Mueller’s team files update on Manafort. TRANSCRIPT: 11/26/18, The Rachel Maddow Show

Jelani Cobb

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

cooperation obligations. 


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. 



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? 



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

point out. 


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

reduced sentence. 


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

being truthful. 


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. 




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





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

American South. 


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. 




SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R), MISSISSIPPI:  We`re going to an event.  Thank

you, guys. 


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? 




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

haven`t changed. 


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. 




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. 




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. 




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. 


VELSHI:  Wow. 


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

of voting. 


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

contested waters. 


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

President Obama. 


Mr. Ambassador, good to see you and I appreciate you being here tonight. 




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

the meeting. 


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. 


MCFAUL:  Right.


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

that`s right. 


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. 


MCFAUL:  Sure.


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. 




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Again, Vice President Agnew has resigned from office

and the United States is without a vice president.  Douglas Kiker, NBC

News, Washington. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This has been a special report from NBC News.  We

return you now to the Mets-Cincinnati baseball game. 




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. 




Good evening, Lawrence.







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