Trump campaign chair could face more time in prison. TRANSCRIPT: 1/25/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It has gone from this big, burly,
medieval thing to slats that you can pick up at Home Depot.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Nancy Pelosi today pointed to the flowers in her
office and said he can plant these and call them a wall.
Danielle Moody-Mills, Michael Steele, and Asawin Suebsaeng, thank you for
That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Have a great weekend, my
HAYES: You, too.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Welcome to
another totally normal weekday in the Donald J. Trump presidency, totally
normal day, right?
When I went to bed last night, I thought the big suspenseful event of the
day, the one event on today`s calendar that had the biggest potential for
real drama was going to be the hearing in the criminal case involving
President Trump`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort, already convicted on
multiple felonies, already facing a likely prison sentence of seven to ten
years. The drama underlying today`s hearing for Manafort is that he could
be facing an additional decade in prison on top of the seven to ten, which
really – I mean, when you start adding it up, that could already be the
whole enchilada if you`re already 70 years old and not in great health.
He is facing an additional decade in prison, potentially on top of his
other sentence if the judge in his case concludes that he breached his plea
agreement by lying to prosecutors after he had agreed to cooperate with
them. So Manafort himself was in court today. We got these great sketches
by the great courtroom artist.
Manafort was allowed, as you can see here, was allowed to wear a suit this
time instead of his jail jumpsuit. He is now white-haired. As you can
see, he`s using a cane. Reporters at the hearing today described him as
heavily leaning on that cane.
But with all the prosecutors there and with Manafort`s whole defense team
there and with Manafort himself in the courtroom, everybody there in person
today in federal court in D.C., today the judge in his case ultimately
elected to not today make a decision on the substance of these current
allegations against him, which, again, are that he broke his deal by lying
repeatedly to prosecutors. So Manafort was there in court today. He then
had to go back to jail he will be back in court a week from Monday and then
that will be the day that this same judge will finally conduct a hearing
behind closed doors to determine whether Manafort really is going to be on
the hook for all of these extra years, potentially tacked on to his
So, that`s going to be a closed-door sealed hearing a week from Monday and
it is going to be sealed because of the sensitivity around Manafort`s
testimony thus far and how much of his criminal case still bears upon other
still ongoing investigations and other people who have not yet been
charged. Remember, Paul Manafort has done at least nine interview sessions
with the special counsel`s office. He has testified before the grand jury
at least twice. We will ultimately get some redacted transcript of that
Manafort hearing after they`ve gone through and taken out all the sensitive
stuff, but they`re holding that next Manafort hearing behind closed doors
because they`re expecting a lot of it to not yet be suitable for public
consumption because of all of the ongoing cases that it relates to.
And it tells you something about this presidency and this moment in
American history, that the sitting president`s campaign chairman turning up
in court today with white hair using a cane trying to avoid the extra
decade in prison that could determine whether or not he dies behind bars,
it tells you something about this time period we are living through and
this presidency we are living through, that that doesn`t make the front
page today for this particular president, it doesn`t make probably the
first ten pages of the paper tomorrow morning because on a day like today,
it just couldn`t compete.
When the government shutdown crisis finally started to end today, with the
president appearing in the Rose Garden to announce that the government will
re-open under its old funding levels with no change in policy whatsoever,
with no freaking wall between the United States and Mexico or a down
payment on it or a sample portion of it or anything related to a wall
whatsoever, when the president announced today that he will accept the
exact same offer he rejected over a month ago that started this whole
catastrophe for the government and for hundreds of thousands of people who
work for the government and their families, when the president today made
that announcement that he said he would never, ever make, which is that the
shutdown will end in exchange for him getting absolutely nothing when that
dark cave opened up on the White House lawn today and swallowed all light
and made it briefly eerily cold and breezy for a moment, what that moved
off the front page of every newspaper in the country and off every moment
of TV news in the country was not just what was going on at that moment
with his already convicted campaign chairman, it also moved this.
The indictment of the president`s longtime friend and longest serving
political adviser, the self-promoting Republican Party gadfly Roger Stone.
We will be talking about the end of the shutdown tonight at the moment that
the president declared the end of the shutdown today. It displaced from
the headlines momentarily this indictment. Roger Stone was actually it
turns out indicted yesterday under seal. The special counsel`s office had
requested that the federal court in D.C. keep that indictment secret
yesterday, keep it under seal until Stone could be arrested this morning.
Quote: The United States of America by and through special counsel Robert
S. Mueller III respectfully moves this court to seal the accompanying
indictment and arrest warrant and to delay entry on the public docket of
this motion to seal and all related matters until the defendant named is in
Quote: Law enforcement believes that publicity resulting from the
disclosure of this indictment prior to arrest will increase the risk of the
defendant fleeing and destroying or tampering with evidence. It is
therefore essential that any information concerning the pending indictment
in this district be kept sealed prior to the defendant`s arrest. These
facts present an extraordinary situation and a compelling governmental
interest that justify not only the sealing of the indictment and all other
pleadings, warrants, records and files in this case, but also a short delay
in the public docketing of these sealed proceedings and the accompanying
order until the defendant`s arrest.
So, that is – that is dated yesterday from the special counsel. That`s
the special counsel saying to the judge, this indictment should be sealed.
Our request to seal the indictment should be sealed. This should all be
kept off the docket until we`ve got him. And the judge apparently agreed
because the first sign that we all got of what happened today to Roger
Stone was when this footage was caught on video by a CNN producer who had
been assigned by the network to essentially stake out Roger Stone`s house
in the event that anything like this might happen.
And, you know, this in itself is sort of a remarkable milestone in the
Mueller investigation. We`ve seen a lot of people charged in this case and
marched in and out of courthouses. We`ve seen them in SUVs pulling in and
out of parking lots outside government buildings their movements have been
tracked even around potential testimony around secret grand juries.
But nobody else got arrested by the FBI in this fashion. I mean, even when
they raided Paul Manafort`s house in Virginia, remember all the drama about
that, when they took away his files and his computers and his iPads and his
nice suits and his ostrich jacket and everything. At least then they left
Paul Manafort himself behind. This is the first time where we have
actually seen them grab the dude from his house and take him into custody.
Now, we do not have to speculate as to why the special counsel`s office and
the FBI chose to do it this way. The special counsel`s office laid out
their reasons in their motion to seal, right? They said, they told that
judge in D.C. yesterday they believed Roger Stone would flee and/or destroy
or tamper with evidence if he knew that he was being indicted and so,
surprise, they arrested him before dawn today.
And, yes, if you are trying to snip every loose thread here, yes, you`re
right, because that happened in the predawn hours today, hours before the
proclaimed end of the government shutdown, it is likely that those FBI
agents who arrested Roger Stone today did so while not being paid. But now
we have got the unsealed indictment for Roger Stone, it lays out seven
felony charges against him. Nothing about the indictment suggests that
Stone has previously had any contact at all with the special counsel`s
office, which is interesting. It doesn`t appear that Mueller ever bothered
to interview Roger Stone before indicting him today.
But Stone is charged today with lying to Congress and with attempting to
intimidate another witness to either lie to Congress or refuse to testify
to Congress. All of the charges against Stone today and the narrative that
prosecutors lay out that supports the indictment, it all relates to Stone`s
contacts and communications during the presidential campaign related to
WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks, of course, distributed the documents that Russian
military intelligence stole from the Democratic Party and the Clinton
Roger Stone is alleged in this indictment to have lied to Congress
repeatedly about his own efforts to communicate with WikiLeaks, both
personally and through intermediaries. He`s also alleged to have lied
whether his efforts to communicate with WikiLeaks were done on his own say
so, on his own initiative or whether the Trump campaign put it up to him.
So, we`ll get some expert help on this tonight. A lot of people who
followed this stuff most closely from a legal perspective are suggesting
today and tonight that the Stone indictment is something that puts the
central question of the Mueller investigation closer to President Trump and
his campaign than any other indictment we have seen thus far.
Again, we will get some expert help on that coming up in just a moment,
including the significance of the fact that yet another person close to the
president has been charged with witness tampering in the Mueller
investigation. That is something where the president himself sort of
increasingly looking like he may have some legal problems of his own.
Again, we will – we will get to all of that.
But I am quite sure you`ve heard a lot about this case already today.
Again, the arrest happened before dawn. We got the indictment early this
morning. I`m not going to go through it here line by line. I`m not going
to try to connect every dot and flesh out every sorted character in this,
partly because I can`t stomach it, but also because there`s really just two
things that I want to focus on, and they`re both open questions for me.
But in terms of where my head is at, in terms of figuring outs how this
fits into the whole overall scandal and how close we are to the end here
and how close we are to getting the biggest most important questions
answered just for us as the American public, these are the two things that
I am sort of stuck on. The first one is a dynamic, a pattern that we have
seen over and over and over again in this scandal when comes to people
surrounding the president and even the president himself. This is
something we saw from the very beginning, from December 2017 when Trump
national security adviser Mike Flynn turned up in court pleading guilty and
agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.
What Mike Flynn admitted to lying about, remember, was his contact with the
Russian government during the transition his contact with the Russian
government about U.S. sanctions on Russia. What never made sense about
Flynn and him pleading guilty is why he felt the need to lie to the FBI
about his contact with the Russian government and him talking to them about
sanctions. I mean, at the time he had that contact with the Russian
government, he was the incoming national security adviser.
And, yes, you know, maybe it was a little weird that before he was
technically sworn in he was already having policy discussions with another
government, but it`s not that weird. I mean, had he just publicly
asserted, yes, I talked to the Russian ambassador about sanctions, we and
the Trump campaign have been clear about the fact that we have a different
take on sanctions than the outgoing administration and it was a matter of
urgency. I mean, you know, had Flynn said something like that, that would
have occasioned like half a raised eyebrow, but instead, he lied about it
multiple times to the FBI.
I mean, what about those communications with the Russian government were
so, what, intrepid, embarrassing, linked to a larger thing you didn`t want
to have to explain? I mean, what about those communications with the
Russians were worth lying about. There was nothing wrong about them on
their face so why lie about it why lie to the FBI about it?
That became a question that was even harder to answer when we learned that
it wasn`t just Mike Flynn who lied about those communications with the
Russian government about sanctions. “The Washington Post” reported months
later that Flynn`s deputy K.T. McFarland had also made false statements to
the FBI about the same thing, denying the truth about those contacts with
the Russian government during the transition when they talked to them about
sanctions. She lied about it to reporters at the time. We later learn she
also lied about it to the FBI.
And again, there was nothing weird about talking to the Russian government
about sanctions. So why create a big cover story about it? Why create a
cover story that you stuck to, to the point where you open yourself up to
potential criminal charges for lying about it, and it wasn`t just the two
of them. “The New York Times” later reported that within the transition,
there were a whole bunch of Trump officials who? All read in on the truth,
which was that Flynn was talking to the Russian government about sanctions
during the transition. They were all read in on it.
Among the Trump officials who were read in on that and sent e-mails
documenting in detail what Flynn was doing with the Russians, among the
people read in on that was Sean Spicer, who soon became the White House
spokesman. Sean Spicer, too, knowing the real story nevertheless gave the
public a false story. He publicly spread this lie about Flynn`s contact
with the Russian government when we know that he was actually read in on
what really happened. Why did they all tell lies about that?
I mean, telling the truth about that would not have been a scandal, but yet
there was this elaborate cover-up over a period of months involving
multiple officials, multiple false statements, both in public and to
reporters and even to federal law enforcement agents and we have seen that
dynamic over and over again in this scandal with characters large and
Speaking of small, remember old George Papadopoulos, who has already served
his prison sentence in this scandal? He`s admittedly a very minor figure
in this scandal, right? Well, what happened in his case is that we learned
he had lied to federal investigators about the timing and content of his
communications with somebody who claimed to be connected to the Russian
And whatever you think about George Papadopoulos, he was attached to the
Trump campaign. He was working as a declared foreign policy adviser for
the campaign. Him having conversations with somebody who purported to be
linked to the Russian government would not be crazy, would not be illegal.
I mean, that`s the sort of thing he could have admitted to without much
need to explain further.
But yet he lied about it to federal investigators. That`s why he went to
prison. He`s sort of the small end of the food chain, right? Like he`s
the grub, the great white shark in this food chain is, of course, the
candidate at the top of that campaign.
We saw this same dynamic at work with Trump himself. Now we know that
through the presidential campaign, Trump and his business were pursuing a
very large real estate deal in Russia, a Trump Tower Moscow deal that would
have required the involvement of and the permission of the Russian
government. Now we know that he and his business were pursuing that during
the presidential campaign and the president now says it`s perfectly fine
that he was doing that. After all, he`s a real estate guy. He pursues
real estate projects all over the world. That`s what he does.
And as he says, everybody thought he would lose the presidential election.
So why should he forego business opportunities that might otherwise elude
him if he put his business career fully on hold while he was running for
president? There was nothing wrong with him pursuing that deal. That`s
what he says now.
Whatever you think about that explanation from President Trump, that
explanation would have held exactly the same amount of water during the
campaign. Instead, for months, he explicitly lied and said he wasn`t
pursuing any deals in Russia. It wasn`t illegal for him to pursue a real
estate deal in Russia. He has proved himself capable of spinning a story
about that that makes it sound OK or at least tries to make it sound OK.
But for months, he lied about it overtly. He tried to keep it secret.
Michael Cohen went to Congress and answered questions about the Trump Tower
Moscow project, knowing the exact truth of that project since he was
somebody who was directly involved in it, as one of the principal people
trying to put it together. He nevertheless under oath told Congress lies
about the Trump Tower Moscow project and how long it went on.
Again, that project wasn`t illegal. If there was something wrong with it,
there was nothing more wrong with it in June than there was in January.
Why did they have to invent a fake cover story for it that included
committing felonies and lying under oath in order to keep it secret? What
was it about that that you had to tell a fake story about?
You know, it`s all of them – I mean, when Jared Kushner filled out his
security clearance application after the inauguration, why did he leave off
that application that he had met with the criminal-appointed head of a
Russian bank, that he had met multiple times with the Russian ambassador,
that he had taken the Trump Tower meeting during the campaign with all
I mean, all those individual meetings and communications are things that
Mr. Kushner has an explanation for. He and his well-paid spokespeople have
since given those explanations. You know, they came up in the normal
course of his work on the campaign there was nothing untoward about any of
them. OK, why did they keep it secret?
In Watergate, they said the cover-up is worse than the crime. In this
scandal, the cover-up is the big red, neon flashing arrow that points it
where the crime might be because time and time and time again, we have seen
the same dynamic, all of them up and down have all been caught telling
lies, even to the point of facing prison time for telling lies about things
that on the surface are not worth lying about, things that aren`t illegal
things that could have a totally normal explanation.
And that is a neon sign shaped like an arrow pointing at what must be
beneath the surface of those things that they went to such links and took
such risks to cover up. And so, today, we see that again with Roger Stone.
And, you know, there`s a lot of color in the Stone indictment with him,
like, you know, threatening that guy`s dog when he was going to try to stop
that guy from testifying to Congress. There is that kind of stuff. There
is him quoting “The Godfather,” right?
There`s the big headline grabber from the indictment today, which is the
allegation from the special counsel that Stone did not make his overtures
to WikiLeaks on his own initiative according to the special counsel, a
senior campaign official was directed to contact Roger Stone to get him to
find out what WikiLeaks had on Clinton. Everybody`s now scratching their
heads wondering who on a campaign would have the authority to direct a
senior campaign official to make that kind of request.
Everybody`s wondering if the only kind of person with that authority in a
campaign would be the candidate himself. Maybe. I don`t know we don`t
know. The special counsel doesn`t say.
But if you set all that aside for just a second, consider the overall
dynamic that we`ve seen with all of these other figures in this scandal
thus far, lying about stuff that on the surface it doesn`t seem like they`d
need to lie about. Just look for a second in the Stone indictment at the
specific allegations that are spelled out about what Stone lied about.
Again, with all of the other people in this scandal, we have seen them
again and again and again in their security clearance applications, with
federal investigators, in FBI interviews, before Congress, under oath,
risking prison time to tell lies about things that do not seem to be
crimes, things that on the surface do not seem to be illegal, things that
don`t seem like they need to be lied about.
Well, in this case, in this new indictment today, what Roger Stone is
alleged to have lied about under oath, what he is alleged to aggressively
threaten this other witness that he need to lie about it too or not testify
if he couldn`t commit to not lying about – what he`s accused of, the big
lie at the heart of the Stone indictment is something really, really,
really small and specific, what is spelled out in the indictment today is
that Roger Stone appears to have concocted a cover story, which said that
the way he tried to get information from WikiLeaks was through this guy, a
guy who Roger Stone knew, a guy who had a radio show on which he
interviewed Julian Assange from WikiLeaks.
And so, therefore, the cover story was Roger Stone thought this guy could
be a good contact to Julian Assange from WikiLeaks, right? If the guy
could interview him, presumably he could also reach him to get information
about what WikiLeaks had on the Clinton campaign. According to prosecutors
today, that was the cover story that Roger Stone concocted and that he
tried to sell to the House Intelligence Committee under oath. According to
prosecutors today, that story is false and the real story is that Stone
actually dispatched this guy, different guy, to contact Julian Assange in
order to figure out what WikiLeaks had on Clinton.
Now, put those – can we put those two guys up side by side OK, right?
Again, this – bear with me here – I mean, this is the big lie that`s
spelled out in the indictment. Roger Stone says the guy on the right is
how he tried to contact WikiLeaks. Actually, it was the guy on the left.
OK, who cares? Why does that matter why would the difference between those
two paths to WikiLeaks be worth not only lying about it to Congress but
doing back flips and making all these florid, baroque threats against
another witness to prevent that cover story from unraveling. I mean, page
18 of the indictment today, Roger Stone goes nuts over the prospect that
the cover story will be exposed as false and the real story will come out,
quote: Stonewall it, plead the Fifth, anything to save the plan.
He tells this witness who is going to give up the cover story and explain
it wasn`t really true. He tells him to refuse to appear, to take the
Fifth, to do a Frank Pentangeli, which is the guy in “Godfather 2” who
turns out to testify before Congress and, then, surprise, refuses to
testify about what he really knows and makes up a fake story to protect
everybody else. Do a Frank Pentangeli.
I mean, OK, what the heck was so important about the difference between
those two stories. Honestly? I used radio show host Randy Credico to get
to WikiLeaks, versus I use Jerome Corsi, weird conspiracy theorist to get
to WikiLeaks. Who cares? Who cares?
But that distinction between those two stories was apparently enough to
risk all of this, which has now resulted in seven felony charges and
getting arrested on CNN before dawn. So, now, we have a new neon sign in
the shape of an arrow blinking, pointing out what otherwise not seemed to
be illegal or even particularly scandalous behavior.
What is it about this – what is it about this story that you have to go to
these lengths to protect?
This story which doesn`t seem to be anything scandalous has nevertheless
cause grown adults to risk years if not decades in prison to try to keep it
under wraps. In this case, I mean, what the red neon arrow is pointing at
is whatever this line of communication that goes from the Trump campaign to
Roger Stone to Jerome Corsi to WikiLeaks to Russian military intelligence,
right? WikiLeaks is distributing the anti-Clinton stuff that have been
stolen by Russian intelligence.
I have never cared about that before, but, boy, do I now. Boy, do I now,
now that I know the links to which these characters were willing to go to
make sure that stayed secret.
And briefly, there is just one last point to know about the Roger Stone
indictment, which I think points us to what we may be able to expect next,
or at least where we should look to figure that out. There was a way to
know this indictment was coming.
In mid-December, Carol Leonnig was a lead reporter on this story in “The
Washington Post”, which reported that Robert Mueller had requested an
official transcript of Stone`s testimony to the House Intelligence
Committee. Now, we reported that on this show the night of December 19th
because it was “The Washington Post” suggesting pretty overtly in that
story that that request from Mueller to get the official transcript, that
might be a sign that Mueller was about to indict Roger Stone for lying in
that testimony. That would explain why Mueller need an official transcript
of what Stone had said.
That prediction from Carol Leonnig and her co-authors in “The Washington
Post” in mid-December proved to be exactly right. He did get indicted for
false testimony in that testimony that Mueller got the official transcript
of in mid-December.
Because of that, we spent today trying to figure out who else has had their
transcript peeked at by special counsel Robert Mueller. What we found is
not necessarily what you would expect, but I do think it tells us where we
should look to see what`s about to happen next. And we`ve got that little
bit of news coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here was the advanced notice we got that the president`s longtime
adviser Roger Stone was going to be arrested and indicted today. One of
the reasons we got this long indictment from the special counsel`s office
against Stone unsealed today is because of action that the House
Intelligence Committee took last month.
Last month, we think December 14th, the special counsel Robert Mueller made
a request to Congress, he wanted an official transcript of Roger Stone`s
testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. Congress said yes. The
committee said yes just before the president shut down the government, that
committee voted unanimously to turn over the official transcript of Roger
Stone`s testimony to the intelligence committee which had taken place in
September 2017. They voted to turn that transcript over to Robert Mueller.
Now, in mid-December, “The Washington Post” flagged that as a sign that
Mueller might be moving soon to charge Roger Stone with making false
statements in that testimony, otherwise why would he need an official
transcript of Stone`s remarks? “The Washington Post” was right in that
prediction. Today, the special counsel charged Roger Stone with five
counts of making false statements to Congress which raises the question of
whether or not Mueller has asked to look at anybody else`s transcripts,
right? Interesting question, it turns out.
I can tell you that we have a single source tonight, and it is just a
single source, but it is a source close to the investigation who tells us
that the special counsel has viewed a number of transcripts from witnesses
testifying before the Senate in the Russia investigation.
Now, again, we believe that Mueller would need to formally request official
transcripts from witness testimony in order to bring charges on the basis
of those transcripts if witnesses lied we`ve seen that, for example, when
it came to the Senate testimony of Sam Patten. He was charged with lying
to investigators. His plea agreement also included deals of his lies to
the Senate. Patten is one person whose official transcript was formally
conveyed from the Senate to Mueller so that his lies in his Senate
testimony could be included in his plea agreement.
But as for other people whose transcripts have just been reviewed by
Mueller, whether or not he`s got an official copy, again, a single source
close to the investigation tells us that has happened in case of a number
of different witnesses who have testified on the Senate side. We are
trying to find the number, just at a number, but so far, we`ve got that
nugget to go with.
On the House side, Roger Stone is now the second person in the president`s
orbit who has been charged with lying to the House Intelligence Committee.
Roger Stone and Michael Cohen were both hit with felony charges for lying
to House Intel in their testimony. Now, the new chair of the Intelligence
Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff today said he is happy to convey all the
transcripts from all the witnesses who have appeared before his committee
in this investigation thus far. He`s happy to convey all of those
transcripts to the special counsel`s office as soon as possible.
Chairman Schiff saying today, quote: The first order of business for the
committee will be to release all remaining transcripts to the special
Here`s the thing, though, did you notice the tense of the verb that he used
there? The first order of business for the committee will be to release.
Here`s something to watch. We`ve already got two people indicted for
felonies for lying to House Intelligence, Cohen and Stone. Mueller had to
obtain both of their transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee
before he could file those charges. Is House Intelligence sending Mueller
anybody else`s transcripts?
The thing to watch here is that it turns out they actually can`t. They
can`t until they have the intelligence committee up and running and they
cannot do that until they have a full list of members for the Intelligence
Committee. And so far, Republicans are not naming any members for the
Intelligence Committee. Really?
By our count, Republicans have managed to name members for 23 different
committees, everything from Agriculture to Appropriations to Veterans
Affairs to the Joint Committee on the Library, but thus far they have not
named anyone for the Intelligence Committee. Which means the intelligence
committee cannot act at all, including to send Mueller the transcripts of
further witnesses who may have lied to them.
A Democratic committee aide tells us tonight that if Republicans finally
getting around – if Republicans finally get around to naming people for
the Intelligence Committee, if they were able to do that by Monday, Mueller
could have all the transcripts from all of the House Intelligence witnesses
by Wednesday. Schiff apparently really means it that it will be their
first order of business, but the Republicans can stop him from being it
anyway, as long as they won`t allow him to conduct any business by not
giving him any Republican members for his committee.
That`s called small ball.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Congressman Eric Swalwell. He has a seat on the
Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee in the House.
Congressman, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for being here tonight.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thanks for having me
MADDOW: So, what`s your reaction to the indictment of the president`s
longtime adviser Roger Stone today? The White House said today this has
nothing to do with the president at all. Do you believe that it does? Do
you know how this fits in to the larger scandal?
SWALWELL: Well, it certainly has all the markings of something the
president would be involved in. And so, you see here an intense interest
by the Trump campaign and the president`s decades-long friend to get the
Russian hacked goods that would help Donald Trump. And so, Rachel, what we
want to know next, it`s a follow the shovels theory, I think, what you laid
out earlier, which is why would they lie about something that they have
later on an explanation about?
And I believe that they are lying and they are burying the evidence because
the truth goes to the underlying crime in question, which is working with
the Russians and we now are in a position to find that out.
And the Republicans, they can sit on their hands and not name people to the
intelligence committee. This will be the last gasp of Republican
obstructionism because for two years, they sought to protect the president
and act as his counsel on our committee. But we`re going to find out now
and in short order
MADDOW: One of the things that struck me as sort of vindication for you
and your fellow Democrats on the Intelligence Committee is the way it was
laid out in the indictment that Roger Stone lied to your committee in his
testimony and had there been a subpoena of his communications that followed
or accompanied that testimony, the committee would have known that he was
lying. One of the things that you and your fellow Democrats laid out in
your sort of interim report on the investigation was that there was no
interest by Republicans on the committee in subpoenaing documents, in doing
anything to check the testimony of witnesses who appeared to be lying to
Am I following that right? Is it true that Stone`s lies, which are the
basis of this felony indictment today, could have been evident to your
committee had you obtained those materials?
SWALWELL: You sure are. And we take no pleasure in being right, but the
cost to our country has been grave because for two years we`ve sought to
test Mr. Stone`s story and Mr. Kushner`s story and Donald Trump Jr.`s story
and Michael Cohen`s story. And they were protected by Republicans who
wouldn`t allow us to subpoena outside documents that would have proved this
You know, people inside Washington they say, well, no one outside
Washington really cares about the Russia story. Sure it`s not, you know,
as fatal as, you know, a near – as fatal as the shutdown that we`ve
experienced. But I find it very fundamentally un-American that the Trump
campaign has so eagerly embraced an adversary that never has our interests
in mind, and I think our country`s going to continue to suffer until we get
to the bottom of it and we know exactly what Russia did and exactly how
many Americans worked to help them.
MADDOW: Congressman, I`m going to ask you two questions here neither of
which I believe you can answer in detail because of the nature of the
Intelligence Committee and the way you do your work, but I`d like you to
consider answering them at least in broad terms that still preserve the
work of your committee.
The first one is this. Has your committee made referrals to the Justice
Department for other witnesses that you believe have lied to you? I`m
asking because Stone and Cohen are now two people who have been charged
with felonies for lying to your committee, both of those charges have come
from the special counsel`s office. Special counsel`s office obviously
conducts its work with tight lips and they do not explain necessarily the
background work that they did to get there.
But can you tell us if Intelligence has made criminal referrals
SWALWELL: What I can tell you is that we are very, very eager to get all
of our transcripts in the hands of the Mueller special counsel team because
we saw other witnesses give conflicting accounts or invent privileges or
just outright refuse to testify, and we saw the Republicans tell them that
if they didn`t want to continue a voluntary interview, they could just walk
away. And so, we weren`t able to pursue our lines of inquiry, which I
think would have shined a lot of light on who worked with the Russians and
what we can do to protect against future interference by the Russians.
MADDOW: My last question, again, I`m pretty sure you can`t answer this,
but I`m just going to ask. Has the special counsel`s office requested the
transcripts of other witnesses` testimony from Intelligence whether or not
the committee has been able to convey them to Mueller as of yet?
SWALWELL: I can`t go into that, Rachel, but, again, what I can assure
people is that right now, we see that at best, you know, the Trump team,
they`re trying to say, well, there is no evidence of collusion and we think
you have seen now a number of high-profile, high-level individuals with
shovels in their hands and dirt all around them because they`ve been
working for two years to bury evidence as to what they were doing and the
interests they had to work with the Russians during the 2016 campaign. And
we think that`s important enough to shine light on and hold those
accountable who sought to work with the Russians.
MADDOW: Congressman Eric Swalwell, a Democrat of California, I`m looking
forward to you learning who your Republican colleagues are going to be on
the Intelligence Committee, if only so that you guys can get up and start
doing your work. Thanks for being here.
SWALWELL: We`re ready to work. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The shutdown is now hereby technically over. The president today
agreed to a deal to re-open the government for three weeks. The Senate and
the House approved that deal earlier today. And tonight, we can now report
that the president has signed that legislation.
Hope you enjoyed the ride. Barf bags by the emergency exit doors. Take as
many as you need.
Now, what this means in terms of things getting back up and running is sort
of unclear at this point. We`ve never had a shutdown this long that`s not
just a quantitative thing, it is a qualitative thing in terms of the effect
of the shutdown. It went on so long that in addition to individual
families of federal workers literally ending up on bread lines because of
this, government agencies themselves have been undermined and monkey
wrenched by this sudden shutdown and how long it went on.
So, how do you restart agencies and re-up government functions that haven`t
just been paused, haven`t just been stalled, they were actually hurt by how
long this went on. We are now going to see what that`s going to look like
for the first time. Today, the Office of Management and Budget issued a
memorandum telling federal employees they should, quote, expect direction
from their employing agencies as to when to report for duty. Yes, don`t go
too far out on a limb there.
The State of the Union had been planned for next Tuesday, but today,
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the president said they still need to work out a
mutually agreeable date so that means not Tuesday. That remains up in the
Despite that uncertainty tonight, there is some relief in sight for those
federal employees who have been working all of this time without pay and
for everything that means for their families. Right now, the best estimate
when they`ll get back pay is some time next week. “The Washington Post”
reports it will likely be next Thursday, Friday or even Saturday before
employees are paid. Workers will then expect to see their usual paycheck
as of February 8th.
So that mean that things will grindingly and, you know, as best they can
try to get back to normal, but this isn`t normal. But this isn`t even
normal. This isn`t even normal for a shutdown and this is going to be
painful even gearing back up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Quote from page 20, ready? Quote: You are a rat, a stoolie, you
backstab your friends, run your mouth, my lawyers are say dying to rip you
According to the latest indictment today from the special counsel, these
are tender greetings from longtime Trump associate Roger Stone to a man
whose testimony could reportedly have shown that Roger Stone had lie and
told a bogus cover story to Congress.
The indictment continues, quote, Stone also said he would, quote, take that
dog away from you, referring to the potential witness` dog, also subtly,
quote, I am so ready. Let`s get it on. Prepare to die, expletive.
Prepare to die you expletive. Drama much.
Special counsel`s office today laid out those threats and other messages
from Roger Stone in making the case for the seventh felony count in the
Roger Stone indictment today, which is for witness tampering.
I have a question about that. If Roger Stone`s alleged wannabe gangster
style of pressuring a potential witness, if that`s setting off a not very
distant bell ringing for you, it may be because of other witnesses we`ve
seen along those lines about other potential witnesses, only those other
messages, those are ones that weren`t conveyed in private text messages or
e-mails, they`re were conveyed in public. Ones like this, quote: Lying to
reduce his jail time, which the president tweeted last week about Michael
Cohen when it look like Mr. Cohen might offer new testimony to congress.
Quote: Watch father-in-law. Watch father-in-law for what? What is going
to happen to father-in-law?
Here`s my question: Roger Stone got hit today with a felony charge of
witness tampering for text messages and e-mails he`s alleged to have sent
in private to a potential witness who reportedly could undo this cover
story that Stone was trying to sell about WikiLeaks and the stuff that
Russian military intelligence stole from the Democrats and the Clinton
campaign. For that witness tampering charge, does it matter in legal terms
whether a message – whether the witness tampering message is sent in
private or whether that message is broadcast to millions of people over
Twitter? Does that legally make a difference to prosecutors? Can you
tamper with witnesses really, really, really out loud?
Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney in Michigan.
Barbara, thank you so much for being here.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY IN MICHIGAN: Oh, thanks for having
MADDOW: I see a tonal relationship between the witness tampering messages
that Mr. Stone was charged for today and the sorts of things that the
president has said in public about Michael Cohen. Does it matter whether
these things are said publicly or in private?
MCQUADE: No, it really doesn`t the law doesn`t say so. I mean, other than
the fact that they both clearly watch too many gangster movies, there`s a
lot in common between the statements that Roger Stone is making and that
President Trump is making. The witness tampering statute says that it`s a
crime to knowingly intimidate, threaten or corruptly persuade another
person with intent to influence or prevent or delay their testimony in
So, seeing what they did is usually the easy part. The harder part is
usually determining someone`s intent. But here, the mere fact that this is
done out loud versus quietly and privately, I don`t think should throw
prosecutors off the scent. You know, certainly it`s unprecedented that
somebody`s using Twitter to make these kinds of statements, but if you look
at the elements of the offense, the fact that they`re done in an open and
notorious way doesn`t make them any less fitting of those elements.
MADDOW: Does it matter, Barb, if the attempted intimidation or pressure –
does it matter if it works?
MCQUADE: It does not –
MADDOW: I`m asking because of Michael Cohen cancelling his testimony this
past week before Congress, saying that he was too intimidated by the
president`s remarks. He felt that his family was in danger.
MCQUADE: Yes, actually, it doesn`t matter whether it works or not. Even
the attempt alone is enough. So even if the person stands firm and decides
to go through with it anyway, what the person did to try to intimidate
them, to persuade them not to testimony is itself a completed crime.
MADDOW: When you look at this indictment today, Barb, obviously one of the
things that jumped out for me is that it appears that Mr. Stone had never
had any contact with the special counsel`s office before this indictment
today. He was charged with lying to Congress and with witnessing –
tampering with a witness who could potentially undo the allegedly false
cover story that he gave to Congress. That really leapt out to me in terms
of how this fits overall.
What seems important to you about this?
MCQUADE: Well, I think that the language in the indictment that talks
about the senior campaign official being directed to have these
communications, I think as you pointed out suggests very strongly that that
is only a select few of possible characters in this story. It`s someone at
a very high level of the campaign, if not Trump himself directing this
I think another really telling statement in this indictment is in paragraph
two where it goes out of its way to say that a month earlier in June, the
DNC publicly announced that it had been hacked by Russia. So when it talks
about these events occurring in July, it makes it clear that the Trump
campaign officials knew that it was Russia that was working with WikiLeaks.
MADDOW: So when they were interacting with WikiLeaks about this stolen
material, it was already a matter of public reporting that that stolen
material had been stolen by Russian intelligence.
MCQUADE: Yes, exactly, which I think brings that conspiracy full circle.
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney in Michigan – Barb, thanks
for being with us tonight. Super helpful.
MCQUADE: Thank you, Rachel.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Tonight, as we sign off, I want to say good-bye to a wonderful
producer on this show, Julia Nutter, who is leaving THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
for greener pastures after today, and every show has turnover. People
cannot stay forever.
But Julia started here as an intern and my assistant. She worked her way
up to be one of the most valuable people on staff. I also have to tell you
the ten years she has work on this show literally make up a third of her
natural life on this earth.
So, Julia, we are all going to miss the H-E double hockey sticks out of
you. Good luck to you. We`ll miss you.
All right. Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD.” Joy Reid in for Lawrence
Good evening, Joy.
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distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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