Porter worked on interim clearance for 1 year. TRANSCRIPT: 2/19/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 19, 2018
Guest: Cameron Kasky
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You know, I for one welcome this sort of time
in human development where we can say overtly, like me.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: Like us. I know!
MADDOW: Like me.
HAYES: I know. Like me, don`t forget to like me.
MADDOW: Don`t forget to like me.
HAYES: I`m on television every night because I desperately need your
MADDOW: It`s, you know, it`s an all too transparent window.
HAYES: Exactly. No subtext.
MADDOW: Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. It`s Presidents` Day.
It`s a long weekend for some people and – this is one of those – this is
one of those sort of holidays that some people get and some people don`t
get that can in normal interruptions in the news cycle. We never ever get
an get interruptions in the news cycle anymore. But that`s OK. That`s why
Chris and I have jobs like this.
All right. In 1984, at his last State of the Union Address before he ran
for reelection as president, January 1984, Ronald Reagan at that State of
the Union made a very sober promise to the country on a very serious issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: This year, we will intensify our drive
against these and other horrible crimes like sexual abuse and family
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was January 1984. Ronald Reagan telling Congress the
government will intensify our drive against sexual abuse and family
violence. This was one line in a sort of dark part of Reagan`s State of
the Union Address that year. That was part of the speech where he also
talked about kidnapping and about child pornography.
But when he got to the line about intensifying our drive against family
violence, one American woman, this woman, her name is Charlotte Fedders
(ph), when she heard that part of Ronald Reagan`s State of the Union
Address that year, it caused her to write a letter to President Reagan, and
because of who she was, she had reason to believe her letter would get
She wrote to the president, quote: I`m a victim of wife abuse. For over 16
years of marriage, my husband periodically beat me. I`ve had a broken
eardrum, wrenched neck, several black eyes, many, many bruises.
Once he even beat me around the abdomen while I was pregnant with my first
Now, the reason Charlotte Fedders wrote that letter to President Reagan is
because her violent, abusive husband worked for Ronald Reagan at a very
senior job. His name was John Fedders. He was Ronald Reagan`s enforcement
director at the Securities and Exchange Commission. That`s an intimidating
job. He was an intimidating guy. He was 6`10”.
But Ronald Reagan made that mention about intensifying the drive against
family violence in the State of the Union that year, John Fedders` wife
Charlotte then wrote the president a letter documenting that very
phenomenon in the marriage of one of his own high-ranking appointees.
Her letter made it into the White House. That letter that she wrote was
given to Reagan`s White House counsel.
But after reading that letter, the White House decided to do nothing. John
Fedders kept his job at the SEC. When that letter had zero effect despite
the fact it got to the White House counsel, Charlotte Fedders` sister
decided to push it even further. She picked up the phone and got the White
House counsel on the phone to raise the issue with him again. Charlotte
Fedders` sister explained what the White House counsel told her in that
conversation when she informed him that a powerful government official
who`s been appointed by President Reagan was violently abusive toward his
wife, who was her sister.
She said, quote: he said the president would never knowingly keep a spouse
abuser in a top administration job. But at this point he said, it was a
private dispute. He did ask me, have you ever seen him hit her, and I said
no but I`ve seen the black eyes, I`ve seen the bruises, I`ve seen the
Even after that phone call from Charlotte Fedders sister, the White House
still did nothing with that information. They stayed quiet. John Fedders
stayed on at his high-profile job at the SEC. But a year down the road, by
February of 1985, that story, which the White House was trying to push
aside and not pay attention to, that story made it to the front pages of
the “Wall Street Journal”.
Quote, Mrs. Fedders said the beatings, excuse me, Mrs. Fedders says the
beatings began practically from the start of their marriage. She testified
that he broke one of her eardrums with a blow to the side of her head in
October of 1968, barely two years after they were married. She said,
quote, John attacked me with his fists and hands. I remember he was
yelling that he didn`t care if he killed me or killed the baby. She said
he beat her in the abdomen.
Quote: He blew up for an $80 bill from a marriage counselor and attacked
her as she was bathing one of their sons. Quote: He came in and just
started hitting me. He said I don`t care if I kill you. At that time, she
fled with the children to the home of a neighbor who testified that Mrs.
Fedders appeared at her door in tears and showed her bruises.
Mr. Fedders still suffers severe pain occasionally from an injury caused in
November 1981 when he yanked her around by the hair after trying to throw
her over a banister in their home. Two of their sons witnessed that
First he tried to throw her over the banister. The oldest son Luke recalls
in an interview. She dropped down to the ground. He tried to pick her up
by the hair and he just shook her.
Luke says he no longer speaks to his father. He adds that his mother wears
an orthopedic collar around her neck when it`s really bothering her.
That was February 25th, 1985, front page, A1, of “The Wall Street Journal.”
That apparently did the trick. Page one in “The Wall Street Journal”, that
was the third time the Reagan administration had seen these allegations
against this high-ranking official who Reagan had installed at the SEC.
First two times didn`t result in them doing anything about it. It was only
this third time when it ended up in the newspaper that they decided to act.
They didn`t do nothing once it was in the paper. They leapt into action to
defend John Fedders. The White House put out statements that said he was
doing an outstanding job at the SEC. He was not being asked to resign.
Next day, though, John Fedders was gone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: Until today, John Fedders was one of the top law enforcement
officials of the U.S. government. He was the enforcement chief of the
Securities and Exchange Commission. But Fedders had personal problems and
today personal problems and today he resigned after revelations he beat his
REPORTER: The resignation came after two days of news stories in which
Fedders admitted that he had physically abused his wife but claimed he was
not a wife beater. The stories came after his wife Charlotte described the
beatings during their divorce trial in the suburban Maryland courthouse.
In one incident, she said he slapped her across the face and broke her
eardrum, and another, he beat her up while she was three months pregnant.
CHARLOTTE FEDDERS: John attacked me with his fists and his hands and he
was hitting me around the abdomen and he was yelling at me, he didn`t care
if he killed me or the baby.
REPORTER: Charlotte Fedders said there were other incidents where she was
left with a black eye and bruises and she says she has a permanent neck
injury from a time her husband tried to throw her over a banister.
In court, John Fedders admitted he was violent but claimed he never meant
to hurt his wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was 1985. White House had been alerted multiple times about
the abuse happening at the hands of this high-ranking official Reagan had
installed at the SEC, but repeatedly, they took no action. They sat on
those allegations for months. They even defended him.
But John Fedders had to resign under pressure because of his history of
spousal abuse ended up on the front of a national newspaper. So, that was
You recognize this pattern, right? We saw something similar play out last
year. After Donald Trump was elected, he nominated a man named Andy Puzder
to be his labor secretary. Soon after that, politico.com broke the news
that Andy Puzder`s ex-wife had once made serious allegations of domestic
violence against him, specifically on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey talk
show in the 1990s.
Now, we knew that tape existed. The incoming White House knew it too, but
Oprah`s production company said they couldn`t locate that tape. There was
fierce interest for it after that “Politico” reporting. The tape for
whatever reason was missing. Nobody could get it from the original source.
And Andy Puzder stayed on track to become the next labor secretary.
But then about a month down the road, the tape turned up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He vowed revenge. He said, I will see you in the
gutter. This will never be over. You will pay for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Andy Puzder`s wife wearing a disguise appearing on the Oprah
Winfrey show. But it`s interesting, it was not the Oprah Winfrey show that
found that tape from that old show.
You know where that tape came from? Charlotte Fedders, the woman whose
Reagan administration husband tried to throw her over the banister in front
of their sons. The reason Charlotte Fedders had the tape of that
particular show is because she also appeared on that same episode, which is
about domestic violence in upper class families. We`re pretty sure that is
her all the way over on the left hand side there, in the purple dress with
Last year, when Charlotte Fedders saw the news about Andy Puzder,
potentially becoming the next labor secretary and these allegations of how
he had abused his wife, she remembered that she had that tape. She took
her personal copy of that tape. She gave it to “Politico”. And the day
that tape came out, Andy Puzder withdrew his nomination to be secretary of
Charlotte Fedders, remarkable story, right? Starting in terrible, violent
threatening circumstances, nevertheless, she put her name to her own story
about domestic violence by putting it in black and white in the national
news. She took down a powerful government official in the Reagan
administration, despite the resistance from the Reagan administration to
doing anything about it.
Then, a generation later, in the early days of the Trump administration,
she does it again, this time with a decades-old VHS tape. “Washington
Post” has a stomach-churning story up on the front page its website right
now. This is the actual headline. For the weary White House, Florida
shooting offered a reprieve from scandals.
Reprieve is in quotes because a White House official actually said that
word, saying it was a reprieve, expressing great relief that the Trump
White House felt upon hearing the news about the massacre of school kids at
a Florida high school last week.
Here is how the story starts, quote, the White House was under siege.
Domestic abuse allegations a senior aide were ignored, pointing to a
potential high-level cover-up. Two cabinet secretaries were caught
charging taxpayers for luxury travel. A Playboy centerfold alleged an
extramarital affair with the president and the special counsel`s Russia
investigation was intensifying. The tumult was so intense that there was
proven speculation the president might fire his chief of staff.
But a gun massacre at a Florida high school last Wednesday which left 17
dead seemed to shift the media glare away from the Trump scandals and gave
embattled aides an opportunity to refocus. Some aides privately
acknowledged that the tragedy offered a breather from the political storm.
There had been a tentative plan for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly
to address the news media from the briefing room on Wednesday, where he
would have faced intense scrutiny over his role in the mishandling of
domestic abuse allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter.
After the shooting in Florida, though, that plan was scuttled.
For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve, said a White House
official. A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or
eight days of just getting pummeled. But the official said, as we all
know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we`ll be back
through the chaos.
Sadly, eventually the coverage will die down a little bit, the White House
will be sad about that because for them, it`s been an awesome relief to
have these massacre in the news. Look at that headline there again.
That`s a direct quote. The White House sees the massacre as a reprieve, a
bit of a breather.
Outside the White House, people see that massacre differently. In just a
few days, it has led to a kids` movement, a teenagers movement of
articulate, angry, organized, connected young people who are balancing all
the funerals they have to go to with a lightning national campaign that is
already under way to get gun laws changed.
This is something new under the sun what these teenagers are doing. We`re
going to be talking with one of the young people who`s helping to lead this
uprising a little later on this hour.
The other thing, of course, that broke in the last few days that changed
that conversation, all that tumult around the White House scandals was on
the special counsel investigating the Russia scandal handed down that big
indictment on Friday. That indictment apparently initially made President
Trump excited and happy, which is amazing but who knows how people talk to
him about these things.
By this weekend, the president changed his attitude and seemed to be very
worked up about the indictment, to the point where his Twitter traffic was
rattled and upset seeming than normal. Special counsel Robert Mueller is
now signaling new charges against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort,
and there are now multiple reports that his deputy campaign chairman Rick
Gates is about to change his plea to guilty in an arrangement that will see
Gates reportedly starting to cooperate with prosecutors.
That is potentially a big turn in the case. We`re going to have more on
that story coming up this hour, too.
There really have been a lot of big news stories that have broken over the
last few days that may or may not feel like a reprieve for White House
officials depending on how things are being explained to the president on
any given day. But in the next few days, this week, this White House
scandal that started as the Rob Porter domestic violence story, the modern
day iteration of the John Fedders story from the Reagan administration,
which led interestingly to a “USA Today” profile of Charlotte Fedders in
that paper today, the Rob Porter domestic violence story is about to come
roaring back, alongside all of these other things that are happening in the
news right now. And it`s going to go off like a stink bomb in the Oval
Office for a specific reason.
As you know, the Rob Porter White House domestic violence story has as an
added complication the fact that the violence allegations against him from
his ex-wives resulted in Rob Porter never getting cleared by the White
House to hold a permanent security clearance. That exposed the fact that
the Trump White House kept Rob Porter in his job for more than a year
literally controlling the flow of sensitive and secretive documents that
cross the president`s desk even though he wasn`t able to get the kind of
clearance that you need in order to be allowed to see those documents.
That being exposed at the White House is now a serious problem for the
White House in general, for John Kelly, for the White House counsel, but
very specifically for the president`s son-in-law who is a senior advisor to
the president and who famously has also able to obtain a permanent security
clearance. Last month at the “New Yorker,” Adam Entous and Evan Osnos
reported that Kushner`s difficulty in obtaining a permanent security
clearance has become a subject of fascination among national security
specialists, with people trying to figure out why it is he can`t get a
That Osnos and Entous report was also where we learned that despite the
fact that he can`t get a permanent clearance, Jared Kushner nevertheless
gets access every day to the president`s daily brief from the intelligence
community, which is a very highly classified document. “Washington Post”
has since reported that despite Kushner`s inability to clear the background
check to get a false security clearance, quote, apart from the staff on the
National Security Council, Kushner issues more requests for information to
the intelligence community than any other White House employee.
Now, we don`t – we don`t know why Jared Kushner can`t get a permanent
security clearance, but there is a lot of sort of feverish speculation as
to why at a might be. At “The New Yorker”, Adam Entous and Evan Osnos
report that Kushner made the unusual and risky decision to meet alone one
on one with the Chinese ambassador, even though that leaves him open to
China making any characterization that it wants about what Kushner said or
did in those meetings.
They also report that U.S. intelligence intercepts have caught the Chinese
ambassador reporting home to Beijing saying that Jared Kushner discussed
his own business interests alongside government policy when he was supposed
to do things like plan the Chinese president`s Mar-a-Lago visit with the
Last year, “The New York Times” reported eight days after the election,
Jared Kushner met with an insurance company tied to the Chinese government
that was reportedly considering pumping hundreds of millions of dollars
into a struggling property owned by Kushner`s family business, a property
for which they have to make a $1.2 billion mortgage payment this time next
year despite the fact there are no clear signs they will be able to
actually make that payment.
Last March, “The Times” was first to report that one of the foreign
meetings Jared Kushner failed to initially report on his clearance
application was a meeting with a large sanctioned state-run Russian bank, a
meeting that happened during the transition. The banker put out a
statement at the time saying he took that meeting with Jared Kushner and
Kushner`s capacity as the chief executive of Kushner companies.
Now, tonight, CNN reports that Robert Mueller special counsel investigation
is looking into Kushner`s efforts to secure financing for his company from
foreign investors during the presidential transition. So, there is all of
this worrying stuff that has been reported about Jared Kushner in terms of
his suitability for a security clearance and his suitability for handling
secret information given his ties to foreign governments and foreign
Lots of reporting. We don`t know the reason why the president`s son-in-law
can`t get a security clearance, nor do we know why the White House
nevertheless has been letting him read the daily brief every day and to
make more requests for intelligence than any other White House official.
But this has been an ongoing situation with Jared Kushner and there is now
a gigantic spotlight on that problem because of the Rob Porter domestic
And now into the maelstrom of news that the White House is either enjoying
or suffered through in the past few days depending who you ask, on Friday
night, the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly just flung this into the
fray. Quote, effective one week from today, discontinue any top secret or
compartmented level interim clearances for individuals whose background
check investigations or adjudications have been pending since June 1st,
2017, or before.
Effective one week from today. Discontinue interim clearances for people
whose background check investigations have been pending since June?
Jared`s has been pending since January, at least. He`s not able to get a
permanent security clearance for lots of reasons we can speculate about but
none that we actually know. Well, the White House chief of staff Friday
night in the middle of the news breaking, you might not have seen it, but
John Kelly recommended that the new White House policy will be to yank
interim clearances, to yank access to classified material for people who
can`t get a permanent clearance, and he wants that done by when? One week
He put that out on Friday, which means on this Friday, barring some change
in course or some special dispensation for presidential family members,
Jared Kushner is going to be out at the White House or they`re going to
have to move him to a job in the cafeteria or something, where he doesn`t
have to have access to anything sensitive. You`re not going to be the
Mideast peace envoy if you`re not allowed to see secret information.
According to this document from John Kelly, Jared should be out by the end
of this week. I have no idea what a crisis like that involving the
president`s family might shake loose in this chaotic White House. But if
this guidance from the chief of staff is about to go into effect, there is
the Jared Kushner factor. We could also be looking at a really big tidal
wave of resignations or firings from the White House by the end of this
Remember, NBC News broke the news just a few days ago that more than 130
people with top jobs at the White House had only interim security
clearances as recently as November, unless those numbers have radically
turned around since November, if this policy is in fact about to go into
effect, that means dozens of high-ranking people inside the White House are
about to get kicked out. They are about to get jettisoned from their jobs
or at least moved into other jobs. Low-ranking gigs where they don`t see
anything sensitive. And according to Kelly`s timeline, this is due to
happen now, by the end of this week, by Friday – including members of the
I think this week is going to be insane. Buckle up.
MADDOW: I don`t know what the normal thing is to do when you get fired
from running a presidential campaign? What do you do the day you step down
from a job like that? I think I`d probably go to a bar or stand in a river
and pretend to know how to catch fish. I mean, depending on the
circumstances that you`re living, maybe you can imagine yourself going for
a feel sorry for yourself long drive. I don`t know. You`ve just been
fired for running a presidential campaign.
I don`t know what the right thing is to do but when Paul Manafort was fired
from the Donald Trump for president campaign in August 2016, he did
something unexpected that day. The day of his resignation, he created a
shell company called Summer Breeze LLC. That same day that he quit the
Within a few weeks, Summer Breeze received a $3.5 million loan from a New
York financial firm with Ukrainian connections called Spruce Capital. Then
in November, a couple of months later, the month of the election, Summer
Breeze got another really big loan, $9.5 million, this time it was from a
small bank in Chicago called the Federal Savings Bank.
Then two months later in January, he got another really big loan, $6.6
million from that same bank in Chicago. Now, those big loans from that
little bank in Chicago, they are strange for a couple reasons apart from
the timing. The first sort of strange thing to know about those loans is
that that was really small bank that was run by a Trump economic adviser
and that bank specifically caters to military veterans. Paul Manafort is
not a military veteran. That was one weird thing about those loans.
Secondly, though, I mentioned it`s a small bank. Those $16 million in
loans from that small bank to Paul Manafort, those $16 million in loans
made up almost a quarter of the bank`s total $67 million in reserves. Why
were they loaning a quarter of their reserves to one guy? Especially a guy
who`s not a veteran when they are a financial institution and set up to
lend to veterans.
Those loans subsequently drew the attention of prosecutors in New York who
subpoenaed the bank looking for money laundering and fraud. That was last
summer before special counsel Robert Mueller indicted Paul Manafort and his
deputy Rick Gates on multiple felony accounts, including money laundering,
conspiracy, failing to register as a foreign agent, et cetera.
Now, bank fraud was mentioned several times in the indictment, but didn`t
actually show up in any of the charges, which was a little puzzling at the
time, but now we may be about to figure some of that out.
Friday night`s news was, of course, dominated by Robert Mueller`s
indictments of 13 Russians for attacking the election in 2016, but there
was another big development from the special counsel`s office right as we
went to air on Friday night that understandably received less attention,
but it`s turning out to be really, really interesting. It was a filing
from the special counsel. It was about the terms that Paul Manafort and
lawyers have negotiated to keep him free on bail and out of jail while he
This was the headline about it in Politico.com on Friday night. Quote,
Mueller levels new claim of bank fraud against Manafort. This is what it
said in the filing on Friday night. Quote: The proposed package is
deficient in the government`s view, meaning the bail package, in light of
additional criminal conduct that we`ve learned since the court`s initial
bail determination. That criminal conduct includes a series of bank frauds
and bank fraud conspiracies, including criminal conduct relating to the
mortgage on Paul Manafort`s property in Fairfax, Virginia.
The government has secured substantial evidence that Paul Manafort secured
this mortgage from the Federal Savings Bank through a series of false and
fraudulent representations to the Federal Savings Bank. It goes on to say
that Manafort obtained those loans by providing the bank with doctored
profit and loss statements from his company to the tunes of millions of
dollars. So, the special counsel`s office is telling the court now that
they have substantial new evidence of additional criminal conduct by
campaign manager Paul Manafort.
The way they are describing it appears to be related to those loans, those
big oddly timed loans that he took right after he left the Trump campaign.
Why are we learning this now? Why is this special counsel getting new
information about Paul Manafort? What is their new source of information
about his alleged bank fraud?
Well, NBC News has not confirmed this, but over the weekend, the “L.A.
Times” reported that Manafort`s deputy and business and his deputy on the
Trump campaign Rick Gates is going to change his not guilty plea and his
criminal trial to guilty and “The Times” is further reporting that Rick
Gates has agreed to testify against Paul Manafort. Possibility was first
reported by CNN. The “L.A. Times” report put meat on the bones this
weekend. That has been subsequently matched by CBS News.
If that`s about to happen, does it make sense that Rick Gates flipping and
becoming a cooperating witness explains why we`re seeing allegations of new
criminal conduct against Paul Manafort? If that`s happening, what should
we expect to see? And if there is a new list of alleged criminal conduct
against Paul Manafort, why is it the special counsel`s just describing
these allegations in a filing like this? Does this actually mean there are
new charges that are pending against him? If so, how serious are these new
charges? How do we tell?
Joining us is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney in Michigan.
Barb, thank you for being so patient with me and explaining these things
that I`m sure are very obvious to you.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, no. I`m happy to be here.
MADDOW: Great. This filing is not new charges being brought against Paul
Manafort but it`s a filing about his bail conditions and it says that the
Mueller investigation, special counsel`s office has substantial new
evidence of additional criminal conduct.
Why would you say that you have that without bringing new charges?
MCQUADE: Yes. So, they haven`t brought new charges yet. It doesn`t mean
they won`t. It appears that they had to file this document taking a
position with respect to the bail, and they wanted the judge to know that
they have this additional information because it could be that Manafort may
face additional time. It could be that he has demonstrated that he can`t
comply with a court order because here he is on bond and continuing to
commit crimes and it could be that this collateral, the security he`s
pledged, is property that he doesn`t own rightfully anyway and might be
foreclosed upon later.
So, I think their hand was sort of forced here to share this information at
this time. It may be that they plan to file it later, but they wanted the
court to have this information making its bond decision.
MADDOW: Does it make sense this new information and the special counsel`s
office describes this as being substantial new evidence implying that they
had this now and didn`t have it before? Does that make sense to you that
they might be getting this information, this – whatever is backing up
these allegations because of potentially having a new cooperating witness
or some other access to new information?
MCQUADE: It does. It says right in the document this is information that
the government has only learned about since the initial bail hearing
several months ago. So, somehow they got this information. Now, it could
be because they have sat down with Rick Gates and had some cooperation and
received information, could be other sources. I know I read reports that
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been investigating Paul
Manafort. They may have shared that information with him.
And certainly, even though someone is indicted, that doesn`t preclude the
prosecute from continuing to look into other criminal activity by that
defendant for a possible superseding indictment. So, it may indicate
information on Gates but that may not be the only possible source here.
MADDOW: There is reporting about Gates changing his legal representation,
which we`ve seen evidence of in terms of activity around the court.
There`s been a few different tiers of reporting now that Gates is planning
to cooperate, that there was reporting last week that he`s done, what is
it, the queen of a – queen for a day interview last week. Or it was
reported last week sometime in the last month he`s done at a kind of
All of this reporting hasn`t been confirmed by NBC News. We see no direct
evidence of it in terms of court filings. If he is becoming a cooperating
witness, it seems to be an important development. How will we, the public,
know that that has happened? Is that the sort of thing that could actually
be kept secret for a very long time in this case?
MCQUADE: It is something that could be for some period of time. He could
enter the guilty plea under seal as we saw with George Papadopoulos and
find out about it later. But my guess is what`s going on right now is the
cooperation portion of it because before the prosecutor offers the plea
deal, they want to be able to evaluate and assess the value of the
So, the first part that would be – that would happen is this queen for a
day arrangement where they sit down and talk and that could take several
sessions to listen to all that he has to say and eventually and then make a
plea offer and only then would a court date be set to enter that plea on
the record, so that maybe a public hearing, maybe a secret hearing that
gets unveiled later. But at some point, we`ll know whether it`s happened
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney in Michigan, thank you very,
very much for being with us tonight. Barb, nice to see you.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Rachel. You too.
MADDOW: All right. Lots ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: – Richard Nixon at a ceremonial signing from July 1971, July
1971. This is well before the Watergate break-in.
As you can see from the footage, the White House is packed with young
people, very young people, teenagers. These young people at this moment
had just achieved the lowering of the national voting age from 21 to 18,
and listen how President Nixon describes them. Describes them as filled
with moral courage providing what the nation needs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: As I speak with this group today, I sense
that we can have confidence America`s new voters, America`s young
generation will provide what America needs as we approach our 200th
birthday. Not just strength and not just wealth but the spirit of `76, a
spirit of moral courage, a spirit of high idealism in which we believe in
the American dream, but in which we realize that the American dream can
never be fulfilled until every American has an equal chance to fulfill it
in his own light.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A spirit of moral courage of high idealism. That changed the
voting age was brought about in the form of the 26th Amendment to the
Constitution. It passed like a lightning bolt from the time they started
the constitutional amendment process until it passed, it was just over
three months, which is incredibly fast.
Once those young people put their minds to it, it just – it was a
remarkable feat, a big change almost overnight. Moral courage, high
idealism, strength and moral suasion applied by young people speaking out,
marching, organizing and winning something that should have been really
hard to win and made it look easy. Sometimes it works. It`s possible.
Hold that thought.
MADDOW: Today is Presidents` Day. Most public schools across the country
were closed. Most students got to stay home today.
Then there were these kids who decided instead to lie in the street outside
the White House in protest.
This is what five days after a mass school shooting that took the lives of
17 people now looks like in our country.
Students` response to last week`s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, is
angry, but also determined and very quickly, it`s becoming very well-
organized. The group that organized today`s protest was formed two days
after last week`s mass shooting. It was founded by two 16-year-olds.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have not been back to
school since the shooting last Wednesday. They probably won`t return until
next week. In the meantime, though, they are very busy. They are
The day after tomorrow, a group of students from the school will leave for
Tallahassee to meet with state legislators and the attorney general. They
are scheduled to start the seven-hour trip to the state capitol right after
the funeral of one of their classmates, 16-year-old Carmen Schentrup.
If you have missed the articulate furry these young people have been
pouring on to this issue, you should know this is happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON KASKY, STUDENT AT MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: My message
for the people in office is you`re either with us or against us. We are
losing our lives while the adults are playing around.
ALEX WIND, STUDENT AT MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: There are
funerals going on today, tomorrow, this entire weekend, and President
Donald Trump right now is golfing. He`ll be listening on Wednesday. Does
anyone know where? Does anyone know what time? Has anyone been invited to
this listening session?
DAVID HOGG, STUDENT AT MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: President
Trump, you control the House of Representatives. You control the Senate
and you control the executive. You haven`t taken a single bill for mental
health care or gun control and passed it and that`s pathetic. We`ve seen a
government shutdown, tax reform, but nothing to save our children`s lives.
Are you kidding me? You think now is the time to focus on the past and not
the future to prevent the death of thousands of other children? You sicken
EMMA GONZALEZ, STUDENT AT MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We know
they`re claiming there are mental health issues and I`m not a psychologist,
but we need to pay attention to the fact that this isn`t just a mental
health issue. He wouldn`t have murdered that many students with a knife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Everything about these kids` lives changed on Wednesday afternoon
at 2:20 in the afternoon. That last student you heard there, 17-year-old
Emma Gonzalez, she says she wrote the speech she gave this weekend on the
back of her A.P. government notes because she`s still in A.P. government
class. Despite the pressure these kids are under and the pressure of
having gone through a huge trauma themselves.
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school have emerged as the most
eloquent advocates out there on gun safety, on gun control. They are
actively working within a week of this happening to them, to create a whole
new wave of pressure on public officials. They formed a group called never
They have taken charge of momentum on this. They are already moving things
forward in a way that didn`t seem possible a week ago. It`s a tall order.
It`s also very brave.
Joining us is Cameron Kasky. He is a student at the Stoneman Douglas High
School in parkland. He`s one of the founders of the Never Again Movement
and organizer for upcoming March for Our Lives Event, which is going to
having across the country next month on March 24th.
Mr. Kasky, thank you very much for joining us. It` really nice of you to
be here tonight.
KASKY: Well, thank you for having me.
MADDOW: I`ve been trying to describe the organizing efforts made by you
and your students. It`s moving you guys have tried to not just tried to,
that you`ve done so much so constructively so quickly after going through
this trauma. Can I ask about your own thought process, why you decided to
pursue it this way and work in this organizing effort?
KASKY: Absolutely. We – our voices were being heard. We were speaking
out, and as more people were listening to us, we decided we needed a name.
We needed something people could follow. We needed a lynch pin for
everybody who`s hurt, everybody who`s speaking out, everybody who`s
demanding change, and I was sitting down in my Ghostbusters pajamas and
thinking and I thought of never again MSD as just for everyone who`s
hearing us to come together and grieve and demand action as one movement.
And since then, we`ve gotten support from people we never thought we would
get support from. Everybody`s listening and it`s been amazing, and that`s
why we`ve been able to organize the March For Our Lives.
MADDOW: What do you want to happen at the March For Our Lives? What`s the
tactics for what you want people to do and what are you hoping it will
KASKY: Well, we want everybody to come out and I was – I came here from a
gun rally today where we had hundreds of people in Delray Beach. Everybody
was showing their support and we`re just going to see more of that. People
have been saying to us now is not the time to talk about gun control. Now
is the time to grieve and think about our community.
And while I don`t necessarily agree and while I think not only is it not
too early, it`s way too late. We`re listening and we`re understanding,
we`re respecting people`s needs to think about this. The time we`re going
to talk about gun control is March 24th. We have marches in every major
city, every minor city. We`ve been seeing people on Facebook organizing
groups to have their March For Our Lives events in their cities without
reaching out to us.
People are listening. People are caring and the support we`ve gotten from
everybody, every age and every generation, every political party is what`s
keeping us going.
MADDOW: Do you expect to be doing this down the road? I mean, obviously
channeling this, the grief and the trauma that you guys have just been
through personally over these last few days, it`s been – I have to tell
you, it`s a remarkable thing to watch what you guys have been able to do in
terms of being so articulate, so clear, so unified so quickly – do you
feel like this is something that you want to keep doing indefinitely, that
this is going to be a sustained movement for you and your classmates?
KASKY: Well, I have to tell you, a week ago if you had asked me this, the
answer would have been completely different. A week ago I was a student at
Stoneman Douglas High School. I was proud to be an eagle.
I was in three musicals trying to keep my lines together for all of them
but after this, after seeing all of this, after my community took 17 shots
to the heart and instead of falling down, we`ve rose up and we`re leading
the rest of the nation, I can`t even begin to tell you what is happening in
the future. All I know, the people part of my team will be leading in the
future and we will be making the difference.
The fact I`ve been able to be with David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jackie Curen
(ph) and Alex Wind everybody else is great. We were all speaking out. We
were all being heard and the fact we`ve been able to come together is proof
that Stoneman Douglas, the future voters, the future lawmakers, they are
coming from here. They are coming from people that have been afraid to go
to school and this is going to be the last time a school shooting is going
to have to be covered like this.
This is the last time a school shooting is going to look like a terrorist
attack. That`s a promise.
MADDOW: Cameron Kasky, student at Stoneman Douglas High School in
Parkland, Florida, one of the founders of this Never Again Movement –
congratulations on what you`ve been able to do turnover last few days and
good luck. Thanks for talking to us tonight.
KASKY: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: – Mike Pompeo was speaking at a public event when he was asked if
he could say with certainty that the results of our last presidential
election weren`t skewed as a result of Russian interference.
Here`s how he responded to that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: We conducted an election that had integrity.
Yes, the intelligence community`s assessment is that the Russian meddling
that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nope. That response is not true. It`s completely false. And as
CIA director, he should know better. He`s not some jibber jabber on TV,
like we`ve got this print. This is the intelligence community`s January
report, quote, we did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian
activities had on the outcome on the 2016 election. We did not make an
assessment of that.
So, CIA director Mike Pompeo totally misstated that. The CIA then had to
put out a statement walking back his remarks, quote: The intelligence
assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed and the
director did not intend to suggest that it had. That was the Mike Pompeo
treatment of that issue in October.
Then a few days ago it happened again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First thing we all agree
on is that irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign
powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that
none of those efforts had any effect on the outcome of the 2016 election.
This is the accepted view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nope. That is not the accepted view. That`s not the conclusion
of intelligence communities. Nope.
What the vice president said there is not true, wasn`t true when Mike
Pompeo said it, still isn`t true when the vice president said it. But at
least Pompeo had to clean it up.
When the vice president said that false thing last week, we reached out to
his office on the phone and on email. We reached out again today, to see
if the vice president misspoke and wants two correct the record or if he
knows something we don`t and he`s standing by this assessment, we can`t get
a call back.
But this weekend, when the foreign minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, was
asked about Russia`s meddling in our election, he went out of his way to
point out that Vice President Mike Pence as recently stated that Russia
didn`t influence the outcome of the election. It`s true, he said that. It
was a lie.
The vice president should correct this.
MADDOW: I have to tell you, usually I really don`t care. I`m like, I`m
not the only person in the news business but I`m probably one of the only
people in the news business who when the White House briefing comes on I
take that as my cue to go get a sandwich.
Like I just don`t – I just make – you have to make choices as to what
sort of information you take in and what you don`t bother. And with the
White House briefing, I don`t bother. That said, tomorrow I`m going to
bother, because tomorrow will be the first White House briefing in a week.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is expected to brief at
2:00 tomorrow. They cancelled the briefing last Wednesday on a day they
expected to put out White House chief of staff John Kelly, they cancelled
it in the wake of the shooting. Kelly had been expected to face,
basically, a furious press corps, who`s been trying to get to the bottom of
White House conflicting statements about the White House staff secretary
Rob Porter and the domestic violence allegations against him, the security
clearance scandal that followed the Rob Porter revelations.
His briefing was cancelled on Wednesday. They didn`t hold one Thursday or
Friday. They did not hold one today. Tomorrow, they`ll be back in the
briefing room and I`ll get takeout.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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