Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. TRANSCRIPT: 2/13/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I am excited for this trip for you, my friend.
This is going to be amazing.
HAYES: Yes. I`m excited, too. We`ll see you tomorrow night.
MADDOW: Well done. Thanks, Chris.
All right. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have
you with us. Lots going on tonight.
The week before Christmas, this past December, we thought that the
president`s national security adviser, his first national security adviser
Mike Flynn was about to be sentenced. Flynn had a sentencing date. The
prosecution and the defense had both filed submissions with the court
giving judge advice on what Mike Flynn`s sentence should be.
The appointed sentencing date arrived. Mike Flynn put on a suit, got in an
SUV, turned up in court. All the lawyers were there on both sides. It was
time for us all to figure out in open court that day how much time Mike
Flynn was going to serve in prison if he was going to get any prison time
But when it came time for Mike Flynn to be sentenced that day, in the end,
he was not sentenced. It was sort of a shocking day in court. You might
remember. Flynn, of course, had plead guilty to lying to investigators
about his contacts with the Russian government while he was serving the
Trump transition. When he plead guilty, he became a cooperator, became a
The special counsel`s office thereafter told the court repeatedly and
officially that Flynn was a good cooperator, that he had cooperated
extensively with them and helped them with multiple investigations. As
such, the special counsel`s office advised the judge in the Flynn case that
despite the seriousness of Flynn`s own confessed crimes, his cooperation
had been so valuable to prosecutors that they believed the judge should
give him little to no jail time.
But nevertheless, a week before Christmas last December, the judge in the
Mike Flynn case balked. He told Flynn in open court that day that he could
not hide, quote, his disdain, his disgust for Flynn`s criminal conduct. In
open court, he asked prosecutors from the special counsel`s office if they
had considered putting Mike Flynn on trial for treason, of all things.
That was a shocking enough almost suggestion from the judge that later in
the hearing he actually walked that back in open court.
But whatever that judge was looking at in terms of the evidence, the
evidence that we could see, also the sealed filings, any of the background
information he had been provided in terms of Flynn`s conduct and his
cooperation, I mean, whatever the judge was seeing in the universe of
information he had access to about Mike Flynn, it had that judge fired up
enough that day in that courtroom that honestly, the real mercy that judge
showed to Mike Flynn that day was when the judge repeatedly asked to Flynn
multiple times throughout the hearing if Flynn was really sure that he
wanted to go ahead with the sentencing.
The judge repeatedly went back to Flynn over the course of that hearing,
are you sure you want me to sentence you right now? Basically, are you
sure today ought to be the day? Are you sure you might not want to take
more time as a cooperating witness and see if there is anything else you
might possibly be able to do for your country that might possibly mitigate
the size of the book that I`m about to throw at you for your crimes, which
I`ve already said to your face in open court are crimes that disgust me?
Are you sure you want to go ahead with this today?
It was interesting as a sort of moment of human drama. During that hearing
that day, Flynn repeatedly rebuffed those, you know, questions/suggestions
from the judge, basically saying no, your honor, no, you`re good. Go
ahead. I`m ready to be sentenced.
Eventually, there was little break where Flynn had time to have some
quality time with his own lawyers, and after that break, Flynn did I think
figure out what was going on. He did then concede to the judge that, yes,
maybe today wasn`t good. Maybe it might be a good idea to take a little
And so the outcome of that hearing was that Mike Flynn was not sentenced.
That was the week before Christmas. They put off his sentencing hearing
sort of indefinitely. They put it off for months. He went back to being a
cooperating witness after that shocking day in court.
He`s not even going to have a status conference on the state of his case
until deep into next month. They put this thing off for a while. Go see
what else you can do, sir.
But in that case, the case of Mike Flynn and his aborted sentencing
hearing, you might notice a little – a little melody, a little tune that
recurs that is becoming sort of a theme song for all of the various cases,
for all of the various people who have been charged and/or plead guilty in
the Russia investigation thus far. I think there is a theme that even us
non-lawyers can recognize now when we look at these cases, when we can now
see over time with all of these cases and all these dozens of indictments
and dozens of defendants, we can now see a little bit of a recurring
melody, a little theme that you can recognize in how judges react when they
hear about, when they see evidence about the alleged or confessed crimes of
the people who have been caught up thus far in this investigation. This
investigation that centers around the special counsel`s office, but has
been disbursed into these multiple cases.
We see how judges react when they get access to information about these
defendants. We saw that with Flynn dramatically in November. We also see
that theme all over today`s news in multiple cases.
The day before Mike Flynn`s disastrous sentencing hearing in December, the
day before that went so wrong for him in court, you might also remember
that Flynn`s business partner, his long-time business partner, a guy named
Bijan Kian was also indicted, also charged with – in his case, acting as
an agent of a foreign government.
This is sort of more serious version of the charge that a number of Mueller
targets have faced, which is failing to register as a foreign agent. What
Bijan Kian was charged with in mid-December is sort of the more serious
version of that crime. According to his lawyers, it is something that has
only been charged in the United States a handful of times since the law was
But Bijan Kian pled not guilty. He is not pleading guilty and agreeing to
cooperate like most of the other people who were charged in the Mueller
investigation thus far. Kian has pled not guilty. He wants to go to
Today, there was a hearing in his case to among other things set a trial
date. Kian`s lawyers pled with the judge, pleaded with the judge hearing
that case in the Eastern District of Virginia that they needed quite a lot
more time to prepare their defense before they would feel comfortable
proceeding with a trial, and mostly, their basis for arguing that today is
that there is a ton of evidence to go through in the government`s case,
what they described of as terabytes worth of data on multiple hard drives
that they had received from the prosecution outlining their case against
But one of Kian`s lawyers also told the judge today there was a more
personal reason they wanted to delay. They wanted to delay specifically
until this fall. And we got a transcript of that hearing today in which we
can see Bijan Kian`s lawyer telling the judge today, quote: I know it is
not of utmost concern to the court, your honor, but our client`s daughter`s
wedding is the first week of August. So, we would like to make sure that
we don`t jam him up in that regard as well.
His lawyer saying that please, can we put the trial off to the fall. There
is so much to do. There is so much evidence to get through, but also his
daughter`s wedding is the first week of August. Couldn`t we do it after
The judge responded to that effectively sorry, when is his daughter`s
hearing? It`s the first week of August? You don`t want to, what did you
say, jam him up right before that? OK, then. The judge said we will set
his trial for July 15th. So maybe he can just wear his father of the bride
tux to the trial in case that`s going to be the closest he gets to
celebrating his daughter`s wedding the first week in August.
On the Concord Management case, there was another blunt ruling from a
federal judge today in that case. Concord Management, you`ll remember
that`s the Russian company charged in conjunction with the Internet
Research Agency case. This is the indictment brought early on by Mueller
charging a bunch of Russian citizens and the Internet Research Agency in
St. Petersburg and the Russian oligarch who funded and ran that and his
management company. They`re all charged with conspiring to defraud the
United States by interfering with the lawful functions of our election
process, among a whole bunch of other crimes, including identity theft.
They`re basically charging these defendants with having run the social
media and propaganda element of the Russian government`s interference in
our 2016 election to benefit President Trump.
Now none of the Russian defendants in that indictment have set foot in a
U.S. courtroom since this indictment was handed down. Russia as a rule
does not extradite their citizens to stand trial in the United States. But
the Russian oligarch who is charged in this indictment, Russian oligarch
close to Putin, close to the Russian government, the guy who allegedly runs
the Internet Research Agency and ran this part of the operation, he appears
to have decided to try to use the U.S. court system against the United
States of America, and specifically, against the Mueller investigation by
taking materials obtained over the course of that criminal case and
disseminating them in Russia in an effort to try to gain intel on what
Mueller has figured out about Russian interference.
And prosecutors in that case say they`ve also used the materials obtained
in that court case in what amounts to another Russian intelligence
operation, an effort to take the case materials from this Concord
Management case that the lawyers representing Concord Management in that
case have obtained through the American court system. Those materials were
obtained through this criminal case through judicial proceedings in the
United States. Those materials then turned up online being shopped by pro-
Russia Twitter accounts as supposedly hacked material from the Mueller
investigation, that they were shopping to U.S. journalists trying to
undermine and discredit what Mueller is doing and what evidence he has
So, this Concord Management case, none of the Russian defendants have
turned up in court. For Concord Management, this Russian corporate entity,
they did hire American lawyers to represent that Russian entity. They`ve
used those American lawyers basically to obtain information from the
Mueller investigation that Russia appears to be turning around in another
op intending to target the U.S. public.
So that – that case has definitely taken a bunch of weird turns. This is
an odd duck case among all of the Mueller and Mueller derived
investigations thus far. It`s ultimately important to know, though, about
this Concord Management case that at every turn, at every incremental step
that we have been able to see thus far in the case, Concord Management and
their U.S. defense team have lost against Mueller`s prosecutors.
Everything they fought on, they have lost.
Today was no exception. Today the judge in the Concord Management case
issued her order on yet another request by concord management that they
should get yet more discovery materials as part of this case. The judge
ruled flatly: no, ruled against them full stop. No, they cannot have those
new discovery materials they`re asking for. They have lost at every step
of this case thus far, including today.
That same theme, that same little melody also seems to be applying when it
comes to the new case of Roger Stone, the long-time Trump political adviser
who was arrested at his home in Florida two weeks ago. Stone was charged
with seven felony counts for allegedly lying to Congress and witness
tampering and obstruction of justice. Roger Stone`s lawyers today tried to
make the case to the judge here in the Stone case, tried to tell the court
that the prosecutors acted illegally on the day that Roger Stone was
His lawyers told the court today that the indictment, the actual written
indictment of Roger Stone, it was illegally sent out to reporters before
Roger Stone was arrested while the indictment was supposed to still be
under seal that was their contention to the judge in the Stone case today.
To back it up, Mr. Stone`s lawyers then provided evidence to the court that
in fact the indictment of Mr. Stone was e-mailed out to reporters after
Stone was arrested. So, again, their big allegation to the court today was
hey, this indictment was sent out before Roger Stone was arrested. They
then provided written evidence to the court showing that the indictment was
sent out after Roger Stone was arrested. So, I mean, that`s a little bit
like calling in sick to work and then turning in a note from your doctor
that says Rachel`s fine. Like maybe the proof, supposed proof didn`t help.
So it`s starting to look like the Roger Stone case is not going all that
well either, although there is certainly lots to come. At this point he is
still pleading not guilty, still planning on going to trial. It should be
Now although this pattern seems to be clear on every legal case that we`ve
seen thus far on the Russia investigation, either directly from Mueller`s
office or from any of these associated prosecutions, so far, we have seen
this theme that nobody is faring well when it comes to these legal cases
being prosecuted. That said, a lot of these things are still in process.
It`s obviously not all done. It`s obviously not all settled.
Even today, there is a bunch of intriguing stuff that isn`t yet decided
that could go any way at all. For example, the D.C. Circuit Court of
Appeals, that`s a court that`s one level below the U.S. Supreme Court.
Today we found out from filings before that court that we`re likely to get
public access soon to some of the core materials in the mystery case. This
is the case that the special counsel`s office has been fighting out with an
unknown company that is wholly owned by an unknown foreign country.
We know the basics about this case. This company owned by a foreign
country got a subpoena from Mueller months ago in 2018. They have fought
to it the highest levels of the U.S. court system, including some elements
of this case that have gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their
contention is that they don`t have to comply with the subpoena from Mueller
basically because they`re owned by a foreign country.
But, again, like we`ve seen with all of these cases, as far as we can tell
with the mystery case, it appears that at every turn in this court case
thus far, they have lost. I mean, they`re fighting it out. They`re
fighting as I said all the way to the Supreme Court in some cases. But
they appear to have lost at every stage.
As far as we can tell from the heavily redacted filings that we have in the
mystery case, the company is now paying $50,000 per day every day as
punishment for them still refusing to comply with the subpoena because the
courts have ruled that they really do need to comply with the subpoena.
And, you know, this is a case that has been tied up in incredibly
highfaluting litigation for months now. It`s still not clear, I guess, in
the end if Mueller is going to get whatever it is he is demanding in the
subpoena from this company, but we did find out today that we the public
are going to have access to more material from that case within the next
few weeks, if today`s new court filings in that case are anything to go by.
We also learned today that this man, Sam Patten has finally been given a
sentencing date. Sam Patten pled guilty last August to failing to register
as a foreign agent working on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in
Ukraine. He also admitted to prosecutors that he helped a pro-Russian
Ukrainian oligarch illegally funnel foreign money into the Trump inaugural
Sam Patten pled guilty last August. He became a cooperating witness. What
we know of his business pasts and the filings in the case thus far show
that the case and his cooperation may be tied up not only to the Trump
inaugural committee, which was just subpoenaed last week by federal
prosecutors, but also to Konstantin Kilimnik with whom he was involved in
business relationships. Konstantin Kilimnik is the alleged Russian
intelligence figure who has himself been indicted by Mueller on witness
tampering charge. He is central to some of the most intriguing elements to
the Paul Manafort prosecution.
Sam Patten is tied to Konstantin Kilimnik. Sam Patten is also tied to
Cambridge Analytica, which, of course, was the Trump campaign data firm
during the election, around which there has been lots and lots of intrigue.
We found out today that Sam Patten will finally be sentenced on April 12th.
So, couple of months from now, a week in advance of that sentencing, in the
first week of April, we will get filings in his case that we expect to
detail the extent of his cooperation with federal prosecutors since he
plead guilty last summer.
Given all of the different elements of the scandal that Sam Patten is
potentially connected to, the inaugural, Kilimnik, Cambridge Analytica,
it`s going to be fascinating to see what he`s helped prosecutors with, when
he finally turns up in court and his case, which has been totally opaque to
us the public thus far gets laid out for the public, we will understand how
he fits into this puzzle as well. So, there`s definitely still stuff that
remains to be explained and that we will eventually learn as members of the
public who are watching all of this stuff.
There is definitely cases that aren`t over, trials that haven`t been held,
questions that haven`t been answered, stuff that hasn`t been unredacted and
unsealed for public viewing. But even in the middle of all those things,
in general, the theme, the melody is now quite recognizable. I mean, whose
won going up against the Mueller investigation or any of the related
prosecutions? Whose come out on the long end of the stick?
I mean, if you had to decide right now which party you would want to be in
any of these cases, if you were told hey, the news gods are going to plot
you personally into any of these ongoing cases that derive from the Mueller
investigation, would you rather be on the defense side or the prosecution
side? What do you think?
I mean, in every instance, you would rather be on the prosecution side
because of how poorly everybody has come out who has thus far been on the
defense. Even people who the special counsel`s office has called for
lenience about, people like Mike Flynn when independent federal judges get
a look at the evidence and the information supporting these cases, even
guys like Mike Flynn aren`t turning out well in court.
But that – that theme which we can hear running through all of these
different cases and all of these different stories that broke in today`s
news, it is loudest and clearest when it comes to the president`s campaign
chairman, Paul Manafort. As you know, Manafort was initially charged with
multiple felonies in October 2017. He and Trump`s deputy campaign chair
Rick Gates were then hit with another superseding indictment, another 32
felony counts this time last year, February of 2018.
In what was supposed to be the first of his two federal felony trials,
Manafort was convicted on eight felonies in the Eastern District of
Virginia. He then in September changed his mind and on the eve of the
start of his second federal trial, he decided to plead guilty and agree to
cooperate with prosecutors rather than go through with that second federal
Well, his cooperation deal with prosecutors we now know went poorly.
Within about ten weeks of him starting that supposed cooperation deal with
prosecutors, the special counsel`s office had advised the judge in the
Manafort case that Manafort was lying. Manafort had breached his plea
agreement, breached his cooperation agreement, and repeatedly lied to
prosecutors on multiple topics.
Since the prosecution team told the judge that Manafort had been lying to
them in late November, that has been the subject of lots and lots of
billable hours and a lot of back and forth involving Manafort`s defense
team and the prosecution and the judge. There have been tons of filings.
There have been multiple hearings. Tonight, the judge in the Manafort case
finally issued her ruling on the question of whether or not Manafort lied,
whether or not he breached his plea agreement and his cooperation agreement
when he lied to prosecutors.
And it sounds like a little process thing, but the significance of this is
hard to overstate when it comes to Paul Manafort`s life, his natural life
and the prospects for what`s going to happen in the rest of it. I mean,
he`s 70 years old. He does not appear to be in great health. He was
already looking at maybe ten years in prison based on the convictions he`s
already suffered at his first trial.
As a cooperating witness, he was clearly hoping to get little to no
additional time on the charges that would have been the subject of his
second trial. He was presumably also hoping for lenience against the
prison sentence he was expecting for his other convictions from his first
trial. We`ll get some expert advice on this tonight.
But my reading of this ruling tonight is he can now forget all that. I
mean, the judge in the Manafort case tonight seems to have kind of sealed
Manafort`s fate in an almost existential sense.
The judge tonight ruled on two matters. First, she ruled that Manafort did
breach the plea agreement. That means the office of special counsel,
Mueller`s office, is no longer bound by anything they agreed to with him,
and that means they can charge him with absolutely everything they believe
he has done and they can prove in court.
From the judge`s ruling tonight, quote: The office of special counsel is no
longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement, including its
promise to support a reduction of the offense level in the calculation of
the U.S. sentencing guidelines.
But then there is a second matter on which the judge rules as well. Quote,
but that is not the only question before the court to decide. The question
remains whether the defendant made intentionally false statements in
connection with the five matters that have been identified by the office of
special counsel as matters on which Manafort lied to them. Quote, the
answer bears upon the applicability of certain provisions of the sentencing
guidelines, in particular the adjustment for acceptance of responsibility
and bears more generally on the court`s assessment of the factors set forth
in the sentencing statute.
That`s the judge saying this is the part that really is going to have a big
impact on how many years I give him. I mean, again, prosecutors say
Manafort lied to them on five separate issues. What the judge ruled
specifically tonight is that on three of those five issues, she says
Manafort didn`t just lie, he lied to prosecutors intentionally. These are
Quote: The office of special counsel has established by a preponderance of
the evidence that concerning a $125,000 payment to Manafort, quote, a
matter that was material to the investigation. The judge continues, also,
the office of special counsel has established by a preponderance of the
evidence that defendant intentionally made multiple false statements to the
FBI, the office of special counsel and the grand jury concerning other
matters that were material to the investigation, namely, defendant`s
interactions and communications with Konstantin Kilimnik.
The judge also ruled that in some other DOJ investigation that we`re not
allowed to know what it was about, Manafort once again, quote,
intentionally made false statements that were material to the
So, again, we`ll get some expert advice on this in just a minute, but I
think basically this clears the way for this judge to move ahead with
sentencing Paul Manafort. The combination of him breaching his plea
agreement and being found by the judge who have intentionally lied to the
prosecutors on matters material to their investigation, that combination
implies that from here on out what Manafort is looking at in his case is no
credit for having been a cooperating witness. Maybe not even credit for
him pleading guilty, which usually counts in your favor because it shows
you have accepted responsibility for your actions.
And I think there is a chance that this might also mean that Manafort could
be looking at additional felony charges. Potentially, the reinstatement of
the felony charges that the special counsel`s office had agreed to drop in
exchange for his guilty plea. Potentially, they could reinstate the
additional 10 felony charges that he faced at his first trial on which the
jury was hung, on which they were not able to come to a verdict. I mention
that he is 70 years old already.
So, where we are in this as of tonight, where we are we in terms of this
devastating ruling for the president`s campaign chairman? I mean, in terms
of Paul Manafort, I think this is a doomsday situation for him in terms of
his own fate. Prosecutors have already raised to the judge in his case the
prospect that Manafort has been angling for a presidential pardon. They`ve
raised the possibility to the judge that that may explain some of
Manafort`s behavior thus far, even since he pled guilty and agreed to
We know from filings in Manafort`s case that his behavior, specifically
some of his behavior that involved that alleged Russian intelligence figure
Konstantin Kilimnik, in the word of the special counsel`s office, that`s
something that goes right to the heart of the central matter that Robert
Mueller is investigating.
I mean, stepping back for us just as citizens here, big picture, everything
has gone south for everybody who has been caught up as a defendant in any
of these investigations thus far. Nobody has won against Robert Mueller or
any of the prosecutors who have brought cases against these defendants in
conjunction with the Mueller investigation. Nobody has won. Everything
has gone south for every one of those defendants.
For the president`s campaign chair specifically Paul Manafort, things have
not just gone south for him, he is now at the South Pole. And if he has
just bottomed out in his case, if he has reached the end of the line, if he
is staring down the prospect of a sentence long enough to ensure that he
dies in federal prison, and if in fact there are elements of his case that
are central to the core question of the special counsel`s investigation,
which is Russia`s interference in our election and the Trump campaign`s
involvement in that, then it is starting to feel like we may know what the
final collision course is here between this president and the justice
department, including the special counsel.
And as that legal collision takes shape, literally tomorrow morning they`re
going vote in the Senate on Trump`s nominee to be the new attorney general.
Tomorrow morning is going to be the final confirmation vote on William
Barr. William Barr, who was chosen by Trump for the job and who will
overtly make no commitment that Mueller`s ultimate findings will be made
available to Congress let alone to the public.
Mueller thus far seems to be batting a thousand in all of the cases brought
in association with this scandal, but in some of these cases and in the
Manafort case in particular as of tonight, that means these prosecutions
are pushing this to the place where it ends for everybody involved, central
matters at the heart of the investigation with the cases coming to the end,
the defendants having lost in every way and in ways that put their free
life in question.
Will the Justice Department, will the special counsel`s office be allowed
to see this all the way through to the end? Will they be allowed to run
through the tape? Because in at least one of these central cases, we`re
The Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was just told by the House
Judiciary Committee tonight that they believe he may have lied under oath.
They want him back to clarify his testimony from last week, specifically
about his contact with the White House about prosecutions related to the
Russia investigation. The new attorney general, William Barr, is likely to
be confirmed tomorrow morning in the midst of all of this, while this
collision is happening.
This is not a test. Hold tight.
MADDOW: Tonight, the Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has been sent
this letter from the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Congressman Jerry
Nadler of New York. The letter advises Matt Whitaker that at his testimony
last week in Congress, quote: Members on both sides of the aisle found many
of your answers to be unsatisfactory, incomplete or contradicted by other
Contradicted by other evidence is a bad one. I mean, the Judiciary
Committee chairman is inviting Matt Whitaker to clarify his testimony, but
the implication of his letter, this contradicted by other evidence thing,
the implication here is that Matt Whitaker may have made false statements
to the committee while he was testifying under oath.
To be specific, Nadler says that the committee, quote, has identified
several individuals with direct knowledge of the phone calls you denied
receiving from the White House about the Justice Department`s prosecution
of long-time Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Mr. Whitaker said under oath in
his testimony that he did not have communications with the White House
about the Cohen prosecution. Jerry Nadler has advised him tonight that
they have identified several individuals who have direct knowledge of
Whitaker in fact having phone calls with the White House about that
prosecution. If Whitaker gave false testimony under oath, that`s going to
be a big deal.
As far as we know, there has been no response yet from the Justice
Department in general, or Matthew Whitaker in particular, but it will be
interesting to see how that response goes. It will be particularly
interesting just to see if Mr. Whitaker tries to invade, tries to evade
congressional oversight on this by virtue of the fact he is about to be no
longer a Justice Department employee, because as if there weren`t enough
going on today, tomorrow the Senate is expected to vote on a new attorney
general to replace Matt Whitaker. William Barr is on track to win
confirmation from the Republican-controlled Senate as the new head of the
Department of Justice.
In his confirmation hearing last month, of course, Mr. Barr was notably
indirect and noncommittal on what he will do with any findings from special
counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation. Barr said he could not say
whether he would make any of those findings public or even let Congress see
Across the Capitol in the U.S. House, however, the Democratic majority
there has suggested there may be some remedies for Congress and maybe even
the public getting access to what Robert Mueller finds in his
investigation. The House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff says yes, he
pretty much is willing to subpoena any Mueller report if there is one and
if need be. I also have questions as to whether the chairman believes it
would be possible to get testimony from Robert Mueller about any of his
findings in his investigation, separate and apart from any report that
Mueller may provide to William Barr or whoever is the next A.G.
Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the chair of the House
Mr. Chairman, it`s good to have you with us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thank you.
It`s great to be with you.
MADDOW: There is a lot going on. I have a ton of things I want to ask you
about tonight. But I`d actually like to ask you first about this sort of
breaking news that we`re following tonight, this ruling from the judge in
the Paul Manafort case, ruling that Mr. Manafort intentionally lied to
prosecutors after he had agreed to cooperate with them. As both the chair
of the Intelligence Committee and as a former prosecutor yourself, I just
wanted to ask you your sense of how important this ruling is.
SCHIFF: Well, it`s going to be devastating to Manafort. He is going to
get none of the benefit of the plea agreement, and I think he is likely to
have the judge throw the book at him. I mean, look, this is someone who
after he`s arrested, while he is being tried is found to be witness
tampering, and then he agrees to cooperate and he`s found to be lying.
I mean, it`s hard to have a record more appalling than that to the judge.
What I also think is significant is it appears the judge has largely agreed
with what the special counsel argued, and that is not only did he lie, but
the motivation here is if he told the truth about his relationship with
someone affiliated with Russian intelligence while he was the campaign
chairman, that would be so damaging effectively to Trump that it would
negate his chance of a pardon.
That to me is quite telling. It`s not just that if he told the truth, it
would be damaging to Manafort or Kilimnik, but it would reflect so
adversely on the president that he would lose his chance of a pardon, and
there is obviously more to that when we find out about those meetings with
MADDOW: Are you worried – I mean, one of the things the prosecutor
suggested here is something that – one thing that might explain some of
Mr. Manafort`s behavior, including when it comes to his interaction was
prosecutors is that he might have been angling for a pardon from Mr. Trump.
Now that Mr. Manafort`s case appears to have come to this crashing end, as
you say, it looks like the judge has no reason to not absolutely throw the
book at him.
Are you expecting or concerned? Do you have any thoughts on the prospect
that this is the moment at which the president might feel most inclined to
talk about a pardon when it comes to Manafort?
SCHIFF: It certainly is a concern, because if there was ever a president
to abuse the pardon power, it`s likely to be this one. I think Manafort
was trying to play it both ways. He wanted to angle for a pardon with the
president. At the same time, he knew he could get stiffed by the president
because the president, after all, doesn`t care about Manafort or anyone
else. He cares about Donald Trump.
And so, he wanted at the same time to try to minimize his sentence and
reduce his exposure there. And still hold out the prospect of a pardon.
But I think he clearly felt that he couldn`t maintain any possibility of a
pardon if he was honest about what kind of a relationship the campaign had
through him with this Russian intelligence-linked individual.
MADDOW: Mr. Chairman, if you don`t mind, I`d like to ask you to stay while
we have a quick break there are a couple of other matters that arose in
today`s news and that are going to be important tomorrow. I`d like to ask
that you stick with us.
MADDOW: All right. Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Congressman
Adam Schiff, joins us again when we come back.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re back now with the chairman of the Intelligence Committee in
the House, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for staying with us.
SCHIFF: You bet.
MADDOW: Tomorrow, William Barr, by most accounts, by all accounts is
expected to be confirmed as the next attorney general of the United States.
As you know, during the course of his confirmation proceedings, he would
not confirm to the Senate, he would not pledge to the Senate that he would
allow any findings from Robert Mueller`s investigation to be released to
Congress, let alone to the public.
I wonder in your role as the chairman of the intelligence committee if you
feel like that`s the final word on that, or if you feel like you with your
own powers as chairman and the powers of your committee, if you would have
some way to access those findings, even if Mr. Barr decided that you
shouldn`t see them.
SCHIFF: It`s certainly not the last word, and we will use every form of
compulsion we can to make sure that we get the report, that we make the
report public, and we may need well more than the report. You know, one of
the facts that I think it`s very important for people to know is the
special counsel`s office is in possession of evidence that it may be
impossible to get except for from the special counsel.
And to give you an illustration, there were searches done of Roger Stone.
There were searches done of Paul Manafort. There were searches done of
Michael Cohen. That evidence, some of it reportedly, for example, in the
form of hard drives from Roger Stone, there may be no other way for the
Congress to get except through the Justice Department, which means that if
Bill Barr as attorney general decides you`re not going get to see that
evidence, we`re not going to include that evidence in any report to
Congress, the American people may never know exactly what happened.
That is unsustainable. The American people are going to demand it. We`re
going demand it. We`re going use every compulsion we can to get it.
It`s too big to be swept under the rug. And I want to make this point,
too, Rachel, and that is it`s not just whether we get a report. It`s also
what kind of a report we get. The attorney general could have a role in
telling the special counsel what kind of a report, whether it`s skeletal,
whether it`s extensive to file, believing that the report will be made
So maybe we will shape the report before it`s produced. So, there are all
kinds of ways to play mischief here, but we`re determined to get to the
MADDOW: There was a letter sent by your colleague, Chairman Jerry Nadler
of the Judiciary Committee to the acting attorney general, to Matt Whitaker
tonight, suggesting that he – well, telling him that he needs to clarify
his testimony before Congress last week, and suggesting that Mr. Whitaker
may have lied under oath, may have not spoken truthfully under oath last
week when he denied that he had communications with the White House about
the Michael Cohen prosecution. There are a few other matters that Mr.
Nadler raised in this letter to Whitaker.
And that`s interesting about Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker we believe is on
the way out, but it also raises this prospect that the White House has been
through its contacts at the Justice Department, through its appointees at
the Justice Department, that they have been trying to get information or
trying to put pressure on what the Justice Department is doing.
Do you know that they have done that one way or the other? And do you
think it has had an effect on what the Justice Department or even the
special counsel has been able to pursue?
SCHIFF: I don`t know the answer. You know, he will say this, though.
This is someone who has refused to follow the advice of ethics lawyers.
So, you know, you start out with a great skepticism about whether you`re
getting the full story from someone like that. This is someone who
obviously auditioned for the part by showing his hostility to the
And I think that the Judiciary Committee needs to demand answer, and if
there is credible reason to believe he has not been truthful, they need to
do everything necessary to hold him accountable. And the fact that he`s
leaving the Justice Department doesn`t make him any less accessible to the
Congress. Indeed, in many respects, it makes him more accessible. It`s
less of an issue of pulling him out of his responsibilities as acting
So, you know, we need to get answers, particularly if there is any question
about his truthfulness, what he has shared with the White House about any
MADDOW: Chairman Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee – sir, I
really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much for being with
SCHIFF: Thank you.
MADDOW: I should correct something that I said earlier in the show
tonight. I said in the middle of a long string of things in the a block
tonight that Paul Manafort, the president`s campaign chair, who is in so
much legal trouble as of tonight, I said that he is a 70-year-old man. He
is apparently a 69-1/2-year-old man, and I did not mean to round up.
I know when you get close to a round number it can be an even more
sensitive subject than usual. So to the extent that I made Mr. Manafort
shy of his few months of his actual age, I apologize.
Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don`t think they decide (ph) if
they wait for Bob Mueller – you know, for the Mueller report, for the one
that comes of Russia. Congress back in Watergate times didn`t wait for
Leon Jaworski or Archibald Cox to finish a report. They have a negative
impact on an ongoing investigation. But I think they just need to be
responsible, serious, and focus on consequential things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Former Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder speaking
in Des Moines, Iowa, last night, after a speech at Drake University. That
was him speaking with reporters. And no, Eric Holder is not from Des
Moines, Iowa. And yes, it is that time of year when political figures
mysteriously turning up in Iowa always means the same thing.
Attorney General Holder has not announced that he is running for president
in 2020, but he was there in Iowa last night giving that speech and then
afterwards talking with reporters about a number of things, including the
Mueller investigation and Congress` responsibilities in light of that
investigation. Holder says he will decide whether or not he is running for
president soon, by next month. Of course it would be fascinating to have
the guy who very recently used to run the Justice Department hanging out on
the campaign trail every day, available to weigh in on whatever new
developments there are, not just in our politics in general, but also in
the Trump-Russia investigation as it comes to this crucial phase. We`ll
find out next month about that, whether or not he`s going to run.
In the meantime, though, there are continuing develops – develops. There
are continuing developments in the Russia investigation that I mentioned at
the top of the show tonight with particularly devastating implications for
the Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. We do not have Eric Holder here
next to talk about them, but we do have an incredibly talented former
prosecutor to talk us through what it means, not just for Manafort but for
the rest of us. And that`s next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Barbara McQuade. She`s a former U.S. attorney
from the great state of Michigan.
Barbara, it`s great to have you with us tonight. Thanks for being here.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, thanks. Glad to be here,
MADDOW: I want just to get your top line reaction to this ruling in the
Manafort case. The judge ruling even after he was supposedly cooperating,
Manafort still lied intentionally to prosecutors, among other things about
his contact with this guy linked to Russian intelligence.
What does this ruling mean materially for what`s going to happen next to
MCQUADE: It`s a very significant development for Paul Manafort. He has
gone from facing maybe guidelines of maybe eight to ten years with this
cooperation reduction, which could be applied concurrently with his
sentence in the Eastern District of Virginia, to now a sentencing guideline
range that is 24 to 30 years. I don`t know that he`ll get all of that, but
he could face that length of time by breaching this plea agreement.
So very, very significant consequences, which makes you really wonder what
is it that caused him to lie, knowing that he was facing such severe
consequences if he did.
MADDOW: And what happens next in terms of the timing? We were – we
watched him go through his first trial. He was about to go through his
second trial. That got called off because of his guilty plea and his plea
Now, the plea agreement is breached and nobody`s bound by it anymore. Does
this mean his case is essentially over now and the judge will go ahead and
sentence him? Does he potentially go on trial for the other stuff he was
otherwise about to go on trial for in that second felony trial proceeding
MCQUADE: So he could. My guess is that he won`t. The agreement says
basically the government gets all the benefits of this bargain and the
defendant gets none of them now that he has breached.
And so his guilty plea can stand, but they can sentence him to the max, so
all the benefits that he got in exchange. If they wanted to, they could
charge him with all of the additional things that were dismissed. In light
of the substantial amount of time he`s facing, I doubt they would expend
the resources to do that. They can probably already get – a sentence
longer than his natural life, so I don`t know that they will go ahead and
do any of those things.
They can also charge him with additional crimes for making false
statements. But, again, in light of the amount of time he`s already
facing, it seems that there would be no need to do that.
MADDOW: Right. If he`s already looking – as you said the guideline is 24
MCQUADE: Yes. Years.
MADDOW: Wow. Usually we talk about months when we talk about sentences.
In his case, a 69-year-old man, a 30-year sentence, that`s the whole
Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from Michigan, thank you so much for
being here, Barb.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The markup started at 10:00 a.m. on HR-8 which would require
anyone selling a gun to run a background check on the person buying it.
Today, the Judiciary Committee in the House met to make their final tweaks
to that bill and then vote on it. They started at process at 10:00 a.m.
The markup lasted all day, fast forward to 8:13 p.m. Eastern Time, more
than ten hours later, quote, House Judiciary just passed HR-8. This is the
first major gun violence legislation to pass the committee in several
When the hearing was gaveled to a close, people who had been sitting in
that hearing room for ten-plus hours got up and cheered. After ten hours.
Again, this is background checks, the first gun reform to pass this
committee in a very, very long time. Now it goes on to the full house.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the