The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 6/26/2017 Jared Kushner hires High-Profile Criminal Attorney
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: June 26, 2017
Guest: Ezra Levin, Neal Katyal, Dahlia Lithwick
HAYES: 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.
The president`s son-in-law has tonight hired one the of country`s most
prominent criminal defense lawyers. This prominent criminal defense lawyer
will be representing Jared Kushner personally in the Trump/Russia
investigation. His name is Abbe Lowell.
He is one of the few criminal defense lawyers in America who I think counts
as household name. He is most famous for having been the Democrats` top
lawyer during the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton. He also,
though, represented the fabulously corrupt, convicted Republican super
lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. He also represented former Democratic vice
presidential nominee, John Edwards, when John Edwards was charged with
using illegal campaign contributions to pay for the living expenses for his
secret second family that nobody knew about.
Abbe Lowell has also been the defense lawyer – he`s been the defense
lawyer in the middle of ton of lurid political scandals. Charles Keating
from the Keating Five savings and loan scandal had Abbe Lowell as his
lawyer. Jim Wright who was the first speaker of the House to ever resign
in scandal, he had he Abbe Lowell as his lawyer. Dan Rostenkowski who went
straight from being chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to serving 17
months this federal prison, Abbe Lowell was his lawyer.
And now, he`ll be the defense lawyer for Jared Kushner too. Mr. Kushner is
reportedly keeping his existing private lawyer, another Washington A-lister
named Jamie Gorelick. But in addition to Ms. Gorelick, he is also now
adding Abbe Lowell which means like Mike Pence, presidential senior adviser
and presidential son-in-law and de facto crown prince of the Trump
administration, Jared Kushner and Mike Pence honestly now both have better
legal representation in this matter than the president does.
And I don`t mean to be weird ad hominem about this, but to face this
scandal, and to mount a personal defense, the president himself has hired
this guy, who like, you know, handled some of his divorce stuff. He also
hired a lawyer who mostly does religious right televangelist kind of stuff
and he also hired this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: You`re going to want to watch this next piece of video that we
are going to show you. Raj Rajaratnam is free on $100 million bail after
being convicted of all 14 counts of conspiracy and fraud in his insider
trading trial. His attorney, John Dowd, has promised to appeal those
convictions. This is the video that I was talking about. CNBC caught up
with Mr. Dowd a short time ago.
REPORTER: Do you have comment for CNBC, though?
JOHN DOWD, ATTORNEY: Get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of here. That`s what
I`ve got for CNBC.
TV ANCHOR: Wow!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s what I got for CNBC. CNBC doesn`t usually have to blur
hand gestures. I mean, it`s like business stuff. You know what I mean?
But the president has hired this “Star Wars” bar scene legal team to mount
his own defense in the Russia scandal. And that is fine. That`s his
prerogative. He gets to do it however he wants to do it.
But it is worth noting that now in contrast, his vice president, Mike
Pence, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, in contrast to what he`s done,
they have hired real big-name lawyers with tons of relevant experience in
big-name political scandals. Mike Pence hired Richard Cullen. Jared
Kushner just hired freaking Abbe Lowell. So, that news broken first
tonight by politico.com. We`re going to have more coming up in just a
couple minutes about why Jared Kushner may be feeling the need to add such
an A-list lawyer to his personal payroll.
There are two things have just come up that may explain the sense of
urgency in terms of him putting together his legal team and hiring one of
the most famous criminal defense lawyers in the country. So, we`ll get to
some of that news ahead in just a couple minutes.
I want to start tonight, though, with this airplane banner towing a banner
which was seen today flying high over – well, flying high, well above what
typically counts as American politics. The plane is on the left side of
the screen. The banner is on the sort of lower right. And I think you can
– can we zoom in so you can see what it says?
Yes. Senator Heller, keep your word, vote no on Trump care.
Now, the only problem with this high-flying message today is that although
this message targets Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, this banner actually
flew today over Charleston, West Virginia, which I think was just a screw-
up. I think this is also a heads-up to the people of Nevada that somewhere
above Reno or Las Vegas, you`re probably about to start seeing a plane
flying a banner for somebody named Senator Capito, because that is the one
meant for West Virginia. West Virginia and Nevada are probably going to
have to swap their bi-plane banners.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia did get wrong banner for
the wrong senator flown over her office in Charleston today. But Senator
Capito also got a lot of people on the ground in exactly the right place.
Her constituents today coming to her office in Charleston, West Virginia`s
largest city, including a half dozen West Virginia residents who not only
came to the office, but they came inside the office and they said that they
would stay in there. They would sit in in an act of peaceful civil
They pledged to stay until she pledged to vote no on the Republican`s
health care bill. They said they`d stay until she said she would vote no
or until they get arrested, whichever came first. And this afternoon, they
got arrested. Six of them were arrested at Senator Capito`s office,
including a local Episcopal priest.
Shelley Moore Capito is one of the Republican senators who really might
vote no on this bill, in part because of the high number of people, easily
more than 100,000 people in her state who would be expected to lose all
health insurance coverage and have no options if this bill becomes law.
Senator Capito of West Virginia, so far, has not said anything about how
she is going to vote on it. But if you want to get a sense of what she`s
facing back home over this bill, you see those arrests today, you see those
people at her Charleston office today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want you to see a picture of somebody, a face.
That`s my daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK? She is beautiful.
She doesn`t take after her mom. But that`s OK. I want you to see her in
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh. How old is she?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s 41 years old. She`s been fighting this cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s her name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amy Elizabeth Stills. She`s been fighting this
cancer for four years. Very diligently. She has maintained her jobs.
She`s gotten promotions, has led teams, as sick as she has been. She would
not be alive today if it wasn`t for the ACA.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is she on expanded Medicaid? Or –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. She`s working.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s able to get –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With her job. But if she ever lost her insurance, in
seven months, she went over $1,200,000 and this has been going on for four
years. Pre-existing condition?
And we`re not sure how long she`s going to be able to work. Maybe forever.
That`s what our goal is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But these are real people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I want you to have that in your brain. Look at
this. I understand pressure. I understand what –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don`t.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can only imagine. But West Virginia needs you so
desperately to stand up against this immoral bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Shelley Moore Capito, one of those votes who will be a
make or break vote. For the Republican plan to kill the Affordable Care
Act, which they reportedly want to take votes on and try to pass this week.
The Congressional Budget Office today put out its new score of what the
bill will do. That score projects if the Republicans are able to pass this
thing, it will kick 22 million Americans off of health insurance.
Before today`s score, Nevada Senator Dean Heller had already, in fact, said
he was a no vote on the bill. After the score came out today, Senator
Susan Collins of Maine said she too will be a no vote on the bill. Now,
that`s two. That`s all the no votes Republicans can spare.
If they get to three, if just one more Republican senator decides to vote
no, this thing will be over.
Senate Democrats tonight are once again holding the floor of the United
States Senate. They`re going to be holding the floor of the Senate
indefinitely tonight. They`ve been there already several hours. They`re
trying to sound the alarm against the Republicans` bill. They`re trying to
rally more no votes against it.
The Democrats` takeover of the Senate floor on this tonight was led by
Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, who is going to be leaving the Senate tomorrow
to undergo a second round of surgery to fight kidney cancer which she was
just diagnosed with.
So, tomorrow, Senator Hirono is going to have a lesion on her rib removed
in conjunction with her cancer treatment. But tonight she is leading the
Senate, leading the Democrats in the Senate in this effort to try to save
the Affordable Care Act.
But you know, no matter how dramatic things get in this fight on this issue
in Washington, D.C., the real potent politics of this have been shaped not
in D.C. They`ve been shaped at home, in the home states of all these
people, at their offices, at all of their public events. Every time they
show up in their home districts and their home states.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to
travel far, go together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to make the changes, we are going to pass
the bill, and we`re going to repeal Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was not the response that Texas Congressman Pete Sessions
wanted to get from a roomful of his constituents there. But that`s what
it`s been like.
Hometown lawmakers have been getting an earful from town halls to defend
what the Republicans are trying to do on health care. It is also involved
these organic grassroots group that have sprung up all over the country in
every single congressional district in the country. Indivisible movement,
holding rallies at lawmaker offices, demanding that their representatives
do town hall events and meet with their constituents and explain their
Sometimes, it has involved creative protests like bringing props to
representatives` offices. Sometimes, it has involved – oh, this was a
very good prop one. Each of these balloons delivered to New Jersey
Republican Congressman Tom MacArthur`s office, in the third district in New
Jersey, handed him these balloons to the staffer, each one representing
1,000 people who would lose coverage as a result of his vote for the bill
that he helped pass in the House. You will notice the balloons are
themselves filled with confetti which creates quite conundrum for staffers
in terms of what do you with all those balloons once you get them in the
I mean, the activism has been tremendous in the home states and home
districts of representatives from before the inauguration. From the fist
moments of people organizing to see if the Republicans are going to be able
to do what they said they were going to do on repealing the Affordable Care
Act. It has involved a lot of meetings with the congressional staffers.
It has involved not listening to the staffers of congressional lawmakers
when they tried to placate the crowds in absence of said lawmakers.
Aides to Georgia Republican Senators David Perdue and Johnny Isakson found
that out the hard way at a constituent event back in February where you can
tell, they were just not prepared.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help with Medicare and Social Security. So
many of you have already signed up on our sign-up sheet. But if you have
not, this is how we`re going to be calling folks back into the conference
room to discuss matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Huge constituent crowds were a staple of life for Republican
lawmakers whenever they went back home this spring. Now, we`re seeing the
protests which never really went away. Now we`re seeing them spring up
with a new sense of urgency in response to the bill that is now pending in
In Asheville, North Carolina, today, hundreds of people gathered to protest
the new Senate bill. They gathered at the Vance Memorial in Asheville.
Those in attendance said the rally was aimed at showing support for the 22
million people who could lose health care coverage if this bill becomes
Protesters have also been showing up outside their senators` offices in
Doral, Florida. A hundred or so demonstrators showed up outside Senator
Marco Rubio`s office to chant: vote no, Marco, vote no, Marco.
Protesters also on point staged a die-in, which is a technique from the
AIDS activist movement that started in this country in the late 1980s.
People lying down to represent people who they believe will be killed as a
result of this legislation. If you can hear what they`re saying there,
they`re saying Marco polio, Marco polio, a riff on both Marco Rubio and
Marco Polo. That was Doral, Florida, today.
In Charleston, West Virginia, today, as we told you, protesters rallied at
Senator Shelley Moore Capito`s office, six of them staged a sit in inside
the senator`s office to make their message heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If this bill passes, if Senator Capito does not vote
no, 170,000 West Virginians will be losing their health care. Over 25,000
West Virginians will not be able to get drug treatment. Senator Capito
certainly knows that. And so, she – to protect West Virginians, she needs
to vote no on this health care bill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To protect our whole nation, 22 million people who
lose health care if this is not voted no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re showing any ounce of courage today, it is to
inspire Senator Capito to show that same amount of courage in this odd
state of politics where defending the health care of 22 million people
requires courage. It should be common sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Shelley Moore Capito, that was her district office in
Charleston, West Virginia, today. She is one of the Republican senators
who appears to be on the fence on this bill. It is down to one vote right
now as to whether or not this will pass. If it does pass, again, the CBO
projects as of today that that will result in 22 million Americans not just
losing the health insurance that they`re on, losing health insurance
Will protests like we saw through the spring, protests like we can continue
to see today, affect the way this vote ultimately goes?
Joining us now is Ezra Levin. He`s co-executive director of the
Indivisible Project, one of the architects of the protests against these
efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Mr. Levin, it`s nice to see you again. Thanks for being here.
EZRA LEVIN, INDIVISIBLE PROJECT: Thanks for having me back.
MADDOW: So, a lot has changed since we first talked with you about this
little movement that seemed to be springing forth out of nowhere.
LEVIN: I`m surprised as you are. We have an average of 13 groups in every
month congressional district in the country.
MADDOW: Thirteen different groups in each district?
LEVIN: Thirteen, and this is not just an East Coast thing. This is not
just a West Coast thing. This is Indivisible Auburn, Alabama, Indivisible
East Tennessee, there are groups in Maine that spent last week going to
every single congressional district office that Susan Collins had. They
only had five of the six covered.
So, one of the groups drove four hours to drive to the Caribou office did a
sit-in there, drove back the next four hours. And then what do they do
when they went back? Then they went to their weekly Indivisible meeting to
do more. She announced that she was against the bill. This is working
because people are standing up.
MADDOW: Now, when we look at the short history, this phenomenal growth of
the group that you`ve been part of and you helped start as a former
congressional staffer, the growth of your organization and the visibility
of the protests is something that is remarkable and it is easy to track.
Your track record on the ACA, however, was that I think that the work that
you guys did slowed the Republicans` effort to pass it in the House. In
March, they put it up for a vote. It didn`t pass. In April, they tried to
bring it back, it didn`t pass. Then in May they brought it back and it did
What did you learn from that process now as the Senate is considering it?
LEVIN: Yes. So, what we learned is that early on, there was a ton of
pressure during the February recess is when people were back in their
districts. They were hearing from their constituents and they heard from
people in the Deep South, from people in deep blue districts, from all over
they didn`t want to see this go through.
Ultimately, they rush it through right in the end. They were able to get
it in the House. But not without a lot of pain. They barely did it with
Then we saw in the Senate was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the
Republican from Kentucky, he is smart. He saw what happened in the House.
So, what he did was try to keep it in the dark.
So, for the last several weeks, he`s been crafting this bill in the dark
because he knew if there was sunlight on it, people would see everything
that was wrong with it and they would stand up and they would pressure
their senators to oppose it.
So, what has happened with the CBO report, the actual bill – we know it is
really bad. We know millions of people lose their health insurance. We
know thousands could die. We know this is all in service of cutting
billions of dollars of taxes for millionaires.
But there`s one good thing. It is public now. We know about it. So,
people are coming out. We identified 11 Republicans in ten states a couple
weeks ago. They look gettable. And in each of those states, there have
been Indivisible groups going out the past couple weeks saying, look, I
could be bankrupt or dead without the Affordable Care Act. You need stand
up for me. Don`t stand up for Trump care.
And what we see that`s working right now. It is not just Democrats
standing up against the bill. You`ve covered this already. Senator Heller
in Nevada has stood up against it. We`ve seen Senator Collins in Maine.
MADDOW: Were they two of the 10 that you targeted?
LEVIN: Absolutely. We have dozens of Indivisible groups at both of those
states. But its` not just Indivisible groups, I want to be clear. There`s
a brought resistance out there made up of folks who are joining Planned
Parenthood or NARAL or Ultraviolet or Move On or Working Families Party, or
OFA. A lot of folks are coming out against this.
And it`s not just Democrats. This bill has an approval rating that`s less
than 20 percent for a reason, because people recognize that it will really
affect their lives. So, for folks watching right now, the answer should be
You should look at what`s going on around you, see that people are standing
up and making their voices heard, and stands up yourself. There is a rally
going on outside the White House, or outside the capitol right now with
Senator Booker, and civil rights legend John Lewis, Congressman John Lewis,
and they`re pointing out, this isn`t just about health care. This is a
massive social justice issue.
If you look throughout history and wonder, what would I do? If I were
alive back there, would I stand up? The answer is, it is what you`re doing
now. And you have a chance. People all across the country are standing up
The next 48 hours is crucial. Like you said, we need one more Republican
to drop off this bill and we can save thousands of lives. We can save
health coverage for millions if people stand up over the next 48 hours.
MADDOW: Ezra Levin is the co-executive director and one of the founders of
the Indivisible Project. Thanks for coming in, Ezra. And I just – I do
want to say, I think, as people are watching this unfold and try to
understand this in policy terms and political terms, everybody keeps
looking at Washington, and what happens in the Senate hallways to figure
out what`s happening.
Honestly, it`s in the hall ways outside these district offices for these
senators where I think the real politics is being shaped here. Thanks for
helping us understand.
LEVIN: You`re exactly right. Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead tonight, a really, really, really, really
good question. for the really highfalutin criminal defense attorney who is
just hired by the president`s son-in-law.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: I mentioned at the top of the show that the president`s son-in-law
and senior adviser, which let us not forget, is a bizarre combination of
things in America, right? Jared Kushner, 36 years old, no politics
background. He worked in his family`s real estate company and then married
Jared Kushner is now a senior White House adviser, as well as being related
by marriage to the president. He has just hired one of the most prominent
criminal defense lawyers in the country. He has hired Abbe Lowell.
That news coming in tonight as the White House also announced that they
have finally submitted the nomination for the person they want to be the
new FBI director after the president fired James Comey – Christopher Wray.
He was named as the new FBI nominee several weeks ago, but tonight, the
White House finally put his name forward to the Senate, formally, so they
can consider his nomination. Those confirmation hearings should be fun.
Now, I mentioned before there are two things that we`re just learning about
now that may explain why Jared Kushner is putting together a nuclear level
criminal defense legal team. One of those things was the A-1 lead story in
the “Washington Post” today. We`re going to get to that in a second.
But the other one is about something that happened in December between
Jared Kushner and something that everybody calls VEB, because the full
thing is stands for is hard to pronounce. It`s Vnesheconombank.
In New York, in December, during the transition, we know that Jared took a
meeting with the head of Vnesheconombank, VEB. The White House says this
was a meeting that Jared Kushner took in his role as an official in the
But it was an unusual meeting. It was Jared Kushner and the chairman of
VEB. That`s a man named Sergei Gorkov. He`s graduate of what`s basically
KGB school in Russia.
So, trained by Russian intelligence. He was handpicked for this job at VEB
by Vladimir Putin personally. And him coming to New York and meeting with
Jared Kushner right after the election, during the transition, that has
already been a matter of some interest because of who Sergey Gorkov is, but
also because Jared Kushner didn`t disclose that he took this meeting when
he applied for a security clearance.
We reported on Friday about a letter from the Republican and Democratic
leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee writing to the White House and
the FBI expressing concerns about Jared Kushner`s security clearance,
asking the White House and the FBI about the status of the clearance.
Well, now, on top of that, we`ve got new reporting “The Financial Times”
which makes this already mysterious meeting between the VEB guy and Jared
Kushner all the more intriguing.
We had known before that the VEB had been used as a cover by the Russian
intelligence services in the recent past. We knew, for example about, the
intelligence background of the chief executive who met with Kushner but we
also knew the number two official in the New York office just finished a
federal prison term for espionage, basically, for working as Russian spy,
undercover of working as an official at VEB. We also know the VEB paid the
spy`s legal fees in that case.
We also knew VEB was singled out for U.S. government sanctions against
Russia, because of its importance to the Russian government.
What we didn`t know before this reporting today from “The Financial Times”
is that while VEB is technically described as a bank and the VEB statement
about why they were meeting with Kushner was that they said it had to do
with the business strategy as a bank, VEB doesn`t appear to actually be a
As reported today in “The Financial Times,” VEB has no banking license.
They`re also not regulated as if they`re a central blank. They have no
independent board that oversees them which banks have to have.
In VEB`s case, they do have a board a supervisory board who approves all
their decisions, but in the case of VEB, every single person who serves on
that board is a currently serving Russian government official, including
the prime minister.
VEB is also not in a position where they can raise capital like a normal
bank. They`re basically just a pass-through for Russian government money.
Vladimir Putin gives them about 300 billion rubles a year from government
funds and that`s their capital. That`s what they have to spend.
And that`s a lot of things, but that`s not a bank. At least not in the way
we usually think of a bank.
From “The Financial Times” today, quote, the bank has no cash. They have
no capital. They`re basically just an arm of the Russian government then.
So, why were they meeting with Jared Kushner during the transition? And a
meeting that was reportedly requested by the Russian ambassador, and a
meeting that Jared Kushner did not disclose when he was asked to until he
was forced to by press reports about the meeting.
I don`t know why Jared Kushner took meeting and I don`t know what VEB was
doing with anyone in an American presidential transition, but Jared
Kushner`s very expensive, new, famous criminal defense lawyer may have a
crack at that soon.
Plus, the bigger, weirder stuff that also broke today. That`s next.
MADDOW: The president has not released his tax returns other than the two
pages of his 2005 return that David Cay Johnston got his hands on a few
weeks ago. So, he hasn`t really released tax information of any
consequence and no tax information that looks anything like what other
modern presidents have released.
But he has released financial disclosure statements and those make clear
there`s one bank he owes more money to than any other learned, and that
bank is Deutsche Bank. A major reason that Donald Trump owes this one bank
so much money, hundreds of millions of dollars is because for a long time,
Deutsche Bank was pretty much the only bank that would still do business
During his decades in the New York real estate world, Donald Trump became
notorious for reneging on his financial obligations, for failing to pay
back loans. And I`m not saying whether that`s good business or bad
business, but that is famously the way he did business, to the point every
bank in New York refused to take him on as a customer anymore, except one -
- except for Deutsche Bank.
And the weird thing about that, by all appearances, Deutsche Bank had just
as much reason to want to be rid of Donald Trump as customer as the other
banks did, maybe even more so. Less than a decade ago, not only did Trump
fail to pay Deutsche Bank over $330 million he owed them on a loan for
Trump Tower in Chicago. When they tried to collect on that loan, he turned
around and sued them. He claimed it was their fault that the apartments in
his new Trump tower were not selling.
He turned around, and – he owed them $330 million. He turned around and
sued them for $3 billion. He did not win.
But even after stunts like that, Deutsche Bank explicably continued lending
Donald Trump money, a lot of money, hundreds of millions of dollars. And
that is now a new kind of awkward because now, Trump is president of the
United States and Trump administration`s Justice Department is currently
deciding whether or not to bring federal criminal charges against Deutsche
Bank for its role in a $10 billion Russian money laundering operation.
Deutsche Bank has already paid hundreds of millions in fines over this
money laundering fiasco, but that`s nothing compared to what the Feds could
extract from them if federal prosecutors decide to bring charges on top of
the state charges they have already faced.
Congressional Democrats have recently been sounding alarms about the
ability of the Trump Justice Department to conduct this investigation into
Deutsche Bank and Russian money laundering to be able to do it fairly given
Trump`s personal obligations to that bank. Congressional Democrats led by
Maxine Waters have been asking Deutsche Bank to turn over documents
directly to Congress about their dealings with Trump. So far, the bank has
refused those requests.
We`ve known all of this for a while. This mysteriously unshakeable
relationship between Trump and Deutsche Bank. But it turns out the bank
also has a special relationship with Donald Trump`s increasingly
beleaguered son-in-law. “Washington Post” reports today that one month
before Election Day, so October, this past October, Jared Kushner`s real
estate company got a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank.
It was part of a refinancing package for a property that Kushner had bought
a year earlier, a property that according to an appraisal by Deutsche Bank,
had increased in value by nearly 60 percent in just that one year that
Kushner`s company had been managing it. That magnificent appraisal allowed
the company, the Kushner`s, to get an extra $74 million in cash over what
they paid for that property year earlier.
Now, another interesting part of this is that Jared Kushner reportedly
personally guaranteed this loan. Meaning he is personally on the hook if
the whole deal goes south. And yet, despite taking out this massive loan
just before the election on very like impressively rosy terms, just before
Deutsche Bank was about to pay hundreds of millions for Russian money
laundering, despite being the personal guarantor of this massive loan from
a bank under investigation by the federal government, is father-in-law was
about to run, “The Washington Post” reports that Jared Kushner did not
mention this $285 million loan on his financial disclosure form, when he
entered his father-in-law`s administration.
Again, he only got the loan a month before Election Day, but it slipped his
mind when it came time to disclose these things. He kept it secret. We
already know that Jared Kushner failed to report his meetings with the
Russian ambassador and the head of a Russian state bank on his security
clearance form. It now turns out he also failed to disclose this giant,
personally guaranteed loan from Deutsche Bank that`s in the middle of a
Russia money laundering scandal.
I don`t know Jared Kushner personally. I don`t know anybody who knows
Jared Kushner personally. But everybody who has had any interactions with
him say that he is so poised. He is so savvy. This guy can move among
rich and powerful in a way that just exudes competence.
Why can`t this guy fill out his forms properly? We did get the news today
that Jared Kushner has hired a big name criminal defense lawyer to add to
the team repping him in all the Russian investigations. It does seem like
he probably is going to need the extra help.
MADDOW: One of the first things that Donald Trump did as president seven
days after he was inaugurated was he tried to enact the Muslim ban he had
been promising for all those months as a candidate. On a Friday afternoon,
his first full Friday on the job after the inauguration, he signed an
executive order banning people from several Muslim majority countries from
coming to the United States.
And by the following day, by Saturday, this is what our nation`s airports
looked like. Protesters descended on airports where travelers are being
detained. Volunteer lawyers did as well. By Saturday night, the day after
he had signed the order, President Trump`s Muslim ban was handed its first
legal setback. In the first ruling on it, a federal judge blocked the
deportations of people who had valid visas who were nevertheless being
detained. That was day one.
And it got worse and worse for the administration from there. President
Trump`s Muslim ban has been blocked and revised and blocked again at every
level and every court where it has been considered. The Muslim ban has
been slowed and stopped by the federal courts. But now today, the
president and his supporters are celebrating what they were calling a
victory on this issue at the Supreme Court. Next to the court`s decision
today, starting on Thursday, so starting the end of this week, a partial
version of the Muslim ban will go into effect.
The court announced today that it will hear the case. It will review the
lower court rulings in the fall. But in the meantime, between now and the
fall, part of the ban gets put in place. The court says the ban can`t
target people who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a
person or entity in the United States. So, if you`re from one of these
Muslim majority countries, you have a family member living in the U.S., or
a job offer, you`re going to school here in the U.S., you won`t be banned,
at least not yet.
But everybody else who doesn`t have that kind of connection, if you`re from
one of those countries, President Trump`s ban will now keep you from being
allowed to come into this country. And the president and his allies are
obviously very happy about it. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the
decision is an important step toward restoring the separation of powers.
Trump`s Department of Homeland Security says the decision restores to the
executive branch crucial and long-held constitutional authority. The
president himself today calling this decision, quote, a clear victory.
But with all of that, even as the president is declaring this a victory, I
have to tell you – one of the key figures in the fight against the Muslim
ban begs to differ. And he joins us tonight to explain why.
Neal Katyal was acting solicitor general in the Obama administration. He
was the lead attorney for the state of Hawaii`s challenge to the travel ban
and he joins us now.
Mr. Katyal, thank you very much for being here.
NEAL KATYAL, REPRESENTING HAWAII IN MUSLIM BAN CHALLENGE: Always fabulous
to be with you.
MADDOW: I wanted to talk to you today because I went to go look at your
Twitter feed to get your response to this ruling of the Supreme Court as
the administration and the president were celebrating it. And I expected
you to be inveighing against the injustice of this ruling, but you actually
seem sort of positive on it.
KATYAL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I was surprised to hear the president
declare a unanimous victory today. I mean, honestly, if the president
wants victories like this, we`ll give to it him.
I mean, here`s what happened today. The U.S. Supreme Court, 6-3, not
unanimous, a 6-3 ruling against him, said the key parts of the Muslim ban
and the refugee ban can`t go into effect. And, you know, to be sure,
there`s this technical piece for people who have no U.S. connection that
they, the Supreme Court said the president had won on. That is not and has
never been the kind of heart of our challenge.
The challenge has been, look, you know, you`ve got all these people in the
pipeline who want to come visit, 90-day, and the president is having a 90-
day, a 120-day suspension. Those people very much are people who have
connections to the United States. So, you know, it is true, he won
something like that. So, if there is a Somali or Yemeni tourist who wants
to come to the United States who doesn`t know anyone here – yes, the
president has been able to block that person from coming in as a result of
the Supreme Court decision today.
If you think that`s some big threat to our national security, I`m not even
sure that any such tourists exist, but, you know, that`s what the president
won. You know, ultimately, it has been a lot more talk than it has been
action on the national security front.
MADDOW: Neil, let me ask you about the 90-day threshold too. I realize
just that I may just being naive about this. But the way they phrased the
ban initially was that there was basically an emergency national security
emergency in effect. They needed to take this extreme measure in a
temporary way for 90 days in order to sort of get a handle on this
I mean, by the time – with what the Supreme Court did today, by the time
the Supreme Court hears arguments on this in the fall, 90 days will be,
will have elapsed between when this starts on Thursday and at the end of 90
days. So, I mean, is there a chance it will get thrown out because it will
be expired by the time they hear the case?
KATYAL: Yes, that`s the million-dollar question. It is always tough to,
you know, read too much into a 12-page Supreme Court opinion. But I do
think that the Supreme Court was deeply skeptical of the president`s
rationale. He kept saying, I need 90 days to study the problem. He`s
already had more than 90 days. He wants another fresh 90-day clock.
The Supreme Court said, OK, today we`ll give you that extra 90 days to
study the problem, but by the time we`re hearing the case in October, you
know, that – you`ve been able to study the problem all you want.
So, is there really a national security justification? I expect that to be
front and center of the argument the Supreme Court will hear in October.
What is the true national security rationale for this as opposed to the
invective and other things that the president has voiced time and again
against Muslims, which really seems like the animated focus against the
MADDOW: Neal, you have been supportive of Neil Gorsuch as President
Trump`s nominee for the Supreme Court. Were you disappointed in his votes
KATYAL: Well, look, I mean, you know, my view on Justice Gorsuch is that
the Democratic should have applied the same standard to him that we asked
the Republicans to apply to Justice Kagan and Sotomayor. I was very upset
with Republicans who voted against those justices.
You know, I was very clear in my support for Justice Gorsuch that, you
know, he wouldn`t have been my first choice but we lost the election. I
think we will see over time a principled good jurist in Neil Gorsuch, not
someone that Democrats would appoint but someone who is the kind of
Republican equivalent to the Democratic nominees that I mentioned before.
MADDOW: Neal Katyal, former U.S. acting solicitor general – really
appreciate your time tonight, Neal. Thank you very much.
KATYAL: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: As we`ve been talking about tonight, today, there were major
decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, but those major decisions today were
not the biggest news out of the Supreme Court. The biggest news out of the
court today is that these guys are still on it.
Justices sometimes take the last day of the term to announce they are
retiring. But today was the last day of the term and neither 80-year-old
Anthony Kennedy nor 69-year-old Clarence Thomas said anything about
leaving. And that will be seen as good news for anybody who doesn`t want
the new president to have the chance to pull the arm off another soon to be
Supreme Court justice anytime soon.
Even though no one retired today, should we be expecting that sometime soon
anyway? Now that this term of the Supreme Court is over, what did Donald
Trump`s first Supreme Court pick end up being like anyway?
Joining us now is Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent at
Ms. Lithwick, it is lovely to see you. Thank you for being here.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE.COM SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey
MADDOW: What is the scuttlebutt about retiring justices? Does no word on
that today mean nobody is stepping down in the foreseeable future?
LITHWICK: I think it becomes very unlikely. I think particularly when we
see the gerrymander cases are coming up, those are reverse engineered to be
Kennedy babies. And now I think the travel ban cases also reverse
engineered to be like, please, Justice Kennedy. I think he`s in it, at
least for the next term. And I also think it`s worth saying – you know,
it`s not at all clear that these rumors were coming anywhere from him in
the first instance.
MADDOW: It was just people doing numerology with the calendar?
LITHWICK: Well, numerology and maybe a little upselling, maybe trying to
say, hey, we did so well with Gorsuch, we can get you another one, people
who held your nose and voted for Trump about the Supreme Court. So, I
think it was a little bit of an effort to keep people who were engaged
because of the Supreme Court engaged over the summer.
MADDOW: Well, let me ask you about Gorsuch. We just had Neal Katyal on
because of his role in fighting the Muslim ban. Controversially for a
Democrat, somebody who was an Obama administration official, he also
supported Neil Gorsuch`s nomination, sort of vouched for him, which was
important coming from a Democrat.
What do you make of what we have learned about Gorsuch? What`s he going to
be like? What have we seen in the weeks he`s been on the court?
LITHWICK: This has been really dispiriting, Rachel. I remember, you can
call this the you-told-me-so portion where I came to you and said, no, no,
he might even be to the left of Scalia. He`s clearly aligned himself time
and time again actually with Clarence Thomas, more than anyone. So, not
just to the right of Scalia, to right of Alito, but right there with
Clarence Thomas in lock-step.
And today, especially just a whole raft of decisions that came from him
that show he is going to be anti-same-sex marriage, very, very eager to
pull down the wall between church and state. And as we saw on the travel
ban, really eager to afford Trump broad, broad executive power.
So, this is not your center right justice. This is somebody who I think in
hindsight, when Dems decided to filibuster him, I think they knew what was
coming up the pike.
MADDOW: Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent for
Slate.com – Dahlia, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
LITHWICK: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we have breaking news just in in the last couple of minutes
from the White House. And I have to tell you we don`t really know what to
make of this. But it is a serious sounding statement from the White House.
We do believe this has come from them.
I should tell you they put out no supporting information to explain what
this was about or what they`re sort of bracing us for here. I`m just going
to tell you exactly what they`ve just said, this has jus come out, without
The United States – a statement from the press secretary: The United
States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons
attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of
civilians including innocent children. The activities are similar to
preparations the regime made before its April 4th chemical weapons attack.
As we`ve previously stated, the U.S. is in Syria to eliminate ISIS. If,
however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical
weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.
Again, we do not know what this is about. The White House has not put out
any supporting information, nor have they made any officials available to
explain this. Our producers at the Pentagon and State Department are
trying to chase this down, but they can`t – at this point – get any
supporting information either. We`ll let you know as we learn more.
That April 4th chemical weapons attack referenced in the statement of
course was followed on April 6th by President Trump ordering 59 Tomahawk
missiles to be shot into Syria. I don`t know if that`s what they`re sort
of – if that`s what they`re implicitly referencing here. But, again, an
unusual statement just moments ago from the White House press secretary.
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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