WV teachers strike ends after nine days. TRANSCRIPT: 03/06/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show

Adam Goldman

Date: March 6, 2018
Guest: Adam Goldman

now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Tuesday.
Just had to throw another show out the window tonight.

I shouldn`t even – the thing is, I need to change myself. I need to
change my own expectations. We made it as far as dinner time tonight with
an actual show we worked on all day and like planned and produced and the
whole thing and I was like oh, scot-free, we`re done – I`m going to have
to revise my expectations. I thought we were going to have a normal night.
That was my mistake.

Now, this is the new normal. It`s fine, we can do it all. There is all
sorts of different types of breaking news tonight and today. There are
elections tonight, very interesting elections tonight in Texas, a
particularly interesting special election in Oklahoma. And a few other
states we`re watching returns coming in right now into the wee hours
tonight looking for upsets in other interesting results in those local
elections, especially ones that may have national implications.

Also today, in West Virginia, the teacher strike there came to a very
dramatic ending, a triumphant ending for the teachers that had a remarkable
labor action in the state over the course of nine days. We`re going to be
getting to that story, as well, this hour.

But, you know, you never know what you`ll be able to lead with because
other stuff keeps coming. You and me, we are Lucy and Ethel. We`re
working in the chocolate fact tor factory and the conveyer belt keeps
speeding up. That`s what it`s like. This is our life now. But we can
handle it. We can do it all.

Let me start here. Saturday morning, this past Saturday morning at 7:00
a.m. East Coast time, NBC News published a weird news story about the Trump
White House. The story came out early Saturday morning, but it was about
an announcement President Trump had made at the White House two days
earlier, on Thursday of last week.

You definitely heard about this announcement from the president. You heard
he said this. You heard that he announced there would be new big tariffs
on steel and aluminum, but did you actually see the way he announced it?
There was something a little weird about how he actually rolled out the
details of this very big, very important, very dramatic change in policy.
This is how he actually announced it. Watch.


sometime next week. We`ll be signing it in, and you will have protection
for the first time in a long while and you get to re-grow your industry.
That`s all I`m asking. You have to re-grow your industries.

Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for being here. We appreciate it. Mr.
Secretary, thank you very much and we`ll see you next week.

Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much.

REPORTER: What size are the tariffs?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Make your way out.

REPORTER: How long, do you think, on the tariffs?

TRUMP: Unlimited period. Unlimited period.

REPORTER: Twenty-five on steel?

REPORTER: What percentage?

TRUMP: It will be 25 percent for steel. It will be 10 percent for
aluminum. And it will be for a long period of time.


TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Thank you.

REPORTER: Twenty-five for steel and ten for aluminum.

TRUMP: Twenty-five for steel –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, Steve. Let`s go.

TRUMP: It`s being written now.

REPORTER: Thank you, sir.


MADDOW: It`s being written now. Yes, 25 for steel, 10 for aluminum.

So, the president held this big event with all these business people. He
kept saying during the event as if he had previously announced there would
be these new tariffs on steel and aluminum, but it wasn`t actually until he
was saying good-bye to everybody, until he was declaring the event over
saying he would see people next week that a reporter finally got him to
spit out what these tariffs were going to be.

It turns out they were very round numbers, 25 percent on steel and 10
percent on aluminum. He answered the reporter shouted questions after he
had declared the event over. That`s how the president rolled out these
numbers for the big tariffs. Kind of as an after-thought, something that
didn`t turn up in his prepared remarks.

And, you know, kind of seemed like maybe he didn`t have prepared remarks,

That was on Thursday. It took a couple days to report out, but by Saturday
morning, Stephanie Ruhle and Peter Alexander at NBC News were able to
report what actually led up to the strange announcement in the White House.
Quote: According to two officials, Trump`s decision to launch a potential
trade war was born out of anger at other simmering issues.

In the words of one official familiar with the president`s state of mind,
quote, on Wednesday evening, the president became unglued. Unglued is a
quote. Trump was angry two officials said. He was angry and gunning for a
fight and he chose a trade war.

By midnight Wednesday, which was less than 12 hours before the president
made this announcement, quote, no one on the president`s team had prepared
any position paper for the announcement. The White House counsel said they
were two weeks away from being able to complete a legal review of the

When the president showed up at that meeting where he made that
announcement, quote, there was no diplomatic strategy for how to alert
foreign trade partners. There was no legislative party for informing
Congress. There was no communications plan for how to announce the policy
let alone explain or defend what the president was going to announce that
day. They hadn`t told the State Department they were going to do this.
They had not told the Defense Department they were going to do this, and
they had told the Treasury Department they were going to do this.

And “The Washington Post” further reports tonight that wasn`t just a matter
of bad manners or not following protocol. “The Post” reporting tonight
that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
started warning senior trade officials today that there are national
security consequences to what Trump just announced. They have started
warning trade officials today that these tariffs Trump just announced.
They started warning trade officials that these tariffs Trump just
announced, quote, could endanger U.S. national security relationships with

And just to put the icing on the cake and just to explain that weird tape
we showed, it turns out there were actually no prepared remarks for the
president to give at that meeting. So on Thursday, he`s apparently been
mad and steaming all night and he wants to announce something. He`s
sitting there at this meeting. He announces a huge economic policy that
has big implications for regular Americans and jobs and relationships with
all of our allies, apparently, it`s national security implications of this
incredibly controversial, deeply consequential thing.

And the president apparently just winged it. No prep, no policy, no notes,
nothing written for him. And it seems not impossible that he had no
numbers in mind for this policy until he declared the event over and a
reporter shouted out, hey, sir, what are the numbers? And he, you know,
looks off into the distance and grasps those two nice round numbers.

He had 25 percent for steel, 10 for aluminum. It`s almost like he was
saying, does that sound good? Is that good?

The president said at that bonkers announcement last week after – as
reporters are being ushered out of the room, he said, it`s being written,
this thing that he had just announced with no notes, no policy, no legal
review, no communications plan, nothing. There`s still no signs that this
thing is being written, apart from the fact that today that announcement
from the president resulted in yet another very senior departure from the
White House staff.

The director of the White House National Economic Council, the main
economic advisor to the president, former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn
announced tonight that he is quitting. Which means I now have to turn
around and face a different camera so you can see me in front of a
different wall, so I`m really smooth with that, aren`t I? So I can update
the departure board, turning out to be a White House and presidential
administration absolutely unlike any other in terms of its ability to fire,
lose and repel top staff.

I mean, this president has only been in office a little more than a year.
And he`s lost secretary of health and human services, White House chief of
staff, deputy White House chief of staff, another deputy White House chief
of staff, yet another deputy White House chief of staff, senior adviser to
the White House chief of staff, national security advisor, that was Mike
Flynn, deputy national security adviser, another deputy national security

On the National Security Council, he`s lost the intelligence director there
and Middle East director there and the director of strategic planning there
and deputy chief of staff. He lost his chief White House strategist, that
was Steve Bannon. He lost that other White House strategist where we don`t
really know what his job is but he went on TV a lot, Sebastian Gorka I
think was his name.

They lost the director of public liaison for the White House, the
communications director for the public liaison, Omarosa, FBI Director James
Comey, deputy director of the FBI, chief of staff of the FBI, special
advisor to the president on regulatory reform, Carl Icahn, more on him in a
moment. He`s lost the director of Office of Government Ethics, the
counselor to the treasury secretary, the director of the National Security
Agency, the deputy director of the National Security Agency, the deputy
director of the domestic policy counsel.

And the vice president staff – it has been amazing. The vice president`s
chief of staff, the vice president`s wife`s chief of staff. The vice
president`s press secretary, chief counsel, and chief policy adviser, the
head of the CDC has left, White House staff secretary, the White House
speechwriter, acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration,
the associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, press secretary, assistant
press secretary, the White House director of rapid response, communications
director, another communications director, another communications director,
assistant communications director, the deputy secretary of homeland
security, the special representative for North Korea policy, the top person
on Korea policy in the State Department for the past 30 years, bye, bye,
assistant to the president in the Office of American Innovation, Jared and
Ivanka`s friend, he just left around the same time the president lost Hope

Senior advisor to the defense secretary, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico,
that was just a couple of days, deputy director of the National Economic
Council is somebody who we lost a while back, but now he`s lost the
director of the National Economic Council, the White House chief economic
advisor Gary Cohn.

We`re going to have to like start broadcasting in an octagon so I can keep
turning to different walls.

I mean, Gary Cohn, they haven`t been there that long. Gary Cohn may be the
latest senior White House person to leave. It may also though have more
ramifications that most departures.

You may remember in August, the president made some inexplicably positive
comments about neo-Nazi protesters who in fact had just killed someone in
Charlottesville, Virginia. Gary Cohn criticized the president`s remarks
after Charlottesville, and there were signs at the time that he might be
considering resigning from the White House, just the prospect that Gary
Cohn might resign from the White House in August led to a big plunge in the
markets that day even though Gary Cohn didn`t ultimately leave.

Well, tonight, Gary Cohn`s actual resignation was reporting after the
markets had closed. After the markets closed, people can still trade in
basically what amounts to bets on how the market will open in the morning
and after the news broke of Gary Cohn`s resignation tonight, that trading
showed the markets going off a cliff.

So, Gary Cohn`s resignation tonight, you can see it tonight as just the
latest in an incredibly chaotic and unstable White House and presidential
administration unlike we have ever seen before. But the Gary Cohn
resignation also feels like it`s a little bit part of a cluster, double
entendre intended, because in a period of about three weeks, I mean, we`ve
had the resignation of a lot of people very close to the president, the
staff secretary who was very close to the president who resigned amid lurid
domestic violence allegations. We`ve also had the resignation of Hope
Hicks, who is the White House staffer considered personally closest to the
president. And now, we`ve got Gary Cohn who was also reportedly close to
the president and had reportedly been considered as the next White House
chief of staff.

We`ve also just had this other reporting several days ago from NBC citing
five sources saying that the national security advisor, H.R. McMaster is on
his way out the door as well. When Nicolle Wallace broke that story for
MSNBC, a national security veteran named Colin Kahl who had been national
security advisor to Vice President Biden, he responded to that news from
Nicolle by saying, quote, if John Bolton replaces H.R. McMaster, we are all
going to die.

Well, tonight, John Bolton was seen visiting the White House. I didn`t
call Colin Kahl for comment but I probably should have.

Nicolle Wallace`s report that McMaster is on his way out had five sources
and nobody has contradicted it yet. John Bolton seen at the White House
today. Maybe that`s next.

We`re going to have more on the sudden departure of Gary Cohn, the
president`s top economic adviser coming up in just a couple of minutes.
We`re going to be talking with somebody who`s very well-sourced in his
circles and has been the source of some very good reporting about his role
in the White House. We`ve got that coming up.

But after the Gary Cohn news broke tonight, more stuff happened. “The New
York Times” broke some very dramatic new news tonight about Robert Mueller
and the special counsel`s office flipping a new cooperating witness.

President Trump was sworn in January 20th of 2017. And as the one-year
anniversary of his inauguration approached in January of this year, you
might remember there was a little bit of controversy, a little bit of
awkwardness about a big party planned at his club in Mar-a-Lago to
celebrate his one-year anniversary in office. There is always a little
controversy being hosted at the president`s own private for profit club
surrounded by his hand-picked members.

But in this case, the awkwardness was more acute than usual, because while
the one-year anniversary of his inauguration was approaching,
simultaneously, the federal government was shutting down. And the
president was reportedly upset that the government shutting down was going
to interfere with his ability to attend the parties that were going to be
held in his honor at his private club. Well, on January 17th, a couple of
days before those parties were supposed to start happening, just a few days
before the one-year anniversary of Trump`s inauguration, a man named George
Nader, a Lebanese-American man reportedly flew into the Dulles Airport in
Washington, D.C. and he was apparently planning to switch planes at Dulles
so he could fly down to Florida to be there at Mar-a-Lago for all the

And that`s where “The New York Times” tonight picks up the story. Quote,
Mr. Nader was first served with search warrants and a grand jury subpoena
on January 17th shortly after landing at Washington`s Dulles International
Airport. He had intended to travel to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. President`s Florida
estate, to celebrate the president`s first year in office, but the FBI had
other plans, questioning him for more than two hours and seizing his

Now, this man, George Nader, was the subject of a story in “The New York
Times” this weekend that was interesting, intriguing, you might say, it was
a little opaque, but this weekend, “The Times” described the same man,
George Nader, as a Lebanese American businessman who had become a focus of
the Mueller investigation. In this reporting this past weekend, “The
Times” said that George Nader had been questioned by Mueller`s prosecutors
and other witnesses had been questioned about him, about his role advising
the government of the United Arab Emirates and, quote, any possible
attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to
support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign.

So, that was the reporting this weekend, that people were asking about this
guy`s role, that Mueller`s investigators were asking witnesses about this
guy`s role, that this guy George Nader was a focus of Mueller`s

Well, now, tonight, “The Times” reports something that is an order of
magnitude different. They are reporting tonight that George Nader is
cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller and he has testified to the
grand jury. And if this reporting from “The Times” is true, this is no
longer just intriguing, this is no longer opaque, this now explains a lot.

And that`s next, along with the reporter that broke the story. Stay with


MADDOW: All right. “The New York Times” has broken this scoop on the
front page. Advisor to Emirates with ties to Trump aides is cooperating
with special counsel. This means there is a no cooperating witness for
Robert Mueller and his prosecutors in their investigation.

Now, the guy who is reportedly cooperating with Mueller now is said to be
an advisor to the government of the United Arab Emirates. United Arab
Emirates is best known for cities Dubai and Abu Dhabi. UAE has a big, long
desert border with Saudi Arabia. They`ve got another long border with
Oman. They are geographically very close to but politically at odds with
another small rich conservative Arab country nearby that`s called Qatar.

But United Arab Emirates stands out in that region in the way that you
couldn`t necessarily discern from looking at it on a map. UAE in recent
years has really emerged as a dominant strategic actor in that part of the
world. They have lots of money, lots of influence and lots of ambition.
And for the purposes of the Trump administration and its scandals, UAE also
happens to make lots of cameo appearances in meetings with people
associated with Donald Trump that nobody reports at the time that people
try to keep secret and that nobody can explain months later when they
finally ultimately get exposed in the press. It happens over and over
again from people from UAE, from people representing the government of UAE.

First one of those was on December. The month after the presidential
election, December 2016 at Trump Tower. The de facto ruler of UAE, their
crown prince, turned up in New York and took a meeting at Trump Tower
reportedly with Mike Flynn and Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner.

Now, that meeting itself is not that weird for a foreign leader to meet
with top officials of an incoming U.S. presidential administration. It`s
not unheard of. What was unheard of about that, what was really weird
about that is that they did it in secret.

Donald Trump wasn`t president yet. Barack Obama was president. Whatever a
foreign head of state or senior member of the foreign royal family comes to
the U.S., particularly if they`re going to visit with American political
officials, they`re supposed to notify the U.S. government that they are
coming. I mean, it`s a matter of long-standing diplomatic protocol and
frankly, it`s a matter of security.

But they try to do that meeting secretly. The crown prince of UAE came to
Trump Tower in December 2016, he took that meeting with Flynn and Bannon
and Kushner for some reason and he just turned up in New York without
notifying the Obama administration. So, they tried to keep it secret for
some reason.

The Obama administration, of course, knew he was here, intelligence
agencies tend to know the whereabouts when a foreign heads of state when
they arrive here. But the fact that they tried to keep it secret was just
an interesting red flag about that meeting. That was December 2016.

Then the following month, January 2017, that same country, United Arab
Emirates turns up again in a mysterious and for a long time secret meeting
involving somebody from Trump world. This is first reported several months
later in “The Washington Post” months after this meeting happened. But it
ultimately was proven out their reporting was correct that in January
before the inauguration, United Arab Emirates convened a secret meeting in
the Seychelles islands between a Russian financer who said to be very close
to Vladimir Putin and an American guy named Erik Prince.

Erik Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. He`s the
founder of the controversial Blackwater security firm and he`s a major
Trump donor and Trump supporter. Now, Erik Prince has denied there was
anything nefarious about that meeting, but that meeting is believed to have
been sort of an effort to create an unofficial back channel between Trump
world and Putin world at a personal level.

As “The New York Times” puts it in the new report tonight, quote, at the
Seychelles meeting, Emirati officials believe that Erik Prince was speaking
for the Trump transition team and the Russian fund manager represented Mr.

So, secret meeting one involving UAE is in December at Trump Tower. Secret
meeting two involving UAE is in the Seychelles between Erik Prince and this
Russian financier guy close to Putin, and the UAE surfaced against just
last week in that dramatic new reporting from “The Washington Post” about
Jared Kushner`s contacts raising serious national security concerns about

This is the reporting that came out around the same time that we learned
that Jared Kushner was stripped of his security clearance, one of the most
dramatic details in the reporting was that U.S. intelligence surveillance
of foreign officials turned up conversations in which foreign officials
talked about their dealings with Jared Kushner.

This was the lead of that article in “The Washington Post” last week.
Quote: Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways
that they can manipulate Jared Kushner by taking advantage of his business
arrangement, his financial difficulties and his lack of foreign policy

From the same report, the UAE surfaces again. Quote: officials from the
UAE identified Jared Kushner as early as the spring of 2017 as particularly
manipulable because of his family`s search for investors and their real
estate company.

So, UAE turns up over and over again, potential efforts to create a
personal back channel to Putin through this financer guy who`s thought of
somebody that can get messages to and from Putin, secret meeting being held
without notifying the U.S. government. The foreign government that
believes its got sway over Jared Kushner because Kushner and his family
have been freaking asking him for money.

So, UAE turns up in all these stories, and it all feels sort of drenched in
intrigue but we don`t know how to connect these things or whether they
connect or whether they point in some particularly nefarious direction.
Well, tonight “The New York Times” reports that George Nader, advisor to
the crowned prince of UAE, is cooperating with Robert Mueller`s inquiry.
They further report that this guy George Nader was at the meeting in the
Seychelles with Erik Prince and the Russian fund manager who can supposedly
get messages to and from Putin.

According to “The Times”, what Mueller appears to be looking at with this
new cooperating witness is, quote, the influence of foreign money on Mr.
Trump`s political activities. Mueller has reportedly asked witnesses about
the possibility that this adviser, George Nader, funneled money from the
Emirates to the president`s political efforts. It is illegal for Americans
to knowingly accept foreign money for political races and that guy is
cooperating with them now.

Days like this you`re like no wonder everybody is quitting.

Joining us now is Adam Goldman, “New York Times” reporter covering national
security and one of the reporters who broke this story.

Mr. Goldman, thank you very much for joining us on short notice and
congratulations on this scoop tonight.


MADDOW: So, can you tell me about the difference between and the
transition between the reporting from “The Times” this weekend that Nader
was a focus of Mueller`s inquiry to the reporting tonight that he`s
actually cooperating with the investigation? What`s the importance there
and how did that reporting involve?

GOLDMAN: Well, Nader`s importance is he was essentially unregistered
foreign agent of the United Emirates and he was essentially peddling
influence on behalf of UAE, you know, in the United States and around the
world, sort of delivering their message, right?

And he has become the focus because I believe that Mueller and his team
want to learn what he did, what George Nader did with some money the UAE
gave him and, of course, did any of that money make it to the Trump
campaign or its coffers.

MADDOW: In the reporting from earlier, from a few days ago, there was a
description about a Republican fundraiser, I think deputy finance chair at
the RNC now, somebody who`s a Trump donor and now a Republican fundraiser
who at some point appears to have secured for himself a defense contract
worth several hundred million dollars possibly through his connection with
Mr. Nader.

Is that part of the question, I guess, of whether or not money was funneled
inappropriately from UAE to people associated with Mr. Trump?

GOLDMAN: I mean, I suspect they`re certainly look at that. The
interesting thing about Brody is after Erik Prince meets with the Emiratis
and Mr. Nader in the Seychelles and makes a pitch to sell them defense
contract and services, he`s denied it. He doesn`t get that contract.

Fast forward, Brody who gets a similar contract with the Emiratis. So,
there is something going on there we`re not exactly sure.

MADDOW: Now at that meeting in the Seychelles, you guys described it`s as
something that`s been sort of – a bit of a mystery. It`s been a bit of a
sort of object of fascination at that meeting, what was that about. And I
said in summarizing some of the speculation and those supporting reporting
around that meeting that it`s believed that meeting may have been an effort
to set up a line of communication between Vladimir Putin himself, between
the president`s office in Russia and the incoming Trump administration.

That`s how I`ve sort of view the universe of reporting around that meeting.
Is that supported by how you understand that Seychelles meeting?

GOLDMAN: I`m not really saying there was a back channel to the Russians
based on this meeting. I mean, what we know, the facts are, Prince goes
there and makes a pitch to the Emiratis and after that meeting, he meets
with Erik Prince and Nader too at the bar. We don`t know what is said at
the bar. They have a drink. It`s a short meeting. We don`t know what is

It`s true that the Emiratis believe that Flynn was pitching himself as a
representative of the Trump administration. You know, just remember,
Kirill Dmitriev, the Russian investment guy, you know, they have a lot of
money invested in UAE, and UAE has money invested in this fund. So, there
is a reason for him to be there. And in fact, the reason for him to be
there, Dmitriev, he was meeting with UAE officials.

MADDOW: OK. Adam Goldman, reporter for “The New York Times”, really
appreciate you helping us sort it out. Congratulations on this scoop.

GOLDMAN: All right. Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. Again, “The New York Times” reporting there is a new
cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation, an advisor to the Emirati

Mr. Goldman was just saying there about the money flow among UAE and
Russia. The Russian financer who Erik Prince was reportedly set up to meet
with in that meeting in the Seychelles, he heads up a fund that doesn`t
distribute Russian money abroad, but accepts money from other countries to
invest in infrastructure. United Arab Emirates had pumped billions of
dollars into the fund. So, they are sending billions of dollars to that
guy, Dmitriev, the guy who meets with Prince, Prince goes and meets with
him and we don`t know what that`s about, but the guy who brokered that
meeting and part of it is now part of Mueller`s investigation on the
prosecutor`s side, which makes me think maybe we`ll figure out about that
meeting after all. Maybe we will get that full story.

All right. Much more ahead including another big breaking story out of the
White House because that`s today. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Last night, we reported on new concerns about.


TRUMP: Carl Icahn. Carl, Carl Icahn. Carl Icahn.


MADDOW: Carl Icahn, somebody who the president likes to say the name of
more than himself. Carl Icahn billionaire investor, former special advisor
at the president on regulatory reform who quit that job and then tried to
deny he ever had it in the first place when “The New Yorker” reported that
Icahn had made a regulatory change that would have put effectively hundreds
of millions of dollars in Carl Icahn`s own pocket.

The New York attorney general`s office say they have reportedly taken an
interest in that matter. But now, Carl Icahn is back in the thick of it
again because it turns out Mr. Icahn happened to sell off $30 million in
stock in a company`s who stock price would definitely tank if the U.S.
government announced a steel tariff. He sold off that $31.3 million of
stock right before President Trump in fact announced his new steel tariffs.

We reported on that story last night. Now, a non-partisan watchdog group
called the Project on Government Oversight has asked the Securities and
Exchange Commission to investigate Mr. Icahn for possible insider trading.
They want to know if someone in the Trump administration provided Mr. Icahn
with information that the steel tariffs were on their way.

Those tariffs today also cost the president his top economic advisor Gary
Cohn, which at one level is just another one out. But I`m also interested
in really knowing why he left and what the consequences are of him leaving
and how nuts this whole process has been in the White House.

Joining us now is someone who knows. Stephanie Ruhle, she`s the host of
“MSNBC LIVE” with Stephanie Ruhle, which airs every day at 9:00 a.m.

Stephanie, you know more about this than anybody else I know.

President Trump who loves to say I and I alone is going to have to look at
the stock market because Dow futures are now down 400 and that is because
Gary Cohn, his economic advisor has said sayonara.

After he got taxes done, early January, Gary said to the president, and
General Kelly, I got time on my hands. I came to do taxes, I`m done, give
me more. He was, could he do something at state, could he something at
cabinet level position, maybe Trump said, how about infrastructure? Gary
said, giddy up, infrastructure.

Have you heard them talk about infrastructure? Has Gary rolled out a plan?

MADDOW: Infrastructure Week is now a punch line. Yes.

RUHLE: Correct. No, because we`re dealing with the president of unforced
errors who gets distracted or changed the narratives and says let`s look at
DACA and he keeps changing the narrative when Russia gets closer and closer
and, of course, things, you know, we change the narrative because we`re
looking at the gun control issue.

But last week, sort of Wilbur Ross` coup d`etat on policy. Wilbur Ross and
Peter Navarro, and remember, you`ve reported it. Wilbur Ross is a guy who
has been falling asleep in meetings for months. Peter Navarro could not
get a job inside Goldman Sachs in the mail room. He`s not a widely
accepted economist. Wilbur Ross said to the president, if you want to war,
let`s go for a trade war. How about China?

And the issue isn`t policy for Gary Cohn, it`s process. So, Gary is not
surprised that President Trump has a nationalist agenda. He was elected on
one. But Gary has repeatedly said, America first doesn`t have to be
America alone.

The president led Wednesday and Thursday with this cockamamie 10 percent,
25 percent tariff plan without coordinating with the State Department, the
Defense Department, and the Treasury Department and most importantly, White
House legal counsel. The president has said this is an issue of national
security. That`s why we need to move forward with these tariffs and were
the tariffs supposed to hit China. But now, suddenly, it`s about Canada
and Mexico and now we heard from Mattis, Tillerson potentially saying this
will hurt national security.

So, if Gary Cohn is in the White House to focus on economic issues and he
cannot get the president to listen to all sides and we could be moving to a
direction that would hurt our economy, who will he stay for?

MADDOW: So, if Gary Cohn is a process guy, though, if he wants a
deliberate process and even if he doesn`t agree with the president on
everything, at leas he wants things to be rational, how could somebody who
wants deliberate process and rationality have lasted this long.

RUHLE: Agree.

MADDOW: I mean, yes, this is stuff that`s in his wheelhouse that`s gone
haywire. But the whole White House is haywire.

RUHLE: He would make the argument, taxes. I`m a process guy and the one
thing I got done whether we like the tax reform plan or not, he came to do
taxes and hangs his hat on that and Gary led that process. And, you know,
Ivanka likes to take credit for the taxes, so does everybody else out
there. He can walk out saying, I`m a process guy, I came to do my job and
I did it. Now, there is no job for him to do.

MADDOW: So, in terms of the chaos that led to the tariff announcement, you
and Peter Alexander had that remarkable report this weekend about what led
up to the president making that announcement on Thursday. There`s a
roomful of executives. The White House as of midnight the night before
didn`t know who those people would be. They couldn`t have the Secret
Service clear them and get background checks. They didn`t know who they
were going to be.

Then the president announces the tariffs but he doesn`t actually say what
they are until he`s told everybody good-bye and reporters start shouting,
hey, hey, hey, what are they? Are there numbers? He then appears to my
eye to kind of grab these numbers like 25 for steel, 10 for aluminum. I
mean, you reported that there were no prepared remarks for him.

RUHLE: None.

MADDOW: And no position paper and no legal back ground.

RUHLE: None. There was no plan how would we discuss this with our allies?
How are we going to alert Congress? John Kelly wasn`t aware of how they
were going to do this.

So, if it is your responsibility to lead the process and it`s absolutely
going bonkers, how can you put your name next to it?

You know, Gary is getting criticism saying, well, you stood with the
president after Charlottesville but money is the issue? That`s what you
won`t stand with him over? Well, after Charlottesville, fair point, after
Charlottesville, he did say I`m not happy with this, but he would make the
argument now I came to focus on the economy, how can I do that going
forward? I`m guessing.

MADDOW: Is there any possibility the president didn`t know what the
numbers are going to be on the tariff before he shouted them out to that

RUHLE: Sure.

MADDOW: Like was 10 and 25 decided before he got there?

RUHLE: I don`t believe so but President Trump –

MADDOW: So he just was like yeah, we`re going to do this tariff, 25
percent? He just made up the number.

RUHLE: President Trump has given prepared remarks before and while
practicing his team said, for example, President Trump you`re wrong on the
stock market value, how much it`s gone up and he said I get my numbers from
Hannity, not from his own economics` team.

President Trump repeatedly called China a currency manipulator and it was
after he won, they walked him over to the Treasury Department and said we
have an actual model. We put in the currency and that`s factually
incorrect, and the president walks back from that.

Now, Gary is staying another two weeks. Do we think he`s going to – Trump
will move forward with the tariffs? Sure. What they`re going to look like
exactly unclear, but I`m guessing that globalist side of the House will try
to fight it.

MADDOW: Stephanie Ruhle, NBC News correspondent, the anchor of “MSNBC
LIVE” which airs here at 9:00 a.m. Eastern – thank you for helping us.
You made me feel worse about the whole thing. It`s nice to see you.

RUHLE: So sorry.

MADDOW: But I just feel more worried.

RUHLE: There you go. Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.



TEACHERS: Who made history? We made history. Who made history? We made


MADDOW: Teachers of West Virginia today ended a nine-day strike and you
can hear from what they were saying there how it worked out. This was all
55 counties in West Virginia, all 680 public schools in the state. The
governor had actually told the teachers that they should go back to work
because he was promising them a pay raise.

That was days ago but the teachers decided they would not take his word for
it. They stuck it out and kept the strike going until the legislature
actually approved the pay raise, which is I think the only reason they
approved that pay raise. They did it and today, the governor signed a bill
giving teachers and all state employees a 5 percent raise, and the teachers
when they weren`t chanting, they were breaking into song.


MADDOW: Now, the victory after this long strike, it wasn`t without a
serious price. The pay raise is going to be financed through very deep
cuts to the budget including $20 million slash to general services and
Medicaid. Funding that keeps health care premiums lower and benefit cuts
at bay only lasts until the middle of next year and then it`s back to the
drawing board or picket line.

So, the teachers today celebrated, but they know the real victory won`t
come until November, if not then.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks, remember what they put you through. Get out
there and get active and make sure everybody goes and votes in November.


MADDOW: Hard-fought victories like the one in Virginia today are like
yawns in a crowded room. They are contagious, right? You see your co-
worker yawn and then you`re yawning, right?

Same thing, it`s already happening. Teachers in Kentucky and in Oklahoma
say they are considering following in the footsteps of what West Virginia`s
teachers did. In Kentucky, they are asking for better pay and benefits.

In Oklahoma, the teacher`s union is threatening to shut down schools within
months if their demands aren`t met, they are the worst paid teachers in the
country. If Oklahoma teachers do strike, they will be looking for the
first pay raise in a decade. They are the lowest paid teachers in the
nation right now in a state that`s just gone through the big oil and gas

What we saw in West Virginia today was more than a victory lap. It`s a bit
of reckoning but it is definitely a story that is not over. Watch this


MADDOW: This afternoon, “The Washington Post” broke a new story about the
scope of the Robert Mueller investigation. We`ve had a lot of these
stories recently. A lot of national news organizations have reported on
things that Mueller is believed to now be investigating.

And all the stories are interesting. Mueller investigations really
important, really interesting. But we take all the stories with the same
grain of salt because presumably, the sourcing on these stories is
witnesses who have been asked about these matters or their lawyers talking
to reporters about it. And witnesses and their lawyers, they can see a
little bit of what Mueller is doing from their own perspective. But unless
you`re involved directly in Mueller`s team, nobody can see the overall
strategy that they`re pursuing in the special counsel`s office, which is
why we all keep being surprised every time they unveil new indictments.

But with that grain of salt, what “The Washington Post” reported today is
that the president`s long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen, he is the
focus of some of Mueller`s inquiries now, specifically Michael Cohen`s role
in pursuing a Trump Tower Moscow project during the presidential campaign
while Trump himself is denying to the public that he had any dealings with

Michael Cohen is reportedly working on a possible Trump Tower Moscow for
the president, including having Mr. Trump sign a letter of intent to pursue
that project while he was running for president. “The Post” reports that
Mueller is looking into that. And also that Mueller is looking into that
and also that Mueller is looking into a strange meeting and a strange
proposal that was first reported by “The New York Times” in February of
last year.

This is a meeting that took place right after the inauguration, about a
week after the inauguration. It was in a New York hotel. And it took
place between Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, a Ukrainian lawmaker, and Felix
Sater, a Russian born long-time Trump associate who is an ex-con and who is
believed to have had Russian mafia ties and who for decades has had an
association with the FBI as a cooperating witness.

These fellows reportedly got together in New York right after the
inauguration and created a proposal for a peace plan between Russia and
Ukraine. A plan that would result naturally in the U.S. dropping sanctions
against Russia. Now, the headline from “The Washington Post” today is that
Mueller and his investigators are looking at that matter, that peace plan
meeting, as part of their investigation.

But “The Post” also buried one super interesting new piece of reporting
about that story which I think is brand-new, and I think makes this whole
area of inquiry much more interesting and much more hard to explain if
you`re the Trump campaign or the Trump White House. According to this new
story in “The Post” today, when Michael Cohen`s, Trump`s personal lawyer
and these other guys were working on this proposal, they did so under the
explicit impression that this plan they were writing up, that they were
going to deliver to the Trump White House, they were working on this plan
under the explicit impression that the plan had come from the Russian

Quote, Cohen told “The Post” that the Ukrainian lawmaker had announced at
their meeting that he had devised this proposal in consultation with the
Russian government.

Cohen telling “The Washington Post,” quote, he said Russia was on board,
the Russian government. Oh, really? I mean, it was already an amazing
prospect that the president`s personal lawyer was working on plans to drop
Russian sanctions within a week of the inauguration after Russia intervened
in the election to get Trump in office.

If this plan, though, that he was pitching actually came from the Russian
government and he knew it at the time, and the people who were working on
that plan talked about that fact amongst themselves, while they were making
plans to drop it off at Mike Flynn`s office in the White House, if they
were knowingly being conduits of the Russian government`s demands about
dropping sanctions, that`s going to be hard to explain.

And now, apparently, some of the people who are trying to get an
explanation for that are the prosecutors who work for Robert Mueller. So,
important new advance in that story today from “The Washington Post.” We
get lots of reports about what Mueller might be working on. In this case,
we`ve also got a big weird new admission that we never had before.

Stick a pin in that. We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: So amid all the other breaking news stories this evening, the
president`s top economic adviser resigning, the Mueller investigation
getting a new cooperating witness, allegation that foreign money has been
funneled into the Trump campaign or into the Trump administration – amid
all of that jazz, all those stories breaking tonight, the president tonight
also just got sued by adult film actress Stormy Daniels. She is now sued
the president, saying her agreement not to discuss her alleged affair with
the president is not valid because she says the president never signed the
agreement. And so she is suing him over that.

If you want more details on that, I`m going to hand you over to the tender
administrations of Lawrence O`Donnell, whose show begins right now.

Hi, Lawrence.



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