Bolton super pac funded by Robert Mercer. TRANSCRIPT: 04/04/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: April 4, 2018
Guest: Joon Kim, Dan Kildee
REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER, CO-CHAIR, POOR PEOPLE`S CAMPAIGN: And what I want
to say is, we need right now in this home, and this is what we`re going to
try to do, a season of non-violent, moral fusion, direct action, not one
day, a season of it. We need a season of massive voter mobilization among
the most impacted and poor people in this country, and a season of power-
building among poor people to first change the narrative.
Chris, one of the most disturbing things is that we`ve had 26 presidential
election debates and not one hour on poverty, one hour on voting rights.
We cannot survive as a democracy with that kind of narrative.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: And yet the kind of fusion politics that
King was trying to build, that Dr. Barber was talking, have been very hard
to make real.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, but – you know, I`m a
journalist. You ask the question, if Dr. King had lived and pursued that,
would the black people and the white people who are in the same economic
situation today be any closer than they apparently are. And I think that`s
a question that us journalists, we journalists, should be trying to pursue,
because they do have, as Dr. Barber was saying, so many of the same
HAYES: This has remained the sort of great question in American political
life, whether that coalition can be built in a nationwide basis.
HAYES: Dr. Reverend William Barber, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Van
(INAUDIBLE), thank you all.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have
you with us.
CNBC had two big scoops today. The first one is that there would be first
U.S. news outlet to translate the list of American-made products that is
about to get smacked by China. This is something I said at this time on
last night`s show we were anticipating today. It has now happened.
This is in response to our own president`s apparent efforts to start as
much of a trade war as he can with China. President Trump said online
today that the U.S. has nothing to lose by picking this kind of fight with
China where we try to make it harder for them to export stuff to us and
they try to make it harder for us to export stuff to them. The president
thinks we cannot lose in a fight like this.
But now, thanks to CNBC translating this list we have a pretty good sense
of who in the U.S. does have a lot to lose from this kind of a fight even
if the president himself doesn`t see it. Anybody in the U.S. who`s
involved in the production of this very long but very specific list of
American-made things might beg to differ with the president`s assertion
here that there`s nothing to lose.
Now, the Chinese government announced today they`re going to go after
effectively people in the United States who were involved in the production
and export of this whole big long list of things.
Uncombed cotton, corn, soybeans that are either black or yellow, fresh and
cold beef with bones, fresh and cold boneless beef, frozen beef with bones,
frozen boneless beef, dried cranberries, frozen orange juice, non-frozen
orange juice, tobacco cigars, tobacco cigarettes, hookah tobacco, whoo.
Other tobacco for smoking, also whiskeys. And interestingly, there`s no
modifier on whiskies. It`s just whiskey`s.
So, if you know of anybody who`s involved in the production of any American
whiskey, if their business plan depends on them exporting any amount of
that to the Chinese market, today was a very bad news day for your friend
in that business.
I mean, this list the Chinese government put out today was also bad news
for anybody involved in the production and export of American cars. Cars,
SUVs, off-road vehicles, diesel powered vehicles, gasoline-powered
vehicles, hybrids, trucks. So, it`s a big, big, big long list. And it`s
very specific, liquefied propane, self-adhesive plastic plate sheets films
and other materials, non-ionic organics surfactants, aircraft that weigh
between 15,000 and 45,000 kilograms when they`re empty, which I think is
designed to stick a fork in the eye of Boeing, although I`m not totally
But all of these American products are being singled out by China as of
today for punishment, for economic punishment, in response for what
President Trump is trying to do to China. And so, CNBC today was first to
translate that list. There`s 106 very specific American-made items on that
list, but that was their first scoop today.
CNBC`s second scoop today was about the national security adviser, not the
outgoing one, H.R. McMaster, although he made news himself in the last 24
hours. H.R. McMaster, the now fired national security advisor is winding
down his last few days in office. In what we expect to be his final public
remarks as national security advisor, Mr. McMaster contradicted the
president directly and criticized the weakness of the American government`s
current stance toward Russia.
This farewell speech from General McMaster was fairly blistering. We`ve
got a little bit more on that coming up later on in the show. We`ve got
the tape of that speech.
But CNBC`s scoop about the national security adviser today wasn`t about
H.R. McMaster. It was about the incoming appointee who was set to replace
him in the national security adviser job, controversial former U.N.
ambassador and high profile Fox News contributor, John Bolton. He`s set to
start the national security adviser job on Monday.
Now, CNBC reported exclusively today that ahead of his expected first day
on the job John Bolton has been meeting extensively with White House
attorneys about potential conflicts of interest for his new national
security advisor job. Now, we don`t know exactly what the substance of
those discussions has been, but CNBC suggests that the discussions may have
had something to do with Bolton`s political operations with his PAC and his
Now, we`ve been reporting on this as a potential problem for Bolton as
national security adviser since he was first announced as President Trump`s
pick for that job. It was clear from the beginning that Bolton`s political
action committees were going to be an issue in – for this kind of an
appointment. But the problem appears to be getting more acute as we get
closer to what is supposed to be his start date on Monday.
A couple of days ago, we got word that Bolton would be shutting down his
PAC and his super PAC. CNBC`s reporting today suggests the process of that
wind-down may itself be a problem. These committees that Bolton controls
have already been active in this year`s midterm elections. They have
already taken in a whole bunch of money for this year`s midterm elections.
They are sitting on millions of dollars and so the wind down may be
complicated, according to CNBC`s reporting.
But in addition to the way that they`re being wound down, the way that they
came into existence in the first place, the origin story of these Bolton
organizations may ultimately be an even bigger problem.
Here`s what I mean – two weeks ago, a whistleblower with pink hair and a
very avant-garde fashion sense, he came forward to explain the core
operations of the data firm that was hired and used by the Trump campaign
in 2016. This is this company Cambridge Analytica which was funded by
Trump mega donor Robert Mercer and it was run in part by Trump`s campaign
chief Steve Bannon.
This young whistleblower who came forward two weeks ago as the former
research director for Cambridge Analytica. He came forward in Britain
eventually to parliament but first to British news organizations to lay out
for the public how exactly Cambridge Analytica does its work. He has now
provided documentation and extensive testimony about how Cambridge
Analytica does its work, how it has worked in elections in Africa and in
the Caribbean and in the U.K. Brexit vote where they voted to leave the
Cambridge Analytica supported the leave vote in the Brexit campaign, but
also in American elections in support of Republican candidates particularly
in 2014. You might remember once this whole scandal really started a
couple of weeks ago, the company suspended its CEO Alexander Nix after
footage like this was broadcast on Britain`s Channel 4.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER NIX, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA CEO: I mean, it sounds dreadful thing
to say but these are things that don`t necessarily need to be true as long
as they`re believed.
MARK TURNBULL, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA MANAGING DIRECTOR: The brand was
“Defeat Crooked Hillary”. You`ll remember this of course? “Crooked
Hillary”, I mean, and the zeros, the OO of crooked were a pair of handcuffs
and it was all about –
REPORTER: Like prisoner?
TURNBULL: She belongs behind bars.
NIX: Send some girls around to the candidate`s house. We have lots of
history of things, just saying we could bring some Ukrainians in on holiday
with us, you know what I`m saying. They are beautiful, I find that works
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, they are very beautiful. I find that works very well. So,
among the services apparently being offered by the Trump campaign`s data
firm is that they will offer to deposit some lovely Ukrainian girls at the
home of your opponent. I mean, in normal circumstances, that might be
construed as a nice thing to do for a friend, but Cambridge Analytica is
not offering to do that in a nice way.
That undercover footage where they`re making those kinds of offers in terms
of what their service menu is like that showed executives from Cambridge
Analytica, from the Trump campaign`s data firm, you know pitching these
kinds of services and this undercover footage. This was aired two weeks
ago by Britain`s Channel 4. Since then Cambridge Analytica has suspended
That footage and related reporting also led to a raid on the offices of
Cambridge Analytica in London by British authorities. But what has he
merged as the bigger scandal involving the firm is that this whistleblower
who came forward has provided documents and testimony showing that the core
business of Cambridge Analytica, their bread-and-butter work as an
organization was based on data that was effectively ripped off from
This whistleblower Christopher Wylie testified that 50 million people in
the United States had all of their personal data and all of their online
behavior on Facebook taken without permission by this company. And then
that`s the data that was used to build their business.
Today, Facebook published a new blog post that acknowledged quietly in the
eleventh paragraph of a 12-paragraph blog post that in fact, it wasn`t 50
million Americans who had their personal data and all their online behavior
on Facebook stolen by Cambridge Analytica. It wasn`t 50 million. It was
actually more like 87 million.
Starting on Monday, Facebook says those 87 million people are going to
start receiving notifications that Cambridge Analytica improperly took
their personal information and the records of their online behavior. I
think that`s going to make this scandal less of an abstract story about
privacy and it`s going to make it more of a personal affront to tens of
millions of Americans who are about to start getting personal notifications
within the next few days that, yes, your data was taken by them, your
online behavior was monitored forever and all of it was stolen and used for
profit by that company, run at the time by Steve Bannon.
Now alongside the scandal, there appears to be some serious potential legal
jeopardy for Cambridge Analytica, particularly in Britain were there very
strong privacy laws, but also for Facebook. Seven years ago, back in 2011,
the Federal Trade Commission told Facebook that they had deceived American
consumers when Facebook said, hey, if you want to you can keep your
information on Facebook private, when in fact nobody was keeping their
information on Facebook private. Facebook was not protecting that
information at all.
Facebook already got in trouble for that. They came to a settlement with
the FTC about that in 2011, making all sorts of new promises about the fact
that they would stop giving away people`s data, they would – the records
of people`s online behavior wouldn`t be given away or wouldn`t be left for
the taking unless they got people`s individual permission to make it
But clearly, this kept on happening. And so, there`s potential legal
liability for Facebook here in the United States as well, which could be a
significant financial matter. We can all look forward to congressional
testimony in the next couple of weeks by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and
lots of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will pound into
their chest about this issue and inveigh about how noxious it is for
Facebook to have done this to Americans and violated everybody`s privacy in
I will say even though we know that`s going to continue to unfold for at
least the next few weeks, if this still evolving scandal is going to be
helpful, if it`s going to be more than just huffing and puffing, if it`s
going to help us understand and fix these problems, there are some really
provocative unanswered questions about how this heist happened, and why,
including some questions that affect the incoming national security
The professor whose software program was used by Cambridge Analytica to
grab all this data, he has a joint appointment at Cambridge University in
the U.K., which is how Cambridge Analytica got its name. He`s also though
attached to a university in St. Petersburg in Russia where he lectures in
Russia and where he has received Russian government grants for his work.
Does that at all mean that this Cambridge Analytica data theft scandal is
connected to the Russian influence in our election in 2016? The
whistleblower from Cambridge Analytica has also raised questions about why
company executives repeatedly met with top-level officials from a Kremlin-
connected Russian oil company explaining their methods and their data
sources and their intentions and methods for influencing American voters.
Why would a Russian oil company be interested in that in advance of the
In terms of the use of the data, it`s clear that Cambridge analytical was
at least advertising itself as having and utilizing this type of data in
the midterm 2014 elections when the company was operating on behalf of
multiple Republican candidates, including North Carolina Senator Thom
Tillis. The implication from this whistleblowers testimony is that this
would be the same dataset that the Trump campaign benefited from in 2016
when they hired Cambridge Analytica to do their data operations for the
presidential race that year.
Those allegations about this data stolen from Facebook being used by the
Trump campaign in the 2016 election, those are allegations that Cambridge
Analytica is vehemently denying today. But we`ve got more information to
go on more than just what they say. Thanks to these documents that this
whistleblower`s handed over, we`ve got some concrete evidence about the
operations of Cambridge Analytica. We`ve got some concrete information,
for example, about who was definitely using this stolen data happily, at
least according to these leaked and now – stolen and now leaked Cambridge
Analytica internal documents.
We may not know whether or not the Trump campaign ended up using the stolen
Facebook data in 2016. There are implications that they did, but the
company denies it. But we do know about people who happily used it before
then. Quote: hi, Jeff, hope this finds you well. I`m just wondering what
the status is on the Bolton data, i.e. data for North Carolina, Arkansas
and New Hampshire. How much of it have you received and to what extent is
it loaded into the platform?
There`s another email to a whole bunch of redacted names and Cambridge
Analytic CEO Alexander Nix. Importance: high, subject: Bolton data.
Quote, I`ve been in communication with Ambassador Bolton`s chief of staff
and she confirmed a meeting to present some information to the ambassador
tomorrow 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
A chief of staff also confirmed a meeting on Tuesday August 26th at 9:00
a.m. Eastern Time, with all the major media partners the Bolton PAC is
using. This will determine the first round of strategic communications`
content targets timing et cetera that will be pushed out on the 1st of
September. They expect to see what we have for the three target states,
North Carolina, Arkansas, New Hampshire.
Please advise exactly what`s currently available for those states. My
understanding is that the following has been done and is slash should be
available. P and T scores for Arkansas and North Carolina.
I don`t know what P and T scores are. Quote: personality cluster
information for the target voter segments for all three states modeled for
all voters of interest, not just the Kogan samples/cedars.
Kogan there is a reference to that professor with the joint appointment at
the Russian university and at Cambridge, the one who designed the program
that stole all of these tens of millions of American records off of
Facebook. So, among the internal Cambridge Analytica documents that were
taken by this whistleblower and handed over to the British parliament,
among those documents is a whole big section of communications, internal
communications at Cambridge Analytica about the Bolton project and the
Bolton data and meetings with the Bolton people. That`s all about John
Bolton, who`s super PAC was mega funded to the tune of multi-million dollar
donations from Trump donor Robert Mercer.
And then what John Bolton`s PAC did with Robert Mercer`s donations is that
he turned around and in large part he spent those dollars with Robert
Mercer`s company, with Cambridge Analytica, which was at the time testing
out its new techniques, about how they were going to use all these tens of
millions of stolen data files from American Facebook users and turn them
around and use them in an American election, on behalf of Republican
And you can see in these documents from the whistleblower, Cambridge
Analytica, you know, hustling to get John Bolton exactly what he needs. At
one point, they say they`re worried that he, quote, seemed a little bit
pissed off, which does fit with John Bolton`s reputation as a national
security adviser is pretty well-documented history of screaming its lungs
out at people and chasing them down hallways.
So, John Bolton is now, according to CNBC today, reportedly in
conversations with White House lawyers about potential conflicts of
interests about whether his PAC and his super PAC might be a problem with
him taking up the national security adviser job race he is expected to
start on Monday.
Well, one of the things to know about his super PAC is that it got in on
the ground floor with Cambridge Analytica in the U.S. midterm elections in
2014, paying hand-over-fist hundreds of thousands of dollars for the
company`s services to help Republican candidates in Arkansas, in North
Carolina and New Hampshire, paying for what they could do with this data
that we now know was stolen from Facebook and for which both Facebook and
Cambridge Analytica are starting to get into a lot of trouble, including
potentially legal trouble.
And one of the things we know about the current legal woes for Cambridge
Analytica on this matter is that the special counsel`s office, the
prosecutors overseen by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, they are
reportedly looking at Cambridge Analytica, and its work for the Trump
campaign in 2016, as part of their investigation into Russia`s interference
in our election and whether or not the Trump campaign helped with that.
John Bolton`s PAC and super PAC are a central part of the story. They are
the center of the story of Cambridge Analytica operating in the United
John Bolton, as we previously reported, he has also turned up in the middle
of another report area of focus for Mueller`s investigators. That question
about whether the NRA might have been used as a vehicle to funnel Russian
money into the U.S. election on Trump`s behalf.
NPR was first to report on this video that John Bolton made for a Russian
gun rights group that`s at the center of that investigation. Now, today,
Tim Dickinson from “Rolling Stone” magazine has published these additional
pictures of Bolton stumping for this Russian gun rights group that`s
reportedly under investigation for potentially funneling Russian money into
pro-Trump efforts. You`ll notice – I think we can show this here.
Yes, see at the bottom of the screen there the poll in the space is at the
screen in the back, but then all the place cards at the table marking
everybody seats that`s all in the Cyrillic alphabet because this is a
Russian event John Bolton is appearing on the screen. This is that Russian
gun rights group.
You know, it was a big freaking deal when Mike Flynn came to the White
House as Trump`s first national security adviser and it turned out he was
in the middle of an active counterintelligence investigation by the FBI,
right? That`s a very awkward thing. That`s a – turned out to be an
unsustainable thing for somebody in as sensitive a job as national security
John Bolton with the Bolton project at Cambridge analytic ah and the Bolton
data at Cambridge Analytica and his involvement in the link between the NRA
and Russian politicians, John Bolton is right in the middle of this stuff
too and maybe that`s what he`s talking with the White House lawyers about
ahead of his start date on Monday.
But this is starting to get weird. I mean, H.R. McMaster is apparently on
his way out. As we will report later on this hour, he is going out with a
bang. John Bolton does appear to be on his way in but I think that that is
becoming a more complicated prospect than might be broadly appreciated.
All right. We got lots more to get to tonight including. I`m very happy to
tell you, we`ve got an exclusive interview tonight with someone who has
made no public comments since leaving government service months ago. He`s
going to give his first exclusive TV interview to us tonight. It`s a
That`s next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In March of last year, President Trump abruptly fired all the U.S.
attorneys in the country, including the head of a very powerful
prosecutor`s office in the southern district of New York, Preet Bharara,
the U.S. attorney in that Manhattan jurisdiction had been told by the
president before then that he`d be keeping him on on that job. But
unexpectedly, he fired Preet Bharara as well, and this all happened as I
say abruptly with no notice.
Well, in the southern district of New York, a man named Joon Kim had been
Preet Bharara`s deputy and when Preet Bharara got unexpectedly fired, Joon
Kim took over that office on an acting basis. He ran that office in that
capacity for 10 months until the first week in January when President
Trump`s new nominee to be the new U.S. attorney in Manhattan came on in.
Joon Kim has not done any TV interviews since leaving the southern district
of New York but he joins us here tonight for the interview.
Joon Kim, former acting U.S. attorney – thank you very much for being
JOON KIM, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY FOR SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Thanks,
Rachel. Happy to be here.
First of all, let me say that I am appreciative of the fact that you
haven`t done other TV interviews since you left and I know you`re not going
to discuss ongoing cases. I`m not going to ask you to do that.
I do want to ask you to help us understand a little bit about what happened
last March. And if you don`t mind, I also ask – like to ask your help in
understanding a little bit about some of the legal stuff going on with the
MADDOWW: It`s like comfortable territory?
KIM: So far.
MADDOW: All right. Do you know why Preet Bharara was fired along with all
the other us attorneys despite that assurance that he got that he could
keep the job?
KIM: I don`t know.
MADDOW: At the time, it was a surprise to everybody in the office.
KIM: Yes, it was – it was sudden and it was a surprise.
MADDOW: It seemed from the outside looking in last March that although
previous president, some of them had decided to get rid of all us
attorneys, it seems like it had never happened quite like that so abruptly.
A, no notice, B, you`re all fired, and C, get out now.
It felt like it was at least – I don`t know if it was an impulsive
decision but it felt like it was one that was executed without much time
for a clean hand over. Does it feel like that`s inside the office too?
KIM: You know, so, I`m not – you know, I`m not a historian of how you
know U.S. attorneys have changed over the years and certainly, it`s – and
Preet has said, this it`s the president`s right to put in the U.S. attorney
of his choice and that was our expectation when after the election. But as
you pointed out, Preet was asked to stay by the president.
So when he was asked to leave again on that day in March, that did come as
a bit of a surprise and it was somewhat sudden.
MADDOW: And was he told to leave so quickly that there was a compromise in
terms of handing over ongoing investigations oversight management
responsibilities. One of the things that I think regular Americans looking
at that process worried about was that some stuff might get either handed
over awkwardly or that there might be glitches in terms of things
continuing in U.S. attorneys` offices around the country, particularly big
ones like southern district that handles so many big and high-profile
KIM: I mean, I believe it`s been reported that the decision was made and
then, the U.S. attorneys were asked to leave pretty soon after that
decision. And you reference our office and the need to make sure that the
ongoing cases are handled properly. We were lucky enough that we have an
office full of incredibly, dedicated, capable career prosecutors who are
really driving the cases and the investigations.
And we had a leadership team that had been working closely with the
(INAUDIBLE) and with Preet throughout that process. So, we were able to
ensure that, you know, the good work of the prosecutors in the southern
district of New York continued in the manner that it had and I think it
MADDOW: The nature of those firings across the country and the unusual
nature of Mr. Bharara being fired after he got that assurance from the
president, led to a lot of – if not conspiracy theories, at least a lot of
speculation that there might have been something going on in some
prosecutor`s office somewhere, maybe specifically in the southern district
that the White House was looking to either pressure or interfere with.
Has your – in your time in southern district, have you ever felt pressured
by the White House, by any administration in terms of any ongoing cases of
KIM: I don`t know the reason why Preet was asked to leave and the other
U.S. attorney`s up were asked to leave. I can say in the southern district
of New York, as I said earlier, we were lucky enough the cases continued,
the career prosecutors continued to do the cases and during the time I was
there, I personally did not experience any inappropriate or political
MADDOW: Can I ask you for a little help in understanding some of what`s
going on in the Mueller investigation?
KIM: Sure. I mean, I have no – I have no personal insights –
KIM: – to the specifics of anything there but, you know, in terms of
giving you a perspective of, you know, what certain terms mean or how
investigations generally are conducted, happy to do that.
MADDOW: Well, let me ask you did anybody go from – did anybody go from
the southern district of New York on to the Mueller team? Did – I know in
some cases prosecutors were brought from other offices around the country
to go join the special counselor`s office.
KIM: There was one.
And in terms of the makeup of that team and the way that we`ve been able to
view as members of the public, they`ve been operating, do you feel like
they`re proceeding along a path and in by means that you recognize as good
practice, as a prosecutor?
KIM: Yes. I mean, the one prosecutor that did go from our office was a –
is a terrific prosecutor –
MADDOW: Who`s that?
KIM: A lawyer, Andrew Goldstein. A lawyer and a person of great
integrity, as someone who is – that will follow the facts and the evidence
and follow the law wherever that leads, and that will be – that has been
his only concern and I expect that`s the way he will conduct himself.
So, I don`t know everyone on that team the people I do know are people of
that mold, who are – who are in the business of prosecuting for the right
reasons. They are public servants who could be out in the private sector
making a ton more money, but who believe in the mission of justice. So,
no, again, I`m an outsider. I don`t know everyone there, and when I see –
I have confidence in the people that I know that are part of that team.
MADDOW: There are – if you – if you wouldn`t mind staying with us, there
are two matters that have arisen recently in reporting about Mueller
investigation. One about telling the president that he is a subject but
not a target of the investigation reportedly. Also some news today about
Mueller`s prosecutors and FBI agents stopping subjects in airports and
searching their electronic devices, I`d like to ask you about both of those
things if you can stick with us.
KIM: I`ll stick around.
MADDOW: All right. Joon Kim is former acting Manhattan U.S. attorney.
He`ll be right back with us after this.
MADDOW: Joining us once again for his first TV interview since leaving
government services, Joon Kim. He was acting U.S. attorney in the southern
district of New York. He took over when Preet Bharara was unexpectedly
fired by President Trump last year.
Mr. Kim, thank you again for sticking with us.
MADDOW: We learned from “The Washington Post” recently that the
president`s lawyers have been advised by Mueller`s prosecutors that the
president is a – at least as of last month was a subject but not a target
of the investigation. Now, everybody`s doing amateur law school trying to
figure out what that means.
My question is, did they have to tell the president`s lawyers that? Why
would you tell somebody that they`re a subject?
KIM: And again, I don`t have any personal insight into, you know, the
status of any individuals in the special counsel`s investigation. But to
answer your question, it – if someone asks, you know, is my client in a
federal investigation a target, subject or witness, you do need to tell
MADDOW: Oh, OK.
KIM: They should know and have a right to know.
In terms of what those terms mean, there they are a bit of a term of art
that is used in federal criminal investigations. It`s not a mystery or
secret among people who practice in the area. It`s actually pretty clearly
set forth and defined in a U.S. attorney manual that is available to the
KIM: And it`s one of the things that a junior prosecutor will learn very
early on because someone will ask them – well, you want to talk to my
client, what is he? And so, you know, people – prosecutors – experienced
prosecutors are very familiar with the concept, but it`s pretty simple.
I mean, you know, someone who a prosecutor wants to talk to will fit in a -
- in a wide range of categories. On one extreme will be a pure witness, a
witness and that`s someone who has relevant information about the
investigation, but to the best of the prosecutor and investigator`s
knowledge, they have no criminal exposure.
KIM: So, an example would be someone`s walking down the street, they see
someone gets shot. Obviously, they`re relevant – they have relevant
information about the investigation, the prosecutors going to want to talk
to him or her. But to the best of the prosecutor`s knowledge, he or she
has no relation with the shooter or the victim. She just happened to be
there. That`s a pure witness.
On the other extreme is a target, and the U.S. attorney manual defines a
target as someone who where there`s substantial evidence linking that
person to the commission of an offense. Another way the U.S. attorney
manual describes the target category is a, quote, putative defendant, close
quote, and you know that means basically your defendant that means you
basically about to be charged.
So, and everyone else in the middle is a subject.
KIM: And so, you can be a subject who is closer to a witness, you can be a
subject that`s closer to a target and it`s a fluid thing obviously because
the gathering of evidence is a fluid thing. You`re learning more and more.
Some evidence will lead you to believe that`s almost more of it on the
target side of that spectrum, then you might learn something more that
And so –
MADDOW: Once a person – if a person moves from subject to target, you
would then have to advise the person`s attorneys that changes happen?
KIM: Not necessarily. I mean, you know, it sort of depends on when they
inquire. And if you`re not communicating at all at any point with it –
with a subject and they`re not asking, you don`t have to call up and say,
by the way, they just crossed that line.
MADDOW: Very sober and the way you describe these very exciting things.
Joon Kim, former acting U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York
– thank you very much for coming in tonight. It`s a pleasure to meet you.
KIM: Happy to be here. Nice to meet you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: It was like an Airbnb situation. When I
was not there, the landlord – they had access to the entirety of the
facility. When I was there, I only had access to a room. There were
common areas. They used the facility at the same time that I was there.
REPORTER: So, you only pay for the nights you rent you were there?
PRUITT: That`s exactly right.
REPORTER: So, if I pay rent in Washington over $2,000 a month for a one-
bedroom apartment, that`s the average, according to various Websites and
just common sense around –
PRUITT: You know, there were comps, Ed, there were comps done, but –
REPORTER: But I got to pay for a whole lot.
PRUITT: Ethics officials here, there were comps done. You could go on
Craigslist today and it`s been done the last week –
REPORTER: But a cabinet secretary`s going to go on Craigslist –
PRUITT: – shows rentals for one-bedroom of less than a thousand dollars,
on Capitol Hill near.
REPORTER: I never heard of an apartment like that. I`ve lived in
Washington over 25 years.
PRUITT: Well –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. Well.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency and a Fox News reporter Ed
Henry getting into an on-air scuffle tonight about what the rent is really
like in Washington, D.C. This is just the kind of week it has been for
Scott Pruitt, a drumbeat of reports starting Thursday when ABC News
reported that as head of the EPA, he`d been living in a energy lobbyists
condo near the U.S. capitol for 50 bucks a night, and he was only paying
for the nights he was actually sleeping there.
Then over the weekend, “The Washington Post” and ABC News reported on a
strange incident that took place at that lobbyist`s condo in which Scott
Pruitt`s security detail – he has a security detail – thinking that Scott
Pruitt was at home unconscious and in need of rescue, they broke down the
front door of the lobbyists town house to rescue him. Turned out Scott
Pruitt was reportedly inside that apartment, but he was just there taken a
And then he decided he would charge the EPA to fix the door that his
security team broke down through his nap.
Then on Monday, there was the report in “The Post” that Pruitt`s staffers
made plans to spend $100,000 a month, taxpayer money, to lease a private
jet just for Scott Pruitt`s travel use. That is not a normal thing that
anybody gets when they run the EPA, but apparently his staff looked into it
for him. That was on Monday.
But on Monday night, “The New York Times” published a new report about an
energy company called Enbridge. In July 2016, EPA under President Obama
had fined Enbridge more than $60 million for a pipeline spill that poured
hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in
Michigan. It`s the second largest fine in the history of the Clean Water
Act, second only to the Deepwater Horizon spill.
But less than a year later, March 2017, two months after Scott Pruitt took
over at the EPA, his agency signed off on a major pipeline expansion by
Enbridge, an expansion allowing hundreds of thousands more barrels of oil
to flow into the U.S. from Canadian tar sands. “The New York Times” points
out that when Enbridge got its big pipeline expansion approved by the EPA,
its Washington lobbyist was – say with me now – the guy whose condo Scott
Pruitt was living in for 50 bucks a night.
But the hits just keep coming. “The Atlantic Magazine” now reports that
Pruitt gave huge raises to two staffers he brought with him from Oklahoma
using an obscure provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act to get them the
money out of the EPA budget even though the White House – this White House
– wouldn`t approve it.
Now, “The Washington Post” adds that one of those staffers who got a nearly
$30,000 pay bump from Scott Pruitt part of her duties were – was a helping
Scott Pruitt shop for housing in D.C.
And now, we`ve just learned about another way in which Pruitt used power
granted to him through these Safe Drinking Water Act to get around the
rules. That`s next, including its particular resonance for people for whom
the Safe Drinking Water Act is life and death.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: If you`re committed to the Trumpet agenda, why did you go around
the president in the White House to give pay raises to two staffers?
PRUITT: I did not. My staff did and I found out about that yesterday and
I changed it.
REPORTER: Was somebody being fired for that?
PRUITT: That it should not have been done.
REPORTER: Who did it?
PRUITT: Maybe – there would be some accountability.
REPORTER: A career person or political person?
PRUITT: I don`t know. I don`t know.
REPORTER: You don`t know. You run the agency, you don`t know who did it?
PRUITT: I found out about this yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You run the agency. You don`t know who did this? I`m sure it was
terrible people. I don`t know, I just.
There`s been this onslaught of reporting for the past week about the head
of the EPA Scott Pruitt, including reporting that he used a provision in
these Safe Drinking Water Act to give really big raises like $30,000,
$40,000, $50,000 raises to two staffers who he brought to D.C. with him
Now, “The Washington Post” reports that that law was originally designed to
allow the EPA to quickly hire senior management and scientific personnel
during times of critical need. Pruitt instead appears to have used his
hiring power differently not only relying on that provision to give people
raises also relying on it to bring former lobbyists and schedulers and
spokesmen into the organization.
So, Scott Pruitt has been using this law which is meant to help the EPA
hire scientists in times of crisis related to drinking water and instead,
he`s using it to give raises to his Oklahoma peeps and also to staff up his
own obvious with lobbyists and schedulers and flex, which is fine because -
- I mean, it`s not like there`s any critical needs related to safe drinking
water anywhere in the country now, right?
Joining us now is Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan. His district
includes the great city of Flint, Michigan, which of course has been
struggling with a water crisis for quite some time now.
Congressman Kildee, it`s nice to see you. Thank you for being with us.
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you very much, Rachel.
MADDOW: I wanted to talk to you because you put out a fairly outraged
statement criticizing the EPA`s use of the drinking water protection laws
in order to do this at the EPA. Let me ask, what`s your main criticism of
Scott Pruitt here? How do you feel about this scandal?
KILDEE: Well, this is just outrageous. I know something – as you know,
something about what the Safe Drinking Water Act is supposed to be used for
to hire scientists and health professionals to go into places like my
hometown of Flint to bring resources and expertise to help deal with
problems with drinking water, not to add basically bonuses to the payroll
of top people that he brings in that are essentially his political friends
and allies. This is really frustrating.
You know, I have a lot of difficulties with what Mr. Pruitt has done. You
know, his ethical lapses notwithstanding, the fact that his priorities for
the EPA are to roll back protections for people like the people in my
hometown of Flint to actually increase the likelihood that there will be
more drinking water problems in this country and in the meantime take money
that could be used for those purposes and give and $25,000, $30,000, pay
raises over the policy objections of the White House – I mean, if you can
breach the ethical standards of the Trump White House, you have set a new
record for breaching ethical standards. And he ought to go.
MADDOW: Is there anything that Congress can do? It`s been remarkable to
see this rising tide, forgive me, of bad press and ethical revelations
about Scott Pruitt while the White House at least thus far seems to be
standing by him. We`ve seen other cabinet officials pushed out for less.
Scott Pruitt is still there.
Do you think that there`s any appetite in Congress for taking this on or
trying to at least make him answer questions about this stuff?
KILDEE: I think that`s a really legitimate question and I think the way I
look at it is, this is – this gives us a really tangible evidence of the
extent to which this White House and for that matter almost all the
Republicans in Congress are willing to overlook unethical behavior in order
to accommodate the anti-environmental, pro-polluter policies of Scott
The reason they overlook his ethical lapses is because they like what he`s
doing. He`s putting profits ahead of that public health and it`s that same
philosophy that led to the Flint water crisis and water problems all over
I`ve got a community in the northern part of my district, Oscoda, Michigan,
that has contaminated water, they can`t drink their water. One of the
residents just yesterday asked me, where is the EPA? And the answer is,
this is where the EPA sits right now. It`s pathetic.
MADDOW: Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan, really appreciate your time
tonight, sir. Thank you. Appreciate you being here.
KILDEE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When you leave a job, especially one with a public profile, it`s
normal to give a farewell signoff, say goodbye to your colleagues, tell
everybody it was a pleasure to work together, lah, lah, lah.
There`s also another way to go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONA SECURITY ADVISOR: Russia has used old and new forms
of aggression to undermine our open societies and the foundations of
international peace and stability.
We must recognize the need for all of us to do more, to respond to and
deter Russian aggression. For too long, some nations have looked the other
way in the face of these threats. Russia brazenly and implausibly denies
its actions, and we have failed to impose sufficient costs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Outgoing national security advisor H.R. McMaster giving what you
believe to be his final remarks as national security advisor. Come Monday
morning, he`s supposed to be replaced by John Bolton. We`ll see.
But McMaster`s outgoing message is that the U.S. – I shouldn`t say the
U.S., some countries have looked the other way in the face of Russia while
Russia has brazenly and implausibly denied their actions and we have failed
to impose sufficient costs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCMASTER: Mr. Putin may believe that he is winning in this new form of
warfare, he may believe his aggression actions in the parks of Salisbury,
in cyber space, in the air and on the high seas can undermine our
confidence, our institutions and our values. Perhaps he believes that our
free nations are weak and will not respond – will not respond to his
provocations. He is wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: H.R. McMaster made similarly strident remarks criticizing Russia
as his last public remarks before the president fired him. We then
subsequently found out his last acts as national security advisor before he
got word he was being fired were to recommend at a national security
meeting that the United States take further action against Russia.
He has now taken the opportunity for his last public remarks before leaving
office to again pretty stridently criticize Russia. There`s a theme.
We are supposed to get a new national security advisor Monday morning, CNBC
however is reporting today that John Bolton is involved in extensive
discussion with White House lawyers about possible conflict of interest
related to that new job.
We shall see. In the meantime, the national security adviser we still got
is showing that he`s not quite done yet.
We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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