Trump criticized over response to McCain death. TRANSCRIPT: 8/27/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: August 27, 2018
Guest: Lee Gelernt
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Happy Monday. Happy to have you with us.
There has been a bunch of breaking news late this afternoon and into this
evening, including the surprise ruling tonight from a panel of three
federal judges that could have a really big impact on the Democrats`
chances of winning control of Congress. Winning control of the House of
Representatives this fall.
As you know, the midterm elections coming up very fast. They are ten weeks
away. But there has been ongoing litigation in multiple states about
whether or not the maps that define congressional districts in certain
states have been drawn fairly. Well, tonight these three-judge panel of
federal judges concluded not only that the congressional districts in the
state of North Carolina were drawn unfairly, to help Republicans,
basically, to guarantee that Republicans will win more seats in Congress
from North Carolina than Democrats will.
But these federal judges tonight appear to be indicating that not only
should North Carolina redraw its districts and fix this problem, they
should do so right now, right away, before people vote in the midterms in
10 weeks. This is from tonight`s “Washington Post” report of this breaking
news story. Quote: The judges acknowledge that primary elections have
already produced candidates for the 2018 elections. But the judges said
they were reluctant to let elections take place in congressional districts
that the court has twice found violate constitutional standards. Quote:
North Carolina legislators are likely to ask the Supreme Court to step in.
Now, adding to the drama here is, of course, the fact that the Supreme
Court has an even number of members. There are not nine members of the
Supreme Court right now. There`s eight because Anthony Kennedy has
retired. But if this North Carolina case about Congress is going to the
Supreme Court, and again, this might have national implications for who
controls Congress overall.
I mean, if this is going to the Supreme Court, this is something the
Supreme Court will have to decide very, very quickly. If they`re getting
new congressional districts in time for November, any ruling on this has to
happen like, now. So that is a very, very dramatic development with big
national implications. Tonight, we do not know exactly how this is going
to shake out but you should expect fast-moving litigation and a little bit
of a party politics freak-out on both sides about that North Carolina
Everybody knew this was within the realm of possibility in terms of this
ruling, but the idea that the congressional districts have to be redrawn
now, two and a half months before voting, I`m not sure anybody knew that
was on the table.
It has also been a remarkable day in the news today watching the White
House and the president specifically absolutely bungle their response to
the death of Arizona Senator John McCain this weekend. The range of
potential responses to the death of a singular American political figure
like John McCain, you think – you think the range wouldn`t be that wide,
But this White House has taken something that ought to have been simple and
straightforward and they instead have found a way to repeatedly screw it
up. First, lowering the flag at the White House to honor Senator McCain,
then raising it back up to full staff, then lowering it again after the
president initially had refused to make any sort of statement about
honoring McCain`s legacy. And the White House then instead started
trotting out lots of other officials, including the president`s daughter to
say nice things, but pointedly, the president himself was not making any
supportive statements. That eventually crumbled as well. And then the
president did put out a begrudging positive statement and then the flag
went back down to half-staff.
The country is essentially unified in mourning the death of this singular
figure in American history in politics, right? Respecting the sacrifices
that he made for this country. He was held as a prisoner of war and
tortured for five and a half years. Even people who disagree with him
vehemently on specific policy matters, or on aspects of his record in
politics, even people who dislike a lot of what John McCain did as a public
figure, as a politician, have found a very easy path to recognizing his
extraordinary, extraordinary service.
Except for the White House,. which has turned itself into a side show of,
forgive me, but just self-interested, incompetence, petulant grandstanding,
caving, reversals and ultimately shame on this. I mean, I`m sorry to use
such strong language. I try not to do that in general about anything in
the news. But I think it`s unavoidable here given the debacle they made
out of what ought to be the simplest governing task when confronted with a
sad moment like this, right?
All you have to do with a genuine fully minted American hero, all you have
to do, if you can do nothing else, is just be decent and don`t make it
about yourself. That`s all you have to do.
If you can do nothing else, if you can accomplish nothing constructive, be
decent and don`t make it about yourself. But in this White House, just
spectacular failure on both of those counts. So, I imagine the failure
will continue on this front because it`s not like they have a real history
of getting their ducks in a row when they fail like this, in such
spectacular fashion, especially with the condemnation they`re having from
across the spectrum. But we will continue on watch them screw this up.
We`ll have more on both these stories tonight. We`re also in our usual
groove of expecting more breaking and developing news over the course of
the evening. That`s in part because of a big story that was broken late
tonight by the “Wall Street Journal.” And this story, here`s the headline,
this story that “The Wall Street Journal” has broken tonight is something
the legal experts are now telling us we should have probably expected.
Maybe that`s true. Maybe we should have guessed that this was coming or
that this had been happening behind the scenes. But it doesn`t feel like
For those of us who have been watching this presidency of late, and who`ve
been watching the scandal that envelops this presidency, more and more on a
daily basis. This news tonight broken by the “Wall Street Journal,” it
does feel like a surprise. You see the headline there, goes right to the
heart of the matter.
Manafort sought deal in next trial. That means Trump campaign chair Paul
Manafort sought a deal with Robert Mueller, with the prosecutors at the
special counsel`s office who are about to put how many trial for another
round of felony charges in federal court. But, quote, talks broke down.
To understand why, at least to the non-lawyers among us, this is such a
jarring headline. Just stand back and look at the big picture in terms of
the legal trouble and the legal investigations that are circling this
president and his business and his business and his charity and his
campaign right now, right?
All right. The biggest news of the past week was, of course, the
president`s long time lawyer pleading guilty on eight felony federal
charges. And his plea out loud in court and in the criminal information
that was filed by prosecutors in conjunction with his guilty plea, Trump
lawyer Michael Cohen not only admitted himself to committing eight
felonies, he implicated the president himself in two of those felonies,
saying the president had directed him to commit those crimes. Cohen`s plea
deal also implicated the president`s business, the Trump Organization,
including two specified employees, executive one and executive two at the
Cohen also implicated another business called American Media which is the
publisher of the “National Enquirer” or tabloid, among other publications.
Cohen`s plea also implicated people from the president`s campaign. Cohen`s
court appearance last week and documents prosecutors filed in conjunction
with that plea therefore appeared to be a sort of road map indicating other
potential indictments in the future, or at least pointing to other co-
conspirators in these felonies to which Michael Cohen pled guilty, right,
which related to him using illicit payments to illegally influence the
Now, are there going to be further prosecutions of the people who are
implicated in Cohen`s plea deal? We don`t know. Will these allegations of
other conspirators participating with him in his crimes, will that lead to
further investigation which may lead to other criminal cases? We don`t
But late last week, we did get word the district attorney in New York is,
quote, considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump
Organization, which is the president`s business. And two senior company
officials in connection with the criminal acts to which Cohen pled in
federal court last week. The news also simultaneously broke that the New
York state attorney general has already sought a criminal referral under
state law for New York state tax charges, in addition to the federal tax
charges that Michael Cohen has already pled to. That same New York state
attorney general has already brought a lawsuit against the Trump
Foundation, the president`s charity, the president`s foundation, the
president himself and the president`s three eldest children, Don Jr., Eric
and Ivanka are all named as defendants in that case from New York state.
New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood has already referred that
case against the Trump Foundation to the public integrity division at the
U.S. Justice Department, to the Federal Election Commission and to the IRS
for possible federal prosecution. The federal prosecutors also recently
brought a huge civil tax case against Ivanka Trump`s business partner, from
what used to be her luxury jewelry brand. Trump Organization executive
Allen Weisselberg appears to have worked with prosecutors in the federal
case that relates to Michael Cohen and on that New York state case that
relates to the Trump Foundation.
Reports of Allen Weisselberg`s cooperation and possible immunity deal with
prosecutors, at this point, those reports are intriguing and a little bit
hard to sort out. It`s fair I think to say that we don`t yet know how much
Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg might be talking to
prosecutors, how much he`s cooperating, whether his immunity deal frees him
up to talk with prosecutors without fear of being prosecuted himself, just
specifically about stuff related to Michael Cohen or whether Weisselberg`s
deal also gives him immunity from prosecution on other things related to
the president`s business interests.
I mean, that`s all happening simultaneously right now, right? All of those
things all at once. That`s not even getting into like the emolument cases
which could result in production of Trump`s tax returns and all his
I mean, if the president, his family, his business interest, his campaign
have anything to worry about in terms of past criminal behavior,
particularly when it comes to financial crimes, right? Potential campaign
finance violence, tax fraud, illicit interactions with Russia that relate
ultimately to Russia`s interference in the election to benefit Trump. If
they`ve got anything to worry about in any of those fronts, you might
imagine that all of these related ongoing investigations might start to
feel a little constraining to the president. They might start to seem a
There`s no shortage of legal jeopardy right now for the president, for his
family, for the people and entities that are important to him. And
honestly, I mean, I don`t say it lightly, it is hard to know where the
limits of legal jeopardy here might be, not just for the president and his
family but for the entities closest to him. I would single out one line
here, because I don`t think this has had a lot of attention but it stuck
with me over the weekend. And the more I talk to people about it, the more
– especially the more I talk to people in the legal system about it, the
more this sticks out for me.
There is literally a line in the Michael Cohen plea agreement from last
week where federal prosecutors spell out that Michael Cohen pleading guilty
in federal court last week means that federal prosecutors agree to not
further prosecute him for the crimes that he admitted in court last week.
But prosecutors explicitly spell out in the plea agreement with him that
they are reserving the right to cite those same felonies as predicate
crimes in case they ever want to bring a RICO case in the future on this
matter. RICO, that`s 18, US Code section 1961, right? That`s
racketeering. That`s RICO as in organized crime.
Federal prosecutors are reserving the right to charge something here as an
organized criminal entity under the RICO statutes and that relates to
Michael Cohen. What? That alone is probably enough to light a little bit
of a fire under anybody who believes they might personally end up in the
crosshairs of one or more of these investigations.
But amid all of these different cases and all these different potential
avenues for legal jeopardy for the president and his family and his
business and even his charity, even amid all of that, the Paul Manafort
case really does stand out. It really does stand alone, right?
Michael Flynn, the president`s national security adviser, pled guilty.
Rick Gates, the president`s deputy campaign chair, organizer of Trump`s
inauguration, he`s pled guilty. George Papadopoulos, campaign foreign
policy advisor, has pled guilty. Even freaking Alex Van der Zwaan, random
foreign lawyer, pled guilty, right?
Paul Manafort has not pled guilty. He stands alone here. And things are
now happening to him fast. Of course, the same day that Michael Cohen pled
guilty in federal court, almost exactly simultaneously to Michael Cohen
standing up and pleading guilty to those eight felonies, Paul Manafort was
convicted of those eight felonies by a jury in the Eastern District of
Virginia. The day after tomorrow, Wednesday of this week, the prosecutors
who convicted Manafort on those eight felonies, they`re going to have to
tell the court whether they are going to bring Manafort back to court to
retry him on the 10 felony charges for which the jury was not able to reach
Remember, it was eight felonies, conviction, eight felonies, hung jury,
couldn`t come to consensus. The foreperson of the jury went out of his or
her way to make it publicly known on the verdict sheet that on those ten
charges where they couldn`t come the a verdict, 11 of the 12 jurors wanted
to convict Manafort on all of them, only one holdout for the ten charges on
which they didn`t get guilty verdicts. Prosecutors know that and they have
the right to put Paul Manafort on trial again for the ten charges where
they got a mistrial. They were just one juror away from a conviction.
We`re going to find out the day after tomorrow whether they are going to
try Manafort again on those on those 10 charges.
At the same time, prosecutors in the special counsel`s office are
considering that. They are also steaming toward the start of the next
federal felony trial for Manafort. It`s interesting.
Just a few days ago, the federal court in D.C., that`s about to start the
second trial for Manafort, they unsealed some of the earlier proceedings
that we the public hadn`t previously had access to in Manafort`s D.C. case.
That let us see for the first time that even the judge who is overseeing
the next Paul Manafort trial, the one in D.C., that judge appears to be
mystified by the fact that Manafort didn`t consent to all the charges
against him just being consolidated in one jurisdiction so he could go on
The reason, the Trump campaign chair, the reason he had a trial that ended
last week and he`s now about to have a new trial that`s starting within the
next few weeks is simply because he decided he wanted two trials. The
government gave him the choice to consolidate them and only go on trial
once. He chose to go on trial twice in these two neighboring
Why did he make that choice? We don`t know and neither does the judge in
his case. This is from the newly unsealed court transcript in Manafort`s
case from February 14th in Washington, D.C. This is the judge in
Manafort`s D.C. case talking to Manafort`s defense lawyers. And before
this was just unsealed, this had been a sealed proceeding at the base. Now
we know what happened.
The judge says in this newly unsealed discussion, quote, I understand
you`re hamstrung. Is there any change in Manafort`s point of view about
the Eastern District versus the District of Columbia? I think the only
thing I can imagine that`s more unusual than the government offering you
that choice is the choice you`re making. But is there any further
discussion about that?
Manafort`s defense lawyer, Mr. Downing, says, no. And then the judge says,
OK, all right.
The judge is saying, are you sure you want your client to go on trial
twice? You want two federal felony trials? The judge is saying to the
defense lawyers, listen, prosecutors never give anybody the option to drop
one of their trials. They`re giving you the option to drop one of the
trials and only go on trial once. Are you sure you`re not willing to take
them up on it?
The defense lawyer is yep, your honor, we`re sticking with the plan. Two
trials. The judge is like, OK, it`s your funeral. Here we go.
And so, this second trial is about to start, and it`s weird. And it`s
going to happen before this judge who finds it remarkable. In the judge`s
words, unusual, that Manafort has decided to have a second trial.
Incidentally, this judge who`s going to be presiding in the D.C. trial is
the same judge who ordered Paul Manafort held in jail instead of house
arrest because of the allegations that he was tampering with witnesses in
his case while he was out on bail.
So, this next case for Manafort is not promising for a lot of reasons. But
it will also be significantly different from the case in Virginia where he
just got convicted on eight felonies. We know about in part from the list
of 1,500 pieces of evidence that the prosecution has filed for the D.C.
case against Manafort.
Now, one of the things that`s different about this next case for Manafort,
compared to the last one, is that at least some of the evidence in this
case that they`re going to be citing is apparently in Russian. Look, at
least the subject lines of all of these e-mails that appear in the
prosecution`s evidence list are written in Cyrillic.
There`s also – this is also the trial where Manafort has a co-defendant on
some of the charges. His co-defendant is Konstantin Kilimnik, longtime
business associate of Manafort who is Russian, who the special counsel`s
office has said in open court is believed to be associated with Russian
Kilimnik is also believed to be hiding in Russia right now rather than face
these charges alongside Paul Manafort. In addition to being listed as
Manafort`s co-defendant in the D.C. case, Kilimnik also appears here we
believe in the evidence list, evidence item number 1194. KK we believe is
the nickname for Konstantin Kilimnik, and that`s the way Manafort referred
to him in his consulting business.
In the evidence list against Manafort for the D.C. trial, there are also
these couple of references who we believe may be to a Russian oligarch who
is known to be very close to Vladimir Putin and who`s known to have had
extensive business dealings with Manafort. His name is Oleg Deripaska. He
appears in that list. We think this is references to him in these emails
where they`re describing the evidence list that prosecutors have submitted.
We`re going to have more on Deripaska`s role in the next Manafort trial
coming up in just a moment tonight. But, you know, this next Manafort
trial was always going to be a difficult prospect for him, right? You
don`t have the wind at your back if you`re coming off eight convictions.
Eight felony federal convictions right before you start a new trial on
seven more federal felony counts.
In terms of the president`s legal jeopardy, though, this second Manafort
trial has got a lot of Russian stuff in it. It`s a lot closer to the
original concerns related to Russia that started the special counsel`s
investigation in the first place. After initial reports last week stoked
in part by the president himself that he might be considering a pardon for
Paul Manafort, following his conviction in Virginia, tonight, Gabriel
Sherman reports at vanityfair.com that the president is so committed to the
idea of pardoning Paul Manafort now that he is willing to do it even over
the objections of his White House counsel Don McGahn.
Quote: Trump has told people he`s considering bringing in a new lawyer to
draft a Manafort pardon if McGahn won`t do it. Well, in that context,
tonight, “Wall Street Journal” breaks the news that Manafort was trying to
do a deal. Manafort, the guy who would not flip. Manafort, the guy who`s
going all the way to trial, not once but twice, the one guy implicated in
the Trump/Russia scandal who absolutely would not do a deal with
prosecutors and was praised by the president for that, Manafort has
apparently trying to do a deal with prosecutors.
According to (INAUDIBLE) at “The Wall Street Journal” tonight, Manafort`s
defense team started conversations with Mueller`s prosecutors about a
potential plea deal while the Virginia jury was deliberating over
Manafort`s fate in his first trial. Quote: Paul Manafort`s defense team
held talks with prosecutors to resolve a second set of charges against the
former Trump campaign chair. The plea discussions occurred as a Virginia
jury was spending four days deliberating tax and bank fraud charges against
Manafort. The talks between the defense team and prosecutors were aimed at
forestalling a second trial related for Manafort which is scheduled to
begin on September 17th.
But “The Journal” also reports that although Paul Manafort and his defense
team started those talks with the prosecutors and the special counsel`s
office, the talks did not result ultimately in a deal. And this is where
it gets very intriguing. Quote, the plea talks on the second set of
charges stalled over issues raised by special counsel Robert Mueller. What
Quote: It isn`t clear what those issues were and the proposed terms of the
would-be plea deal could not immediately be determined.
As the president openly mulls the prospect of pardoning Paul Manafort to
try to get himself out of this legal corner of this giant legal mess he`s
now in, this new reporting at “The Wall Street Journal” tonight does this
mean that Paul Manafort was offering to cooperate with prosecutors for the
first time ever? Could this mean that he wasn`t offering to cooperate but
his defense team was nevertheless, trying to make his second trial go away?
If they weren`t operating, if they weren`t offering his cooperation in
exchange for making those charges go away, what else would they have to
There`s ways to figure out the answers to these questions. We`re going to
take our best shot at it next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So we`ve been following this breaking news tonight from the “Wall
Street Journal.” Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sought deal in next
trial, but talks broke down. “The Journal” says tonight that Paul
Manafort`s defense team held talks with prosecutors from the special
counsel`s office to try to resolve a second set of charges, the ones he
faces next month, in Washington, D.C.
Manafort`s lawyers reportedly tried to talk this out before he was
convicted last week on eight felony counts in Virginia while the jury was
deliberating. Talks on the D.C. charges stalled over issues raised by
special counsel Robert Mueller, one person tells “The Journal”. Quote, it
is not clear what those issues were and the proposed terms of the plea deal
could not immediately be determined.
Paul Manafort`s lawyers tried to cut a deal for their client with Robert
Mueller, the special counsel. They apparently tried to cut that deal for
Manafort while the jury was deliberating in his first federal criminal.
That effort to make a deal apparently did not work out, but what does it
mean for the Mueller investigation that Trump campaign chairman, newly
convicted felon Paul Manafort, is now apparently trying to get himself a
deal with the prosecutors in Robert Mueller`s office?
Joining us now is Chuck Rosenberg. He`s a former senior Justice Department
and FBI official, also a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of
Virginia, which is where the first Manafort trial was held.
Mr. Rosenberg, Chuck, thank you very much for your time tonight.
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is it normal practice for a defense team to come to prosecutors to
try to cut a deal for their client literally while the jury is out and
deliberating on their client`s fate?
ROSENBERG: No, because it`s highly unusual for someone to have two trials
that they`re facing, one in Virginia and one in D.C. It`s not unusual,
however, Rachel, for defense lawyers to explore with prosecutors the
possibility of resolving a case short of trial.
MADDOW: They reportedly, according to the “Wall Street Journal,” were
trying to lessen or eliminate the felony charges that Manafort was facing
in the second trial of seven felony counts. They are similar, too, in some
ways but also they depart from the kinds of charges that he faced in
Why would they have thought that they had leverage with the special
counsel`s office at that point to get prosecutors to drop those charges?
What could they have been offering?
ROSENBERG: They don`t really have leverage unless they`re willing to offer
full and complete and truthful cooperation. And that doesn`t seem likely
to me. So, there really isn`t a lot of leverage.
And I`m not surprised that defense counsel would try this. I`m also not
surprised that prosecutors would balk. Look, would prosecutors like to
have the finality of the conviction? Absolutely. But they go into the
second trial in D.C. with a very strong hand, Rachel.
MADDOW: And, obviously, the prosecutors in this case want conviction of
Paul Manafort. Presumably, they would also like any information they could
get from Paul Manafort about their ongoing investigations. I mean, the
judge himself at the Virginia trial said in open court to some controversy
that he believes the prosecutors in this case are interested in what Paul
Manafort might be able to contribute to a case that involves the president
or other high-ranking federal officials.
Once the prosecutors knew that their case was in the hands of the jury in
Virginia, they presumably had some ideas to the strength of their case,
what they put forward, the likelihood of getting convictions. Wouldn`t it
sort of, then, being, I guess, having their cake and eating it, too, if
they could get eight felony convictions against him but then also get his
cooperation to make other charges go away?
ROSENBERG: Oh, you bet. And, look, they absolutely want his cooperation.
Again, as long as it`s truthful.
Prosecutor – look, we always think of plea deals, plea agreements where
both sides come to some understanding and both sides get something out of
it. It`s also the case that Mr. Manafort could simply walk into court in
D.C. and plead guilty straight up, as we call it, to all the charges. And
the prosecutors would be left with really just the convictions but not the
They absolutely want the cooperation and that is the small bit of leverage
that Mr. Manafort has. But in order for him to trade that, he`s going to
have to give the prosecutors everything about everyone and that may be a
painful road for him to walk.
MADDOW: One last question for you on this, Chuck, and I guess this is less
a pure legal question and more kind of like a real politic question. The
president has publicly praised Mr. Manafort for not being a rat, in the
president`s terms, calling him brave and saying he wouldn`t break, he
wouldn`t cooperate. The Manafort defense team has publicly thanked the
president for his supportive comments about Mr. Manafort.
That`s led to a lot of discussion that both sides may be sort of signaling
to each other through the press that Mr. Manafort is angling for a pardon
and the president may be signaling to Mr. Manafort that the way he gets
that is by not cooperating.
If that dynamic is, in fact, at work here, how do you think this new report
tonight from the “Wall Street Journal” that Manafort sought a deal with
prosecutors might affect that?
ROSENBERG: Well, I read it the way you do, and I think these are strong
signals to Manafort to do what the president said, stay strong and there
may be a pardon in your future. If that is, in fact, the case, then the
deal might only be something as simple as which counts Manafort pleads
guilty to, or how much in forfeiture he would have to sort of give to the
government. It may not be about cooperation at all.
And, frankly, as I sit here and think about it, I think cooperation still
remains highly unlikely. So you can plead guilty, as we saw with Mr.
Cohen, without agreeing to cooperate. And that seems to be the way we`re
going here, Rachel.
MADDOW: Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of
New Jersey, former FBI and Justice Department official, Chuck, thank you
very much. Always appreciate having you here.
ROSENBERG: My pleasure.
MADDOW: All right. More to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We are now a full entire month – actually, one month and one day
beyond what is supposed to be a court-ordered deadline for reuniting the
parents and kids who were forcibly split up by the Trump administration at
the U.S. border. Despite that court-ordered deadline, the administration
is nowhere near finished with reuniting those parents and kids. As the
latest court filing this past week, there were still over 500 kids who had
been separated from their parents by the Trump administration. Twenty-
three of those kids are five years old or younger. These are toddlers and
babies who have been taken away from their parents.
For most of the kids who are still being held apart from their parents, 343
of them, their parents have been deported, have been sent out of this
country while the kids are still being held here by the Trump
administration. The Trump administration is essentially admitting now
those kids are at risk of never finding their parents again, which means
that the Trump administration taking those kids away from their parents
will be an irrevocable act. They will never see their parents again
because of what the Trump administration did. “The Washington Post”
editorial said this will be Trump`s legacy of orphans.
As this policy process slowly grinds along, a group of administration
officials have apparently been meeting weekly at the White House to
supposedly try to fix what the administration has done, but according to
some remarkable new reporting from the “New Yorker`s” Jonathan Blitzer who
spoke with one of those officials, White House officials are expressing
very little contrition about what`s happened here.
Quote: I asked the current administration official whether the outcry over
family separation had caught the government by surprise. It had, the
official said. The expectation was that the kids would go to the Office of
Refugee Resettlement, that the parents would get deported, and that no one
It`s a currently serving administration official admitting to a reporter
that that`s what they were counting on, that they could take kids away from
their parents permanently and no one would care. They were surprised
Joining us now is Lee Gelernt. He`s deputy director of the ACLU`s
Immigrant Rights Project. He`s a lead attorney in a lawsuit against the
Trump administration`s family separation policy that led to last month`s
Mr. Gelernt , thank you very much for being here.
LEE GELERNT, ACLU`S IMMIGRANT RIGHTS PROJECT DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Thanks for
having me again.
MADDOW: So, when we first reported on this deadline, we thought the
government would have to abide by it.
MADDOW: The government said they are abiding by it, but these kids aren`t
eligible for reunification with their parents. That`s still the pattern
that we`re in?
GELERNT: Well, the government has taken certain kids and said, well,
you`re not eligible because we think your parents have a serious criminal
history. We completely dispute that. But that`s only one segment.
There`s 3 – as you said, there`s 343 parents sitting in other countries
waiting for their kids. The government tried to say, well, they`re not
part of this lawsuit because they were deported. We said, but they`re the
most harmed. They`re sitting in another country. They are worrying about
their kids and they are so far away. The judge said, no, they are a part
of it. You have to find them.
We are desperately trying to find these parents to reunite them, and every
day that goes by, the kids are harmed.
MADDOW: Is the Trump administration working diligently to move this along?
I mean, we`re talking about a known universe of people here.
MADDOW: This is not some amorphous thing. These are known kids, known
parents, known at describable deportation policy procedures. Is this an
ACLU project at this point, or is the government trying to get the work
GELERNT: I think it largely is. I mean, the government said, we`re
washing our hands of it. The judge said, no, no, give them information.
But we`re the ones out there looking for the parents. The government said
they`ve called them. You know, maybe they called them. We don`t know what
kind of conversation they had with the parents.
We are now calling the parents. We are looking for additional parents.
And it`s clear when we`re talking to these parents, so many of them were
misled or coerced into giving up their own asylum rights, thinking that`s
the way to get their children back or being told, you don`t have an asylum
And I think the point you made up front is critical. There is no
contrition here. Every single day, we`re fighting with them for little
I mean, they should be saying, look, we should have never done this. We
traumatized these kids. Let`s at least give them fair asylum proceedings
now. Let us as the United States government do everything we can to make
these kids whole.
I mean, I don`t think these kids can ever be really whole, but let`s at
least now try and remedy this. We are spending every single minute. I
just got off the phone talking to our co-counsel. The government came back
with something about asylum hearings. They`re not giving meaningful asylum
hearings to these families. They should be saying, what do you want to
make these families whole? Instead, we`re fighting with them with every
MADDOW: Can the judge do anything else to push the government harder on
this? I mean, the deadline coming and going.
MADDOW: The government making these excuses for kids that don`t fit the
class and slow-walking these reunifications, even the ones they`re ordered
MADDOW: Is there any other leverage that canning brought to bear on this
administration? I just feel like people watching this right now are
thinking, what else can be done for these kids?
GELERNT: Right. Well, I think at this point the judge has said to them,
you know, let the ACLU and these other groups try and find them. The
government is going to try and do some stuff. I think the judge has made
clear he doesn`t want to hear from the government about washing their
Whether there are additional steps, we`ll have to wait and see. But I want
to make clear, we are not giving up hope. We are not throwing in the
towel. We believe we will find these parents.
You know, we have to remain hopeful so we`re out there every day trying to
find these parents. We hope the government would do the right thing and
give them meaningful asylum hearings. When we find all the families and
all the children trying to get meaningful asylum hearings.
But every second we`re fighting with them, you would think they would have
learned their lesson and said, let`s remedy this situation. But they`re
not. They`re proceeding, we got caught off guard, but we`re still not
going to acknowledge that what we did was horrible.
MADDOW: Wow, and still hoping that hopefully people don`t care enough to
MADDOW: Lee Gelernt is the deputy director of the ACLU`s Immigrant Rights
Project, thank you for the update.
GELERNT: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lee.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM RUSSERT, FORMER MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: From a personal standpoint,
when you saw George W. Bush take that oath of office yesterday, did you
wish, gee, I wish I was up there doing that?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On Saturday, the eulogies at John McCain`s memorial service at the
National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the eulogies will be delivered by
two former presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. John McCain, of
course, ran against both of those men for president. Bush in the
primaries, and Obama in the general. But now both of those former
presidents, both of those political opponents of John McCain, will praise
him and remember him and help lay him to rest.
Senator McCain will then be interred on Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy
Cemetery in Annapolis.
Arizona`s Republican Governor Doug Ducey has said that out of respect for
Senator McCain, he is not going to name McCain`s successor for McCain`s
seat in the Senate until McCain has been laid to rest which again will
happen this weekend. Thereafter, Governor Ducey will announce who he has
chosen for McCain`s seat. Now, once that person is named by the governor
of Arizona, that person will actually serve as an appointed senator for a
couple of years until 2020 when the special election will be held for
Now, we don`t know who Governor Ducey will pick for McCain`s seat to hold
that seat for two years, but we do know that by Arizona law, the governor
has to appoint a senator from McCain`s own party. I mean, not that there
would be any ambiguity about this anyway, but by law the governor has to
appoint a Republican to McCain`s seat.
And I just want to spell that out a little bit because understandably,
there has been a little confusion as to what`s happening with Senator
McCain`s seat and it is largely because of a big coincidence on the
calendar. It is a coincidence that tomorrow, voters in Arizona are going
to the polls to pick a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Arizona.
But that`s not for John McCain`s seat. Tomorrow`s primary in Arizona is to
pick candidates for Arizona`s other U.S. Senate seat. The one that is
currently held by Jeff Flake who is retiring.
So, Democrats will pick somebody to run for that seat. As will
Republicans. In the Democratic side, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is
considered to be the favorite. On the Republican side, it is a three-way
race. Current Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally, also, former
sheriff and Trump pardon recipient Joe Arpaio, and John McCain`s last
primary point, Kelli Ward, who Senator McCain beat easily in 2014.
So, it depends a little on who gets nominated. But that general election
contest for U.S. Senate in Arizona, but not the McCain seat, the Jeff Flake
seat, that`s expected to turn out to be one of the most competitive races
for the country this fall. We know that person will serve alongside a two-
year place holder appointed to John McCain`s seat whose name we will learn
in the next week after John McCain is laid to rest.
So, disambiguating those two different Senate seats, it is a coincidence in
terms of the timing. But we`ll have a name for McCain`s successor next
week. We will have candidates for Flake`s seat as of tomorrow night.
Watch this space.
We will have primary returns for you tomorrow night from Arizona, also from
Florida and Oklahoma, tomorrow night late into the evening.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is one of those stick a pin in this stories. Just like heads
up on this one. Watch out for this. This might turn out to be something.
In 2012, the career networking website LinkedIn got hacked. Passwords of
about 6.5 millions users of LinkedIn were stolen and they were published on
a Russian internet forum. Four years later in 2016, the company announced
that actually wasn`t 6 million LinkedIn users, it was more like 100 million
users, whose private information got stolen in that single attack.
And then late in 2016, actually October 2016, two and a half weeks before
our presidential election, we got this announcement from the U.S. Justice
Department. The Justice Department announced it was charging a suspect in
the LinkedIn hacking case. His name was Yevgeniy Nikulin. He`s in his
late 20s, he was from Russia, he was charged with executing that
cyberattack on LinkedIn, also charged with hacking the file sharing site
Dropbox, also charged with hacking a question and answer forum called
And here`s the interesting part. This isn`t one of the cases where the
U.S. Justice Department indicts some Russian hacker but nothing ever comes
of it because he`s in Russia and they don`t extradite to us, so this guy
will never actually see a U.S. courtroom. This guy Nikulin is Russian, but
at the time that the Justice Department indicted him, he wasn`t in Russia,
he was in the Czech Republic. And police in the Czech Republic arrested
And in March of this year, they extradited him to the United States. And
he is now in jail in federal custody in the San Francisco Bay Area awaiting
So, I`m sticking a pin in this story for a couple of reasons, because it
turns out to be a weird and interesting story. First of all, they are not
lumping this hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin with the other big Russia cyberattack
prosecutions that we`ve got going on right now, right? We`ve had hacking
indictments brought by the special counsel`s investigation being operated
out of Washington, D.C.
This has not been lumped into that. They`re keeping this one in the
jurisdiction of the U.S. attorney, the federal prosecutor, based in San
Francisco. This guy is facing 30 years in prison in the case that`s being
brought against him in California.
There are other emerging details about this case that make it worth
watching. Bloomberg News now reports based on the suspect – reports from
the suspect`s lawyer, that ever since Nikulin was arrested and extradited
to the U.S., Russian officials, Russian government officials have been
unusually involved in his case, including, quote, arranging at least once
to visit him in jail when his attorneys were not present. That makes sense
that Russia would be interested in their citizen being held in a big
federal case in the U.S., but talking to him without his lawyers there?
And it`s not just Russia that appears to be very interested. Bloomberg
reports that they spoke to an official at the U.S. Justice Department who
says this alleged Russian hacker awaiting trial in California is, quote, of
great interest in a U.S. probe of election meddling.
Continuing from Bloomberg, quote: Prosecutors are as eager to find out
what, if anything, Nikulin knows about election meddling. They`re as eager
to know about that as they are eager to get to the bottom of the LinkedIn
and Dropbox hacks. Oh, really?
We don`t know exactly what this means, whether Mr. Nikulin has any
information that could be helpful in terms of investigating Russian
involvement in the U.S. election, or whether he knows nothing about any of
it, but there`s something going on here with this case that we don`t yet
understand and it is worth remembering this guy`s name.
Here`s the guy`s name again. Put it up on the screen. Do we have it?
Yevgeniy Nikulin. Yevgeniy Nikulin. Go ahead and set up that Google
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Ali Velshi, sitting in for Lawrence
Good evening, Ali. And a belated thank you for filling in so ably for me
on Friday night. My staff loved working with you.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the