Rachel celebrates 10 years on the air. TRANSCRIPT: 09/07/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: September 7, 2018
Guest: Daniel Goldman, Dahlia Lithwick
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
Fridays, man. Fridays. We should change the name of the last day of the
workweek to news day. Instead of Friday.
It`s annoying. I like to take Fridays off every once in awhile. Now my
boss is like Friday, seriously, are you kidding me?
Today, the confirmation hearings ended for controversial Supreme Court
nominee Brett Kavanaugh. We learned during his confirmation hearings that
there is a record of him saying that he does not think that Roe versus Wade
should be viewed as settled law, despite that he said exactly the opposite
of that to key pro-choice senators in order to apparently try make them
comfortable with the idea of voting for him.
We learned in the hearings this week that Brett Kavanaugh really does hold
quite outside the mainstream views about whether or not a president should
be protected from any investigation or any legal liability while he or she
is in office. Democrats had signaled ahead of these hearings they thought
that Kavanaugh`s views on that subject might be way out of keeping, from
normal conservative lawyering. And they had suggested, particularly
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, had suggested that those out of keeping
with normal conservative legal views` positions specifically on a
president`s susceptibility to investigation, Senator Booker and others
suggested that maybe his views on that subject in particular might have
been why Kavanaugh was picked for the nomination in the first place.
Brett Kavanaugh did not disabuse anyone of that notion during his hearings
this week which ultimately culminated in this dramatic testimony from John
Dean as the testimony wrapped up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Under Judge Kavanaugh`s
recommendation, if a president shot somebody in cold blood on fifth avenue,
that president could not be prosecuted while in office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Dean today, one of a number of witnesses whose testimony
rounded out the confirmation proceedings making these folks, these witness
who`s we heard from today sort of the forth major character in the
proceedings after Brett Kavanaugh himself and the senators questioning him
and, of course, there was as interesting fourth player in these hearings
this week, the protests are who were a near constant feature of the whole
confirmation proceedings. They made a huge, huge impression in the hearing
room. They were thrown out of the hearing room one after the other, day
after day after day.
There were also arrested at Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley`s office, as
well. Over 200 people arrested this week over the course confident Brett
Kavanaugh hearings. More than 200 of arrests, the majority of whom were
Now, as to whether or not Brett Kavanaugh is going to get confirmed, one of
the sort of surprise endings in the hearing ended up being not just about
Kavanaugh on policy. Not just about positions he had taken on things and
issues he had been involved with that Republicans in the White House
apparently had tried to keep under wraps by not providing access to records
from Kavanaugh`s time working in the George W. Bush White House, what ended
up potentially being the most potent twist in the Kavanaugh hearings is the
evidence that was presented by Democrats that showed that Kavanaugh may
have lied to the Senate pretty extensively in order to attain the current
seat that he already has on a federal appeals court.
Good news for Judge Kavanaugh is his confirmation hearings are now over and
he may well end up becoming a Supreme Court justice. The bad news for
Judge Kavanaugh is that whether or not they decide to elevate him to the
high court, dude might some day find himself being impeached, thanks to
what Democrats proved about his statements under oath that were not true,
during not just this proceeding but more importantly the one more than ten
years ago that got him the judgeship that he`s got right now.
So, we got more on that coming up tonight. And today turned out to be the
day that former President Barack Obama decided that he would come out to
play ahead of the midterm elections which are now less than two months
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are Americans. We`re
supposed to stand up to bullies. Not follow them.
We`re supposed to stand up to discrimination. And we`re sure as heck
supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers.
How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Trump says that he is going to campaign in these midterm
elections way more than a president typically would with approval ratings
as bad as President Trump`s are right now. Well, now, we know as of today,
that President Trump`s participation in the midterms will apparently be
matched by a just as unusual decision by the immediate past president that
he too will campaign in these midterms, only his approval ratings are doing
pretty swimmingly both in absolute terms and particularly in comparison to
The headline there on the left is about Trump. You see it. Trouble for
Trump, disapproval at a high, half favor impeachment. (AUDIO GAP)
On the right, the equivalent headline except it`s about President Obama.
Americans rank President Obama as the best president of their life times.
So they will both be campaigning for their respective parties during the
midterm elections. President Obama will be campaigning tomorrow morning
for Democrats who are trying to pick off Republican-held House seats in
California. And he is going to be making specific appearances for specific
candidates and groups of candidates apparently between now and the first
week in November. But, clearly, he knows every time he campaigns from here
on out, it`s going to be national news.
And it is a rare thing for former presidents to do this. But President
Obama has decided that he is not going to be shy about talking about his
successor and controversies that are plaguing his successor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: By the way, the claim that everything will turn out okay because
there are people inside the White House who secretly are not following the
president`s orders, that is not a check. I`m being serious here. That`s
not how our democracy is supposed to work.
These people aren`t elected. They`re not accountable. They`re not doing
us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff that`s
coming out of this White House and then saying, don`t worry. We`re
preventing the other 10 percent. That`s not how things are supposed to
This is not normal. These are extraordinary times. And they`re dangerous
But here`s the good news. In two months we have the chance, not the
certainty but the chance, to restore some semblance of sanity to our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Two months to restore sanity. Two months until the midterm
elections in between now and then, we will apparently be seeing a lot more
of former President Barack Obama. Two months till the midterms.
And today, yet another member of the current president`s campaign staff was
in federal court. This time it was campaign foreign policy adviser George
Papadopoulos who was sentenced by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. today
for lying to investigators.
Because Mr. Papadopoulos had entered into a formal cooperation agreement
with prosecutors when he initially pled guilty, there were early
expectations that he wouldn`t end up serving any jail time at all. But
prosecutors did end up asking the judge to impose a custodial sentence on
Papadopoulos because they said, in the end, actually, he was not all that
cooperative. The judge obliged prosecutors in that wish today.
The judge ordered Papadopoulos to serve two weeks in jail. The judge said
he had been inclined to give Mr. Papadopoulos a month in jail but he cut in
it half because he was impressed by Papadopoulos` remorse over what he had
done. So, George Papadopoulos impressed the judge with his remorse. He
will do 14 days in jail, plus a year of supervised release, plus 200 hours
of community service, plus a fine of $9,500.
That sentence led to these ecstatic tweets from George`s mom, Kiki
Papadopoulos. It is amazing the number of people I`ve learned about who I
would never otherwise encounter because of the criminal cases involving
people close to the president and his campaign. Mrs. Papadopoulos said
there had today after the sentence, quote, just left courthouse. Amazing
judge. Judge gave George two weeks of jail time! Amazing. God bless
A few minutes later, Judge Moss is a fair and good man. Everything went
amazing. He is great. Like Tony the Tiger. Great.
So, George Papadopoulos will go to jail for a very short stint. A dude
holding a team Putin sign outside the courthouse did throw an orange jump
suit at him which landed on him outside the courthouse. His lawyers told
reporters and told the judge inside the courthouse today that George
Papadopoulos` lack of cooperation couldn`t have hindered or obstructed the
Mueller investigation nearly as much as the president of the United States
had hindered the investigation himself. That was an interesting line of
Mr. Papadopoulos` lawyer told reporter outside the courthouse today that
he`s pretty sure that the guy who told his client Russia had hacked e-mails
during the campaign, he`s pretty sure now that that guy must have been a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You said Mr. Mifsud played him? Who do you think Mr. Mifsud was
THOMAS BREEN, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: I have an opinion. I
don`t know what the intelligence agency`s opinion is. My opinion is he was
playing on behalf of Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So playing on behalf of Russia. George Papadopoulos` lawyer.
That`s, of course, about the guy who gave George Papadopoulos during the
campaign advance notice that the Russian government really had stolen
Democratic documents and e-mails to try help Donald Trump win the
presidency. Papadopoulos` lawyer today saying, he thinks the guy who told
George that was the guy playing on behalf of Russia, maybe so seems
But there`s one other big thing that happened today with Papadopoulos other
than him getting his short prison sentence that just seems important in
terms of how the Papadopoulos aspect of this relates to the overall
criminal case, right? How the Papadopoulos criminal part of this fits into
the larger Russia scandal and the president`s potential legal jeopardy.
Remember how we first learned about the importance of Papadopoulos here,
right? Right before the New Year, December 30th, how the Russia inquiry
began. A campaign aide, drinks and talk of political dirt.
That`s how we learned on December 30th that the FBI according to four
sources, opened its investigation in the first place into Russian
interference in the presidential election and whether or not the Trump
campaign colluded with it. They opened that investigation in late July
2016. That`s also where we learned why they did so, what was the occasion
of them opening that inquiry.
Quote: During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May
2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump
campaign made a startling revelation to Australia`s top diplomat in
Britain. Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. About three weeks
earlier Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of e-mails
that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to
damage her campaign. Two months later when the leaked e-mails began
appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr.
Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, to the FBI.
The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have
had inside advanced information about it were driving factors that led the
FBI to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia`s attempts to disrupt
the election and whether any of President Trump`s associates conspired. He
is the origin story, right?
For the first time, we`ve got a president under a serious counter
intelligence investigation and he was under a serious counterintelligence
investigation by the FBI when he was running for president and when he
became president. Where that investigation came from is this guy. That is
why George Papadopoulos is so important to the whole overall Russia
scandal. He is why the FBI started looking into it in the first place,
specifically him flapping his jaws about what the Russians were doing to an
Australian diplomat who he met in London.
When it later emerged he wasn`t making it up because it looked like the
Russians had stole a bunch of Democratic e-mails, how did that guy know in
advance? The Australian government then told the FBI about that contact.
That`s the whole reason this guy matters. And today on the day that guy
was sent to prison for his role in the scandal, today, George Papadopoulos
also recanted that central point.
Today for the first time, he said he at least doesn`t remember that
happening. Really? As soon as the Mr. Papadopoulos was sentenced today,
“The New York Times” publish there had interview with him. He basically
says, I have to idea about the whole claim about talking to the Australian
guy, I can`t remember anything about that.
Look at this. It`s Mark Mazzetti doing the interview. Mazzetti: going
back to the meeting with Alexander Downer, the Australian diplomat, what
were you guys drinking? Papadopoulos: I think I had a gin and tonic.
Mazzetti: Did you drink a number of gin and tonics? How much did you
drink? Papadopoulos: No, I think I had one or two drinks. I think Downer
himself in numerous interviews kept explaining that had he one or two
drinks. No one was drunk, as some article stated that we might have been.
At least I don`t remember being drunk. I don`t think he was drunk. I
don`t think his assistant was drunk. I think we had a couple drinks and we
were just talking.
Mazzetti: in interviews, Downer has said that besides having one drink, he
has said that you brought up the Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Papadopoulos: I don`t remember talking about that with him at all.
Mazzetti: so you don`t remember at any point in that meeting talking about
Russia dirt and Hillary Clinton? Papadopoulos: I don`t remember that at
That`s the whole origin story for the Russia investigation at the FBI.
Papadopoulos is now like, uh-uh.
Imagine if you will, that George Papadopoulos is telling the truth here,
that he honestly doesn`t remember anything like that happening. And it is
not that he doesn`t remember because he was snookered. He says he wasn`t
drunk. He doesn`t remember happening. Maybe it didn`t actually happen.
If that`s true, the whole story as we understand it about how and why the
FBI started investigating Russian interference and the Trump campaign
potentially collaborating in it, that story no longer holds. Oh! I would
like too know more about that then please.
And then on top of all that happening today, tonight, “Bloomberg News” just
dropped this. Trump executives face U.S. campaign finance probe. “Trump
executives” means executives at the Trump Organization, the president`s
business. They are not commenting to “Bloomberg News” for this story and
nobody else has matched the story. Bloomberg admits even in their headline
that this is a one source story, so caution.
But what they are reporting here is that federal prosecutors and the U.S.
attorney`s office in Manhattan, federal prosecutors from the southern
district of New York, the same prosecutors who two weeks ago secured a
guilty plea on eight felony counts from the president`s personal lawyer,
Michael Cohen, “Bloomberg News” is tonight reporting that the same U.S.
attorney`s office that nailed Cohen is now pursuing a federal criminal
investigation of the president`s business on crimes related to what Michael
Cohen pleaded guilty to, particularly where the two crimes where Michael
Cohen stood up in federal court and said under oath that he had been
directed to commit those felonies by President Trump in an effort to
influence the election.
Fridays. Fridays, I tell you.
If this “Bloomberg” reporting is true and executives are now under federal
criminal investigation, who does that are we talking about here? How many
Trump Organization executives are there really? It`s not that big a
If the president himself was involved in the alleged conduct that is now
under criminal investigation by SDNY, how are SDNY prosecutors likely to
handle that? He is after all the president.
And again, if this new reporting is correct, is there anything we can tell
from the public record, say from the Michael Cohen case or anything else,
about how strong a case this is likely to be? And how serious the legal
jeopardy might be here for the president, for his business, for other
executives at his business which we believe include his kids.
Joining us now is Daniel Goldman, former assistant attorney in the southern
district of New York and a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Mr. Goldman, thank you for being here. It`s nice to have you here in
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FELLOW, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Based on this “Bloomberg” story, which again I will give you the
caveat again, NBC has not matched this story. McClatchy is on their own
this. They`ve got a great track record on this story. And so, I`m
inclined to be interested whatever they have to say but they`re not even
claiming more than one source.
What would it mean for the Trump Organization to be under investigation?
What does that mean for a business to be under investigation?
GOLDMAN: I really think that`s just shorthand to l discuss potential
GOLDMAN: Companies are very, very rarely charged criminally and when they
are, it is when there`s a systemic and methodical, intentional breaking of
the law, like something like Volkswagen where they tried to avoid emissions
testing in a very methodical way.
MADDOW: Or Enron who was involved in a company-wide scheme.
GOLDMAN: Yes. In fact, that actually has – the fallout from Enron and
Arthur Andersen has even put the skids more on criminal prosecutions of
MADDOW: Making it even harder to do so.
GOLDMAN: Yes. Well, it`s just – the Department of Justice less likely to
do so because it`s so devastating to the companies if a company is charged.
I do think what they`re talking about here is the potential for more
executives to be caught in the crosshairs of this campaign finance
conspiracy that Michael Cohen has pled guilty to. That could be the person
referenced in the Michael Cohen information as employee two.
Everyone is of the belief at this point, there`s been a lot of reporting
that employee one referenced in that information who actually cuts the
check to Michael Cohen to reimburse him for the payments that he made toy
Stormy Daniels is Allen Weisselberg. But there hasn`t been much reporting
on who employee two was who received a request for authorization from Allen
GOLDMAN: And so, that`s someone that may be in the crosshairs of this
campaign finance –
MADDOW: And they would be in trouble. And, again, there has also been
reporting that Allen Weisselberg has been offered at least limited immunity
in exchange for his testimony in conjunction with this case, and so, that`s
another angle here. But they would be in trouble here for essentially
facilitating that payment which was an illegal payment designed to
influence the election and trying to make it look like something else?
Trying to – I mean, is it – is it essentially participating in a cover-up
of the crime for which Cohen has pled guilty?
GOLDMAN: So, there is a pathway to prosecution for that. But that`s much
more difficult because the Trump Organization is a private company. That`s
really a like a books and records accounting fraud offense which is often
you`ll see with public companies where they itemize something in a false
way. They don`t include the proper explanation for what an expenses.
And the Michael Cohen information somewhat notably lays out in greater
detail than necessary the cover-up as you point out. If someone were to be
charged, though, with campaign finance fraud, the conspiracy that Cohen
pled guilty to which is what “Bloomberg” is reporting, they would have to
be in on the conspiracy that Michael Cohen pled guilty to.
MADDOW: That it`s designed to influence the election, that it is – it`s
being disguised as something else, that it is an illegal campaign
GOLDMAN: Yes, they had to know that the payment was made to silence Stormy
Daniels in this case so that the public did not hear about it. And that it
was as you point out with the intent to influence the election.
MADDOW: So, they had to be in on that element of the conspiracy.
GOLDMAN: That`s right.
MADDOW: OK, and Donald Trump is the president of the Trump Organization.
He has handed off supposedly control of the Trump Organization since he
became president. But at the time of these alleged crimes, he was still
obviously the principal executive at that institution.
If he is implicated in this conspiracy as Michael Cohen said he was in
court and he`s implicated on the Trump Organization behavior side of it, as
well if this being pursued by SDNY now as Bloomberg describes it. How does
SDNY deal with the fact that one of the targets in this investigation is
now the president.
GOLDMAN: My guess is they kick it down to Mueller who will be making any
decision about what to do with Donald Trump. Or at least they will consult
with the special counsel`s office.
This is my hunch as to how these things work. My guess is that when this
case was referred to the Southern District, there was an understanding that
anything that was related to the president because of the sensitivity of
that and the legal issues surrounding whether a president can be indicted
would ultimately be decided by the special counsel and really, ultimately,
by Rod Rosenstein who is overseeing this part of the investigation. But
they`re not going to do anything on their own without consultation.
We run into the same issue that we run into with the potential collusion
discussion or obstruction of justice, which is can a sitting president be
indict. I mean, if – from based on the recording that was released with
Cohen and Trump where it demonstrates that Trump knew about these payments
to some degree, and Michael Cohen pointing the finger at him in court, I
don`t think that`s enough, it would be enough to charge the president in
and of itself. But if there is more evidence from a David Pecker who may
have also received immunity and as a close friend of Donald Trump, or from
Allen Weisselberg, who is compelled to tell the truth in front of the grand
jury, or from executive two who is unknown, we don`t know, there`s a lot
unknown, but Donald Trump could have committed a federal crime.
We don`t know that yet but then we run into the same issues that we`ve been
talking about with the obstruction of justice investigation, in particular
as to whether a sitting president can be indicted or not.
MADDOW: And if you`re sure he can`t be indicted as president, there`s a
seat for you on the Supreme Court.
Daniel Goldman, former assistant attorney in the Southern District of New
York – thanks, Dan.
GOLDMAN: Thanks for having me..
MADDOW: All right. Much more to come this not quiet Friday. Stay with
MADDOW: Two questions about the Brett Kavanaugh nomination for the Supreme
Court. Number one, who will be in charge of rehydrating all those old
people on the Judiciary Committee after four consecutive marathon days of
Second question, will Brett Kavanaugh get confirmed for the Supreme Court?
I do not know the answer to either question. One of the unexpected things
that happened in the hearings this week for Kavanaugh is that he was
revealed to have lied to the Senate on a host of things. A couple of them
blatant enough to potentially follow him home, even if he doesn`t get
confirmed to the Supreme Court.
The first has to do with his testimony in 2006 when he was a George W. Bush
White House lawyer. He was up for a judgeship on the D.C. Circuit Court of
Appeals. The senators understandably planned to and did grill him about
controversial issues that happened during his tenure in the George W. Bush
White House. They particularly grilled him about the process of nominating
judges by that White House and which of those nominations Kavanaugh was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the Senate`s consideration of Charles
Pickering`s nomination to the Fifth Circuit, the Judiciary Committee
learned that he solicited and collected letters of support from lawyers who
had appeared in his courtroom and practiced in his district. It later
became an apparent that some of these lawyers had cases pending before him,
when they wrote the letters that Judge Pickering requested.
Did you know that Judge Pickering planned to solicit letters of support in
this manner before he did so? And if not, when did you become aware that
Judge Pickering had solicited these letters of support?
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: The answer to the first
question, Senator, is no. This was not one of the judicial nominees that I
was primarily handling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Brett Kavanaugh telling it the senator under oath that this
nomination of Charles Pickering was not one that I was primarily handling.
Brett Kavanaugh`s characterization of that work on the nomination of that
judge has now been contradicted by White House documents that Republicans
apparently intended to keep confidential so they couldn`t be released to
the public. Those documents got released to the public this week and it
turns out according to the documents and his own e-mails, Brett Kavanaugh
was absolutely working in the White House putting together binders of
information about that nominee, Charles Pickering, drafting a letter to a
senator about Charles Pickering, working on an op-ed for the White House
counsel about Charles Pickering, getting questions abut whether they would
need tables for a support Charles Pickering event.
We know all that now because we can see in it black and white. But he
denied having played a significant role in that nomination while he was
before the Senate the last time they had him under oath in 2006. So, just
keep an eye on that question about his role in the Charles Pickering
nomination. That`s a name that is not a household name.
But Charles Pickering, back in the day, was a disastrous nomination for the
George W. Bush White House. Pickering eventually got recess appointed
because they couldn`t get him through the Senate. And then he had to step
off the bench and it was a big embarrassment and he did do stuff to get the
seat that was seriously controversial.
So, you might understand why he didn`t want to be associated with that very
controversial nomination. The bad nomination when that guy was such a bad
headline for the Bush White House. You understand why he might have done
that. But saying he wasn`t involved there, when we know in black and white
that he absolutely was, understandable as it may be, trying to save his own
skin and stay away from controversial issues, that appears to have been a
really blatant lie that he told in sworn testimony. Judges aren`t supposed
to do that.
Also, there is the time that Brett Kavanaugh got e-mails that had been
stolen from Senate Democrats. They were stolen by a Republican staffer who
then handed the stolen documents over to Kavanaugh in the Bush White House
who then used those stolen documents to plot strategy to get Bush nominees
through the Senate. They had the Democrats` game plan. It made it much
It`s easier to get around opposition from the opposite party if you got all
of the opposite party`s documents, memos, draft questions, research, et
cetera, right? That was a big scandal at the type. The computer servers
in the Judiciary Committee got seized as evidence. People got fired.
People were referred for prosecution.
And so, Brett Kavanaugh as a Bush White House lawyer nominated to become a
judge once they had him under oath, yes, he was definitely going to get
asked if he had any role in that scandal, any knowledge of it. He appears
to have lied in response to those questions under oath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Did Mr. Miranda ever share, reference or
provide you with any documents that appeared to you to have been drafted or
prepared by Democratic staff members of the Judiciary Committee?
KAVANAUGH: No. I was not aware of that matter ever until I learned of it
in the media.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I want to clear up the questions that
Orrin asked. You said that Mr. Miranda never provided these documents, you
know, that were from this. Had you seen them in any way? Did you ever
come across memos from internal files of any Democratic members given to
you or provided to you in any way?
SCHUMER: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, never saw it. I had no idea that was going on. Never saw
that. Nothing that looked like that.
In 2004, when he was first nominated for a judgeship, Brett Kavanaugh said,
no, he had seen nothing. He had been given nothing of the sort. He
learned about it only from the media. His nomination was controversial and
it languished for a while.
So, they first brought him up in 2004. He didn`t get confirmed. They
ended coming back to the Senate with him in 2006. So, he had to do a whole
second round of hearings here.
This is still a controversial matter. In 2006, he gets asked about it
again and he appears to have lied about it again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAVANAUGH: I did not know about any memos from the Democratic side. I did
not suspect that. Had I known or suspected, I would have immediately told
Judge Gonzalez who I`m sure would have immediately talked to Chairman Hatch
about it. I did not know about it. Did not suspect it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Did not know about it, did not suspect it. I would have reported
had I had any inkling.
Brett Kavanaugh on those leaked Democratic memos, those stolen memos in
2004 and then again in 2006.
Now, roll tape from this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D), VERMONT: When you worked at the White House, did
anyone ever tell you they had a mole that provided them with secret
information related to nominations?
KAVANAUGH: I don`t recall the reference to a mole which sounds highly
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Reference to a mole. You mean the tiny rodent that`s kind of
blind? Sounds highly specific.
It is highly specific, especially when a senator unearths and releases an
email to Brett Kavanaugh with the subject line “spying”. And the first
line of the e-mail says I have a friend who is a mole for us, on the left.
And the rest of the e-mail is Democratic documents and research on judicial
nominees. Democratic senators posted a whole bunch of e-mails from that
Republican Senate staffer who stole the stuff from the Democrats, e-mails
from that staffer to Brett Kavanaugh in the White House.
This guy was providing Kavanaugh, quote, intel on Senate Democrats. He was
providing, quote, my info on what was happening among Democratic staffers
when it came to Bush judicial nominees. He was describing a confidential
letter sent by a Senate Democrat.
So Brett Kavanaugh has gone from saying in 2004 that he didn`t have that
inside information. He never heard about it. To saying in 2006, no idea,
no inkling. I would have reported it if I heard anything about that, to
now being confronted with the fact that he did have that information, he
was told there was a spy, it was a mole. This is information taken from
the Democrats, confidential stuff, do not circulate.
Now, confronted with that, his explanation for it this week is that it is
normal to have that kind of stuff. It`s nothing weird about it.
Today, the former Senate lawyer who wrote those Democratic documents that
were stolen made a forceful case at slate.com about this part of Judge
Lisa Graves writing at “Slate” today, quote: Even if Kavanaugh could claim
that he didn`t have any hint at the time he received the e-mails that these
documents were of suspect provenance, which I personally find implausible,
there is no reasonable way for him to assert honestly that he had no idea
what they were after the revelation of the theft. Any reasonable person
would have realized they had been stolen. Certainly someone as smart as
Kavanaugh would have too, but he lied under oath.
Graves she says not only should Kavanaugh not be confirmed, she says,
quote, he should clearly be impeached. He should not be elevated to the
high court. He should be hauled down from the federal bench he serves on
And so, yes, the hearings adjourned late this afternoon. Senators have
until Monday to rest up and then they`ll submit written questions before
the process moves on to the next phase. Confirmation fights play out all
sorts of way. How this unrolls from here, we do not know. He is a
historically unpopular nominee being put forward by a historically
unpopular president by Republicans in the Senate who enjoy a historically
small margin in terms of their majority.
But among the other things that Senate Democrats believe they exposed to
damage the Kavanaugh nomination this week, Senate Democrats do think they
got him on at least a couple points that look like perjury. Now, they`ll
try to make that stick.
MADDOW: After a lot of controversy about abortion rights during Brett
Kavanaugh`s confirmation hearings, amid certainty by observers on all sides
that Kavanaugh will definitely be the crucial fifth vote that conservatives
need to overturn Roe versus Wade and make abortion illegal, that, of
course, was bolstered by a new e-mail that was exposed during the hearings
in which Kavanaugh says that Roe shouldn`t be considered the settled law of
the land because the court can always overrule it.
In addition to that emerging certainty this week, Kavanaugh did hit another
trip wire on a similar and related issue in testimony under questioning
from Texas Senator Ted Cruz. They were discussing a federal case involving
access to contraception a ruling in which – a case in which Judge
Kavanaugh himself issued a controversial ruling. In their discussion,
Judge Kavanaugh referred to birth control as, quote, abortion inducing
Now, whether or not Brett Kavanaugh personally believes that contraception
causes abortion, which it doesn`t, he did rule in favor of employers who
used that argument to deny their employees health insurance coverage for
their birth control. Senate Republicans really are on the verge of
cementing a Supreme Court majority that will likely be extremely hostile
not just to core rights to have an abortion but also to a whole spectrum of
reproductive rights including access to birth control, if they do get
Kavanaugh onto the court.
That is why the constant back drop to Kavanaugh`s hearing has been woman
after woman after woman after woman being dragged out of the hearing room
while pleading with senators to protect women`s rights by rejecting Brett
More to come. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is the headline that just went up at “The New York Times”
website tonight. I think we`ve got it there. Confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh
can`t be trusted. A perfect nominee for a president with no clear relation
to the truth.
That is a blistering long editorial that was just posted. It`s not an op-
ed. This is from the “New York Times” editorial board. Quote you and I
piece of it, quote: In a more virtuous world, Judge Brett Kavanaugh would
be deeply embarrassed by the manner in which he has arrived at the doorstep
of a lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court. Perhaps most
concerning, Judge Kavanaugh seems to have trouble remembering certain
important facts about his years of service to Republican administrations.
Joining us now is the great Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal
correspondent at Slate.com.
Dahlia, thank to you for being here.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE.COM: Thank
you for having me.
MADDOW: Confirmation hearings have ended. How did they go?
LITHWICK: I mean, you know, if you start from the proposition that all he
had to do was tell the truth, he had the votes. There was very little he
didn`t – he could have right up to shooting somebody on Fifth Avenue.
LITHWICK: And he had the votes. To just get time and time again into
these kinds of nested lies within lies like the one you described or just
refusal, these new standards I can`t talk about politics, I can`t talk
about – you know, I can`t even condemn Charlottesville Nazis, just the
level to which it seemed as though he took that which was uncomplicated and
made it harder and squirrely.
By the way, it doesn`t help that the drip, drip, drip of these documents
which such a great thing, right? Withhold the documents. Only give 7
percent, but then not knowing what was coming as the documents came forth
meant that he wasn`t prepared to deal with those documents.
I don`t think Senate Republicans helped him almost by holding these
MADDOW: And those documents, we will get access to more and more of those
documents as time comes – as time goes by. I mean, the National Archives
will complete their review.
LITHWICK: The documents I think we`re hearing will be out by 2019, 2020.
So, this is not –
MADDOW: OK. The dissembling – well, I should say that. The refusing to
answer questions about politics, refusing to answer question about which
cases were correctly decided, saying a lot of words while saying nothing, I
feel like that`s become an art form. It gets a little bit worse with each
When Judge Kavanaugh was before the Senate in 2006, he sang the praises of
George W. Bush, the president who had nominated him. Invited to do the
same for President Bush who was nominated this time around he said I
couldn`t possibly. We know why that is. That`s because Justice Gorsuch
issued a mild oblique rebuke of President Trump when he was being
considered for the nomination. We know that the Trump White House then
considered rescinding the nomination in the middle of his confirmation
So, we see why that stuff happened. But you`re talking about the lying.
How much more serious is the lying? All you`re talking about there is a
bad vet and stuff not being well done. But the lying seems like it is
LITHWICK: You know, I could ask the fatuous question if this were a
Hillary Clinton nominee who had done what we saw happen in the last three
days. You know, just overtly saying, oh, I never ever knew about those
documents or I didn`t get those documents that said spying on them.
MADDOW: Right, which he forwarded as interesting mail.
LITHWICK: Right, and said don`t disseminate. But, you know, this the coin
of the realm. So, I think I just have this sense that, yes, this is a
foregone conclusion. It doesn`t matter. And yet the granular level of
obfuscating on the handful things he`s been cut out on is really
dispiriting and stands in such contrast to these testimonials about, you
know, his character and he`s a good dad. And he is, Rachel.
Nobody is – you know, it`s worth saying again, Melissa Marie said it today
in her testimony, professor from NYU. He`s great objectively. Doesn`t
MADDOW: Nice guy.
LITHWICK: Doesn`t matter.
And the weirdness of just sort of having been a lifelong operative in this
machine and those are all the things that, by the way, get him in trouble,
right? I mean, what gets him in trouble is when he`s saying it doesn`t
matter what the process is because we`re going to get these people on the
LITHWICK: And that`s such a pattern. In a way, it is such a paradox.
This was Trump`s promise. It doesn`t matter. We`re going to get these
people on the courts.
And that`s kind of the through line here. That`s what the obfuscation is
about time and time again. It`s that given the opportunity to be sort of
an operative, he took it and now he`s trying to say balls and strikes
umpire. But all these documents are proving that he is exactly what he
was, which is a part of this machinery, a huge machine that has had a
decades long plan to install people like Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme
MADDOW: Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent at
slate.com, thank you for helping us cover this this week. It has been a
LITHWICK: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you, my friend.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This terrifying big guy is a long fin eel. Long fin eels live in
fresh water in New Zealand. They are long, slimey, slithery guys that got
those big, wide set bug eyes. Good morning.
They`re nocturnal. They like to live in covered up spaces. And even for
eels, the long fin eels, in particular is not to be secretive and
What you need to know about long fin eels for our purposes this evening is
that they live a long, long, long time, longer than a lot of other species
on earth. Long fin eels have been known to live well over a century.
Tonight as our final story, I`m going to unveil the human equivalent of the
mysterious astonishingly elderly long fin eel. That`s next.
MADDOW: There was that time I did the show in a moon suit and the time I
did it in cat ears. There was the time I wore a safari hat. There was a
time I read the news like a beat poem.
There was the time my highlighter turned into a lightsaber and the time I
won a trophy. I`m still confused about that. There were the dancing
flamingos. There was the giant whale.
There was also the rinky-dink xylophone. There was that time that we
cooked hot dogs in a TV studio. There was that time I made my producer
deflate a bunch of footballs in the bathroom on live TV, I`m still sorry
about that, Will.
There was the time we stuffed a cardboard cutout of a U.S. senator into an
envelope. There was the one time I pretended to wear a dress literally the
I`ve been doing the show for 10 years. I still have the same haircut. I
wear same $10 blazers. I actually still have that blazer in the top left
I`m telling you this because tomorrow is the ten-year anniversary of this
show, which means we`re really freaking old. I mean, in cable news years,
we`re like 1,000. We`re like great Uncle Pete who is always falling asleep
in the Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. We are a long finned eel still
swimming around New Zealand ready to embark on its next mysterious face of
its fish life after the age of 100.
This show has had a kind of nine lives effect over the years. There was a
big period of time when the top stories were about the tea party or health
care or voting rights. There was a stretch when I was completely obsessed
with this beauty pageant contestant and the yodeling ventriloquist dummy,
or the pack of owls attacking people in Salem, Oregon.
We are now, of course, in a very different phase as a show and also as a
country. Telling you tonight we will not always be in this moment. I do
not know what comes next, but I want to thank you all for being here for
all ten years of it. I want to thank everybody who has worked on the show
in the last 10years. If it wasn`t for you guys, the show wouldn`t have
made 10 minutes, let alone 10 years.
But mostly, I want thank all of you at home for watching. Thank you for
letting us know when you like what we`re doing and when you don`t. I hope
you will stick with us through whatever we do next.
My executive producer now wants me to promise you that I will get some new
blazers, but I`m not going to and I probably also will not get a new
haircut. Ten years.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday.
“LAST WORD” starts right now.
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