The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 7/3/17 Mike Pence’s story
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: July 3, 2017
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Happy Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Pop quiz. How many people have held the position of president of the
United States? How many people have had that job?
If you answered 45, it is understandable that you would answer that way.
Everybody, including our current president calls Donald Trump the 45th
president of the United States.
But you know what? If we`re counting him as 45, technically that means
we`re counting Grover Cleveland twice because he was the 22nd and 24th
president of the United States. And I`m sure that Grover Cleveland loves
to be counted twice.
But, in fact, if we`re talking about individual people, only 44 people
including the current president have actually held that job.
Here`s another item on our quiz. How many presidential elections have we
held in this country? The answer to that is a58. A lot of two-termers and
even one four-termer. There had been 58 presidential elections since we
started having them in the 1700s, in year 1789.
In terms of which American presidential election has been the most
contentious, the most exhausting, the most politically divisive. That is
up for debate and every century has its candidate. But in terms of which
one was heavily scrutinized after the fact, that one I think it`s pretty
clear we are living it right now.
There were hints in the months before the November election that something
was off, that something was going on in this one that was different. It
all seemed almost too big to grasp at the time, in the middle of what was
already this incredibly interesting campaign, this incredibly volatile
campaign. But in the middle of all of that, there was also this external
foreign dynamic at work, beginning with the news last summer that the e-
mail servers of the Democratic Party headquarters had been hacked by
Russian hackers. And there was the news that voter registration systems in
at least two states or maybe 10 states or maybe 20 states had been probed
or breached to some level by again, hackers.
By October, a month before the election, the United States intelligence
agencies came out and said that while they couldn`t agree on whether, it
was definitely the Russians behind those voter registration system hacks,
they said they were confident that the Russians, the Russian government,
had definitely directed the hacking of the DNC and other American political
organizations in order to, quote, interfere with the U.S. election process.
So, the bizarre story out of all of the weird stuff that`s ever happened in
American elections, this story, our story, our generation`s story of the
bizarre Russian hacking of our election, that story was at least starting
to emerge in the weeks before the election. But at the same time, you
know, as usual, as normal, there was a super contentious fascinating
presidential campaign going on. And that was very engrossing at the time.
And it was not until after the election that the extent of the Russian
involvement in our presidential election really came to light, and that
started with a startling report from the “Washington Post” that came out
the evening of Friday, December 9th, a report that kind of blew all other
news right out of the water.
MADDOW: So, we had a whole show planned tonight that had honestly nothing
to do with this topic but then “The Washington Post” just dropped this
astonishing bombshell within the last hour. Now, I`m going to – if you
haven`t seen this yet, I`m going to put the headline up on the screen so
you can see it.
I`m just going to quote the lead directly here.
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the
2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency rather than just to
undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system. They`re citing
officials briefed on the matter. Quote, Intelligence agencies have
identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who
provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked e-mails from the DNC and
others, including Hillary Clinton`s campaign chairman.
This is stunning stuff, right? I mean, this has just broken within the
last hour in “The Washington Post.” They`re reporting that the CIA not
only concluded that the Russians intervened in the election, stole
information, publicized stolen information to help Donald Trump win the
presidency, but the CIA gave its information about Russia to the leadership
in the House and the Senate and the White House want to make a big public
bipartisan stand against it.
And Republicans said no. Mitch McConnell specifically said, no, no, don`t
tell the public.
And so, we held the election with the leadership in Congress knowing full
well what Russia was doing and we all went to vote while they sat on that.
Until now. Until “The Post” published this tonight.
MADDOW: That was Friday night, December 9th, 2016. Breaking news from the
“Washington Post.” The first of many Friday nights when I would have to
Basically since then, since December 9th, we have been in kind of a
sustained period of very distracting, very engrossing political crisis.
This has felt like a sustained political crisis. As since then, we`ve
learned more and more and more after the extent of Russian involvement in
the election and the investigations into the Trump campaign`s contacts with
Russia both during and after the campaign.
Watch the date stamps on these as they fly by.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just as we`re coming on the air we got news the former CIA
Director James Woolsey tonight has abruptly quit the Trump transition team
with no explanation.
Tonight, after saying for weeks that there would be no Senate or House
investigation of this matter, the Senate Intelligence Committee finally
said, yes, we`ll look into this.
All of a sudden, this is starting to feel like the most important political
story certainly in the world, with one week to go before we are supposed to
swear in Donald Trump as president of the United States.
“The New York Times” has just published a story titled “Intercepted Russian
communications part of inquiry into Trump associates.” This is obviously a
very inflammatory, very hot story. These new details coming out the eve of
the inauguration is a bombshell.
OK, we have major breaking news this evening. We have just been notified
within the last minutes while we were in our commercial break that the
acting attorney general of the United States has just been fired.
OK, we`ve got breaking news, a national security story just post bid “The
Washington Post” about national security adviser Michael Flynn and his
contacts with Russia.
So, we have breaking news tonight that goes to the question not just of
whether or not the national security adviser is about to be fired, but it
also goes to how many people in the new administration knew the kind of
trouble that national security adviser Michael Flynn was in, how many
people knew about that and when they knew it.
I want to bring you some breaking news that “The New York Times” just
posted. This has just gone up since we went on the air. I`ve just been
marking it with my trusty highlighter. We haven`t prepared any graphics on
this or anything, but let me just tell you what they`ve reported directly
relevant to what we need to talk to Congressman Schiff about and what we
are just discussing.
Trump campaign aides has repeated contacts with Russian intelligence is the
headline. The operative word being campaign. This is during the campaign.
This is during the election.
There`s also some brand-new breaking news right now from “The Wall Street
Journal.” Can we put this article on the screen please? Can we make a
full screen out of this? Yes. Thank you.
You see the headline there: Spies keep intelligence from President Trump.
They`re not showing this him that because they`re not sure if he can be
trusted with it. He`s the president.
“The Washington Post” breaking news just this evening that will frankly tie
your socks in a knot if you were thinking that maybe the whole Trump
sheriff Russia thing was going to be investigated impartially and
aggressively by Congress.
The two Republican chairmen of the intelligence committees in the House and
the Senate, they have both admitted to “The Washington Post” that they have
been calling reporters off the record at the request of the White House to
tell reporters that there`s nothing to these stories.
We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast for some breaking news
tonight regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions. We have just learned
that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to amend his testimony. In
his testimony at his confirmation hearing at the Senate in January, he now
famously failed to disclose meetings he had with the Russian government
official when he was asked about Trump campaign meetings with Russian
government officials. Jeff Sessions told the Senate he didn`t meet with
any Russians but he did. He now says he will go back and change his
We`re following the breaking news tonight that the fire national security
adviser, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was fired from the Trump
administration after only 24 days on the job. Tonight, he`s asking for
immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony in the Trump-Russia
We have to start tonight with a little bit of breaking news, which has just
been published by “The Washington Post”. “The Washington Post” reports
that a FISA warrant was issued last summer to monitor Carter Page`s
communications while he was an adviser for the Trump campaign.
I`m never going to get another Friday night off in my life. I`m telling
you. Friday nights are very news heavy in the Trump administration.
According to tonight`s front page scoop in “The Washington Post”, Mike
Flynn was warned explicitly that his conversations with Russian officials
were, quote, undoubtedly being monitored by the FBI and the NSA. There are
interesting questions about what`s happening with the department of justice
and Paul Manafort, right? Is Jeff Sessions involved in any work at the
Department of Justice concerning Paul Manafort or is he recused?
We can report tonight that the Justice Department will not say. We started
asking yesterday. We asked throughout the day today. We have asked it
five times in five different ways, including me making the request myself
personally multiple times in as many different ways as I could think of it.
They will not say whether or not he`s recused.
He has recused on Flynn they say. He is recused on things related to the
Trump campaign broadly. They won`t say about Manafort.
So, we have some news to break tonight. Another subpoena has been issued
as part of the ongoing investigations into President Trump`s associates.
Again, NBC News reporting exclusively tonight that federal investigators
have subpoenaed records related to a $3.5 million loan taken out by former
Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort last year.
We`ve got much more to come tonight and, actually, because this is our life
now, new substantive breaking news has just happened in the last couple of
Because no night is complete anymore without several new major breaking
news stories about the administration. Just in the last few minutes, we`ve
gotten this reporting from “The New York Times”. Quoting from “The Times”,
Michael Flynn told President Trump`s transition team weeks before the
inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working
as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign.
All set to do a very specific show today, A block, B block, C block, all
planned out, people booked, ready to go, scripts in. We know we`re
reporting. We`re ready – had it all planned out. New breaking news.
Throw everything out the window.
This is the new schedule. This is how we work now. You wait long enough
into the evening without getting too drunk to pay attention to the news and
you`ll find that something breaks and changes your plans.
Monday evening, it was President Trump passing on classified intelligence
to the Russians in the Oval Office. Tuesday night, it was the existence of
a memo from fired FBI director James Comey describing a conversation if
which he says the president asked him to back off the FBI investigation of
former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Last night, it was the
appointment of a social counsel to take over the Trump-Russia
investigation. Now, it`s the fourth day of the week and so, now, we`ve got
a new one.
Tonight`s scoop comes courtesy of Michael Schmidt at “The New York Times”.
And it`s a sorry that he`s just broken tonight. The front page of “The New
York Times” Web site is that in addition to the alleged direct pressure by
the president on Director Comey to kibosh the Mike Flynn Trump-Russia
investigation, apparently the president, or reportedly, the president
called the FBI director and pressured him to put out public word about
Trump not personally being under investigation.
NBC reports tonight that Jared Kushner is now under scrutiny in the FBI`s
Trump-Russia probe. This is according to multiple U.S. officials. Those
officials telling NBC News tonight that Jared Kushner is a person of
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to another Friday night of what seems
like extraordinary news from the Trump-Russia inquiry beginning with
“Reuters” reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller is taking over the
grand jury inquiry into Michael Flynn and the lobbying Flynn did for Turkey
without registering as an agent of the foreign government, which is
required under law. “The A.P.” then with that report that Mueller could
expand the probe to include Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy
Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for their roles in firing of the FBI
director. If Mueller wants to go in that director, the deputy A.G. as we
were just discussing say Mueller has room to run. “The A.P.” reporting
Muller is also taking over the criminal probe involving the former Trump
campaign manager Paul Manafort.
MADDOW: I mean, talk about dot-connecting. This is a – I feel like this
is one of those moments where we`ve kind of been bushwhacking through the
forest for a long time and all of a sudden, we just came out into a
clearing and we can see where we are. It`s really sort of a landmark
moment in terms of understanding this investigation, I think.
MADDOW: Great to be back and because we have to begin tonight naturally
the universe has welcomed me back with late-breaking Trump-Russia news,
news that has just broken in the “Washington Post” within the last hour.
According to night`s “Washington Post”, yet another senior serving national
security official in the U.S. government has reportedly now told associates
that the president directed him, the president told him to intervene with
the FBI to try to stop the Trump-Russia investigation.
The new reporting from “The Washington Post”, again, just out in the last
hour, concerns not James Comey but the nation`s top intelligence official,
the director of national intelligence, appointed by President Trump, former
Senate Dan Coats. Tonight, we have this brand-new reporting from “The New
York Times” about CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Trump national security
adviser Mike Flynn. It concerns the question of what happened in the 18
days between the time when the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, warned
the White House that Mike Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
What happened in the 18 days between when Yates gave that warning and when
the White House finally fired him?
MADDOW: This is your life, America. This is what your life has been like
since December. Do you wonder why you`ve been a little stressed out over
the past few months? Have you been following this news?
It has been a long but gratifying seven months for journalism, particularly
the nonstop, feels like nonstop breaking news from our excellent national
treasure, world-class American newspapers like the “Washington Post” and
like the “The New York Times.”
We have – as a country we`ve covered a lot of ground over the last seven
months or so here on this show, covering these breaking news updates every
night as these stories have broken night after night after night. For the
rest of this hour tonight, we`re going to be, not just looking at where
we`ve been and what we`ve learned over this remarkable seven-month period
in American history, we`re also going to be zeroing in on the major things
to look out for as the investigations into this current administration
So, happy Independence Day. Stay with us tonight. This is going to be
MADDOW: On May 17th this year in the evening, 7:04 p.m., Robert Mueller
confirmed that he had been named to be special counsel in the Trump-Russia
investigation. That was confirmed at 7:04 p.m. Thirty-four minutes later,
7:38 p.m. that same night, his law firm confirmed that – the law firm that
he had just left in order to become special counsel, they confirmed that
Bob Mueller was already staffing up for the Trump-Russia investigation.
Among the people he would be taking with his from his old law firm would be
this man. His name is James Quarles. Fun fact, James Quarles started out
as an assistant special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation. That
was the first Bob Mueller hire that we learned about.
Then we learned about Andrew Weismann also going to work with Mueller.
Andrew Weissmann`s last gig was running the fraud section at the criminal
division of the U.S. Department of Justice. But as we`ve previously talked
about on this show, Andrew Weissmann is also a veteran of more than 25 mob
prosecutions. He managed to get a long-term mobster to testify against
John Gotti after that guy understandably went into witness protection. He
got that same guy to come back out of witness protection to testify against
a different crime family boss, Vinny the Chin Gigante.
Andrew Weissmann was involved in the prosecution of one-time Trump business
partner Felix Seder for a mob-connected fraud scheme to which Felix Seder
So, after Quarles and Weissmann, we then learned about Mueller hire, we
learned about Michael Dreeben. Dreeben was hired out of the Justice
Department as well. When Dreeben was hired, the former solicitor general
of the United States, Walter Dillinger, told “The Washington Post” that
Dreeben in his opinion is, quote: The most brilliant and most knowledgeable
criminal lawyer in America, period.
Since then, we have also learned that Bob Mueller has added an experienced
Justice Department trial attorney named Lisa Page to his team. “Wired
Magazine” had an interesting profile of her that included her experience
with money laundering and organized crime cases, including investigations
where she partnered with an FBI task force based in Hungary which focused
specifically on eastern European organized crime. That`s another
And then there`s Elizabeth Prelogar. I think that`s how you say her name,
Prelogar. She comes to the Bob Mueller team via the U.S. solicitor
general`s office. And there`s a lot of very highfalutin things and
important clerkships on Elizabeth Prelogar`s resume. She`s very
accomplished, very well-regarded.
But I can just point out one thing, she appears to be fluent in Russian.
From “The National Law Journal”, quote, as an Emory College undergraduate,
she majored in English and Russia. After graduating from Emory, she was a
Fulbright scholar in Russia. When she was first year in at Harvard Law in
2006, she won an Overseas Press Club scholarship to study Russian media and
So, if you`re thinking about the team here, Watergate, mob, money
laundering, criminal law, fluency in Russian. That`s who he`s put together
so far. Any sense of what Robert Mueller might be working on here? Any
base he hasn`t covered yet?
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Ten days after Election Day when the Trump victory was still quite
fresh and the implications of it were still starting to become clear, tend
days in, the Trump transition team made a decision. It was a decision that
made me do a do-whoop when I heard about it. It led me to do something
that I rarely do on this program and you might not know this is a real
thing, but I will tell you. It was a rare decision.
I broke format. I threw out what we were planning to do. I went off
script. I did an unproduced off the cuff segment where I just rift into
the camera live on national TV for two minutes about what that decision
might mean. And ultimately, the effects to that one momentous decision
have now colored the five months of the Trump presidency.
What that decision was that made me take everything I had done and throw it
out the window. That`s next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The cliches that you never get a second chance to make a first
impression. But good old Mike Pence, he never even got a single chance to
make a first impression. Because the biggest night of Mike Pence`s public
life, the night that Mike Pence was chosen to be Donald Trump`s vice
presidential running mate. That same night, there was a sudden dramatic
coup attempt in Turkey which is a major American ally, one of the big
anchor countries in NATO.
And that surprise, bizarre, intense news, that pretty much swallowed up all
of the other news in the world. And if the Turkish coup itself was
dramatic news, which it was, dramatic enough to overshadow the choosing of
a vice presidential running, I have to say the aftermath of the coup
attempt has been even more dramatic. Turkey`s president had already been
trending autocratic, but after the coup attempt he started rounding up
people by the tens of thousands. He started building hundreds of new
prisons to lock those people up.
The guy he blamed for than anybody for the coup attempt was this imam, who
is Turkish but who had long ago fled Turkey, fearing persecution. He has
since become a permanent resident of the United States. He lives in the
Poconos of all places. Turkey`s president after the coup attempt demanded
that the U.S. hand this guy over so he could be dealt with back in Turkey.
And while I`m sure that Turkey`s president feels very strongly about that,
this guy is a legal permanent resident of our country now. We don`t just
hand people over because other countries say so. Other countries don`t
just get to demand that we hand them over.
But interestingly on Election Day, on our Election Day here in the United
States in November, we learned in a strange way that somebody who was about
to become very, very powerful in this country was apparently totally on
board with that demand to hand over that Turkish guy to the Turkish
MADDOW: On Election Day this week, on Tuesday, Donald Trump`s top military
and intelligence adviser wrote an op-ed in “|The Hill”, saying basically,
you know what? We should hand that guy over. He called this imam who`s
living in the Poconos, quote, a shady Islamic mullah, and he also said this
– this is nice – quote, if he were in reality a moderate, he would not be
in exile, nor would he excite the animus of the Turkish president.
You know what? Honestly right now there are 100,000 journalists,
professor, mayors, politicians, freaking libraries who excited the animus
of the Turkish president. He`s building 174 new prisons to lock up tens of
thousands of people who he has rounded up in a gigantic purge since this
supposed coup, right?
The hand them over guy, the guy who says we should just hand this guy over,
he probably deserves it, that`s General Mike Flynn, who is Donald Trump`s
top military and intelligence adviser. He was also today named to the
executive committee of Donald Trump`s new transition team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was November 11th, that was the Friday after our U.S.
presidential election this past November. That was the day that we first
learned that Michael Flynn`s lobbying firm was on the payroll of the
Turkish government. Three days after the election and red flags were
already going up.
But just one week later, President-elect Trump announced that, in fact,
Mike Flynn would be his national security adviser. At which point when
that announcement happened during our show on the air that night, I went
into an extended ad lib about Mike Flynn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At this point in the show, I had something else we were going to
cover, but I scrapped it, because there`s a thing I feel like I need to say
about the Mike Flynn national security adviser announcement. It is an
announcement. It`s done.
All a president-elect or president ultimately has to do to get a national
security adviser and have them say yes. So, this Mike Flynn thing is done.
That means it will not be discussed all that much compared to the other
people who have to go through the Senate confirmation process.
But the choice of Mike Flynn really is a different kettle of fish than
anything that I think we might have expected from the Trump campaign. Mike
Flynn calls Islam a political ideology hiding behind a religion. Mike
Flynn calls Islam a malignant cancer.
Mike Flynn really did sit next to Vladimir Putin and take money to go to a
gala honoring Russian state television. He`s also been a frequent guest on
Russian state television and says he sees no difference between Russian
state television and, for example, MSNBC.
He will now be the closest person to the president of the United States on
a day-to-day basis on all foreign policy issues, on all military issues, on
all national security issues, and he is way outside anything that anybody
on the left, right or center might consider to be the mainstream, either in
thought or temperament in terms of national security issues, and it`s done.
And Trump gets him unless he has some change of heart or awakening of
conscience about doing something like this for such a key position.
I would also say that Mike Flynn has been on the payroll, his intelligence
firm has been on the payroll of Turkey, including during the Trump
campaign, without him disclosing that while he was working for the Trump
campaign. So, this is just – I know he`s not going to get as much
coverage as the other people who have to get confirmed over the next few
days, but stick a pin in that. It`s a really, really important, really,
really worrying announcement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m not the kind of person who ever says I told you so, but
imagine somebody else who looks like a lot like me, sounds like me, maybe
dresses cheap like me saying I told you so.
The first evident trouble with the choice of Mike Flynn to be national
security adviser came even before the inauguration, came about a week
before the inauguration. “Washington Post`s” David Ignatius, national
security columnist, he reported that Mike Flynn called the Russian
ambassador several times on December 29th, which is a key day because
that`s the day that the Obama administration had announced retaliatory
measures against Russia for them hacking or election.
So, Ignatius reports that Flynn had called the ambassador several times
that day. That led to several days of Sean Spicer insisting there was no
call by Mike Flynn to the Russians on December 29th. And then he said it
was a call on the 29th, but it was nothing but holiday pleasantries. Then
it was OK, maybe they talked about a couple of other things, or maybe even
they talked about several other things, but definitely, absolutely, it had
nothing to do be sanctions.
And, you know, that explanation held for almost three whole weeks until
“The Washington Post”, “The Post”, again, broke that story wide open. And
in breaking that story, “The Post” finally found the answer to something
that had been nagging at people ever since the Obama administration had
expelled those Russian diplomats and seized those Russian compounds. There
had been this nagging question. Why didn`t Moscow retaliate when Obama did
that? That`s how these things are worked out. We kick out a whole bunch
of their guys. Then they kick out a whole bunch of our guys.
But then here`s at the end of last year, it didn`t work that way. Putin
didn`t respond in kind. Obama took over this long held Russian compounds
in the United States, seized them, and took them away from the Russians,
kicked out dozens of Russian spies and diplomats, kicked them all out. You
would expect Putin to respond exactly, tit for tat. Putin responded by
doing nothing. It was weird.
MADDOW: But then here`s where “The Washington Post” picks up the story.
Quote: Putin`s muted response took White House officials by surprise. It
triggered a search by U.S. spy agencies for clues.
One former senior official tells “The Post”, quote, something happened in
those 24 hours between Obama`s announcement and Putin`s response.
Officials began pouring over intelligence reports, intercepted
communications and diplomatic cables. They found evidence that Trump
national security adviser Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the
United States had communicated by text and telephone around the time these
sanctions were announced.
So, we`ve got U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies bugging the
Russians, right, listening in on this Russian officials calls. And what
they hear, according to these multiple and multiply corroborated reports is
the man who`s going to go on to be Trump`s national security adviser
calling the Russian government and essentially telling them, don`t worry
about these sanctions that the U.S. government is putting on you.
He`s calling Russia to undermine the sanctions that the Obama
administration is putting on Russia for their attack on our presidential
election. He reportedly told them in essence, hey, you know what, don`t
bother reacting to these sanctions. Don`t worry about it. Once Trump is
sworn in, we`ll fix it. We`ll take care of it.
Now, working secretly with a foreign power to undermine the actions of the
U.S. government, that`s kind of a big deal. I mean, even the Trump folks
recognize that somebody doing that would be kind of a big deal. They
recognized it enough that they took great pains to deny the heck out of
this for weeks now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The subject matter of
sanctions or the actions taken by the Obama administration did not come up
in the conversation.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They exchanged logistical
information on how to initiate and schedule that call. That was it, plain
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did not discuss
anything having to do with the United States decision to expel diplomats or
impose a censure against Russia. I can confirm that those elements were
not part of that discussion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Either the White House spokesman, the White House chief of staff
and the vice president all bluntly lied knowingly about Mike Flynn and what
he was doing about Russia or they lied inadvertently, unknowingly because
they were saying something that they thought was through, because Mike
Flynn told them a lie and they passed it on thinking it was true.
Either way that can`t stand, right? That seems like a big deal for the top
people in a brand-new administration.
MADDOW: That was February 10th of this year, not even a month into the new
administration. Less than four days later, Mike Flynn was out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Late last night in the middle of the night, the national security
adviser to the president resigned – was fired, resigned, resigned, was
fired, we don`t know. But he`s out. National security adviser Michael
We now that the Justice Department, including the acting attorney general
Sally Yates, she went to the White House at the end of January and they
informed – she and another senior career justice official informed the
White House counsel that Mike Flynn had had contacts with the Russian
government that were not only undermining U.S. government sanctions against
Russia, these were also contacts that he lied about and they told the White
House that he had done it. And we know that the White House knew about
that for weeks and they took no action.
Why did they take no action? Why did they continue to let Michael Flynn
have the access to the president and the access to classified information
that he enjoyed up until the night he was fired?
“The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” have both reported citing
multiple sources that his contacts with the Russian government didn`t start
once she was national security adviser, they didn`t start once Trump was
elected and they were in the transition period. Both papers report that
Mike Flynn was in contact with the Russian government during the campaign,
before the election, while Russia was interfere in the U.S. election in
multiple ways trying to tip the election to Donald Trump.
Did Mike Flynn help them with that? Did Mike Flynn or anyone else collude
with the Russian government in their efforts to elude the election?
It`s a very, very, very serious charge. Right now, it`s an absolutely
unanswered one at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is still an unanswered charge.
Since Mike Flynn left the White House, he and his businesses and business
associates have reportedly been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury and by
congressional committees investigating possible collusion between the Trump
campaign and Russia. Mike Flynn is reportedly a focus of special counsel
Robert Mueller`s investigation which is reportedly looking into not only
Flynn`s Russian contacts but also his work lobbying for Turkey.
Mike Flynn`s activities during the presidential campaign, his activities
during the transition, his very brief tenure in the White House itself,
those are turned out to be right at the center of the ongoing
investigations into this new administration and the Russian attack on us
last year. And those ongoing investigations have ended up putting a
spotlight on one particular member of the Trump administration and the
specific question of whether or not he knew what Mike Flynn was up to.
That spotlight is now on a very high ranking, currently serving member of
the administration, one who never got a first chance to make a first
impression. And that story is next.
MADDOW: It was three days after the presidential election last year. It
was November 11th, that we first talked on this show about Trump national
security adviser Mike Flynn and the possibility that he was being paid to
represent the interests of another country other than the United States.
November 11th, three days after the election, that was the day that we
learned that Flynn had been on the payroll of the nation of Turkey. And
that presumably is what explained why Mike Flynn on Election Day published
a weird, over-the-top op-ed praising Turkey`s authoritarian government.
That all happened right after the election.
But it wasn`t until four months later, long after Flynn had become national
security adviser and then lost his job as national security adviser. It
wasn`t until months later that he finally filed paperwork to retroactively
declare that he had in fact been working as an agent of a foreign power
while serving the Trump campaign in transition.
Now, Mike Flynn may be long gone from the White House now and may be
reportedly under all kinds of investigation. But, you know, we never did
get a straight answer from the Trump administration about how and why they
installed someone as national security adviser who really was acting as an
unregistered paid agent of a foreign power.
MADDOW: Mike Flynn has finally retroactivity registered with the Justice
Department as a foreign agent. He`s admitted that he took hundreds of
thousands of dollars to lobby for the government of Turkey last year,
between August and November.
But again this filing is retroactive. It as not like he`s filing now
saying he`s about to start taking money to lobby for the Turkish
government. He`s filing now to report that he was lobbying for the Turkish
government last year while he was also working for Trump.
Now, the White House said today that President Trump had no idea, no idea
that Michael Flynn was an agent of a foreign government while he was
advising the Trump campaign and leading the national security part of the
Trump transition. And honestly, while he was sitting in on the
presidential daily brief and all of the other things he did as part of the
And maybe – maybe, amazingly, that`s true that President Trump had no idea
Michael Flynn was a foreign agent while he was doing that because maybe the
president consumes no news and information that is publicly available to
the rest of us, maybe he didn`t notice anything on cable news, maybe he
didn`t notice anything on “The Daily Caller” or “Politico” or “The A.P.” or
CNN or Bloomberg or any of it, just didn`t notice.
But you know, just a week after we did that big segment that we did on
Michael Flynn working for a foreign government, just one week after that,
Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings wrote to the Trump transition team
to formally alert them to these credible news reports that the top national
security adviser to the transition and to the new president was lobbying
for Turkish interests, notification from Congress.
And now, today, “The Associated Press” has confirmed that the transition
team beyond the letter from Elijah Cummings, beyond all the news coverage,
beyond all the public discussion of this matter, the transition team was
formally notified by Mike Flynn`s lawyers during the transition that he was
on the payroll of a foreign government. Quote: Lawyers for Flynn told
Trump`s transition team that Flynn might need to register as an agent of a
Even if the president had no access to that publicly available information,
we know for certain the White House is actually tonight confirming that
even if they`re still saying the president didn`t know, they`re confirming
that the transition knew. The transition team was informed at the highest
levels that Michael Flynn may be needed to register as a foreign agent.
Even if you don`t – even if the president somehow was completely immune to
this information, the White House confirms the transition knew, that the
head of the transition was informed.
Who is the head of the transition? An incredibly honest-looking gentleman
named Mike Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Michael Flynn has filed with the Department of
Justice as a foreign agent for making more than $500,000 as a lobbyist
essentially for Turkey. Your reaction to that considering that doesn`t
that mean, Mr. Vice President, that even if he didn`t lie to you about what
the Russian ambassador said or didn`t say, that you would have had to fire
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, let me say hearing
that story today was the first I heard of it and I fully support the
decision that President Trump made to ask for General Flynn`s resignation.
BAIER: You`re disappointed by the story?
PENCE: The first I heard of it and I think it is – it is an affirmation
of the president`s decision to ask General Flynn to resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: First of all, Bret Baier at FOX I think asks the question
perfectly, right? He lays it out, lays it out accurately, let me get your
reaction to this. You know, basically saying is this not a significant
scandal involving General Flynn? How does Mike Pence respond to that?
Just play that bit again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Well, let me say hearing that story today was the first I heard of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was not actually the question you were asked. But – nobody
asked when you heard of it but twice without being asked when he first
heard of this, twice, Mike Pence volunteers that this is all news to him.
Never heard this before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: You`re disappointed by the story?
PENCE: The first I heard of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It is impossible that this is the first time Mike Pence has heard
of it. It`s impossible.
Mike Pence was the head of the transition while all of those stories about
Michael Flynn being on the Turkish government`s payroll were breaking. He
was the head of the transition when Mike Flynn was being vetted for the
national security adviser job. He was the head of the transition when
Congress formally notified the head of the transition that Mike Flynn
appears to be on a foreign government`s payroll. He was the head of the
transition when Mike Flynn`s personal lawyers came and told the head of the
transition that Michael Flynn maybe needed to register as a foreign agent.
And now, Mike Pence`s explanation for this whole story inexplicably is he`s
never heard any of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Well, let me say hearing that story today was the first I heard of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That cannot be true.
MADDOW: That cannot be true. That cannot be true.
The Mike Flynn scandal in this White House, the inexplicable hiring of
Flynn, the secret foreign ties of Flynn, the national security adviser to
the president of the United States being forced out of that job just 24
days into the new administration because of his secret foreign ties and
contacts – all of it. The Mike Flynn matter is astonishing in its own
But the Mike Flynn matter is also the Mike Pence matter. The vice
president`s behavior, his account of his own actions around Mike Flynn,
these things just don`t add up, and they never have. Vice President Pence
tends to keep a low profile in this administration, but he really has made
a number of blunt, direct, false statements related to the Trump/Russia
He bluntly asserted that the Trump transition had not applied for a
security clearance for Mike Flynn`s son. They actually had applied for a
security clearance for Mike Flynn`s son. Mike Pence also bluntly, boldly
asserted that James Comey was not fired for anything having to do with the
Trump/Russia investigation. The president himself has admitted that is in
fact exactly why James Comey was fired.
Mike Pence has bluntly asserted that there were no Trump campaign contacts
with Russian officials during the campaign. That is not true. He has
bluntly asserted that he had no idea that Mike Flynn had a paid
relationship with any foreign country`s government. That would seem to be
Mike Pence formed a political action committee in May, which is an unusual
thing for a vice president to do. That was May. In June, he hired an A-
list private lawyer to represent him personally in the Russia probe. And
then after weeks of speculation and reporting to the contrary and the vice
president`s office refusing to confirm one way or the other, eventually the
vice president`s private lawyer said that Mike Pence will not use that new
PAC that he set up as a vehicle to raise funds to cover his legal fees.
But, you know, he could if he wants to.
The Mike Flynn story, the Mike Flynn story is unprecedented in American
history. Honestly, it`s incredible. But it also is the vice president`s
story now. And unlike Mike Flynn, Mike Pence of course is still in office.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: This week, right after this glorious Independence Day holiday,
President Trump will be heading to Europe for his second overseas trip of
his presidency. He will be stopping in Poland. He will be stopping in
And in Germany in Hamburg, he has planned a very special meeting with
Russian president Vladimir Putin. In person, first time. I wonder if
they`ll get along.
That does it for us tonight. Happy Fourth of July.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
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