One on one interview with Senator Warren Transcript 11/27/17 The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: November 27, 2017
Guest: Elizabeth Warren, Richard Cordray, Adam Schiff
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. I hope you got a little time off at Thanksgiving.
Susan and I accidently got a Turkey that wouldn`t fit inside our oven,
which we did not realize until we had the Turkey next to the oven and we`re
trying to cram it in. We ended up sticking the Turkey in the barbecue out
in the yard instead and necessity is the mother of invention. It worked
out great. We`re always going to barbecue the Turkey from here on out,
even if it`s a little tiny one.
So I had a great Thanksgiving. I`m happy as a clam. It`s great to be
back. And you know what? It`s nice to feel needed when you come back to
work. And today, the news gods have obliged by making today insane as a
Let`s start tonight just with the stuff that is breaking this evening, just
Rex Tillerson, secretary of state, has become one of the most controversial
cabinet officials in the Trump administration, which in this administration
is really saying something. Aside from the bare bones questions about how
exactly he got this job in the first place and what a lifelong Exxon
employee might want to do to the U.S. State Department and questions about
the implications of his unusually close personal relationship with Vladimir
Putin, alongside all those baseline concerns about him taking over at
State, alongside all that, has risen something approaching panic now among
long-time foreign service professionals and senior diplomats, as Rex
Tillerson has just taken a meat ax to the State Department particularly to
its upper echelons.
We have reported on this extensively on this show but “The New York Times”
just walloped the issue this weekend with this report. Diplomats sound the
alarm as they are pushed out in droves.
Well, following that report from over the holiday break in the “New York
Times”, tonight, “Bloomberg News” is first to report that there`s about to
be yet another high-profile resignation at the State Department but this
time it`s the person who Rex Tillerson put in charge of redesigning the
department. The redesign is what they have called it as they have forced
out an entire generation of senior diplomats and foreign policy experts at
State. The person who Rex Tillerson put in charge of remaking the State
Department is out of a job as of tonight.
So, raise your hand if you think that means that Rex Tillerson is going to
bring back the people they pushed out. They will restore the State
Department to the previous strength. Raise your hand if you think that`s
But they have decided the person remaking the State Department under
Tillerson`s leadership is gone.
Also tonight, a federal court has once again smacked down the Trump
administration on one of its signature controversial issues. In July,
President Trump announced on Twitter that he wanted to kick transgender
service members out of the military. In late August, he finally got around
to signing something on the subject beyond just sending a tweet about it.
By last month, the federal court was blocking the president`s transgender
ban in no uncertain terms. The ruling declared, quote: there is absolutely
no support for the claim the on going service of transgender people would
have any negative effect on the military at all.
That ruling was from October. Tonight, that court has gun further and
clarified the Trump administration has a deadline. They have until January
1st, they have 35 days from now to get their house on order on this subject
to abandon the transgender ban idea and to make clear that trans recruits
are welcome in the United States Armed Forces. That ruling coming tonight.
Also tonight, “The Washington Post” has broken kind of an inside out story
that feels very close to our hearts here at this show at MSNBC. You might
remember from this summer back in July, we reported about how somebody had
forged a fake NSA document, and then shopped that document to us as if it
were a very damning scoop about the Trump campaign colluding with the
Russian government during the election, and the NSA knowing all about it.
We did not fall for that forged document, but it was unsettling to know
people were shopping fake documents to try and screw up and discredit a
Well, a version of that has just happened to “The Washington Post”,
specifically to the reporting team who broke the blockbuster story a couple
of weeks about multiple women in Alabama saying that Republican Senate
candidate Roy Moore pursued them romantically or sexually when they were
teenagers and he was a grown man in his 30s. According to “The Washington
Post”, over the last few weeks, a woman approached them, approached that
reporting team with a dramatic story about an alleged sexual relationship
she said she had with Roy Moore. A relationship she said led to her having
an abortion when she was 15 years old.
Now, this woman came to “The Washington Post” with that story over the last
couple weeks. That story does not appear to be true. And “The Post”
reporters suss that out when they were doing their due diligence on that
story, they were then further able to report that the woman who came to
them with the story appears to be an activist associated with one of these
conservative activist groups that in this case was trying to discredit the
accusations against Roy Moore by discrediting the news organization that
first reported them.
So, “The Washington Post” was the subject of that fraudulent effort, this
conservative group impersonating a sexual assault victim basically in order
to try to discredit reporting on sexual assault. Dark story but also a big
validation for “The Washington post” and the way they did due diligence on
And while we`re on the subject of consequential journalism, it has been a
little more than a week since Richard Engel`s dramatic reporting on the
Trump International Hotel in Panama. NBC News, Richard Engel and “Reuters”
worked together on that reporting. You may recall that story turned up
fairly brazen evidence that the Trump International Hotel in Panama was
being run in part as a money laundering scheme, one that appears to have
ties to Russian organized crime.
Now, that reporting on the Trump Hotel in Panama City, that came out a week
ago Friday. Now, today, “The Associated Press” reports, quote: Owners of
the Trump International Hotel in Panama are working to strip President
Donald Trump`s name off the 70-story building and fire the hotel management
company run by Trump`s family.
So, again, the subject of that Richard Engel scoop from a week and a half
ago, that hotel now reportedly trying to strip Trump`s name off the
building and get Trump`s business out of the business of running the
management of that facility.
This, of course, follows news from last week that Trump`s name is also
going to be stripped from the Trump SoHo Building that had financial
difficulties, and which has also been linked to allegations of money
laundering and organized crime.
On top of all that news today, ABC News reported today that a lawyer for
Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn met with investigators from
special counsel Robert Mueller`s office today. Now, that is ABC News
reporting. NBC News has not confirmed.
But the reason it felt like another shoe was dropping when you heard that
report today about Flynn`s lawyers meeting with Mueller, the reason that
felt like another shoe dropping is because of the news that was first
reported by “The New York Times” on Thanksgiving Day. News that Flynn`s
lawyers used to be working together with White House lawyers collaborating
on their defense strategies on the Russia investigation.
But apparently, last week, the day before Thanksgiving, Flynn`s legal team
backed out of that arrangement with the White House and started to pursue
things independently. Now, that landed like a bombshell on Thanksgiving
What does it mean, exactly? It`s hard to say. Flynn`s lawyers pulling out
of some sort of joint defense agreement with the White House. That may
very well mean that Flynn has become a cooperating witness for the Mueller
investigation. It`s possible.
It may mean that Flynn has entered into negotiations with Mueller`s team
about some sort of plea deal. It may mean neither of those. Frankly, it
might mean that Mike Flynn just got annoyed with the White House and with
the White House Russia lawyers after we reported here on Wednesday night
that the president is not going to be making any financial contributions to
help Mike Flynn`s legal defense fund.
Maybe he just got annoyed about that. We don`t know. We don`t know what
it means that Flynn`s lawyers and the White House lawyers are no longer
working together on the Russia investigation and again, ABC News is alone
thus far in this new report that Flynn`s legal team met with Mueller and
his investigators today.
But it`s all very intriguing stuff and we`ve got Congressman Adam Schiff
here live tonight to talk about the significance of may be going on in that
part of the case. Adam Schiff, of course, the top Democrat on the
Intelligence Committee in the House.
Now, we`re also on Senate watch tonight as Republicans try to wrangle the
votes to pass a gigantic tax bill trying to wrangle those votes, right
after the Congressional Budget Office just issued a report saying the bill
will hurt poor people even more than was previously estimated. The biggest
hits in this Republican bill really are reserved for the poorest people in
the country. In the bill`s first year, everybody making less than $30,000
a year will get financially hurt, but the biggest whack will be taken at
people who make less than $10,000 a year.
Think about that, the people who make less than $10,000 in income a year
will be asked to pay the most.
By the time this thing would be fully implemented, everybody making less
than $50,000 a year will be paying thousands of dollars more every year
while people in the richest tax brackets, of course, will all pay less.
Republicans don`t know if they got enough votes to pass this tax bill, but
right now, right this second is when they are trying to line up those
votes. So, the arm-twisting is happening and the fight is on.
And in the middle of all that going on, we`re also waiting on the Justice
Department tonight. President Obama created the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau as part of Dodd-Frank, part of the post-Wall Street crash
reforms. Before she was United States senator, Elizabeth Warren first came
to Washington to advocate for and stand up that consumer protection agency.
Now, President Obama ended up appointing Richard Cordray to run that
agency. Elizabeth Warren ended up becoming one of the highest profiles
senators in the country. But at the consumer protection agency, under
Richard Cordray`s leadership, that agency returned up nearly $12 billion to
American consumers who got ripped off by credit card companies and banks
and other financial institutions. He`s the only director that agency has
Well, Richard Cordray announced he would be leaving the agency. On Friday,
the White House declared that the deputy director of the agency wouldn`t be
allowed to take over and run the agency in his absence. And instead, the
White House announced they were putting in their own person to be the
acting director. And that turned out to be the White House budget
director, Mick Mulvaney, who has said that this agency, that he now maybe
runs, he`s said that this agency is an abomination basically and it
So, it`s been a weird day today, both in terms of being a lot of news
breaking, but that story in Washington with the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau, and maybe the White House is running it now or maybe the
acting director who installed when Cordray last was running it. And we
don`t – that`s a very, very weird story. I`ve never, ever, ever, ever
covered anything like this where a federal agency with something like 1,600
employees doesn`t know whose running it because there are competing claims
for that title. We`ve never seen that before.
We got Richard Cordray live. He`s going to be joining us in just a second.
But I also got to tell you, we`re waiting on the Justice Department right
now because a federal court is trying to decide who actually is running
that agency now. The Justice Department is supposed to file their brief in
the case tonight and so far, I mean, check your watch, but we don`t think
they have done it, after 9:00.
So, the court will presumably rule once they got this filing from the
Justice Department and everybody has been able to brief on both sides but
as of tomorrow morning, who knows who runs that agency, who knows who was
really running that agency today? It`s not at all clear that it would have
been legal for the president to have sent his guy over there today to
announce that he was in charge. Sure, you can say so but if it`s not
legal, you`re not in charge.
So, I was really psyched today when I find out that we`re able to get
Richard Cordray on the show tonight to talk about what in the holy heck is
going on there. And then I found myself getting really interested to find
out what Senator Elizabeth Warren might have to say about this, as well –
and then, and then, and then this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to thank you
because you`re very, very special people. You were here long before any of
us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who they say
was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: See how the president sort of turns there at the end. He`s like
trying to get the it`s OK from the Native American veterans who are
standing beside him. He does not appear to get that from them.
This is an event that was supposed to honor Navajo code talkers, World War
II veteran heroes. The president used the event and used those veterans as
a prop to instead sling a native American historical name at Senator
Elizabeth Warren as an insult on a day when he must have had Elizabeth
Warren on the brain.
Joining us now is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Senator, I really appreciate you being here tonight. Thank you so much.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you. Thanks for having
MADDOW: First, let me get your reaction to the president invoking you
today at that event at the White House and insulting you basically by
sarcastically calling you Pocahontas.
WARREN: You really do have to start with the whole setting. So, here it
is a ceremony to honor these heroes, these men who did incredible work on
behalf of our country back during World War II, probably saved countless
lives of Americans, of our allies. Just an amazing story.
And all the president had to do was just make it through this ceremony and
honor these wonderful people. And instead, what did he do? Had to throw
out a racial slur. You know, he seems to think that if he keeps doing
that, somehow he`s going to shut me up. It hadn`t worked in the past.
It`s not going to work in the future and whether he likes it or not, I`m
going to be out there and I`m going to keep talking about what he`s trying
to do to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
What he`s trying to do right now on taxes. He wants to district from every
bit of that but the truth is, he is putting American families at risk, and
I`m going to speak up about it and so are a whole lot of other people.
He`s not going to stop us.
MADDOW: How does it affect – I know you`re saying he`s trying to shut you
up, that he`s trying to cow you in someway. How does it affect your life
and the way you go about your work as a senator when the president
repeatedly often in settings that has nothing to do with you or any sort of
purported debate with you, any sort of fight with you. He seems to go out
of his way to go after you again and again and again and again.
And I just wonder what it`s like for you and your staff when you`re
pursuing the things that you`re pursuing as a senator, how that interrupts
your life? How that affects your work?
WARREN: You know, the truth is, Rachel, it doesn`t, because I got into
this fight for reasons that are deeply personal to me and long-time held.
For me, running for the United States Senate and before that, setting up
the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and before that, being involved
during the financial crisis to try to bring some accountability to Wall
Street. It was always about the same kind of thing, about trying to make
sure that this government instead of just working for a thin slice at the
top, instead of just working for a bunch of Wall Street banks was working
for families, for hard working folks all across this country.
It – I always feel deeply grateful. I grew up in a family that was a
paycheck to paycheck family and we had really some tough times, but I grew
up in an America investing in kids like me, that gave kids like me a chance
to graduate from a state school that cost $50 a semester, that gave kids
like me a chance to open a door and run through it and then another and
I believe in that America and that`s why I`m in this fight. And so, Donald
Trump can throw whatever he wants at me. It`s wrong. It`s ugly. It`s
nasty. But it says a whole lot more about Donald Trump than it does about
me or the fight that I`m in.
MADDOW: We`re going to be speaking with Richard Cordray in just a moment.
He`s up here next on the show. Obviously, he`s the only director that the
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has ever had. You first proposed that
agency in 2007, something like that.
WARREN: Yes, something like that.
MADDOW: I`ve never – I`ve covered a lot of weird stuff in Washington. I
sort of make it – I feel like I specialize in covering weird things in
Washington. I`ve never ever got anywhere near covering something like a
federal agency, a good-sized federal agency with like 1,500, 1,600
employees functioning with two apparent contenders to be the head of the
The White House thinks that they installed Mick Mulvaney as the acting
director of the CFPB today. It would appear from Dodd/Frank, at least from
plain reading of the Dodd/Trump legislation that set up the agency, that
Richard Cordray should have essentially designated his – the acting
director when he left, when the deputy director of the agency was named.
What happened here and how do you think this is going to resolve?
WARREN: So, look, this is Donald Trump bringing his chaos to the consumer
agency. When Dodd/Frank was written, Congress was really clear about this.
They said there is a director and if the director is unavailable, Richard
Cordray has resigned, then the deputy director automatically becomes the
Richard Cordray doesn`t name anyone. There is no special ceremony. There
is not thing that has to happen. It`s what Congress designated as the
succession plan for the consumer agency.
Now, Donald Trump says, but there is a vacancies act that was passed
decades before, and I think the Vacancy Act lets me put in a different
Well, the problem with that is the Vacancy Act, when it was passed, said it
applied to all the existing agencies. But going forward, it would apply in
effect that`s what Congress wanted it to do, kind of as the default
position. But Congress could designate its own succession plan if that`s
what Congress wanted to do.
Well, interestingly enough, go back and look at the legislative history
when they were building the CFPB. At one point, Congress set it up to say,
we`re going to use the Vacancy Act and then in the final version, the one
everybody voted on, the one that got signed into law, Congress didn`t use
the Vacancy Act. They said, we`re going to designate the succession plan.
So, Leandra English, the woman who had been the deputy director became the
acting director. That`s just simply what Dodd/Frank says and let me just
make the point, there is a darn good reason for that. When Congress made
the change and said, we`re going to – we`re going to do this ourselves,
what they were really saying is we want to take this agency, which has this
really tough job of taking on giant Wall Street banks. We want to take
this agency and push it as far away from politics as we can.
The banking regulators, all of them, the Fed, the OCC, the FDIC and the
consumer agency, we need to try to insulate them as much as possible so
these giant Wall Street banks don`t lean on Congress and in turn, Congress
leans on the agency.
MADDOW: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you for making time
for us tonight. You came up in the news in lots of different ways. Thanks
for helping us understand your take on this. We got Richard Cordray up
next. Much appreciated.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Richard Cordray who just left the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau where there was one of the weirdest things that I have
ever seen happened in an agency, unfolding over the course of the day and
into the night tonight. There is a real question as to who is going to
physically show up and try to run that agency in the morning, and there is
a question as to what happens if two people physically try to claim the
same office. How this gets resolved.
Richard Cordray is here next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When you start a new job, there`s lots of ways you can endear
yourself to your new colleagues, particularly if you`re a new boss. But
it`s not usually the best of signs that part of your first day is spent
reassuring your colleagues that you will not, quote, set the place on fire
or blow it up or lock the doors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, OMB DIRECTOR: Rumors that I`m going to set the place on
fire or blow it up or lock the doors are completely false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is the person who says he is the new boss at the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau, although that is not at all clear, or it is
not at all clear that that is legally true.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney says that he is the boss at this
consumer protection agency because President Trump declared on Friday that
he could install an acting director of his own choosing.
But as we just heard from Senator Elizabeth Warren, who came up with a
whole idea for this agency in the first place, the law that created this
agency doesn`t say the president just gets to install whoever he wants as
an acting director. The law says there is a line of succession at the
agency and if the director leaves, then the deputy director becomes the
acting director of that agency. And there`s somebody in that job, a woman
named Leandra English. She`s deputy director. She`s been at agency from
So, who is in charge? Who gets to decide? We have two competing claims to
the leadership of that agency. I`ve never seen this ever before in the
time that I`ve been covering American governance and in all of the history
I read about American governance. Never seen this.
Yesterday, the deputy director, the person who you think would be the
acting director, she filed a lawsuit in federal court trying to block the
president`s pick from taking the job. Tonight, we don`t even know the
status of that. Tonight, we are waiting for the Justice Department to file
their response to that in federal court. It`s well after 9:00 p.m. on the
East Coast and so far, we don`t think that filing has been delivered. It`s
Meanwhile, we`re joined by somebody who is at the very, very heart of this
story. Richard Cordray is the very newly former director of the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau.
Mr. Cordray, thank you very much for being here.
RICHARD CORDRAY. FORMER DIRECTOR, CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU: My
MADDOW: Let me ask, first of all, I guess, to the point of what this news
is right now. Do you think that Leandra English should go to the CFPB
tomorrow and go sit in your office and act as the acting director of the
agency as Mick did today or should she stay away?
CORDRAY: So, what I would say is I think that the law and I heard Senator
Warren discussing it I thought was just right. The law is clear here. It
says that the director that was me on Friday shall appoint a deputy
director. I did that.
It then says very clearly and simply that if the deputy director is –
there`s an absence or unavailability of the director, the deputy director
becomes the acting director. That`s what Ms. English has now done.
And this is the kind of disagreement that involves two different laws.
They conflict with one another. The right place to hash that out is in the
courts, which is where it is now.
It shouldn`t be decided by name-calling and tweets and insults. It should
be decided by people presenting their argument and a judge thinking over.
This judge obviously is looking at it overnight so recognizes it`s a
serious issue, and it will ultimately be resolved.
If the trial courts` decision is something one party or another disagrees
with, it will go to the court of appeals. And the court of appeals will
decide it. But that`s a very ordinarily process that`s appropriate.
MADDOW: That is an orderly process that you described. It`s not what is
happening, though, simply because the White House pick, budget director,
Mr. Mulvaney, has showed up and he made a big show out of bringing
everybody donuts and he held a press availability and announced hiring
freeze and essentially an activity freeze for the agency, and he started
talking about Ms. English, saying while she didn`t show up today in regular
business life, that would mean you wouldn`t have a job when you came back
the next day.
I mean, the White House is not pursuing this in an orderly – in the kind
of orderly fashion you just described. And so, does that change the
calculus at least as far as you`re concerned in terms of how to fight for
CORDRAY: So, I can`t speak to or read the minds of the people at the White
House, but especially, as I said, I think the law is pretty clear on this.
It says that the deputy director shall act as the director until a nominee
is presented to the Senate and confirmed. And you`ll remember, Rachel, I
went through that process in my case I was held up for almost two years but
ultimately was confirmed by 66 votes.
But that`s an orderly process. People get a chance to vet that nominee.
They get a chance to hear the views and really weigh and consider it.
This is a very fast process and the statute provided for the fast process
to be handled by having the deputy director step in and be there until the
president nominates and gets somebody confirmed. That will happen here
eventually, but it doesn`t help us right now.
MADDOW: Do you have any – any regret? Do you have any regret about
leaving, about your decision to leave the agency given that this is what
has happened in the wake of your departure and we are having not just this
very unusual fight, but a lot of chaos and incredibly aggressive move by
the White House to put somebody in there who`s made no bones about the fact
that he really doesn`t want the agency to exist.
Does the fact that this is what followed in the wake of your decision make
you regret your decision at all?
CORDRAY: No, I don`t, because that`s simply a matter of timing. It was
very clear my term runs out in the part of next year. It was a few more
months I could have stayed at the agency, but the same issue would have
arisen then. The Trump administration ultimately will be able to present a
nominee and the Senate will either confirm them or not confirm them, in
which case that process will go on. So, that was just a matter of timing.
I stayed this year and fought being fired. You`ll remember Rachel for
months, I went into the office in the morning and a lot of people talked
about me being fired. I didn`t know if that might happen by the evening.
I stayed there because there was important work to do on consumer
protection. We worked on the arbitration rule. You know that fight. Went
to a 50/50 vote in the Senate and we worked on a payday lending rule that I
think is a very important rule that is now in place.
What happens in the future, you know, is hard to say. My hope and
expectation is the consumer will be here 50 years from now, 100 years from
now, doing the same work we set up to do. It`s good work.
It`s important work for people and families all over this country who needs
somebody standing on their side, making sure they are treated fairly,
giving them a voice when they do get mistreated or cheated, that they can
have a problem they can bring to the bureau and get it fixed. I think
that`s very important work and I would be very surprised to see the Trump
administration making a conscious decision to undo consumer protections for
people that that want, that they need and that they deserve.
MADDOW: Richard Cordray, the immediate former director of the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau, the only director that agency has ever had,
the agency now just in a very strange situation with this stand off between
dueling maybe directors. Mr. Cordray, thank you very much for your service
in government. I know you`ve been through some really acrimonious times
and please stay in touch as you make your future decision, sir. I
CORDRAY: Thank you. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We got some big news from another part of what`s weird in
Washington right now. Congressman Adam Schiff is the top Democrat on the
Intelligence Committee in the House. He`s here in studio with us tonight.
That`s coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, heat of the summer, heat of the U.S. presidential race, a coup
erupted in the nation of Turkey. They were trying to take over the
government from the elected autocrat in charge, President Erdogan in
As that croup was playing out in Turkey, over here in the U.S., a key
member of the Donald Trump for president campaign just so happened to be
giving a speech in Ohio. This was General Mike Flynn, the president`s
future national security advisor as the coup was unfolding in Turkey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: There is an on going coup
going on in Turkey right now. Right now. The Turkish military over –
anybody that`s first time of paying attention, they have been – they have
been, you know, just excised for many years by what really became a secular
country, sort of a regular sort of nation and then began to move towards
Islamist. This is Turkey with Erdogan.
So, I`m going to be very fascinated to see what happens. One of the things
that the military immediately says, we recognize our responsibilities with
NATO, we recognize our responsibilities with the United Nations, we want to
make sure the world knows we are – we want to be seen as a secular nation.
This is the military. So, yes, that is worth clapping for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is worth clapping for.
So, that`s Mike Flynn speaking July last year. That coup against Turkey`s
government, yes, that`s worth – that`s worth clapping for.
Of course, the coup was crushed. And then by the time our owner election
day rolled around four months later, Mike Flynn had done a complete 180 on
that issue. By our election day, he wasn`t criticizing Erdogan, the
Turkish president, for sliding toward Islamism and cheering for the coup
By the day of our election in November, there was Mike Flynn writing an op-
ed in support of Erdogan, the Turkish president, in support of his Turkish
government and leveling some over the top criticism at a cleric who lives
in the United States who the Turkish government blamed for starting the
So, in four months, Mike Flynn went from yes, let`s crap for the coup to,
you know, we really ought to think about extraditing this terrible monster
who Turkey says started that coup. Total 180 in four months. What
Well, for starters, in the middle of the two events, Mike Flynn got paid.
He got paid over half a million dollars to lobby for the Turkish
government, a fact he disclosed only after he was fired as Trump`s national
security advisor. And failing to register as a foreign agent for the
Turkish government is one of the many reasons Mike Flynn find finds himself
in what looks like very serious legal jeopardy.
In March, March 2017, a former CIA director named James Woolsey told “The
Wall Street Journal” that during the campaign, in September of 2016, he had
gone to a meeting in New York City with a bunch of Turkish government
officials and Mike Flynn. And at that meeting, he says he overheard them
talking about forcibly removing that cleric from the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I showed up and there were several
Turks and several Americans there. There was some discussion, serious
discussion of finding someway to move Mr. Gulen out of the United States to
You might call it brainstorming, but it was brainstorming about a very
serious matter that would pretty clearly be a violation of law. But it was
a serious and troubling discussion, but it did not – repeat not – rise to
the level of a concrete, in my portion of being in the room. It did not
rise to the level of being a specific plan to under take a felonious act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not a specific plan, more of a brainstorming session about a
But then, early this month, “The Wall Street Journal” reported that Robert
Mueller was investigating a second meeting, a follow up meeting between
Mike Flynn and those Turkish officials this time in December, after the
election, during the transition the transition where the plan seemed a lot
more fully formed.
At that meeting, quote: The discussions allegedly involved the possibility
of transporting Mr. Gulen on a private jet to the Turkish prison island OF
Imrali. In exchange for facilitating this, Mike Flynn and his son were
reportedly to be paid as much as $15 million.
Now, Mike Flynn`s lawyer says those allegations are false. But we know
that Robert Mueller is looking into those two meetings. We also know that
Robert Mueller is looking into the possible obstruction of justice by the
president. For him, allegedly trying to get the FBI to back off the Flynn
investigation and then firing FBI Director James Comey when that didn`t
And on that point, there is something I need help with. Former CIA
Director James Woolsey, the witness to the alleged kidnapping plan, he has
already spoken to Robert Mueller.
According to “Politico”, he over the holiday break, over the Thanksgiving
break, he reportedly engaged in a, quote, lengthy conversation with
President Trump at his table at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night. What were
James Woolsey and Donald Trump talking about at length at Mar-a-Lago? We
A spokesman for Mr. Woolsey says his client has served four presidents.
He`s never communicated the contents of his conversations with any of them
to a third party and he doesn`t intend to start now.
James Woolsey doesn`t serve Donald Trump right now, any more than any of us
do. He`s a private citizen. So, it`s not like he`s giving official
James Woolsey also declined any further comment to any of our follow-up
questions that we posed today.
I suspect, though, that that meeting, too, may end up being of real
interest to investigators, though, right? If the president finds himself
in the crosshairs for potentially obstructing justice when it comes to the
federal investigation of Mike Flynn, and if James Woolsey turns out to be a
witness to some of what Flynn is being investigated for, then why should
that potential witness be talking at length to the guy who may be on the
hook for obstructing justice in Flynn`s case.
I need help with this. Hold on.
MADDOW: Joining us now here in studio is Congressman Adam Schiff. He`s
the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee in the House of
Congressman, thank you very much for being here.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:
Good to be with you.
MADDOW: Since we last spoke. The campaign chairman for this president has
been indicted, as has his deputy, Rick Gates. We`ve had a lot of other
journalistic news break about Manafort, Flynn, Gates and others.
So, I realize you never talk about anything in terms of the on going
investigation. You certainly can`t talk about classified matters. But I
want your help on the significance some of this stuff.
First, let me ask you about the reports that we had over Thanksgiving break
that General Mike Flynn, retired General Mike Flynn`s legal team has told
the White House that they will no longer coordinate with them, no longer
work with them in terms of the White House legal defense on the Russia
investigation and Flynn`s legal defense. They have now decided to take
What does that mean?
SCHIFF: I think that what it likely means is that the Flynn investigation
is at a critical point. Where he will be indicted or he`s going to agree
to some plea agreement to potentially with lesser charges towards him or
his son in exchange for cooperation. And whether this is a written joint
defense agreement or an oral one, basically, there is now a potential
conflict of interest between his interest and his son`s and the rest of the
SCHIFF: You would expect that he and others around the White House would
be in that kind of joint defense, gives them the ability to coordinate
their efforts to review documents to discuss us all and effectively shield
it by attorney client privilege. But once one of those people start
entering into serious discussions and negotiations that may put them in a
conflict, in other words, if he has something to say about any of the
others, then he needs to opt out of that agreement and that may very well
be what`s happening.
MADDOW: A lot of what is being reported about Flynn`s potential legal
jeopardy has been about not necessarily his relationship about Russia,
although there is certainly a lot there as well, but about his relationship
with Turkey. He did paid work on behalf of the government of Turkey. He
belatedly retroactively registered as a foreign agent after he had been
forced to resign from the White House.
Your investigation on the House intelligence committee, are you limited to
looking just at Russia specifically or is any of these issues about Turkey
or any potential foreign governments, have any of those been faulted into
SCHIFF: Well, I wish that they were because reality is the government
reform committee is not aggressively pursuing this. The chairman is not
looking at things. He has a new definition of the jurisdiction of his
committee and if it involves potentially legality, I guess the Government
Reform Committee is no longer in the business of oversight.
MADDOW: This is Chairman Trey Gowdy of the –
SCHIFF: Yes. That`s a startling different interpretation than during
Benghazi. But nonetheless, it is what it is. Their committee is really
not aggressively investigating this but neither is ours.
Now, we have dozens of witnesses that we still need to bring in central to
the Russian investigation that we haven`t gotten approval to bring before
the committee, let alone witnesses that would go to whether Flynn was
involved in an extrajudicial rendering of this cleric.
MADDOW: AKA kidnapping.
SCHIFF: Kidnapping, as well as receipt of foreign funds and acting as an
unregistered agent of a foreign power. Someone needs to look at this in
Congress. It can`t be or shouldn`t be just Bob Mueller for the purpose of
prosecution. We ought to look at this for purposes of oversight and
purpose of telling the country what he did and what happened. But right
now, that is really not happening.
MADDOW: Speaking of witnesses in your committee, you are a tonight have
two very controversial, very interesting witnesses come before the
If you could stick with us for just a second –
MADDOW: We`ll take a break and come back with Congressman Adam Schiff, top
Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.
We`ll be right back with him right after this.
MADDOW: – Adam Schiff. He is the top Democrat on the Intelligence
Congressman, thank you for sticking with us.
SCHIFF: Of course.
MADDOW: This Thursday, correct me if I`m wrong, I believe that your
committee is hearing behind closed doors from Erik Prince, the founder of
Blackwater Security Firm who had an interesting cameo role in some
backchannel contacts with the Russian government during the campaign, and
also, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Am I right that you`re hearing from both of those witnesses on the same
SCHIFF: Well, I can only confirm one of those interviews that with the
attorney general because Justice Department has already made it public that
he`s going to appear before us, which, you know, will give us a chance to
probe deeper in terms of his contacts with Papadopoulos and the Russians
that he met with, but also what`s happened since. And of the things that
most disturbs me frankly is the White House violating Department of Justice
policy and their own policy by intervening to kick start this Uranium One
investigation, by freeing this witness of this gag rule.
This is what they do in emergency democracies. They pervert the justice
system to try to prosecute their vanquished rival. So, I`ll be interested
to know what was the communication, by whom, what did they say? How much
of an injunction to do this was it? But also, to probe further this
entertaining of the idea of appointing a special counsel which, again,
would be I think a terrible abuse of the independence of the Justice
MADDOW: And you suspect that the White House improperly intervened with
the workings of the Justice Department on both those matters?
SCHIFF: Well, I think if they intervened at all, it was improper. And I
think the White House acknowledged that they did, and this is the problem.
You know? One by one, we see these policies and norms and rules set up
post-Watergate, many of them, to protect the institutions being broken
But by the crush of things this administration is doing, we lose sight of
just how many of the checks and balances are being eroded.
MADDOW: Congressman Schiff is the senior Democrat on the Intelligence
Committee in the House. Thank you, sir. It`s really nice to have you
SCHIFF: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Looking ahead to tomorrow in Washington, we are expecting round
two of what is a very, very, very unusual story, the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau believes it has an acting director, deputy director of
the agency who was left there when Richard Cordray had his last day at work
on Friday. That`s one person who looks like she`s running the agency.
The White House has installed someone else. The director of Office of
Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, who says that he is running the
We have been watching over the course of this hour, over the course of this
evening, to see if a federal court in Washington might take action to
settle this matter. That appears not to have happened. And so, we don`t
know what`s going to happen as of 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.
The claim for how that agency should be run, who should be the acting
director, is set down in law, in the law that created that agency which is
called Dodd/Frank. The Frank in Dodd/Frank is Barney Frank, who is a guest
on “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL” which starts right now.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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