Trump declares National Emergency for border wall. TRANSCRIPT: 2/15/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Dahlia Lithwick

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  – representatives who represent those areas.


Stacey Mitchell (ph) and Josh Barro, thanks for joining us. 




HAYES:  That is ALL IN for this evening. 


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


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  I`m like filing at my



HAYES:  There is lots of paper. 


MADDOW:  I got some exhibits.  I`ve got some other filings.  I`ve got –


HAYES:  Well, I`m confused.  I`m going to watch THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW to

get a better sense of what happened, because I do this for a living but I`m

confused what got filed. 


MADDOW:  I will tell you, the cliff notes version is that one really

important thing that happened with Manafort, and an intriguing thing.




MADDOW:  But something important with Roger Stone case, of all things

today.  It had nothing to do with the gag order. 


HAYES:  Right, with the warrant.  What we learned with the warrant. 


MADDOW:  Right, and the thing in the Michael Cohen case today that came out

of Congress is a big deal.  This is a real triple whammy. 


HAYES:  I think it would be funny if I got a private version of the Rachel

A block every day.  It`s like 60-second digest at the top during the throw. 


MADDOW:  You come into my office at any time.  If you hide under my desk

for any 15-second period of time, I mumble enough to get most of it out. 


Thanks, my friend.  Have a great weekend. 


HAYES:  Thanks.


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

those Fridays. 


And as I mentioned to Chris, there is sort of a triple whammy going on

right now in terms of the Russia investigation and big legal developments

tonight.  But there`s a lot of different type of news that we are watching



For example, we are still getting in new reporting tonight about the mass

shooting that took place today in Aurora, Illinois.  What we know now is at

least five people dead, multiple others injured from this mass shooting

that took place at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, keeping in

mind that initial reports from major mass shootings are often later revised

in terms of our factual understanding of what happened.  With that caveat,

I should tell you that preliminarily reports make it seem what happened

here was a single shooter, a 45-year-old man.  He was ultimately killed by



Authorities tell us that of the people who were shot and injured in this

mass shooting, at least five were police officers themselves.  So, again,

that means we think we`re talking about five injured police officers, five

non-police officers, five civilians killed and the shooter himself killed

on top of that.  So, we are watching that story as it continues to develop. 

We`ll let you know more as we know more. 


Today started, of course, with the president declaring a national emergency

to try to give himself a sort of legal way to take money, mostly from the

military, to build a wall between us and Mexico, despite the fact that

Congress will not appropriate the money that the president wants for that

purpose.  Immediately upon declaring this emergency today, the president in

what appeared to be a little bit of an ad lib, he blurted out, I didn`t

need to do this.  I kid you not.  That`s an exact quote.  “I didn`t need to

do this.”


That`s not the right thing to say if you are trying to convey the idea that

you really did have to do this because this is supposedly some kind of

emergency that`s forcing your hand.  Almost immediately after he said “I

didn`t need to do this,” the president then went on to the rest of his

presidential day, which culminated in him this afternoon getting on a plane

and flying to Florida to be think go play golf for the whole weekend, which

is fine.  Nothing against golf.  But, again, it`s just not on message when

you`re supposed to be proclaiming a stop, drop and roll, everybody freak

out crisis moment for the country. 


If it`s an emergency, is it OK that you`re going to go golfing for the rest

of the day?  Shouldn`t you be handling the emergency?  Or is the emergency

actually something, like you said, that you didn`t need to proclaim?


Suffice to say there is a near national consensus that the emergency the

president proclaimed today does not exist in reality.  Protesters outside

of one of the Trump properties in New York City tonight proclaimed that

they believe, however, that there is an emergency.  Their chant tonight was

“Trump is the emergency.  Trump is the emergency.”  We`ll have more on that

later on in the show tonight. 


But in the front row of the national emergency announcement today, for what

it was worth, there was a new face, one who we are all going to see a lot

of from here on out.  Today was the first full day on job for the new

Attorney General William Barr, who was confirmed by the Senate yesterday.


Upon him being sworn in last night in the Oval Office, the husband of a top

White House staffer posted this comment online.  Quote: Tomorrow will be

the first day that the president will have a fully operational confirmed

attorney general.  Let that sink in.  Mueller will be gone soon. 


I don`t know what it means to be a fully operational attorney general.  But

since that comment is coming from a person who is married to a senior White

House staffer, that at least serves as some evidence of what the White

House may be expecting from Bill Barr now that he is taking over at the

Justice Department.  And it may be so.  Maybe now that Bill Barr has

started as attorney general, maybe Mueller will be gone soon, but Mueller

was definitely still at work today. 


Part of the reason I said right at the top here that this is one of those

days when a lot is going on all at once is that three big things happened

in quick secession this afternoon and into tonight on three big cases that

derive from Mueller`s investigation.  The biggest one is the one that came

down latest, late tonight concerning the president`s campaign chair Paul

Manafort.  There was this dramatic ruling earlier this week, you`ll

remember, in which a federal judge in D.C. declared that Manafort in fact

did breach his cooperation agreement with prosecutors.  The judge ruled

that in fact Manafort intentionally lied to prosecutors about important

things, about matters that were material to their investigation, including

the extent of his contacts with someone who prosecutors say is linked to

Russian intelligence. 


So, that ruling happened a couple of days ago this week.  After that ruling

this week, prosecutors in the special counsel`s office moved quickly to

start the process of Manafort finally getting sentenced for his crimes. 


Now, Manafort is facing sentencing both in the eastern district of

Virginia, which is where he had his trial.  That`s where he was convicted

of eight felonies.  He`s also facing sentencing in Washington, D.C.  That`s

the court where he pled guilty to two felonies and started what was

supposed to be his deal with prosecutors, which he blew up by lying to



Well, tonight we`ve just received the recommendation from Mueller`s office

as to how much time they think Manafort should spend in prison based just

on the eight felony counts for which he was convicted in Virginia.  So

separate and apart from whatever he might get in D.C., Mueller`s

prosecutors are recommending that the president`s campaign chairman spend

between 19 1/2 years and 24 1/2 years in prison.  Again, just for the

felonies for which he was convicted in Virginia.  Separate and apart from

what he`s going to get in D.C.


Now for a man who is about to turn 70, that means prosecutors are

recommending what is in effect a natural life sentence for Paul Manafort. 

You will recall that there is no parole in the federal prison system.  So,

19 to 24 years.  We`re going to get to that Manafort situation in a little

more detail in a second. 


But this sentencing recommendation from these prosecutors, it not only

spells out what they`re hoping to get from the judge in Virginia in terms

of Manafort`s sentence.  What`s interesting about it and what`s worth

taking a closer look at in terms of the prosecutor`s memo tonight, is that

they also in making this case to the judge, they summarized what they

believed to have been Manafort`s crimes and their seriousness and whether

or not he`s done other things on top of those crimes that mean he should

have even more of the book thrown at him.  So it is worth looking at that

in detail and we`re going to get there in just a moment. 


Before we do that, though, we shouldn`t let the sort of magnitude of what

just happened with the president`s campaign chair, we shouldn`t let that

push aside a couple of other really important things that happened today

before we get the Manafort sentencing memo.  So there are a couple of other

things that basically got ripe and fell off the tree today when it comes to

two other cases that derive from Mueller`s investigation. 


The first one is about Roger Stone, President Trump`s longtime adviser.  He

was arrested at his home in Florida three weeks ago today.  Mr. Stone has

pleaded not guilty to seven felony charges.  He says he wants to go to

trial.  He says he`s innocent of everything he has been charged with. 


But one of the interesting things about Roger Stone`s indictment right from

the get-go is that on the front page of that indictment, prosecutors

notified the court that they considered his case to have a sibling.  They

considered his case to be formally legally related to this other case that

has this case number that you can see here 18cr215. 


That case is the Mueller indictment of a dozen Russian military

intelligence officers.  That case is the GRU indictment.  One of the core

indictments of Mueller`s investigation was that GRU indictment from last

year.  In that indictment, Mueller charged Russian military intelligence

officers with, quote, conspiring to hack into the computers of U.S. persons

and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to steal

documents from those computers and to stage releases of the stolen

documents to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. 


That`s how Mueller`s prosecutors have sort of nutted up that indictment. 

That`s what those GRU officers were charged with.  Now, Roger Stone and his

attorneys had objected to the Roger Stone case being formally legally

linked to the GRU case.  They had complained about it formally to the



Why do they care?  Well, one of the material consequences of having your

case legally linked to another case is that all legally, formally related

cases all get heard by the same judge.  So when Roger Stone and his lawyers

started complaining to the court that his case shouldn`t have been

described as related to the GRU indictment, what they were really saying is

that they didn`t want Roger Stone`s case to be heard by the same judge who

is dealing with the GRU case.  He was effectively arguing that he wanted to

be assigned to a different judge. 


Roger Stone and his lawyers today failed in that effort.  That same judge

is keeping his case.  That ruling from the judge came very quickly today

after Robert Mueller and the D.C. U.S. attorney`s office filed a response

with the court, laying out why in fact the Roger Stone case and the GRU

case are all about the same thing.  And in the course of making that

argument to the court, we learned from the special counsel`s office today

that some of the GRU defendants, some of these Russian military

intelligence officers who have been charged by Mueller for interfering in

the election, some of those defendants, and in the course of making that

argument to the court, we learned from the special counsel`s office today

that some of the GRU defendants, some of these Russian military

intelligence officers who have been charged by Mueller for interfering in

the election, some of those defendants, according to prosecutors, quote,

interacted directly with Roger Stone concerning stolen materials posted



Prosecutors also explain how they ended up with evidence against Roger

Stone when they seized material for the Russian military intelligence case. 

Quote, as alleged in the GRU indictment, in 2016, the GRU defendants stole

documents from the DNC, the Democratic Party, from the DCCC, from the

Democratic campaign committee and the Clinton campaign chair. 


Those defendants then released many of the stolen documents, including

through a website maintained by WikiLeaks.  In the course of investigating

that activity, the government obtained and executed dozens of search

warrants on various accounts used to facilitate the transfer of stolen

documents for release, as well as to discuss the timing and promotion of

their release.  Several of those search warrants were executed on accounts

that contained Roger Stone`s communications.  His communications with

Guccifer 2.0, a fictitious online persona created by the GRU.  They said

they also obtained stone`s communications with WikiLeaks. 


Quote: Evidence obtained from those search warrants resulted in the

allegations that the GRU defendants hacked and stole documents for release

through intermediaries, including WikiLeaks, and that Stone lied to a

congressional committee investigating among other things the activities of

WikiLeaks regarding those stolen documents.  So, the same search warrant

turned up the evidence that led to the charges against these Russian

military intelligence officers, that they hacked and stole documents for

release during the campaign.  They used WikiLeaks as part of their

distribution channel for doing that. 


That same search warrant turned up the information that led to stone being

charged for lying to Congress about their investigation, among other

things, WikiLeaks.  So that`s Mueller`s prosecutors today telling a federal

judge in Washington, D.C. that they`ve got the communications between Roger

Stone and Russian military intelligence.  They`ve also got the

communication between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks concerning these stolen

Democratic documents that the Russian hacked and then staged for

distribution during the campaign in a way that was designed to cause

maximum damage to Hillary Clinton and maximum benefit to Donald Trump. 


Upon getting that argument and those declarations from Robert Mueller and

the special counsel`s office, explaining all of the links between Roger

Stone and Russian military intelligence that they turned up through their

evidentiary searches, the judge then promptly ruled against Roger Stone. 

No, she is not giving up that case.  She will be hearing that case because

it is related to the GRU case.  Clearly, these two cases are related



So that happened today.  And then soon thereafter, a curveball development

in the criminal case that derives from the Mueller investigation that

concerns president Trump`s longtime attorney Michael Cohen.  Now, Cohen, as

you know, is about to start a federal prison sentence early next month for

multiple felony charges, including two campaign finance felonies.  He`s

going to prison for three years. 


Those campaign finance felonies he`s going to jail for concern about

$250,000 in hush money that was paid to two different women ahead of the

2016 election to prevent those women from going public with their

allegations they had had extramarital affairs with Donald Trump.  And I

know that of all the things that President Trump is potentially implicated

in in all of these scandals, the hush money to the ladies thing, of

everything, it just doesn`t feel like the thing that should be following

him home every night looking more and more like a metaphorical Grim Reaper

all the time, right? 


But think about everything that that alleged crime, well, that confessed

crime when it comes to Michael Cohen, think about all of the things that

have fallen apart and that are in jeopardy because of that one pair of

felonies.  His longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen is going to prison

for that and he has effectively flipped against the president and become a

cooperating witness for the special counsel`s office on the way to that

prison sentence.  And as part of that prosecution of that case, when it

came to Michael Cohen, prosecutors identified the president as individual

one, as the person who not only benefitted from those campaign finance

felonies but who directed that those felonies be committed. 


Those crimes, of course, also touch on the president`s campaign, since the

president`s campaign was the beneficiary of those illegal contributions. 

It also touches on a company called AMI, the publisher of the “National

Enquirer”, supermarket tabloid. 


AMI was involved in the commission of one of those felonies.  That firm and

its executives are being looked at by prosecutors right now for having

potentially violated the cooperation agreement they entered into with

prosecutors to avoid being prosecuted themselves for their role in one of

those felonies.  AMI agreed as part of that non-prosecution agreement that

they would commit no other crimes for at least three years. 


Prosecutors are now reportedly looking at whether, in fact, AMI has

committed other crimes since entering into that agreement.  If so, that

non-prosecution agreement with AMI is blown up and that company and its

executives may be liable, not just for their confessed role in that

campaign finance felony that is sending Michael Cohen to prison, but for

anything else they disclose to prosecutors over the course of their

cooperation as well.  Eek. 


That same crime, however small it may seem, it also implicates the

president`s business, the Trump Organization, since the Trump Organization

appears to be the entity through which some of those illegal campaign funds

were effectively laundered.  We know that the chief financial officer for

the Trump Organization has been cooperating at least to some extent with

prosecutors on this matter, and he may have secured for himself an immunity

deal in relation to that cooperation. 


And now on top of all of that, still deriving from those same felonies,

now, tonight, Congressman Elijah Cummings, the estimable chairman of the

House Oversight Committee in the House, has just published these 19 pages

of notes.  Some of them are typed.  A lot of them are redacted.  Some of

them are hand scrawled and very hard to read. 


These are notes from the Office of Government Ethics.  Congressman Cummings

has released these notes.  He has also released to the public a letter to a

Trump Organization lawyer.  He`s also released to the public a new letter

he has sent to the White House counsel. 


Those letters demand information related to those hush money payments and

those letters make the explosive allegation that it`s not just Michael

Cohen, that two additional Trump lawyers, one who worked in the White House

and another lawyer who represents Trump in a personal capacity, she was

actually the one who orchestrated that stunt during the transition where

Trump sat there by the big piles of papers and supposedly handed over

control of his business to his sons.  The lawyer who orchestrated that and

another lawyer who worked in the White House, according to Elijah Cummings

tonight, they themselves may be in trouble for making false statement about

those hush money payments. 


Quote, new documents obtained by the committee from the office of

government ethics describe false information provided by the lawyers

representing President Trump, including Sheri Dillon, President Trump`s

personal attorney, and Stephen Passantino, former deputy White House

counsel for compliance and ethics, eek, who has now left the White House to

represent the Trump organization.  President Trump`s former attorney

Michael Cohen is now going to prison in part for his role in these hush

money payments.  During his guilty plea, Mr. Cohen said he did this in

coordination with and at the direction of the president for the principal

purpose of influencing the election. 


Congressman Cummings continues, quote: It now appears that President

Trump`s other attorneys at the White House and in private practice may have

provided false information about these payments to federal officials.  This

raises significant questions about why some of the president`s closest

advisers made these false claims and the extent to which they too were

acting at the direction of or in coordination with the president.  One of

the president`s lawyers is already going to prison for his role in covering

up those hush money payments. 


Now, here`s a couple more who Elijah Cummings says are potentially on the

hook related to those payments as well, and not just the payments in their

case but the cover-up of the payments. 


So, the Cohen prosecution on the hush money payments, Cohen being

prosecuted for those campaign finance felonies, him being prosecuted for

those campaign finance felonies and naming the president as the person who

directed him to commit those felonies, that is dramatic enough on its own

terms, but that case is turning out to be a legal nightmare for lots of

other individuals and entities that surround the president, from his

business life, from his political life before he got elected and even know

from his life as president.  This is all today.  So, dramatic developments

today on the Roger Stone case, on the Michael Cohen case and related cases,

but as I mentioned, the really big kahuna tonight is what just happened to

the president`s campaign chair, to Paul Manafort, with prosecutors telling

one of the two federal judges who is due to sentence him soon that they

want a 19 to 24-year prison term for him plus potentially tens of millions

of dollars in fines and restitution. 


The implications of this are not just bad for Paul Manafort.  In some

cases, they are revelatory and that story is next.  Stay with us.




MADDOW:  As the new Attorney General William Barr today started his first

day on the job as head of the Justice Department, leading the husband of

one senior White House staffer to proclaim online that William Barr

starting as A.G. means, quote, Mueller will soon be gone. 


As William Bar took the reins at the Justice Department for his first day

today, this is what prosecutors in Robert Mueller`s office told a federal

judge tonight, who is starting the sentencing process for President Trump`s

campaign chairman, Paul J. Manafort. 


This is what they told the judge.  Quote: The United States of America, by

and through special counsel Robert S. Mueller, files this submission to

address the sentencing of the defendant Paul J. Manafort Jr.  As an initial

matter, the government agrees with the guidelines analysis in the

presentence investigation report, and its calculation of the defendant`s

total offense level as 38 with a corresponding range of imprisonment of 235

to 293 months.  That`s 19 1/2 years to 24 1/2 years in prison, a fine range

of $50,000 to $24.4 million, restitution in the amount of $24.8 million and

forfeiture in the amount of $4.4 million. 


The defendant stands convicted of the serious crimes of tax fraud, bank

fraud and failing to file a foreign bank account report.  Manafort was the

lead perpetrator and direct beneficiary of each offense.  And while some of

these offenses are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about

the millions of dollars involved in the defendant`s crimes, the duration of

his criminal conduct or the sophistication of his schemes. 


Footnote one.  Footnote one reads, quote, Manafort was being investigated

prior to the May 2017 appointment of the special counsel by prosecutors in

this district, meaning in the Eastern District of Virginia, and by

prosecutors in the criminal division of the Department of Justice.  Oh. 

They were already pursuing Manafort before Mueller was ever appointed. 


Quote, Manafort committed these crimes over an extended period of time from

at least 2010 to 2016.  His criminal decisions were not momentary or

limited in time, they were routine, and Manafort`s repeated

misrepresentations to financial institutions were brazen.  At least some of

which were made when he was the subject of significant national attention. 


Neither the probation department nor the government is aware of any

mitigating factors.  Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity

are hardship.  He was well-educated, professionally successful and

financially well off.  He nonetheless cheated the U.S. Treasury and the

public of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial

resources.  Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity

because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when

his overseas income dwindled. 


Finally, Manafort pled guilty in September 2018 in the U.S. district court

for the District of Columbia to other crimes committed over an even longer

period.  The government references those crimes below in particular because

they demonstrate the defendant`s concerted criminality, including the

conduct to which he pled guilty from as early as 2005 and continuing up

until the defendant`s involvement in an obstruction of justice conspiracy

between February and April of 2018.  A crime Manafort committed while under

indictment in two jurisdictions and subject to court ordered bail



Quote, in the end, Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were

above the law and deprived the federal government and various financial

institutions of millions of dollars.  The sentence here should reflect the

seriousness of these crimes and serve to deter both Manafort and others

from engaging in such conduct.  No mitigating factors. 


In addition, prosecutors also tell the judge that Manafort deserves an

enhancement of his sentence because he was effectively the leader of other

people in committing this criminal scheme.  Quote, Manafort controlled the

money at issue.  He recruited others to facilitate these crimes and he

claimed a larger share of the proceeds. 


Further, Manafort was plainly the leader.  He involved numerous individuals

who were both knowing and unknowing participants in the criminal scheme. 

These included Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.  Manafort`s tax

preparers, his bookkeepers and others in Cyprus who were involved in

originating and maintaining the defendant`s overseas accounts. 


Under the factor set forth in the guidelines, the leadership enhancement is

warranted, which means there is something that gets colloquially referred

to as the leadership enhancement that makes your sentence worse.  They say

he should get that.  The prosecutors also say he deserves another sentence

enhancement for using sophisticated means to commit his crimes. 


On page 19 of their submission, prosecutors say Manafort should be given

zero credit in his sentencing for accepting responsibility for his crimes. 

They say he also should get no credit for that in part because he didn`t

plead guilty to anything in Virginia case, in part because he breached his

cooperation agreement in the D.C. case and lied to prosecutors after he did

plead guilty there.  They say he also shouldn`t get that, in part, because

now he still isn`t handing over the financial materials he`s supposed to

hand over as part of his sentencing process. 


Here is the big windup from prosecutors against the president`s campaign

chairman.  Quote, Manafort`s history and characteristics are aggravating

factors.  Manafort has had every opportunity to succeed.  He`s well-

educated and a member of the legal profession, attending Georgetown

University for college and law school.  He was a successful political

consultant, both in the United States and abroad.  There they footnote Rick

Gates talking about how brilliant Manafort was at his job. 


Quote, Manafort`s age does not eliminate the risk of recidivism he poses,

particularly given that his pattern of criminal activity has occurred over

more than a decade and that the most recent crimes he pled guilty to

occurred from February to April of last year.  When he conspired to

tampered with witnesses at a time when he was under indictment in two

separate districts.  Further, as Judge Jackson in D.C. found, Manafort`s

misconduct continued as recently as October 2018, when he repeatedly and

intentionally lied to the government during proffer sessions and the grand



For a decade, Paul Manafort repeatedly violated the law, considering only

the crimes charged in this district, they make plain that Manafort chose to

engage in a sophisticated scheme to hide millions of dollars from U.S.

authorities.  And when his foreign income stream dissipated in 2015, he

chose to engage in a series of bank frauds in the U.S. to maintain his

extravagant lifestyle at the expense of various financial institutions. 

Manafort chose to do this for no other reason than greed, evidencing his

belief that the law doesn`t apply to him.  Manafort solicited numerous

professionals others to reap his ill-gotten gains. 


The sentence in this case must taken to account the gravity of his conduct

and serve to specifically deter Manafort and deter those who would commit a

similar series of crimes.  That`s signed on behalf of the special counsel`s

office.  They are recommending 19 1/2 years to 24 1/2 years in prison and

fines and restitution of up to tens of millions of dollars. 


Now, this is just the filing from the prosecutors.  We will now expect

quickly to see a filing from Manafort`s defense team that says, seriously,

you guys, don`t be crazy.  He`s a boy scout who missed a few merit badges. 

Community service would be more than appropriate, your honor.  I`m

paraphrasing what I expect.


But given these guideline ranges, given the felonies that Manafort has been

convicted of in this case, and given the fact that this is the first of

Manafort`s two federal sentencing processes, this is only the first judge

who is going to sentence him.  I think tonight what maybe important for all

of us, not just for Paul Manafort as a person in this case, not just the

president`s campaign chair in terms of what this says about the president`s

campaign, right? 


What may be important for the country here is that this is very much

looking like the end of the line for Paul Manafort.  I mean, what was he

thinking in blowing up his plea deal by lying intentionally to prosecutors

from the special counsel`s office?  I mean, he had to know they were going

to catch him, given everything else they caught him on. 


Well, the judge says one of the things Manafort intentionally lied to

prosecutors about was the extend of his communications with the guy who

prosecutors say is linked to Russian intelligence.  Just think about that

for a second.  That`s what he deliberately lied to prosecutors about, even

after he had entered into a cooperation deal with him, when he knew that

lying would be essentially a fatal offense. 


That means at great personal expense, at the cost of potentially dying in

prison, Paul Manafort, the president`s campaign chairman lied to cover up

the channel of communication or at least a channel of communication between

the Trump campaign when he was chairman and Russian intelligence during the

time that Russia was interfering in the U.S. presidential election to help

his candidate, to help president Trump.  He was deliberately lying to

prosecutors about that.  That is the lie that is going to cost Paul

Manafort his last free breath. 


To cover up that channel of communication between the Trump campaign and

Russian intelligence during the campaign, Paul Manafort is willing to die

in prison. 


Is his effort to cover that up something that President Trump will see as

worthy of a presidential pardon? 


Again, today was the first full day on the job for William Barr as attorney

general of the United States.  This is his second time serving as attorney

general of the United States.  The one thing he`s famous for doing the

first time he was A.G. in the administration of George H.W. Bush is that he

was the driving force behind the infamous Christmas Eve 1992 pardons for

six senior administration officials who were caught up in the Iran-Contra

scandal, including the secretary of defense.  Six Iran-Contra figures

pardoned on Christmas Eve by President Bush after Bush had already been

voted out of office but before the next president could be sworn in. 


William Barr is the one who recommended those pardons in Iran-Contra.  The

day he started as attorney general, this president`s campaign chairman

received a sentence recommendation from prosecutors of 19 to 24 years in

prison, plus tens of millions of dollars to pay.  Like I said, it`s all

happening at once now. 




MADDOW:  In addition to the sentencing recommendation from prosecutors

tonight, special counsel`s office telling a judge tonight they think

president`s campaign chair Paul Manafort should serve 19 to 24 years in

prison.  In addition to that recommendation from prosecutors tonight, we

also within moments of that got a transcript tonight from a previously

sealed hearing where a separate federal judge ruled earlier this week that

Manafort in fact intentionally lied to prosecutors and the grand jury,

including specific deliberate lies that were intended to cover up

Manafort`s contacts with a man named Konstantin Kilimnik, a political

operative who prosecutors say is tied o Russian intelligence. 


From the transcript, here`s the judge.  Quote: We have now spent

considerable time talking about multiple clusters of false or misleading or

incomplete or needed to be prodded by counsel statements, all of which

center around the defendant`s relationship or communications with Mr.

Kilimnik.  The judge continues, quote: This is a topic at the undisputed

core of the office of special counsel`s investigation.  As paragraph B of

the appointment order put it.  She`s quoting the appointment order that

established the special counsel`s office with Robert Mueller at its helm. 

She quotes that appointment order where Mueller is assigned to look into,

quote, any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and

individuals associated with the Trump campaign. 


Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from the great

state of Michigan. 


Barb, thank you so much for being here.  I have a lot of things I want to

talk to you about. 


BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes, thanks, Rachel.  Busy day. 


MADDOW:  Yes, man, it all happens at once. 


In the Manafort transcript we got today out of the D.C., the recurring

theme, it`s like a 70-page transcript, is that Manafort lied a lot to the

government, the judge finds he did breach his cooperation deal, he did it

on purpose and she really hones in on him lying about his communications

with this guy Kilimnik who the government says is tied to Russian



You were talking the other night about the importance of why Manafort might

have lied and what specifically he was lying about.  Now that we see the

judge spell it out, what do you make of this? 


MCQUADE:  Yes.  Well, as you pointed out, he took on great risk by lying,

knowing he was risking this substantial prison sentence for lying.  And we

see in this transcript that more than half of it relates to his statements

about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, much of it is redacted so we

don`t know exactly what it was he was obscuring, but she does say that the

FBI has assessed that Konstantin Kilimnik was connected to Russian

intelligence and that was what he went out of his way to lie about.  She

also points out these were not lapses of memory or failures to recollect,

he created false narratives about matters he was asked about Konstantin



So, he certainly was very deliberate in lying about Konstantin Kilimnik. 

So there is still some mystery for us, but those redacted bars may reveal

the rest of the story. 


MADDOW:  And, Barb, when you see the prosecutors ask for 19 1/2 to 24 1/2

years for Manafort, just in Virginia.  That judge that ruled he

deliberately lied about the communications with Kilimnik, that judge is yet

to start the sentencing process with him.  That sentencing won`t happen

until next month, but this recommendation from prosecutors that in the

Virginia case alone, he should be looking at 19 to 24 years, does that mean

we should expect he will get 19 to 24 years? 


MCQUADE:  Well, you know, that`s the sentencing guidelines.  It`s sort of a

starting point where judges are supposed to look to calculate a sentence. 

It`s a very numerical score.  You mentioned some of the things that go into

that sophisticated means and leadership role, all these kinds of things. 

You come up with kind of a math score and you go to a table and that`s

where you get that range of 19 to 24. 


And then the judge is allowed to consider mitigating factors and

aggravating factors to decide whether the sentence should be a little bit

below that or a little bit above that.  Based on this filing, they can`t

think of any mitigating factors, there are aggravating factors for someone

who is very wealthy, who was highly educated and yet based solely on greed

decides to commit these crimes.  The defense will file something certainly

that tries to point out some mitigating factors, but I can`t imagine

they`re going to say things that convince this judge to go substantially

below that range. 


MADDOW:  Wow.  Barb, if you can stick with us, there is one other matter I

wanted to ask you about, actually raised by Congress today.  Two more

lawyers associated wit the president now being accused by Congress of lying

to officials, lying to federal officials about that hush money crime for

which Michael Cohen is going to prison next month.  If you could stick with

us, I`d like to get your take on that before I let you go. 


MCQUADE:  You bet. 


MADDOW:  Great.  Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from Michigan, will

be back with us for more questions when we come back. 


Stay with us. 




MADDOW:  Back with us again is Barb McQuade, she`s a former U.S. attorney

from Michigan. 


Barb, thank you for sticking with me on this. 


Elijah Cummings, chairman of the oversight committee, has released a whole

bunch of documents tonight and they`re from the Office of Government

Ethics.  It`s some handwritten notes, some type written notes.  A big part

of it appears to be redacted. 


This is what that release from Elijah Cummings looks like, but he says that

what these documents show is that a couple of lawyers working for the

president, one who worked for the White House and one who worked for the

president in a personal capacity, gave false information to the Office of

Government Ethics about that hush money payment, the hush money payment

that was the basis for the felony charges against Michael Cohen, the

campaigns finance felonies he`s going to prison for next month.  Those are

the campaign finance felonies he`s implicated the president as having

directed him to commit those felonies. 


Now, Cummings says other lawyers for the president gave false statements

about those payments to the Office of Government Ethics when they were

working on the president`s financial disclosure about some of these

matters.  Is this something that is sort of slap on the wrist territory? 

Is this potentially illegal if they made false statements about those



MCQUADE:  Yes, making a false statement to anyone in government is a crime. 

It`s the same statute 18 USC Section 1001, false statements.  It`s the same

crime that we`ve seen Robert Mueller charge many times for lying to the FBI

or lying to Congress.  It is similarly a crime to lie to a government

agency about some matter that they are looking at within their



So, if the Office of Government Ethics is looking into this and someone

makes a false statement to them, that is a prosecutable offense. 


MADDOW:  And am I right that this is one of those cases where there`s a

popular perception that it only matters if you lied if you were under oath

but lawyers will tell you it doesn`t matter if you`re under oath if you

were lying to federal officials in that kind of a context, it`s a crime

regardless of whether or not you ever put your hand on a bible? 


MCQUADE:  Absolutely right.  It`s a different crime.  If you lie under

oath, it`s a crime of perjury.  If you`re not under oath, it`s a different

crime, crime of false statements.  They`re both punishable for up to five

years in prison. 


MADDOW:  Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for Michigan, you helped so

much over the course of our production today working on these stories, and

it`s great to have you here being clarion, as always.  Barb, thank you so



MCQUADE:  Thanks, Rachel.  It was a great pleasure. 


MADDOW:  Much more to get to.  Busy, busy, busy Friday night.  Stay with





MADDOW:  This will go down in the history of the Trump presidency as the

day he declared a national emergency, a national emergency, a national

emergency that requires him to build a wall between us and Mexico, because

of immigrants crossing the southern border. 


What will also hopefully go down in history is the fact that right after he

declared that national emergency, he immediately got on a plane and flew

away to go to one of his private clubs to play golf for the weekend.  One

of his clubs where he and his business are under increasing scrutiny,

including possible legal scrutiny for hiring lots and lots of illegal

immigrants to come work for him. 


It is not new for presidents to play golf.  It doesn`t help the sense of

emergency that he needed to go golf urgently as soon as he declared this

emergency.  It didn`t also help that while he was in the middle of

declaring this supposed emergency, he couldn`t help himself from literally

saying, “I didn`t need to do this.”








MADDOW:  The whole idea of that emergency is that you did need to do this. 

You did need to.  Hence the emergency. 


And then he hopped a plane to Florida to go hit a few balls. 


Even if the president is not doing his best work to make anybody take this

idea of an emergency seriously, Democrats in Congress signaled that they

are taking the declaration today quite seriously.  House Judiciary Chair

Jerry Nadler has already announced an investigation into the president`s

actions today. 


By next Friday, he wants the White House to make White House and Justice

Department officials available for a first hearing on the subject.  They`re

also already demanding legal documents about what processes went into

making this emergency declaration today.  That should be fascinating. 


Remember, it was the emergency declaration right before the golf trip.  I

mean, the lawsuits on this thing are already falling like rain.  However

long the duration is of the Trump presidency, should we expect this matter

to be tied up in court for that entire duration of his presidency?  Or

should we expect that this, for all its faults and its weaknesses, might be

actually something that is going somewhere?


Joining us now is the great Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal

correspondent for “Slate”. 


Dahlia, I`m glad you recovered from the hard time you had watching the

president make this announcement today. 



and go to heaven, I`m going to demand that 50 minutes back first. 


MADDOW:  Why was is so upsetting to you? 


LITHWICK:  It was – I mean, first of all, there`s no evidence, right?  He

says there`s an emergency.  He says he has his own data that doesn`t

necessarily correspond to his own government`s data.  He just knows and the

Angel Moms want this. 


I mean, the degree to which he just insists that everyone, including his

own crime statistics, including, you know, his own experts are lying.  And

Nancy`s lying and Chuck is lying.  It`s almost like this strange parallel

universe where you`re dragged into his brain and sort of thrash around in

this reality of, you know, the rapists and the women with the tape. 


It`s been debunked and debunked and debunked.  You just have to hear it

again.  It`s crazy. 


MADDOW:  But legally, isn`t he free to free associate like that and to call

everybody a liar and to negate all factual information to the contrary,

because if a president, not just him, any president calls something an

emergency, legally it`s an emergency? 


LITHWICK:  The National Emergencies Act in this sense is the worst thing

that could have happened to the republic because it was trying to constrain

at the time, 1976, post-Watergate, the declarations of emergencies, but

what it in fact did was not define what an emergency is.  Not enumerate

what the qualities might be.  It essentially gave the president carte

blanche to just say this one is an emergency.  So, you`re right.  It plays

into that. 


MADDOW:  So, when Nadler and the judiciary committee, I find it interesting

that they are already demanding documents about the legal reasoning and the

decision-making process that went into this declaration.  That will not

necessarily be helpful in any legal sense in terms of the National

Emergencies Act.  That will be helpful in terms of political accountability

if they can show the decision-making process here was nut ball. 


LITHWICK:  Two answers here.  One, it will matter at some point to some

courts whether under the national emergencies act this is any kind of



MADDOW:  Really? 


LITHWICK:  That will matter, I think, to some. 




LITHWICK:  Certainly when he says I didn`t need to do this, there are

judges I think who are going to say, boy, whatever this emergency was, and

it`s important to say – and he said it several times.  There are 50-some

current national emergencies that have been declared. 


It`s not a, you know, it is a fairly trivial thing to declare an emergency. 

Often they have to do with, you know, banking and foreign countries.  They

don`t usually have to do with building a wall. 


But he`s going to say, look, people to this all the time.  He will be

right.  But the fact that this is it in no way, shape or form an emergency,

that his own national security team testified a month ago and forgot to

mention the crisis of immigrant – of illegal immigrants on the foreign

border –


MADDOW:  They were testifying about every threat to the nation. 


LITHWICK:  Every emergency.  Except this, it didn`t rank.  So that will be



I think the other thing that is important about this is that the lawsuits

that are going to come are not going to be necessarily hinge on this

question of whether it was an emergency.  I think they`re going to come

from land owners.  One`s already been filed. 


MADDOW:  We`re already seeing that, right? 


LITHWICK:  Public Citizen just filed a suit on behalf of three folks in

Texas whose land is going to be taken by eminent domain.  Those are going

to be I think easier questions for the courts.  I think the courts

generally defer to the president when they make claims about national

security, right?  That`s what the Hawaii-Trump case was.  They tend to



But I think that on cases that have sort of these hard-hitting questions

of, you know, not did the president lie, but can they take land away from

people for a pre-textual emergency?  That`s when it`s going to become



MADDOW:  What did you make of the president today singing a little ditty

that ended with him getting to the Supreme Court, which will definitely

ratify this decision, even though he expects other bad decisions in other

districts and circuits? 


LITHWICK:  Again, it`s a maddening attack on the ninth circuit.  He

explicitly attacked the ninth circuit and delegitimized –


MADDOW:  He does that all the time. 


LITHWICK:  I know.  But remember when we used to care?  Remember when the

rule of law – some respect. 


MADDOW:  Judges in general. 


LITHWICK:  So there was that.  But then also this sort of, you know,

touchdown dance where my court is at the end of the day going to vindicate

me –


MADDOW:  Because I`ve got five conservatives.  So I`ll get there.  I`ll get

whatever I need out of them. 


LITHWICK:  It`s – I wrote today about Neil Gorsuch wrote before he came on

to the court about how damaging it is to try to do public policy in the

courts because all it does is undermine and delegitimize the judges and the

justices.  This is kind of made to order what he was cautioning us about. 


MADDOW:  Dahlia Lithwick is senior editor and legal correspondent at

“Slate.”  Dahlia, it`s great to have you here.  Thank you.


LITHWICK:  Thank you.


MADDOW:  I feel like this has been junior law school RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. 

So, happy to keep things straight here.  This has been very helpful.


LITHWICK:  A-plus. 


MADDOW:  Thank you.  I paid for that. 


That does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again on Monday. 


Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence



Good evening, Ali. 







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