Manafort prosecutors to call 4 witnesses. TRANSCRIPT: 08/09/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: August 9, 2018
Guest: Richard Blumenthal
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. Happy Thursday.
So, the prosecution says they will rest their case tomorrow in the first
felony trial of the president’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Now, we
had known heading into today that the prosecution was going to try to
squeeze in a whole bunch of witnesses between now and the end of the
presentation of their side of the case at the end of the day tomorrow.
What we didn’t know before tonight is that prosecutors are apparently going
to end their case with a flurry of evidence and testimony tomorrow that is
about the Trump campaign.
This is an unusual turn in the Manafort case. In hearings before the
Manafort trial started, you might remember that Manafort’s defense lawyers
had argued that nothing related to his time running the campaign should be
discussed or even alluded to at trial. And prosecution side largely
conceded that they weren’t going to make the Manafort trial about his time
running Trump’s presidential effort, except they said for one thing. They
advised the court before the trial even started that they did intend to
present evidence about Paul Manafort allegedly telling the CEO of a tiny
little bank in Chicago that that CEO could be secretary of the army once
Trump was elected president. That bank ended up giving Paul Manafort about
$16 million in loans between Election Day and inauguration.
It’s been a little bit hard to your figure out what to – what to make of
that allegation, whether that mysterious allegation would ultimately be
fleshed out in court. We haven’t seen hide nor hare of this poor sod, this
banking CEO from Chicago who apparently really did think that he was going
to get to run the U.S. Army once Trump was sworn in. We have been
wondering all along if he himself might have worked out a deal with
prosecutors. Where is this guy?
We’ve been trying to figure out how exactly this allegation about selling
this army job might relate to the multiple felony charges that are pending
against Manafort in this specific trial. I mean, we haven’t understood by
this one aspect of Paul Manafort’s relationship with the Trump campaign and
the Trump presidency was cleared to go ahead in this court case when all
other aspects of his relationship to the Trump campaign and Trump
presidency have been blocked. So, it’s been a very intriguing allegation,
sort of a juicy allegation, an interesting one.
But we haven’t really known where it was going. Tonight, we finally know,
because now we know about tomorrow, on the last day of the prosecution
presenting their case, they are apparently going to finally lay it all out
so we will finally know what they’ve been getting at with this. Two
employees of that little Chicago bank were given immunity deals in exchange
for their potential testimony against Paul Manafort. Those two witnesses
who were given immunity have not testified thus far. But we now understand
that they will both be called to the stand tomorrow morning.
We also learned late tonight that prosecutors have actually added a third
new witness from this same bank, a witness we had never heard of before
tonight, that they announced that they will call the third witness from
that little bank in Chicago tomorrow as well. And at the last minute,
prosecutors have also now introduced new exhibits, new documentary evidence
that appears to be about this allegation that the chairman of the Trump
campaign offered to basically sell the job of U.S. army secretary in
exchange for several million dollars for himself in dodgy bank loans.
It’s apparently finally all going to get laid out. We’re going to have
more on that ahead tonight. What this means for your news consumption plan
though if nothing else is that prosecutors are apparently going to throw a
big Trump-related twist into the Manafort case right at the very end of it
tomorrow. And so, that should be fascinating. Again, we will have more on
that coming up over the course of this hour.
Also, here’s an intriguing development. This is something that we talked
about here on the show when it happened two days ago in court, happened
Tuesday afternoon in court in the Manafort trial. This was Kevin Downing,
Paul Manafort’s defense lawyer cross examining Trump’s deputy campaign
chairman Rick Gates. This is from the transcript.
Question: now in terms of your cooperation with the office of special
counsel, after you took your plea, did you have occasion to be interviewed
by other members of the office of special counsel about the Trump campaign?
Answer from Rick Gates: Yes.
Question: and were you interviewed on several occasions about your time at
the Trump campaign No answer because at that point, Greg Andres, the
prosecutor, jumps in. Objection, your honor.
All right, the judge says. Do you need to come to the bench? Mr. Andres
says, please. The judge says: all right. You may do so.
And then what happens next? We have no idea. This is what’s next in the
transcript. Do you see it there in parentheses? Pages 1399 through 1405
filed under seal.
So, we talked about this Tuesday night after it happened. This was
intriguing when it happened, right? There’s only been one other reference
in the whole Paul Manafort trial to his time on the Trump campaign, this
thing I previously mentioned about him maybe offering a job running the
U.S. Army to a bank president who approved these loans for him. That’s the
only other reference to the Trump campaign in the trial thus far.
But two days ago, out of the blue on cross-examination, the Manafort
defense lawyer asks Rick Gates, hey, did Mueller’s prosecutors talk to you
about your time working on the Trump campaign? Did you talk to them about
that? Prosecutor from the special counsel’s office gets up and objects.
The judge summons both lawyers to come to the bench.
He flips on, I kid you not, flips on the white noise machine which is a
real thing so the jury and spectators hear the sound of like crashing waves
instead of the conversation. You know, the jury, the reporters in the
room, spectators none of them can hear what’s being said at the bench.
And the lawyers on both side stay up there at the judge’s bench, and they
have this long private communication. We know it’s long because we know it
takes six pages to transcribe. But we can’t see those pages because they
Now, we do know after that bench conference whatever happened there, the
cross-examination picked back up again with the same lawyer questioning
Rick Gates and Rick Gates after that bench conference, whatever happened,
he no longer faced any more questions about the Trump campaign or when’s he
told the special counsel about the campaign. So, whatever happened talking
to the judge there, Paul Manafort’s defense lawyer felt the need to change
But that was one of the most intriguing moments in the whole trial thus
far. It’s been this real mystery as to what that was. Well, today,
fascinating development. Prosecutors today filed this. It is a formal
request to keep that sidebar discussion at the bench that’s just the judge
and lawyers from both sides with the White House noise machine on, they
filed a request to keep that discussion secret.
It’s sealed already. In the course of the trial under normal
circumstances, that would eventually be unsealed but prosecutors filed this
motion saying that whole discussion has to be kept sealed and secret.
Quote: On October 7th, 2018, so Tuesday, the court held a sidebar
conference to address a line of questioning pursued by the defense during
their cross-examination of witness Richard Gates. During the sidebar
conference, substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing investigation was
revealed. The following portions of the sidebar conference transcript
identifies that evidence or reveals details about that evidence.
And then they lay it out specifically. Page 1399, lines 14 through 19 is,
page 1402 lines 1 and 2, and lines 14 to 17. Page 1403 lines 12 to 15.
That apparently is where the evidence was discussed, the evidence was
revealed pertaining to an ongoing investigation.
So, the prosecutors argue, quote, disclosing the identified transcript
portions would reveal substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing
investigation. The government’s interest in protecting the confidentiality
of its ongoing investigations is compelling and justifies sealing the
limited portion of the sidebar conference at issue here. Law enforcement
agencies must be able to investigate crime without the details of the
investigation being released to the public in a manner that compromises the
investigation. The government has a paramount interest in preventing the
release of information which may reveal the direction and progress of
ongoing criminal investigations that is not otherwise known to the public.
So, something came up at that moment in court. And it was prompted by
these questions about Gates talking to the special counsel about his time
on the Trump campaign. We don’t know exactly what happens. But something
about this concerns Rick Gates. It concerns ongoing investigations that
must be kept secret according to prosecutors. Fascinating when they filed
that motion today, right? It was fascinating when it happened, fascinating
see what whole portion of the transcript was sealed. Now fascinating that
the prosecutors say that has to stay sealed.
And then late tonight, the judge issued his order and he agrees with the
prosecutors. Yep, it will be kept secret, whatever in that discussion at
the bench after Rick Gates was asked about what he’s told Robert Mueller
about his time on the Trump campaign, that will continue to be kept secret
from all of us by the court because of its relevance to other ongoing
What other ongoing investigations? This is the point where I want to say
tell me more. But the judge just ruled tonight, no, no Maddow, you are not
getting anymore. Nobody else is either.
I mean, we will find out when whatever that is turns up in some other case
I guess. What other case? We don’t know. Fascinating.
We’ll have more on that ahead tonight, as well. But that’s been unspooling
over the course of the late afternoon and into tonight.
Now, last night at this time, we made public here on this show an audio
recording that we obtained from a closed door Republican fund-raiser that
took place last week. This is an audio recording on which the House
Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and the number four Republican
House leadership Cathy McMorris-Rodgers appear to admit at this closed door
event where they didn’t know they were being recorded they appeared to
admit that despite public statements to the contrary, there is a House
Republican plan to pursue the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod
Rosenstein who oversees the Bob Mueller investigation at the Justice
We broke that story last night. We played that audio. That news that we
broke last night is now pinballing through today’s news in a couple
different ways including one you should know about.
All right. A couple weeks ago, you might remember, a small group of hard
line pro Trump congressional Republicans introduced articles of impeachment
for Rod Rosenstein. You might also remember that House Speaker Paul Ryan
immediately distanced himself and the rest of house Republicans from that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Do I support impeachment of
Rod Rosenstein? No, I do not. I do not for a number of reasons. First,
it takes – I don’t think we should be cavalier with this process or with
this term, number one. Number two, I don’t think that this rises to the
level of high crimes and misdemeanors.
REPORTER: Given what you just said, did you try to discourage your
colleagues from taking this step and do you view this as a legitimate
effort or as a stunt?
RYAN: Look, I think they know how I feel about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, congressional Republicans at least their leadership, they have
tried to make it known that they think this idea of impeaching Rod
Rosenstein is cuckoo for cocoa puffs, right? No way we’re pursuing that.
That’s a fringe thing. We’re not board with that at all. That’s the
Behind closed doors at this fund-raiser, though, House Intelligence
Chairman Devin Nunes and the number four Republican in House leadership,
Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, they appeared to indicate that Republicans in
Congress do support impeaching Rod Rosenstein, but they don’t want to do it
Answering a question from an audience member at this fund-raiser for
Rodgers, answering a question from an audience member whether or not those
impeachment articles against Rosenstein actually had any support in
Congress, Devin Nunes explained that there is support for the impeachment
of Rosenstein. He said you won’t get at argument about that from our
colleagues, but he said basically they’re not talking about it now before
They plan to pursue it: A, once the election is over and B, crucially,
after Republicans have confirmed Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the
United States Supreme Court.
Now, this is not a plan that congressional Republican leadership has talked
about publicly. Quite the contrary. But, apparently, they are talking
about it behind closed doors.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: But also, on things that came up in the House on
Rosenstein impeachment thing. And it appears from an outsider that the
Republicans were not supported.
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R). CALIFORNIA: Yes, well, so it’s a bit complicated,
right? And I say that because you have to, so we only have so many months
left, right? So if we actually vote to impeach, OK, what that does is that
triggers the Senate then has to take it up.
Well, and you have to decide what you want right now because the Senate
only has so much time. Do you want them to drop everything and not confirm
the Supreme Court justice, the new Supreme Court justice?
So, that’s part of why, I don’t think you have, you’re not getting from,
and I’ve said publicly Rosenstein deserves to be impeached. I mean, so, I
don’t think you’re going to get any argument from most of our colleagues.
The question is the timing of it right before the election.”
REP. MCMORRIS RODGERS (R), WASHINGTON: Also, the Senate has to start –
NUNES: The Senate would have to start, the Senate would have to drop
everything they’re doing and start to, and start with impeachment on
Rosenstein. And then take the risk of not getting Kavanaugh confirmed.
So, it’s not a matter that any of us like Rosenstein. It’s a matter of –
it’s a matter of timing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: It’s a matter of timing. Don’t think that we’re not against
Rosenstein. Don’t think we might not impeach Rosenstein. It’s a matter of
The reason to impeach Rosenstein is not because Republicans don’t like him
or don’t. It’s because Rosenstein oversees the special counsel
investigation of the Russia attack which is being run by former FBI
Director Robert Mueller, forcing Rod Rosenstein out of office through
impeachment is the one direct way that Republicans in Congress could end
the Mueller investigation because removing Rosenstein would allow him to be
replaced with somebody who would shut Mueller down. It’s a matter of
Again, this is what they’re saying behind closed doors, not in public. If
this is the way they’re planning to sequence their actions this raises the
possibility that congressional Republicans know that are moving to end the
Mueller investigation by impeaching Rod Rosenstein, that could precipitate
some kind of constitutional confrontation, if not a constitutional crisis
if their plan is to make sure that Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court
when that happens for just such an occasion – well, that changes meaning
of the Kavanaugh confirmation, right? That raises the stakes even further
and sort of changes them as to when and whether Kavanaugh will be
I want to tell you we reached out to House Speaker Paul Ryan about this
news particularly because he has said that Republicans in Congress won’t
pursue anything like this, right? Since Cathy McMorris-Rodgers is on his
leadership team and she’s apparently talking about this plan privately at a
fund-raiser in her home state, it raises the question whether or not
Republicans have one plan they’re telling voters and reporters about before
the election but once the election’s over, they are planning some sort of
surprise U-turn. We’ve had no response yet from Speaker Ryan’s office in
response to our questions but we’ll let you know if we do hear from him.
You should also know that there is a big news storm brewing when it comes
to Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and whether Republicans are trying
to block access to specific documents from his past because Democrats say
those documents might prove that Kavanaugh actually lied under oath to the
Senate the last time he had a confirmation hearing. In 2006, a much
younger Brett Kavanaugh appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the
same committee that will consider his nomination for the premium court.
Some of the members of that committee are still there. And were there in
2006, they’re still there now.
Brett Kavanaugh was White House staff secretary at the time of that
nomination before that, he worked for the White House council’s office
during the George W. Bush administration. Senators at the time had a lot
of questions about his proximity to various Bush administration scandals
specifically to the bush administration’s policies on torture and treatment
of detainees. Senators wanted to know what role Brett Kavanaugh, what role
Brett Kavanaugh might have played in forming those policies if any.
But each time they asked him about it, the response from him was nope, not
me. Had nothing to do with me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, THEN-DISTRICT COURT JUDGE NOMINEE: I was not involved and
am not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of
combatants or and so I do not have any involvement with that.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: What about the documents relating to the
administration’s policies and practice on torture? Did you see anything
about that or had you – did you first hear about that when you read it in
KAVANAUGH: I think with respect to the legal justifications or the
policies relating to the treatment of detainees, I was not aware of any
issues on that or the legal memos that subsequently came out in the summer
sometime in 2004 when there started to be news reports on that. This was
not part of my docket either in the counsel’s office or as staff secretary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I was not aware of any issues on that. This was not part of my
That actually – that answer actually got its own national headline at the
time because Kavanaugh’s nomination was so controversial. Kavanaugh denies
role in detainee policies.
Well, it turns out that denial may not have been true. About a year after
that Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to a federal appeals court to, the D.C.
Circuit Court, “The Washington Post” and NPR reported that Brett Kavanaugh
had actually been personally involved in one very significant White House
discussion on that very issue. It was part of what he dealt with when he
worked in the George W. Bush White House.
Now, this has a whoa bunch of consequences. Number one, had Brett
Kavanaugh admitted in his confirmation hearings he had in fact taken part
in White House policy discussions about enemy combatants and other so-
called detainee issues after 9/11, it’s quite possible had he admitted
that, that he would have been expected once he was on the D.C. Circuit
Court to recuse himself from being a judge in any case that touched on
That’s not a hypothetical. The D.C. Circuit Court, the court he ended up
on, that’s the court that handles those issues in the federal system.
That’s the court that has exclusive jurisdiction for cases under the
Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act. And in fact, once
he was confirmed and he landed on that court, the very first case tried
before Brett Kavanaugh as a D.C. Circuit Court judge was a case about
detainees at Guantanamo.
The lawyer who represented those guys at Guantanamo told NPR that had he
known that in fact Kavanaugh had been part of White House discussion about
detainees, he might well have demanded at that trial that Kavanaugh had to
recuse himself from hearing that case. So, Kavanaugh denying under oath
before the U.S. Senate that he had had anything to do with any policy
discussions about detainees when he in fact was part of those discussions,
that had real world troubling legal consequences for his time already as
appeals court judge.
As an even simpler consequence, there’s also the question of whether or not
Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath to the Senate in order to get that last
judgeship. After these news reports emerged in 2007 about his
participation in those White House discussions, despite his denials to the
contrary and his confirmation hearing, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin wrote
to then newly minted Judge Brett Kavanaugh requesting an explanation for
his contradictory statements during his confirmation the year before. We
just checked in with Dick Durbin’s office about this now. They say they’re
still waiting for a response from Judge Kavanaugh now 11 years later. The
mail is slow but geez.
Senator Pat Leahy was chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time. He
even referred Brett Kavanaugh to the public integrity section of the
Justice Department for possible prosecution for lying to senators under
oath. The Bush Justice Department did not take up that request and
prosecute Judge Kavanaugh but sort of still hanging out there.
I mean, it’s kind of amazing that this is the guy who is now nominated for
the U.S. Supreme Court with this particular loose end just hanging out
there still from the last time he was confirmed for something which caused
such controversy. This really never was settled. And the fact that the
Senate – these senators get old in the Senate and the guys who were there
11 years ago and so mad about potentially being lied to, some of those are
still there. That’s how the Senate works.
And so, now, the aforementioned new storm brewing because Republicans are
now blocking Democratic requests to receive and review documents from Brett
Kavanaugh’s time working in the Bush White House, including the specific
records that might settle the issue once and for all as to whether or not
Judge Kavanaugh really did lie to the Senate the last time he was up for
confirmation when he got his current seat on the appeals court. Democrats
are now trying out an unprecedented series of actions to try to get these
documents from Kavanaugh’s past over Republican objections. We’ll hear
about more of that in a moment.
But that was all before we learn about these discussions by Republicans
about them trying to sequence the Brent Kavanaugh confirmation so they make
sure that it’s done and he’s in place before any move to impeach Rod
Rosenstein and force the end of the Mueller investigation.
This was already going to be a red hot fight. It is now more like a raging
We’ve got more ahead on this. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, this week Democrats in the Senate made history in a way they
are not happy about. For what is believed to be the first time ever,
senators on the Judiciary Committee, Democratic senators on the committee,
took this unprecedented step to try to vet a nominee for the U.S. Supreme
Court. They filed FOIA requests. Freedom of Information Act requests, the
kind thing journalists do when nobody gives us information we’re asking
U.S. senators don’t usually have to do that to get documentation related to
a nominee for the judiciary. But that’s what they’re trying to do. To get
documentation and records related to Brett Kavanaugh’s work in the George
W. Bush White House. I mean, this is vetting somebody for one of the most
important jobs in the country, certainly the most pivotal job at this
particular point in our country’s history.
But Republicans are blocking Democrats from getting most of the documents
from Kavanaugh’s long record in public service. Republicans quite clearly
just want to get this done and get him on the court quickly. Democrats are
doing even stuff they’ve never done before that nobody has ever done before
to try to get all the paperwork that Kavanaugh has produced in his long
Joining us now, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He’s a member
of the Judiciary Committee. He’s one of the members who’s been trying to
learn these new tricks to get access to Kavanaugh’s records.
Senator, thank you for being here tonight.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you.
MADDOW: And I as far as we can tell, there’s never been – members of the
Senate have never filed FOIA requests to try to get access to documents for
a Supreme Court nominee before. Am I right that this is unprecedented?
BLUMENTHAL: Never before have any Republican or Democratic senators had to
file Freedom of Information requests for these kinds of documents. The
reason is quite simply, Senate Republicans are hiding and concealing
massive number of documents. Tens of thousands of pages of documents
relating to Judge Kavanaugh’s service as staff secretary to President Bush.
Remember, he served for three years in that capacity. That was the time
that a lot of these detainee issues arose, other kinds of civil rights and
civil liberties issues that will come before him as a justice on the
Supreme Court. It is unprecedented and very unfortunate because
unfortunately, the Senate Republicans have really shattered the norms and
they’re violating the intent and letter of the Presidential Records Act.
MADDOW: There are a lot of different elements of Judge Kavanaugh’s record
and his positions on the law that are going to come under scrutiny and that
have already been the subject of various degrees of controversy. But on
this point, just as a matter of how we’re supposed to do this as a country,
it’s – we do have recent experience of there being a nominee for the court
who has an extensive paper trail because of work in the White House.
Elena Kagan, one of President Obama’s nominees had extensively worked in
the White House, had a long record in Washington and there was no issue in
terms of receiving all of the documentation, all of the records from her
time working in the administration.
What’s the justification for treating Elena Kagan completely opposite from
how they’re treating Judge Kavanaugh?
BLUMENTHAL: There is absolutely no principled explanation for it. And the
only reason is that the Republicans obviously want to rush through this
nomination. They have not only limited the scope of the documents that
they will allow access to, but they’ve also even as to those limited number
of documents that they’re willing to make available, they have delegated or
outsourced the prescreening cherry picking process to a Republican lawyer,
Bill Burck, who just coincidentally happened to work as a subordinate for
Judge Kavanaugh when they were both working in the Bush White House.
Bill Burck is now Bush’s lawyer. He is also Don McGahn’s lawyer. Don
McGahn was involved in picking Judge Kavanaugh. There is a kind of –
MADDOW: Isn’t Bill Burck also representing is Reince Priebus and Steve
Bannon in the Russia investigation?
MADDOW: That’s the person they’re having produce all the records related
to Brett Kavanaugh?
BLUMENTHAL: In effect, sanitizing all these documents, cherry-picking the
ones he’s going to allow us to see without any explanation, by the way, any
log or any record of the ones that he is withholding.
MADDOW: The – we had a story last night that involved some audio recorded
as a Republican fund raiser where Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee, and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, who’s in the House
leadership on the Republican side, they were talking about the potential
impeachment of Rod Rosenstein and the need to shut down the Mueller
investigation. And they seemed to be talking about timing that in relation
to the Kavanaugh confirmation.
This is – the story was controversial and we believe news worthy because
of the linkage of those two issues among these influential members of
Congress on Republican side.
What do you think is going to happen in terms of timing of the
confirmation? Republicans seem to be making it clear in different terms in
public and behind closed doors that they want to get this done very fast
definitely before the election.
BLUMENTHAL: First, understand that very few of us are ever going to cast a
more important vote. I will never cast a more important vote than this one
on this nomination. And it’s one that is going to live with us for
history. It’s the one that our grandchildren are going to say, how did you
vote on the Kavanaugh nomination?
And we need to approach it with that kind of deliberation. It’s going to
affect the air and water you drink, whether you can marry the person you
love, whether you can decide when and whether you want to become pregnant,
all these fundamental rights and liberties will depend on Brett Kavanaugh
as a potential swing vote on the court.
So, what do I think is going to happen in terms of timing? I think the
Republicans are going to try to rush through this nomination. And my
question is, what are they hiding? What are they afraid of the American
people seeing in those thousands of pages of documents?
MADDOW: Republicans think they may have an election issue that could swing
either way in terms of this coming up before the election. They think the
Democratic fight against Kavanaugh is likely to be the Democrats
potentially the most potent issue for the Democratic party in this
election, as well.
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, thank you so much for being
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
MADDOW: I really appreciate you being here.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, you have become accustomed to a little court room drama in
your daily news now, right, especially when it comes to the Russia scandal
and the Trump campaign, blah, blah, blah.
Something happened today that was not all about the Russia scandal, but it
was incredible drama today in a federal courtroom. It was basically about
the Trump administration badly screwing something up. The Trump
administration lawyer standing there in the court couldn’t explain why it
happened. Was apologizing to the judge.
The judge had an incredibly dramatic on the record freak-out right there in
the courtroom and it ended up with the judge ordering a plane to turn
around in the air immediately. It was unbelievable.
And we’ve got that story and the transcript, next.
MADDOW: All right. We just got – we heard that this happened in the
middle of the afternoon but then we just got the transcript of what
actually happens just a couple minutes before we got on the air.
So check this out. The drama starts actually with a recess. The court
will stand in recess for about 10 minutes or so. Thank you. And then it
says in the transcript thereupon a recess in the proceedings occurred from
11:19 a.m. until 12:17 p.m. Then they come back in court.
The judge says all right, counsel, ACLU lawyer, if I may, your honor,
before we get started, we have an unexpected matter that we’d like to raise
with you. The judge, oh, sure, go right ahead. ACLU lawyer.
We just learned during the recess that Carmen and her little girl, that’s a
pseudonym, the ones we were told would not be removed before 11:59 p.m.
today. We just received information suggesting that they likely were
removed. We learned from the direct service provider of the Dilley
Detention Facility where Carmen and her little girl were detained that they
were taken from their rooms this morning at Dilley.
We understand that there was an 8:15 a.m. flight out of San Antonio, so
they would have been taken directly to from the Dilley to the San Antonio.
It suggests they may have been removed or put on a plane. We wanted to
raise this to the court because this is obviously unacceptable to
plaintiff. It violates the representation that the government made to us,
as well as the representation the government made in open court yesterday
that our clients would not be remove before 11:59 p.m. Thursday, meaning
It also violates the entire premise of this entire expedited stay
proceeding. And so, we would like to ask the court to order the government
bring her back.
The judge: All right. Her flight has departed? Is that correct?
ACLU lawyer: That is your understanding your honor, we believe the
government may have more accurate information than us.
The judge: All right. Thank you, counsel.
Whereupon the government lawyer says: Yes, your honor. I learned of this
just as plaintiff’s counsel learned of this, as well. In fact the two
plaintiffs have been removed contrary to my representation in open court.
I will – we do everything we can to remedy that. I will –
The judge says: Oh, I want those people brought back forthwith.
Government lawyer: We will bring them. That is absolutely what I have
asked them to do, but first –
The judge: I am not asking. I am ordering the government to do it.
Someone in the government made a decision to remove those plaintiffs and I
am not happy at all about that. If they aren’t brought back forthwith, I’m
going to issue orders to show cause why people should not be held in
contempt of court and I’m going to start with the attorney general.
Government lawyer: Your honor, we fully understand. I have been on the
phone with folks from –
The judge: I appreciate that counsel.
Government lawyer: and I’m doing everything I can.
The judge: it’s a forthwith –
The government: To fix this.
The judge: It’s a forthwith order. I am not happy about this at all. The
judge says: I know I am raising my voice but I am extremely upset about
there. The judge says: this is not acceptable. I’m going to issue a
separate order with respect – I’ve already issued the order. I’m going to
post it, the forthwith order districting the government, the defendants in
this case, directing the attorney general and subordinates and the
government and I will spell it out in an appropriate order. Are those
people on a government plane?
Government lawyer: Your honor, I –.
The judge: this is outrageous. Somebody in pursuit of justice who has
alleged a credible fear in her mind and is seeking justice in a United
States is court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for
justice for her? It’s outrageous.
Government lawyer: I don’t disagree with the sentiment, your honor. To
answer your question, I would be speculating but generally, it would be a
plane chartered by the government. If they are in fact on a plane when
they land, they will be able to be turned around and brought right back and
that is what I have conveyed to the agencies particularly ICE who is
responsible for –
The judge: I am also directing the government to turn that plane around,
either now while it’s in the air or when it lands. Turn that plane around
and bring those people back to the United States. It’s outrageous.
Government lawyer: I completely understand, your honor. The judge: sure.
I know it’s not your fault. Government lawyer: We will look for your order
and we will make sure that –
The judge: The order is out there. It is on the record.
Government lawyer: No, not – I’ve already – I’ve already sent – I’ve
already e-mailed them exactly your words. So –
The judge: All right.
Government lawyer: That’s the best I can do.
The judge: what else can I do? I don’t want to put new an awkward position
but what else can I do to expedite this? Since we’re talking about an
expedited, we’re talking about an expedited return now.
Government lawyer: I think your order accompanied by your oral order in
this open court to fix this immediately unless orders of contempt or show
cause be issued directed at the attorney general and others, I think in my
humble opinion that should suffice, your honor.
The judge says: I’m really upset. I really am. I’m sorry to keep going
back to it, but when you think about it, these people are seeking justice
in a United States court. I expect somebody to file something or post
something on the docket not if and when – not if, when they are returned.
This is a case brought by the ACLU challenging the Trump administration for
sending back people to countries that they say are dangerous where they
have a credible fear for their lives, without giving them an adequate case
– an adequate opportunity to make their case here in this country.
We are told after this happened today, after the judge quite literally
ordered that plane to turn around in the air, we are told that Carmen,
again a pseudonym, and her little girl, her daughter are back in the United
States tonight, back in a detention center in Texas, because of another
ruling by the same judge actually they are expected to remain here for
awhile. But had the Trump administration gotten its way today, they would
have been gone. Had the recess not happened and the ACLU lawyer not gotten
the phone call and the judge not come back hair on fire ordering that plane
to turn around.
Well, watch this space.
MADDOW: Prosecutors in the Paul Manafort plan to rest their case tomorrow.
But there is one part of the case the prosecution has been slowly sort of
strangely building that we now know is apparently going to be the finale.
It is about a little bank in Chicago called the Federal Savings Bank.
In 2016 and 2017, that bank loaned Paul Manafort $16 million. This is the
guy in charge of that bank and ultimately responsible for those Manafort
loans. His name is Steven Calk.
Right around the time that he was loaning away a huge portion of his little
bank to Paul Manafort, Mr. Calk was reportedly seeking to become secretary
of the U.S. Army, including calling up the Pentagon to ask for briefings to
prepare himself for a possible job.
None of this made any sense until this week in court when prosecutors in
the Manafort trial produced as evidence an e-mail from Paul Manafort
telling Rick Gates that he basically expected this bank guy to be
considered for army secretary. So, it’s intriguing, right? It is the
chairman of a presidential campaign appearing to be selling the promise of
a job to run the U.S. Army in exchange for money. It’s fascinating. It’s
But why is this part of the special counsel’s case against Paul Manafort?
I mean, yesterday, the prosecutors updated the list of evidence they plan
to present to include what appears to be more evidence about this offer.
Now we’re told two former employees of that bank are going to give
testimony tomorrow, testimony for which they were granted immunity.
On top of that, late today, the government added yet another name to their
witness list for their last day. And it is a third employee from that same
bank. As far as we can tell, Paul Manafort is not on trial for his
relationship with this bank president.
So, why is the government so interested in putting this on the record? And
why are they doing this? And what is literally going to be the final hour
of their case?
Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney of Michigan who has
been sitting in the courtroom every day watching the proceedings.
Barbara, it’s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, thanks, Rachel. It’s been a
MADDOW: Do you have any insight into how this is going to wrap up and how
this secretary of the army/small bank in Chicago stuff might fit into it?
MCQUADE: Well, it is part of the bank fraud scheme. In the indictment,
there is kind of two big categories of charges here. One is the tax fraud
where he underreported his income. And the other is all of these bank
It’s really been quite dry, very methodically going through lots of records
showing inconsistencies in submissions that he overstated his income and
understated his debt in order to get these loans. But what is interesting
is tomorrow, it seems like they could probably do the same thing. If you
look at the indictment, it says that the Federal Savings Bank loan was
obtained by submitting a false profit and loss report.
And so, it seems easy enough to show that on the documents. And so, I
think it will be intriguing to hear from these witnesses. Two of whom, as
you pointed, have received immunity.
We did get a taste of this during the testimony of Rick Gates who did
testify a little bit about this aspect of the case. And so, I guess we’ll
get a little more of it tomorrow.
If I were the prosecutor, I would do everything in my power to keep Trump’s
name out of this because it could be such a distraction. And you don’t
know whether jurors have strong feelings about that. But this seems like a
deliberate effort to talk about this.
So, they must believe they need this to prove the necessary intent for Paul
Manafort, which is he had the knowledge and intent to deceive the bank.
MADDOW: And, Barb, this is sort of a dumb question. But as a person who
is not a lawyer, I have learned not to underestimate any own capacity for
ignorance in these matters. As far as I can tell, it sounds like a crime
for Paul Manafort to allegedly offer up a job running the U.S. Army in
exchange for a loan for himself.
But when I read the documents associated with this case, when I read the
indictment, it doesn’t look to me like this is actually what he’s being
charged with. This isn’t being charged as a criminal manner either being
related to Paul Manafort or related to the potentially the recipient of
this quid pro quo, Steven Calk, who is as far as we know is not charged
MCQUADE: No, you’re right. That doesn’t at all and Steven Calk is not on
the witness list, so it doesn’t look like they will be calling him.
They’re going to be calling two or three I guess other employees of the
Federal Savings Bank.
And, so, it seems to me that what might be going on here is that the
defense could say – well, the bank was not defrauded. To prove bank
fraud, you have to show the bank was defrauded. Steven Calk went along
with it, and said, here’s some money, I’ll give it to you in exchange for
this job. That’s not bank fraud. That might be some other crime. But it
might not be bank fraud if the bank was not deceived.
So, I think that it is likely these other witnesses are going to have to
testify about how the bank was defrauded. And so, it may just sort of be
rebutting a defense that the bank was in on this and therefore not
defrauded, and closing all of those possible holes that the defense could
MADDOW: It’s going to – it is such an interesting – it’s been such a
dangling thread in this whole saga and for this to end up being sort of the
finale in court tomorrow is going to be fascinating. I feel like it’s a
little reward for those of us that paid attention to all these details
through the case.
Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney in Michigan, who’s been sitting in
the courtroom every day, I understand that this was your last day to do
that, so I really appreciate your being our eyes and ears there all week,
Barb. Thank you.
MCQUADE: Oh, it’s been my pleasure. Thanks so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We’ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Little heads up for you for tomorrow’s news. As the prosecution
starts their final day of the presentation of their case against Paul
Manafort, the president’s campaign chairman, simultaneously a woman named
Kristin Davis, who is better known in tabloid circles as the “Manhattan
Madam”, she is going to be testifying tomorrow before the grand jury in
D.C., a grand jury convened by the special counsel’s office, reportedly
about her relationship with Trump campaign associate Roger Stone.
Expect that to be an incredible tabloid scrum, if nothing else. We won’t
necessarily know what that legally is going to amount to for quite some
time, if ever. But those two things are going to happen. One in
Alexandria, Virginia, and one in D.C., both in federal court tomorrow.
Enjoy your morning.
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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