Trump touted Carl Icahn on campaign trail. TRANSCRIPT: 04/05/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: April 5, 2018
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. Very happy to have you with us, happy Thursday.
So, our ongoing list of senior level departures from the White House and
the Trump administration frankly is quivering in anticipation of another
cabinet secretary being added to this list. So far, there are three Trump
cabinet secretaries on this wall.
The first was Tom Price who resigned him in a scandal about his over-the-
top luxury travel spending, while running the Department of Health and
Then there was Rex Tillerson. There`s Rex Tillerson, secretary of state.
His firing still has a little bit of an asterisk over it, because of the
White House lying about the timing of when exactly Rex Tillerson was fired,
and then the White House firing another senior State Department official,
that guy. When that guy told the truth about when Tillerson actually got
I know that I`m sort of the only person the media who`s fixated on this,
but I do think it`s an intriguing open question. Why did the White House
go to such lengths to concoct a proven false story about when exactly Rex
Tillerson got fired as secretary of state? We still don`t know but that
false story is why they had to fire that other guy on the way out the door
And then, of course, there was David Shulkin, the secretary of Veterans
Affairs who was also fired recently. And again, in his case, the White
House went to some lengths to concoct a false story about that. In David
Shulkin`s case at V.A., the administration said that Shulkin resigned when,
in fact, David Shulkin did not resign. He didn`t quit. They fired him,
and the White House has been caught in a lie trying to convince people that
he quit when he didn`t.
So, the number of high level departures from the most chaotic presidential
administration in modern history is itself a remarkable spectacle. I
didn`t even used to have to have a chair that swiveled. When it comes to
cabinet officials resigning though, the spectacle has been even more
chaotic for them than it has been for all these other kinds of officials
who have quit or been forced out. And as of tonight, we are on career
death watch for another cabinet official, for the head of the EPA, Scott
Scott Pruitt`s name is title is not up there, which is starting to feel
astonishing when you consider the now immense pile up of revelations about
his behavior in office especially when you consider what we`ve learned
about Scott Pruitt compared to the comparatively small things that have
cost some of these other people their jobs.
I mean, I do think it`s possible though that in order to understand what`s
going on with Scott Pruitt, I think it`s possible that one of the other
names that is on this wall behind me, one of the other names on this list
of high-level Trump administration departures may actually help us explain
a little bit about what`s going on with the Scott Pruitt story, with this
now quite astonishing Scott Pruitt scandal. And I think the guy who is on
this list who could help us understand what`s going on with Scott Pruitt
would be where we have them their special adviser to the president on
regulatory reform that is the sort of boring title that the Trump
administration gave a very high profile business guy who President Trump
was very, very, very excited to brag about knowing all through the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, we have the
greatest business people in the world. I have so many people endorsing me.
Carl Icahn, great, he`s a great natural, natural negotiator.
Carl Icahn endorsed me. We`ve got Carl Icahn. Carl Icahn, Carl Icahn,
Carl Icahn, Carl Icahn, Carl Icahn, Carl Icahn. Carl – Carl Icahn. Carl
Icahn, and I have Carl Icahn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Carl, Carl Icahn.
The president liked to talk about him a lot during the campaign. Carl
Icahn is a very rich, very famous corporate raider who`s built up an
absolutely enormous personal fortune as what they call a shareholder
activist. He gets a hold of a controlling interest in a company, sometimes
that means he gets himself or his handpicked people on the board of that
company, and then he uses that control to pick that company up by its
ankles and shake it until money comes out of his pockets.
And sometimes, he forces the kinds of changes on companies that make them
stronger and more profitable, sometimes he just tears them apart and eats
the remaining assets. But that is how Carl Icahn has made his fortune.
He`s not a specialist in any one area of business. He`s basically
considered to be kind of a polymath financial genius, but he has cut a
swath through all sorts of different kinds of companies all over the
country, wherever he thinks he can use them to extract money for his self
And the reason Carl Icahn is up there on that board, the reason he didn`t
last as special advisor to the president on regulatory reform is because of
this reporting from “Reuters” and this reporting from Patrick Radden Keefe
at the “New Yorker” magazine. Both “Reuters” and the “New Yorker”
documented in really granular detail how Carl Icahn used that Trump
administration White House gig like it was just any other Carl Icahn
corporate raider business opportunity. He leveraged that White House gig
into what may have ended up being hundreds of millions of dollars in
personal profit for himself.
One of his interests at the time, his business interest, was a refinery
concern that was up against significant environmental costs. Carl Icahn
was very outspoken against those environmental regulations that imposed
those cost on his refinery business. When he was announced as Trump`s
regulations czar, the market responded essentially by expecting that those
environmental regulations would go away.
Well, it turns out Carl Icahn had already placed his own bets on the
markets that they would do that. And so, when his bet paid off, he
pocketed tens of millions of dollars in the value of his refinery went way,
way up, in direct relation to actions he took as a government official to
make that happen.
So, it`s slightly more complicated than that, but that`s basically the
story that was right out laid out by “Reuters” and “The New Yorker”. So,
Carl Icahn ended up, up on the board, he had to go. He actually quit the
night that “The New Yorker” article came out about him using this White
House position to make himself potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.
It was amazing. Right after he quit, the White House went through this
remarkable through the looking-glass exercise where they actually try to
pretend that Carl has never had that White House job in the first place, so
what was there to quit?
The press release announcing that Carl Icahn had that job, I can`t see a
press release. Can you? What press release? This doesn`t say that. It`s
In that “New Yorker” article, though, the one that ended Carl Icahn`s brief
career as a public official, we also learned how EPA administrator Scott
Pruitt got his job in the first place. Quote: when Scott Pruitt visited
Trump Tower to discuss the top job at the EPA, the president-elect
concluded the interview by instructing Scott Pruitt to walk two blocks
uptown to meet Carl Icahn.
According to a “Bloomberg News” account Trump told Scott Pruitt, quote,
Carl has some questions for you. Scott Pruitt goes up, meets with Carl
Icahn, Pruitt then gets nominated for the EPA job on December 8th.
The following day, Carl Icahn says in an interview, quote: I`ve spoken to
Scott Pruitt four or five times. I told Donald he`s somebody who will do
away with many of the problems at the EPA. So, that is reportedly how
Scott Pruitt got his job in the first place. Carl gave it to him.
Since Carl – since Scott Pruitt got that job at the EPA, he has been an
out-of-control, open spigot of scandal – scandal and also just strange
news about his preferences and his priorities and his behavior as head of
this agency. It was not a surprise to anybody that Scott Pruitt was going
to be an EPA administrator who was very hostile to the EPA and to the
environment in general. Everybody knew that, right? That`s what Trump ran
But it was a surprise to everyone when we learned that Scott Pruitt was
charging the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars initially without his
around $20,000, we`ve since learned it was over $40,000 to build himself a
cone of silence in his office, a soundproof security booth inside his
office at the EPA where he could have secured communications without being
listened to by anybody else in the EPA, except presumably the ones who
listened to him through his fillings.
We also learned that Scott Pruitt charged the taxpayers to install mission
impossible style biometric locks on his office and to have his offices
swept for bugs, then we learned he was charging taxpayers for an expanded
24 hour a day, seven day a week multi-man security detail which is far in
excess of what anybody else who`s ever run that agency has had.
In keeping with his security requests, we learned today that Scott Pruitt
also sought to have taxpayers buy him a bulletproof SUV with run flat
tires, and he also wanted taxpayers to buy a reception desk, for the
reception desk outside his office that would be a bulletproof desk. Wow.
Pruitt also claimed that his very intense security needs were why he also
had to always fly at least first class if not on chartered private planes
or on military planes, which are even more expensive than private planes.
Pressed on the connection between his security needs and those travel
requirements, Scott Pruitt later explained that, well, someone had once
said something rude to him in an airport.
It`s still unclear whether the person who said something rude to him in an
airport, you know, said whatever he said that offended Scott Pruitt. You
know, hey, Scott, I think you`re terrible or whatever, and then did that
guy also say and by the way, I always sit in coach, so you better steer
clear of me and my kind. I mean, somebody was mean to you in an airport,
could you tell he was low class rabble? Nobody`s ever been mean to you in
first class, you ever talk to the other people in first class?
It was clear from the beginning that there was just a lot of weird stuff,
weird and very expensive stuff about Scott Pruitt running this agency. We
have since learned that there was an effort by Pruitt staff at the agency
to buy him $100,000 a month private jet membership so we could have a
private jet on standby at taxpayers` expense whenever he wanted to go
We`ve also since learned that he used an emergency contingency provision in
the Safe Drinking Water Act a provision that`s meant to hire scientists and
specialists in the event of a drinking water emergency. He used that
provision instead to hire lobbyists and spokespeople and to give big raise,
$30,000, $40,000, $50,000, raises to young staff members of his who he
brought with him from Oklahoma.
We then learned that one of those staffers who we gave a $30,000, raise to,
she had among her taxpayer-funded responsibilities, the job of shopping for
potential apartments for Scott Pruitt in Washington, D.C.
And as you no doubt have come to know, that has since led to revelations
that at least for his first year in office, where Scott Pruitt lived in
D.C. was in a swanky Capitol Hill townhouse co-owned by an energy lobbyist,
who charged Scott Pruitt the princely sum of 50 bucks a night to stay
there, but he only had to pay for nights when he actually slept in the
building. Now, that news broke last week it`s been getting even shakier
for Scott Pruitt since then.
He`s basically had a two-part defense as to why nobody should see that
living arrangement as weird. Part one is that he said the EPA ethics staff
signed off on that arrangement, while the EPA ethics staff has since
clarified that the only reason they did sign off on that arrangement is
because they didn`t exactly understand that arrangement. They now say they
didn`t have all the facts about that, and that`s the only reason they OK`d
it only if only we`d known.
So, that`s half of Pruitt`s defense on a $50 a night lobbyist`s house
problem. The other half of his defense is that he says even if he was
living in that lobbyists house for $50 a night, he says that lobbyist did
not have any business before the EPA, that lobbyist did not have any
business before his agency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Why did you then accept $50 a night to rent a condo from the
wife of a Washington lobbyist?
SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, let`s talk about that. That is
something that, again, has been reviewed by ethics officials here. They`ve
said that it`s market rate.
REPORTER: You`re renting it from the wife of a lobbyist?
PRUITT: Yes, who has no business before this agency.
REPORTER: Hold on a second. So –
PRUITT: They had no business.
REPORTER: So, in part, is that Williams and Jensen (ph), right, major
lobbying firm, ExxonMobil`s a client.
PRUITT: Mr. Hart (ph) has no client –
HENRY: ExxonMobil has business before you, sir?
PRUITT: Mr. Hart has no clients that have business before this agency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mr. Hart, my $50 a night landlord, has no clients that have
business before this agency.
That was Scott Pruitt`s defense as of last night. It turns out Mr. Hart,
his lobbyists landlord, absolutely does have clients, multiple clients with
business before his agency.
A good rundown on this published tonight by Sam Stein and Lachlan Marquis
(ph) at “The Daily Beast”, detailing at least nine clients of that lobbyist
who absolutely have active business before the EPA, including Enbridge who
Scott Pruitt just approved a very controversial new pipeline for, and a
glass manufacturer who just settled Clean Air Act violations with the EPA
in June, and a whole bunch of other companies, at which point it becomes
impossible to imagine this cabinet official continuing to stay in this job,
right, given this reported evidence of corruption and conflict of interest.
His defense to what he`s done has been disproven. He says it was clear by
ethics officials. Ethics officials are like, oh, no, we didn`t know that.
He says these lobbyists didn`t have business before my agency. Oh, yes,
they absolutely freaking did.
But even after that likes – that end of the road stuff breaks, still more
keeps coming about Scott Pruitt, still more just today that he demanded
that his security detail used sirens and lights to get him through traffic
jams in Washington, D.C. despite the fact that his security detail told him
that wasn`t allowed. CBS was first to report on that today, saying that
Pruitt wanted the lights and sirens to get him to cut through traffic to go
to an official event.
Well, then :”The New York Times” followed up with their own reporting that
said actually Scott Pruitt told his security detail to do that thing with
the lights and sirens not just to get into an official event but also to
get him to the airport and oftentimes to fancy dinners, including
specifically to this restaurant which apparently he loves to get to in a
hurry and he likes to arrive with a splash when he dines there in
Washington. And the reason we know these kinds of details about Scott
Pruitt`s behavior as EPA administrators because members of his security
team who is telling to use the lights in siren, there among what is
reportedly a large number of EPA officials who are now telling reporters
that they were demoted, reassigned or effectively fired by Scott Pruitt
when they confronted him about his crazy spending, or in one case by a guy
who says he told the White House personnel office about it.
And that said, from what we know about the White House personnel office, it
appears to be a place where people go at the White House to vape and play
beer pong, so maybe the office didn`t notice Scott Pruitt`s staffer turning
up at the door didn`t knock him out. Even if Scott Pruitt noticed and
allegedly retaliated by demoting that guy who complained about him to the
Since this avalanche of unflattering news has come down the mountain and
landed on top of Scott Pruitt, both Scott Pruitt`s critics and Pruitt
himself have complained – complained a little bit that this might be what
costs Scott Pruitt his job, that he`s getting all this attention not
necessarily for his substantive actions as EPA chief but for this ethic
I have I have heard that criticism from Pruitt but also from people who are
real critics of Pruitt in terms of what he`s been trying to do at the EPA.
I actually think the important thing to recognize about the Scott Pruitt
disaster is that his ethic stuff and his substantive behavior as the head
of the EPA are not at all separate things, and Carl Icahn is part of what
Just pick out one of these little scandals right the inspector general at
the EPA is reportedly looking into all this luxury travel that Scott Pruitt
has taken on the taxpayers` dime. One of the most lavish of those trips
was a trip he took first-class along with seven staffers and an undisclosed
number of staff from his protective detail to Morocco in December. And
there`s all sorts of amazing Scott Pruitt ethics thorns on this particular
rose, right? Why were they all flying first-class? Why did he bring seven
people plus a full security detail with him?
One of the people he brought with him was one of those staffers who he gave
a $50,000 bump in salary to courtesy of the Safe Drinking Water Act, a
salary bump he now denies knowing anything about. Another one of the
staffers he brought is a woman named Samantha Dravis, who quit the agency
sometime in the last few days amidst all this scandal, we just learned
about her quitting today. The top Democrat on the Senate environment
committee, Senator Tom Carper, last week sent the EPA inspector general a
request to look into Dravis` employment at EPA because he says he`s been
notified that for all of November, December and January, Dravis didn`t show
up to work even though she was, quote, likely compensated as a full-time
employee throughout that time.
Well, during that time, she did apparently go on that first-class trip to
Morocco and according to a letter from Congressman Elijah Cummings that was
just released tonight, part of the fun of that trip to Morocco was that
they all took a layover on the way. On the way to Morocco, they decided to
stay overnight in Paris on a Saturday night, December 9th, Saturday night,
and it must have been a good time or something because according to
Congressman Cummings, they, quote, missed their connecting flight from
Paris to Morocco at 10:25 the next morning.
And so, that meant a whole another day and night in Paris. This big
Morocco EPA trip only actually resulted in one day in Morocco, but it
resulted in lots of time in Paris for Scott Pruitt and his whole entourage
all flying first-class including his peeps from Oklahoma who got them – he
got the big raises for and this other aide who allegedly wasn`t actually
doing any work at the time, at least not for that month or the month before
or the month after, even though taxpayers were allegedly still paying her
Sounds like the kind of tour for which they should have made t-shirts at
the end, right? But here`s the – here`s the thing what was this trip to
“The Washington Post” reported at the time, Scott Pruitt and a crew of EPA
aides, as you see in the headline, they`re just spent four days in Morocco
promoting natural gas. That`s weird right Pruitt went over there met with
Moroccan officials. He tried to talk them into making a major change in
the Moroccan economy. He went to Morocco, took this whole trip to convince
the Moroccan government that they should start importing liquefied natural
gas from the United States to meet that country`s energy needs. That is a
weird thing for an EPA administrator to do.
As “The Post” noted at the time, quote, the EPA plays no formal role in
overseeing natural gas exports. Such activities are overseen by other U.S.
government agencies like the Energy Department, and the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission, FERC.
So, as ABC News has reported, the only active liquefied natural gas export
plant in the entire United States at that time was one owned by a company
called Cheniere Energy.
Well, Cheniere Energy is a Carl Icahn joint. Carl Icahn major shareholder,
It`s kind of fun to read through all the business reporting about Carl
Icahn using his leverage at Cheniere Energy to get the CEO of the company
fired. He was that big a shareholder. He had that kind of power at
Cheniere Energy. Cheniere Energy, the only liquefied natural gas export
terminal in the United States.
If you`re going to buy liquefied natural gas from the United States, you`re
going to get it through Cheniere Energy. Carl Icahn is a controlling
shareholder. Carl Icahn gets Scott Pruitt his job. Scott Pruitt
inexplicably flies to Morocco on the taxpayers` dime, yes, and what does he
go there for? To promote Cheniere Energy, to try to persuade inexplicably,
to try to persuade Morocco to import American natural gas, to the benefit
of Papa Carl Icahn`s pet financial project of the moment.
And if this seems farfetched, keep in mind, this all happens just before
Carl Icahn has to resign and a big scandal from this administration over a
totally separate matter where he was allegedly using his government
position to enrich himself and benefit companies in which he was a big
And, yes, yes, in addition to his connection to Carl Icahn, Scott Pruitt at
the time was also living for fifty bucks a night in the home of the
principal lobbyist for Cheniere Energy.
So, all this to say, don`t worry about whether the focus on the bonfire of
Scott Pruitt`s ethics is somehow distracting from the attention that ought
to be paid to his behavior as head of the EPA. It is all one in the same
story. But as of tonight, he is still in that job. Anybody know why?
MADDOW: So, there is a bunch of news still unfolding tonight. President
Trump tonight continues to make noise not just about starting this trade
war he appears to want with China, but now, tonight, really ratcheting it
up. The president tonight saying he wants another $100 billion in tariffs
on Chinese products, which is making front pages around the country
tonight. This would go along with the other $50 billion in tariffs the
White House already announced this week, which already caused China to
announce retaliatory measures.
Here`s a direct quote from Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska in
response to what President Trump just asked for tonight on China. Direct
quote, no kidding, quote: Hopefully, the president is just blowing off
steam again, but if he`s even half serious, this is nuts. China is guilty
of many things but the president has no actual plan to win right now. He`s
threatening to light American agriculture on fire.
Let`s absolutely take on Chinese bad behavior but with a plan that punishes
them instead of us. This is the dumbest possible way to do this.
OK, Republican Senator Ben Sasse, tell us what you really think.
I should also tell you in terms of developing news, that we have some
brand-new news from Robert Mueller`s prosecutors in the special counsel
Russia investigation, a new court filing has just been made public. This
was just put on the docket right as we were getting on the air.
Thanks to this new filing, we now know that as recently as last month,
Mueller`s prosecutors were still executing more search warrants against
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, including them seeking materials
that were for, quote, ongoing investigations that are not the subject of
either current prosecution involving Paul Manafort. Oh.
And on top of that, honestly, nobody can figure out how it`s possible that
the EPA administrator is still in his job after non-stop headlines covering
everything from him living in an energy lobbyist`s house, to him wanting to
drive around town with sirens blaring because it was on his way to dinner
and worried he might be late, or maybe not thought of as important enough
once he got there.
Joining us now is the great Nicolle Wallace, communications director from
the Bush White House, host of “DEADLINE: WHITE HOUSE” weekdays on MSNBC at
Nice to see you, my friend.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST, “DEADLINE: WHITE HOUSE”: Nice to see you.
MADDOW: You`re hosting for Brian`s show tonight.
WALLACE: I am, filling in at 11:00.
MADDOW: Thank you for coming in early to talk to me about this stuff.
WALLACE: Of course.
MADDOW: Let me talk to you about the EPA stuff first. You went through
lots of different kinds of crises in the in the George W. Bush White House.
Every White House is different. Every White House has its own level of
Do you have any sense of the rhyme or reason about what makes a person have
to quit this administration versus allows – it being something that you`re
allowed to stay on for days and weeks amid press like this?
WALLACE: There is no rhyme. There is no reason. What I think happened
today that that just as a former White House adviser put this story at the
doorstep of the White House staff is that “The New York Times” reporting
and you referenced it in your a blog about the six individuals whom out to
whistleblowers basically. They objected to Administrator Pruitt`s conduct
MADDOW: To his face, they confronted him about it.
WALLACE: To his face. Two of them include presidential appointees, so
these were not career officials. And in the Bush years, a lot of the kind
of whistleblower scandals were career officials at places like the CIA who
had profound policy concerns about policies that you covered in depth.
That is not the case for Pruitt. These are people that had concerns about
Pruitt`s conduct about the lack of ethics about the wackadoo stuff, about a
phone booth that sound proof, about the weird stuff, about the just the rot
of ethics. And they were people that knew Donald Trump personally. One
was one of his advanced guys, that`s a body guy. That`s someone who has
every, you know, White House staffer on the advanced team on his cell.
The other one was the chief of staff, also a political appointee, placed in
EPA by the Presidential Personnel Office. I think you also covered the
story in “The Washington Post” about a game called icing, where I might
start playing it myself, where you run around the person that finds the
vodka has to drink it. That`s that office, the PPO office.
MADDOW: It`s the beer pong office.
WALLACE: The icing office placed the chief of staff at EPA in his job. He
is someone who could get high-level White House staffers on the phone if
there were troubles. This Pruitt story is no longer an EPA story. It`s a
White House dysfunction story and the notion that they didn`t know what was
going on is an implausible account.
So, I think the days when the White House can kick this over to the EPA
press office are over.
MADDOW: So, there`s also these reports tonight that there`s a Scott Pruitt
fan club effort in among the industries that he`s been so favorable to at
WALLACE: No surprise.
MADDOW: Yes, that they`re trying – but they`re lobbying heavily, lobbying
conservative media, lobbying the sort of right wing influencers to make
this a witch-hunt against Scott Pruitt, to try to get the White House to
pledge to keep him on. I mean, there is an organized effort on the right
to say that this ethic stuff for Scott Pruitt shouldn`t be a reason that
he`s pushed out.
WALLACE: Yes, well, it`s an ethics mythix. I mean, nobody cares. It`s
difficult to get ensnared in an ethics scandal and the Trump
I mean, this is a president who has taught the country with the word
“emoluments” means –
WALLACE: – because he`s so corrupt, and he had never separated himself
from his own businesses.
So, the idea that you could be in ethics trouble – I mean, it`s really
almost an oxymoron at a Trump administration ethics scandal.
MADDOW: But you`re saying – you`re saying in this case, what`s different
what we`ve crossed into that`s new territory with Pruitt is that some of
what looks like an ethics scandal may eventually be – may become more
potent and more dangerous for him because it`s crossing the White House,
because it`s defying the White House?
WALLACE: Because they`re not people who are offended by the dismantling of
all of our regulations to keep our air and water –
MADDOW: Right, it`s not a policy dispute.
WALLACE: They are not people who are blowing the whistle on enhanced
interrogations at the CIA in the Bush era. These are people who largely
agree with the dismantling of all of our clean air and water regulations,
who are blowing the whistle on conduct that is so reprehensible that they
could pick up the phone and call their friends in the White House Office of
Presidential Personnel, which to assume was the office that placed Pruitt`s
chief of staff in his job at EPA.
So, this story is much more of a White House story than it`s being covered
right now and I think, you know, those flashing red lights, there`s also a
flashing neon light. There`s something seedy about this story. There`s
something gross about it and I don`t think that all these conservatives who
are wrapping their arms tightly around Mr. Pruitt are going to feel good
about that at the end of this.
MADDOW: Do you think he`s ultimately going to go?
WALLACE: I don`t think he lasts not because he – you know, the defense
has been he`s so ideologically aligned with us with everything the
president wants to do. Well, so is Jeff Sessions.
WALLACE: And his job is on the line not just day by day but hour by hour.
So, nobody is safe in the Trump administration and some of them dominate
the headlines away Mr. Pruitt has certainly seems like the least safe of
all. But someone told me today, I asked a Trump confidant how Kelly was
doing. There`s been mixed reports about Kelly standing. He says – Kelly
OK, is Kelly safe? And he said, nobody`s safe, nobody`s OK.
Nicolle Wallace, White House veteran, host of “DEADLINE: WHITE HOUSE” at
4:00, also hosting “THE 11TH HOUR” at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. And I should
tell you on Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern, Nicolle is the host of a special
in-depth look at a man you might have heard of named Robert Mueller.
Nicolle, you are a very busy woman, especially today. Thank you, my
friend. Great to see you. Thank you.
WALLACE: Good to see you.
MADDOW: All right. Bit of breaking news in the Mueller investigation,
actually beyond the breaking news I just told you about at the top of this
segment. Somebody we haven`t heard of before who Mueller`s team is now
reportedly questioning and we can apparently tell something about his
direction based on this, just breaking news, we`re going to have that for
Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. So, here`s that breaking news we just got word of. There are
two pieces of very late-breaking news related to the Mueller investigation
tonight. I mentioned this one a moment ago. This is the new filing
tonight from the special counsel`s office, which reveals that as recently
as last month, the special counsel`s office executed a new search warrant
on Paul Manafort, last month, March, this is on top of the six previous
search warrants they have obtained in his case.
Paul Manafort and his lawyers, they`re asking the special counsel to
provide the search warrants in unredacted form. Mueller`s team says in
response that they have to maintain substantial redactions in the latest
search warrant, quote, relating to ongoing investigations that are not the
subject of either of the current prosecutions involving Paul Manafort. So,
last month, as of March, they were still executing search warrants against
Manafort and they`re redacting information in those search warrants that
relates to ongoing investigations that aren`t the subject of either of the
prosecutions involving Paul Manafort. Oh.
So, that`s breaking news item number one from the Russia investigation the
second breaking news item is this, a form of this – it comes in the form
of this new McClatchy story which is just out, which tells us two things.
Here`s the first, quote, special counsel Robert Mueller`s investigators
this week questioned an associate of the Trump organization who was
involved in overseas deals with President Donald Trump`s company in recent
Quote: Armed with subpoenas compelling electronic records and sworn
testimony, Mueller`s team showed up unannounced at the home of a business
associate who was party to multiple transactions connected to Trump`s
efforts to expand his brand abroad.
Now, part of what`s very intriguing here is that McClatchy tonight doesn`t
name this Trump business associate who was questioned at his home and
searched this week by the special counsel`s team. But the other thing we
learned here is that Mueller`s team is apparently very keen on asking about
one person in particular.
Quote: Investigators were particularly interested in interactions involving
Michael D. Cohen, Trump`s longtime personal attorney and former Trump
Organization employee. Among other things, Cohen was involved in business
deals secured or sought by the Trump Organization in Georgia, the nation of
Georgia, in Kazakhstan and in Russia.
I don`t know what any or all of this signals, but we do have a federal
prosecutor on tap to help us out with this. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I have some questions. You know, I start off this not just the
day but every show, like we`re live at 9:00 Eastern Time, I sit down here,
this is not on tape. I sit down at the top of the show and I have a few
questions in mind that I`d like to have answered with our expert guests and
Then you get into the show and all the breaking news happens in the middle
of the show and the questions, they change over the course of the hour.
So, I have new ones.
We`ve just learned since we`ve been on the air tonight in a new court
filing just made public tonight that Trump`s campaign chair Paul Manafort
has had seven search warrants executed against him already, seven,
including one most recently last month. When I started the show I didn`t
know I was going to have this question but now, I want to know. Dude was
indicted in October. Dude was later up – indicted again, what, in
February? What are they doing still executing search warrants against him
in March, as of last month? After he`s already on trial on two different
sets of dozens of felony charges?
And in those search warrants, the government saying it can`t unredact them,
because some of the information in those search warrants pertains to an
ongoing investigations that are unrelated to the existing prosecution`s of
Paul Manafort. Does that just mean that Paul Manafort is in way more
trouble than we can already see or does that mean there`s something they`re
seizing from Paul Manafort that relates to ongoing cases against other
Joining us now is Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney from the great state of
Alabama, somebody who gets these things much better than I do.
Joyce, thank you for being here. I`m sorry I`m incoherent.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Thanks for having me, Rachel. You`re
MADDOW: Well, thank you. That`s just because you`re nice that you`re
saying it that way.
Let me ask you about this recent – this new filing that we`ve just gotten
in and this has just been made public, and nobody`s had that much time to
review it. But it appears from this back and forth between Manafort`s
lawyers and Mueller`s prosecutors, that this is the seventh search warrant
executed against Paul Manafort and this one they`re saying can`t be fully
redacted and given to Manafort`s lawyers, even though Manafort`s lawyers
want that, because it relates to ongoing investigations.
That strikes me as strange given that metaphor is already on trial in two
different jurisdictions. Does this seem more typical to you as somebody
who`s been through federal prosecutions?
VANCE: It would maybe be a little bit unusual if this was your standard
simple case. But in a complex white-collar investigation or a public
corruption case, you`ll often see this sort of wave of indictment with
ongoing investigation, and although you can`t continue to use the grand
jury to investigate once you`ve indicted a defendant on certain charges,
you can continue to investigate other crimes, ongoing crimes, or as you
point out, perhaps even crimes that Manafort is not the defendant or the
target, that they`re investigating. So, a couple of different
MADDOW: And over the course of a criminal trial, does the defendant and
his legal team have the right to see unredacted versions of the search
warrants that were used to obtain evidence in the government`s case.
VANCE: Usually, they do but here, Mueller`s team makes very clear that
they`ve only redacted two kinds of information. They`ve redacted
information to protect the identity of their confidential sources which
they`re entitled to do under Supreme Court precedent, and they`ve also
redacted information that would possibly impair ongoing investigation.
Same, they`re also entitled to do that and they clarify that the search
warrant stands on its own, that sufficient probable causes established by
the unredacted information that they`ve provided to Manafort.
So, this looks like a situation where the government wins. They also point
out that three of the search warrants aren`t redacted in any way. So, that
information has been fully provided to Manafort`s team.
MADDOW: And, Joyce, let me ask you about one other matter here.
“McClatchy” is also reporting tonight that a business associate of the
Trump organization this week had a very dramatic encounter with Mueller`s
team. Quote: armed with subpoenas compelling electronic records and sworn
testimony, Mueller`s teams showed up unannounced at the home of this Trump
business associate this week. This comes on the heels of a bunch of
reporting from “The New York Times”, CNN and others that Mueller`s team has
been door stopping – well, not door stopping – airport stopping, a
number of different people in this investigation.
George Nader, who became – who was granted immunity reportedly and became
a cooperating witness, a number of Russian oligarchs, according to CNN,
“New York Times” reported last night, an Australian entrepreneur, all these
people described as being stopped at the airport and confronted by
officials who in some cases took their electronics, took their phones and
searched them on the spot. That from a civilian perspective, that seems
like an incredibly invasive and aggressive tactic.
Is that also a typical prosecution tactic?
VANCE: So, the Fourth Amendment protects us from search and seizure, us as
citizens are just simply people that are present in the United States.
Investigators can`t stop – you can`t seizure things without probable cause
and or a search warrant. But everything is different at the border.
And when you`re coming through customs, law enforcement actually doesn`t
need a warrant. They don`t even need probable cause. And interestingly
enough, there`s recent case law from the eleventh circuit, which is the
home of Atlanta, one of the biggest airports in the world, that confirms
yet again that even for your cell phone or your computer, at the border,
the police don`t need a warrant. They can simply ask you for those items
and they can in fact compel you to let them take a look at what`s on your
phone or your computer at the border.
MADDOW: So, in customs at the border, they don`t need a warrant in the
case of this business associate who`s – who had these folks show up at his
house. They had subpoenas compelling his record and sworn testimony
according to this later – according to this late-breaking reporting from
Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney from Alabama, really appreciate your time
tonight. Joyce, thank you.
VANCE: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The most vulnerable Republican in the United States Senate is
widely considered to be this guy, Nevada Senator Dean Heller. He`s up for
re-election this year in a state that Donald Trump lost in 2016. There`s a
lot of press interest in Republican Senator Dean Heller because of that
vulnerability. But he doesn`t do a lot of interviews.
And interestingly, this year, that has meant that a lot of them news Dean
Heller has made is when someone has leaked audio from an event where Dean
Heller thought he was speaking in private. For example, politico.com
obtained a audio recording of Dean Heller at what he thought was a private
event saying that he hopes Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retires
this year, otherwise he says Republicans might be in for a rout in
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: I believe we`re going to have another
Supreme Court justice this year. I think that Kennedy`s going to retire
sometime early summer. That being the case, Republicans are going to have
an opportunity now to put another Supreme Court justice in the place which
I`m hoping will get our base a little motivated, because right now, they`re
not very motivated. But I think a new Supreme Court justice will get
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was a few weeks ago. Dean Heller hoping – wishing and
hoping that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will resign with perfect
timing to help Republicans hold on to the Senate.
That was audio he didn`t know was going to be made public. Now, it`s
happened again. Dean Heller gave a speech this week in which he offered a
prescription for how someone could beat him. He told the Nevada Republican
Men`s Club that registered Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in
Nevada by about 60,000.
He said, quote: If we can get that number below 50,000, we can get the
number of registered Democrats down below 50,000, I can`t lose. And then
he says this, I should warn you, the audios are a little choppy here. But
here`s Senator Dean Heller talking about voter registration in Nevada for
this upcoming election.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HELLER: Here`s the math: if we have 100,000 more registered Democrats than
Republicans in the state of Nevada or more, I can`t win. Let me say that
again, if we have 100,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the
state of Nevada, I can`t win.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That audio at a private event obtained by “The Las Vegas Review-
Journal”, their reporter Colton Lochhead, what Dean Heller says there is:
let me say that again, if we have a hundred thousand more registered
Democrats than Republicans in the state of Nevada, I can`t win. Let me say
that again, I can`t win.
That`s what`s called a road map. You know, it`s like Dean Heller got up
there and said, are there any rich Democrats anywhere in the country who
want to fund Democratic voter registration efforts in Nevada, because if
there were those Democrats who wanted to fund that five minutes ago, now
that he has broadcast that sentiment about what it would take to beat him,
there`ll be about 5,000 rich Democrats around the country who absolutely
want to fund exactly that effort.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Last summer, Congress almost unanimously passed a law that
required the Trump administration to draw up a list of Russian oligarchs to
be hit with potential sanctions, punishment against the Kremlin for them
attacking our election in 2016. Specifically, that law told the
administration to draw up a list of very high net worth Russian individuals
who are known to have acquired their wealth at least in part thanks to
But despite being legally required to make that list, on the day of the
deadline, Trump`s Treasury Department instead released something else
entirely. They put out a laugh-out-loud list of Russians that was
literally just names copied out of the “Forbes” magazine list of the
richest people in Russia.
Now, our reporting at the time indicated that a real list of the kind
required by the law was actually made or at least was seriously worked on
at the State Department and other agencies who were responsible for
responding to this law and producing this list for sanctions. We never
found out what happened to that list the real list.
Well, “Reuters” was first to report and NBC News has now confirmed that the
Trump administration is planning tomorrow to list its first sanctions on
Russian oligarchs, tomorrow. If that reporting is true, it`s going to be
really interesting to see if tomorrow`s oligarchs list just comes from the
table of contents from “Forbes” magazine, or if we`re finally going to get
to see the real oligarchs list we have reason to believe was actually
If it turns out to be this real list, this was mandated by Congress, meant
to hurt Putin by making it financially difficult for his best friends –
well, that could conceivably cause some real reaction from Russia. It`s
really going to be worth watching to see what that list looks like
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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