Mueller indicts Konstantin Kilimnik. TRANSCRIPT: 06/08/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: June 8, 2018
Guest: Julia Ioffe, Susan Glasser
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. Happy Friday.
Ronald Reagan was first elected president in the election of 1980. So, he
was sworn in right at the start of 1981. In his first year in office, in
1981, he took a couple of little trips to other countries. He visited
Canada and Mexico. He went to the Caribbean.
But he did not take his first major extended overseas trip as president
until well into his second year in office. It wasn`t until June 1982 when
Ronald Reagan took a big long European trip. And he visited France and
Italy and Germany.
And on this date, June 8th in 1982, he visited the U.K. And he gave a big
important speech, a historic and controversial speech at the Palace of
Westminster, addressing the whole British parliament.
And it was interesting. When he was introduced, he got this rapturous
welcome, this long sustained ovation that seemed to startle even him a
little bit. I`m not sure he expected quite that warm a welcome.
As you might expect, part of that speech was Reagan just waxing eloquent
about the special relationship between us and the U.K. after they gave him
such a warm ovation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: Each stop of this trip is important. But
among them all, this moment occupies a special place in my heart and in the
hearts of my countrymen, a moment of kinship and homecoming in these
hallowed halls. Speaking for all Americans, I want to say how very much at
home we feel in your house. Every American would because this is, as we
have been so eloquently told, one of democracy`s shrines.
America`s time as a player on the stage of world history has been brief. I
think understanding this fact has always made you patient with your younger
cousins. Well, not always patient. I do recall that on one occasion, Sir
Winston Churchill said in exasperation about one of our most distinguished
diplomats, he is the only case I know of a bull who carried his china shop
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That day in June 1982, this day in 1982, Reagan went on to give an
absolutely blistering critique of the USSR.
This wasn`t the evil empire speech. But that speech that he gave in
British parliament in 1982 was equally as blunt and even as provocative
One of the things that Reagan denounced the Soviet Union for in that speech
was them giving covert political training and assistance to Marxists,
Leninists in countries all over the world. Just went after the USSR. It
was a very aggressive speech.
But then he announced what amounted to an American counterpunch against
Soviet efforts to promote communism around the world. He announced an
American-led international effort to promote democracy, small D democracy
around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAGAN: While we must be cautious about forcing the pace of change, we
must not hesitate to declare our ultimate objectives and to take concrete
actions to move toward them. We must be staunch in our conviction that
freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and
universal right of all human beings, so states the United Nations universal
declaration of human rights, which among other things guarantees free
The objective I propose is quite simple to state. To foster the
infrastructure of democracy, the system of a free press, unions, political
parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way, to
develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: To foster the infrastructure of democracy.
In that speech 36 years ago today, on his first major trip overseas as
president, Ronald Reagan announced a U.S.-led effort to promote democracy
all over the earth. The following year, 1983, Congress made good on that
promise and created something called the National Endowment for Democracy.
And the National Endowment for Democracy in turn created an International
American Institute to Promote Private Enterprise, an International American
Institute to Promote Labor Rights – I`m not kidding – and to democracy
promotion vehicles that were associated with the two major political
parties in this country. The Democratic one was called the National
Democratic Institute. And the Republican one was called the International
So the origin of these things that were, again, created and funded by
Congress after this speech, the origin was this numb in the eye speech that
Reagan gave, denouncing the Soviet Union and their efforts to promote
communism around the world. But the competing institutions that he
announced in that speech and then were created the next year by Congress,
those institutions, those democracy-promoting institutions, those still
exist. And they`re still funded by the U.S. government.
And the Democratic one and the Republican one, they do still have loose
affiliations with the two main political parties in the United States, but
they don`t do particularly partisan work. The National Democratic
Institute, which still exists, and the International Republican Institute
still exist, and they still do kind of non-partisan hard work around the
world, of promoting small D democracy and promoting the institutions of
civil society that any culture needs in order to have a functioning
And you might imagine that is a sensitive and controversial issue, right?
I mean, particularly in countries where their government doesn`t really
want democracy infecting the way they`re ruling their people. It was meant
to be provocative and controversial from the outset when Reagan announced
it. And that`s proven to be true over the years. But these institutes
These efforts, these American efforts still exist and persist around the
world. Even in very difficult circumstances. And depending on the country
where they`re operating, they`ve had hard times, they`ve had near-death
experiences. Sometimes, governments throw them out and they become big
But it`s interesting. In the Moscow office of the International Republican
Institute years ago, 13 years ago, 2005, they had a really interesting
standoff with the Russian government for a very specific reason.
International Republican Institute in 2005, their office in Moscow
basically got shived in what appeared to be an inside job.
It was the spring of 2005. The head of the FSB, so the head of the
successor agency to the KGB, he got up in front of the Russian parliament,
the Duma, and the head of the FSB made a totally unexpected hair-on-fire
speech denouncing the International Republican Institute and their office
in Moscow, blaming them for fomenting unrest across Russia, accusing them
of trying to overthrow the Russian government. It was this blistering out
of nowhere attack on this American organization.
But then there was one really scary part of it. In his speech, in his
denunciation of this American group in the Russian parliament, the head of
the FSB didn`t just criticize them. In criticizing them, he basically
quoted from what had just happened a few weeks earlier when that
organization had held a private retreat for its employees.
This is like, if somebody comes up to me and starts to yell at me on the
street because they don`t like me and they don`t like what I do on TV
except then they start quoting to me from our news meeting that morning
with the staff. How did you know about that?
This retreat that the International Republican Institute had in the spring
of 2005, it was not a public event. There was no audience for their
discussions. It was just an event for people who worked at that
organization. It was closed to the public.
They had this closed all-staff retreat, but somehow the guy who heads up
the Russian spy agency knew what was said at their retreat and then quoted
it, and used it to denounce them in parliament. According to new reporting
from Franklin Forth at “The Atlantic” magazine, at that retreat of the
American organization, there had only been two non-Americans who were in
So, how did the FSB find out what had happened at that retreat? How were
they able to quote from what happened?
There`s a number of possibilities, right? It`s possible that the FSB just
mounted some sort of covert surveillance on that retreat location. So they
listened in somehow and that`s how they knew.
It`s also possible that one of the Americans who was there, one of the
American employees of this organization maybe went and told the FSB, maybe
one of the American employees of the International Republican Institute was
secretly a spy working for the Russians. That`s possible.
But within the organization, within the International Republican Institute,
serious suspicion at the time quickly fell on one of the two non-Americans
who had been at that retreat. Because between that retreat that somehow
got spied on and the denunciation of that group in parliament by the head
of the FSB quoting from what happened at the retreat between these two
dates, one of the two non-Americans who had been at the retreat got fired
from the organization.
A Russian guy who had been working for IRI got fired from the organization
after that retreat in bad circumstances. So that raised the prospect that
he was a disgruntled former employee. Maybe he was so disgruntled that he
decided to go narc out this organization that had just fired him to Russian
For that particular employee, that was not a far-fetched theory, because
that particular guy who had just been fired from the International
Republican Institute right before the FSB mysteriously started quoting from
what was happening internally at that office, that particular Russian guy
who they fired was known himself to have ties to Russian intelligence. His
name was Konstantin Kilimnik.
Quote: Kilimnik bounced around a bit, doing freelance translating until
eventually landing a job in 1995 at the Moscow office of the International
Republican Institute. Kilimnik did not hide his military past from his new
employer. In fact, when he was asked how he had learned to speak such
fluent English he responded, quote, Russian military intelligence,
according to one IRI official.
One political operative who worked in Moscow at the time told politico.com,
quote, it was like oh, yeah, Kostya, the guy from the GRU, the guy from
Russian military intelligence. That`s how we talked about him.
Quote: The fact of his training in military intelligence became the stuff
of office teasing. When Kostya struggled to make sense of some American
political terminology, the American who hired him would josh him about his
martial past. Quote: If I had you translate, there are seven tanks and
three infantry with heavy mortar hiding on a bridge, you could translate
that lickety-split I bet.
According to this American official, Konstantin Kilimnik would wink and
say, oh, yes, I can translate that real fast.
So, the International Republican Institute had this office in Moscow. They
had a guy working on their staff for ten years who was openly known to have
been trained by military intelligence. He talked about it. They teased
him about it. It was an open point of discussion in that office.
They ended up firing him for cause. And then later that same month after
they fired him, all of a sudden, the head of the FSB is in Russian
parliament denouncing the group and quoting from their internal meetings
which this guy had attended just weeks before he got fired.
As “The New York Times” put it recently, they didn`t have evidence but they
suspected that Kilimnik had been the source for the FSB.
So, it`s interesting. That`s what happened to the International Republican
Institute back in the day, back in Moscow. At least it seems like that`s
what happened. But the reason they had fired that guy that spring from
that American office in Moscow, the reason they fired him for cause under
bad circumstances and maybe caused this disgruntlement, the reason they
fired him is because that guy had been caught moonlighting for another
American outfit, specifically they had caught him moonlighting with an
American political consultant named Paul Manafort, who at that time in 2005
was representing pro-Russian interests in the former Soviet state of
Well, now today as you may have heard, there`s a new superseding felony
indictment that has been filed by special counsel Robert Mueller against
Paul Manafort. We had thought this was a possibility a few days ago.
Special counsel`s office a few days ago filed a motion in court it in which
the prosecutors asked the judge in Manafort`s case to reconsider the terms
of his bail because they said he`d been tampering with witnesses, he`d been
reaching out to witnesses and sort of coaching them on their potential
testimony. That`s a crime.
When we saw that complaint filed by prosecutors asking the judge to
reconsider his bail, we thought there was a possibility that those witness
tampering allegations might also end up not just also complaints by the
prosecutors, they might end up being the basis of new felony charges
against Paul Manafort.
Well, now those new felony charges today have been filed. Instead of
facing 23 felony charges, Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman, is
now facing 25 felony charges. What ended up being the big surprise here
today is that Paul Manafort wasn`t just charged alone, the superseding
indictment wasn`t just for him, he was charged alongside Konstantin
Kilimnik, Kostya from the GRU, the guy who back in the day in Moscow was
suspected of narcing out this American pro-democracy outfit that the FSB
denounced as an enemy of the state after they somehow got a hold of the
internal workings of that organization.
Old Konstantin Kilimnik was the guy who was indicted by the special counsel
today, alongside Paul Manafort. He became the 20th individual who has been
charged thus far in Mueller`s investigation into the Russian attack on our
presidential election and the connection between that attack and the Trump
campaign. Of the 20 individuals who have thus far been charged, Konstantin
Kilimnik is the 14th Russian individual to have been charged. There`s been
20 people charged, 14 of them Russians.
But Konstantin Kilimnik, his role here is nothing like all those basically
anonymous Russians who were charged in the indictment back in February for
having been part of that Russian social media effort to sway American
public opinion. We didn`t know the names of any of those people. We
didn`t have any direct association with any of those folks other than the
Putin-connected oligarch who supposedly headed up that operation.
But Kilimnik we know a lot about. From 1995 to 2005 he worked at the
international Republican institute, this U.S. government-funded entity in
Moscow. He started off as a translator for them. He worked his way up.
His language skills, we know, were acquired at least in part at a Russian
military intelligence training school.
Kilimnik became friendly or at least known to a lot of U.S. political
operatives over the years he was working with IRI, certainly became known
to a lot of journalists. After ten years at IRI and getting fired under
bad circumstances, he started translating for Paul Manafort and Manafort`s
political consulting business. That`s what got him fired from IRI.
With Manafort, he ultimately rose up from being translator, starting as a
translator, to eventually becoming sort of a second in command to Paul
Manafort. He ended up running the Ukraine office, the Kiev office for Paul
Manafort`s political consulting operation. Paul Manafort did all this
political work in the former Soviet Union for well over a decade without
himself speaking a word of Ukrainian or a word of Russian.
Konstantin Kilimnik speaks both as well as fluent English. And so, Paul
Manafort quickly found him to be an indispensable part of his operation in
Ukraine. Manafort would describe Kilimnik as, quote, “my Russian brain.”
He was widely viewed as Paul Manafort`s alter ego in the former Soviet
Special counsel`s indictments thus far have spelled out how Paul Manafort`s
consulting business in the former Soviet Union, it took millions of dollars
a year from pro-Russian political interests. Ultimately, he branched out,
not just from – branched out beyond politics into doing business dealings
in the region as well, including some attempted business partnerships with
a somewhat terrifying Russian oligarch who is close to Vladimir Putin and
who famously cannot get a visa to visit the United States because of his
alleged ties to organized crime. According to multiple civil lawsuits
about their failed business dealings, Paul Manafort ended up owing that
guy, Oleg Deripaska, many millions of dollars.
I don`t know any of the people involved here personally, but I`m guessing
that Oleg Deripaska is not the kind of guy who was very comfortable to owe
millions of dollars to. I`m just sort of thinking he might be the kind of
guy that that keeps you up at night.
Konstantin Kilimnik appears to be Paul Manafort`s right-hand man both in
terms of his political work in Ukraine but also his business dealings in
that part of the world including his dealings with Oleg Deripaska. And
then Kilimnik turns up in these absolutely remarkable e-mails that were
first described in “The Washington Post.” they were ultimately obtained and
published by “The Atlantic” magazine.
In these e-mails which we got last year they show that as soon as Manafort
got into the Trump campaign, immediately, he started to scheme with
Konstantin Kilimnik about how he could use his role on this presidential
campaign to somehow settle his affairs, maybe collect some money, maybe
reduce his debts in the former Soviet Union.
Quote: “On the evening of April 11th, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump
hired Paul Manafort onto his presidential campaign, Manafort e-mailed his
old Lieutenant Konstantin Kilimnik who had worked for him for a decade in
the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. Manafort wrote, quote: I assume you have
showed my friends our media coverage, right? Kilimnik responded a few
hours later from Kiev: Absolutely. Every article.
Manafort then asked in response: How do we use to get whole? Has OVD
OVD meaning Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska. Has Oleg Deripaska seen? How do
we use to get whole?
Now, how was Paul Manafort going to use his position on an American
presidential campaign to get whole with some Russian oligarch? No idea.
This is an unprecedented open question in American history. But he and
Konstantin Kilimnik talked about it a lot while he was running the Trump
Kilimnik e-mails that April, April 2016, to Manafort. Quote: I have been
sending everything to victor, who has been forwarding the coverage directly
to OVD. Victor is somebody who`s working for Oleg Deripaska.
Kilimnik says to Manafort: I`m carefully optimistic on the issue of our
biggest interest. Our friend V said there`s lately significantly more
attention to the campaign in his boss`s mind. And he will most likely be
looking for ways to reach out to you pretty soon, understanding the time
sensitivity. I am more than sure that it will be resolved and we will get
back to the original relationship with V`s boss.
So, V is this guy victor who works for Oleg Deripaska. Oleg Deripaska is
the Russian oligarch who we think Paul Manafort owed millions of dollars to
at this point.
I mean, according to these incredible e-mails between Paul Manafort, the
Trump campaign chair, and Konstantin Kilimnik, this Russian oligarch guy is
increasingly interested in the presidential campaign, will be reaching out
to Manafort about the campaign. Something about that outreach will help
Manafort get back to his original relationship with Deripaska, presumably
one in which Manafort will be made whole. What are you doing with this
presidential campaign that`s going to pay off for you and Russia?
I mean, Manafort by this point is the Trump campaign chairman. He says,
quote: tell V boss, meaning tell Deripaska, that if he needs private
briefings, we can accommodate.
A week after up from gets the Republican nomination, Manafort gets another
e-mail from Kilimnik talking about a long meeting he just had with
We spent five hours talking about his story and I have several important
messages from him to you. He asked me to go brief you on our conversation.
It has to do with the future of his country, meaning Russia, and is quite
interesting. Please let me know which dates and places will work, even
next week. And I could come and see you.
Manafort responds, Tuesday`s best. And then indeed on Tuesday, Kilimnik
flies over from Kiev, shows up in New York. And he and Paul Manafort have
a long discussion in which Kilimnik later tells the “Washington Post” he
and Manafort discussed, quote, unpaid bills and current news.
The current news at that point was Paul Manafort was running a presidential
campaign in the United States. And unpaid bills that they were discussing
alongside that, that we don`t know.
So now that guy`s been charged. Now, Konstantin Kilimnik and Paul Manafort
are both charged with felonies by the special counsel`s office, both
looking at potentially decades in prison. We don`t know why Trump`s
campaign chairman thought he could use the Trump campaign to improve his
standing with rich Russians connected to Vladimir Putin. We don`t know
what business Trump`s campaign chairman was up to when he was offering
private briefings on the presidential campaign to a Russian oligarch close
to Vladimir Putin to whom he owed a lot of money.
We do know that Konstantin Kilimnik visited Manafort at least while
Manafort was running the Trump campaign. These e-mails published by “The
Atlantic” suggests that one purpose of those meetings was to convey
messages from that Russian oligarch to Paul Manafort while he was running
the Trump campaign. Kilimnik himself later suggested to acquaintances back
home that on one of those visits to Manafort during the campaign he,
Konstantin Kilimnik, had played a role in getting the Republican Party to
change its platform, to take a less hard line against Russia.
That change in the party platform at the Republican national convention
remains still mostly unexplained. It is reportedly under investigation by
the special counsel`s office. But at least one guy associated with Russian
military intelligence has been publicly bragging that he`s the one who got
The special counsel`s office has now described Konstantin Kilimnik in
multiple court filings as being currently associated with Russian military
intelligence. It`s not just where he learned English in his past. They`re
saying he`s now associated with military intelligence, an active link to
Russian intelligence, at least as of the presidential campaign.
In the sentencing document for Alex van der Zwaan, who is the son of a
Russian oligarch, who pled guilty in the special counsel`s investigation,
who just completed his 30-day prison sentence – in his sentencing
documents, Trump campaign chairman Rick Gates is described as having told
Alex van der Zwaan that he should be in touch with Konstantin Kilimnik.
Quote: Gates told him Kilimnik was a former intelligence officer with the
Given all these known live links to Russian intelligence, it is somewhat
amazing that twice since he`s been charged Paul Manafort has reached out to
Kilimnik to try to fight back against the charges against him. According
to prosecutors, the first time Manafort arguably violated the terms of his
bail was when he reached out to Konstantin Kilimnik to try to get an op-ed
published about his case in a Ukrainian newspaper.
The second time he arguably violated his bail was what led to these new
criminal charges today, where he again apparently reached out to Kilimnik
to have him contact previous business associates who might be called as
witnesses in Manafort`s trial. Manafort has been using this Russian
intelligence guy Kilimnik to get stuff done behind the back of the court,
behind the back of prosecutors at least twice since he has been charged.
Imagine how desperate you have to be to try that when you`ve already been
charged for what you`ve been charged with.
Now, Kilimnik will apparently no longer be his outside help. Kilimnik
himself has now been charged. There do seem to be indications that he
himself has fled to Russia, possibly to avoid being extradited to the U.S.
to face these charges. Him being a fugitive from U.S. justice hiding in
Russia raises some more interesting questions about what comes next here.
In some ways, it might seem futile for the special counsel to charge people
who are not in this country, people who are in Russia, when Russia`s
definitely not going to extradite any of them to a U.S. courtroom.
But you know what? Bringing federal criminal charges against those
Russians creates a weird dynamic and a weird dilemma for President Trump.
If President Trump decided to try to make this part of the Russia
investigation go away by pardoning Paul Manafort – well, now that Manafort
is charged in a joint indictment alongside Russian citizen Konstantin
Kilimnik, this prosecution and the investigation that goes along with it
could no longer be stopped simply by Trump pardoning Manafort. To stop
this part of the investigation, Trump would also have to pardon Konstantin
Kilimnik, Russian citizen, Russian intelligence operative. And I know
Trump`s willing to push the envelope, but that seems unlikely.
If you step back from this, this is just – this is just a remarkable
moment, right, in U.S. political history. You might remember, the day
before the Trump inauguration, “The New York Times” had this amazing
report, the new president that`s about to be sworn in the very next day is
caught up in a counterintelligence investigation into links between people
associated with him and Russia. And Russia had just attacked our election
to help him.
Quote: The counterintelligence investigation centers at least in part on
the business dealings that some of the president-elect`s past and present
advisers have had with Russia. Paul Manafort has done business in Ukraine
and Russia. Some of his contacts there were under surveillance by the NSA,
the National Security Agency, for suspected links to Russia`s federal
I mean, that was the day before the inauguration. We knew the day before
Trump was sworn in that people close to the new president`s campaign
manager had been under surveillance by the NSA because they were believed
to be Russian spies. He got sworn in anyway the next day, but now it looks
like one of those guys has finally been charged.
And within a week, many if not most of his advisers – excuse me – many if
not most observers think that the president`s campaign chairman will
himself be in jail contemplating a third round of felony charges,
contemplating a joint indictment with a Russian intelligence operative.
And it is hard to imagine how Paul Manafort weighs all of this ease
contemplates whether he really, truly wants to face this all alone, instead
of taking his only way out, which is cooperating with the special counsel.
MADDOW: Today the case marked United States of America versus Paul J.
Manafort Jr., became United States of America versus Paul J. Manafort Jr.
and Konstantin Kilimnik.
Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort is now facing felony charges alongside
his long-time business partner in Ukraine, a man who special counsel Robert
Mueller has said in multiple court filings, quote, has ties to a Russian
In the superseding indictment that was unsealed today, the two of them
together are charged with obstruction of justice for witness tampering.
Quote: The defendants, Manafort and Kilimnik, knowingly and intentionally
attempted to corruptly persuade another person with intent to influence,
delay and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.
They`re charged with obstruction of justice, witness tampering and they`re
also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice which means that Mueller
has now indicted yet another person. The 20th person indicted in the
scandal thus far.
It also means for all of us that you and I together, us as a country, us as
citizens, we`ve now reached the point in American history and in our lives
where the sitting president`s campaign chairman is jointly charged in a
felony indictment with a Russian intelligence operative. Aw. I`m glad we
were able to be here for each other.
But actually, there`s a little breaking news here. Just this second, I
haven`t even finished reading it yet. I just got it in the commercial
break. We just this second actually got the motion from Paul Manafort`s
lawyers in which they object to what special counsel`s office has filed in
Before they filed criminal charges on witness tampering today against
Kilimnik and Manafort, they had previously filed a motion with the court in
Manafort`s case, asking the judge in Manafort`s case to revoke his bail,
essentially to put him in jail awaiting trial because they said he had
tried to tamper with these witnesses. Manafort`s lawyers have now just
filed their response to that in which they call it – they call the
allegations of witness tampering, quote, dubious, and they say that
Manafort is guilty of no such thing.
Quote: Mr. Manafort`s limited communications cannot be fairly read either
factually or legally to reflect an intent to corruptly influence a trial
Manafort has unbelievable pressure on him right now. But he`s got lawyers
and they`re fighting back.
Joining us now is Julia Ioffe who`s a contributing writer to “The Atlantic”
who has done some totally intrepid reporting on Konstantin Kilimnik who
found himself indicted today.
Ms. Ioffe, thank you very much for joining us.
JULIA IOFFE, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: My pleasure. Thanks for
MADDOW: Were you surprised that the special counsel`s office brought
felony charges against Kilimnik in this case, and do you know where in the
world he is?
IOFFE: I was not surprised. I think this was long in coming. Kilimnik
was so integral to Manafort`s operations, as you so eloquently described.
As to where he is, I am not sure. But last we`ve heard of him I believe he
was allowed to kind of leave Ukraine and go back to Russia, and it seemed
that this was part of a deal with the Trump administration, or with the
Ukrainian government where the Ukrainian government would shut down its
investigation into Paul Manafort`s corrupt business dealings in Ukraine in
exchange for – or it seemed like given the timing, it was in exchange for
javelin missiles, the kind of the lethal aid that the Trump administration
had promised to the Ukrainian government in its fight against Russia.
That said, Manafort – Paul Manafort was apparently instrumental in the
summer of 2016 during the Republican National Convention in placing this
very strange line in the Republican national platform that the Republican
Party stood for not giving lethal military aid to the Ukrainian government.
MADDOW: Let`s unpack this a little bit because it`s crazy. And so, I want
to get to the heart of the crazy. As far as we understand it, Paul
Manafort obviously was working for the pro-Russian former dictator of
Ukraine who was overthrown in a popular uprising and who the dictator then
fled to Russia.
IOFFE: I wouldn`t say – I wouldn`t say dictator.
MADDOW: The authoritarian leader of Ukraine?
MADDOW: OK. Fair enough. So, thank you. I appreciate it.
So, after Yanukovych ends up hiding in Russia after his government is
overthrown, Manafort and Kilimnik seem to continue to have some political
work, at least continue to maintain political contacts and some political
interests in Ukraine with the successor agencies, the successor parties to
the guy who they had previously worked for. But the successor government
to Yanukovych is interested in getting at the corruption. That was part of
his administration. And as they`re investigating corruption and
kleptocracy in that government, they actually start investigating
meaningfully Paul Manafort and whether or not he was committing crimes
essentially against the people of Ukraine.
Is that fair?
IOFFE: It`s a little bit more complicated than that. Actually, it`s a lot
more complicated than that I think.
But especially when you`re dealing with Ukraine. Ukraine is not a
monolithic country. It is a democracy, even when it was ruled by
When he left, the parties, the forces, the political forces, the business
interests that he represented did not go anywhere. And in fact, they tried
to mount a challenge to the pro-Western government that had come in with
Petro Poroshenko, who was himself extremely corrupt. And it is not – you
know, closing down an investigation into one corrupt guy is not crazy in a
government that`s also riddled with corruption.
So, you know, I think this kind of makes sense as a kind of offering to the
Trump administration to get what this government, which is so anti-Russian,
which was lethal aid, lethal force in fighting the Russian-backed
separatists in eastern Ukraine.
MADDOW: And as part of what they may have arranged here, not only were the
investigations into Manafort dropped but it appears at the same time that
Kilimnik was allowed to leave Ukraine despite the fact there was an
espionage inquiry into him and he was allowed to go to Russia, which is
where we think he is now.
IOFFE: Yes. And if he`s in Russia, he`s never going to see the inside of
an American courtroom. Russia and the U.S. do not have famously an
extradition treaty and they like to fight bitterly about who isn`t
MADDOW: Julia Ioffe, contributing writer to “The Atlantic” – I`ve always
been a great fan of your work. Thank you for being here so much.
IOFFE: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Thank you.
IOFFE: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Stay with us. More news ahead.
MADDOW: Take a breath, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Big
news day. Lots of stuff that`s difficult to absorb.
But I just want you to enjoy this for a second. Enjoy Ersus Americanus.
Enjoy the black bear. There are a ton of black bears in North America.
Ersus Americanus. Nearly a million black bears in North America.
But there are few places in North America where these bears are known to
congregate, where you as a human can count on reliably being able to see
them in numbers up close. Yellowstone National Park is one of those
places. So, is Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
But across the northern border in Canada, there`s La Malbaie. It`s in the
Charlevoix region of Quebec, a couple hours outside Quebec City. In the
same way you can take a whale watching tour if you`re hanging out on the
coast somewhere, in La Malbaie, you can take a bear watching tour.
Literally you go around and watch the bears for hours, all around the town.
And people get really into it. People write about the La Malbaie bear
tours on travel sites. Spent three hours close quarters to bears. A once-
in-a-lifetime experience. The whole experience is very unique and
exciting. A must.
La Malbaie is a destination for the bear enthusiasts among us. La Malbaie
is also this weekend the destination for the world leaders of the G7 as
they hammer out world issues. While surrounded by bears.
Oddly comforting, I know. It is certainly more comforting than what
happened inside that meeting. Hold that thought.
MADDOW: A few months after Vladimir Putin was first elected president of
Russia in the year 2000 the “Washington Post” sent a new bureau chief to
Moscow. Actually, they sent two. They sent a couple.
They sent Susan Glasser, who was then “The Post`s” national political
correspondent. And they sent her journalist husband, Peter Baker. Glasser
and Baker were newly married. When “The New York Times” wrote up their
wedding the paper said, quote, the bride and bridegroom are on leave from
the “Washington Post,” learning Russian in preparation to become the
newspaper`s Moscow bureau chiefs.
Susan Glasser spent four years as the leading – leading the “Washington
Post`s” Moscow coverage. And the book she wrote afterward with her
husband, Mr. Baker, their book about what they learned in their time there
was kind of a warning. It`s now a famous warning. It was a book called
“Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin`s Russia and the End of Revolution.”
Their book made a case which is familiar now but was still very
controversial at the time in foreign policy circles when it was published.
They made the case that Putin wasn`t shaping up to be the kind of partner
for the west that the Bush administration and the early Obama
administration had hoped for and expected. They described a growing
authoritarianism in Russia built around the idea that Putin would lead
Russia in a return to the glory days of the super powerful Soviet Union.
Susan Glasser`s been back in Washington since 2005. She`s been the editor
of “Foreign Policy” and “Politico”. And meanwhile, most Americans have
come around to recognizing Vladimir Putin as the figure that Ms. Glasser
and Mr. Baker described over a dozen years ago, anti-Democratic,
increasingly authoritarian, certainly hostile to the West. Not a friend.
Pretty much America has come around to that idea. Not everyone.
This morning, as he departed the White House for the G7 summit in Quebec,
President Trump capped off days of berating his Canadian hosts and the
other G7 partners by calling for Russia to be welcomed back into the G7,
even though they got kicked out just a few years ago because they invaded
Crimea and took part of their territory.
Writing in today`s “New York Times” about Trump`s antagonism toward
America`s long-time allies, former national security adviser Susan Rice had
this blunt assessment. Quote: There`s no evidence that Putin is dictating
American policy, but it`s hard to imagine how he could do much better even
if he were.
And if you want reported confirmation of just how bad those relations are
between the U.S. and our strongest European allies, today, there`s also
this sobering new piece, the latest from Susan Glasser, who now writes for
“New Yorker.” She spoke to a slew of European officials, and the quotes
she got are remarkable. Not just because they reveal how fraught American
alliances have become, but also because the feelings about it are so raw.
Quote: The rift between the world`s great democracies that Trump`s election
portended is coming to pass. Senior government officials in London, Berlin
and other European capitals and in Washington have told me they now worry
that Trump may be a greater immediate threat to the alliance, meaning the
Western alliance, than even authoritarian great power rivals like Russia
In Berlin, Susan Glasser spoke with several German officials who, quote,
made references to personal and familial dysfunction. A senior German
lawmaker said, quote, it`s like your parents questioning their love for
Another said, quote, we were very emotional because our relationship with
America is so emotional. It`s more of a son/father relationship. We
didn`t recognize our father anymore and now we realized he might beat us.
When you upend decades of international world order based on American
leadership in like a year, turns out people take it personally, and
emotionally and seriously.
Susan Glasser joins us next.
MADDOW: Smiles, everyone. Smiles.
If this was all you saw from the G-7 summit today, this might seem like the
happy episode of Fantasy Island. The president is leaving early from the
G-7 summit. And at this G-7 summit, it`s clear that something is wrong.
Our closest allies in the world are openly talking about rebuking the
United States and acting more like a G-6 without us.
The president kicked off the summit today by saying that he thinks that
Russia should be back in this group. That was a blind fuselage from the
president that nobody knew was coming, nobody knew why he made that case
and nobody knew what effect – nobody knows what effect it was expected to
have on what is usually fairly placid discussions with out closest allies
in the world.
Joining us now is Susan Glasser. She`s staff writer at “The New Yorker”.
Ms. Glasser, it`s great to have you with us tonight. I`m really happy to
have you here on the show.
SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Thank you so much. That was
a very kind introduction, although now I feel very old, although Vladimir
Putin looks a lot younger in those pictures you showed.
MADDOW: What I didn`t mention is that when you became Moscow bureau chief,
you were 7.
GLASSER: Exactly, exactly. You failed to mention that.
MADDOW: I know.
Let me – I just wanted to talk to you about sort of your big picture
perspective on the relationship between the president making these
remarkable overtures toward Vladimir Putin today, going so far as to say
that Russia should be back in the G-8, despite all the reasons they were
kicked out just a few years ago.
What do you think the relationship is between that and the way the
president has been picking so many fights with and being so antagonistic
towards our closest allies?
GLASSER: Well, you know, I really – I felt like even in this context
where we felt like we can`t be surprised anymore, I have to say, this
morning, I was really surprised to see Trump tripling down really in
confrontation with his allies, not only has he managed to alienate and
upset America`s closest, both European partners, Canada. I mean, as even
the Canadian officials were saying last week, Canada, seriously? Like
that`s what you`re doing?
But, you know, he`s alienated them at the same time it`s clear to me at
least to me that the president has never let go of his desire to really
reset relations with Russia. And I think listening to him saying they
should be back in the G-8 this morning when they were kicked out for
illegally occupying an annexing territory in 2014 is really – shows you
that it matters what kind of a world view you have.
Donald Trump is not with the program of the rules based liberal
international order, you know? He`s not subscribed to the order that if
you invade another country, you don`t belong in a meeting of the world`s
largest democracies and economies. That`s what the G-7 is supposed to be.
And I think he has this view of the world that`s a very almost Darwinian,
kind of great powers rule. And he wants to sit down at the table with
China and Russia, and he`s not comfortable with the more consensus,
multilateral international approach that really most of his predecessors
have had in recent years.
MADDOW: And is that order he`s more comfortable with, is that – does he
share that with Vladimir Putin? Is what he`s pursuing in terms of this
disruptive attitude toward our allies in the West is that Putin`s agenda?
GLASSER: Well, listen, if the ends are the same, right? The ends are the
same. I don`t know what`s in Trump`s head as to why he feels so deeply –
and personally, he`s bitter about our allies in a way that he doesn`t seem
to be bitter at all about, you know, the dictators and authoritarian
leaders that he`s comfortable with.
He really has a sense of grievance if you listen to him talk about Europe,
if you listen to him talk about Canada even, this idea that he`s getting
robbed, cheated, ripped off – you never hear that when he`s talking about
Russia. And I think that, you know, the two of them, whatever is in their
head, their end is the same, right, which is chaos and instability inside
the Western alliance.
MADDOW: Susan Glasser, staff writer at “The New Yorker”, thank you so much
for being here. It`s great to have you here.
GLASSER: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The next time I see you, which unless you`re a trout is going to
be Monday night, the American summit with North Korea will just be getting
started on the other side of the world in Singapore, that is unless it gets
called off between now and then. I want you to know, we`re going to have
live coverage starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday.
It will be me and Brian Williams sort of at the helm. We`ll have all the
whole team here and all the experts, Monday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern,
starts our coverage of the U.S.-North Korea summit live as it happens.
That does it for us tonight. See you again then.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with the great Katy Tur, in for Lawrence
Good evening, Katy.
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