Democrats now have subpoena power. TRANSCRIPT: 1/24/19, The Rachel Maddow.

Bradley Moss, Gwen Moore

ANA HERRERO, REPORTER, “THE NEW YORK TIMES” (via telephone):  – something

they feel supported right now.  But no, I mean, nobody right now, nobody is

stopping to think, OK, what is behind, you know, Trump`s support – 




HERRERO:  – because Trump is not the only one. 


HAYES:  Yes, there is a coordinated –


HERRERO:  And that –


HAYES:  There is a coordinated international effort.  


HERRERO:  Yes, coordinated movement. 


HAYES:  Ana Vanessa Herrero, who is in there in Caracas, thank you very

much.  Wendy Sherman, thank you both for making some time tonight. 


That is ALL IN for this evening. 


“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.  Good evening, Rachel.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening. Chris.  Thanks, my friend.  Much



HAYES:  You bet.


MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 


Lots of moving parts here tonight.  We are, of course, in day 34 of the

government shutdown with the federal – with federal employees warning

about an air safety environment that is deteriorating by the day.  That`s

an alarming assessment with food stamps slated to stop altogether for

millions of families across the country with the FBI warning darkly about

active serious criminal and counterintelligence investigations being

brought to a halt, with hundreds of thousands of employees of all kinds

being required to show up for work at the risk of being fired if they

don`t, even while they are not being paid, for a second month now. 


The president`s top economic adviser has now said that it`s nice that these

federal workers are volunteering to come to work without pay.  They are not

volunteering.  The Trump administration is requiring them to come to work

without pay or they will lose their jobs. 


The president`s commerce secretary today said he is absolutely confounded

as to why federal employees might be starting to go to food pantries and

soup kitchens to feed themselves and their families now that they`re going

into a second month with zero-dollar paychecks.  Billionaire Commerce

Secretary Wilbur Ross said today when he was asked if he understood that

federal workers were doing that.  He was asked about that today and he

replied, quote, I don`t really quite understand why.  Why are they doing



Then the president himself commented that as far as he understands, local

people, that was his phrase, local people and specifically local grocery

stores are undoubtedly happy to help people out in circumstances like this. 

If people are working for free now and they can`t pay for groceries, don`t

grocery stores just give you stuff if you say you really need it, even if

you can`t pay?  Isn`t that how it works for you local people? 


So it has been a kinetic day in Washington with renewed but still failed

efforts to end the shutdown, and the president and his administration sort

of falling off a cliff today in terms of their demonstrated ability to

understand, let alone empathize with the kind of pain they are causing

here.  We`re going to have much more on that fight.  Both about what

happened today and about what is going to happen next.  We`ll have that

coming up over the course of this hour tonight. 


But I have to tell you, I have bumped a little of that coverage down a few

minutes in the hour tonight because just within the past hour, NBC News has

broken what appears to be a very big story.  This actually joke broke in

the middle of Chris Hayes` hour last hour.  NBC News has just posted it. 


But this is a super serious story, and I want to make sure that you have

seen this tonight.  Again, this is broken within the last hour.  It`s about

something apparently quite unprecedented going on in the Trump White House

when it comes to security clearances.  Security clearances are how our

nation makes sure that people who have access to secretive, sensitive,

potentially dangerous information can be trusted with that information so

that it doesn`t end up in foreign hands or in the hands of people who might

use it to hurt us. 


And the security clearance process has been a recurring worry in the Trump

White House.  There was that alarming NBC News report last year that a year

into the Trump administration dozens of senior administration officials who

had applied for permanent security clearances still had not been able to

get them.  Almost exactly a year ago, “The New Yorker” reported that senior

White House adviser Jared Kushner had been unable to obtain a security

clearance for at least his first year working in the White House.  When the

president nevertheless, among other things, was allowing that senior

adviser to read the highly classified president`s daily brief every day

while he couldn`t get a security clearance. 


Just this week, we have been on this story.  The committees in the new

Democratic-led Congress are getting their membership lists square away. 

They`re getting their new chairmen and chairwomen elected. 


As the committees get geared up we learned from the oversight committee

chairman, Elijah Cummings, Democrats right now, right away, right out of

the gate are pursuing from the Trump White House critical information about

how the security clearance process was handled for, among other people,

Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn, who, of course, has since pled

guilty to lying about his conversations with the Russian government.  Flynn

is now awaiting sentencing. 


From Elijah Cummings` letter to the White House this week, we know that

Cummings and his committee, they want information on why the Trump White

House didn`t yank Mike Flynn`s clearance after they were warned repeatedly

and explicitly by the Justice Department that Flynn was compromised by the

Russian government and he was lying about his dealings with them.  After

they got that warning, they took no action in terms of restricting Flynn`s

access to secret, top secret or even compartmentalized information, despite

the fact that the Justice Department was telling them that the Russian

government had one over on him.  So anything that he had access to

presumably was liable to ending up at the Kremlin.  Why didn`t you yank his



Elijah Cummings this week inquired with the Trump White House about the

security concerns over Mike Flynn, also Mike Flynn`s son who worked on the

transition.  Also, Flynn`s deputy K.T. McFarland who also reportedly lied

to the FBI about communications with the Russian government also another

deputy of Flynn`s rejected while working as a senior figure under Flynn on

Trump`s National Security Council. 


What was that about?  You installed this person at the top levels of the

National Security Council and that person could not qualify for a security

clearance?  Did you put the cart before the horse there? 


Cummings also inquired about Jared Kushner`s security clearance and that of

the current national security adviser, John Bolton, particularly given his

past interactions with Maria Butina, who has now pled guilty acting as a

secret agent for the Russian government trying to infiltrate the

conservative movement and the Republican Party.  Did y`all check out Bolton

with regard to Maria Butina before you made him national security adviser? 

Did that go through the clearance process?  Did he disclose that?  Did you

know about the video he did for her group, the one with the Russian



So we know that the security clearance issue in this White House is a

serious one and a live one, but what NBC News has just broken tonight is

about how the White House has apparently been subverting the whole security

clearance system so that they can give clearances to people who would

otherwise be rejected.  And it`s not just one here or there.  Apparently,

according to this NBC News report tonight, it is dozens of people,

including at the very highest levels of the White House, including Jared



Here`s the lead.  Quote: Jared Kushner`s application for a top secret

clearance was rejected by two career White House security specialists after

an FBI background check raised concerns about potential foreign influence

on him.  But their supervisor overruled the recommendation and approved

Kushner`s clearance. 


Again, this is NBC reporting just from this past hour, citing two sources

familiar with the matter.  Quote: Kushner`s was one of at least 30 cases in

which that supervisor overruled career security experts and approved a top

secret clearance for incoming Trump officials despite unfavorable

information.  The two sources said the number of rejections that were

overruled was unprecedented and had happened only once in the three years

preceding the arrival of that supervisor. 


And then he did it at least 30 times?  Who is this supervisor who keeps

overruling all the rejections and handing out security clearances anyway? 

According to NBC News tonight, he is Carl Kline, K-L-I-N-E.  He was

reportedly installed as director of the personnel security office in the

executive office of the president in May 2017.  So that`s like four months-

ish into the new administration.  They put someone new in the Office of

Personnel Security in the White House. 


NBC says Carl Kline was approached multiple times for comment in

conjunction with this story and he didn`t respond.  But what NBC News is

reporting tonight is that once – four months-ish into this administration

they put this new guy into the Office of Personnel Security in the White

House.  Remember, a lot of the reporting about the initial security

clearance problems was that people were just working at the White House

without being able to get a clearance.  Well, four months in, they put

somebody in who apparently tried to solve that problem for them. 


Once they had that guy in there, he started overruling it when career

security clearance folks said, no, no, this should be a rejection.  I mean,

this reporting is that 30 times, at least, this one supervisor who Trump

put in there, 30 times at least this guy handed out a clearance to an

incoming Trump White House person who was otherwise flagged as too risky to

get a clearance approved, 30 of them, at minimum.  Christ. 


For very basic context here, as far as I understand it, there are basically

four levels of security clearance.  I mean, it`s not quite this simple.  I

know it`s more nuanced than this.  As far as I understand it, confidential,

which is the lowest level, then there is secret, the next level up. 


Then there is top secret.  And above that is one that`s actually quite

different, it`s called sensitive compartmented information.  That requires

a whole different level of scrutiny. 


In terms of Jared Kushner`s clearance being rejected and okayed anyway by

this guy installed by Trump, here is how this new reporting explains how

that went.  This is – this is a little nuts. 


Quote: The White House office only determines eligibility for secret and

top secret clearances.  Above that level, the CIA is the agency that

decides whether to grant SCI, whether to grant, what is it, sensitive

compartmented information clearances to senior officials after the CIA

conducts a further background check. 


Quote: Initially, Kushner`s application followed the normal path for

security clearance.  The initial request was made by the White House and

then it went to the FBI for a background investigation. 


And that is where the problems reportedly arose.  Quote: Kushner`s FBI

background check identified questions about his family`s business, his

foreign contacts, his foreign travel and meetings he had had during the

campaign, the sources said, declining to be more specific. 


I will just note here that this sort of comports with other reporting that

we`ve got, right?  We know that two days into the Trump administration,

Jared Kushner initially applied for a security clearance and listed no

foreign contacts.  Yes, not even like the Trump tower meeting and not even

like the meeting with the sanctioned Russian bank CEO.  Nothing.  He listed



We know that he had to revise his security clearance application more than

40 times over the course of him starting his employment at the White House. 

We know that “The New Yorker” and “The Wall Street Journal” last year both

reported that the FBI had come to the Trump White House specifically to

warn them that Jared was the target of foreign influence operations. 


“The Washington Post” also reported last year in February that at least

four different countries had been heard by U.S. intelligence agencies

strategizing amongst themselves over ways they knew they could manipulate

and compromise Jared Kushner to get him to do their bidding. 


So, the FBI background check on Kushner turning up questions about him in

terms of foreign influence.  It`s not a stretch, right?  It is not that

much of a surprise, given all the other open-source reporting we have seen

on that front.  But what is a surprise and what is brand-new here is what

NBC News says happened next. 


Quote: Following the FBI investigation, the case went back to the White

House office of personnel security, where a career adjudicator reviewed the

FBI information, including questions about foreign influence and foreign

business entanglements.  On the basis of potential foreign influence, the

adjudicator deemed Kushner`s application unfavorable and then handed it to

a supervisor.  The supervisor agreed with the unfavorable determination and

then gave it to Carl Kline, the newly installed head of the office who

overruled the unfavorable determination and approved Kushner for top secret

security clearance.


Now, at this point, this Trump installed official being put in to run that

office – at this point, having – having had that official grant Jared

Kushner top secret clearance, this White House official appointed by Trump

did that.  Despite the red flags turned by the FBI, by the career people

who review FBI information at the White House – I mean, the career people

who review this information at the White House at two different levels

looked at what the FBI turned up on Jared Kushner and were like, no way,

don`t do this.  But nevertheless, this Trump installed official says, I

don`t care, I`m overruling you, give him his top secret clearance anyway. 


Then what did they do next?  The White House decided, you know what,

actually, all we can do is give him a top secret clearance, but let`s try

to get him the even higher level of clearance, too.  Let`s go to the CIA

and see if we can get him the really good one. 


Quote: As a very senior official, Kushner was seeking an even higher

designation that would grant him access to what is known as sensitive

compartmented information or SCI.  That material makes up the government`s

most sensitive secrets, and, again, getting an SCI clearance is something

that the White House can do on its own.  It has to be approved by the CIA

and the CIA does its own background check for that. 


So check this out.  Quote: After Kline overruled the White House security

specialists and recommended Kushner for a top secret clearance, Kushner`s

file then went to the CIA for a ruling on the SCI clearance.  After

reviewing the file, CIA officers who make clearance decisions balked, two

of the people familiar with the matter said.  One called over to the White

House security division, wondering how Kushner even got a top secret

clearance, the sources say. 


Quote: The sources say the CIA has not granted Kushner clearance to review

SCI material. 


So, this Trump appointee is installed four months – four-ish months in to

the Trump administration and that person overrules the career people who

say, no, do not do this for Kushner`s top secret clearance.  They give him

a top secret clearance.  Then they want to get him the next one up.  The

CIA handles that one.  The CIA would not push over on this one, on the

highest level of clearance for Kushner, and so the CIA didn`t grant him



But, of course, the president himself could overrule that if he wanted to. 

Has he?  Seems to be treating this whole matter with real seriousness,



Joining us now is Brad Moss.  He`s a national security attorney.  He

specializes in litigation related to national security, federal employment

and security clearance law.  Lucky for us, he has precisely the expertise

that we need right now. 


Mr. Moss, thank you for your time tonight.  Really appreciate it. 





MADDOW:  I – part of the reason I wanted to speak to you tonight is I know

you spoke with Ken Dilanian, our colleague at NBC News, as he was

researching this story.  I wonder if you can just give us a sense of how

abnormal this is. 


There is a line in this reporting from NBC News tonight that says the sort

of thing happened at the White House, this overruling of career officials

on the basis of FBI background information, that had happened once in three

years before this particularly supervisor got there.  NBC says he did it at

least 30 times. 


Is that as much a break from standard practice as it sounds? 


MOSS:  I`ll say this, in 12 years of representing people across the

intelligence community, defense contractors, government personnel, military

personnel, I`ve never seen this.  It doesn`t mean it doesn`t happen.  I`m

certain there are certain exceptions of the rule.  There`s been times that

it`s happened, you know, over various decades that we`ve had clearances.


But the fact that it was done here, this is what we always feared.  This is

what we were worried was going to happen when the president broke with the

custom of not having – not bridge bringing his kids in, not bringing

family.  This is what we feared was going to happen. 


They brought Jared Kushner in.  They brought Ivanka Trump in.  There were

obvious clearly foreign identical concerns, foreign personal financial

ties, extensive foreign contacts, extensive foreign travel, questionable

judgment about how Jared handled stuff in the transition in terms of

wanting to use the Russian government`s secure line to conceal it from the

U.S. government. 


All of those things, if it had been one of my clients, they would have been

walked out the door, laughed out the room.  It would never have been a

consideration that they get cleared.  That the two adjudicators said no

makes complete sense to me. 


That`s exactly what would have happened to my clients and what we expected

would have happened here, that this individual, Mr. Kline, and he had the

authority to do this, let`s be clear, but it`s a questionable decision as

to why that he overruled them and granted the top secret clearance.  Raises

significant questions about whether or not there was improper political

influence and what the basis for the determination is, especially as you

indicated and as Ken Dilanian`s reporting show that CIA balked and said,

are you kidding us?  We`re not giving him SCI access. 


MADDOW:  The – I feel like there are two lens to look through for this

story.  One of them is definitely a – you know, this is why there`s rules

against nepotism story, right?  One of them is this is a very dramatic

story about the president`s son-in-law being elevated to a position and

then obviously begin what appears to be very special and potentially

dangerous treatment in that position. 


But there`s also this reporting that this supervisor has done this at least

30 times, and that to me, even if Jared Kushner didn`t exist in this story,

the idea that there are 30 people working in the White House who have been

red flagged as unsuitable to receive a security clearance, who have

nevertheless been given these clearances, which means with those clearances

they have access to the kind of information you can`t see if you don`t have

one.  I mean, to me, that just feels like a quivering national security

disaster that we apparently have been living through since this supervisor

has been there and we didn`t know it. 


MOSS:  Yes, I mean, I certainly would like to see eventually more

reporting, some more detail on what these cases were.  It could certainly

be – in this, you know, 30 cases, whatever the number was, that part of it

they got backlog, caught up because so many of the people that President

Trump brought in, his friends, his business colleagues have extensive

business holdings, have extensive foreign ties, because of the nature of

their business careers and security was struggling with it. 


That`s not normally what you have with people holding security clearances. 

Most people don`t have that.  So, it`s very possible that for at least some

of it, this was just an issue of a backlog of them struggling to figure out

what to do one way or another and Kline was trying to clear it out. 


What I am particularly worried about hopefully as the reporting continues

on and I look forward to hearing more of it is whether or not improper

political considerations were brought in here, particularly for the

president`s children, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, particularly for people

like Michael Flynn, who we know had issues with reporting stuff on his SF-

86.  We know Sebastian Gorka, at least allegedly had an interim security

clearance despite having applied for a foreign government clearance. 


My clients would never be considered for interim access in that situation. 

So, there`s certainly a lot more detail we need to find out whether or not

this was Kline coming in trying to fix a logjam or if there were truly some

serious improprieties here beyond the Jared Kushner situation. 


MADDOW:  I`m worried the darker implication of what you`re suggesting there

is already spelled out in Ken`s reporting.  He is saying this is at least

30 cases in which Kline overruled security clearance experts for incoming

officials despite unfavorable information.  So it`s not just he said short

circuit this, I`m sure it`s fine, approve these guys.  This is there is

unfavorable information for grant no clearance and they`re granting it



That`s – those kind of red flags, we don`t know exactly what the red flags

are, as you point out in case to case, but, boy, this is a big story. 


Mr. Moss, Bradley Moss, national security attorney.  Thank you very much

for being with us tonight.  Much appreciated.


BRADLEY:  Absolutely.  Any time, Rachel. 


MADDOW:  All right.  Lots to get to.  Genuinely busy news night tonight. 

Stay with us.




MADDOW:  Do you know this man?  He`s in his mid-50s.  He has kind of light

brown hair. 


He has a nice smile.  Sometimes he rides trains.  Sometimes he uses a cell

phone outside while smiling.  Sometimes he takes the escalator. 


Pleasant brown haired man who may seem familiar, although he is not the

most recognizable senior politician in our government.  In case you don`t

know, he`s Democratic Senator Michael Bennet.  Two N`s, one T.  The senior

senator from the state of Colorado. 


Michael Bennet was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 and has done a

lot of work in his home state and very well liked at home but not that

well-known nationwide.  Por ejemplo, there was some recent chatter that

Michael Bennet might make a run for president in 2020. 


This is how “The Hill” newspaper wrote that up.  Quote: Bennet is a soft-

spoken moderate with a lower profile than other senators.  It is perhaps

fitting with his mild-mannered quiet confidence thing that this was Michael

Bennet`s response that he might run for president.  Quote, I don`t have

anything to say about that today. 


So all of this to say is that Senator Michael Bennet is not a loud mouth. 

He`s not known to be much of a chatter box at all.  He is an effective

senator and a respected senator, but he is almost never the loudest voice

in the room. 


So this happened today. 




SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS:  So the only thing that is necessary to pass a

clean bill paying the salaries of every man and woman in the Coast Guard is

for the Democratic senators to withdraw their objection, is that correct? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That is correct. 


CRUZ:  Thank you. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Madam President? 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Senator from Colorado. 


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO:  Madam President, I seldom, as you know,

rise on this floor to contradict somebody on the other side.  I`ve worked

very hard over the years to work in a bipartisan way with the presiding

officer, with my Republican colleagues, but these crocodile tears that the

senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to

take.  They`re too hard for me to take.  Because when you – when the

senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded,

it was under water, people were killed, people`s houses were destroyed,

their small businesses were ruined forever. 


This government is shut down over a promise the president of the United

States couldn`t keep.  And then America is not interested in having him

keep.  This idea that he was going to build a medieval wall across the

southern border of Texas, take it from the farmers and ranchers that were

there and have the Mexicans pay for it isn`t true! 




MADDOW:  If you stuck today`s news cycle into like a 3-d printer or

something, that image right there, that is what would come out.  The mild-

mannered, moderate, soft-spoken, don`t mind me senator from Colorado

yelling himself absolutely hoarse on the floor of the Senate. 


This is where we are now.  Welcome to day 34 of the government shutdown,

everybody.  We`ve never had one this long and this one doesn`t look like it

has an end. 


Today, the Senate voted on two bills to re-open the government.  Any

spending bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate before it heads to the

president`s desk and the rules they used now.  The first bill was put

forward by Republicans.  It had money for the president`s made up wall. 

That one died 50 votes to 47. 


The Democrats then tried putting up their bill that would keep the

government funded for just a few weeks with no money for the wall.  That

one also died, but check out the vote on that one.  The Democratic bill

actually got more votes.  It got 52 votes. 


Who controls the Senate again?  Six Republicans broke ranks and voted yes

with the Democrats to re-open the government without giving the president a

wall between us and Mexico.  You know, which is not nothing. 


That means that the effort to end the shutdown, the Democrats` effort to

re-open this and fight about the wall some other way, the Democrats managed

to pick off six Republican senators, six, six Republicans crossed the aisle

to vote with Democrats.  That, of course, gets them closer to the 60

senators you would need to pass a funding bill.  They got 52 votes today. 

They need 60 to pass the Senate. 


Here`s the bigger problem though, even if all the starts aligned and you

polished your lucky rabbit`s foot and danced around four-leaf clover, and

got 60 members of the U.S. Senate, you got a bunch more Republicans to

agree on a single bill to re-open the government, that still wouldn`t be

enough, even after it passed the Senate because as long as the president

doesn`t get his wall, he says he won`t sign anything, he`ll veto anything

other than his wall. 


That means in order to re-open the government you need a veto-proof

majority.  You need 67 senators, not just 60.  So you can set your watches

for that happening at hell freezes over o`clock. 


But who knows?  I mean, maybe the president will wake up tomorrow morning,

let off some steam with a few early-morning rage tweets and then try to

call the whole thing off, right?  I mean, stranger things have happened. 

Honestly just today, stranger things happened. 


Today, the president acknowledged reality on the whole State of the Union

thing, for instance.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi told him he couldn`t give the

speech in the House until the shutdown is over.  After lots of beating his

chest about it over several days, today the president gave in to that

reality and announced that he will deliver the State of the Union in the

House once the shutdown ends, just like Nancy Pelosi said. 


Ginned up rigmarole of national crisis died with this whimper today, right? 

What Nancy said.  OK. 


And both Senate bills failed today.  Negotiations began on some new maybe

short-term fix.  The White House insisted that the new fix included

something that the president is calling a down payment on the president`s

wall, like there is somebody he is paying for it.  I don`t know. 


Nancy Pelosi put that one to bed right quick today. 




REPORTER:  Do you know what he`s talking about, what size down payment he`s

asking for? 


REPORTER:  What about – would it be prorated?


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I don`t know if he knows

what he`s talking about, do you?  I don`t know what that means. 




MADDOW:  So to quote Senator Michael Bennet – who knows when this thing

will end.  I do not know.  You do not know.  Congress does not know.  Only

the president knows because only he is the one who can make this stop. 


And while we wait, we really are – I shouldn`t say he`s the only one that

can make it stop.  Mitch McConnell could work his side of the aisle to get

enough Republicans to cross over with the Democrats so that they could get

67 votes, so that even when the president vetoed this bill, it would be a

veto-proof majority and the government would re-open.  Mitch McConnell

could do it. 


The president could do it by admitting that the government should re-open

and dropping his demand, or McConnell could work around him.  But that`s

kind of it.  That`s it.  And we really are in the coping stage, as long as

neither of those two men do either of those two things. 


Hundreds of thousands of government employees are about to miss their

second paycheck since this whole disaster started.  Some are hoping better

than others.  Today, the already troubled commerce secretary had his moment

in the spotlight, going on TV to say he just cannot understand what the

problem – what the problem is with government employees not getting paid. 

He cannot wrap his brain around why people who haven`t been paid money for

weeks might need to go to food banks to feed their families.  Why would

they do something so irrational?  Does not compute. 


After those comments today from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross today, the

president suggested an alternative for federal employees who haven`t had

enough money to buy food, specifically responding to what Wilbur Ross said

about he doesn`t get why people can`t eat when they don`t have money to pay

for food.  The president today said that people should go to their local

grocery store and work something out.  He said we`re all just working

along, he says.  The stores, the banks, the people who are not getting

paid, we`re all working stuff out, you know, the grocery stores. 


The president, remember, also believes you need to show a photo I.D. to buy



But while the president and his cabinet muse over the merits of negotiating

with your local grocer, the merits maybe of reinventing some sort of barter

economy, I don`t know.  The way things people are trying to keep things

together are pretty stunning.  In San Jose, California, today the mayor

there proposed passing an emergency city ordnance that would block

landlords in the city of San Jose from evicting any employees who can now

not pay their rent because of the shutdown.  The mayor saying today, quote,

we are trying to save our federal employees from the federal government. 


And this isn`t just a thing for federal employees anymore, right?  This is

a thing for all of us. 


I mean, last night we saw that harrowing warning from the air traffic

controllers saying, quote, we have a growing concern for the safety and

security of our members, our airlines and the traveling public due to the

government shutdown, in our risk-averse industry, we cannot even calculate

the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the

entire system will break.  It is unprecedented.  To avoid disruption to our

aviation system, we urge Congress and the White House to take all necessary

steps to end the shutdown immediately.  When the air traffic controllers

warned that the air security environment is deteriorating. 


Today, U.S. airlines started chiming in warning about what happens as the

shutdown continues to drag on.  The CEO of JetBlue told “The Wall Street

Journal” today, quote: We are close to a tipping point.  The longer this

goes on, the longer it will take for air travel infrastructure to rebound. 


It is day 34.  It`s up to one of two people to decide when this stops. 

It`s up to one of two people to decide when enough is enough.  One person

who says he wants a wall he`s not going to get and one person who says that

this is not in his hands in the U.S. Senate. 


Day 35 starts at midnight tonight. 




MADDOW:  Just after thanksgiving last year, the president`s longtime

personal lawyer pled guilty to lying to Congress and nobody remembers it

now, but on that exact same day in Europe, in Germany, 170 prosecutors,

federal agents, police officers and tax authorities raided the worldwide

headquarters of a gigantic bank called Deutsche Bank.  They searched that

headquarters and they searched five other deutsche bank sites. 


And those two stories were a coincident in time.  They both happened on the

same day, but they were also both very near and dear to the president. 

Michael Cohen, Trump`s longtime personal attorney.  Deutsche Bank, Trump`s

longtime personal bank. 


And that connection did not immediately ring a bell for everybody, but it

was not lost on one very, very sharp member of Congress.  And she joins us

next with some news.




MADDOW:  Starting from his dad`s low-profile but very rich New York City

real estate business, managing working-class apartment complexes and

middle-class outer borough housing developments, the young Donald J. Trump

eventually used that start in dad`s company to become quite famous.  He

parlayed the wealth and assets he got from his dad`s company in a racy

built for the headlines love life and his own knack for self-promotion of

his perceived business acumen.  He parlayed that all into a lively life as

a fixture in New York City tabloids. 


He parlayed that into a reality TV show gig and into assorted celebrity

side projects like Trump-branded house wares and short lived Trump airline

and Trump university which is, as it turns out, not a university, a fraud

scheme for which he had to pay a $25 million settlement right before the



But when it came to his own supposedly core business as a real estate

developer just like dad, over his decades in that family business, Trump

developed a hardcore business reputation for reneging on his financial

obligations, for failing to pay back bank loans, to the point where by the

time the 21st century rolled around, every bank in New York had blackballed

him.  Nobody would take him on as a customer anymore, except one, a big

bank called Deutsche Bank. 


Deutsche Bank is the bank that continued to lend him hundreds of millions

of dollars, even after he was unable to pay that same bank back on some of

his earlier loans.  Even after he went so far as to file lawsuits against

Deutsche Bank when he failed to pay them back his side of the loan.  He

owed them $40 million and he didn`t pay it, then he sued them, alleging

that it was somehow their fault that he wasn`t paying them back and they

should pay him billions of dollars. 


I mean, there are aspects of the Donald Trump/Deutsche Bank relationship

that have allowed seemed way outside the bounds of normal business

dealings.  They have been uncommonly generous to him.  Not just him, it`s

him adjacent, too.  The whole Trump/Deutsche Bank uncommon generosity story

got even more strange when Deutsche Bank also gave Jared Kushner several

hundred millions of dollars worth of loans in October of 2016, right before

the election. 


And one of the reasons this financially inexplicable dynamic between Trump

and this one big bank, one of the reasons it`s been of interest for so long

is because at the same time Deutsche Bank was the inexplicably generous

lender of choice for Donald Trump and his family, no matter how much he

abused them, Deutsche Bank was also neck-deep in a Russian money laundering

scheme.  Barely a week after Trump`s inauguration, Deutsche Bank got nailed

for facilitating the laundering of $10 billion in dirty Russian money and

something that was called a mirror trading scheme in the business press. 


Now, it turns out that that $10 billion Russian money laundering scheme,

that might have been Deutsche Bank`s smaller Russian money laundering

operation, sort of the bank`s jayvee league Russian money laundering

operation, because Deutsche Bank now also stands accused in a completely

separate scheme of facilitating the laundering of 15 times that much

Russian money, $150 billion. 


This was illicit cash that was spirited out of Russia through an overseas

branch of the biggest bank in Denmark, randomly.  For years and years,

apparently nobody thought it was odd that this tiny Danish bank branch in

Estonia was almost exclusively handling piles and piles of cash from

customers who weren`t Danish or Estonian, they were all Russian.  And the

bank that handled the majority of that U.S. dollar transactions, $150

billion worth of these suspect Russian transactions, the bank that handled

them was Deutsche Bank, allegedly. 


Deutsche Bank has reportedly been contacted by criminal investigators in

the U.S. about this.  Just this week, we learned that the U.S. Federal

Reserve is also investigating deutsche bank for this alleged $150 billion

in Russian money laundering.  And, of course, we don`t know if there`s any

connection between Deutsche Bank`s voluminous money laundering troubles and

the bank`s very special inexplicable relationship with the Trump family and

the Trump Organization. 


We do know that as early as 2017, U.S. banking regulators were looking into

Deutsche Bank`s loans to Trump businesses.  At the end of that year, there

was a flurry of reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller had

subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank related to Trump.  “The New York

Times” later reported that those news reports sent the president into such

a rage, he tried to fire Robert Mueller right then and there in response to

those reports about Deutsche Bank. 


There is something as yet unexplained about the relationship between the

president and this bank.  I mean, back in 2008 when things between them by

all right should have fallen completely apart, when Trump owed Deutsche

Bank $40 million that he had personally guaranteed and he announced that

not only was he not paying them back, but they should pay him $3 billion,

too, that crazy lawsuit he tried.  I mean, that is like a dramatic way to

break up with somebody.  That is not a good basis for an ongoing let alone

renewed and deepened relationship, but that`s actually what happened

between him and Deutsche Bank after that stunt. 


He couldn`t pay them back $40 million that he owed them.  When they came

for it he was like, no, I`m suing you for $3 billion.  What?  And they

responded by loaning him a ton more money. 


And the little twist in that that has always seemed inexplicable is that

what Deutsche Bank did there was they moved Trump over from another part of

their bank to their private wealth division.  That`s how they got that $40

million payment that Trump wasn`t otherwise going to pay them.  They got it

by letting him borrow it from this other part of their bank.  They moved

him as a real estate client into this other part of their bank, this

private wealth division of their bank, which doesn`t deal with real estate

at all.  It was always really strange. 


And this is where I point out that a couple of months ago right after

thanksgiving, when German police raided Deutsche Bank`s world headquarters

in yet another new separate money laundering investigation that appears to

be at least potentially related to Russia, the division of Deutsche Bank

that authorities swooped in to search was Deutsche Bank`s private wealth

management division, the weird part of that bank that they shuttled him

into when they started behaving really strangely toward him. 


And as I said, we don`t know if the Deutsche Bank`s Jenga tower of money

laundering problems has anything to do with their relationship with

President Trump.  Maybe Trump just knows how to pick `em.  But there`s been

a lot.  Many tens of billions of dollars of illicit Russian money

apparently pouring through Deutsche Bank during the time deutsche bank has

inexplicably mysterious pots of cash to lend to a client no bank in its

right mind would seem to want, which is always seem like something we

should know more about. 


And now, it looks like we will.  That`s our news, next.




MADDOW:  Today, the Democratic chairs of the Intelligence Committee and the

Financial Services Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff and Congresswoman

Maxine Waters, announced that their committees will pursue a joint

investigation into Deutsche Bank and its involvement in Russian money

laundering and its financial relationships with the president and his



Deutsche Bank today confirmed they`ve received an inquiry from those

committees on their ties to President Donald Trump.  The bank had

previously received inquiries from Democrats on the Financial Services

Committee when they were in the minority but Republicans had refused to

issue subpoenas and the bank decided they didn`t need to respond.  Now, of

course, the Democrats are in charge and they can issue their own subpoenas

if need be. 


Joining us now is Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin who has focused on

this for a long time.  She actually brought this to our attention late last

year as something we should have a heads up on in terms of congressional

responsibilities here. 


Congresswoman Moore, thank you so much for being here. 


REP. GWEN MOORE (D), WISCONSIN:  Oh, I`m so excited to be here, Rachel,

finally, to try to get some answers. 


MADDOW:  Well, tell me why this is something you`ve been so interested in,

what you think needs investigating here?


MOORE:  Well, let me tell you.  Low I.Q. Maxine Waters has been on this

since March of 2017.  And we could see that Deutsche Bank, you know, just

follow the money and Deutsche Bank was involved in this. 


Your setup was really beautiful when you described the unusual lending

activity of Deutsche Bank.  But it came full circle for me this week when

the Russian oligarch Deripaska and the Treasury Department lifted

sanctions, relieved him of sanctions.  And the money that is going to go

right back into the Laundromat, this VTB Bank which is connected to

Deutsche Bank, is where the proceeds from this oligarch will go. 


And so I`m trying to hurry up, Rachel, because I realize you`re short on

time.  I just want to get right to the point.  We see it`s gone full

circle.  Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, all of them have benefited from loans

from Deutsche Bank.  


And this week, this Russian oligarch has been relieved, given sanction

relief, and those proceeds will go right back to VTB, which is associated

with Deutsche Bank. 


MADDOW:  And VTB, of course, is said to have been the bank that was lined

up to be the financing organization for the Trump Tower Moscow project,

which ended up –


MOORE:  Exactly. 


MADDOW:  Let me just ask you.  I`m reading a lot today into the fact that

the financial services committee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters` committee,

and the Intelligence Committee, that one which is now run by Adam Schiff,

I`m reading a lot into the fact that they`ve decided to do this as a joint

operation, that they don`t see this as just a banking concern or just an

intelligence concern.  I see this as they`re look for the nexus here. 


Do you think that`s fair for me to read it that way? 


MOORE:  That is very fair, because there very clearly is a nexus.  When you

think about it, think about Paul Manafort and what we know about him.  He

was very, very indebted to this Russian oligarch, Deripaska.  Very indebted

to him. 


And he in fact is connected to VTB, which, again, is one of these sort of

boutique banks that process Deutsche Bank funding.  So when you think about

Paul Manafort and the whole question of whether or not there was collusion

with the Russians to deliver the White House to Donald Trump and you think

about the indebtedness of Donald Trump to Russian oligarchs, the

indebtedness of Paul Manafort and the involvement of these banks, it`s the

kind of thing that makes you go hmm. 


MADDOW:  Congresswoman Gwen Moore of the great state of Wisconsin, thank

you for contacting us late last year when these things came together to say

watch for congressional oversight on this.  It really activated some work

on our part and helped us get our heads around it.  But thank you for

talking to us about it tonight, too. 


MOORE:  And as Rachel Maddow would say, watch this space. 


MADDOW:  Watch this space.




MADDOW:  Thank you, Congresswoman. 


We`ll be right back.




MADDOW:  That`s going to do if for us tonight.  We will see you again





Good evening, Lawrence. 







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