Judge in DC ruled Manafort lied to special counsel. TRANSCRIPT: 2/18/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Maxine Waters, Ely Portillo
Transcript:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cory Booker, his stump speech is like a big pep talk

and inspiration-type rally.  There are other candidates like, I guess,

Hickenlooper, who talks much more heavily about policy, Delaney as well

talked about artificial intelligence.  They are all highlighting – every

candidate is highlighting different parts of the progressive message. 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Pat Rinard (ph) and Caitlyn Berg (ph) who are in

those early states where the folks are coming through.  Thank you for being

with me and sharing what you guys learned.  Really appreciate it. 

 

That is ALL IN for this evening. 

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. 

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

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

appreciated.

 

HAYES:  You bet.

 

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

Happy Presidents` Day. 

 

On Friday night, you may recall we got the sentencing submission from

special counsel Robert Mueller for Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. 

And it was kind of a stunner, right? 

 

This was Friday night.  The prosecutors argued for no mitigating factors

that might encourage the judge to be more lenient with Manafort, and they

argued for lots of aggravating factors that should cause the judge to be

harsher in sentencing Manafort.  Mueller`s prosecutors advised that judge

on Friday night in Manafort`s case in Virginia that they would not object

to a 19-1/2 year to 24-1/2 year prison sentence for Paul Manafort.  Plus,

fines and restitution that ranged from millions of dollars to tens of

millions of dollars. 

 

Now, keep in mind though that sentencing recommendation Friday night was

just for the one judge, just for the one judge who is hearing the Paul

Manafort case in Virginia.  That is not the only federal case against Paul

Manafort.  By the end of this week, we are expecting Robert Mueller and his

prosecutors to also make their case for the sentence that they believe

Manafort should get from the other federal judge who is hearing the other

federal criminal case against Paul Manafort in the neighboring jurisdiction

of Washington, D.C. 

 

And that fairly dire circumstance, the fact that 69 1/2-year-old Paul

Manafort is now looking down the twin barrels of a sentence from the

federal judge in Virginia and then another sentence from this federal judge

in D.C., that obviously is a crisis of his own making.  Because it was

Manafort and his defense team who elected to not combine the two sets of

felony charges against him into one single case in one jurisdiction before

one judge. 

 

So, Manafort is now facing sentencing in two different jurisdictions by two

different federal judges on two different sets of crimes, and, yes, he does

face the prospect that the sentences in each of those jurisdictions might

run consecutively, might run one after the other rather than concurrently,

both at the same time. 

 

So, we know as of Friday night what prosecutors have advised the judge in

the Virginia case, 19-1/2 to 24-1/2 years in prison.  That came out on

Friday.  By the end of this week, we will see what the prosecutors are

advising the other judge in his other case.  Then it will be up to those

two judges in each of those two jurisdictions to decide Paul Manafort`s

fate. 

 

The second judge, the one in D.C., who will get prosecutor sentencing

submission this week within the next few days, she is the judge who has

already ruled against Paul Manafort in some very materially significant

ways.  On Friday night, we might remember we also got the unsealed

transcript of the hearing in which that judge ruled that Manafort had

repeatedly and intentionally lied to prosecutors, even after he pled guilty

and agreed he would become a cooperator, in that ruling, that judge in D.C.

was blunt and direct about Manafort`s lies.  Her ruling that his lies had

been intentional and what she described as the implications of his lies. 

 

You should keep in mind this isn`t just what this judge said in a written

ruling about the president`s campaign chairman.  This is what she said to

his face in a court hearing where Manafort himself was present and in the

room.  She said, quote, my concern is not with not answers or simply

denying from Manafort, but the times he affirmatively advanced a detailed

alternative story that was inconsistent with the facts. 

 

Quote: The record doesn`t seem to reflect the confusion and the defendant

didn`t profess to be confused.  He does appear, however, to be making a

concerted effort to avoid saying what really took place. 

 

On the issue of Konstantin Kilimnik, this guy who worked with Manafort and

who prosecutors say is believed by the FBI to be linked to Russian

intelligence, the judge said this about Manafort and Kilimnik.  Quote, we

have now spent considerable time talking about multiple clusters of false

or misleading or incomplete or need-to-be-prodded by counsel statements,

all of it center around the dependant`s relationship or communications with

Mr. Kilimnik.  She says, quote, this is a topic at the undisputed core of

the special counsel`s investigation into any links or coordination between

the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. 

 

In terms of the way Paul Manafort lied about his interactions with this

guy, Konstantin Kilimnik, the judge says, quote: I think it is fair to say

that advancing that version of events was not just relaying what Kilimnik

had said, it appears to be an attempt to exonerate him.  This is

problematic attempt to shield his Russian conspirator from liability, and

it gives rise to legitimate questions about where Mr. Manafort`s loyalties

lie. 

 

So that`s the judge.  That`s the federal judge in D.C. who revoked Paul

Manafort`s bail and order I had him to await trial in jail instead of at

home when prosecutors brought her evidence and ultimately brought her new

federal charges which said that Manafort had engaged in witness tampering

while he was out on bail.  This is also the same judge who has been

assigned to the GRU case, the early case in which Mueller and his

prosecutors charged a dozen Russian military intelligence officers with

multiple felonies for their alleged work on the Russian government`s

influence operation to mess with our election in 2016 to benefit Donald

Trump. 

 

Now, Mueller`s office subsequently told the court that that GRU indictment,

it`s technically related to the more recent indictment brought against

President Trump`s long-time adviser Roger Stone.  And because prosecutors

have linked the Roger Stone case and that GRU case, the same judge handling

the GRU case, which is the same judge about to sentence Paul Manafort in

D.C., which is the same judge who revoked Paul Manafort`s bail, which is

the same judge that ruled Paul Manafort deliberately lied to prosecutors,

that is the same judge who`s now going to hear the Roger Stone case when he

ultimately goes up on trial. 

 

And on Friday, it made a little bit of news when that judge, Judge Amy

Berman Jackson in D.C., she rejected Roger Stone`s argument in which he

said his case shouldn`t be linked to that GRU Russian military intelligence

case.  That`s what he argued to her courtroom.  Prosecutors provided the

judge with evidence that the GRU case and the Roger Stone case are, in

fact, linked.  The judge agreed with prosecutors on that so Roger Stone

lost that argument with the judge. 

 

That same day on Friday, that same judge also placed a gag order on Roger

Stone and his lawyers, restricting their public statements about the Stone

case so as to avoid tainting any potential jury pool for Roger Stone`s

trial.  This was a limited gag order.  It was less restrictive than you

might have expected in a case like this with a defendant like this. 

 

Mr. Stone, for example, while he is out on bond awaiting trial, he is

blocked by this limited gag order from holding press conferences on the

courthouse steps like he did after his initial arraignment, but under the

terms of the limited gag order, he can still hold press conferences

elsewhere or make other public statements about his case or at least he

could.  It is hard to imagine that will continue now after Mr. Stone today

posted on Instagram a close-up photo of the judge who is hearing his case. 

 

That judge who is involved in all of these other things, right?  This is

the judge who is about to get her first sentencing recommendation on Paul

Manafort.  She is the one who revoked Manafort`s bail.  She is the one who

just ruled that Manafort intentionally lied to prosecutors.  She is the one

who`s handling the Russian military intelligence GRU case, she is the one

who`s been assigned to the Roger Stone case. 

 

That judge, Roger Stone, posted on Instagram photo of her today that

included a little crosshairs, like a little target in the corner next to

her head.  I`m not showing the image because if we don`t have to, none of

us need to be in the business of showing pictures of federal judges with

what look like crosshairs next to their heads.  But Roger Stone did that

today. 

 

After initially posting that image online, Mr. Stone later took it down and

then he reposted a few minutes later with a closer cut version of the same

picture, one that crops out the crosshairs from next to the judge`s head. 

But it is still the same written attack on the judge in the caption to the

image. 

 

I don`t know if Roger Stone wants to be jailed for threatening a federal

judge who is hearing his case or if he just really wants to be subject to a

full gag order or I don`t know what he wants, but apparently, he`s going to

be the latest fantastic float down this parade of geniuses we have seen

from Russia scandal defendants in court thus far. 

 

Really?  The judge hearing your case?  Are you sure?  Any judge?  Are you

sure? 

 

Late tonight just before we got on air, Roger Stone and his attorneys filed

this document with the judge in his case, the judge whose picture he posted

today with the crosshairs next to her head.  I kid you not, this is a real

thing.  They have actually filed with the real court, this is the formal-

looking headline they put at the top of their submission.  Roger J. Stone`s

notice of apology. 

 

And then this is the filing.  Undersigned counsel with the attached

authority of Roger J. Stone hereby apologizes to the court for the improper

photograph and comment posted on his Instragram today.  Instragram.  Mr.

Stone recognizes the impropriety and had it removed. 

 

Then attached to that from the lawyers is this little legal ditty from

Roger Stone himself with Roger Stone`s signature attached.  Quote: Please

inform the court that the photograph and comment today was improper and

should not have been posted.  I had no intention of disrespecting the court

and humbly apologize, extra space, to the court for the transgression. 

 

Concurrent with this misspelled and apparently hastily-dashed off apology

to the courts under the headline “apology,” concurrent with this Mr. Stone

tonight has apparently dropped the second iteration of his Instagram post. 

First, he just took down the crosshairs and reposted the thing that he

posted again, and then he took that down, too. 

 

So, we will see how this works out.  This is not the sort of thing that the

federal court system tends to take lightly. 

 

But with all of the cases related to the Russia scandal, A, it has been a

parade of genius.  But, B, there is a little element of uncertainty and

suspense right now as to whether things are going to change from here on

out, whether things are going to proceed differently in all of the court

cases than what we`ve seen before.  I mean, nobody knows quite what to

expect from the new attorney general, William Barr, who is just starting

his new tenure as head of the Justice Department, and incidentally, as the

unrecused new overseer of the Mueller investigation. 

 

Just to heighten the drama and the suspense, the first few days of his

tenure as attorney general since he was sworn in Thursday night have been

dominated in the news by revelations from former FBI Acting Director Andrew

McCabe.  He was deputy director of the FBI under James Comey.  He became

acting FBI director once Comey was fired. 

 

And Andrew McCabe, of course, is one of a long string of senior

intelligence and law enforcement officials who were involved in the initial

investigations of Trump and the Trump campaign and potential ties to

Russia, who have sense been targeted and/or fired in an effort to discredit

them and destroy their credibility.  He is one in a long string of those

officials and the list is kind of astonishing.

 

It is like James Comey himself, the director of the FBI, Director of

National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of the CIA John Brennan,

Trump`s handpicked attorney general, Jeff Sessions, his handpicked Deputy

Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, head counterintelligence agent at the FBI,

Peter Strzok, the top Russian organized expert at the justice department,

Bruce Ohr.  They`ve all come under sustained attack from the president and

honestly from conservative media and congressional Republicans. 

 

And that list, of course, includes Andy McCabe himself who is now doing

interviews over these last few days because his book is out tomorrow.  Read

it and weep. 

 

What has received the most attention thus far is his contention that Senior

Justice Department and FBI officials were so disturbed and so concerned

about what appeared to be the president`s inappropriate relationship with

Russia that they considered the full range of options that might be

available to them to try to handle that kind of extreme threat to the

country – this previously unimaginable possibility that somebody who was

an agent of a foreign adversary had become president of the United States. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS ANCHOR:  What was it specifically that caused you to

launch the counterintelligence investigation? 

 

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI ACTING DIRECTOR:  It`s many of those same

concerns that caused us to be concerned about a national security threat,

and the idea is if the president committed obstruction of justice and fired

the director of the FBI to negatively impact or to shut down our

investigation of Russia`s malign activity, possibly in support of his

campaign, as a counterintelligence investigator, you have to ask yourself,

why would a president of the United States do that?  So, all of those same

sorts of facts cause us to wonder, is there an inappropriate relationship,

a connection between this president and our most fearsome enemy, the

government of Russia?

 

PELLEY:  Are you saying that the president is in league with the Russians? 

 

MCCABE:  I`m saying that the FBI had reason to investigate that,

investigate – the existence of an investigation doesn`t mean someone is

guilty.  I would say, Scott, if we failed to open an investigation under

those circumstances, we wouldn`t be doing our jobs. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  And this, of course, is what has caused the White House and

conservative media freak-out over Andrew McCabe`s book and what he is now

publicly describing of his time as acting FBI director after James Comey

was fired by the president.  And I know we like – we`ve been marinating in

this stuff for a long time, right?  When we frogs hopped into the pot

together, the water was pleasantly cool.  It has been sort of an

interesting but not terribly alarming situation, to feel the atmosphere

getting cozier and cozier, and warmer and warmer.  Now, one of those

bubbles forming at the bottom of the pot and rising to the surface, right?

 

But just step back for a minute.  It is an amazing snapshot in American

history right now to be living through this.  To hear the guy who was the

acting director of the FBI, a registered Republican with 20-plus years of

service at the FBI, the senior official with this pedigree in international

organized crime and counterterrorism and national security, now trying to

speak for the record, to speak for history, to make the record as clear and

as stark as possible so we all as citizens know that the FBI and the

Justice Department at the highest levels had reason to worry.  They were

worried enough about what they were seeing with regard to this president

and Russia, literally they were worried enough about the threat that the

president was the active agent of a hostile foreign country that they

considered whether the vice president and half of the cabinet might act to

remove that president from office without going through the impeachment

process.  Through the sort of short-cut process to the removal of an unfit

president that is spelled out in the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.  I

mean, they considered whether the president should be surveilled as a

potential foreign agent, as he would have been had this been any other

investigation into a possible foreign agent infiltrating a sensitive

national security position in the United States government. 

 

They had those discussions.  Ultimately, they decided what they could do at

least was formally open a counterintelligence investigation into the

president potentially being compromised by a foreign power, and the

decision was made at the Justice Department that they would appoint a

special counsel, a special counsel of unimpeachable integrity to pursue

those core questions.  And this forever will be the time in American

history that you live there.  Congratulations. 

 

But what I find fascinating about what Andrew McCabe is telling us now is

something that`s not just important for us trying to get the history right

here.  It is not just important in terms of us correctly understanding the

origin story of what got the Mueller investigation going and all of the

rest of it.  What I find fascinating about what McCabe is testifying to now

is something that directly bears on what is happening right now at the FBI

and the Justice Department and in our government. 

 

Because what McCabe is now able to describe publicly is the fact that what

they set in motion and in terms of the special counsel investigation and

this counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was compromised,

those things weren`t just set in motion the way they were because of the

fear of the worst case scenario when it came to Trump and national

security.  They didn`t just do those things because of the unimaginable

prospect that the president was an active foreign agent representing some

other country.  They specifically did those things and did them the way

they did them because they were worried that one of the ways that worst

case scenario might manifest in the Trump administration at this point in

history would be that the intelligence and law enforcement leadership and

institutions that were in charge of recognizing and thwarting and exposing

this kind of a national security disaster would somehow be dismantled,

taken apart, stymied, right?

 

I mean, think about it just in basic terms.  Imagine it as some other

country going through this if that`s easier, right?  I mean, if a hostile

foreign power played a role in installing somebody at the top of the

government, somebody beholden to them at the top of a leadership job in

another country`s government, one of the ways that might manifest in terms

of that foreign country getting what it wanted is if that leader then moved

to shut down all of the investigations, moved to shut down all of the law

enforcement actions, moved to shut down all of the counterintelligence

stuff that might blow up and expose what had just happened, right? 

 

Make sure that foreign country doesn`t get caught.  Make sure that foreign

country doesn`t get punished, and make sure their conspirators and the

compromised leader they installed don`t get nailed for what`s just

happened. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MCCABE:  I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency and

won the election for the presidency and who might have done so with the aid

of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world

stage.  And that was something that troubled me greatly. 

 

PELLEY:  How long was it after that that you decided to start the

obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations involving the

president? 

 

MCCABE:  I think the next day, I met with the team investigating the Russia

cases, and I asked the team to go back and conduct an assessment to

determine where are we with these efforts and what steps do we need to take

going forward.  I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case

on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion, that were I removed

quickly or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish

in the night without a trace. 

 

PELLEY:  You wanted a documentary record? 

 

MCCABE:  That`s right. 

 

PELLEY:  That those investigations had begun because you feared that they

would be made to go away? 

 

MCCABE:  That`s exactly right. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  You feared that those investigations would be made to go away.  We

are now a year and a half down the road from that conversation that Andrew

McCabe was describing there on 60 minutes last night.  Since that

conversation he was describing with the president, of course a year and a

half ago, the president has, in fact, made every effort to try to make the

investigations go away, including trying to destroy the careers and the

credibility of every senior law enforcement and intelligence official

involved in any senior way in the investigation. 

 

And now today with that warning from Andrew McCabe ringing in our ears,

today, the Mueller investigation is, all of a sudden, under new management

as a brand-new attorney general takes over and nobody knows what exactly to

expect from William Barr as attorney general and whether or not he`s the

guy who sent him there to make the investigations go away like McCabe

feared from the beginning. 

 

But we do know that William Barr got the job of attorney general after

sending an unsolicited 19-page memo to the White House as describing the

Mueller investigation as fatally misconceived.  So, at this moment, at this

sort of pivotal moment, I think sort of – I think it is helpful for

framing here in that it is Presidents` Day, right?  Focus.  But also, at

this pivotal moment, I think there`s one element of all this that is one

thing to watch and it has just started happening. 

 

And that story is next.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  So, this is something that started to take shape in public the

first week of December 2017.  December 5, 2017, which was a Tuesday. 

 

It was a moment that was a little bit of a fraught moment in the federal

government because just a few days earlier, the previous Friday, Robert

Mueller got himself his first cooperating witness when Trump national

security adviser Mike Flynn pled guilty to a felony charge and signed a

plea deal in which he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors from the special

counsel`s office.  So, that happened, the first cooperating witness for

Mueller.  That happens on Friday. 

 

It was the weekend, then Tuesday morning before dawn, a German publication

called “Handelsblatt”, I think that`s how you see it, I don`t know how to

speak German, “Handelsblatt”, that`s my guess, they ran this headline. 

Quote: Mueller`s Trump-Russia investigation engulfs Deutsche.  Deutsche

Bank has received a subpoena from the U.S. special counsel investigating

possible collusion between President Donald Trump`s campaign and Russia.

 

It was the lead they ran that day.  Quote, Deutsche Bank has been served. 

U.S. investigators are demanding it provide information on dealings linked

to the Trumps, say sources familiar with the matter.  The subpoena is part

of the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team to determine

whether the president`s campaign was involved in Russian efforts to

influence the U.S. election.  Quote: It remains unclear whether Mueller

requested information on President Trump`s own business dealings with

Deutsche Bank or those people close to him.  Deutsche Bank apparently

received the subpoena weeks ago.

 

So, again, that news broke in the predawn hours here in the U.S. on

Tuesday, December 5, 2017.  German publication breaking that news. 

 

In Bob Woodward`s book “Fear,” he says the day that story ran in that

German publication, the president called his top Russia lawyer at 7:00 a.m.

Eastern Time.  Quote, he was furious. 

 

The story then spread.  It was picked up by “Bloomberg” and by “Reuters”

and by “The Guardian” and the “Wall Street Journal”.  They all did their

own reporting to follow up that scoop from “Handelsblatt”. 

 

And the details were all a little different in each of the outlets, in each

of the stories, but the basic idea was simple.  Federal prosecutors had

subpoenaed the bank that held hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to

President Trump, the bank that somewhat inexplicitly had done hundreds of

millions of dollars worth of business with him after he was black balled by

other banks in the country, a bank that perhaps coincidentally was also

mired in a huge ongoing scandal over its role in a multi-billion dollar

Russian money laundering scheme. 

 

Back in July of 2017, that summer, the president had said that any effort

by prosecutors to look into his personal finances or his business finances

would be a red line from his perspective, a line that could not be crossed. 

We later learned months later in reporting from “The New York Times” that

that day that that German newspaper broke the story of that subpoena and

all of those other news outlets subsequently ran their own versions of

those stories, December 5th, 2017, we learned later the president not only

angrily phoned his Russia lawyer at 7:00 a.m. that day.  He also, according

to “The New York Times”, that day tried to mount an effort for the first

time to fire Robert Mueller, to end his Russia investigation. 

 

Quote, in early December, President Trump furious over news reports about a

new round of subpoenas from the Office of Special Counsel told advisers in

no uncertain terms that Mueller`s investigation had to be shut down.  The

president`s anger was fuelled by reports that the subpoenas were for

obtaining information about his business dealings with Deutsche Bank.  “The

Times” cited eight White House officials, eight, as it sources for that

story. 

 

And we still don`t know why exactly that subpoena – right, that

investigative effort above all else would be the red line, that would be

the thing that caused the president to move in and try to fire Robert

Mueller.  But by the end of the day on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 – it is

interesting, most of the stories about that subpoena to Deutsche Bank, most

of the stories had been at least partially walked back or at least

softened.  Maybe there wasn`t a subpoena at all or maybe the subpoena was

not about Trump himself.  Maybe the subpoena was about people just

affiliated with Trump. 

 

I mean, if there is a financial story to tell at the heart of this scandal,

for a number of reasons deutsche bank feels like the place you might start

to try to figure that out.  We have never had complete clarity on what

happened with those news reports back in December 2017 and the president`s

reported freak-out about that story in particular and why that story

ultimately got at least partially here and there walked back a little bit,

at least a little softened.  Certainly it earned vigorous denials from the

president and his own lawyers. 

 

David Ignatius at “The Washington Post”, however, he now reports this. 

Quote.  We`re entering a new phase of the Trump-Russia investigation in

which the president`s efforts to contain the probe are failing. 

Information he tried to suppress about his business and political dealings

is emerging with more to come. 

 

Quote: A Deutsche Bank subpoena would be especially sensitive.  Trump was

enraged by a December 2017 report that special counsel Robert Mueller had

subpoenaed the bank`s records about its dealings with Trump.  Quote: the

red line apparently held then. 

 

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow told “Reuters” no Deutsche Bank subpoena has been

issued or received.  According to Ignatius writing now, quote, one

government source speculates that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney

general, blocked any attempt to compel disclosure of the bank`s Trump

records to avoid getting himself or Robert Mueller fired.  That`s one

government source speculating. 

 

I mean, honestly, we don`t know if that subpoena ever was issued or if it

did get walked back somehow, and if so, if I did, by whom.  But the new

phase of the investigation that David Ignatius is talking about here where

he is saying that the president`s efforts to – what did he say?  To

contain the probe are failing.  This new phase of the Trump-Russia

investigation he is talking about, it is not now one that is happening

through the Justice Department and, therefore, it is not one that could be

stopped by anyone in the Justice Department. 

 

It`s not one that would need to be overseen by the brand-new Trump-

appointed attorney general, William Barr, who just started as the new A.G. 

This new face of the Trump investigation that reflects all things that the

president really doesn`t want anybody to look into, they`re not happening

through the Justice Department.  These things are now happening through

Congress where Democrats are now in charge in the House and where Democrats

on the financial services committee started demanding Deutsche Bank records

about Trump last year, actually the year before they started demanding

records from Deutsche Bank. 

 

Without subpoena power of their own, the Democrats were never able to get

meaningful response from Deutsche Bank.  But now, they`ve got subpoena

power and they`re going for it.  They`re finally following that money

trail.  And it appears they`re the first ones doing it. 

 

We know that the Senate Intelligence Committee didn`t do it.  The Senate

Intelligence Committee said they hope Robert Mueller is doing it.  House

Democrats say they don`t believe Robert Mueller is doing it and we saw the

fiasco with the reporting that was walked back and everybody freaked out

about on December 2017. 

 

If there`s a money trail in this story, the first steppingstone down that

trail is Deutsche Bank to at least ask questions there.  Nobody has done

that yet.  But now, they`re starting.  The Democrats in the House are

starting, and apparently this may be the red line for the president. 

 

Honestly, it feels more like a red flag to a bull that`s already loose in a

China shop, but that`s happening.  That is starting now and the person who

is leading the effort joins us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  California Congresswoman Maxine Waters is now the chair of the

Financial Services Committee in the House.  Since 2017, she has been

calling publicly for an investigation into the president`s business

dealings, and specifically whether there could be any connection between

his huge outstanding loans and his complicated business history with

Deutsche Bank and Deutsch Bank`s involvement in a multimillion dollar

Russian money laundering scheme. 

 

The president himself has called any investigation of his personal or

business finances a red line that special counsel Robert Mueller should not

and cannot cross, but Robert Mueller is not chairwoman Maxine Waters and

Congress is a co-equal branch of government and she now has subpoena power

as a committee chair, along with her counterpart on the House Intelligence

Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, Congresswoman Waters is now pursuing

this financial investigation she has long called for. 

 

Joining us is Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat from California, chair

of the Financial Services Committee. 

 

Chairwoman Waters, thank you so much for being here tonight.  It`s really

nice to have you here. 

 

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA), CHAIR, FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE:  She is

cutting out. 

 

MADDOW:  Oh, no. 

 

WATERS:  Yes. 

 

MADDOW:  Can you hear me, Madam Chair? 

 

WATERS:  Not that well. 

 

MADDOW:  Uh-oh.  Here is what we`re going to do.  We will take a quick

break.  I will send a bunch of elves over to you to fix the audio and we

will be back with you in just a moment.  We will fix this technical problem

and be right back with Maxine Waters right after this. 

 

It`s live TV.  Sorry. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Let`s try one more time.  The elves have been dispatched. 

 

Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, chair of the Financial Services

Committee in the House.  We believe we have fixed our technical gremlins. 

 

Madam Chair, can you hear me? 

 

WATERS:  Barely. 

 

MADDOW:  Well, I will talk loud and hope we work it out. 

 

WATERS:  I don`t know what`s happening. 

 

MADDOW:  Oh, dear.  Let me try this. 

 

Madam Chair, you have been asking for documents and testimony from Deutsche

Bank as it pertains to President Trump basically since he was sworn in. 

What are you interested in here?  What is it that you are investigating

there? 

 

WATERS:  Rachel, would you repeat that one more time? 

 

MADDOW:  Sure.  We`ll give it one more try. 

 

Why is it that you have been asking for documents and testimony from

Deutsche Bank basically since president Trump was sworn in?  What do you

want to investigate there? 

 

WATERS:  Well, as you know, we have – we have tried to get information

from Deutsche Bank.  We have tried to get Hensarling (ph) who was the chair

of the committee to hold investigations.  We have tried to get information

from Mnuchin. 

 

MADDOW:  I am going to call an audible here and say we should bring her

back when we can fix this problem because it is unfair to her to have her

unable to hear to me and obviously unable to hear herself as she is

speaking. 

 

So, I apologize on behalf of our technical gremlins who are not able to

aided in the way they should have been.  We will fix this and have

Chairwoman Waters back as soon as we can get this sorted. 

 

I will tell you while I was waiting for her to try to get her audio fixed,

CNN and “Reuters” both reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

is going to leave the Justice Department in mid-March.  I have that bit of

news for you, that has broken since we`ve been trying to sort this out. 

 

NBC has not confirmed this reporting at this point, but Deputy Attorney

General Rod Rosenstein had been expected to leave the department when the

new attorney general, William Barr, was sworn in.  Now, CNN and “Reuters”

reporting that is scheduled for about a month from now in mid-March. 

 

All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  They laid it all out in a PowerPoint presentation.  Today was the

day that state investigators laid out in North Carolina what happened to

that bizarre North Carolina congressional race in November that still

hasn`t been decided.  It is the race that appears to have been botched by a

big criminal fraud scheme. 

 

In North Carolina, the state elections board today announced their findings

from their investigation.  They said they found evidence of a coordinated,

unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme.  Investigators

said a contractor named McCrae Dowless, who was hired by the Republican

candidate in this race, he paid people to request batches of absentee

ballots in that North Carolina district and then those people were paid to

go door-to-door to collect those ballots. 

 

And that scheme is illegal in North Carolina, and the way it worked in this

race was not just illegal as a technicality, today in their PowerPoint

presentation, they finally spelled out how that scheme was apparently used

to invent votes in this election – certainly with the possibility that

they invented enough votes to swing this election to the Republican

candidate. 

 

One of the people who the Republican contractor paid to carry out this

unlawful ballot scheme gave live testimony at the hearing today.  She

actually happens to be the guy`s former stepdaughter.  She said McCrae

Dowless coached her even on what she should say today at today`s hearing. 

He gave her this little fortune cookie size scrap of paper telling her what

to say.  It tells her essentially she should testify she had done nothing

wrong and she should plead the Fifth. 

 

Now, she did not follow his instructions on that piece of paper.  Instead,

she testified about what she described as his scheme where workers would

forge signatures and fill in votes.  She says she improperly handled dozens

of ballots in the ninth district herself and she says she was just one

person on a team of people who was wrapped up in this effort. 

 

Again, the guy she was working for, McCrae Dowless, he was there at the

hearing today but declined to testify unless the state board granted him

immunity.  The board did not grant him immunity and that was pretty much

the end of day one. 

 

The hearing will continue, but this is an election won by 905 votes.  I

mean, it is tempting just to make this about the math, right?  Whether the

result was based on wrongfully cast ballots or rightfully cast ballots that

were trashed intentionally for the benefit of one candidate. 

 

But what this North Carolina board is being asked to decide is whether the

election itself was tainted by what state investigators, again, are calling

a coordinated, unlawful and substantially resourced scheme.  When the

hearings conclude, the appointed state board will take a vote either to

certify the results from November, which would hand the Republican the

seat, or they could order a do-over, a fresh election.  Have voters pick a

new winner in a new election. 

 

Taking any action will require at least one Republican or two Democrats to

break party lines.  If they can`t do that, they can`t come to one of those

two conclusions, this will ultimately go to Congress where the house itself

has the power to order a new election in order to figure out which new

member from the district will be seated in the House.  That`s question

number one.  How does the race get decided, when and by whom? 

 

But, I mean, here is my other question.  Allegations of election fraud

about this one Republican political operative, this guy McCrae Dowless, has

circulated in North Carolina for years.  State investigators are talking

openly about the unlawful activity that this scheme represents. 

 

So why is this not being decided in a courtroom right now with prosecutors

and a jury?  Why is this still just an election board matter? 

 

Joining us from Raleigh, North Carolina, is Ely Portillo, a politics and

government reporter for “The Charlotte Observer”, who was at the hearing

today. 

 

Mr. Portillo, it`s good to have you with us.  Thanks for joining us. 

 

ELY PORTILLO, THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, GOVERNMENT & POLITICS REPORTER: 

Thanks for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  So, today was this long first day of hearings.  As I understand

it, there`s going to be further proceedings as the state elections board

tries to figure this out.  What do you think was the most substantive thing

we learned today? 

 

PORTILLO:  There were a few things that we`ve learned today that were

rumored or reported in the media for a while, but now we know that state

investigators have come to similar conclusions.  For example, multiple

voters told us that people came and collected ballots from them.  We`ve

also heard from people in media reports that they were paid by McCrae

Dowless, the political operative, to go out and get ballots.  Now we know

that state investigators verified those facts.  They verified those

allegations, and they are saying that, yes, this did in fact happen and

this has been going on for a while hand this could have benefitted the

Harris campaign. 

 

Also, the state told us today that there were allegations and evidence of

witness tampering after the investigation started.  McCrae Dowless

allegedly gathered the people he had been paying to collect ballots at his

House once the investigation kicked off and according to one witness told

them, if we all stick together, we`ll be OK because they don`t have

anything on us.  So, those allegations are new and cast doubt on how long

this has been going on after the investigation started, not just before and

during the election. 

 

MADDOW:  What was striking to me, just watching the hearing today and

reading people`s live blogs of the hearing today as y`all were covering it,

what struck me was that I think from the outside in particular looking in

on the race in North Carolina, a lot of it felt like process crimes.  Like

in some states, it`s not necessarily illegal to collect people`s ballots

and bundle them and bring them in. 

 

It also seems sort of like these are technical violations.  What was

striking to me was hearing one of these people who are working as part of

the scheme to say, yes, I filled in the votes.  I actually cast the votes. 

I checked off the box or whatever it was for all of the Republican

candidates where people left these things blank. 

 

Is this the first direct evidence, the first direct testimony we`ve had

that this scheme wasn`t just to sort of undermine the way things were

supposed to work, it was in fact to throw the election to a Republican

candidate? 

 

PORTILLO:  Well, it was the first time we`ve heard someone say directly,

yes, I filled in a ballot that wasn`t mine, I voted on a ballot that didn`t

belong to me.  You`re right, that is in a different category than the

process crime.  In North Carolina, it is illegal to collect ballots.  As

you said, in states, that`s perfectly legal. 

 

The Mark Harris lawyers, though, they did try to make a distinction.  They

asked the witness, did you ever fill in a vote for Mark Harris?  And the

witness said, no, it was basically the down ballot and local races that

were left blank that they filled in for Republicans. 

 

So, the Harris campaign is trying to draw a distinction and say, well, even

if that happened, it still didn`t affect the outcome because it was

Republicans, but in the down ballot local races.  So that was a point of

contention today. 

 

MADDOW:  Fascinating.  Ely Portillo, “Charlotte Observer”, politics and

government reporting, I know being right now in the middle of this is

pretty exciting.  It is a bizarre case.  Thanks for helping us understand

tonight. 

 

PORTILLO:  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Happy Presidents` Day.  This is one of those holidays for which

there isn`t generally an accepted way you are supposed to celebrate.  If

you were in the Northeast, I know this was a particularly good Presidents`

Day to go ice fishing.  However, if it is not your thing, I don`t really

have any other recommendations. 

 

That said, this year for Presidents` Day, thousands of Americans did all

celebrate the same way, which is that they turned out and protested the so-

called national emergency that President Trump declared last Friday in

order to try to build a wall on the southern border without money from

Congress.  All told, there were more than 250 Presidents` Day protests all

across the country today.  And it`s interesting, they were all pulled

together in just the past couple of days since the president`s

announcement. 

 

Here`s some footage from Oakland, California.  This is more than 200 people

in formation spelling out the word “wall” with a blue X through it.  That

is a good design. 

 

Cambridge, Massachusetts, they had a brass band and sing along.  Also had

their brand-new Congresswoman Ayana Presley cheering them on.  In Fort

Collins, Colorado, people were out despite balmy temperatures of 9 degrees. 

In Detroit, Michigan, they kept warm by dressing up as the Statue of

liberty and that big Trump baby head thing. 

 

This was Glen Falls, New York, in the snow today. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Make tacos. 

 

CROWD:  Not walls. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Make tacos. 

 

CROWD:  Not walls. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Who among us would argue with make tacos, not walls?  Who among

us? 

 

There were protests and good weather today, too, in Miami, Florida.  This

is footage from Miami. 

 

Also, Yolo County, California.  I should tell you as we head to the late

night hours tonight, there are actually still more of these still happening

tonight and ongoing.  And since the emergency declaration, there`s been a

lot of attention, and rightfully so, on the dozens of lawsuits that have

been piling up at the courthouse door to try to block the emergency

declaration from the president, but you can`t always tell in advance which

one of these is going to apply. 

 

But this is turning out to be one of the Trump administration scandals that

has a real citizen participation element to it, which can be a more

powerful thing than you realize. 

 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow.

 

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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