UK expels Russian diplomats after attack on ex-spy. TRANSCRIPT: 03/14/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
March 14, 2018
Guest: Caleb Melby, Sarah Chadwick
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: We`re going to be speaking with one of the
student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland,
Florida, that endured that gun massacre that cost 17 Americans their lives
one month ago today. We`re going to be speaking with one of those student
leaders a little later on this hour as we watch those incredible walkouts
all over the country today, which Chris was just talking about there with
We`re going to start tonight though, as it is our want to do because I`m a
weirdo, we`re going to start with Cuban missile crisis.
Cuban missile crisis was 1962. It took place over 13 very, very stressful
days in October 1962.
The United States at that point had had long been flying high altitude
surveillance flights over the nation of Cuba but on October 14, 1962, a U-2
surveillance flight picked up imagery in Cuba of something that started
that whole crisis, started that whole standoff.
It`s interesting. The Cuban missile crisis is very precisely identified in
all the history books as having started on October 16th, two days after
that U-2 spy plane captured those images in Cuba.
But the crisis didn`t start on October 16th, because something happened
that day because there was some overt act by Cuba. There was some
provocation there, or some announcement by them. It didn`t start because
on October 16th, there was some act by the Soviet Union or some
announcement by the Soviets that kicked off this crisis.
The reason we can be so specific about when the Cuban missile crisis
started on October 16th is because that crisis began when the United States
had a revelation. The United States realized and figured out with high
confidence exactly what it was looking at in those photos that had been
taken two days earlier.
The way the United States was able to identify exactly what they were
looking at in those photos the way the Kennedy administration was able to
look at those photos and come to the conclusion that in fact this was a new
secret deployment of nuclear weapons by the Soviet Union, they could get
specific about what kinds of missiles and missile launchers and equipment
they were looking at, the reason the Cuban missile crisis started was
because the U.S. was able to make that into identification. And the reason
they were able to make that identification is because of this man.
His name is Oleg Penkovsky. Oleg Penkovsky was a Russian double agent. He
was a colonel in the GRU and Soviet military intelligence. And unbeknownst
to the Soviet Union, he was secretly spying for Britain and the United
States. And he provided the technical materials and descriptions that
allow the Kennedy administration in 1962 to confirm in fact that the Soviet
Union was secretly moving nuclear missiles to Cuba.
And we can be we can now be even more specific about the value of that
information that he provided. At the CIA`s Website, still now, if you go
there now, you can see they have a whole section devoted to Oleg Penkovsky
and explaining what information he provided. He provided detailed plans
and descriptions of the launch sites in Cuba to which the Soviet Union had
deployed these missiles starting that summer in 1962.
Penkovsky`s information gave the Kennedy administration such specific
technical insight into what they were looking at in the surveillance photos
that President Kennedy was able to conclude in October of `62 that he had
exactly a three-day window, he had a 72-hour window for negotiating a
diplomatic solution to this crisis with Khrushchev before those Soviet
missiles would be fully functional and ready to launch.
Three-day window, they knew about it because they knew what they were
looking at because Oleg Penkovsky showed them what they were looking at.
According to the CIA, quote, for this reason, Oleg Penkovsky is credited
with altering the course of the Cold War. So, that U-2 spy plane, American
spy plane, takes the pictures October 14, 1962. The U.S. is able to
analyze the photos and have this important revelation about what they were
looking at based on Penkovsky`s information. They`re able to come to that
revelation on October 16. That is the start of the crisis.
But then less than a week after that, while the crisis is in full flower,
while it is at its most terrifying and not at all resolved and it seems
like we might be about to have a nuclear war over this issue, on October
22nd, in the middle of the crisis, Oleg Penkovsky was walking down the
street in Moscow and the KGB snatched him off the street. They arrested
him. They figured out that he was a double agent.
And we apparently still don`t really know how they got him, whether the
Soviets were able to somehow reverse engineer what the U.S. had figured out
about these missile sites and so maybe that`s how they were able to figure
out who might have given the U.S. that information or maybe a British or
American double agent who was secretly working for the Russians knew about
Penkovsky being this important asset for the Western allies and maybe some
American or British double agent gave this guy`s name to the Kremlin, we
But in the middle of the crisis, before there was any diplomatic resolution
in reach, at a time when the whole world thought the U.S. and Russia might
be about to start shooting nuclear missiles at each other, Oleg Penkovsky
gets snatched off the street in Moscow. He was the highest-ranking Soviet
officer to have ever spied for the U.S. or Great Britain up until that
And the KGB snatched him off the street, they charged him with high treason
and espionage. He was convicted and in the spring of 1963, they killed
him. They executed him inside the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow. They dumped
his ashes in a mass grave.
Even today in 2018, the CIA calls Oleg Penkovsky, quote, one of the most
valuable assets in CIA history.
Of course, one man`s ceiling is another man`s floor, and this agent, this
asset who was so valuable to the American side. From the other side of the
equation, from the Soviet perspective, he was seen as one of the most
damaging traitors to ever hurt the Soviet Union.
Fast forward 40 years to 2004, December 2004, and the successor agency to
the KGB arrests another turncoat double agent colonel from the GRU, another
double agent secretly spying for the West while serving in Russian military
intelligence. It`s 2004. They snatched him off the street December 2004,
on suspicion of treason.
They put him on trial secretly in a military court. Nobody knew what had
become of him for two solid years before finally in 2006, the Russian
government announced that in this secret military tribunal, he had been
convicted of treason. Quote, he convicted – he consent – excuse me – he
confessed to selling the names, addresses and code names of several dozen
Russian agents to the British security service, to MI6.
Many of the Russian agents betrayed were deep cover spies in Britain and in
Kommersant newspaper in Russia reported at the time that his conviction was
announced, they reported at the time that his conviction was announced in
2006, quote: The FSB considered that damage he had done to Russian spying
operations was comparable to the damage caused by Oleg Penkovsky. By Oleg
Penkovsky, that other GRU colonel from 40 years earlier who had tipped off
the United States to start the Cuban missile crisis.
This guy that they picked up 40 years later in 2004 was considered by the
KGB and the FSB to have done comparable damage to this guy from the Cuban
All right. Now, that is a very dramatic assertion and it may be
overstated. I mean, after all, when they got Oleg Penkovsky back in 1962,
they arrested him, they put him on trial for treason, they convicted him
and they shot him. They killed him in prison.
When they got this next guy in 2004, they also arrested him, charged him
with treason and convicted him, but they didn`t kill him. They didn`t
execute him. They sentenced him to 13 years, and then he didn`t serve out
In 2010, he was pardoned and traded to the West, traded in a in a Western
spy swap. He and three other Russian prisoners were swapped for 10
Russians who`d been operating an undercover spy ring in the United States.
Ultimately, he went to live in Britain, the country for which he had done
his spying and, of course, he was the man who ended up slumped on a park
bench in the British town of Salisbury last week. He was in some sort of
fugue state. Witnesses described him making strange hand motions while
otherwise being non-responsive while his 33-year-old daughter slumped next
to him unconscious with her eyes rolled back in her head.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Sergei Skripal was seen in Russia
as a very, very consequential double agent, somebody who`s spying for
Britain had done profound damage to Russia`s intelligence services. And
because of that, it doesn`t take a great leap of imagination to figure out
why somebody might have wanted to attack him, who had the strongest motive
to attack him.
But since he was attacked in Britain last week, we still have no
explanation for why it happened exactly the way it did. Where the attack
happened in Salisbury, it was quite near to the British military`s science
and technology lab at Porton Down. That`s exactly the secret facility in
Britain that would be used to identify a suspected chemical or biological
According to British authorities, the agent that was used to attack Skripal
and his daughter was a very specifically identifiable Russian nerve agent.
It`s the opposite of a generic poison. I mean, this isn`t even like you
know sarin, which is hard to make but scientists and a Japanese doomsday
cult figured out how to make it, and they used it to gas a subway platform
in Tokyo. This isn`t ricin, which is also an exotic poison but you can`t
make it from castor beans if you try hard enough.
This was a Russian military specific sub varietal of nerve agent that
doesn`t exist anywhere else in the world and has never been manufactured
anywhere and by anyone other than the Russian state. It was therefore a
very unusual choice for how to kill someone, especially if you had any
interest at all in getting away with it. This is like signing a bullet and
putting your return address on it before shooting someone.
Why do that? I mean, it`s very possible because of his history, because of
the seriousness of his espionage past, it`s very possible that they were
going to get Sergei Skripal someday, somewhere, somehow.
But the way they went after him in broad daylight in a provincial British
town right next to the military laboratory, and they went after him with a
very dangerous nerve agent that contaminated and hurt other people and that
is unmistakably traceable to the Russian military, that`s a very specific
kind of attack. The specifics of that attack almost make it feel like it
was some sort of international test.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Skripal and his daughter were
poisoned with a Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia.
Based on this capability, combined with their record of conducting state-
sponsored assassinations, including against former intelligence officers
whom they regard as legitimate targets, the U.K. government concluded that
it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for this reckless and
despicable act. They have treated the use of a military-grade nerve agent
in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.
So, Mr. Speaker, there is no alternative conclusion other than that the
Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr. Skripal and his
daughter, and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in
Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.
This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: British Prime Minister Theresa May today announcing that this
attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter was an unlawful use of force by
the Russian state against the U.K. Prime Minister May went on further to
announce the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from Britain. In response,
she canceled high-level bilateral meetings with Russian officials. Britain
is pulling back on its attendance at World Cup Soccer events in Russia
later this year.
And interestingly, the prime minister also announced increased checks on
private flights, customs and freight. She did not explain exactly why she
did that but it does raise some intriguing questions about the British
investigation into how this nerve agent got into the U.K. in the first
So, the prime minister`s announcement today was followed by an emergency
meeting of the U.N. Security Council which included actually quite strong
remarks from America`s ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The United States
believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the
United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent. Alone, Russia`s crime
is worthy of this council`s action, but this is not an isolated incident.
The Russians complained recently that we criticize them too much.
If the Russian government stopped using chemical weapons to assassinate its
enemies and if the Russian government stopped helping its Syrian ally to
use chemical weapons to kill Syrian children, and if Russia cooperated with
the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, by turning over
all information related to this nerve agent, we would stop talking about
them. We take no pleasure and having to constantly criticize Russia. But
we need Russia to stop giving us so many reasons to do so.
Russia must fully cooperate with the U.K.`s investigation and come clean
about its own chemical weapons program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, speaking today. Strong
remarks from her. Those strong remarks appear to have precipitated a
fairly strong statement from the White House as well.
A statement released by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tonight
saying, in part, quote: The United States shares the U.K.`s assessment that
Russia is responsible for the reckless nerve agent attack on a British
citizen and his daughter, and we support the U.K.`s decision to expel
Russian diplomats as a just response. This latest action by Russia fits
into a pattern of behavior in which Russia disregards the international
rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries
worldwide, and attempts to subvert and discredit western democratic
institutions and processes.
Oh really? Right? Strong, strong statement. Russia`s undermining the
sovereignty and security of countries worldwide, attempting to subvert and
discredit western democratic institutions and – yes, right. This is a –
for this White House, this is a strong written statement from the press
secretary. Also a strong statement today at the U.N. from Nikki Haley.
You will notice the strong contrast between those strong remarks and what
the president himself has said on this matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, people think there should be a response from the
United States. Do you believe there should be a response from the United
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. As soon as we get the
facts straight and we`re going to be speaking with the British today, we`re
speaking with Theresa May today. And as soon as we get the facts straight,
if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Maybe, it`s a 400-pound guy sitting in his bed.
The president has made no further remarks on this matter since then.
So, this Russian guy being attacked with a nerve agent developed by the
Russian military in broad daylight on the street in Britain, this is a
bizarre and serious and scary thing. There are international repercussions
to it, already, and those will continue. A first strong statement from the
U.S. condemning the attack was from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who
was then fired just a few hours afterwards.
Now, since then, we have seen subsequent strong statements from Ambassador
Nikki Haley and a strong written statement from the press secretary. They
appear to not be getting fired. President himself on this matter though,
still sort of, no, we`ll see who it is. We`ll see if we agree.
And the elephant in the room, of course, is the ongoing investigation, the
ongoing open questions about our president`s own relationship with the
Russian government and on that point I will just make one point here. Last
night, we reported that Democrats on the Intelligence Committee had
unexpectedly released a 21-page document in response to the Republicans
shutting down the Russia investigation in the House. The document the
Democrats released last night was not just a response to what the
Republicans that said they were doing. It was also their own status report
on where they believe the investigation stood at the moment the Republicans
shut it down.
Now, we didn`t know this report was coming out until we saw it last night
and it was a surprise when it came out. As we described last night, that
document contains some serious assertions about President Trump and his
relationship with Russia, including this blunt statement on page six of
Quote: The committee has learned that candidate Trump`s private business
was actively negotiating a business deal in Moscow with a sanctioned
Russian bank during the election, period. If you think that`s old news and
you`ve heard that before, it`s not. This is a new and specific and potent
assertion from the Intelligence Committee Democrats.
Well, tonight, a source familiar with the Democratic report tells us a
little bit more about what that grave assertion is about. The source tells
us that this is not based on public reporting that everybody has seen from
news agencies. A source tells us that testimony did the committee raised
serious questions about the effort during the campaign by the Trump
Organization to secure foreign financing for a Trump Tower Moscow,
including from a sanctioned Russian bank.
According to our source, there are troubling inconsistencies between public
assertions about this matter and what the committee discovered through
documentary and testimonial evidence during the committee`s investigation.
So, there appears to have been an attempted assassination by chemical
warfare on British soil, British government is attributing that attack to
the Russian government. U.S. Security Council is taking up the matter.
The U.K. government is addressing the matter. The U.S. government is sort
of starting to address the matter.
But we are in this bizarre situation where our own president`s silence and
mealy-mouthed hemming and hawing on this subject is in the foreground –
while his own secret dealings with the Russian government are starting to
unfold and starting to be exposed by a congressional investigation that his
Republican allies are trying to shut down. This is – I mean, we`ve been
watching this at one level or another over the course of the past year and
a half, right?
But right now with this crisis and this attempted murder, this attempted
assassination in Britain, police officers still hospitalized for having
gone into the House of these people who apparently were targeted in this
attack, two people still fighting for their lives in critical condition,
trying to fend off the effects of this Russian military news agent.
Now, in the face of this crisis, what we`re watching here from our
perspective as Americans it`s like watching a spy movie that has another
spy movie embedded inside of it. I mean, we`ve heard from a bunch of
people that they`ve had a hard time getting a hold this Democratic status
report that we first reported on last night and now again tonight. We have
posted that report tonight at MaddowBlog.com if you want to look at it.
We`ve got lots more to get to tonight. Stay with us. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Now, the Japanese have bought a piece of The
Rock, New York`s Rockefeller Center, one of the great symbols of American
business, home to, among others, NBC and NBC News. The Rockefeller Group
has sold a major interest in the office complex to Mitsubishi state
company. The price: $846 million.
NBC`s chief financial correspondent is Mike Jensen.
MIKE JENSEN, NBC NEWS REPORTER: It is one of America`s most famous
landmarks. The skating rink, the Christmas tree, the skyscrapers that were
built years ago by the family of that symbol of American capitalism, John
D. Rockefeller. Now, his heirs are selling a huge chunk of Rockefeller
Center to Mitsubishi.
It was big news on Japanese TV, happy news. But not in the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What really bothers me is not that the Japanese bought
it, but that the Americans couldn`t afford to keep it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems that they`re taking over the world.
JENSEN: For the first time, foreign investors now own more U.S. property
than U.S. investors owned overseas. And polls show that most Americans
believe Japanese economic power is a greater threat to the United States
than Soviet military power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Late 1980s, a palpable worry, sometimes approaching a panic that
the United States was being economically eclipsed by Japan. It really did
kind of freak out about it. News weeklies ran covers with sumo wrestlers
and samurais, with these screaming headlines, how Japan does it, containing
Japan, the world`s toughest competitor. American car companies released a
whole bunch of explicitly anti-Japan car ads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Cutlass Ciera is a family car built for our size
families, not theirs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One celebrity who made it known at the time how upset he was about
Japan taking over America was New York real estate and tabloid celebrity
named Donald Trump. In 1987, Mr. Trump had his first public flirtation
with running for president. He kicked off his I might run for president
campaign that year by spending nearly $100,000 on this full-page ad in “The
New York Times” and “The Washington Post” and “The Boston Globe”,
complained that America was getting screwed out of billions of dollars by,
among other places, Japan.
But it was the Japanese buying American real estate, buying New York real
estate that really seemed to bother Donald Trump the most. This was the
Allentown, Pennsylvania paper quoting Trump`s graduation speech to students
at Lehigh University in 1988.
Quote: So many countries are whipping America, making billions and
stripping the U.S. of economic dignity. I respect the Japanese, but we
have to fight back.
The newspaper continues, quote: Trump related an experience with a Japanese
business tycoon who brought several henchmen and an aggressive attitude
into Trump`s New York office. The man, Trump said, slammed his fist on his
desk and demanded, we want real estate.
And whether or not that ever happened, a few months, after a Japanese firm
did by Rockefeller Center in New York City, Trump told “Playboy” magazine,
quote: the Japanese double screw the U.S., a real trick. First, they take
all our money with their consumer goods, then they put it back into buying
all of Manhattan. The Japanese can buy our buildings, our Wall Street
firms and there`s virtually nothing to stop them. In fact, bidding on a
building in New York is an act of futility because the Japanese will pay
more than it`s worth just to screw us. They want to own Manhattan.
Japanese did not end up owning Manhattan. Japan`s economy ended up going
through its own pretty severe crunch. By the mid-`90s, the real estate
binge they had been on in the previous decade had become a big liability.
Japanese firms urgently offloaded their U.S. real estate holdings,
particularly their New York real estate holdings. Rockefeller Center was
forced to file for bankruptcy by its Japanese owners. They eventually took
a $2 billion loss, and walked away.
And that kind of experience will scar you. There`s a reason why there
hasn`t been a resurgence of government-supported Japanese firms showing off
their big New York real estate plays.
But last year, it turns out the Japanese government did find a New York
real estate investment that they really liked, and the reason they liked it
looks like it might be trouble, and that story`s next.
MADDOW: During the presidential campaign, most of America`s allies around
the world we`re freaking out more or less about the potential presidency of
Donald Trump. But one ally in particular was super duper freaking out –
Japan`s leader Shinzo Abe.
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese government, all mainstream Japanese politics, they
were scared and gobsmacked and weirded out by the way Trump constantly
scapegoated Japan during the campaign, blasting the trade deal they had
worked so hard on with the U.S., saying Japan needed to pay more for its
defense, saying that Japan should develop its own nuclear weapons.
And then once Trump was actually elected, an unusual thing happened.
Shinzo Abe of Japan managed to get himself to be one of the very first
world leaders who spoke with Trump after his victory.
There`s supposed to be a protocol to these things, right? An order in
which a president-elect is supposed to speak with foreign heads of state so
that our allies are sort of ranked according to their importance and it`s
predictable and nobody gets offended.
The Trump transition though just winged it and they just took calls from
world leaders from wherever, just whoever called through to the Trump Tower
switchboard. And Shinzo Abe was calling through to the Trump Tower
switchboard and he got himself on the phone with Donald Trump before just
about anybody else, and then in that call, he was able to set up a meeting
with Donald Trump the very next week in Trump Tower.
Look at the timestamp on this article. The election of course, November
8th, wasn`t called until the wee hours of November 9th. Before nightfall
that day, Shinzo Abe had gotten Trump to agree to this meeting with him in
So, Japan`s prime minister reportedly very nervous over the anti-Japan
rhetoric from this new guy in U.S. politics. He became the very first
world leader to meet with our new president-elect. He rushed to New York
to show his eagerness to turn things around with Donald Trump who had just
spent well over a year bashing Japan as part of his campaign shtick.
When that meeting happened in Trump Tower, the first hard evidence that we
had of it these photos actually came from the prime minister`s office. The
Trump transition wasn`t allowing any U.S. press into the meeting, even just
a document that it was happening. But the Japanese photographers were
allowed in so we got to see their pictures, these photos from the Japanese
government and it was from these photos that we learned that the president
invited his children to the meeting. Jared and Ivanka were there too.
And that`s weird because a president-elect doesn`t usually have his adult
daughter and son-in-law sit in on meetings with world leaders. This was
one of the first concrete signs, concrete warnings we had about the
nepotism problems, we were going to have in this administration.
And in this particular case, it wasn`t just that Jared and Ivanka were
around, they were in on this meeting with a foreign leader, right?
President-elect and a foreign leader eager to make nice with this new
administration. But the president-elect daughter and son-in-law are in
business. They each have their own web of business interest, including
interests potentially or really already with Japan.
Jared Kushner`s business interests, of course, are largely in New York real
estate. At the time, he`s still running his family business, Kushner
Companies. Well, now, Bloomberg News reports that not that long after that
meeting, something unusual and previously unreported took place.
Quote: Two months after Jared Kushner joined the White House as a senior
advisor, his family firms sold a stake in a Brooklyn building to a unit of
a company whose largest shareholder is the government of Japan. The
Brooklyn transaction represented a premium of more than 60 percent on a
price per square foot basis over what Kushner Companies and its partners
paid four years earlier. The deal enabled the Kushner Group to take larger
ownership stakes in nearby buildings. The property which is connected to
one of the Kushner owned buildings by a pedestrian walkway remains vacant
The Japanese company primarily operates in Japan, it has only seven U.S.
properties as of September 2016. Its purchase of the Kushner property was
the only purchase made in New York City last year, everybody involved in
this story denies any political component to the deal or involvement by
But we actually sent a producer out to this building in Brooklyn today,
this building co-owned by Jared Kushner`s family and the Japanese
government. The building is definitely still empty even though the
Japanese government-controlled company bought it a year ago in a very
unusual real-estate transaction for them for a 60 percent premium. And
even though this is in one of the hottest neighborhoods for development in
New York City, it remains vacant.
It`s just a nice investment to have, nice thing to dump millions and
millions and millions of dollars into, when your country trying really hard
to build a good relationship with a new American administration and a new
president who brings his son-in-law and his daughter to the first meeting
with your country`s prime minister.
Joining us now is Caleb Melby, financial investigations reporter at
“Bloomberg News” who broke the story.
Mr. Melby, thank you very much for being here.
CALEB MELBY, REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Did I get any of that wrong?
MELBY: It all looked great.
MADDOW: OK. So, there`s a number of things that are unusual here. The
meeting between Shinzo Abe and President Trump – President-elect Trump
attended by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, while they were still not
divested from any of their business interests. How soon after that meeting
did the purchase happen, where the Japanese government in effect invested
in Kushner companies?
MELBY: Right. So, that way the meeting took place November 2016. They
ended up purchasing the building at the end of March 2017. Between there
actually, Abe came to the U.S. again.
He came to Washington with his deputy prime minister to start trade talks
and then he actually got on Air Force One with the Trump family and Jared
to go down Mar-a-Lago for the weekend and as you probably recall, it was –
it was that weekend that North Korea fired a missile and Trump conducted
diplomacy in the middle of the Mar-a-Lago dining room.
MADDOW: The open-air situation room, I believe it`s been pointed out.
MADDOW: The company that made this investment with the Kushner Companies,
they are a firm that is partially owned by the Japanese government. Does
the Japanese government have a controlling interest in that firm? Could
the Japanese government have been the deciding fact – the decision maker
in terms of making this investment?
MELBY: So, on a technical basis, because they own a third of the company,
they have a controlling stake in the sense that they could veto any big
decisions this company makes.
However, we have been told by analysts who track the company that typically
the company is making its own business decisions and isn`t looking to the
government to help them make those decisions, especially none of them like
say a transaction to transaction basis.
MADDOW: But with that 1/3 stake –
MADDOW: – the Japanese government significant stake in the company, we`ve
obviously heard a lot of reporting, a lot of speculation a lot of concern
about whether or not Jared Kushner`s role as a White House adviser might
overlap in some ways or might have some conflicts with his complex family
businesses seeking investment from state-owned firms or from foreign
governments. This seems to me like this might be the first one that we`re
not just worrying about, the first one – this is the first one that we`re
actually seeing. This is the first completed deal with government funds
going to Kushner Companies.
MELBY: That`s correct. So, Kushner Companies had previously approached
Anbang Insurance, which is a Chinese firm that has close ties to that
country`s government. Also, Qatar`s – a member of Qatar`s royal family,
and we know they had made entreaties to do investments with them on a big
indebted property they have here in New York, 666 Fifth Avenue. But this
is the first one that we`ve seen where the money changed hands and in a
stake – a stake was traded.
MADDOW: And we went to the right building. It`s still standing up, right?
MELBY: That`s the one and it`s fascinating because all the ones around it
have started to get really big tenants.
MELBY: You have Etsy, you have We Work, the neighborhoods Dumbo, it has a
lot of art galleries it`s very hip, a lot of tech firms in New York are
We`ve been told that they`re making final changes to that building in
anticipation of tenants moving in. That photo you showed though seems it`s
MELBY: – but it looks like there`s a little bit of work be done yet.
MADDOW: So, the Japanese government paid a big premium to buy a building
in a really hip neighborhood, left it sitting standing empty for a year now
and Jared Kushner`s family got the money. Weird.
Caleb Melby, financial investigations reporter at “Bloomberg News”,
congratulations on this scoop.
MELBY: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: It`s really good to meet you. Thanks for being here.
All right. More to come tonight, including the remarkable scenes from
across the country today of school kids, mostly high school kids, but also
middle school kids even elementary school kids walking out of class today
to protest America`s school shootings.
One of the student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in
Parkland, Florida, is going to join us live. Next stay with us.
MADDOW: Students in Boise, Idaho, today, taking over four floors of the
Idaho state house. This video from a reporter from “BuzzFeed” captures
them shouting “enough is enough, enough is enough”. Outside the capitol
building and Idaho students were just as deafening.
Can you drop that lower third there so you can see more of the kids? Thank
This kind of thing happened for hours today all across the country.
Students by the hundreds, by the thousands, in some cases, by the tens of
thousands, took place in a national walkout to mark one month since the
shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that
took 17 lives.
Mark out – the walkouts today started on the East Coast. At the stroke of
10:00 a.m., students streamed out of their classrooms. And then in each
successive time zone right at 10:00 a.m., students walked out en masse. It
went on like that every hour, on the hour, like a giant weight of washing
from East Coast to West Coast.
In Boston where schools were closed because of snow, kids showed up to
march anyway. In southern California, in East L.A., they put marching band
skills to good use, spelled out #enough.
It wasn`t just college students or high school students or even junior high
school students in Virginia, elementary school kids put together
handwritten press packets for local reporters and then they marched as
elementary school kids. In Cobb County, Georgia, kids held banners with
the phone numbers of state and local representatives along with suggestions
about what to say to encourage those representatives to take action on gun
In Littleton, Colorado, in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida,
towns with a deep and personal experience of gun violence in schools, they
marched today. There are more than 3,100 walkouts today, and there are
more marches to come in this movement. We expect that the next big one is
going to be ten days from now, centered round a massive march in
Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 24th.
After seeing the turnout today at these events across the country, I`m
starting to get the sense that Saturday, March 24th, in D.C., is going to
be a big deal. It has been four weeks it has been one month since 17
people were killed by a single gunman with a single gun in Parkland,
But in that time, the movement led by these passionate and articulate and
organized and unwavering students has just started something big here that
seems to be getting bigger and not smaller.
Joining us now is Sarah Chadwick. She`s a student at Stoneman Douglas High
School. She`s one of the leaders of this movement. She participated in
the walkout today.
Miss Chadwick, I know it has been a long and difficult day and with a lot
of energy expended already. Thanks for staying up to be with us tonight.
SARAH CHADWICK, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Thank you for having
MADDOW: Well, first, let me just ask you how you think today went, what
you were hoping for, what your own experience was like, whether this was
what you were expecting?
CHADWICK: I just wanted to start off by saying thank you to all the high
schools and to all the students who participated in the walk out today,
even though they knew they could have been punished or suspended, they
still went out there and they still walked out for what they believed in,
and it`s just heartwarming and it`s my heart is filled with love and grief
at the same time for all the students who did walk out and for the students
who are not able to.
But it`s overall been an incredible experience today. People are sending
me pictures of their schools walking out in social media, people are
sending me “thank yous”, people are telling me that they got suspended for
walking out but they`re glad they did because they did it for something
that they believed in. And it`s just honestly – it`s really humbling and
MADDOW: The experience of direct action like kids took all over the
country today is not just a performance for other people to watch, it`s
also often personally transformative for the people who are involved. It
often is a catalyzing thing. I think people remember their whole lives or
the thing that changes people`s level of commitment to work on this issue.
Do you think things will I guess do you feel like this movement that you`re
such an important part of will grow larger or change its direction or have
any new momentum because of today, because so many kids did this in so many
CHADWICK: We already expected the march on March 24th to be a big one.
But I think after today, it`s going to be massive. We`re expecting a lot
more people to show up now just by all the support. We`ve saw and all the
support people are giving us yesterday, people are realizing that this
isn`t just a one-time thing, we`re marching for our lives basically and
it`s honestly just amazing and I think the turnout will be amazing at the
MADDOW: How are things at your high school? Obviously, it`s been a month
since what happened in Parkland at Douglass High and it took a while to get
back into classrooms to get back to the school being open again after what
happened. How is it now going back to school?
CHADWICK: Well, the reality is that around 3,300 kids will never be the
same. A lot of us lost friends, a lot of us lost teachers, a lot of us
lost role models, people that we looked up to and it`s heartbreaking and
it`s heartbreaking that something like this had to happen for things to
change, for people to realize.
It`s happened before and it`s going to continue to happen unless we do
something about it. And I think the main thing that all the students all
of us teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas are focusing on is changed and
what we can do to ignite it.
MADDOW: Sarah Chadwick, student at Stoneman Douglas High School in
Parkland, Florida, one of the leaders of this growing movement. It was an
incredible display today what you guys were able to organize on your own
terms. Thanks for helping us understand it tonight. Thank you for being
CHADWICK: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. More to come tonight. Stay with us. We`ll be right
MADDOW: At 5:19 a.m. Eastern Time today, NBC declared in the Pennsylvania
congressional special election in the 18th district outside Pittsburgh last
night, 5:19 a.m., NBC News declared that the Democrat in that race, Conor
Llamb was the apparent winner.
Now, whenever the elections desk makes a call, makes a declaration like
that, every word matters. So, they`re calling him the winner, but they`re
calling him the apparent winner. That was followed about 12 hours later
tonight by the “New York Times,” also deciding that in its “New York Times”
estimation, looking at the closeness of that race and the number of
outstanding absentee and provisional military ballot, in “The New York
Times” estimation, they, too, are saying as of tonight that Conor Lamb`s
lead appears to be insurmountable given everything that`s left to be
So, newspapers and news organizations don`t get to officially declare
winners in American elections. There`s still been no concession from the
Republican in the race. There`s the possibility there will be the pursuit
of sort of recount, but for now, it is looking like Democrat Conor Lamb
declaring victory last night around 1:00 a.m. wasn`t just some sort of
psychological tactic. It at least appears right now that he has won that
Now, Democrats, of course, are over the moon about that. Not just because
they wanted Conor Lamb to win that seat, but his victory would represent a
20-point swing in Democrats` direction from how Hillary Clinton fared in
that district versus Donald Trump. Trump won that district by 20 points.
At the liberal Website “Daily Kos” today, there was a little bit of chest
pounding over how big a swing this victory was in Democrats` direction. If
Democrats everywhere this November do as well as Conor Lamb did last night
in Pennsylvania, folks at “Daily Kos` elections are now howling at the moon
about how many congressional districts would flip from red to blue if
Democrats everywhere did as well as Conor Lamb did last night. If every
congressional election in November had a swing toward the Democrats as big
as what Conor Lamb did last night in Pennsylvania, well, there are 119
Republican held congressional seats that would instead go to a Democrat in
A hundred and nineteen flips? Yes, probably not.
But Democrats only need to pick up 23 seats if they`re going to win the
House. If they picked up 119 seats, they could do North Korean style
coordinated placard waiving and call it Arirang on swearing in day.
Now, in Pennsylvania, the Republican in the race isn`t conceding. This
evening, Saccone`s campaign sent a fundraising letter telling Rick`s
supporters, quote, this fight is not over.
For now, it is Democrat Conor Lamb who is the apparent winner in
Pennsylvania. But now, here`s the heads up. Here`s the next local
election that`s going to get a ton of national attention. Next month in
Wisconsin, they`re electing a new state Supreme Court justice. They have
This is technically a nonpartisan election, but the national political
interest is clear. Former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder started a
two-day visit to Wisconsin tomorrow. He says it`s for events where he
plans to engage with activists and voters, at least in part about the
stakes of the upcoming state Supreme Court race in Wisconsin.
That Wisconsin state supreme court race is April 3rd, national attention.
If it`s anything like what happened last night all night long in
Pennsylvania, we`re going to all need a nap corner at work the next day.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: There are best new things in the world and then there`s really
best new things in the world. This is my favorite kind of best new thing.
An honest-to-goodness brand new, just a few hours old new thing.
Look. Look at this little guy. His name is Laith. Laith means lion in
Arabic. Laith was just born today, healthy as a lion, handsome as his
beautiful parents. Congratulations to mom, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW producer
Rohan (ph) and to dad Waleed (ph). We are so excited for you guys.
And look at this perfect little lion cub. Best new thing in this big good
That does for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence. This is going to be fun to watch.
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