Trump declares National Emergency for border wall. TRANSCRIPT: 2/15/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: – representatives who represent those areas.
Stacey Mitchell (ph) and Josh Barro, thanks for joining us.
JOSH BARRO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
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.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. This one of
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
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
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
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
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
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.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn`t need to do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE: When I die
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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
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