Gates pleads guilty to conspiracy. TRANSCRIPT: 02/23/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 23, 2018
Guest: Adam Schiff, Kate Brown
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: All right. Thanks to you at home for joining
us, as well.
So, what did you do this week? Like today is Friday, since last Friday,
any significant accomplishments that you would like to brag about? Did you
have a big week?
If you are Robert Mueller, over the past week since last Friday, you have
unsealed 89 new felony criminal charges against 17 different people from
Ricky Pinedo to Alex van der Zwaan, to 13 Russian nationals, including a
billionaire, to the last two days of legal cannon blasts concerning Trump
campaign chair Paul Manafort and Trump deputy campaign chair Rick Gates.
I don`t know what Robert Mueller has been doing for the past week other
than filing these 89 new felony criminal charges against 17 people but even
just that activity of his that we can see in public, I would say that makes
this a pretty good contender for busy week when it comes to the special
Just today alone has been head-snapping in terms of how much happened all
at once, just since yesterday. Just Rick Gates has been charged with 23
new felonies on top of the eight he was already facing. He then had his
entire legal team replaced. Then he got a new lawyer. Then he had all 31
felony charges pending against him dropped. Then he pled guilty to two
new, brand-new felony charges and then he signed on to a sweeping and sort
of intimidating cooperation agreement with the government in which among
other things, he pledges to go undercover for them if they ask him to.
Can Rick Gates go undercover for anybody anymore? I mean, now that he`s
this famous for what he and Paul Manafort have gotten themselves into?
If you have tried to follow each new step of this as it has rolled out,
even just over the past day, it has been a little hard to follow. But days
like this, I am very, very grateful for the very smart people who work with
me on this show and thanks to a very smart staff here and us reading until
our eyes bled, we have read every word of what has just happened in terms
of these legal proceedings, and based on that, here`s what I think we are.
This is the Trump deputy campaign manager. Everybody talks about him as
Paul Manafort`s deputy. But when it comes to the Trump campaign, Rick
Gates was actually there for a lot longer than Paul Manafort was. Manafort
was pushed out of the campaign in August 2016, but thereafter, Rick Gates
stayed. He was there for the duration of the campaign, right through
election day. Then in the transition, he was a senior official in the
Trump transition, then he was the number two official in the Trump
After the inauguration, he was frequently seen at the White House. He
worked at a pro-Trump outside group. He also has long standings ties and
work recently over this period of time, at the Republican National
Committee, at the National Republican Party.
So, yes, people talk about him as Manafort`s deputy and a long-standing
business relationship and proceeds the Trump campaign. In terms on his
role for the investigators you might have seen what and who he might have
been exposed to in the time of a Trump as a presidential candidate. Rick
Gates is potentially witness to a lot more than Manafort ever saw. He was
just there for a lot longer for a lot of extra parts of this, the Trump
presidential era that Manafort ended up missing.
Rick Gates becoming a cooperating witness I think is a big leap forward in
terms of how much of a window the Mueller investigation is going to have
into all different phases of the Trump candidacy and presidency. Now, Rick
Gates today plead guilty to two felonies. One of them is lying to the FBI.
Interestingly, though, this guilty plea for lying to the FBI is not for
something that happened a long time ago but really, really recently. His
lie to the FBI which he pled guilty to today, which admits to now, it was
something that happened earlier this month, February 1st 2018. A lie about
a meeting a few years ago that relates to him and Paul Manafort lobbying
for a foreign power without being registered as lobbying for a foreign
Now, Rick Gates reportedly has had a very hard time making this decision
about whether he would plead guilty, whether he would start cooperating
with Mueller`s investigation. ABC News today obtained a letter that Gates
wrote to friends and family telling them about his guilty plea. He talked
about agonizing over that decision and not wanting to do this.
But when he made that false statement to the FBI on February 1st, that
appears to have started a collapse for him. That same day, February 1st,
his three lawyers at the time told the judge in his case that they no
longer wanted to represent him. So really unusual move at the time. At
the time, we didn`t know why they suddenly wanted to withdraw from
representing Rick Gates.
There is since been a lot of confusion and conflicting reporting about
Gates` legal representation. The court has been stewing over this request
from his lawyers for three weeks since they first said they wanted to quit
him. Now it all seems clear that the reason all of his lawyers sought to
get rid of him, sought to withdraw from his case that day February 1st is
because that day, February 1st, he told a lie to the FBI and it is an
ethical imperative in some cases, in the legal profession, to withdraw if
you`re representing a client who is lying and you can`t do anything about
It`s also just a terrible thing to do. I mean, I`m not talking ethically
or because what it says about you as a person that you lie. I mean, it`s a
terrible thing to do strategically for your own criminal case. If you`re
in the middle of a plea negotiations with prosecutors and FBI agents and
you tell them something that is provably false in the middle of those plea
negotiations, at that point, they just push back from the table and go, we
sunk your battleship like that`s what they are desperately waiting for you
to do, because as soon as you provably lie to them in a plea negotiation,
they got you. Once you lie to them, you lose immunity from prosecution for
everything else you`ve already told them over the course of your
Lying during a plea negotiation is a terrible move. If Rick Gates didn`t
realize what a bad move that was, Robert Mueller`s prosecutors decided to
make that crystal clear to him yesterday when they indicted him for 23 new
felony charges on top of the ones he was already facing. Yesterday, they
hit him with more new felonies than they even threw at Paul Manafort, and
that blast seems to have done the trick. Now, Gates is pleading guilty to
that incident of lying to the FBI and also to a broader conspiracy charge,
conspiracy to defraud the United States.
For that charge, they appear to have lumped together, to have combined a
whole bunch of other allegations he was facing from his earlier
indictments. But again, the previous indictments basically disappear. The
government is not going to proceed with the 31 felonies it was charging him
with as of this morning. Instead, he`s going to plead guilty to this one
conspiracy charge and this one lying charge. And in so doing, he also
signs a cooperation agreement that looks like a nightmare scenario, not
only for him, particularly if he was having a hard time deciding whether or
not he would do this, but the cooperation agreement he just signed is
probably a nightmare scenario for a number of other people, as well.
I don`t know if you`ve seen the actual documents here. This is from the
plea offer which we got access to today. This was filed openly with the
court today and the plea agreement is written in the form of a letter to
the guy who is now Rick Gates` lawyer.
Quote, subsection eight: Cooperation. Your client shall cooperate fully,
truthfully, completely and forthrightly with this office and other law
enforcement authorities identified by this office in any and all matters as
to which this office deems cooperation relevant. This cooperation will
include but is not limited to the following. The defendant Rick Gates
agrees to be fully debriefed and to attend all meetings at which his
presence is requested concerning participation and knowledge of all
The defendant also agrees to furnish to the office, special counsel`s
office all documents and other material that may be relevant in the
investigation and that are in the defendant`s position or control.
The government also agrees to participate in undercover activities pursuant
to the specific constructions of law enforcement agents or this office.
The defendant also agrees to testify at any proceedings in the District of
Colombia or elsewhere as requested by this office. Your client
acknowledges and understands during the course of the cooperation outlined
in this agreement, your client will be interviewed by law enforcement
agents and/or government attorneys. Your client waives any right to have
counsel present during these interviews and agrees to meet with law
enforcement agents and government attorneys outside the presence of
Your client shall testify fully, completely and truthfully before any and
all grand juries in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, and at any and
all trials of cases or other court proceedings in the District of Columbia,
and elsewhere, at which your client`s testimony may be deemed relevant by
the government. Ouch.
This is very – this is a very thorough agreement to cooperate. Testify at
a grand jury, testify at trial, show up whenever we need you, go
undercover, give us everything you`ve got and be here every single time we
want to talk to you.
If he fails to live up to this very fulsome cooperation agreement, whether
or not they ever decide to bring any other charges against him just this
plea agreement he signed today gives Mueller`s office tons of leverage over
Rick Gates. Just what he`s pleading guilty to today affords a maximum
prison sentence of 10 years in prison. Even under the sentencing
guidelines that account for him like not having a previous record and all
the rest, the filings today make clear that under the sentencing
guidelines, these two charges he pled guilty today, yes, there is a maximum
prison term of ten years but realistically, they would be looking to put
him in prison for somewhere between four and a half to six years and there
is no federal parole.
They are saying that`s realistic time. That`s what he could realistically
be looking at serving. Now, they don`t have to put him in jail for four
and a half to six years for these things he pled guilty to today. The
court, of course, could decide to give him nothing or just probation. All
depending on how well he cooperates with Robert Mueller.
If he does what they want, the court may very well say, Rick, you`re free
to go. But if he blows it or if he holds anything back from them or if he
lies to them or if he refuses to testify, he refuses to hand something
over, boom, done, with nothing else filed, he would be going to prison
right away for let`s start with four and a half years.
For context here, in contrast, the cooperation agreement that Mueller did
with Mike Flynn, that puts Mike Flynn`s jail risk at zero to six months.
What`s hanging over Rick Gates right now is multiple years starting right
away and he`s already signed for it. So, this cooperation deal that he
signed today, these two charges he plead guilty to, this has been put
together as a very serious package for Trump`s deputy campaign manager.
And it therefore puts a huge spotlight on what Gates could possibly give
Mueller for his ongoing investigation.
And here is the part of it that I think is really important and I will just
say so much of this is happening so fast that I`m not sure this really
important part of it has sunk in yet. But after marinating in these legal
filings and all this reporting today, in my opinion, I think this is the
most important piece. In yesterday`s indictment of Manafort and Gates,
special counsel`s office spelled out in intense detail a two-part scheme by
Manafort and Gates. Part one, we already knew about from the first time
they got indicted back in October. Part one was the older stuff from 2006
to 2015, and before the Trump presidential campaign.
Phase one, Manafort and Gates were raking in tens of millions of dollars
working for pro-Putin interests overseas, special counsel`s office says
they illegally hid the money offshore and disguised its origins through a
complex money laundering scheme. They evaded taxes on that money. Those
are the charges associated with what Mueller`s office calls “phase one”.
What was new in yesterday`s indictment about Manafort and gates was phase
two of their scheme. Which you can think of as the Donald Trump for
president time. The second part of their scheme according to Mueller`s
indictment started in 2015 and ran until, quote, at least January 2017,
which was, of course, the inauguration.
In yesterday`s indictment, that second part of the scheme, 2015 to 2017,
that`s a time when Manafort and Gates have stopped raking in millions of
dollars from their work for pro-Putin interest overseas and instead
according to the indictment they are engaged here in a mad scramble to get
their hands on cash, a lot of cash, millions of dollars in cash in a very
short period of time. In late 2015 and early 2016, right up to the point
where Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign, they weren`t trying to
earn new business for their company, at least not that we know of from this
indictment. What they were trying to do, the way they were trying to get
money is they were trying to use the assets that Manafort had. Chiefly,
they were trying to use real estate assets that Manafort already had in
this country to try to extract cash from those assets.
They were going to bank after bank after bank putting up Manafort`s various
houses and apartments that`s collateral to try to get cash, to try to get
multimillion dollar loans. Why do they need all that cash? I don`t know.
But according to the indictment, they were trying to get lots of loans from
lots of different banks simultaneously and according to the indictment,
they were breaking the law in their desperation to do it.
They were falsifying documents from Manafort`s business to make it look
like he had more money. They were inventing fake invoices to make it look
like they had more money coming in that they didn`t have coming in. They
were doctoring documents.
The bookkeeper from Manafort`s company was turning them down for some stuff
they were trying to get the bookkeeper to do, and they started faking these
documents themselves. The details of that mad scramble for cash, that was
the basis for all the new bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy felony
charges that Manafort and Gates got hit with yesterday and that apparently
pushed Gates to plead guilty and Manafort is now facing all those charges
alone, because Gates has decided to save himself and flip in exchange for
most of those charges against him being dropped.
Still, though, in terms of the overall plot here, not just thinking about
their legal liability but like how does this fit into what happened to our
country, we don`t know why Paul Manafort was in such a mad scramble for
cash in late 2015 and early 2016.
But here is something to re-up, to re-read in light of current
developments. This is from last summer, July 2017. Quote: Financial
records from the secret of tax haven of Cyprus where Paul Manafort kept
bank accounts during his years working in Ukraine and investing with a
Russian oligarch indicate that Manafort had been in debt to pro-Russia
interests for as much as $17 million before he joined Donald Trump`s
presidential campaign in March 2016.
Remember when all that stuff broke about him being in debt in really heavy
debt right up until the time he joined Trump`s campaign? I mean, up close
in the moment this looked like a very complicated story. Nobody just has
bank accounts in Cyprus and their own name. It`s all shell companies
associated with shell companies, associated with blah blah blah.
But disentangling it, what it looks lick from bank records, up until the
time Manafort joined the Trump campaign, right up through that time when
he`s having the mad scramble to try to get his hands on millions of dollars
in cash, he was in debt to Russian interests to the tune of about $17
million, including $7.8 million that he owed to a charming fellow named
Oleg Deripaska. Oleg Deripaska, Russian oligarch, known to be very close
to Putin. He has been denied a visa to visit the United States because of
what the U.S. government believes to be his links to organize crime.
Right before Manafort joined Trump`s campaign, Manafort was in hawk to this
guy for nearly $8 million. Now, part of this scheme that was described in
yesterday`s indictment is that sometimes Manafort and Gates would call
something a loan when it was really just money that was being paid to them
and that was part of the tax evasion scheme. In this case with Oleg
Deripaska and this 8 million bucks, it really looks like that wasn`t
disguised payment. That looks like a loan or at least it looks like Oleg
Deripaska expected to get that money back from Paul Manafort and Rick
And we can tell that because he tried really hard to get it back. In 2014,
Oleg Deripaska, this sort of terrifying Russian oligarch, he sued Manafort
and Gates in the Cayman Islands to try to get back million of dollars that
he says they stole from him. They were supposed to be investing in
something together, but he says Manafort and Gates just run off with
millions of dollars of his money.
In August 2015, Deripaska moved that lawsuit effectively from the Cayman
Islands to the U.S., to Virginia. He was really going after Manafort and
Gates for millions of dollars that he says they stole from him and they
needed to pay back. Again, August 2015, he moves that case to Virginia.
Once that case gates move to the United States, they ended up, you know,
deposing Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and that case as Deripaska is coming
Now, Deripaska himself isn`t allowed to come to the United States because
of those organized crime ties but he is a billionaire and very close to the
Russian government and he does have people working for him all over the
place, including people talking to the press about this case he`s pressing
against Manafort and Gates. But then Manafort and Gates sign on to be
chairman and deputy chairman of the Donald Trump for president campaign
and, all of a sudden, again, the pressure seems to go away.
Quote, early in the presidential campaign, Deripaska`s representatives
accused Manafort of fraud, and pledged to recover the money from him.
After Trump earned the nomination, though, Deripaska`s representatives said
they would no longer discuss the case.
And you know what? We also now know that something was going on during the
Trump campaign while they were chairman and deputy chairman, something was
going on between them and Deripaska during the campaign while they were
running the campaign. Quote, on the evening of April 11th, 2016, two weeks
after Trump hired Paul Manafort to lead his campaign, Manafort e-mailed his
old lieutenant, Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked for him for a decade in
Manafort wrote, quote, I assume you have shown our friends my media
coverage. Kilimnik responded a few hours later from Kiev, quote:
Absolutely, every article. Manafort then asked, how do we used to get
whole? Has OVD operation seen? OVD, Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska.
Quote, less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the presidential
nomination, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort offered to provide
briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the
Kremlin. Paul Manafort made the offer in an e-mail to an overseas
intermediary, again Konstantin Kilimnik, asking that a message be sent to
Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in
Manafort wrote in a July 7th, 2016 e-mail, quote, if he needs private
briefings, we can accommodate. Quote, on July 29th, a week after Trump
accepted the Republican nomination, Manafort received another e-mail from
Konstantin Kilimnik, talking about what appeared to be a meeting he held
with Oleg Deripaska. Quote: We spent about five hours talking. I have
several important messages from him to you.
He asked me to go and brief you on our conversation. It has to do about
the future of his country and is quite interesting. Let me know what dates
and places will work even next week. I can come and see you.
Manafort`s response was, quote, Tuesday is best. And then August 2nd was
indeed the next Tuesday and Konstantin Kilimnik came over from Ukraine to
deliver his important messages to the man who was then running the Trump
for president and they met over a long meeting at the Grand Havana Club in
New York City.
So, according to bank records, Paul Manafort owed this Russian guy nearly 8
million bucks and this Russian guy was really coming after him for it. And
simultaneously for some reason, Paul Manafort at the time was really
scrambling to do anything he could to get his hands on millions of dollars
in cash and this is right up until the point he joins the Trump campaign.
He then joined the Trump campaign, the pressure eases off a little bit in
terms of this guy coming after him for the money and he starts
communicating with this guy he owed the millions of dollars to. Can we use
my position on the campaign to get whole? Can I offer him a private
briefing? He accepts meetings to get important messages from this guy
about the future of his country, his country is Russia.
A month after Manafort reportedly met with Konstantin Kilimnik in New York
to get this important messages from Oleg Deripaska, this Russian oligarch,
we now know from the indictment of lawyer Alex van der Zwaan that Rick
Gates referred Alex van der Zwaan to the same guy meeting with Manafort to
bring him the messages from Oleg Deripaska. In the indictment of Alex van
der Zwaan, we learned that one of the things he lied to the FBI about was
his communication with Rick Gates. Rick Gates in September 2016 sent van
der Zwaan documents with an encrypted app and he put him in touch with
Konstantin Kilimnik. Van der Zwaan and Kilimnik then had a conversation in
Russia about payments that were just the tip of the iceberg and about
potential legal liability for Paul Manafort.
Rick Gates was connected to the mad and illegal scramble for cash right
before Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign. He was part of the
initial deals that insured that debt from Deripaska. He was in
communication with Konstantin Kilimnik who was managing communications
between Manafort and Deripaska, while Manafort was running Trump`s
campaign. That was all happening during the Trump campaign while they were
the top two officials running it.
Manafort seems to have been trying to trade on his influence in the Trump
campaign to get whole with Oleg Deripaska back in Russia. There have been
a lot of – forgive me, a lot of dumb hot takes on the Rick Gates guilty
plea today about how that`s oh, too bad for Rick Gates or too bad for Paul
Manafort, about how this is only about the financial crimes and their
business life. Back in the day, nothing to do with the Trump campaign,
Whatever Rick Gates is going to tell the Mueller investigation about,
whatever he has just traded 31 felony counts for, it`s not about hiding
money offshore and buying antique rugs in Alexandria. Clearly, the Mueller
investigation has proven they have all they need to bring felony
prosecutions about that stuff.
What Gates was in a front row seat to see, what he was part of with a
better vantage point than anybody else on earth was the central question of
what was actually going on between the Trump campaign and Russia? And now,
he`s Mueller`s star cooperating witness. Ta-da!
Like I said, what did you get done in the past week? That`s what Mueller
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Tonight, the White House issued a one-sentence statement saying it
would, quote, not to be commenting on matters involving Manafort or Rick
Gates as the matters between them and the office of special counsel are
dated and have nothing to do with their service to the Trump campaign.
That is despite today`s new indictments and guilty pleadings specifically
referencing events during and after the Trump campaign, following the
guilty plea from Trump deputy campaign chair Rick Gates today, the top
Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee offered a different take. He
said, quote: Rick Gates is in a position to observe the inner workings of
the campaign at its most senior level, and as the special counsel looks
into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian
government, Gates could prove a key source of information on these and
Joining us now is the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee,
Congressman Adam Schiff of California.
Congressman, thank you for being with us tonight. I really appreciate it.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:
MADDOW: Why do you think that Gates could be a key source of information
on the central matter at hand here?
SCHIFF: Well, you have Paul Manafort who is the campaign chair for a
period of time and then you had Corey Lewandowski who was the campaign
manager for a period of time. Rick Gates spends almost the entire length
of the campaign. And as you mentioned earlier, also played a role during
the transition and thereafter.
So, he`s in a position to see, you know, the whole length and breath of
what was taking place during the campaign. He traveled on the presidential
plane for a period of time and he is obviously facing extraordinary
liability and I think one of the messages that Mueller was sending through
the charge on the false statement and the other actions that we`ve seen him
take vis-a-vis Paul Manafort is he`s not going to tolerate any non-sense.
The worst thing for Rick Gates right now would be to agree to cooperate and
then be found to be less than fully forthcoming.
So, that means that Gates is going to have to tell Bob Mueller everything
and hold nothing back and he could have a lot to offer as you were pointing
out at the very time that the Russians are making overtures to the Trump
campaign, to Manafort, to Kushner and to Don Jr. in that meeting in Trump
Tower. You have Manafort reaching out in the opposite direction, to the
Kremlin through Oleg Deripaska, offering information of these emails are
correct, that he hopes will help facilitate more money and you already have
now a guilty plea in connection with essentially Gates and Manafort
obtaining money from pro-Russian interest in Ukraine, millions of dollars
worth of it, laundering that money and then lying about it.
So there is enormous liability facing them both and Gates in a position to
talk about it a great deal.
MADDOW: Congressman, in the past week, we`ve just seen a remarkable amount
of activity from the special counsel`s office. I probably got the math
wrong and it was a little hard to add it all up, but by my best count I
think we`ve seen 89 new felony charges brought against 17 different people
in the course of a week and now, of course, we got the deputy campaign
chair pleading guilty, agreeing to cooperate. Through all of these legal
proceedings, the voluminous filings and indictments and charges that we`ve
seen over the past week or so, aside from the question of the legal
jeopardy any of those folks may be facing, big picture, do you feel like
the special counsel`s investigation has now told us more than we knew
before about the central question, about the Russian attack, about whether
they had help?
Do we now understand more from the filings than we did before about that
main plot line?
SCHIFF: Oh, absolutely, and I think that was really part of Bob Mueller`s
intention. If you look in particular the indictment, vis-a-vis the
Russians, he told us a lot more detail than I would have frankly ever
expected and that would have had – that would have had to have been part
of an agreement with the intelligence community, to go into that level of
detail because just giving that kind of detail gives the Russians some
information that they can reverse-engineer and to figuring out what are the
sources of this information, how did they get it?
Undoubtedly, in the Kremlin, when that indictment was produced, they were
wondering, how in the hell did the Americans know so much?
But he wanted I think to tell the country as well about this Russian attack
on our democracy. These very detailed charges now involving Manafort and
Gates I think also tell Manafort just how much the special counsel knows,
just how much liability that he faces and that statement that Manafort
issued today I thought was very telling, like so many figures in the
campaign and now facing liability or even in the administration, they have
an audience of one in their message and I think the audience of one for
that Manafort statement today was the president of the United States.
It was basically a love letter saying, please give me a pardon. I`m not
going to do what Rick Gates did. I`m standing by you. But he`s obviously
facing enormous liability and now an insider cooperating and I think the
detail of those indictments show him, as well as the country, just what
these guys were involved with.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intelligence
Committee, joining us from California tonight – sir, thank you very much.
Much appreciate you being here.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We got much more ahead on this Friday night. I feel
like we haven`t even started. Stay with us.
MADDOW: It started yesterday. As we reported last night, the First
National Bank of Omaha, one of the biggest banks, independent banks in the
country, announced they would no longer issue the NRA credit card. And
today, a whole slew of companies, including hotel chains like best Western
and Wyndham Hotels, and car rental companies like Hertz and Alamo and
Enterprise and National, the big insurance company MetLife, they all
announced that they are ending their business relationships with the NRA.
You can imagine the pressure on the remaining list of companies that have
deals like those with the NRA that haven`t dropped them yet. The NRA wants
you to think that they always win. They like to be seen as an invincible
lobby. They cultivate that image in every way they can.
But they`re losing right now. They`re losing business support left and
right. And also today, they just lost a huge, substantive fight about gun
The central kind of thing they fight for and that they say they can`t be
beaten on, but they lost a big one today. It`s a fight that really ought
to be national news and I think it will probably end up being a national
model, and that`s next.
MADDOW: This was a vigil tonight in Newtown, Connecticut, for the 17
people who were killed in Parkland, Florida, a few days ago. It means
something different when it happens in Newtown, right, compared to
everybody else. Just because of what Newtown itself has gone through.
But all over the country, the kinetic energy of the past week, the protests
and the walkouts and the vigils have put pressure to bring about gun
reform. They specifically pressured the NRA and its grip on electoral
politics coast to coast. But here is something you should know about the
This week, both houses of the legislature and state of Oregon passed a bill
that changes gun laws in that state. People convicted of domestic abuse or
stalking, people subjected to restraining orders, it blocks them from
owning or buying guns. The bill closes a loophole in Oregon`s gun laws
that allowed convicted domestic abusers to buy and own firearms if they
weren`t married to or living with the victim and they don`t have children
A week and a day after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
in Parkland, this bill passed that would restrict access to guns. It got
bipartisan support. Gun control measures of all kind no matter how modest
are always met with impassioned opposition from the gun lobby. This was no
exception, but this bill prevailed in part thanks to some very personal
pleas from Oregon lawmakers.
Representative Janeen Sollman talked about the abuse she and her mother
suffered at the hands of their father. Her belief that if her father had
had a gun, she and her mother would not be alive today.
Representative Jeff Barker talked about domestic abuse cases involving gun
violence that he investigative during his 30-plus years as a police
officer. The memories he said he has tried to suppress.
State Senator Floyd Prozanski talked about his sister whose death he said
might have been prevented by this new law that Oregon just passed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. FLOYD PROZANSKI (D), OREGON: The majority of mass shootings, 54
percent, involved instances of domestic violence. In my own situation
involving my sister, her murderer was her boyfriend. Her murderer was her
intimate partner. Her murderer was her domestic abuser. Her murderer
killed her with a handgun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, this bill was actually introduced in the Oregon legislature
before the shooting in Parkland, Florida. But then 24 hours after the
shooting, the Oregon House of Representatives passed it. Yesterday, the
state senate followed suit.
And when the governor of Oregon who championed this bill, when she find it,
she`s able to invoke the singular nature of the protest that we have seen
in the wake of last week`s shooting. She said, quote: It took the voices
and outrage of youth devastated by gun violence to hold decision makers`
feet to the fire.
Joining us now from Washington, D.C. is the governor of Oregon, Kate Brown,
Governor Brown, thank you for joining us. I really appreciate you being
here to talk to us about this.
GOV. KATE BROWN (D), OREGON: Good evening, Rachel. And I`m delighted to
be here tonight.
MADDOW: So, I know you lobbied for this bill. You were a strong supporter
of this bill. I was interested to see this bill was proposed before what
happened last week in Parkland, Florida.
Do you think that there would have been the momentum, there would have been
the political wherewithal to get this bill passed and signed without the
change that we`ve seen over the past week, the national revulsion and the
national organizing in the wake of that Parkland massacre?
BROWN: This is legislation that I introduced to close the domestic
partner, the intimate partner loophole in Oregon. I introduced it
obviously before the Florida shooting. It is work that we have been doing
gradually and incrementally in the state since I became governor. The
first year I became governor, we signed into law a comprehensive background
Last year, I was able to sign into law the extreme risk protection order
which enables family and friends to petition courts and take guns away from
those who might be a danger to themselves or others, and I introduced this
legislation to close the intimate partner loophole.
We certainly had good support as you said. The opposition is well-funded
and they are well organized. But we have courageous legislators in Oregon,
both parties, Representative Janeen Sollman, Senator Floyd Prozanski
speaking out in favor of the bill.
I have to say unfortunately what happened in Florida last week moved it
along much more quickly.
MADDOW: There is such a wide range of not just opinion and political
rancor over gun laws. There are so many different ways to approach the
problem of gun violence in this country, and when I think about sort of the
low-hanging fruit, the policies that seem like they would be most feasible
to enact that would address the largest part of the problem, so much gun
violence, so many gun deaths particularly of women are caused in domestic
situations. Women – Violence Policy Center says 93 percent of women
killed by men in 2015 were murdered by someone they knew. This is the most
direct way, one of the biggest parts of the problem.
BROWN: Rachel, this is an epidemic. It`s an epidemic of gun violence.
Since I became governor, the last two years, we`ve had 66 people die as a
result of domestic violence. Half of those deaths were caused by guns.
Four-point-five million women in America have been impacted by gun violence
through a domestic partner or a spouse. It`s absolutely unacceptable.
When there is a restraining order in place, we need to be able to take away
MADDOW: Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, thank you very much for your time
tonight. I have a feeling that what you`ve just done, what you and the
legislature have just done is going to be a national story and a national
model, especially with this new impetus with these politics right now.
Thanks for joining us, Governor.
BROWN: Thank you, Rachel, and I have to give a shout-out to the students
in Parkland, Florida. They are giving hope we can change this. We can
make a difference.
MADDOW: Right on.
I`ll be right back.
MADDOW: From day one, Alyssa Mastromonaco worked in the Obama White House.
By 2011, she had become the deputy chief of staff for operations. Alyssa
Mastromonaco`s job was basically to run the entire operation of the White
House campus. It`s a big job.
She decided what went in the president`s daily schedule. She coordinated
responses to national emergencies like hurricanes. She vetted all White
House new hires all the way up to the cabinet. She managed the president`s
Alyssa Mastromonaco has been described as one of the most influential
people of the Obama era. She was very well-respected. She was thought to
be incredibly good at that job. She did it for a long time. She was so
essential to the minute by minute mechanics of running the White House that
she had a secure communication system installed next to her bed because she
had to be available every minute of every single day.
Deputy chief of staff for operations is a really big job. Pretty much
everything the president had to know to get through his day, Alyssa
Mastromonaco had to know as well.
But, you know, she almost didn`t get there. There was a glitch that
happened when she went to apply for her security clearance at the start of
the Obama administration. She wrote a piece about it for “Vice”. This is
such a great story.
Quote: It was Friday, October 5, 2008, I was having a panic attack. I was
working as the director of scheduling and advance for Barack Obama`s
presidential campaign, but the crisis before me in the Chicago headquarters
that day had nothing to do with a bad debate performance, derailed travel
schedule or staff member saying something stupid to a reporter. I was
freaking out because I love to smoke weed. That Friday, someone at our
office got his SF-86 form, the written questionnaire for national security
positions. Page 93, quote, in the last seven years, have you illegally
used any drugs or controlled substances? Provide the kind of drug or
Mastromonaco says, I grew up listening to the Grateful Dead in Upstate New
York in the `90s. I went to the University of Vermont. What do you think
my answer was?
She said shortly after you fill out the application, an FBI agent
interviews you about your answers. The agent brought in my form and soon
she asked how many times have I smoked pot? I said, I didn`t know. More
than 20? Yes, I replied, more than 20. More than 100? Yes, more than
More than 500? Just write unknown! They were satisfied with more than 500
would be fair.
Because she told the truth, because she didn`t lie about the 500-plus times
she had smoked pot, Alyssa Mastromonaco did get her security clearance.
She was honest. She had to agree to random drug testing throughout her
time in the White House and she stopped smoking pot. But she was able to
get her clearance.
And on its face, it`s kind of funny, right? Skilled, hyper competent,
dedicated staff who turns out to be good at her job nearly misses crucial
White House gig because so much pot. But it ends up being also very
serious foreshadowing about what is happening tonight in this White House,
and that`s next.
MADDOW: Today, the Trump administration announced a new round of
aggressive economic sanctions against North Korea. It`s a big enough deal
that the White House sent an envoy to brief the president of South Korea in
South Korea on these new sanctions.
The person assigned to perform this sensitive task is Ivanka, the
president`s daughter. Awkwardly, the president`s daughter is one of dozens
of White House officials who have not been able to get a permanent security
clearance. Nevertheless, she`s briefing the South Korean president herself
on the new North Korea sanctions today.
Today was the deadline set by the chief of staff by which everybody at the
White House who still couldn`t get permanent clearance, everybody who still
just have an interim clearance, as of today, they were supposed to lose
interim clearance today, presumably that would include the president`s
daughter, as well as her husband, Jared Kushner, who gets the top secret
presidential daily brief every day, he meets with leaders, he`s in charge
of trade deals, he sits on national security council meetings, he`s been
tasked with personally negotiating Mideast peace, all without being able to
pass his FBI background check to get a permanent security clearance.
And still, he doesn`t appear to be any closer to getting clearance. “The
Washington Post” reporting today that Deputy Attorney General Rod
Rosenstein this month alerted the White House that significant information
requiring additional investigation will further delay Kushner`s clearance
process. Now, the president could just decide to grant his son-in-law any
security clearance he wants to. But the president said today at the White
House today at the White House that he`s not getting involved. He won`t do
that. He`s going to let White House chief of staff, John Kelly, make the
call on Jared`s access to classified materials.
Well, according to “The Washington Post” tonight, John Kelly has told
associates he`s uncomfortable with Jared`s uncertain security clearance
status and his unique role as both a family member and a staffer. Quote:
He has said he would not be upset if the president`s son-in-law and his
wife, Ivanka Trump, left their position as full-time employees.
So, what does that mean? What kind of job does Jared Kushner have as of
tonight? Is Ivanka still OK briefing the president in South Korea on the
new sanctions? Does she have a job at the White House when she gets back?
It`s going to be a fun weekend. Nobody has ever fired the president`s son
and daughter before, with the president having a say in it? It`s going to
be a fun weekend to keep the news on.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” tonight with Joy Reid.
Good evening, Joy.
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