Senator Kamala Harris launches Presidential campaign. TRANSCRIPT: 1/21/2019, The Rachel Maddow Show.
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: January 21, 2019
Guest: Ken Vogel, Anthony Romero
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: I think that signals something. Emily Bazelon
and Dorian Warren, thank you both.
That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I loved that segment. I loved that whole
discussion. I felt like that was – I felt like the discussion around the
Democratic field is mostly all just been like gee, there sure are a lot of
HAYES: Well, it`s fascinating to watch them reckon with their record and
reckon with the party that`s moving in really interesting ways and
agitating in really interesting ways, and she`s going to be on your program
on Wednesday night, if I`m not mistaken so I`m looking forward to hearing
what she has to say.
MADDOW: Thank you. I just thought – it was super helpful. For a long
time we`ve known there is a conservative movement separate from the
Republican Party, and when the Republican Party is weak, in particular the
conservative movement drives it. That is also true in a different way
about the Democratic Party and various progressive movements in this
HAYES: Totally agree.
MADDOW: And this Democratic primary process will be the big, first
national elucidation of that and that conversation you had there was the
smartest thing I`ve yet seen about this –
HAYES: Well, thank you, Rachel. I have goose bumps. Appreciate it. Have
MADDOW: Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
All right. You know, if you ever wanted to put the FBI out of business,
one cheap and cheerful way to do that is organize a federal government
shutdown that went on for, I don`t know, some really long period of time
like more than 30 days. One of the things that you endure regularly, if
you work for an agency like the FBI is that they routinely do financial
background checks on you. You get the basic idea of why they might do
that, right? I mean, for example, you may have seen the kind of
application you have to fill out to get a security clearance from the U.S.
The SF-86 form becomes sort of a famous thing in the Trump era because
various senior Trump administration officials have had problems of various
kinds with their security clearance applications and their SF-86s. But if
you look at the forms, if you look at what you have to demonstrate and
spell out in order to get a security clearance, they ask you about all
sorts of things but one of the things that is really striking when you
actually look at the questions they ask and the documentation you have to
provide is that it`s a ton of financial stuff.
A big part of the way they assess you in terms of whether some adversary or
crook might be able to leverage something against you, part of the way they
check that is to check your finances. If you`re going to have access to
sensitive national security or intelligence-related information, they want
to make sure you`re not going to be susceptible to bribery, to literally
selling your country for cash. If you are in financial dire straits, or if
you are debt up to your eyeballs, if you`ve got financial burdens of any
kind that might cause you real stress, that`s a big red flag.
So they stress test you financially before you can get a security clearance
and if you`re an FBI agent, that`s not just something that they look at the
outset of your career, while you are employed as an agent at the FBI, they
will go back and frequently recheck that aspect of your life, to make sure
your financial situation has not changed to potentially open you up to that
kind of pressure or leverage. So, given that reality, one easy peasy way
to screw up the whole FBI, I mean, not even just the FBI.
Everybody involved in law enforcement and national security, intelligence
work, if you want to take a quick shiv to that whole part of the U.S.
government, it`s easy. Just start taking away paychecks from all of those
people all at once. And not just one paycheck, it would really help if it
was multiple paychecks. Let them go multiple pay periods with zero income
while still requiring them to work every day.
With that one genius move, you can break the family finances of basically
every single federal law enforcement and national security agent in the
country. And think of all you could accomplish with just that one move. I
mean, for one, you actually do risk national security by making all of
those people potentially more susceptible to compromise, right? There is a
reason why financial strain is a big red flag when it comes to security
clearances, right? And law enforcement and national security jobs.
Putting all of the people in this country and all of those jobs under
serious financial strain all at once, it does systematically increase their
potential susceptibility to compromise or corruption, and even better than
that, I mean, in one fail swoop with just this one neat trick, you screw up
all of their careers. You can create security clearance problems for all
of them, all at once by putting them all under financial strain.
And in so doing, you can in a lasting way make the FBI and other federal
law enforcement and national security agencies seem like super risky and
demoralizing places to work. Make it harder from here to eternity for them
to ever recruit the best talent in the air, right? I mean, that`s going to
happen every year that the FBI and other law enforcement and national
security agencies are hiring from here on out. They`re going to go to grad
schools, they`re going to go to colleges, they`re going to seek talent
everywhere. They can all over the country.
And people who have other options, you want to work for the FBI, might be a
few months where you don`t get paid but you still have to work every day.
You starting to feel me? I mean, think about what this does to law
enforcement and national security agencies and their ability to hire the
best, especially if they want to hire people that have a perverse desire to
actually be paid for going to work every day.
Last week, we reported the New York field office of the FBI started a food
bank for their agents and their families. Now, David Rohde of “The New
Yorker” reports that the FBI`s storied Washington field office has also
started a canned food drive for its agents, as well. Just like all the
other hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers, these agents are
heading into their second pay period of zero dollar paychecks.
Local reporting in Washington, D.C. tonight indicates that agents have also
been told that if they roll on through a second pay period with more zero
dollar paychecks, they will also this week lose their dental and vision
coverage for themselves and their families.
Today is day 30 of the federal government shutdown, which means tomorrow we
start month number two of hundreds of thousands of federal employees either
being idled entirely or forced to work indefinitely without pay.
Apparently, Republicans and the White House agree that the president`s
demand for the building of a wall between us and Mexico, that is the hill
upon which all of this will die.
So, we precede not sure how long this can go on, and also not quite sure
what exactly it`s going to look like when it all breaks. But we will have
the head of the national ACLU, Anthony Romero, joining us live in studio
this hour. He`ll be here live in studio for the interview. I`m very much
looking forward to his prospective on this.
Today, of course, is also the federal holiday honoring the Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. The King holiday was the occasion for the latest
big presidential campaign announcement. A third U.S. senator has
officially announced a run for the presidency in 2020, three Democratic
senators have thus far jumped in formally, all three of them are women.
First was Elizabeth Warren, second Kirsten Gillibrand.
Now, today, California Senator Kamala Harris has made her announcement. We
will have more on that announcement coming up this hour as well. I`ve got
something sort of exciting to tell you about that.
But first, let`s talk for a second about this. This is footage, a little
bit hard at first to tell what is going on here, but this is footage of a
young woman being arrested by mostly plain clothes police or security
officers of some kind. This was shot at the main airport in Moscow late
And as you can tell from the footage, the woman looks a little bit out of
it. Like seeing somebody arrested like this is always a little bit
unsettling just in human terms. Her demeanor and affect here was worrying
after this arrest video surfaced a few days ago.
But as of this weekend, we can at least vouch for the fact this young woman
is alive and she appears to be OK because reporters this weekend were also
allowed to shoot footage of her inside a sort of cage, sort of box inside a
Moscow courtroom. Subtitles on this, you`ll see subtitled in English. The
subtitles have been supplied by Radio Free Europe.
So, this young woman in this clip here, she`s speaking in Russian but the
subtitles tell us what she`s saying in English and if you read along it
makes the hair stand up in the back of your neck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
ANASTASIA VASHUKEVICH, BELARUSIAN MODEL: Guys, please pass my apologies to
Oleg Deripaska and Russian politician Sergei Prikhodko. I am sorry that
everything happened that way. I am sincerely ashamed of what happened.
I do not want to aggravate, so I personally apologize to Oleg Deripaska.
There will be no more audio recordings of Oleg Deripaska. I will not use
his name in any way and will not compromise him anymore. So he can relax
now. Really, this is enough for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is Anastasia Vashukevich, speaking from a Russian courtroom,
a district court in Moscow this weekend.
That court appearance follows her arrest at Moscow`s main airport on
Thursday of last week. What`s going on with this story is this, this was
February 8th of last year. You might recognize this guy. The guy who made
this video and who you see hosting this video, it`s Alexey Navalny. Alexey
Navalny is the highest profile opposition figure in Russia. Vladimir Putin
last year would not let Alexey Navalny run against him for president of the
Russian Federation. Putin and his government lock up Alexey Navalny
whenever they get a chance, whenever they decide to seize on a convenient
But February 8th last year, he released this video and the video focused on
footage, focused on video footage and photographs that had been shot in the
first instance by Anastasia Vashukevich, that young woman who we just saw
arrested at that Moscow airport and then in a cage in a Moscow courtroom.
Vashukevich`s claim was that she was hired to work as an escort on a yacht
trip in August 2016. That ended up being a story of national significance
because while she was on the yacht trip, she shot footage of her host
Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and deputy prime minister of Russia, who`s
the other guy with him in these images. These are photos of the two men
aboard the yacht.
On the video footage that was highlighted by Navalny, these two men can be
seen and heard discussing the relationship between Russia and the United
States and again, this is August 2016. It`s in the context of the U.S.
presidential election. And again, this video, these pictures, they were
shot by this young woman, Anastasia Vashukevich, during the U.S.
presidential campaign in August 2016. Navalny dug them up and made his
video expose highlighting the footage just last year in February 2018.
And we can date that release specifically because when he did that in
February of last year, it basically broke the Internet in Russia. The
Russian government freaked out so badly about this expose that Navalny was
running and about that footage which it was based, it freaked them out so
badly that Deripaska and the Russian government got a court in Russia to
block Alexey Navalny`s website, so nobody could access Navalny`s website
from inside Russia anymore. He`s the main opposition figure in the entire
The Russian government also took steps because of that expose, because of
that footage of those two guys on the yacht, the Russian government also
took steps to try to ban all Russian access to all of YouTube, to all of
Instagram. The yacht footage had initially been posted on Instagram.
Navalny`s video was posted on YouTube and the Russian government looked at
this expose and decided that the Russian people would no longer get access
to either YouTube or Instagram. They tried that in response to that
expose. It freaked them out so badly.
So, Navalny posted his expose based on her footage, February 8 of last
year. There`s a completely over the top Russian government freak-out in
response. Meanwhile, this young woman who shot the footage, the woman who
said she was working as an escort for Deripaska on the yacht and made those
recordings, who posted them on her Instagram account. When this whole
thing blew up in February of last year, she happened to be not in Russia,
she was in Thailand where she was she involved in a sex seminar for
Russian-speaking tourists. I don`t know.
There is an international sex tourism trade in Thailand like there is in a
lot of countries. People who participate in that sex trade in Thailand
sometimes do get arrested in that country. When Anastasia Vashukevich got
arrested in Thailand because of her participation in that sex seminar, her
treatment by Thai authorities seemed to be inflected by the fact that she
had been the source and in some ways the protagonist of this big expo that
was driving the Russian government crazy.
She was arrested in February 2018, days after the Navalny expose went
public. Within a couple of days of her arrest in Thailand, the head of the
Kremlin security counsel arrived personally in Thailand. He`s also former
head of FSB, the Russian spy service. The day that he arrived in Thailand,
Anastasia Vashukevich posted this video from what appears to be on the back
of an open air moving police wagon. She says she`s on her way from a
detention facility to a new Thai prison.
In that video speaking Russian, she begs western journalists for help. She
says, quote, I`m ready to give you the missing puzzle pieces, support them
with video and audio regarding the connections of our respected lawmaker,
meaning Russian lawmakers with Trump, Manafort and the rest. I know a lot.
I`m waiting for your offers. I`m waiting for you in a Thai prison.
She did end up in a Thai prison and journalists did get in contact with her
while she was in prison. Journalists did go to the facility where she was
being held in Thailand to try to figure out what she was alleging and why
she was asking for help. “The New York Times” conducted an interview with
her in Thailand soon after that recording from the back of the police
wagon. In that interview, she told “The Times” that she had a lot more
information than she had already posted to Instagram, and that Navalny had
turned into this expose. She said she had more than 16 hours of audio
recordings just from that trip on the yacht with Oleg Deripaska, along with
the Russian deputy prime minister. She told “The Times”, quote, if America
gives me protection, I will tell everything I know.
As to what was on these alleged recordings she said she had, she told “The
Times”, quote, they were discussing elections. Deripaska had a plan about
elections. She told “The Times” that her documentation was not just about
Deripaska talking to the deputy prime minister. She said she also had
documentation about conversations she he had with three people who spoke
English fluently and who struck her as probably American.
CNN`s Ivan Watson actually got into that Thai prison to see her as well,
and although he was not able to get a camera crew inside the prison, he was
able to conduct an interview with her in person eye to eye and then he
walked back outside the prison and they turned on the cameras and able to
immediately say what she had told him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN REPORTER: For days, Vashukevich and several Russian
friend haves been held at this jail in the capital of Thailand where
visitors are not allowed to bring cameras.
I just came out of this detention center where I spoke with Anastasia
Vashukevich. It was loud and hot and chaotic. And talking through the
bars, she said she witnessed meetings between the Russian billionaire Oleg
Deripaska and at least three Americans she refused to name. She claims
they discussed plans to affect the U.S. elections but she wouldn`t give any
further information because she fears she could be deported back to Russia.
Her claims might not hold much water if it wasn`t for this. Photos
published on her Instagram account of Vashukevich alongside Russian
billionaire Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska, a one-time business partner of
former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. He`s pleaded not guilty to
money laundering and other alleged crimes discovered into the investigation
into Russian meddling.
Vashukevich`s posts showed Deripaska on board his private yacht meeting
Russia`s prime minister, Sergei Prikhodko, two powerful Russian men over
heard in one video discussing U.S. Russian relations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So this young woman in jail in Thailand, she`s telling “The New
York Times”, she`s telling CNN that she`s got this material in addition to
the stuff that`s already been turned into a giant expose that`s making the
Russian government go crazy about Deripaska and the Russian deputy prime
minister, she said she has further photos, video recordings and audio
recordings. Her documented time with Deripaska on that yacht did happen
around the time we know Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was in
contact with Oleg Deripaska through an intermediary. We know that through
Manafort`s court cases.
So what she was alleging about observing some contact between the Trump
campaign and Russian government involving Deripaska and Manafort, it at
least lines up in terms of the timing and what we learned about Manafort`s
behavior. And she clearly was both afraid and using what she claimed to be
her access to this information to try to get herself out of jail. Quote, I
am ready to help with an investigation, if they help us get out of here.
She managed to get another post on to Instagram around the same time.
Quote: If we go back to Russia, we will die in Russian prison or they will
kill us. This is very serious. Please, USA, help us not to die from
Radio Free Europe later published photos of this hand-written letter that
Vashukevich and her co-defendants managed to smuggle out of prison to have
a friend deliver this by hand to the U.S. embassy in Bangkok. It says in
sort of broken English, quote: We ask you political asylum and help us and
protect us as quickly as possible, because we have very important
information for USA and we risk our life very much. We have photo, video
and audio of crimes of Russian government, and I give them to USA if you
That all happened back in February and early March. Just under a year ago.
And I don`t know what, if anything, the U.S. government ever did to try to
help her or respond to her or not, but nine months plus went by while she
and her co-defendants still sat in that Thai prison. And as we have
reported, last week, Tuesday of last week, surprise move by a judge in
Thailand resulted in her and her co-defendants being released. Upon
learning they were quickly going to be released and then deported, a friend
of Vashukevich told “The Washington Post” that Vashukevich, quote, was
hoping to be deported somewhere other than Russia.
That did not work. Her relatives told “The Bell”, which is an independent
news source in Russia that the Russian consul in Thailand, senior Russian
diplomat in Thailand had assured her and assured her family back in Russia
that Anastasia Vashukevich would be allowed to transit safely through
Moscow without being bothered. She would be allowed to change plans in
Moscow and go home to Belarus, which is where she`s originally from.
Instead, as you saw from that video, she was in fact arrested at the main
airport in Moscow while she went limp and journalists wait in vain to try
to talk to her. This weekend, we got this sort of unsettling footage of
her in court apologizing over and over and over again, apologizing to Oleg
Deripaska. The Russia correspondent for Britain`s “Telegraph” newspaper
reported today that he asked her several times at this court appearance if
her arrest and her treatment was related to Russia`s interference in the
U.S. election and her evidence about that. She refused to answer any
questions about that.
Quote: After claiming she had evidence of Russia interfering, she doesn`t
want to talk now for fear of Deripaska and Russian law. Quote: I won`t
compromise myself anymore. Criminal cases were fabricated against me in
Thailand, in Russia, that`s enough for me. Quote: She promises there won`t
be more recordings, she won`t answer when I ask about election
Well, now today, Alexey Navalny, that Russian opposition figure, the guy
that made her famous in the first place when he posted her footage of
Deripaska and the prime minister on that yacht, the guy who initially made
her famous, today, Alexey Navalny posted new recordings, audio recordings
that include the sound of two Russian speaking lawyers who appear to be
associated with Oleg Deripaska and his business empire and in a phone call
concerning the arrest of a Anastasia Vashukevich in Thailand. These two
Deripaska lawyers appear to be negotiating for or trying to arrange for her
to be charged with the most serious charges so that she would stay in
prison for a substantial amount of time rather than just being released
after a couple days which would be the course for someone picked up fro the
type of offense for which she was initially picked up.
One f the lawyers associated with Deripaska`s companies, his aluminum
empire says on the recording quote, what we are interested in is that these
people be kept in jail. They should be charged. They should get a
sentence which will put them in prison.
The same court that Deripaska used to block access to Navalny`s website in
Russia, he`s now, according to Navalny gone to the same court to block
access to the recordings everywhere in Russia, as well.
So, again, it is Navalny`s reporting, it`s Navalny`s accusation that the
lawyers you can hear on these recordings are lawyers who he believes to be
associated with Deripaska and Deripaska`s business empire. If that`s true,
think about the universe of data here, right? He bankrolls Paul Manafort`s
pro-Russian work in former Soviet Union when Manafort comes from nowhere to
become chairman for the Trump for president campaign, Manafort tells an
intermediary he would be happy to offer Oleg private meetings on the
campaign if he wants them. Prosecutors in the special counsel`s office
later allege that Manafort gave that same intermediary internal polling
data from the Trump campaign during the campaign.
Shortly after meeting in prison with Manafort`s intermediary, Oleg
Deripaska ends up on a yacht with a nice young escort who has a very active
Instagram account and the deputy prime minister of Russia. She records
them talking about the United States. When that recording months later is
exposed and becomes a scandal, that young woman finds herself arrested and
held for way longer than other people get held for for the sort of thing
for which she got arrested.
And there are now as of today recordings that allegedly implicate
Deripaska`s companies in trying to ensure that that young woman stayed in
prison as long as possible after she was picked up. She went into prison
claiming that she had lots more evidence including photos and audio
recordings and video recording that included Deripaska not just talking to
Russia officials but talking to people who she believed were Americans.
She said she had a photo of at least one of the Americans.
She made these claims while explicitly asking for government help. It
appears she never got that help. She now no longer wants to talk about
these things. She was finally seen in open court this weekend after being
dragged in a wheelchair and arrested in a Moscow airport, all she wanted to
say in court was how sorry she is to Oleg Deripaska and how she doesn`t
want to upset him anymore and how she cannot take much more of this. She`s
supposed to be back in court in Moscow tomorrow.
Tonight, “The New York Times” just broke the news when the Trump
administration moved last month to drop sanctions on companies owned by
Deripaska, a binding confidential document obtained exclusively by “The
Times” showed this Trump administration deal for Deripaska contains
provisions that free him from hundreds of millions of dollars of debt
leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his most important
Of all the people in the world for the U.S. government, of all – of all
the people in the world, of all the people in the world for the U.S.
government to be bending over backwards to shovel money to right now, why
exactly is the Trump administration going to these lengths for Oleg
Deripaska? I mean, 70 percent of House Republicans sided with Democrats
and said the Trump administration should not be lifting these sanctions on
Deripaska. Eleven Republican senators crossed the isle and sided with
Democrats to say the Trump administration should not be lifting these
sanctions on Oleg Deripaska for the want of two more Republican Senate
votes, this thing almost got stopped.
But because two more Senate Republicans wouldn`t cross over and vote to
stop the lifting of those sanctions on Oleg Deripaska, the Trump
administration is about to gift him hundreds of millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, Anastasia Vashukevich will be back in court tomorrow, presumably
still apologizing trying to save her life.
Ken Vogel from “The New York Times” joins us next.
MADDOW: Reporter Ken Vogel has been all over this story from the beginning
and he`s broken an important new scoop in the “New York Times.” Here`s the
headline, Russian oligarch and allies could benefit from sanctions deal
document shows, and the document from that headline turns out to be a
Here is the lead. Quote: When the Trump administration announced it was
lifting sanctions against a trio of companies controlled by an influential
Russian oligarch, it cast the move as tough on Russia and on the oligarch,
arguing that he had to make painful concessions to get the sanctions
lifted, but a binding confidential document signed by both sides suggests
that the agreement the administration negotiated with the companies
controlled by the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, may have been less punitive
Quote: The deal contains provisions that free him from hundreds of millions
of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership
of his most important company, according to the documented. Following the
money always gets you the best stories.
Joining us now is Ken Vogel, reporter at the “New York Times.”
Ken, thanks very much for being here tonight. I appreciate you making the
KEN VOGEL, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, we`ve been following your reporting on this. We`ve been
covering this story as well as there`s been this unusual political fight in
a usual non-partisan political fight in Washington where Congress has
thought about trying to stop the Trump administration from lifting these
sanctions. The argument the Trump administration has marshaled is that,
yes, you may want to be tough on Russia, you may want to be tough on
Vladimir Putin, you may want to be tough on Oleg Deripaska, but these
sanctions are actually, you know, you don`t understand them right. This
move actually is really tough on Deripaska. His life is going to get worse
when we do this.
I feel like you`ve up ended that whole argument with that scoop.
VOGEL: I mean, the underlying argument was that the sanctions were causing
unintended economic ripple effects for companies that defended on aluminum
supply by one of the key Deripaska companies that was sanctioned, this
company called Rusal, and there were companies in the United States, in
Europe, in Jamaica, allied countries that were really suffering is what the
argument was, as for why they were lifting these sanctions.
Well, that begs the question, why did you sanction these companies in the
first place? Do you not do your due diligence on what the economic ripple
effects would be? And it certainly created the prospect that critics are
sort of advocating that either Oleg Deripaska and his companies were able
to really successfully out-maneuver treasury by using this leverage that
Treasury has stated about wanting to avoid these economic ripple effects or
Treasury in the Trump administration just simply caved in this instance.
And we don`t know which is which, and we don`t know, maybe Treasury painted
itself into a corner by sanctions these companies without doing its due
diligence on the economic ripple effects. But all three of those
possibilities, the treasury caved and painted itself into a corner, or that
it was out maneuvered by Deripaska certainly look real bad for the Trump
MADDOW: And, of course, there`s the even darker prospect that the Trump
administration was trying to do a favor for Deripaska here. I mean, it`s
weird because these sanctions only came into existence quite recently. I
mean, how long did the sanctions first go into effect against Deripaska`s
VOGEL: Yes, they were put into – they were announced in April of last
year. So, you know, during the Trump administration, but but they never
went into effect because Deripaska`s company quickly launched sophisticated
lobbying and legal campaigning, highlighting some of the economic ripple
effects and offering these various sort of aspects of corporate
restructuring to try to get Treasury back down.
And what we learned in our reporting on this is that during this period,
when these negotiations were occurring between Oleg Deripaska`s high-prized
lawyers in the United States and Treasury Department, they were outside
independent buyers who actually made offers for shares of Rusal that would
have done what Treasury actually stated its intent was, which is to make
these companies that are so critical to the world economy truly independent
and instead, Rusal proceeded with the negotiation that Deripaska`s lawyers
proceeded with these negotiations that got them something they wanted,
getting rid of the sanctions while also really keeping in many ways the
control of the company or at least the ownership of the company among
Deripaska and his very close allies and allies of the Kremlin, including
this VTB Bank, which is a state-owned bank in Russia that`s very close to
Our calculations using this document that we obtained and previously
available information suggests that VTB will now control 24 percent of the
holding company that owns Rusal. So, you combine Oleg Deripaska`s 45
percent with about 12 percent that his families or his allies own and then
the 24 percent that VTB owns, and you very quickly add up to almost the
entire company still owned by either Oleg Deripaska or people very close to
MADDOW: Right. And the whole idea of the sanctions was we need to get
control of this company away from the Kremlin and instead, it stays
effectively in Kremlin control and in control of this Kremlin connected
oligarch, plus he benefits to the tunes of hundreds of millions of the
dollars. It`s remarkable, remarkable reporting.
Ken, I know it`s a complex case but I feel like you`ve nailed it. Thanks
for helping us understand it.
VOGEL: Yes, appreciate you having me on to explain it.
MADDOW: Ken Vogel of “The New York Times”.
I will say that the thing that always gives these guys away, deep into Ken
Vogel`s story in this tonight, quote, Mr. Deripaska`s associates have
privately expressed satisfaction with the deal while publicly claiming oh,
this is so terrible, it`s hurting us so much. Yes, your private
expressions of satisfaction, your gloating over this kind of thing, those
eventually are going to make it into the paper when it`s something this big
and this much money.
All right. We`ll be back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today is day 30 of the federal government shutdown, longest one in
U.S. history by far. The federal government is shut down because the
president says there is a terrible crisis at the southern U.S. border. He
says that requires building a gigantic wall between us and Mexico.
Other people might not just think differently about that proposed remedy.
Other people might define the crisis at the southern border differently, as
well. Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly ordered a new U.S.
government policy to take immigrant kids away from their parents at the
southern border. He ordered that in April of 2018.
And we think of family separations at the border as a crisis of 2018. But
a new report from the inspector general for the Department of Health and
Human Services reports the big surge in family separations and kids being
taken away from parents didn`t begin last year, 2018, without announced
policy. It started the year before.
Quote: In the summer of 2017, prior to the formal announcement of the zero
tolerance policy, ORR staff and officials observed a steep increase in the
number of children who had been separated from a parent or guardian by the
Department of Homeland Security.
Also quote, the total number of children separated from a parent of
guardian by immigration authorities is unknown. And quote, thousands of
children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017 before
the accounting required by the court. Health and Human Services faced
challenges in identifying separated children.
So with the announced policy from 2018, we have known about 2,700 kids
roughly who the government admitted to taking away from their parents.
Now, it turns out that 2,700 number only comes from when they started
counting in the spring of 2018. Now it might have been thousands more kids
taken away from their parents in 2017.
The report says the 2017 kids have likely been released from wherever they
were being held but really who knows? The inspector general`s office
doesn`t know who the kids are or where they are or who they might be with.
As you might imagine, people who care about this story are exactly asking
how exactly this happens in any country, let alone here. In a letter
posted publicly today, Customs and Border Protection told Senator Ron Wyden
that they`ve got no idea.
Quote: No, we`re not aware of any data to substantiate this estimate from
the inspector general, suggests, you know, maybe it`s 300 or so, maybe
more, maybe less, who knows? It wasn`t really tracked before 2018. We
So, here we are in 2019 with a new inspector general report that says it
isn`t just the 2,700 kids from last year. It`s maybe thousands of others.
Nobody is really looking into it. The reason we know as much as we do
about 2018 is because of the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union took
the administration to court and the courts intervened to stop that official
policy. The ACLU`s case is on pause right now because the agencies
involved are affected by the shutdown.
But attorneys with the ACLU tells us that they are not willing to wait for
answers about how many kids were taken overall and where all of those kids
might be. They tell us never mind the shutdown, they are ready to ask a
court to intervene again now as we learn now about thousands more kids who
have been taken away from their parents by this administration.
The national head of the ACLU is going to join us here for the interview,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: So are you unwilling, sir, to issue a
written directive that it is the policy of the department to not separate
the children from their mothers unless the life of the child is in danger?
JOHN KELLY, THEN-HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I don`t need to do that.
HARRIS: So is your answer no?
KELLY: My answer is I don`t need to do that.
HARRIS: You don`t need to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was April 5th, 2017. We don`t need a written policy on telling
separating kids – we don`t need to do that.
This week, we got a written report on how that worked out on the inspector
general for the Department of Health and Human Services reports thousands
of kids might have been taken from their parents in 2017, in addition to
the 2,700 plus kids who the government admits were taken from their
families last year in 2018.
Joining us for the interview is Anthony Romero. He`s the executive
director of the ACLU, which has been fighting administration on this issue
Mr. Romero, it`s nice to see you.
ANTHONY ROMERO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU: Hello, Rachel. Happy Martin
Luther King Day.
MADDOW: Thank you very much.
ROMERO: I have a dream, I still do.
MADDOW: Well, you know, on the day like today, MLK Day arriving at such a
peculiar moment in American debate and American civic life, we`ve never had
a 30-day long shutdown before. It`s about the president wanting to erect a
wall between us and Mexico. The reason I wanted to talk to you about this
is because I feel like the family separation policy, taking these kids away
from their parents electrified the country and brought the issue of
humanity of immigrants to the fore the way nothing else has.
ROMERO: Lit it up.
MADDOW: Since the administration has been here, ACLU did more than anybody
to stop the policy in it tracks. Now, it turns out even before there was
an announced policy, it was thousands of other kids.
ROMERO: Thousands more.
MADDOW: Is there – are the courts the right place to be fighting this?
ROMERO: We got to reignite the public interest. Part of what put the
pressure on Trump to backtrack, to rescind the policy, and also put the
pressure on the judge and with all due respect to the judge, is only
because of public response was as strong. Folks from all walks of life,
even Laura Bush saying this isn`t the way to go.
So, we need to reignite the public interest and that`s there. Now when
they say to us, oh, there could have been a couple thousand young folks,
children who were separated from their families before they told us the
2,700, wait a minute, we`ve got to really pause. Where are they? How many
of them are there?
They told us in December before our case was put aside because of the
shutdown, the government came back to us and said, oops, we found another
149 kids that we should have told you about. That`s when we began to
scratch our heads. We knew the data was off, and we know they weren`t
This is much bigger than any of us realized and we have to jump back in
court, we`re now trying to explore how do we un-suspend this case that`s in
advance, how do you show the exigency of this, because if you have
thousands of kids separated from their families, we can`t wait for a
government shutdown. There`s – the harm and the damage is going on. And
this government shutdown could go on for months and those kids cannot wait.
So we`ve got to find a way to jump the queue. We got to find a way to make
sure that we get the public attention and the judge back in the saddle and
really ride herd over the administration, because this is absurd. It`s
unacceptable and it`s ridiculous.
MADDOW: You talked about unsuspending your case. If you can hold on,
we`re going to take a quick break. I want to talk to you about that
because this is one of the things a lot of us haven`t wrapped our heads
around yet, which is not only does the federal government shutdown make
federal government workers work without pay and stop a lot of the aspects
of the federal government from working, it also in some ways has shut down
some of the fight against this administration.
MADDOW: I want to talk to you about that when we come back.
Anthony Romero is executive director of the ACLU. My interview with him
continues right after this.
MADDOW: Joining us once again for the interview is Anthony Romero. He`s
the executive director of the ACLU.
Mr. Romero, thank you again.
You mentioned before the break that one of the things that the ACLU needs
to fight for now as it fights the Trump administration on them taking kids
away from their parents –
MADDOW: – is that you need to have your case unsuspended because of the
ROMERO: Because the courts are still functioning. I mean, the courts
still have to deal with certain types of case and criminal cases. You have
to adjudicate, you have to arraign, you have to indict in a certain period
of time. There are certain cases on tight timeframes.
So, the judges are trying to figure out which cases they move on. They`re
not all suspended. Not all the courts have been closed.
So, part of what we`re trying to explore right now is how do we unsuspend
our case, there`s a level of exigency that we have to be able to
demonstrate. And that`s why collecting the facts, going back to the OIG
report. The OIG report is critical. This is the watchdog within the
Department of Homeland Security. This is their own people –
ROMERO: – looking over their own shoulders saying, wait a minute here,
maybe there are a couple thousand more before we even started telling you
we started separating kids from their families. And then when we get told
there were another 149, they told us in December, oops-a-daisy, we found
149 kids who were separated. It just calls into question none of this data
can be relied upon.
MADDOW: And the government is being asked by the courts, you`ve been
proceeding with these cases, the government is being sort of forced by the
courts to pursue reunification to try to line these kids back up with the
parents from who they were taken.
ROMERO: And reunited, 2,463 kids, almost 2,500 kids have been reunited
with their families.
MADDOW: And that`s through being forced through the courts to do it.
ROMERO: Only through the courts. Only with the bludgeoning of the judge,
in our case, where we forced them to reunite these kids, parent by parent,
kid by kid.
MADDOW: You said, you`re talking about needing to get your case
unsuspended because of the shutdown. You also said just before the break
you think the shutdown could go on for months.
ROMERO: Yes, you bet.
MADDOW: Why do you think so?
ROMERO: This is an impossible stalemate. He`s not going is not going to
get his wall. She`s – Nancy Pelosi is not going to give him a dime for
his wall. That`s dead on arrival. The speech he gave on Saturday, it`s
ridiculous. People – she should have shut it down from the beginning like
The idea that we`re going to extort the government – here we are mired in
the country`s longest shutdown, and he`s extorting money for a wall that
his own party wouldn`t give him money for.
MADDOW: Right, he had two years of complete control and they didn`t –
ROMERO: Two years, and his Republican buddies, Mitch McConnell didn`t put
anything forward for funding for the wall for two years. Now because he`s
backed himself into the wall, his own wall, now he`s saying, oh, I`ll give
this temporary protective status and I`ll give a little bit on the
It`s too little, too late. It`s completely anemic. Both of those are
policies he rescinded. So, he`s going to give back a little bit of what he
has already taken away. That`s not a compromise. Who`s he kidding?
He`s got zero credibility on immigration. He`s a man who gave us a Muslim
ban, rescinded DACA, rescinded TPS, shut down the asylum laws, did family
Do we think that this man has actually had a cathartic moment, oh, I have
an epiphany, I`m going to be better on immigration? Come on. Who`s buying
that? Certainly not Nancy Pelosi, not any of us.
MADDOW: Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU. Keep us apprised,
my friend. Thank you very much.
ROMERO: You bet. Take care.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Programming note, Senator Kamala Harris announced today that she
is running for president. She is the third U.S. senator, the third female
U.S. senator, to announce that she is running for president. I`m going to
have the first interview with her since her announcement right here
Wednesday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. I know, right?
That does it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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