Flynn Intel LLC and Flynn Intel Inc., both located in Alexandria, Virginia,
with this specific list of documents because while we disagree with General
Flynn`s lawyers interpretation of taking the Fifth, the clearer it is –
even more clear that a business does not have a right to take a Fifth if
it`s a corporation.
So, those subpoenas, one has been served, one is in the process of being
served and we keep all options on the table, but we think the committees
move forward aggressively.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One has been served, one is in the process of being served.
Today, that was the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr on
the left side of your screen and the top Democrat and Senate Intel, Mark
Warner, on the right side of your screen. The two of them jointly
announcing a new round of subpoenas that they sent out today in the Trump-
These ones target the Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn,
specifically his businesses. Now, we know that Mike Flynn is currently
fighting the committee subpoena for him to testify and for him to hand over
documents. He`s trying to take the Fifth. The committee is now hashing it
out with Flynn`s lawyers in terms of what he`s able to take the Fifth on.
But meanwhile, as of late this afternoon, they`re sending subpoenas to his
businesses and businesses that Senator Warner said they can`t take the
Fifth. Businesses are not people, my friend.
And if you needed any further assurance that the Trump-Russia investigation
is now all about following the money is now very much about businesses and
business ties and banking records and finances also consider the late-
breaking news today reported first by Fox Business and now confirmed by NBC
News that the president has now chosen his private counsel who he will use
to try to save his presidency to the extent that his presidency has to be
saved by legal maneuvering.
In 2005, a “New York Times” reporter named Timothy O`Brien went on to be
the business section editor of “The New York Times”. Reporter Timothy
O`Brien published this book about Donald Trump, and one of the things
Timothy O`Brien claimed in this book, “Trump Nation”, was that Donald Trump
wasn`t a billionaire. Timothy O`Brien`s book said Trump was worth not
multiple billions of dollars not even on billion dollars, he was close to
closer to $250 million in terms of his net worth.
And, you know, like who would be mad about that, right? I mean, once
you`re a 250 millionaire, I think we can all agree you`re spectacularly
rich and who cares if you`re just that rich or even richer than that,
right? Who cares?
But Donald Trump -really cared a lot about that he cared so much that he
sued that New York Times reporter Timothy O`Brien for that book,
specifically for saying in that book that Trump wasn`t a billionaire. And,
you know, it was clever. In the event that Trump actually wasn`t a
billionaire, he came up with a way to solve that problem, tool, with this
lawsuit, because he sued Timothy O`Brien over that book for $5 billion in
damages, which is hilarious.
And what resulted was a ridiculous lawsuit that was basically a suit in
which Trump tried to prove his net worth, tried to prove that he was a
multibillionaire and that gave rise to the famous deposition where Trump
claimed that his net worth rose and fell according to his feelings on any
given day, that`s how he tried to prove he was a billionaire. And so, no,
he did not prove he was a billionaire.
He brought the lawsuit insisting that he could show in court, he could
prove in court how much he was worth and in that lawsuit, it turns out he
could that show in court that his net worth was somehow magically larger
than what he could prove.
He didn`t win the case. He didn`t – he didn`t – he didn`t get his five
billion dollars in damages from the “New York Times” reporter. The Trump
lawsuit about that book was dismissed and then Trump appealed that court
ruling and then his appeal was dismissed.
But now, it`s interesting, the lawyer who brought that case for Trump the
man who masterminded the idea of suing a “New York Times” reporter for five
billion dollars to prove truck was a billionaire and then not being able to
prove Trump was a billionaire once they got it into court so that reporter
won that, the lawyer who masterminded that case is now the lawyer who our
new president is expected to retain to be his private counsel, quote, on
matters related to the Russia investigation. Sure, why not him?
Lawyer Mark Kasowitz also has played a role in the litigation concerning
Trump University for which Trump ultimately had to pay $25 million to
settle fraud charges. He`s represented Trump in a number of other business
matters, some successful, some not. He was involved in the restructuring
of the massive and controversial debt in Trump`s Atlantic City casinos.
His most recent high-profile gig since Trump has been president though has
been on another matter, and you might have heard about this. You might
have heard about this.
A few weeks ago, maybe a month or two ago, we actually reported this on the
show, the first high-profile thing that Trump`s lawyer has been involved in
since Trump`s been president is that he was taken on as the counsel to
represent a Russian state-controlled bank, of course, he was. Sberbank
which is a funny sounding name if you don`t speak Russian and you only
speak English because it sounds like something else.
Sberbank is the largest state-run bank in Russia. In the southern district
of Manhattan, there was a massive federal civil lawsuit against Sberbank,
basically accusing them of destroying the granite mining industry in Russia
and a state-sponsored act of corporate raiding. And when the biggest
Russian state-controlled bank needed counsel in New York to defend them on
that this year, they picked a man who`s otherwise famous for being Donald
Trump`s lawyer. The lawyer he uses in particular for stuff like suing “The
New York Times”.
And now, if these reports tonight are accurate, that is who will be leading
Trump`s legal team for the various investigations related to the Russian
attack on the U.S. election last year and the question of whether or not
the Trump campaign cooperated in that attack in any way.
And to that point, the man who was the director of the CIA when the Russian
attack on our election was happening last year, the man who was the
director of the CIA at the time any such cooperation or collusion would
have happened if it happened, today, he testified as to what he saw last
year as CIA director. He testified as to what he saw, what he believed it
might have meant and why he believed it was serious enough at the time that
his agency took what it had found out through foreign spying and they
handed that to the FBI last summer, which is what started the FBI`s
counterintelligence investigation of Trump and Russia last summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I was convinced in the summer that the
Russians were trying to interfere an election and they were very
aggressive. They had – it was a multi-faceted effort and I wanted to make
sure that we were able to expose as much of that as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But was there intelligence that said that the Trump
campaign was colluding with Moscow during their campaign?
BRENNAN: It was intelligence that the Russian intelligence services were
actively involved in this effort. And having been involved in many
counterintelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians try to do.
They try to suborn individuals and they try to get individuals, including
U.S. persons, to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.
And I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with
U.S. persons. And so, therefore, by the time I left office on January
20th, I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the
Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the
campaign or not to work on their behalf again either in a witting or
unwitting fashion. And so, therefore, I felt as though the FBI
investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those
But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and
intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine
whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Did you see evidence of collusion,
coordination, conspiracy between Donald Trump and Russian state actors?
BRENNAN: I saw information intelligence that was worthy of investigation
by the bureau to determine whether or not such cooperation of conclusion
was taking place,
GOWDY: That doesn`t help us a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That doesn`t help us a lot? What are you looking for help with?
Because if you`re – if what you`re looking for is the CIA`s – CIA
director`s assessment of whether there was sufficient cause, whether there
was a well-grounded basis to start the FBI`s counterintelligence
investigation into the sitting president and his campaign and the question
of whether they colluded with Russia, a counterintelligence investigation
which continues to this day and is unprecedented in American history, if
that`s where you`re looking for, it definitely helps a lot with that,
because he apparently is the one, CIA Director John Brennan is the one
who`s is basically saying that the information that the CIA was able to
observe, what he was able to see a CIA director last year was worrying
enough that it was handed to the bureau and that`s what started that
I think that`s very helpful to understanding what happened.
Former CIA Director Brennan also helped everyone understand today, maybe
for the first time in open session, how this kind of thing might have
worked, how the – if this was a Russian op, if our election was in part a
foreign intelligence operation, how might the Russians conceivably have
pulled this off. If there was any American cooperation or collusion with
what they did, how did the Russians do that? I mean, if they did succeed
in getting American collusion, if they succeeded in getting the Trump
campaign to collude with them, how might that have worked even if the Trump
folks didn`t start off intending to side with another country against our
own, how could the Russians have done it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: I have studied Russian intelligence activities over the years and
have seen it again manifest in many different of our counterintelligence
cases and how they have been able to get people, including inside of CIA to
become treasonous and frequently individuals who go along that treasonous
path do not even realize they`re along that path until it gets to be a bit
too late. And that`s why again my – my radar goes up early when I see
certain things that I know what the Russians are trying to do and I don`t
know whether or not the targets of their efforts are as mindful of the
Russian intentions as they need to be.
It is traditional intelligence collection tradecraft in terms of humans,
which is to identify individuals that you think are either very influential
or rising stars and you will try to develop relationship with them and the
Russians frequently will do that through cutouts or through false flag
operations. They won`t identify themselves as Russians or as members of
Russian government. They will try to develop that person relationship and
then over time, they will try to get individuals to do things on their
And that`s why, again, having been involved in a lot of counterintelligence
cases over the years and seeing this pattern over and over again, my radar
goes up when I see that the Russians are actively involved in a particular
intelligence operation or campaign and that U.S. persons are being
contacted by Russian officials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: See in some ways all of us who are watching this unfold every day
in this remarkable news, right, in some ways we`re all a little stumped by
the Trump Russia story, right? Because as Americans, we all know American
politics. We know like the range of things that can happen in American
politics, or at least we thought we did.
But things like this Trump Russia thing, they don`t happen in American
politics. So, they`re foreign to us and everything about it is unexpected.
But you know what? Things like this do happen in Russian espionage
efforts. This is foreign to us as politics. This is not foreign to John
Brennan as a long time, lifelong observer of Russian espionage efforts.
So, ask the people who understand how the Russian work, right? Ask the
people who understand how the Russian foreign intelligence operations, ask
the people who know how Russian active measures against foreign enemies,
how those things work, and to them, it sort of makes sense when they look
at it through Russian eyes.
So, hearing about how the Russians approach an op like this, how they
approach Americans, how they try to persuade unwitting Americans to
ultimately betray our country, that is helpful for figuring out what the
Russians might have been hoping for and trying for here even though we
don`t know if the Trump associates they contacted went along with it. And
there`s one last thing that came up today. This is the last thing and this
is this isn`t even an uglier prospect that was also raised today in this
questioning with a former CIA director.
I want you to watch how CIA Director John Brennan reacts here. So, they`ve
been talking at this hearing over the course of this remarkable testimony
from Brennan and it ultimately gets to the point where they`re talking
almost protectively or at least empathetically about how some Americans
might accidentally get dragged into this, how some Americans might have
been unwittingly duped into colluding with the Russians in this attack,
they might have been led into it without really even knowing what they were
getting into. It`s almost a sympathetic portrayal of what it might have
been like for any Americans to have colluded with the Russians in this
attack last year.
But then Eric Swalwell on the committee gets to a very uncomfortable
alternate point. He basically says, yes, bumbling into or accidentally or
otherwise innocently helping the Russians, that`s an interesting scenario
here. But what about people who get caught concealing what they were doing
with the Russians? Isn`t that a different ball of wax?
Watch Brennan`s response here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Director, there is what is referred to
as consciousness of guilt evidence. That`s when somebody lies about a
material fact and that fact – the fact of them lying can be used against
that person because it would be in essence an effort to cover up what
happened, meaning if – you know, you`re telling the truth you wouldn`t
have anything to cover up.
With respect to some of the contacts that you`ve referred to between Russia
and Trump campaign officials, are you aware of any of those U.S. persons
who have contacts with Russia, either making false statements about those
contacts or failing to disclose those contacts?
BRENNAN: I think that`s something you can – we can pursue in close
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not an open session. We`ll talk about that in a classified
So, the Russians may be really good at drafting Americans into their
schemes against the United States. But once Americans are involved in
those schemes, and they start lying about that fact, concealing that fact,
well then, that concealment, you know, takes it into a closed session
So, remarkable testimony today for the former CIA director. And, you know,
new subpoenas have just gone out tonight some Mike Flynn`s businesses in
Virginia. Business associates of Mike Flynn`s have already received
subpoenas from a federal grand jury convened by a U.S. attorney in the
eastern district of Virginia.
It has been reported that the prosecutor leading that inquiry centering on
Flynn out of that U.S. attorney`s office is a veteran espionage prosecutor
who was brought in for that purpose from the national security division of
the Justice Department. The Department of Defense inspector general is
investigating documented claims from the Pentagon that Flynn concealed
evidence of his foreign payments from the Army.
The Oversight Committee in the House just released documents that appear to
show that Flynn concealed evidence of his foreign payments last year on his
security clearance application as well. I mean, just on that matter of
Mike Flynn and his foreign payments, the White House generally, the vice
president in particular, continue to deny knowledge of those foreign
payments to Flynn even after they were notified about them emphatically and
over a period of weeks and months multiple times, to the point where the
Mike Pence led transition sent to thank you for your letter receipt to the
House Oversight Committee when the House Oversight Committee had put in
writing to the transition their concerns about Mike Flynn`s foreign
So, even if you just take that slice of it, just on the issue of Mike Flynn
and his foreign payments, we talked about concealment being a complicated
fact – complicating factor here, there would seem to be a lot of reported
evidence of him appearing to try to conceal those foreign ties and the
White House trying to conceal them for him. The financial trail is lit up
like broad daylight on Mike Flynn, right, and multiple investigations are
now thundering down that path like a convoy a semis.
But we have learned tonight that there may actually be a problem with the
financial side of all of these Trump-Russia investigations, and we`ve got
that ahead tonight and a lot more besides. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Part of how we learned about the new financial focus of the
investigations of the new administration and the president`s campaign was
when the Senate Intelligence Committee asked for help in its investigation
from the Treasury Department, from the Treasury Department`s Financial
Crimes Enforcement Network.
It was reported at the time that not only had Senate intel asked them for
help with their investigation but the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
at the Treasury Department had said, yes, they would turn over financial
records for which their repository agency if it turned out they had any
records that would be relevant to the Trump-Russia investigation. That
request by Senate Intel is part of how we knew that around the time the
White House started freaking out and doing stuff like firing the FBI
director, there was also this shift in the Trump-Russia investigations at
that same time toward checking out financial ties and business ties.
It`s part of how we sort of observed that shift happening. But now we can
observe that something appears to have gone wrong there. You first got an
inkling of this last week. Senator Mark Warner, top Democrat on the
intelligence committee, let it be known that even though the Treasury
Department was reportedly cooperating and handing over these records, in
reality, they weren`t handing anything over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARNER: We request a documentation from FinCEN that will be absolutely
critical to the Russia investigation. Our ask include things like the
FinCEN flash notices and the 314A requests. I know that we`ve received a
preliminary response from treasury that they`re, quote-unquote, working on
it. Well, I got to tell you, that`s not good enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was last week, Tuesday of last week. Hey, we`re not actually
getting this stuff that we requested. Since then, it does not appear that
things have improved and now, the Democrats are starting to raise a flag
about this. Today, the Democrats on the Banking Committee which also
includes Mark Warner, they all voted against an otherwise non-controversial
Treasury Department nominee, saying that honestly they have nothing against
her, but they`re all voting against her to try to shake loose information
from the Treasury, that Treasury said they`d hand over for the Trump
Russian investigation, but they haven`t handed it over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARNER: We`re seeing the Treasury is start to come – starting to comply.
We`re trying to hone our questions a little bit with more specificity.
This is a large database, but there really does need to be a sense of
urgency. I mean I had told Ms. Mandelker that I was going to oppose her
nomination I`d otherwise supported. I think she is well-qualified, I`ll
agree with all her positions, but I think she is well qualified.
So I just would like to see a little more sense of urgency from the FinCEN
department on responding to our requests.
They have responded in part in part and they – what we can`t – I can`t
ascertain yet, is this is this truly just slow walking or is this just
trying to fully understand the nature of our requests?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Are they slow walking?
Senator Mark Warner, that was him earlier today calling on the Treasury
Department to step up, start handing over these financial records they said
they would provide for the Trump-Russia investigation.
And this has been an interesting part of this investigation. Obviously, we
have seen what appears to be a sort of rising political stress in the White
House, paralleling a rising or an increased focus on financial matters and
business matters in the investigations. A key part of that is this
interesting part of the Treasury, FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement
Network which has access to these key documents that everybody says will be
absolutely critical to figuring out if there was any monetary aspect of the
collusion that`s being investigated by the FBI and by these committees.
If this is, in fact, a follow the money investigation, right, or the
committee`s now being impeded in their ability to follow the money, as long
as they don`t get these documents or at least they don`t get them at the
pace they think they ought to. The Treasury Department is led by former
Trump fundraiser now Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Is the Treasury
Department conceivably gumming up the works on this part of the
investigation? Could they even do that? Is the Financial Crimes
Enforcement Network within Treasury independent enough so that that
couldn`t be a factor? Is this just the normal course of business? Is
FinCEN something that we should essentially keep eyes on here, or is this
something that we shouldn`t worry about because they`re going to be
professionals here no matter how difficult it is to work out with these
I don`t know the answer to questions and I want to ask somebody who has
close, upfront information about how this agency works.
Joining us now is Julie Zebrak. She`s a career attorney at the Justice
Department and she`s a former senior advisor at FinCEN, at the Financial
Crimes Enforcement Network at the Treasury Department.
I should tell you, full disclosure, she was also a supporter of Hillary
Clinton during the campaign.
Ms. Zebrak, thank you for your years of service in government and thanks
for being with us tonight.
JULIE ZEBRAK, FORMER FINCEN OFFICIAL: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, I know most of your career service was at the Justice
Department. You spent a shorter amount of time at FinCEN.
But let me just ask you about that. I`m trying to sort of understand what
FinCEN does and how important they are to these investigations. It seems
to me like there are a lot of agencies the kind of second their employees
send over their employees to work hand in glove, to work on-site with
FinCEN so that lots of different agencies can get access to their financial
records. Is that a fair assessment?
ZEBRAK: Rachel, I wouldn`t necessarily say that lots of agencies send
their folks over to FinCEN on what we usually call in the government on a
detail. But it definitely happens, yes.
MADDOW: And in your work there, can you describe the – can you describe
what you did, but also what the relationship was between an agency like the
Justice Department and FinCEN, if the Justice Department wanted to use
records that FinCEN might have, how would that process work?
ZEBRAK: Sure. So, I served as a senior advisor to the deputy director of
FinCEN. The deputy director is now serving as the acting director of
FinCEN, and I served as a senior advisor. I went over there as a career
employee. It was not on a detail, Justice did not send me but I went over
and was hired by Treasury to serve in that role.
With respect to your question about could other agencies get information
from FinCEN – absolutely. FinCEN has the authority to share information
they collect, which they collect under the Bank Secrecy Act and under the
Patriot Act from financial institutions, and they have the ability to with
that data to analyze it, to sort of connect the dots and to the extent that
they are seeing trends or issues that they think may be tied to terrorism
financing or be tied to money laundering activities or other illicit
financial activities, they have the authority to share that with an agency
such as the Justice Department through the FBI, or possibly with the law –
oh sorry excuse me with the U.S. attorneys offices or with the Criminal
Division at Justice.
MADDOW: That is very helpful. I didn`t – I feel like I`ve been – I`ve
been sort of working around the edges of trying to understand this agency.
It`s not that old. FinCEN has it doesn`t exist as it existed in this form
MADDOW: – for all that many years, so there aren`t, you know, a lot of –
there isn`t a lot written about in terms of understanding it. But let me
ask you, we played a clip there from Senator Warner talking about what he
had requested from FinCEN and what he was expecting to get as part of the
Trump Russia investigation.
And he mentioned two things: flash notices and 314A requests, and I keep
seeing those two things described over and over again as the relevant
records here. What are those two things mean?
ZEBRAK: Right. So, with 314A, basically, that`s the FinCEN gets its
authority to collect information under the statute and 314 refers back to
the U.S. Patriot Act.
ZEBRAK: So, under 314A, FinCEN, uses its authorities to regulate banks and
what our financial institutions, not just banks, it could be – it could be
like a Western Union type organization. But they have the authority to
regulate them and what that means is basically, they can require financial
institutions to provide information with respect to what are called
suspicious activity reports or what our currency transaction reports.
So, for example, everybody`s heard of that rule where if you – at a bank,
if you go in and you try and deposit over $10,000, that sort of sets off a
red flag, and so, that would be reported in something called the currency
So, the currency transaction report data – the suspicious activity report
data gets collected and then FinCEN houses that information and has the
ability to analyze it.
MADDOW: Aha, OK.
ZEBRAK: So, what`s interesting about what FinCEN does as opposed to say
the FBI is that they are already collecting that information. It`s housed
there, and so then, it`s just a matter of combing through it as you do with
other types of intelligence, to figure out what kinds of information you
can piece together and connect the dots.
MADDOW: I get it. I`m starting – I am starting to finally get it.
Julie Zebrak, former senior advisor in the Financial Crimes Enforcement
Network, thank you for helping us understand this. It`s been an
impenetrable part of this investigative process and you have made it much
more clear for us tonight. Thank you.
ZEBRAK: Great. Thank you.
MADDOW: So, that is fascinating. So, that Senate Intelligence Committees
and presumably the FBI and all the other places, they want those suspicious
activity reports. They want those flash notices about things that might be
related to money laundering or terrorist financing or whatever, and they
want to know if any of them might be relevant to this Trump-Russia
They`re not – that doesn`t mean the Treasury Department is out there as
financial cops looking for this stuff. They collect all this stuff all the
time. It`s just a matter somebody going through the records to see if
there`s a match for what these guys are looking for.
I think (ph) they should be going faster. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We`re now a little more than 24 hours past the suicide bombing
close of a big pop concert, a big arena in Manchester, England, last night.
The initial reporting last night was 19 people killed. Officials have now
increased that toll to 22 people killed, including children as young as 8
among the victims.
In terms of what we know about the investigation so far, Scotland Yard
reports that it is, quote, large scale, fast moving, and making good
progress. A top terrorism official at Scotland Yard said tonight that,
quote, multiple searches are still ongoing. He said they cannot be certain
yet, quote, if there was a wider group involved in the attack.
This morning, police in Manchester arrested the 23-year-old brother of the
suspected suicide bomber. It`s not clear that the brother was involved,
but British security officers have been questioning him.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for last night`s attack, though there`s no
real evidence for whether or not ISIS`s claim of responsibility is
legitimate. They don`t seem to have any specific knowledge of how the
attack was carried out that would prove that it was them.
I can also tell you that the unfolding of this story, the getting and
giving of information on this story, has become as – it`s always fraught
after a terrorist attack honestly. But now, in this case, it`s a matter of
some international controversy.
Earlier today, a number of American media outlets named the bombing
suspect, a 22-year-old Manchester native whose parents had fled the Gadhafi
regime in Libya and that news first broke in the American press, sourcing
U.S. intelligence officials who said they had been briefed on the
investigation, but that news, that name broke over here even as British
officials were saying they might not release that name at all today while
the investigation was still unfolding.
“The Guardian” newspaper tonight reporting, quote, the Trump
administration`s apparent indiscretion related to the name seems likely to
cause consternation in London and could raise questions about future
cooperation in the long term. We needed another reminder that America`s
international relationships, particularly around intelligence, things are
having a very fragile moment right now, we perhaps didn`t need it right now
in the immediate aftermath of a large terrorist attack against our closest
ally, but that`s what we`ve got.
I keep you posted as we learn more about this investigation in Manchester.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: I`d like to spend some time talking
about the outsized role that the Russian oligarchy plays in terms of
supporting the Russian government. It`s been said that there – when the
Russians want to cultivate a U.S. person, they will do it over a long
period of time. Is that your experience?
BRENNAN: Oh, yes, I guess a lot depends on the U.S. person and their
willingness to work with the Russians.
SPEIER: Were you aware that they were attempting to cultivate then real
estate developer Donald Trump for almost eight years?
BRENNAN: I`m not going to talk about any individuals.
SPEIER: Are Russian oligarchs encouraged to invest in the United States?
Is there an expectation that they`re going to provide information to
president Putin about what`s going on in the United States.
BRENNAN: I would fully anticipate that some of the key Russian oligarchs
and their business interests are tapped on a regular basis by Russian
intelligence for information. Yes.
SPEIER: So, were any of the oligarchs investing in U.S. properties owned
by then real estate developer Trump?
BRENNAN: I don`t know the answer to that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s California Congresswoman Jackie Speier today, questioning
former CIA Director John Brennan about how exactly Russia uses Russians
with money for the Russian government`s intelligence purposes.
Today, we learned that the businesses of Trump national security adviser
Mike Flynn are the next subpoena targets for the Senate Intelligence
Committee, even as Mike Flynn himself tries to avoid testifying by taking
Today, we also learned that one of Trumps business lawyers is who he`s
expected to bring on as his outside counsel to try to preserve his
presidency in the face of these ongoing Russia investigations.
And this, of all comes in the wake of “The Washington Post” reporting on
Friday that FBI investigation`s are increasingly focused on whether
financial crimes were committed by people close to the president. And now,
tonight, we have been talking about these new unsettling questions about
the Treasury Department, about whether the Trump administration, the
Treasury Department under Trump is actually handing over the banking and
financial information that it has, that may be relevant to this
investigation, that has been requested and is supposedly being handed over
to the investigatory bodies.
As all of these signs start to point toward money, toward business ties,
for finances, the one House Democrat who is on both the Armed Services
Committee and the Intelligence Committee keeps bringing the focus back to
money, back to finances back to business ties if money is the center of the
investigations, now if money is the key to figuring out the Trump brushes
story and whether all these contacts between the Kremlin and Trump world
were all coincidences or not, do we really believe that the money is
followable? Are these committees, these investigators, actually able to
access the information that they need and follow these trails?
Joining us now is Congressman Jackie Speier, member of the House Armed
Services and Intelligence Committee.
Congresswoman Speier, I really appreciate you being here tonight. Thank
you. Thank you for your time.
SPEIER: Great to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, you have been – part of the reason I wanted to talk to you
about this is that I feel like you have been, obviously, doing all your own
work and all your own reading on this and you`ve been pushing on some
issues before your colleagues seem to be raising them.
And I wanted to ask you how you feel about the financial side of this
investigation and that question about whether or not your committee the
other investigatory bodies are really capable of following the money here.
SPEIER: You know, it`s a very good question because you really need
forensic accountants. You need FinCEN operatives who would be stationed in
our committees to kind of do that work. Now, certainly, the FBI has the
ability to do that but our committee staff really needs to be buttress with
many more experts that can help us follow the money. And the money is
really what`s going to give us the answers. I believe.
Can you get that? What would it take to staff up the committee with more
experts, more full-time staffers than you`ve got right now? Would that
need to be a congressional appropriation passed and signed by the
SPEIER: Well, there has been an appropriation offered to the committee and
the staffing up is taking place I believe there is one person from FinCEN
who has been out posted to the committee. So, there`s the potential to
have that kind of expertise with us as we delve into these issues. You
know, the other area that I`m concerned about is this EB-5 visa, that`s
made available to individuals in foreign countries who for $500,000 or a
million dollars of an investment can actually get a green card in the
United States. And once you have that green card, you can move backwards
and forwards and around with a great deal of alacrity.
So, I wonder to what extent many of these oligarchs that have purchased
units in Trump Towers in Florida and in New York have gained them through
those EB-5 visas and again we know that the Kushner family had attempted to
use that in China very recently.
MADDOW: Is there any line that you can draw or any reporting that you can
direct us to that suggests what any connection might be between Trump
business ties and Russia – Trump you know Russian financing or having
Russian buyers for his properties and what that has to do with the Russian
attack on the election? I feel like I`m starting to learn a lot about each
of those two things, I`m not sure how they connect though.
SPEIER: Well, it probably has more to do with whether or not the president
is going to be willing to take on President Putin if in fact he is tied to
him or the Russian oligarchs for financial reasons within his real estate
development empire and there are a number of Russian oligarchs and most of
this is open source information that have close ties with the Trump
organization and who have done deals with the Trump organization.
So, you couple that with the fact that so many of the campaign operatives
had relationships with Russia, with President Putin, had provide services
to him or with some of the Russian oligarchs, and it begins to look like a
web that is so intertwined that it`s no doubt that we`re finding concern
among so many of us that we don`t have a president who`s independent of the
MADDOW: Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, member of the House
Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee – really
appreciate your time tonight, ma`am. Thank you very much for being with
SPEIER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Watch this. Little piece of tape here. I hereby submit this very
long pause as the most uncomfortable moment in American national news
today. Just count – count it out, count how long this goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Have you talked about this issue
with Admiral Rogers?
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: That is – that is something
that I would like to withhold that question at this particular point in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I believe that was a full nine seconds. I think that was a nine-
second pause translate in Congress time into a nine months pregnant pause
for the Director of National Intelligence. What he gave birth to at the
end of that pause is next.
MADDOW: Citing current and former officials, “Washington Post” reported
last night that President Trump contacted the Director of National
Intelligence and the head of the NSA, and asked them both in March to
please publicly deny any collusion in the Russia investigation. Those
intelligence chiefs refused to the president`s request.
NBC News subsequently reported that after each of those officials got those
separate sort of disturbing phone calls from the president, the two of them
talked about it amongst themselves. Quote: The two men exchanged notes
about their conversations with the president. The Director of National
Intelligence was asked about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLUMENTHAL: Have you talked about this issue with Admiral Rogers?
COATS: That is – that is something that I would like to withhold that
question at this particular point in time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I would like to withhold at this particular point in time. If
those two officials did talk to each other about their communications with
the president, if that reporting holds up, it means that Coats and Rogers,
head of the Office of National Intelligence and the head of the NSA,
they`re now both contemporaneous witnesses to each other`s account of what
the president did when he very inappropriately contacted them and asked
them to publicly weigh in on an ongoing FBI investigation.
If there does end up being an obstruction of justice probe involving this
White House, you can expect Dan Coats, the Director of National
Intelligence, and Mike Rogers, the head of the NSA, to be very, very
important witnesses, not just in their own right, not just for what they
experienced, but as corroborating witnesses for each other. Oops.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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