Mueller’s team files update on Manafort. TRANSCRIPT: 11/26/18, The Rachel Maddow Show
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris, and thank you.
And thank you to those of you at home for joining us this hour. Hope you
all had a great holiday. Rachel has got the night off, but she will be
back here tomorrow night.
In the meantime, we got a lot to get to tomorrow night. While you were
polishing off that second helping of turkey, the breaking news has been
piling up faster than Thanksgiving leftovers, thanks in large part to
special counsel Robert Mueller. Shortly before we took the air tonight,
the famously radio silent Mueller team dropped a bombshell about the
president`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort. I`ll have more on that in
just a moment.
We`re also following another breaking headline, this one out of
Mississippi. President Trump is on the ground there now. He is about to
hold his second rally today for Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who
faces off against Democrat Mike Espy in a runoff election tomorrow, a
runoff that has at times felt like an out-of-body experience in terms of
how many times it made you shake your head and say did that really happen?
Whether it was the Republican candidate saying that she`d be in the front
row of a public hanging or the Republican candidate`s robotic almost
comical non-apology for those offensive remarks, or her debate performance
in which she seemed to say her greatest selling point is Donald Trump.
As if all of that weren`t surreal enough, today on the eve of the runoff,
there were this, nooses seen hanging on trees outside the Mississippi state
This runoff is shaping up to be an MRI of the soul of Mississippi. The
next 24 hours are critical, and I`ll have a lot more on that in just a
But first, to that breaking news from special counsel Robert Mueller and
the president`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The first Trump campaign
official to reach a plea deal with Robert Mueller was his foreign policy
adviser, George Papadopoulos, this guy on the right. His plea deal was
announced in October of 2017, on the very same day that Mueller charged
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, on the left, and deputy campaign
chairman Rick Gates with multiple tax and money laundering charges.
Today, Papadopoulos turned himself into a minimum security camp adjacent to
the federal prison in Oxford, Wisconsin, to begin serving a 14-day sentence
for lying to the FBI about his Russia-linked contacts. Papadopoulos
received that relatively light sentence from the judge in his case after
Mueller`s prosecutors this summer filed what is known as a presentencing
memorandum. Essentially, their recommendation about how much jail time he
should receive based on the gravity of his crime and the usefulness of his
Now in that sentencing memo to the judge, Mueller`s prosecutors recommended
jail time for the adviser was appropriate and warranted. Quote: His lies
negatively affected the FBI`s Russia investigation and prevented the FBI
from effectively identifying and confronting witnesses in a timely fashion.
The defendant`s false statements were intended to harm the investigation
and did so.
Now, when it came time to describe the extent of Papadopoulos`s
cooperation, the special counsel told the judge that the defendant did not
provide substantial assistance, saying that much of the information he
provided came only after the government confronted him with his own e-
mails, text messages, Internet search history, and other information it had
obtained via search warrant and subpoenas.
And while Papadopoulos checking into federal prison today for a two-week
stay signals that his role in the Russia investigation is likely at an end,
tonight, we learned game-changing new details about the Cooperation of his
boss during the 2016 campaign, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Remember, Manafort was convicted by a Virginia jury this summer on eight
counts of tax and bank fraud, but before that trial even started, the
former Trump campaign chairman was already in jail. That was before –
just before his trial was due to start in Virginia, Mueller filed new
charges against Manafort in D.C., accusing both he and his long-time
associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who the special counsel alleged to have had
ties to Russian intelligence, with witness tampering related to their
Ukraine lobbying campaign.
Now, as a result, the judge ordered Manafort jailed pending his trial. As
the judge told the court at the time, quote, this is not the first time
we`ve had to talk about him skating too close to the line. She went on: I
am concerned you seem to treat these proceedings as just another marketing
exercise. You have abused the trust the court placed in you six months
ago. So, that was in June. Manafort jailed on new charges of witness
tampering before he had even gone to trial.
After being convicted at trial in Virginia in August and saying he would
not cooperate with the special counsel, Manafort surprised many by striking
a plea deal before his second trial in D.C. was due to begin on money
laundering charges, as well as those recently filed witness tampering
charges. As part of that plea in September, Manafort agreed to answer,
quote, fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly questions about any
and all matters the government wanted to ask.
Well, now it appears that Manafort may not have done that, and perhaps in
retrospect, we should have seen this coming. Earlier this month, we got
this report from ABC News detailing rising tension between Mueller`s team
and Manafort over his level of cooperation. As ABC reported at the time,
Mueller`s team is quote, not getting what they want, said one source with
knowledge of the discussions. Quote, sources told ABC News there is
frustration over whether Manafort is fully providing the information he
agreed to offer, putting a strain on the deal.
That was a single report on November 9th. Then ten days ago, we were
expecting to see Mueller`s team file a presentencing memo spelling out
details surrounding Manafort`s cooperation, when both sides pushed it back,
insisting on a rare ten-day delay so that Mueller could prepare, quote, a
report that will be of greater assistance in the court`s management of this
The reason for that delay was unclear. There was a lot of speculation that
something might be about to happen in the Mueller investigation, that
Manafort might potentially be helping with. Well, tonight we have our
answer. In a new filing this evening, Mueller`s prosecutors spell out the
issue directly, saying that Manafort has breached the cooperation agreement
that he signed with Mueller`s prosecutors in September by repeatedly lying
to federal investigators.
From tonight`s filing, quote: After signing the plea agreement, Manafort
committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
and the special counsel`s office on a variety of subject matters.
Mueller`s team do not spell out in detail exactly what Manafort lied about,
but note that they will at some point file a detailed sentencing submission
to the probation department and the court, setting forth the nature of the
defendant`s crimes and lies, setting forth the nature of the defendant`s
lies and crimes.
Quote, as the defendant has breached the plea agreement, there is no reason
to delay his sentencing herein. Now, the filing tonight is a joint status
report filed by both the special counsel and Manafort`s attorneys. As
such, it also lays out Paul Manafort`s side of the story wherein he denies
the latest allegations against him.
Quote, after signing the plan agreement, Manafort met with the government
on numerous occasions and answered the government`s questions. Manafort
has provide information to the government in an effort to live up to his
It goes on: He believes he has provided truthful information and does not
agree with the government`s characterization or that he has breached the
agreement. Given the conflict in the parties` positions, there is no
reason to delay the sentencing herein, and he asks the court to set a
sentencing date in this matter.
Paul Manafort has been in solitary confinement in a Virginia jail since
June when he was accused of violating his probation by actively tampering
with witnesses to try the get them to spin his actions in a more positive
Paul Manafort was already facing the prospect of at least ten years behind
bars. Tonight, he faces the prospect of each more time for breaking his
cooperation agreement by lying on a variety of subject matters. Mueller`s
team could also refile charges on counts they previously agreed to dismiss
as part of the plea deal.
Now, how likely is it that Mueller`s prosecutors do refile charges against
Trump`s former campaign chair? What does this mean for Paul Manafort?
What does this mean for the other Trump campaign officials who continue to
cooperate with the special counsel? What does this mean for Trump? What
does it mean for the special counsel himself at a time when his
investigation appears to be increasingly under threat?
Joining me now, Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern
District of Michigan, and Daniel Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney
for the Southern District of New York.
Thank you both for being with us.
Barbara, let me just start with you. These cooperation agreements require
much more than answering a few questions about the matter at hand. They
require, in this case required, Paul Manafort to answer any question about
any legal wrongdoing he`s ever been involved in or known of.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MICHIGAN: Yes, it`s an all or
nothing proposition. When the government is talking with someone about
cooperation, they want to know everything about this case. They want to
know everything about their own misconduct, because they are recruiting him
now to be on their team.
They`re going to put him on the stand, essentially vouching for his
truthfulness, sponsoring his testimony and asking a jury to believe him.
And they can only do that if they are convinced that he is telling them the
truth. They understand that people commit crimes, but this is the deal,
and you understand what the stakes are.
When there is a breach like this, it real slay lose-lose proposition. Paul
Manafort is now going to face more time than he otherwise would have, and
now the government has lost a cooperator who had potential value to them.
VELSH: Daniel, he could face a lot more time. This guy could never see
the outside of a jail now. What would have compelled him not to cooperate?
He already had to give up his property. He already was going to go to jail
for some things. It was clear that the Mueller investigation had a lot of
evidence on him.
What do you think is behind this?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW
YORK: Well, there is a lot of speculation already that he has been dangled
a pardon, or he is afraid of some of the Russians he may have information
on. We don`t have any evidence of, that which I think is very important to
And second of all, I think it fails to understand how self-interested and
irrational someone like Paul Manafort is, someone who has committed fraud
in various forms for so much of his life. I prosecuted white collar cases,
and I frequently saw people like Paul Manafort who would essentially try
their last heist on the prosecutors, and try to very frequently protect
himself from further wrongdoing.
And you and Barb just discussed how you have to actually admit to
additional criminal activity. It very well could just be that Paul
Manafort was unwilling to admit to additional crimes perhaps related to the
campaign and to Russia that we know were under investigation and that
ultimately Bob Mueller just had enough and said if you`re not going to be
truthful, you`re not getting a cooperation agreement.
And he is now looking at ten years in D.C. plus perhaps anywhere from 11 to
14 years will be the guidelines in the Eastern District of Virginia. It`s
unlikely they`ll both run one after the other, but we`re talking double-
digits amount of years in jail.
VELSHI: Barbara, have you had a circumstance like this where someone who
you made a deal with went and lied and is there something we`re missing
here? Is there some potential upside to Manafort doing this?
MCQUADE: No. It does happen from time to time. It`s actually pretty
rare. Usually most of the time by the time someone has sat down, entered a
guilty plea, they understand that the best they can do for themselves is to
cooperate fully and truthfully so that they can get that motion and have a
And a good lawyer will sit down with their client and explain that to them.
On rare occasion, there are defendants who will continue to lie, oftentimes
minimizing their own role. It sounds like that`s what happened with George
Papadopoulos, and at some point, the government just tears up the plea
agreement and says we`re done because we can`t sponsor you.
If it`s, you know, a slight lie, even that`s is problematic because it has
to be reported to the judge and the defense so it can be used as
impeachment material. But at some point, you get to the point where I just
can`t work with this person. I can`t trust him and we`re done.
You know, as I said, it`s a lose-lose. I think the government would prefer
to have his cooperation, but they can only do that if they believe he is
VELSHI: So, Daniel, let`s go to 50,000 feet here. We`ve heard that
Papadopoulos has signed into jail because he didn`t cooperate in the way
that was meaningful. We understood that Manafort`s cooperation was in
concert with others. We`re waiting to see a sentence filing from the
government on Michael Flynn.
Is there a ripple effect to this?
GOLDMAN: I think there is a significant effect for government because of
Paul Manafort`s central position in the campaign. He was the campaign
manager. He was in that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. He was actually
overseeing the convention for the party and for the campaign, and you`ll
recall that the party platform changed in a Russia-friendly way.
It felt to many, including me, like Paul Manafort would help Bob Mueller
get to the bottom of whatever happened. And this is particularly relevant
for people who perhaps didn`t use e-mail, such as the president. And that
if he is the campaign manager, and he has all these contacts and
relationships with Russia, that if someone`s not – doesn`t have a paper
trail, you need a Cooperating witness to know what conversations went on.
And I think this is a real blow to the special counsel not to be able to
get that information and use it through Paul Manafort, because now it can`t
be used. You need to be a witness in order to be able for the prosecutor
to use the information, even if he gave some information that was truthful,
they cannot rely on him to testify to that information. So they have to
find it elsewhere.
VELSHI: We have heard, however, today, Barbara, that Roger Stone associate
Jerome Corsi, who is a strange character, this the guy behind the birther
conspiracy, he was due to conduct an interview with us on NBC about a week
ago. He didn`t get out of his car and didn`t do it. Now we have heard
that he has turned down a plea deal from Robert Mueller.
Do you make anything of this?
MCQUADE: You know, it`s hard to know exactly what is going on. What he
has said publicly is that he refused to plead guilty to perjury because the
purported perjury charge was based on his failure to remember something.
That does not ring true to me. Perjury is charged only when you can prove
the central elements that the person testified under oath, that they then
and there knew what they were saying was false, and it was about a material
fact. That is something that is important. It is not something that has
slipped your memory, you can`t recall.
So, I don`t know exactly what has happened there. It seems more likely
that someone has decided I can`t do time. When you agree to plead guilty,
you have to own your crimes, and you may face criminal exposure, including
sentencing before a judge.
And so often, the sticking point is the person wants a promise of probation
or some other sweetheart deal that the prosecution just isn`t willing to
VELSHI: All right. Thanks to both of you for your analysis tonight.
Barbara McQuade is former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of
Michigan. Donald Goldman, former assistant attorney for the Southern
District of New York – we appreciate your time tonight.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Ali.
VELSHI: I want to give you an update on a legal story we`re following.
Back in June, the New York attorney general filed a lawsuit against the
president and his charitable foundation, alleging a pattern of illegal
behavior that span more than a decade. The lawsuit has ensnared not just
the president, but also his children who allegedly used the Trump
Foundation to prop up Trump`s presidential bid and settle business
It`s been an open question whether this case could go forward. Trump`s
lawyers had challenged whether a sitting president could face a civil
lawsuit. Well, now consider that matter settled. Over that weekend, a New
York judge ruled that a lawsuit against the president`s charitable
foundation can proceed. The judge ruled in no uncertain terms, quote, I
find I have jurisdiction over Mr. Trump.
Watch this space. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
VELSHI: At the end of 1969, after 15 years of dragging its feet, the state
of Mississippi was finally ordered by the Supreme Court to desegregate its
public schools. And so, the governor of Mississippi reluctantly ordered
that when his state`s public school students came back from the winter
holiday in January 1970, black and white students would start attending
school together. But on the last weekend of the winter break, the governor
gave a statewide televised address, and he told the white people of his
state not to worry. He had found a way for them not to have to send their
kids to school with black children.
From the January 4th, 1970 edition of the “New York Times,” quote, Governor
John Bell Williams, on the eve of next week`s scheduled court-ordered total
school desegregation in many areas of the state, told Mississippians that
he would work to erect a private school system as a workable alternative
for thousands of white children. Governor Williams said he would ask the
legislature to seek ways and means of rendering assistance to the
establishment of private schools.
And thanks in part to those hastily established all-white schools, many of
those students who were on winter break that first weekend of 1970 never
went back to public school again.
(BGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The school desegregation ordered in Mississippi began
today. Children returned to classes in 11 of 30 districts which had been
ordered to integrate. The integration ordered unconditionally by the
Supreme Court was accomplished without incidental though in the presence of
federal marshals, but there still were attempts to evade the order. All 46
white schools opened in some places. In others, whites abandoned their
schools to the blacks.
The remainder of schools will open later this week. Today in some of them,
the children registered for classes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Noxubee County, Mississippi, is 80 percent Negro, and
under the original court order integrating its schools, there should have
been four Negroes for every white in class this today. But over the
weekend, the court changed its order of the schools` request. For one more
semester, integration will be gradual, with white students still the
majority. Instead of being 4-1 black, whites will outnumber the blacks 3-
2. The change was reflected in the number of whites who registered for
class today. At first, it was felt that most whites would switch to a
private school, but most will stay.
PERRY WHITE, PRINCIPAL: The majority of them and really and truly, I think
that possibly 75 percent will be coming back, 60 to 75 percent of the white
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, that`s a remarkably optimistic way to say that 25 to 40
percent of your white student body has just decided not to come back after
the winter break. And it was not like all these parents were sending their
kids to these brand-new white private schools for the superior education.
These schools were set up in a hurry and not necessarily with a lot of
investment, despite what the state kicked in.
The former chair of the Mississippi Democratic Party who went to public
school in Ellisville, Mississippi, in the 1970s and `80s told “The Jackson
Free Press” that he recalled, quote, making fun of the kids in town whose
parents drove them 26 miles to a white academy and back, more than 100
miles a day, just so they could have a substandard education with teachers
who often had little more than a high school diploma. He added, quote: The
only reason people of my generation went to segregation academies was to
keep the white kids and the black kids apart.
Segregation academies, that`s what those schools were called, colloquially,
at least. And we learned over the Thanksgiving weekend from some fantastic
reporting from Ashton Pittman at “The Jackson Free Press” that one of the
white students who was moved into a segregation academy in the 1970s was
Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi`s junior United States senator, appointed
earlier this year, who is running to be elected to her post in tomorrow`s
runoff against Democrat Mike Espy.
It is the last remaining race of the 2018 midterms, a contest that has
become unexpectedly competitive in deep red Mississippi because of Hyde-
Smith`s recent comments and uncomfortable history on the subject of race.
Quote: U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith attended and graduated from a
segregation academy that was set up so that white parents could avoid
having to send their children to schools with black students, a year book
A group photo in the 1975 edition of “The Rebel”, the Lawrence county
academy year book illustrates the point. High school cheerleaders smiling
at the camera. In the center, the mascot dressed in what appears to be an
outfit designed to mimic that of a Confederate general offers a salute as
she holds up a large Confederate flag.
Third from the right on the ground, a sophomore girl with short hair
identified in the caption as Cindy Hyde. And, of course, Cindy Hyde-Smith
should not be held responsible for where her parents chose to send her to
school, though the “Free Press” points out that she, Cindy Hyde-Smith sent
her daughter to a different segregation academy, also opened in 1970, a
school that no longer technically excludes black students, but enrolled
just one black child in the 2015-2016 school year, despite being in a
majority black town.
Senator Hyde-Smith has not given the impression during this campaign of
someone who has done much substantive grappling with her state`s or her own
racial history. After making her now infamous remark that she would,
quote, be on the front row for a public hanging if she were invited to said
public hanging by a particularly beloved consistent, Cindy Hyde-Smith
refused to answer any questions about it for a week, and then gave a half-
hearted “sorry if anyone was offended” apology at a debate, and then
continued refusing to say anything about it.
Then there were Hyde-Smith`s comments about making it harder for, quote,
liberal folks at certain colleges to vote. And the photo of her posing
with Confederate artifacts, and her past support for various celebrations
of Confederate heritage and civil war revisionism.
And it`s not like there aren`t white Mississippians who are grappling,
genuinely and substantively with the racial issues in the midst of this
campaign. A local Tupelo reporter who was present for the public hanging
comments wrote a thoughtful introspective column on why he hadn`t picked up
on those comments as news at the time he heard them.
Quote: Reporting these remarks didn`t occur to me. To the best of my
recollection, I heard “public hanging” as a play upon the senator`s
background as a cat farmer, a forced and clumsy invocation of frontier
bravado. Like everyone, I`ve had a limited life experience, and for me
that experience has been influenced by the history of whiteness in the
I have no family members who were lynched. I have no relatives who were
threatened with lynching. The words “public hanging” bring no particular
menace to mind.
Not so for other Mississippians, for other Southerners, for other
Americans. This is not ancient history I`m dredging up. Not an old and
forgotten wound I`m picking back open there are people alive today who are
hold enough to have had family members lynched by a white mob, old enough
to have feared that fate themselves, end quote.
Cindy Hyde-Smith could try to face head-on why so many people were so
shocked by what she said. Instead, she is literally running away from
questions about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R), MISSISSIPPI: We`re going to an event. Thank
VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Senator, can I ask you, why not speak
to us about the issue of race? It`s an issue on voters` minds. Why not
speak about the issue of race?
HYDE-SMITH: These people are really interested in the issues –
HILLYARD: And there is a lot of people that we`ve talked to across this
state that are concerned about your remarks and what you were apologizing
for. Senator, why not speak to this issue? Your comments offended a great
number of people, Senator.
HILLYARD: No, you haven`t. What is it that you`re apologizing for?
HYDE-SMITH: Thank y`all for being here.
This has been great.
REPORTER: Senator, how –
HILLYARD: Senator, you stood inside of Jefferson Davis` house and you said
that this is Mississippi history at its best. Senator, what did you mean
by that? Standing inside of Jefferson Davis` house – senator, this is a
third of your electorate is African American.
HYDE-SMITH: We`re feeling great! Thank y`all for being here.!
HILLYARD: But, Senator, you`re running to be the U.S. senator of the
United States – Senator, Senator, you`re running to be the U.S. senator.
Why not talk about race?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: The United States Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith successfully evading
NBC news` Vaughn Hillyard. Vaughn does not make it a policy of chasing
candidates to their cars. But Cindy Hyde-Smith has made it all but
impossible for reporters to ask for any questions during the last couple of
And maybe that`s the right strategy. Even with all her flaws, even with
the coming of the blue wave of Democratic wins this month in which
Democrats just picked up another House seat today in deep red Utah – we`ll
have more on that in a moment – even in that environment, Hyde-Smith`s
Democratic opponent Mike Espy has a seriously uphill battle to win an upset
tomorrow. He`d be the first black senator for Mississippi since
reconstruction, that is a heavy lift.
Here is Cindy Hyde-Smith, and the more you talk, the more you get yourself
in trouble. Maybe the goal right now is to make to it the finish line,
even if you have to run out the back door, pursued by reporters.
Republicans are worried enough to be pouring money and resources into a
race that ought to be a cakewalk. Donald Trump is currently in the midst
of his second rally of the day in Mississippi to get out the vote for Hyde-
Smith. This one is in Biloxi. This afternoon, was his first. He was in
Tupelo, Tupelo where Hyde-Smith talked about going to a public hanging.
Mississippi`s own William Falkner famously wrote: the past is never dead.
It`s not even past.
Today, at the Mississippi capitol, seven nooses were found hanging from
trees, initially assumed to be a racist threat. It turned out the people
who left the nooses intended them to be a reminder, a sign they left with
the nooses read, quote: On Tuesday, November 27, thousands of
Mississippians will vote for a senator. We need someone who respects the
lives of lynch victims. We`re hanging nooses to remind people that times
Have times changed enough that a black Democrat might win a U.S. Senate
seat in Mississippi?
Hold that thought.
VELSHI: You heard the old proverb, slow and steady wins the race. Well,
just ask the Democrats. Tomorrow is three weeks out from the midterms, and
Democrats continue to put points on the scoreboard.
Just tonight, we have late-breaking news out of California, in a race that
had been called for the Republican. In California`s 21st district, votes
are still being counted. Though late tonight, Democrat TJ Cox took the
lead. Right now, Democrats have picked up a whopping 39 seats in the
House. If they notch a win in California 21, it will be 40.
The latest Democratic win was in Utah`s fourth district where Democrat Ben
McAdams beat Republican incumbent Mia Love. Love conceded today, but first
she had a score to settle with the president.
You may remember the day after the election, President Trump singled out
Mia Love, name-checked her, saying she lost because shed hadn`t embraced
Trump enough. Well, today, Love clapped back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIA LOVE (R), UTAH: The president`s behavior towards me made me
wonder, what did he have to gain by saying such a thing about a fellow
Republican. However, this gave me a clear vision of his world as it is.
No real relationships, just convenient transactions.
This election experience and these comments shines a spotlight on the
problems Washington politicians have with minorities and black Americans.
It`s transactional. It`s not personal.
You see, we feel like politicians claim they know what`s best for us from a
safe distance, yet they`re never willing to take us home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Race also looms large in another race we`re watching tonight in
Mississippi, where right now President Trump is trying to catapult
Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith over the finish line in that runoff against
Democrat Mike Espy, a runoff in which Mississippi`s past and present in
terms of race are as much on the ballot as the candidates themselves.
Joining us now, Jelani Cobb, staff writer for “The New Yorker” and
journalism professor at Columbia University.
Jelani, good to have you here. Thank you for being with us.
JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER, “THE NEW YORKER”: Thank you.
VELSHI: For a lot of people, Cindy Hyde-Smith`s wink-wink non-apology
about her statement on public lynchings was a wake-up call about racism in
America how. Do you think about this? I began to think that Cindy Hyde-
Smith very deliberately not apologizing and sort of making it clear to
people she won`t apologize for something, a joke that people might have
taken seriously about lynching.
COBB: Sure. That`s a page right out of Donald Trump`s playbook. He
doesn`t apologize for anything. You know, the more offensive, the better,
and if he is proven factually incorrect, he just changes the subject.
And so, there has been a sort of arc to this, if you remember. Early on in
Trump`s presidency, it seemed like people who tried to emulate him weren`t
really successful at it. You know, Roy Moore was one of those examples.
Ed Gillespie`s doomed gubernatorial bid in Virginia was another example in
which he defended the confederacy even after everything that happened in
And so, you know, people said that, you know, the Trump template didn`t
really work for other people, and now I think they`re beginning to question
those assumption is because they have seen what happened with Brian Kemp in
Georgia and with DeSantis in Florida. It seems that you can actually mimic
his outrageousness, mimic his egregious racism, mimic him playing to the
worst possible aspects of human character and be successful at it.
And I think that`s exactly what we`re seeing in Mississippi.
VELSHI: You`re somebody who has taught the history of public lynchings. I
thought that comment, the opinion that was written by that journalist was
very thoughtful, the one who said that when he heard of public hangings, he
didn`t make that association. But tell us why so many people do, why
lynching and voting are so closely tied together.
COBB: Well, certainly. You know, the interesting thing about the history
of lynching in this country is it`s a kind of litmus test that there are
Americans who know virtually nothing about this entire history of was what
one historian referred to as a festival of violence.
VELSHI: Did you say “a festival of violence”?
COBB: A festival of violence.
COBB: These are macabre rituals in which people were not just hung, but
they were often hung, their bodies were burned, they were ritually
castrated, and the historian W.E.B. Du Bois wrote about an incident in
Atlanta when he walked down the street and saw a butcher displaying the
knees of a man who had been lynched in his window as a kind of keepsake.
And so, this kind of celebratory, over-the-top violence was intended to
reinforce black subordination after the end of slavery, and especially
after the 15th Amendment is bestowed the right to vote on African American
men. So lynch law and mob violence was one of the chief mechanisms by
which black people were excluded from the electorate and especially in the
VELSHI: So in a democracy, the ultimate subordination is if you prevent
people from voting or discourage them from voting or you frighten them out
COBB: Right. That`s exactly what happened.
VELSHI: Cindy Hyde-Smith, this discovery that she attended a so-called
segregation academy. That`s one thing when she was kid and her parents
sent her there. She sent her daughter to one as well.
That`s not ancient history. People – these are people who have grown up
believing that things should be separate. Blacks and whites should not be
doing things together, including getting an education.
How does that get discussed in the context of this campaign?
COBB: Well, I mean, listen, the thing about this is we may be having a
kind of shocked conscience in looking at this and saying that someone would
be – that her parents would make the decision to send her to one of these
institutions, that she in turn would make the same decision for her child,
but I guarantee you there is a whole lot of the Mississippi electorate, the
white Republican electorate in Mississippi that has either had a similar
experience or is sympathetic to the motive for sending your child to one of
those kinds of institutions.
And so, in talking about how this will reverberate in the electorate, if
you were waiting on white Republican voters in Mississippi to have a call
to conscience on the basis of racism, you are going to be out in the cold
for a very long time. And so, I think this plays one way outside of
Mississippi and plays very differently inside that state.
VELSHI: I think sadly you may be right about that. Jelani, good to see
Jelani Cobb is a staff writer for “The New Yorker” and a journalism
professor at Columbia University. Thank you for being with us.
We`ll be right back.
COBB: Thank you.
VELSHI: Facts, they are important. In 2014, Russia decided to take a
chunk of Ukraine known as Crimea and call it Russia. That`s a thing that
happened. That is a fact.
But President Trump does not believe that Russia is to blame for taking
over Crimea. In fact, on numerous occasions, he`s blamed President Obama,
not President Putin. Over the summer, he said, quote, President Obama lost
Crimea because President Putin didn`t respect President Obama.
Earlier this month, Trump said, quote, President Obama allowed a very large
part of Ukraine to be taken by Russia. President Obama, not Putin, not
Meanwhile, Russia is at it again. It`s state messing with Ukraine. Since
Russia took over Crimea, it`s been exerting more and more control over
Crimea`s territorial waters in that area. In fact, this spring, Russia
finished building a huge bridge connecting mainland Russia to Crimea. They
named it the Crimean Bridge.
Once the bridge was complete, Russian security services known as the FSB
started inspecting all Ukrainian ships trying to make their way through the
strait to Ukraine. Now, if you look at a map, this strait is the only way
for Ukrainian vessels to go back from the black sea to ports in the Sea of
With Russians manning the waters, tensions have been on the rise, but
yesterday, they came to a boil when the Russian navy blocked three
Ukrainian naval vessels from passing through the strait. Watch this ship
about to ram that tugboat. The Russian ships opened fire at the vessels,
wounding six sailors, I`m sorry, and ramming into a tugboat, boarding the
Ukrainian ships, detaining more than 20 sailors, and seeking – seizing the
three Ukrainian vessels.
You can see two of them here. Russia claims the ships illegally entered
Russian waters. I should point out the strait is like two or three miles
wide at its narrowest point. This isn`t a case of ships wandering off
course. By definition, if you`re traversing the strait, you are in
Now, today, when asked about Russia`s most recent act of aggression against
Ukraine, Trump said he was not happy, but he did not criticize Russia, let
alone Vladimir Putin.
Russia has taken over the territorial waters around Ukraine, isolating half
of the country`s coastline. It`s blocking Ukrainian vessels. It`s firing
on Ukrainian crewmen, boarding their vessels, seizing their ships, all in
flagrant violation of international law.
NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel spoke to a former top
military official in Ukraine that told him, quote, this is, quote,
definitely Putin probing. He thinks the president is pretty distracted in
between holidays and Mueller. It might be a good time for a further land
grab. This could get very ugly.
What`s President Trump going to do? He`s set to meet with President Putin
at the end of the week at the G20. Will he keep that meeting? If he does,
will he say anything?
The former top American diplomat to Russia joins me next.
VELSHI: Russian state media put this out today. Preparations for Putin-
Trump meeting at G-20 under way.
Quote: The situation over the strait doesn`t affect preparations for a
meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart
Donald Trump at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, a Kremlin spokesperson
told reporters. Nothing to worry about. Plans are under way, folks.
Joining us now, Michael McFaul. He`s the former ambassador to Russia under
Mr. Ambassador, good to see you and I appreciate you being here tonight.
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Sure. Thanks for having me.
VELSHI: What do you make of this most recent example of Russian aggression
toward Ukraine and Crimea?
MCFAUL: Putin`s testing Ukraine. He`s testing the world. He`s trying to
see what he can get away with. He`s trying to de facto create Russian
territorial control over that waterway. It`s illegal, and I hope the West
and President Trump and the United States will push back.
VELSHI: So, Nikki Haley, this is often what happens, Nikki Haley seemed
to. She called an emergency meeting at the United Nations.
VELSHI: There was nothing ambiguous about her statement.
President Trump later on today said he`s not happy with it. What else does
you have to do? Does that – is that sufficient? He didn`t seem to match
Nikki Haley`s tenor and tone about this.
MCFAUL: Exactly. Neither hers nor the statement that I thought was very
good that was put out by the State Department under Secretary Pompeo`s
name. He equivocated like you said earlier in your piece.
He wouldn`t mention Putin. He didn`t call it aggression. He didn`t call
it right or wrong.
He just seems incapable of criticizing Vladimir Putin. It is
extraordinary. He has been extremely consistent in never, ever criticizing
Putin for anything that he does.
And therefore, I think they should pull-down that meeting in Argentina.
Remember the last summit, right, in Helsinki, he stood next to Putin and
because Putin spoke strongly, I think I`m quoting the president, he said, I
believe Putin over our intelligence community. I don`t want him to do that
again. Stand next to Putin and say, well, it was a provocation by the
That would not be in America`s national interest. Just better not to have
VELSHI: I remember speaking to you that day and I remember in hindsight
was it a good meeting or bad meeting. There`s a part of me that thinks
that Helsinki, Trump standing next to Putin was a good thing because
everybody got to see the emperor had no clothes. You actually got to see
what Donald Trump is like when he`s around Vladimir Putin.
You know, there`s a real sense of the number of people who believe when
he`s there he`ll be tougher. This is all talk for a different audience.
VELSHI: He does not seem to be able to take a reasonable stance on
anything when it comes to confronting Putin. In fact, his constant
conversation about Crimea blames President Obama and you as the ambassador
at the time about Crimea.
MCFAUL: Yes. Well, it`s an interesting point you make about exposing
President Trump and the way he deals with Putin and Helsinki. I think
But what`s tragic about it and what I worry about in this next meeting is
the president of the United States is actually supposed to advance American
national interests and our security interests and the interests of our
allies and partners. And that`s he should do in G20 – at the G20 summit.
And if he can`t do it then I think the U.S. Congress has to act. There`s
already pieces of legislations, several bills already have been floating
around for new sanctions on Russia. I think if the president can`t do
that, Congress should step in.
VELSHI: We might see that.
Michael McFaul, always a pleasure to see you. Thank you for being with us.
Michael McFaul is a former United States ambassador to Russia.
VELSHI: Well, in the TV business, you always start with a plan but
sometimes history gets in the way. That kind of story is ahead.
Stay with us.
VELSHI: The fifth game of the National League Championship Series in 1973
between the New York Mets and the Cincinnati Reds was held on October 10th,
1973. Whoever won that playoff game would head to the World Series to play
either Baltimore or Oakland.
Cincinnati won the first game the week before, and then the Mets won both
games two and three. If they won four they`d take home the championship
and head to World Series, but Cincinnati came back and won. They were
“The New York Times” called it a grim fight. Game five would be the
deciding game of this series. It was a nail-biter. And in the middle of
the broadcast, NBC News interrupted the playoffs to air this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, Vice President Agnew has resigned from office
and the United States is without a vice president. Douglas Kiker, NBC
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has been a special report from NBC News. We
return you now to the Mets-Cincinnati baseball game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: The United States is without a vice president. Vice President
Spiro Agnew resigned his position, October 10th, 1973, after appearing
before a district court judge in Baltimore, an event obviously important
enough to interrupt the broadcast of the National League Championships.
If you`ve been following Rachel`s podcast series “Bag Man, you`re in for a
treat. The second to the last episode of the series just dropped. This
one is not to be missed. Episode six now available. Get it at the
If you don`t know how to download a podcast, doesn`t matter. You can
listen to every episode right there.
That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back tomorrow night. And I`ll
see you back here at 1:00 Eastern and again at 3:00.
It`s time now for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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