The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 9/22/17 ACA and Puerto Rico
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: September 22, 2017
Guest: Patricia Mazzei, Luis Rivera Marin, Adam Weinstein
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: Joy Reid and I are hosting Global
Citizens Festival. Sixty thousand people, many of whom won their tickets
by doing some form of action to fight global poverty, will pack into
Central Park for annual concert. They will see performances by Stevie
Wonder, Green Day, The Lumineers, and many, many more. You can watch it
exclusively on MSNBC starting at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. I
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday.
Big news today obviously. We had – we had thought that next week would be
the moment of truth where we would find out if Republicans were going to be
able to kill Obamacare. If they`re going to be able to repeal the
Affordable Care Act.
Brookings estimates now that that would result in 21 million Americans
being thrown off their health insurance.
So, we thought we`d learn about that, whether they were able to do it next
week. Instead of waiting until next week for their planned vote though,
the decisive moment may have happened today, this afternoon, when Arizona
Senator John McCain put out this statement explaining why he will not vote
for this plan.
Three Republican no votes is enough to kill this thing. Senator Rand Paul
was number one no vote. He says he`s a definite no. Susan Collins says
she leans no. There`s also, additionally, a lot of beseeching and
wondering going on around the potential vote of Lisa Murkowski.
But if McCain is out, it looks very much like this thing may be dead or
almost dead. So, Republicans do still have a few more days. They`d have
another week ultimately to try to cook something else up. But it does not
look good for them. We`re going to have more on that big news ahead
tonight, including what I think led to this latest failure by the
Here`s another piece of news though that arose unexpectedly today.
Starting this afternoon, individual states started putting out out-of-the-
blue statements about whether or not their election infrastructure and
their voter rolls had been hacked during the election by the Russians. All
these different states just started one-by-one making declarations as to
whether or not that happened to them this past year.
We really didn`t know what to make of it. We started to see these
statements coming in. We didn`t know why this was happening today, until
God bless Wisconsin, the Wisconsin statement finally explains what else was
going on with all these other states. The Wisconsin statement said, in
part, quote, Wisconsin is one of states whose chief election officials were
notified today by the Department of Homeland Security that their systems
were targeted by Russians.
The Homeland Security Department did not disclose which other states were
notified, but said the states were free to disclose the information. And
then some of them did. Not all of them did, but some of them.
We didn`t know what was happening when this started to happen, but
basically what we`ve now figured out is that Homeland Security knew at
least by June that states had been targeted by Russian hackers during the
election. They knew that. They announced that they knew that in June.
They didn`t actually tell those 21 states that it was them until today.
Why did it take this long? And now that the states know not all of the
states are telling us the public about what happened.
NPR and “Associated Press” both caught to what was going on this afternoon
as we were trying to figure it out. They both tried to round up what we
now know, according to their monitoring of the various statements coming
out from these various states today. It looks like of the states that have
now finally been told by Homeland Security that they got targeted by the
Russians, it looks like these are the states that have made that
information public today.
We`ve posted this kind of in clip and save form. So, when more states say
publicly whether the Russians hit them too, we`ll add to the list. But so
far, we`ve got these.
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin – they all have now
put out a statement saying that Homeland Security has notified them about
Russian efforts to target their election infrastructure during the election
last year. Again, we have no idea why the Homeland Security Department
didn`t notify these states before today, since they`ve known at least since
June which states were attacked.
Sure. Why not wait until mid-September? What the heck? How about a
Friday afternoon? Probably an excellent time to submarine that news,
especially by just letting it drib and drab out from individual stats here
and there, rather than making any sort of actual government announcement
about this thing.
President Trump is in Alabama right now, where he is campaigning for one of
the candidates in a Republican Senate primary. He`s not campaigning for
the Republican candidate in a general election. He`s campaigning in the
Republican primary, which is not the sort of thing presidents typically do
for their own party, but that kind of day.
We`ve also learned some really interesting new information what`s become of
the giant slush fund of tens of millions of dollars that is apparently
floating around inside the Trump administration unaccounted for since the
inauguration. We had some sort of stunning reporting on that inauguration
fund last night on the show and we will share with you tonight what else we
learned, which will probably make you laugh out loud.
But the biggest news in America right now, undoubtedly, is something that
is unfolding a thousand miles southeast of Miami, Florida. You know the
name in Levittown, right?
The original Levittown was on Long Island, outside New York City. They
started selling homes in Levittown, New York, in 1947, right after World
War II. And a few years later, there was Levittown, Pennsylvania. Then
there was one in New Jersey which dropped to the name Levittown and picked
up a new name in the `60s. All these whites-only suburban developments
were created in the middle of the 20th century by William Levitt and his
family, and they branded these towns with his name.
And the whole Levittown idea, right, whether you see it from the street
level or from an aerial view it`s still absolutely iconic, sprawling,
highly planned, cookie cutter, matched houses, American suburbia. The
Northeast suburban version of the segregated American dream.
It`s interesting though. The last place called Levittown the last town
built as a Levittown that had the name Levittown, it wasn`t a place that
was built in the Northeast. It was built in 1963 in Puerto Rico. The last
Levittown was built about a dozen miles west of the capital of Puerto Rico,
San Juan. They advertised a few different models of house depending on the
size of your family and the size of your checkbook. The houses cost
between $10,000 and $15,000.
And, you know, because it was Puerto Rico, the architecture was different
than the kinds of houses they`d built on Long Island or in Pennsylvania,
but it was the same idea. It was billed as the same kind of American dream
fulfilling middle-class community that the stateside Levittowns were as
Levittown, Puerto Rico, remains one of the largest planned communities in
Puerto Rico and it remains a suburban middle-class enclave. But this was
Levittown, Puerto Rico, as of yesterday.
Levittown is built on marshland. When they built it in 1963, they created
land to build on by draining that marsh they then used that drained water
to create an artificial lake Levittown Lake right next to all the housing.
On Wednesday night, in the wake of Hurricane Maria coming ashore, when
river started to well and the land got saturated, that artificial lake,
Levittown Lake, overflowed massively. And even though the worst of the
storm had passed by then, the flooding trapping thousands of residents in
Levittown rose up after the storm had passed.
“The Washington Post” reported that not only had residents there never
before been flooded out by a hurricane. They also thought the danger was
over before the flooding started because the worst of the storm had passed.
Even once water receded, the question there is now – as it is in so many
places in Puerto Rico – the question now is how to get help, how to get
supplies while streets remain impassable with power and phone service out
NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez was just west of Levittown today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s devastating because, you know, you lose
everything. You lose everything. You have to start from zero.
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And in Toa Baja, 30
miles west of San Juan, Cristia Fenidor (ph) is desperate. The water
flooded her entire first floor and she says the local shelter has run out
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need gas, food, I don`t know. Someone to help us.
GUTIERREZ: The town`s mayor tells us at least eight people drowned here
and authorities have rescued 4,000 to 5,000 trapped by floodwaters.
Without working cellphones, he`s coordinating with rescue crews from
Florida and Virginia by word of mouth.
New video released by the U.S. Coast Guard shows a woman and two children
being hoisted to safety after they were stranded on a capsized boat off the
Rosa Valastro (ph) rode the storm in old San Juan while a building in this
historic neighborhood crumbled next to her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I said to myself and to my son, we have to leave
the house. This is going to collapse.
GUTIERREZ: For many in Puerto Rico, your health can`t come soon enough.
MADDOW: Gabe Gutierrez reporting there tonight. That was the mayor of San
Juan, Puerto Rico that he showed they`re going house-to-house by both the
mayor himself going out – mayor herself going out, checking on residents,
calling out to see if people are there and if they need help. That`s San
But on the northwestern part of the island right now, in this area you see
circled there, 70,000 people are currently being evacuated as fast as
possible tonight, because of a danger that it dam there is about to
This is the Guajataca Dam. It`s – the National Weather Service said that
at 2:00 this afternoon, it was failing. Seventy thousand people live
downstream of that dam. The National Weather Service in San Juan sent out
these urgent messages today in quick succession after they said the dam had
begun to fissure. Flash flood emergency for a dam failure, that was
followed very shortly thereafter by this, dam operators report the
Guajataca Dam is failing, causing flash flooding downstream on the Rio
Then followed by this, this is an extremely dangerous situation. Buses are
currently evacuating people from the area as quickly as they can. And then
followed by this one: all areas surrounding the Guajataca River should
evacuate now, lives are in danger.
These all caps warnings from the National Weather Service couldn`t have
been more clear this afternoon, but it raised the question immediately of
how are people supposed to get that message, right? With power down, with
almost no phone service or Internet service, how are people supposed to get
these warnings? It`s very hard to reach people even with any an urgent
Now, because of that urgent necessity, the worry that the manmade lake held
back by this dam is going to come all down this dam all at once, in the
words of Puerto Rico`s secretary of state today, officials went back to
basics to try to get people out of the way of that failing dam. Today,
they just started using sirens and bull horns. They flew over endangered
areas down that river, flew over the river area and that and the
surrounding neighborhoods with loudspeakers urging people to get out.
We`re going to be speaking with the secretary of state from Puerto Rico
live in just a moment for the latest news on that.
But all over Puerto Rico, people are facing unprecedented and terrifying
conditions tonight, right now, as I speak. People – when people get a
little bit of an Internet connection, they`re sharing videos like this.
You can see that the house is just underwater.
Even where the floodwaters have receded, power is still out and may remain
out for months. Power is still out everywhere. A hundred percent of power
out on the island. Ninety-five percent of mobile phone service remains
out, and the truth is we just don`t know the condition about much of the
island, particularly interior Puerto Rico because it`s a communications
We do know that hundreds of people have been rescued so far from rooftops.
Those rescues will continue. We also expect the death toll to climb. We
have reports thus far of deaths from mudslides and landslides, deaths from
flooding, deaths from people being hit by debris.
Authorities say they worried that we`re going to learn about many more
deaths in Puerto Rico as reports come in. There is an all-night curfew in
effect in Puerto Rico until conditions improve. But the island is in
I mean, everybody`s in darkness unless they`ve got a generator and they
were able to get gas for that generator in long fuel lines today. This
storm came ashore on Wednesday. It is now Friday night.
Three and a half million American citizens here in what is increasingly a
dire and dangerous situation.
Joining us now is Patricia Mazzei. She`s a reporter with “The Miami
Herald”. She joins us by phone from Puerto Rico.
Ms. Mazzei, thank you very much for being with us. I realize it`s not easy
to get communications.
PATRICIA MAZZEI, REPORTER, THE MIAMI HERALD (via telephone): Thanks for
having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Can you tell us what you`ve – what you`ve seen, where you were
able to get out to and what`s your assessment of how bad the damage is, and
how much danger people are in?
MAZZEI: Well, we were in San Juan today in some of the inland and also
ocean side beach towns that got a lot of the earlier flooding. This has
been kind of a slow-moving event where we are seeing kind of the flooding
first at the east of the island and then the west of the island. And
really, the water has been unrelenting.
Not everybody gets water high enough to have to be rescued from the roof
and so they`re not paid attention to. I mean, they haven`t had any help,
but that doesn`t mean that their lives are any destroyed. We went to a
beach town called Louisa which is essentially underwater. It`s a couple of
blocks from the ocean and they said as you notice that they thought that
though storm was over after the winds had peeled off their roofs, and then
came to water.
So, now, many of them are living without roof and in muddy water and they
are going to run out of food and water in a few days unless they get help.
And every person, you know, three people in a span of 30 minutes asked me
in town today if I was from FEMA because they thought maybe I was coming to
help and I had to say no, and they were disappointed that they were not
surprised. And then they offered me their cold water bottles which I just
thought was –
MAZZEI: – stunning giving the conditions that they`re living in.
MADDOW: What are people able to get in terms of help? What are you seeing
in terms of the official response and relief efforts, either organized just
by civilians or by the government?
MAZZEI: Right now, we`re only seeing in these towns neighbors helping
neighbors. San Juan, the capital, has crews of people removing trees and
picking up debris and soldiers directing traffic as of today.
But inland, the residents told us they have seen no help. They have a
little bit hopeful because they have seen helicopters fly over their towns.
Those might have been reporters taking photographs and video, but they
think that people know that they are flooded and they hope that help will
But one grocery store in Louisa was open today and the owner said he
ordered water two weeks ago before Hurricane Irma, he still hasn`t gotten
it. He has bread every day at 7:00 a.m. and there`s a line out the door
and people stand for 90 minutes in line for bread and then that`s all you
got, you know, that`s new. Everything else is old stuff that that is non-
perishable one that he`s selling.
But it`s all a cash economy right now. There`s no banks open there, which
is a risk for him and his business to keep all that cash.
So, it`s kind of one compounding problem after another.
MADDOW: Yes, it sounds like what you`re seeing is dire circumstances, but
it seems like what you`re talking about is sort of the brink of despair.
MAZZEI: There`s some of these folks that really is and they are trying to
put a brave face to it. But, you know, just because they`re not the ones
who are getting evacuated in urgent circumstances, those mean that they`re
not going to be in trouble for a long time they have no communications. I
think some of the waters will take at least a month to receive based on
what they have seen in flooding from previous forms, and it`s not easy to
get in and out of town.
And even the folks who had cars don`t have usable cars anymore. So, they
don`t have to worry about the gas shortage, because they just don`t have a
way to get around.
MADDOW: Right. “Miami Herald” reporter Patricia Mazzei, thank you for
helping us understand what you`ve seen. Please keep us, keep apprised and
thanks for helping us understand.
MAZZEI: We will. My pleasure.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Joining us now is Luis Rivera Marin. He`s the Puerto Rico secretary of
Secretary Marin, you joined us as the storm was coming ashore. I asked you
to keep apprise. I`m really glad you`re able to be back with us tonight.
Thank you for your time, sir.
LUIS RIVERA MARIN, SECRETARY OF STATE, PUERTO RICO (via telephone): Well,
welcome. Welcome. It`s important that we keep all U.S. citizens abreast
of what`s happening in Puerto Rico, and the flooding waters keep to be our
most important challenge.
MADDOW: Can I ask you, sir, about these dramatic reports we heard today in
these dramatic warnings we got from the National Weather Service about that
dam along the Guajataca River, and the urgent need to evacuate about 70,000
people downstream from that dam. What`s the latest on that situation, sir?
RIVERA MARIN: Well, we are – we`re doing assessment. We did a flyover,
and the Governor Rossello is right now in the area, together with
structural engineers and what happens to be a imminent danger as to a
structural damage to one of the largest dams in the island, it`s Guajataca
We`re currently trying to - with the lack of communication, with the
darkness as challenges, we`re trying all the communities down streets we
are trying to make them aware and evacuate them to safer ground. It`s
around 80,000 citizens that could be affected if the dam cedes to the water
pressure because of the range.
MADDOW: And in terms of those 80,000 people, how successful have the
evacuation efforts been thus far? Obviously, we don`t have an exact
prediction in terms of if there if there is going to be a catastrophic
failure of that dam. And I know it`s very difficult to reach people with
What is the scale of the evacuation thus far?
RIVERA MARIN: It`s – we`re using from rudimentary sirens, to tsunami
sirens that are in place. We are using helicopters and there is social
media and probably this program being watched. It`s a way to advise
Governor Rossello previous to the storm was emphatic to the predictions of
National Weather Services to the amount of water and we had ferocious
winds, but it was followed by monumental rain, and it`s in excess of 25
inches, and with rescue from rooftops close to 2,300 people already, and
search and rescue efforts continue.
But the issue with the dam, it`s one that it`s a very, very delicate one
and as we speak, we`re working with the communities to make sure we don`t
lose any more lives. It`s up in six casualties up to date and we want to
keep that number. We don`t want to increase any more casualties because of
MADDOW: Mr. Secretary, we spoke with a reporter from the “Miami Herald” a
moment ago, and we`ve heard from other reporters today as well, that it
seems like in interior Puerto Rico not in San Juan and not in the larger
cities but in the interior of the island, there have – people have not had
any help, that there have been rescue efforts off rooftops but they –
there haven`t been supplies. People haven`t been – haven`t been getting
water, haven`t been getting offers of evacuation. People in the interior
of the island feel like it`s just neighbors helping neighbors thus far.
Is that true and do you expect that to improve and soon?
RIVERA MARIN: Well, we get 78 municipalities and the mayors of each
municipality to lead the emergency management the search and rescue, and we
are in touch with all majors actually for a fact tomorrow morning at 11:00
a.m. I`ll be in a meeting with all mayors, making sure that FEMA supplies
satellite telephones, any additional aid as to bottle water as to first
aid, as to any equipment that might be needed. So, we are – we are – we
are all in one, making sure that in the shores, in the coast and the hills,
every Puerto Rican gets proper attention and certainly power is an issue,
and the we`ve had because of Irma, initially, complaints about the power
returning to all households, we were 90 percent on recovery.
But now, we`re back to ground zero in terms of getting up again in terms of
energy, water`s coming back and we`ll make sure. It`s going to be a tough
recovery, but we`re resilient and we are ready to get up, and make sure
every Puerto Rican gets taking care of.
MADDOW: Luis Rivera Marin, the secretary of state of Puerto Rico, I know
there`s a trying time, sir, thank you for helping us understand what you`re
going through. Again, do please keep apprised in the days ahead.
RIVERA MARIN: Thank you, and any donations the first lady has set up, an
account at UnitedforPuertoRico.com are more than welcome, together with
your prayers. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Again, we`re keeping an eye on that dam, one of the largest dams in Puerto
Rico, that officials say is failing. Eighty thousand people live
downstream from that dam. It holds back a very large manmade lake.
If the dam gives way in a catastrophic way, all of the water of that lake
will be added to the downstream flooding that is already afflicting that
area. Those evacuations are underway. Tens of thousands of people, this
is a very serious situation tonight in Puerto Rico.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The first one failed in March. Minutes before Republicans in the
House were supposed to vote on their first kill Obamacare bill, they had to
yank it off the floor. They realized at the last minute they didn`t have
enough votes to pass it, so they pulled it.
That one in March, that was the first one. Then, they tried again in May.
This time, the House did pass it, but just barely, squeaked through by four
votes, which is a real squeaker, given that the Republicans have an almost
50-seat majority in the House.
But after that squeaker is when they had that goofy celebration at the
White House right after, remember, with that incredible rich diversity of
white men in suits celebrating that they got their health care bill one
third of the way through the legislative process. But despite the rainbow
fiesta at the White House that day, that bill also never made it to the
president`s desk, that`s because the Republican-controlled Senate took one
look at it and chucked it in the garbage.
So, then, it was time to try again. Next go-round was in June. The
Republican-controlled Senate wrote their own bill to kill Obamacare and
then that one promptly went bust as well. That one didn`t even have enough
support to entertain the idea of even trying to bring it to the floor.
So, then they scrapped it, and they came up with another one, in July.
This time, what they called a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act,
and they got that one all the way to the floor the Senate, but then
dramatic late-night death. John McCain made his dramatic entrance, took
his theatrical pregnant pause, and then gave his big – thumbs down. OK,
that was very exciting.
For seven years, Republicans have been saying they need to be in control of
Washington so they can kill Obamacare. It`s the one thing they have all
insisted they would instantly do as soon as they got the reins of power.
But they have failed over and over and over again at trying to do it.
Since the inauguration, Republicans have held the White House and the
Senate and a large majority in the House, but they have passed zero
significant legislation of any kind, really they have not passed a single
major bill. Not one.
And I think that`s in part because they assumed they just passed this
health care thing first. They assume that killing Obamacare would be the
low-hanging fruit and then everything else they`d figure it out there
after. But this low-hanging fruit turns out it isn`t getting picked and it
keeps bunking them on the head instead.
And that`s because – well, this was Front Range, Colorado, today.
Hundreds of people pouring into the streets of Denver against the
Republican healthcare bill. You can hear them chanting health care is a
human right, fight, fight, fight. Members the local ADAPT chapter were
there, too. They are the disability rights activists who`ve been so
stalwart and so loud about this.
And deep red Texas, these guys stood on the busy highway overpass today
with this sign if you can – if you squint you can read it. Repeal and
replace Senator Ted Cruz. Given his support for repealing and replacing
Obamacare, we`re told that sign was met by a healthy dose of supportive
honking from passing cars.
In Roanoke, Virginia, Congressman Bob Goodlatte turned 65 today, eligible
for Medicare. His constituents threw him a party to mark the occasion and
to ask him not to cut Americans off their health insurance. They brought a
clown. They paraded cupcakes and balloons into his office for a happy
birthday celebration. They ended up donating the rest to a local hospital
in Congressman Goodlatte`s name.
In Kansas City, Missouri, Senator Jerry Moran`s constituents talked about
how they could lose their health insurance under the new Republican bill,
while this staffer, bored-looking staffer took notes on what they said.
Honestly, the best and sharpest reason why Republicans haven`t been able to
do the one thing they said for sure they do, the best and sharpest reason
why Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, hasn`t been killed yet is that
people like this mom decided they would change their own lives around, to
try relentlessly to save it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve been here before to talk about his health care
and his needs, and I`m not sure why, in this country, we`re asking mothers
to justify why it is important to keep their children alive. Why do I have
to keep coming here to ask Senator Moran to protect my son`s health and
It`s – you know, having a child with the disability is stressful enough.
It`s hard enough but we pushed on and we live our lives like anybody else.
We – he goes to school we`re out and about we`re everywhere in our
community, we`re proud of him and we have – I have – I have no regrets
about his life and who he is.
But what makes that possible is health care. What makes that possible is
Medicaid. And the cuts in this bill will devastate us and families around
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That kind of personal local being their showing up is a big part
of why Republicans have failed over and over and over again to erase
Obamacare, because that`s what their staffers have been listening to.
That`s what they`ve been listening to it every event they do. That`s what
their constituents are telling them every time they show their face
anywhere near their constituents, and the beltway doesn`t report on it that
way but you can see it around the country over and over and over again.
You know, what is different about this new Republican effort to kill
Obamacare though is that this one comes with a deadline under Senate rules.
The Republicans basically have to pass this thing by next Saturday if
they`re going to. The prospect of that is now hanging by a thread with the
news today that John McCain says he`ll vote no. Republicans can only
afford to lose no votes.
Right now, counting John McCain they`ve got two definite no votes from Rand
Paul and John McCain. Susan Collins says she`s leaning no. Lisa
Murkowski, well, she voted no the last time and this bill is way worse for
her state. If Republicans lose Collins or Murkowski or anyone else, if
they lose just one more vote, this bill is toast.
We know what this looks like. We have seen them lose on this before, and
we know why. But they`ve got a few more days to try to pull this off.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: OK, at the end of May, in 2006, so 11 years ago, a detachment of
U.S. Marines, 112 U.S. Marines made their way to a port city off the Black
Sea in Crimea. It was mainly known as a resort city with population of
about 8,500 people.
The Marines headed there to lay the groundwork for a large NATO-Ukraine
military exercise that was due to take place that July. It was called Sea
Breeze. It involved more than a dozen countries. Obviously, Ukraine is
not part of NATO, but this is NATO countries and the Ukrainian military
doing a joint exercise together.
The marines touched down at dawn on May 27th and what they were planning to
do there was create facilities that could be used during the exercise.
They were planning on doing some goodwill stuff like building playgrounds
and working on sports facilities in schools for the local population. They
were there to get stuff ready, to build stuff, and to make nice with
That`s why they did not expect the welcome that they got. Here`s how
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Dolman (ph) describes what they walked into. Quote:
We had rocks thrown at us. Rocks hit Marines. Buses were rocked back and
forth. We were just trying to get to our base.
These U.S. Marines were attacked by ultimately thousands of angry
protesters and what everybody thought was the sleepy resort city in Crimea,
in Ukraine. The Marines ultimately were unable to move. They did get to
where they could sort of hunker down, but they couldn`t get to their
They couldn`t get to their base. They couldn`t get to the supply ship that
had their stuff at the town`s port. They were stuck. They were hunkered
down. They were dealing with these gigantic protests against them.
One of the marines` commanding officers, Colonel Bill Black says that some
of the protesters brandished what he jokingly called Ukrainian cocktails,
for Molotov cocktails, plastic bottles filled with diesel fuel.
The Marines laid low for two weeks where they could and then they basically
snuck out in the dead of night. They snuck out, boarded a jet and flew
home. They did not complete their mission.
They ended up canceling the entire military exercise, this joint NATO
Ukraine military exercise, they called it off. It was quite an
international incident. President George W. Bush ended up cancelling his
planned trip to Ukraine later that month. That happened in 2006.
We now know that those protests that were meant to threaten U.S. Marines,
these anti-NATO, anti-American protests, they were reportedly orchestrated
by the pro-Russia political party in Ukraine which is called the Party of
If that name party of regions sounds at all familiar it`s because the Party
of Regions we now know was reportedly paying former Trump campaign chairman
Paul Manafort millions of dollars by then to advise them on political
strategy, according to Adam Weinstein, reporting at taskandpurpose.com,
quote, Ukrainian officials and some former us diplomats I`ve spoken to are
convinced that Paul Manafort knew about and possibly helped plan the anti-
American protests that resulted in the attacks on those U.S. Marines. That
Paul Manafort being paid millions of dollars by anti-American interests to
work against American interests and doing so very effectively. New
disturbing reports that he is at it again. That`s next.
MADDOW: This week, one of the bombshells that “The New York Times” broke
was a story that Paul Manafort the Trump campaign chairman has accepted a
new job working on the Kurds referendum for independence in Iraq. The
Kurds who have a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, they`re going to
be voting on Monday as to whether or not they want to become an independent
country. Now, I should mention this is something that Russia has been
quite supportive of, but it`s something that the United States and all our
– well, at least most of our allies – vehemently oppose.
Ever since we went into Iraq under the false pretenses of weapons – for
weapons of mass destruction in 2003, it has been a central part of U.S.
policy. It has been the central U.S. policy that the United States is
trying to shore up the Iraqi government and keep the nation of Iraq intact
under a single national government. One country governed by one
But we learned this week that around the same time that the FBI conducted
that no-knock pre-dawn raid on his house in Virginia, Paul Manafort decided
to take on a new gig, getting paid to help the Kurdish independence
referendum that is opposed by the United States, which must have been
particularly fun today when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with the
Iraqi prime minister. How are you Mr. Prime Minister? Please, let`s not
talk about the Trump campaign chairman who`s working to break off a third
of your country.
The Trump campaign chairman working against U.S. interests for money is a
new and increasingly present idea in terms of how we understand our world
in the Trump era. But here`s one very small weird thing about this new
news about him working to break up Iraq. This is from “The New York Times”
story. Quote, Mr. Manafort himself may return to the region in the coming
days for the vote.
So, Paul Manafort is working with the Kurds to break up Iraq, got it.
Wait, he`s going to go there for the vote? Meaning like he`s flying there
now. Does he have a return ticket?
I mean, given all the heat that Paul Manafort is under now from the special
counsel and with the Trump administration going out of its way to distance
himself from him and all the stuff that they`re trying to blame on him and
saying it was him alone and nobody else, it looks like he is leaving the
country or maybe he already has for the Kurdish referendum that`s happening
on Monday, that he is supporting against the foreign policy of the United
We meet reached out to Mr. Manafort spokesman today who told us that he is
not going to answer our questions. But he did insist to us that, of
course, it is perfectly legal to work overseas. He said if Mr. Manafort`s
activities require a foreign agent registration, he will comply.
If he is leaving the country, are we sure he`s coming back? Is anybody
checking on that?
Joining us now is Adam Weinstein. He`s a senior editor at “Task and
Purpose”. He`s reported extensively on Paul Manafort activities, working
against U.S. foreign policy in both Crimea and Ukraine and now,
interestingly, as we`re learning more about Paul Manafort.
Mr. Weinstein, thank you very much for being with us tonight.
ADAM WEINSTEIN, TASK AND PURPOSE: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: You reported provocatively and interestingly with a lot of good
documentation on Paul Manafort`s connections to those U.S. Marines coming
under attack basically in Crimea by angry mobs back in 2006. Do you have
any sense of why it is that the U.S. officials who spoke to you and the
Ukrainian officials have spoken to others, why it is that people believe
that Manafort may have actually been part of the effort that led to those
attacks in those marines?
WEINSTEIN: Well, it should be said at this point that beyond what those
officials and what those sources have said to us and have reported to other
folks in the media, this is a pretty circumstantial case, albeit a damning
one. We know that Manafort was working now in this time frame for the
Party of Regions. We know that he was advising them to stoke the flames of
Russian nationalism in Crimea and in the eastern Ukraine, where there is a
large Russian population.
And we know that shortly after that, all of this stuff went down and we
also know that those officials, particularly U.S. officials, State
Department officials, this is something you can see in the WikiLeaks
releases of State Department cables were highly confident that the Party of
Regions was responsible for organizing these protests in order to get an
electoral advantage. So, you know, for whatever reason, it just happened
to dovetail with Manafort`s kind of counsel.
MADDOW: In terms of the what I guess the accountability for that sort of
thing, you know, we all know about the Logan Act – this never prosecuted
ancient American law that prohibits American regular civilians, private
citizens from acting to undermine us foreign policy abroad is there
anything else that prohibits people from – regular Americans from working
against U.S. interest or the safety of the U.S. service members abroad?
Well, you know, it`s subjective and it`s a judgment call. When it comes to
direct threats to U.S. military, yes, of course, there`s a lot of –
there`s a lot of regulations that cover that, and possibly rules of
engagement depending on where it happens and what the circumstances.
Beyond that, there is sort of this wilderness territory and there has been
for a very long time that`s been plumbed by Republicans and Democrats of
counseling foreign governments or would-be foreign governments on their
political strategies, and the fine line between where that is just merely
problematic for money reasons and where that becomes a real problem for
U.S. policy. That`s a line that`s kind of subjective in a lot of places.
And I think we`re going to be asking a lot of those questions about a lot
of the things that Manafort has done, not just Ukraine.
MADDOW: Adam, I know that at “Task and Purpose”, that your mission and I
know that your personal background gives you some insight into this next
thing that I`m going to ask you. Is there – is there anger,
consternation, worry in military circles and among U.S. veterans in
particular about the national security implications of this and just the
personal dimensions of what he did in terms of endangering – in terms of
whether he was involved in endangering Americans?
WEINSTEIN: Yes. Those service members that I`ve spoken to and certainly
people who are on our staff, we have our concerns and I think there has
been a general kind of consternation or a general sort of we`re not sure
exactly what to make of Trump or the people that he surrounds himself with
in the rank-and-file military.
They also don`t need to be concerned with those things day-to-day just yet,
although these sorts of stories when they arise, you know, they raise that
issue of God`s sakes. Paul Manafort`s mentor was James Baker. He worked
for Ronald Reagan. This is a man who believes in a kind of red meat,
strong foreign policy of the United States, and support the troops.
And if he can be working for – you know, we don`t even know. Whether he`s
involved in these riots or not, for him to even be in the same room with
some of these same people or collecting a check from them, you got to ask
yourself like, where does that guy`s loyalties lie?
MADDOW: Adam Weinstein, senior editor at “Task and Purpose”, and really
good reporter. Adam, thank you very much for being here. Appreciate your
All right. We got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: All week long, I have been puzzling over one simple little
question. Daytime, nighttime, washing dishes, clicking stupid stuff on
Instagram of one question – when I go home this weekend and I unplug and
I`m standing on a riverbank trying and failing to catch a fish, I will
still be thinking about this one thing. Where`s all that money going?
Could the Trump presidential inaugural committee, which raised, what, three
times, four times as much money as they need to spend for the actual
inauguration this year, could that same inaugural committee us the
leftover, use the unaccounted for tens of millions of dollars they have
left over, could they use that to pay for other stuff now? Like maybe
stuff they didn`t want to talk about paying more, like people`s legal
defenses for the Russia scandal.
I put that question last night to Craig Holman from Public Citizen. Could
the inaugural committee pay the legal bills for campaign officials or for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Legally, do you think that`s possible that they could do that?
CRAIG HOLMAN, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Yes, they can do that. The only rule when
it comes to inaugural funds is that the source of funds has to be disclosed
after the inauguration. But how that money gets spent is anyone`s guess,
no rules, no regulations. It can, you know, quite frankly, it could even
go into the pocket of Donald Trump if he chose to do so.
HOLMAN: It`s a Wild West area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A Wild West area. That was what we heard from Craig Holman last
night who knows as much about American campaign finance as anyone on earth.
And even though I was surprised enough by what he said to respond with
just, wow, which you`re not supposed to do on TV, it really does appear, no
surprise, that he`s right. What he said last night is right. It shocked
me when I heard it, but we talked to two different experts on this stuff
today who told us, yes, he`s right, told us the same thing.
There really is very little law about how an inauguration committee can
spend any money that they have left over after the shindigs. I wonder if
that`s why they raised triple and quadruple the amount of money they
I mean, the committee does have to fill out this one form three months
later disclosing who gave more than $2, how much they gave and they have to
report how much they raised overall. We`ve seen that, but that`s it,
that`s the end of the required reporting ever. That`s how we know they
raised $107 million. What they do with it is the question.
After they filed that one thing, anything that could be considered to fit
with the mission of celebrating the president`s victory anything they could
anything they want to spend on, go for it. No disclosure.
That`s pretty much the Wild West. Saddle up, right? Checks to lawyers if
you want for the president or is his family or anybody else, go ahead. The
sheriff is drunk and passed out under a shade tree. Do whatever you need
to do, spend it.
I do have one update to report on this tonight though. For the record,
we`ve still got an overall no comment from the inaugural fund as to whether
or not they – the inauguration money will be used to pay Russia legal fees
or whether it has been used to pay Russia legal fees. We asked them that
and they told us no comment.
But I can report that Vice President Mike Pence for one is not using
inauguration funds to pay for his legal defense. Mike Pence does have
highfalutin legal representation on Russia. We know because his lawyer
returns our calls and he`s very nice, but we don`t know at all how Pence is
paying for this legal representation.
His very nice lawyer tells us that the vice president is not using
inauguration funds. He also says the vice president is not using Trump
reelection campaign money. He also tells us that the vice president is not
using money from the RNC. He also tells us that the vice president is not
using money from his own PAC.
But he is somehow paying his lawyer, right?
We`re checking now to see if maybe Mike Pence is selling his plasma, or
like cleaning out his garage on Craigslist. I don`t know. We`ll keep
figuring on it.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD”
where Joy Reid is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Joy.
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