Judge in DC ruled Manafort lied to special counsel. TRANSCRIPT: 2/18/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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.
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
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.
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
MADDOW: Oh, no.
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.
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?
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
PORTILLO: Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
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
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
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
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the