Manafort to be sentenced Thursday in Virginia. TRANSCRIPT: 3/5/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
David Fahrenthold, Chris Murphy
Transcript:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She doesn`t threat (ph) any hate, animus or

discrimination.  And, you know, she`s been on the receiving end of hate. 

She has the Republican Party in West Virginia saying she`s a terrorist. 

You have an advisor to the president going on Fox and calling her filth. 

 

So, the idea she should be targeted by a resolution is absurd and I would

say one thing here.  Everything she said about Israel, she`s pretty much

said about Saudi Arabia.  So, if she`s an anti-Semite, she must be

Islamophobe as well. 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  She has been hard at Saudi Arabia from the

beginning, which s worth nothing.  And that poster there was in the West

Virginia capital the other day put up by the Republican Party. 

 

Jeremy Bin Ami (ph) and Mehdi Hassan (ph), thanks for joining us. 

 

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. 

 

HAYES:  You bet. 

 

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

Tuesday. 

 

This is the U.S. attorney, the top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. 

Her name is Jesse Liu.  She also served in the Justice Department during

the George W. Bush administration.  She also briefly served as a lawyer at

the Treasury Department.

 

But early on in the Trump administration, President Trump named Jessie Liu

to be the U.S. attorney for D.C.  And that is a – I mean, all U.S.

attorneys jobs are important.  Being U.S. attorney for D.C. is a

particularly important prosecutor`s job. 

 

The D.C. U.S. attorney`s office is the largest U.S. attorney`s office in

the country.  Prosecutors from that office have jurisdiction over all sorts

of things that have national resonance, including all sorts of juicy stuff

involving the federal government.  In the Trump administration, the U.S.

attorney`s office in D.C. has been particularly high profile because of the

role of that office in either handling or taking part in the investigations

and the prosecutions of a whole bunch of people who have been caught up in

various Trump administration scandals, including the Russia scandal. 

 

Jessie Liu`s office, that U.S. attorney`s office in D.C. has been involved

in the criminal cases against Sam Patten, who is now cooperating with

investigators.  Among other things, Patten has links to Cambridge Analytica

and to Konstantin Kilimnik, and prosecutors say he helped funnel foreign

donations into the Trump inaugural. 

 

The U.S. attorney`s office in D.C. has also pursued the Maria Butina base. 

She too is now cooperating with federal prosecutors after she was charged

with acting a secret agent of the Russian government.  She was charged as

working here in this country to infiltrate the American conservative

movement and the Republican Party ahead of the 2016 presidential election. 

She was working, according to prosecutors, as an unregistered, undeclared

secret agent of the Russian Federation when she was enacting that plan. 

 

Jessie Liu`s office, the U.S. attorney`s office in D.C., has also taken the

lead on the president`s longtime political adviser Roger Stone.  Jessie

Liu`s office has also been involved in the D.C. prosecutions of the

president`s campaign chair Paul Manafort. 

 

And there may be others as well.  Those are the ones I can do just off the

top of my head.  And obviously all of those cases I just mentioned, they`re

all ongoing in one way or another. 

 

But as of tonight, that U.S. attorney in D.C., the U.S. attorney heading up

that key office that`s been involved in all of those cases related to the

president, as of tonight that U.S. attorney, Jessie Liu, is out.  “The Wall

Street Journal” first to report tonight that U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu is

being moved out of the U.S. attorney`s office in D.C.  She`s being moved

over instead to what they call main Justice.  They`re going to try to give

her the number three job in the whole Justice Department.  It`s a job that

has been vacant now under the Trump administration for more than a year. 

 

If Jessie Liu is confirmed to that position at DOJ, she`ll be working,

according to “The Journal,” primarily on antitrust matters and civil

issues.  And I`m sure that`s great, but that will also mean she will have

nothing more to do with any criminal cases of any kind, let alone the kinds

of national security criminal cases that she has been involved in at the

U.S. attorney`s office in D.C., including all of those multiple high-

profile cases she has been running or involved in all of this time against

all of these people who are directly related to the president and/or his

campaign and/or the Russia investigation. 

 

By moving Jessie Liu out of that top prosecutor job in D.C., the president,

of course, will also get the opportunity to pick a new person to take over

all of those now ongoing cases while they are in process, plus any other

cases that derive from the various scandals in this administration and from

the Russia investigation that might reasonably be taken up by that key U.S.

attorney`s office in D.C.  Moving Jessie Liu out of there means he takes

out the top prosecutor that`s been handling those things, but also he gets

to pick somebody new to be in charge of all of that stuff.  Gulp. 

 

Sadie Gurman is the reporter at “The Wall Street Journal” who got that

scoop today about Jessie Liu being moved out of that U.S. attorney`s

office.  Credit to her and “The Journal” to being first on this story. 

But, boy, this seems like it`s potentially a big deal, at least potentially

a big deal.  Since “The Journal” first broke that news today, I should tell

you it has been confirmed by NBC News and by other news outlets. 

 

And now, as of tonight, as of just a short while ago, it has just been

formally announced by the White House.  So it looks like this is, in fact,

happening. 

 

Meanwhile, the president`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort is due to be

sentenced in that jurisdiction in D.C. federal court as of next week. 

Before he even gets to that sentencing in D.C. next week, though, Paul

Manafort is going to be sentenced first in the other federal jurisdiction

where he was charged with multiple felonies.  Manafort`s sentencing in

federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia takes place the day after

tomorrow, and tonight, prosecutors from Mueller`s office submitted this

filing to the judge in Manafort`s case in Virginia, basically telling the

judge that he should throw the book at Paul Manafort. 

 

Quote: The government opposes any credit or mitigation for Manafort`s

alleged cooperation and contends that consideration of his lies to the

government and the grand jury are aggravating factors and an additional

basis for the denial of any reduction for acceptance of responsibility. 

That`s prosecutor speak for “lock him up, judge.”

 

Prosecutors are arguing in this filing tonight that Manafort is recidivism

risk, meaning he`s likely to offend again.  Part of the way they say you

can tell that is because they say Manafort was still committing crimes as

recently as October.  Which would be not only after his indictment, it

would be after his conviction.  It would be after his guilty plea on other

charges and after he supposedly became a cooperating witness, they say even

after all that as recently as October, he was still crimes more.  He was

still committing more crimes. 

 

This is Mueller`s office essentially arguing to that federal judge who is

about to pass sentence on Manafort in Virginia, they`re arguing the judge

should not be persuaded that Manafort is some old and washed up criminal

who is no longer actively seeking to commit crimes.  They`re saying he`s

still in the game.  The prosecutors tonight are also brushing aside any

concerns about Manafort`s health because those concerns have been raised

obliquely by Manafort`s defense team. 

 

Prosecutors from Mueller`s office tell that judge tonight whether it`s

Manafort`s gout or anything else that is physically bugging him, they`re

telling the judge tonight that the Bureau of Prisons is more than capable

of treating any much maladies while Manafort serves his years behind bars,

and they do mean years.  Remember, this is the jurisdiction where Paul

Manafort is looking at 19 to 24 years in prison under federal sentencing

guidelines. 

 

And the judge, of course, can depart from those guidelines, either up or

down as he sees fit.  This is the interesting judge that you might remember

was a bit of a character in overseeing the Manafort trial, so we may expect

yet more fireworks from the judge when it comes to sentencing the day after

tomorrow.  That said, this filing tonight from Mueller`s office, we think

it`s the last thing we`re going to get in the Manafort case before we find

out Manafort`s fate on Thursday from that judge. 

 

Meanwhile today, the D.C. federal judge who is overseeing the case of

Manafort in D.C., that is also the same judge overseeing the case in D.C.

that involves President Trump`s longtime political adviser Roger Stone. 

And that judge, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, today, came just that much closer

to the end of her rope when it comes to Roger Stone and Stone`s ongoing

public statements about his case. 

 

I mean, it is one thing to generally be known as a blurter, as somebody who

has a tendency to blurt things, as a person who is unavoidable for comment

on pretty much any subject, especially when it comes to himself, but it is

quite another thing when you apparently can`t shut off that propensity in

yourself, even upon getting direct orders to do so from a federal judge, a

federal judge who has told you in no uncertain terms that you must shut it. 

 

Shortly after Roger Stone was arrested in January, the federal judge

overseeing his case established a limited gag order for Stone that

basically said that Stone was essentially banned from making public

pronouncements about his case from the courthouse steps.  And I say that

specifically because the judge`s order was geographically specific in terms

of where Roger Stone could say what about his case, at least in the initial

order. 

 

But then, Mr. Stone decided it would be a good idea to post online a

picture of the judge in his case with a crosshairs next to her head.  And

so, the judge`s initially quite limited gag order got way more strict.  A

lot of people observing the Stone case thought Stone would end up in jail

right away because of that stunt with the threatening statement about the

judge and the judge`s photo and the crosshairs. 

 

The judge did not jail Roger Stone and revoke his bail immediately after he

did that.  She instead decided to make the gag order significantly more

strict and admonish him in court that he needed to follow it.  The new

iteration of the gag order banned Roger Stone from making basically any

public statements about his case or the overall investigation that it

derived from. 

 

Since then, since the newly strict gag order was imposed on Roger Stone and

he definitely understood it because she explained it to him face-to-face in

court while he sat on the witness stand.  Since then, it is almost

unbelievable to say, but since then, Mr. Stone has gone ahead and posted

this image online, who framed Roger Stone.  And within the last few days,

he and his defense team have notified the judge in his case of his new book

introduction that is just now being published. 

 

And by this point in the story, you will not be surprised to hear the

character of this new book introduction that Mr. Stone is publishing in

this new thing he describes himself as being on the, quote, hit list of

crooked special prosecutor Robert Mueller. 

 

And, you know, it`s one thing to say stuff like that if you are Florida

man, you know?  Like on social media or on Fox News TV show.  But, you

know, in this case the guy spouting about the crooked prosecutor and being

on the hit list, he`s the defendant in a serious felony trial about which

the judge has already said he`s banned from making public statements. 

 

So, today, the judge in D.C. federal court in Roger Stone`s case, she was

nothing if not clear in response to the news of this new book introduction

that is being published for Mr. Stone.  The judge said today in court,

quote: There is no question that the gag order prohibited and continues to

prohibit the defendant from making any public statements, using any medium

concerning the investigation.  It does not matter when the defendant may

have first formulated the opinions expressed or when he first put them into

words.  He may no longer share his views on these particular subjects with

the world. 

 

Can we make – would you like it embroidered on a pillow?  Would that help? 

 

So it may only be a matter of time, but at this point in time, Roger Stone

still has not had his bail revoked.  He is still at liberty.  That said,

the judge has yet to weigh in on his additional public claim this weekend

that he`s being framed. 

 

CNBC did report late today that a couple of websites associated with Roger

Stone today were taken down.  Maybe that`s an effort to remedy that kind of

problem, too, but for now, Roger Stone remains out on bond and not in jail

and the matter will be back before the judge on Monday. 

 

As I say, observers of the Roger Stone case have been surprised that he has

not yet had his bail revoked, given how much he appears to be yanking the

judge`s chain over and over again in this case.  But we`ll see.  He is at

least at liberty for almost another week before the judge takes up this

matter again on Monday. 

 

So, as we have been watching, you know, the Stone case and the Manafort

case and all of – and the Butina case and the Patten case and the Erickson

case, I mean, as we`ve been watching all of these cases proceed through the

courts, they`re all interesting, they`re all potentially going interesting

places.  It will be interesting to see the fate of all of these people and

how they fit into the overall narrative if the special counsel ever spells

out that narrative in a readable way.

 

But while we`ve all been watching those cases, there are a couple of things

that are sort of new factors for us now as observers as this part of the

news about this administration.  One of the new factors we have to keep an

eye on as we`re watching all these cases is the new leadership at the

Justice Department, right?  There are still unanswered questions about how

the new Attorney General William Barr may or may not be influencing things. 

May or may not be influencing anything having to do with these ongoing

cases run by special counsel Robert Mueller and these derivative

prosecutions that have been farmed out to other U.S. attorneys. 

 

Ongoing questions about how Mueller is being handled by the new attorney

general and how William Barr is approaching all of these cases that touch

on the Trump administration and the Trump campaign in general, I think

that`s in part why there`s going to be a lot of questions asked over the

next few days about this new reporting about Jessie Liu.  “The Wall Street

Journal,” again, first to report today the decision to take her out of the

U.S. attorney`s offices in D.C., where she has been in command of a whole

bunch of these cases that relate to the Russia investigation, right?  There

will be questions about that in part because it`s presumably, presumably,

it is William Barr who is topping her to leave that U.S. attorney`s office

and move to main Justice.  There will be questions before we understand

more about how Barr is approaching these things as to whether or not that

may have implications for those ongoing cases. 

 

So that`s sort of one factor that`s new that we`re all watching having to

do with all these cases.  Sort of an X factor when it comes to this change

in Justice Department leadership.  

 

The other new factor that we`ve also had to map on to all of these cases as

we`re watching them go through the court system is Congress.  The newly

energized congressional investigations that exist in parallel alongside all

of these criminal matters in the courts.  For example, today, the White

House rejected the request for documents that had come in from the

Democratic controlled Oversight Committee about security clearances, about

security clearance processes in the Trump White House and particularly

these recent reports that the president`s personally intervened to order

the issuance of a clearance, a security clearance to his son-in-law Jared

Kushner despite some kind of adverse material that turned up in Kushner`s

background investigation at both the FBI and CIA, which led career national

security officials to recommend that Jared Kushner shouldn`t be given a

clearance. 

 

I should tell you incidentally that CNN tonight is also reporting that the

president also intervened to get his daughter Ivanka Trump a security

clearance.  NBC News has not yet verified that reporting, but CNN has run

with that this evening. 

 

Now, the Oversight Committee had asked the White House for documents about

their security clearance processes last month.  They got no response at

all.  Last week, they re-upped those requests urgently in light of the new

reporting about the White House, you know, flouting all previous precedent

for how security clearances were being handled. 

 

Today, the White House counsel Pat Cipollone finally responded to those

requests from the Oversight Committee, and he responded with this refusal,

a refusal to hand over any of the documents that that committee is

demanding. 

 

Now, in terms of, right, these two lanes that we`re watching, right,

courts, the courts and Congress, and these new questions we have to ask

about how these two lanes sort of function alongside one another in all of

these various investigations and in these confrontations between the

administration and the law and these confrontations between the

administration and congressional oversight – I mean, this refusal today

from the White House to hand over documents requested by Congress, this is

– this is new, right?  This will presumably lead to Congress issuing

subpoenas to try to get those documents.  That will presumably lead to not

just a political fight but a legal fight over those subpoenas and what the

Congress is going to be able to get from this White House and what the

White House is going to be allowed to legally hold back.  So, that`s a

whole new area of fighting we haven`t had to deal with before.  We`re about

to start that area of fighting, too. 

 

And here are just a couple of things to keep an eye on as we are watching

these two lanes, the courts and Congress.  And as we are starting to see

these newly aggressive congressional investigations and these ongoing court

proceedings sort of not only proceed on parallel tracks, but in some cases

they`re sort of starting to touch.  And one of the things I think you

should be watching for right now concerns WikiLeaks, right?  What the –

and I know you`re thinking like WikiLeaks, oh, my God, if I never hear

another thing about WikiLeaks in my life – no, this is a really specific

thing that looks like it`s starting to happen. 

 

What the Roger Stone case is about really, I mean, separate and apart from

all that personal circus stuff that surrounds Roger Stone, right, what that

criminal case about Roger Stone is really about is his contacts with

WikiLeaks, right?  That indictment lays out seven felony charges that are

pertain to lying to Congress or witness tampering related to his alleged

contacts with WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign at the time when

WikiLeaks was staging and releasing the stolen documents that had been

hacked by Russian intelligence.  Staging them and releasing them in a way

that was designed to cause maximum damage to the Clinton campaign and

maximum benefit to the Trump campaign. 

 

In that massive pile of document requests sent out yesterday by the

Judiciary Committee, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and Roger Stone were all

asked by the committee for documents and communications that relate to that

issue, that relate to WikiLeaks and their role in dumping Russian

intelligence`s stolen material during the presidential campaign. 

 

And, you know, we will see what kind of response the Judiciary Committee

gets from WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and Roger Stone.  I mean, presumably

if the committee doesn`t get responses, those requests will become

subpoenas and then we`ll have fights about those things, too. 

 

But it`s interesting.  It`s not just those three entities.  It`s just not

WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and Roger Stone who are being asked by the

Judiciary Committee about WikiLeaks.  We`ve been going through all of those

document requests and it turns out a ton of people – yes, a ton of people

in Trump`s orbit and related to the Trump campaign have been formally asked

by the judiciary committee now for any documents or communications they

have regarding WikiLeaks. 

 

Everybody from, you know, Reince Priebus to Corey Lewandowski, to Brad

Parscale, who is the current Trump reelection campaign manager, to Don

McGahn, who is White House counsel, to Rhona Graff, the president`s

secretary.  I mean, all of these different people got Judiciary Committee

requests specifically about WikiLeaks.  All of these other people on that

list. 

 

Actually I should tell you, there may be more.  There were 81 different

document requests to go through.  We might have missed some.  That`s what

we got on the first pass. 

 

All these other characters in the drama are being asked about WikiLeaks

communications.  Because of that and because of the criminal case against

Roger Stone, you should also know that today in federal court in Virginia,

a little bit of drama.  Today in federal court in Virginia, the U.S.

attorney himself, the top of that prosecutor`s office, the EDVA U.S.

attorney himself personally turned up in court for a sealed hearing today

that appears to be about some sort of legal case potentially involving

WikiLeaks and/or Julian Assange. 

 

You might remember back in November right after the election there was a

little flurry of news stories about what seemed to be a weird even slightly

surreal error in a federal court filing.  One of the federal prosecutors

who works in the U.S. attorney`s office in EDVA inexplicably in the middle

of a filing, in a totally unrelated case, somehow randomly popped in this

language in a whole different case that referenced Julian Assange.  It was

very weird.  This was this unexpected insert in a random case which said

that Julian Assange from WikiLeaks had been charged in an American federal

indictment and that fact needed to remain under seal until after Julian

Assange had been arrested in conjunction with those charges, and everybody

was like, dude, what, this case isn`t even about that and Julian Assange

has been arrested and he`s going to be charged and what? 

 

That was back in November.  It was such a random way to learn that

information and the U.S. attorney`s office came out quickly and had their

spokesperson say that was an error.  That was not supposed to be there. 

That was just a mistake, just a typo, fat finger kind of.

 

“The Washington Post,” however, reported at the time that although that

language about Julian Assange was unintentionally disclosed in that

unrelated case, according to people familiar with the matter, that language

about Julian Assange was, quote, true.  Oh. 

 

Well, if so, that was a weird way to learn about it.  Today`s news makes it

seem like maybe it was true.  Today, that same assistant U.S. attorney,

that same federal prosecutor who was blamed for making that weird mistake

and putting that language about Julian Assange in that unrelated case, that

exact same U.S. assistant attorney today was spotted in court for the

sealed hearing.  That assistant U.S. attorney blamed for that mistake was

spotted in court alongside the U.S. attorney himself from the Eastern

District of Virginia. 

 

And then, Chelsea Manning of all people also appeared at that same

courthouse, walking out at the end of the day to tell reporters that she

was there to fight a grand jury subpoena to testify in a sealed case. 

Chelsea Manning, of course, went to prison in her role for supplying

documents to WikiLeaks, documents that WikiLeaks later posted online.  So,

if there is a new criminal case involving WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, you

can at least draw a dotted line to Chelsea Manning as somebody who might be

facing a grand jury subpoena to testify in conjunction with such a case. 

 

That scene at the courthouse came today after another WikiLeaks volunteer

this weekend announced publicly that he is cooperating with federal

prosecutors in a case related to WikiLeaks.  He told reporters this week

that he is seeking an immunity deal in conjunction with his testimony in a

case involving WikiLeaks.  So, all of this to say between that court filing

error in November, the reporting around that error that suggested that it

was weird he was in that case and it was a mistake but the information was

true, and then what we saw today in Virginia, something appears to be

happening in federal court that pertains to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. 

 

And this is happening as the president`s longtime adviser Roger Stone goes

to trial for lying to Congress and witness tampering, allegedly, about his

supposed communications with WikiLeaks during the campaign.  It happens

potentially as he`s going to jail for violating the gag order in that case. 

It happens as tons of people associated with the president and his campaign

are being asked detailed questions by the Judiciary Committee about their

interactions with WikiLeaks, including during the campaign. 

 

And it happens within a week of the president`s longtime personal lawyer

Michael Cohen testifying in Congress that the president himself was

personally notified by phone in advance about WikiLeaks` plans to dump

stolen material that Russia hacked from the Democrats during the campaign. 

 

Now, I will warn you, if you are an interested news consumer who is

interested in following this part of the story, I will warn you, just about

everything that pertains to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and Roger Stone is

basically un-Googleable for all of the online trash there is that relates

to these characters.  Put your virus protection on. 

 

But something does appear to be happening there in federal court.  And so,

that is worth watching, particularly as we are looking at the intersections

between all these court cases and what is going on in Congress. 

 

And there`s just one more thing to watch that came up today, came as a

surprise to me when the news crossed late this afternoon in “The New York

Times.”  We`re going to talk about this right after the break.  The most

important thing about this new story that broke today is I think it sort of

calls the question as to whether or not the president will be able to

disappear some new elements of these investigations, either through

pressure on the Justice Department or through use of the pardon process. 

That story`s next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Since late last week, we have been following with interest

statements from the new chair of the Financial Services Committee in the

House, Maxine Waters.  According to Chairwoman Waters, that committee is

really getting somewhere when it comes to its document requests to a major

financial institution called Deutsche Bank. 

 

Her committee has expressed two areas of interest when it comes to Deutsche

Bank.  One is the bank`s history of doing hundreds of millions of dollars

worth of business with President Trump, even after all other major lenders

had sworn him off.  The second area of interest is Deutsche Bank`s admitted

involvement in massive amounts of Russian money laundering. 

 

Ten days after President Trump was sworn in in January 2017, Deutsche Bank

was hit with a $425 million fine for its role in a multibillion dollar

Russian money laundering scheme that they ran out of several of the bank`s

offices. 

 

But it`s interesting, though, $425 million fine against Deutsche Bank was

not levied against that bank by the U.S. Justice Department.  That fine was

actually extracted from Deutsche Bank by New York state, by a powerful

agency in New York state called the Department of Financial Services. 

Department of Financial Services is essentially the regulator of the

banking and finance and insurance industries in New York state. 

 

And although this Department of Financial Services is a state agency, and

that means its jurisdiction only extends as far as New York state, that

doesn`t limit it to much, given that New York is the financial capital of

both the country and the world.  New York state`s Department of Financial

Services is an incredibly powerful agency with basically worldwide reach

because of New York`s role as a financial capital. 

 

Well, today, “The New York Times” was first to report that that New York

state agency, the Department of Financial Services, that same agency that

got that $400 million-plus fine for deutsche bank for their role in Russian

money laundering, that same agency late yesterday served an expansive

subpoena on Donald Trump`s insurance broker. 

 

Quote: New York state regulators have issued an expansive subpoena to the

Trump Organization`s longtime insurance broker, the first step in

investigation of insurance policies and claims involving President Trump`s

family businesses.  The subpoena was served late Monday on the company and

one of the largest insurance brokerage firms in the world, as part of an

inquiry by the New York State Department of Financial Services.  It came

just days after Michael Cohen, President Trump`s former fixer and lawyer,

indicated in congressional testimony that the Trump Organization inflated

the value of its assets to insurance companies. 

 

And Michael Cohen, remember, testified that they inflated assets to

insurance companies, but you`ll remember, he also handed over financial

documents that he said were given to insurance companies as part of the

Trump Organization`s efforts to reduce its premiums.  Even before Michael

Cohen testified last week to Congress, “The Times” had previously reported

that Michael Cohen was speaking to SDNY prosecutors about insurance claims

the Trump Organization had filed over the years. 

 

And we didn`t really know what that line meant when “The Times” first

reported that the in late February, but last week in open session in

Congress, Michael Cohen spelled it out.  He told members of Congress, he

cold William Lacy Clay from Missouri and he told Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

from New York that the president`s business and the president inflated the

president`s assets in financial statements to insurance companies in order

to lower his insurance premiums, which is illegal.  And, you know, that`s -

- it sort of sounds like garden variety financial crime, but that`s garden

variety felony financial fraud. 

 

And now, according to these new reports, the insurance entity that would

have handled the documents in any such alleged fraud is cooperating with

this new investigation by this powerful New York state agency that oversees

the finance industry in this state and essentially by extension around the

world.  And one of the reasons this is going to be fascinating to watch is

because there is absolutely no way that President Trump can stop this one. 

The Department of Financial Services in New York state can`t bring criminal

prosecution itself, but they can bring civil proceedings.  Hello, $425

million fine against Deutsche Bank. 

 

And if they find evidence of criminal behavior, they can refer criminal

matters to state prosecutors or to D.A.s.  And if you are being prosecuted

for this kind of financial crime by those kinds of prosecutors, it does not

matter if you are president of the United States, at least when it comes to

pardoning your way out of that kind of a problem because presidential

pardons only apply to federal crimes and federal prosecutions. 

 

So this one, this one`s untouchable.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  All right.  This story is such a perfect and tidy portrait of

Washington during this moment in American history under this president. 

The story goes like this. 

 

April of last year, two big wireless companies, T-Mobile and Sprint,

announced a huge merger, $27 billion merger, 27 billion with a “B.”  Once

the two companies reached that deal between them that they wanted to merge,

the next thing they had to do was convince the federal government, convince

federal government regulators to let them go ahead with this merger. 

 

Well, what reporter David Fahrenthold discovered at “The Washington Post”

is that the day after that merger was announced last April, the next day,

the merger that was going to need federal government approval from the

Trump administration, the next day after they announced the merger, nine

top executives from T-Mobile, including the company`s CEO, booked

themselves into stay at the Trump Hotel in Washington.  And then they kept

coming back.  One T-Mobile executive came back and stayed at that Trump

hotel 10 times in six weeks.  I don`t stay home ten times in six weeks. 

 

The T-Mobile executives were all listed on the hotel`s VIP arrivals list,

which was distributed to Trump Hotel staff, and while all those executives

were there, you better believe they were making sure they were visible,

walking around literally wearing bright neon clothing that had the T-Mobile

logo on it, greeting people, being noticed, having their pictures taken

there ostentatiously. 

 

David Fahrenthold found that T-Mobile executives booked dozens of nights at

the Trump Hotel last year once their merger need Trump administration

approval. 

 

Look, to be fair, maybe T-Mobile executives have always just loved Trump

Hotels.  You know, they`re coming to Washington to push for this deal. 

They stay at the same hotel.  They always stay, right?  They`ve always

loved that place.  Nothing to do with currying favor and to bribe somebody

to get the merger approved, right? 

 

Well, David Fahrenthold`s latest report in “The Washington Post” today puts

the finishing touch on the arc of this story.  Quote: T-Mobile acknowledges

its patronage of Trump`s Washington hotel increased largely after the

announcement of the merger with Sprint.  In a letter responding to

questions from Democratic lawmakers, the company says before the

announcement of this merger that needs government approval, quote, only two

top officials from T-Mobile had ever stayed at Trump`s hotel with one

overnight stay each in August 2017. 

 

But since the merger was announced, since April of last year, T-Mobile

employees have spent $195,000 staying at the Trump hotel in Washington. 

That is $195,000 into the pocket of the president of the United States,

whose administration will soon decide whether T-Mobile will be allowed to

go through with this giant multi-billion dollar deal. 

 

And this will be called bribery in the fable version of this story that

will be some day used to teach future generations about corruption in the

American government at this time in American history.  Some day this will

be called some variation of the word bribery, but today it`s just breaking

news.

 

Joining us now is David Fahrenthold.  Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at

“The Washington Post.”

 

Mr. Fahrenthold, it`s nice to see you.  Thank you for being here.

 

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Great to be here. 

 

MADDOW:  I`m describing this as simple, and I always get self-conscious

when I do that, but I fell like this is one of the most direct, simple news

arcs that we`ve had about how this is working here. 

 

Did I miss anything important or did I fudge any complications here? 

 

FAHRENTHOLD:  No, you`re right.  It`s very simple.  You saw that they

barely stayed at this hotel in the 16 months it had been open.  The day

after they announced this merger that needs Trump`s approval, they all show

up and keep coming back, $195,000 over ten months of hotel stays.  That`s a

lot of money in a pretty short time. 

 

MADDOW:  Now, I have to say that we contacted t-mobile for comment, and a

spokesman for the company declined to comment on the record, but T-Mobile

in their letter to Congress, they say that these Trump Hotel stays were

only a small portion of their hotel expenditures in Washington.  They say

they stay other places too.

 

But, I mean, for everything we`ve seen, I haven`t seen any firm denial here

from the company that they may have been doing this at the Trump Hotel to

try to curry favor with the Trump administration and the president.  What`s

your reading of this? 

 

FAHRENTHOLD:  You`re right about this.  We found John Ledger, the CEO of T-

Mobile, we actually found him in the Trump lobby, sort of caught him there. 

And he said at the time, oh, no, I just stay here because it`s convenient

to the Justice Department where I`m going to lobby for my merger.  It is

not in any way attempting to curry favor.

 

But you`ll notice in the letter they wrote to the Democratic lawmakers,

they didn`t make that claim, you know, we weren`t doing it to curry favor. 

They`re just saying we trust that regulators will make a good decision and

not be influenced by this.  There will be a trustworthy decision despite

this. 

 

MADDOW:  I mean, I have to ask, I made the joke about bribery when this is

told as a children`s story some day.  Obviously, there is concern about the

president`s potential violations of the Emoluments Clause in the

Constitution in accepting particularly foreign gifts by continuing to do

business while he`s still serving in public office.  Is there potential

legal liability, even civil liability by shareholders or some other entity

for a company if a company could be shown to be trying to curry favor with

regulators by doing something like this, by putting money in the

president`s pocket in the ostentatious way that T-Mobile seems to have done

here. 

 

FAHRENTHOLD:  Well, this is where I wish I went to law school like my

mother wanted.  I don`t know the law enough to say if there`s certainly

liability.  But there`s a lot of people who oppose this merger.  A lot of

other companies that have lost market share – will lose market share if T-

Mobile grabs Sprint and grows in size so much.  They certainly will use

this against them. 

 

You said this is – this is a sign of the way business is done in

Washington now.  The president has created this private channel, while

you`re lobbying him publicly, you can also pay him privately.  If we

haven`t gotten ahold of these VIP arrivals lists, I don`t think anybody

would have known how much they were paying him privately.  So, you see how

these created this second channel for influence and people seem to be using

it. 

 

MADDOW:  Wow.  “Washington Post” reporter David Fahrenthold – David, great

to have you here.  Thank you for your work tonight. 

 

FAHRENTHOLD:  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Lots more ahead.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Twice now, the dictator of North Korea has been able to summon the

president of the United States to come to Asia, come talk with him in a

bilateral summit and praise him as a great guy in front of all the world`s

news cameras.  It must be nice. 

 

The first summit was less than a year ago.  It`s not clear what exactly

North Korea did after that summit to get themselves a second summit, but

they got themselves a second summit and this one was definitely a bust. 

Not only was there no discernible outcome from the summit at all, President

Trump said at the event that he believed the North Korean dictator`s claim

that he had no idea that Otto Warmbier was tortured at one of his North

Korean prisons.  He pulled the U.S. military permanently out of joint

military exercises with South Korea, one of North Korea`s big priorities

that President Trump gave them in exchange for nothing.

 

He also said that when Kim Jong-un made vague promises about nuclear

testing, quote, I trust him.  I take him at his word. 

 

Why?  On what basis? 

 

Well, now here`s breaking news from NBC News tonight.  Courtney Kube,

Andrea Mitchell, Carol Lee are now reporting that within 48 hours after

that bust, within 48 hours after Trump left following that disastrous

failed summit, North Korea was already rebuilding a key long-range missile

site, a site that essentially been dormant since Trump`s first meeting with

Kim Jong-un last year.  According to this exclusive NBC News report

tonight, that missile site is now showing activity consistent with, quote,

preparations for a test. 

 

We know this thanks to commercial satellite images obtained by NBC News. 

These images were taken March 2nd, that`s two days after the summit fell

apart.  The images show what experts say is renewed activity at this long-

range missile launching site. 

 

I should clarify, these images don`t show an actual missile being moved to

the launch pad, but one of the authors of this report points out, quote,

they have already tested a few of these and it looks like they are

preparing the launch pad for another act.  Again, that breaking news

tonight from NBC News. 

 

Senator Chris Murphy is on the Foreign Relations Committee.  He`ll join us

in just a moment.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE:  We currently assess that

North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to

completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because

its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  It`s leaders view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival. 

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats speaking January 29th. 

 

One more Donald Trump/Kim Jong-un summit later, we now know that Dan Coats

and the intelligence community were apparently on to something there.  NBC

News reporting tonight within two days of the president leaving his failed

denuclearization summit with Kim Jong-un last week, the North Koreans

appear to have started preparations for a new missile launched at a

previously dormant testing site. 

 

Joining us now is Senator Chris Murphy.  He`s a member of the Senate

Foreign Relations Committee.

 

Senator, thanks very much for joining us tonight.  Nice having you here. 

 

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT), SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE:  Sure. 

Thanks for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  So have members of Congress, have senators been briefed on these

developments?  If so, is there anything you can share? 

 

MURPHY:  No, we haven`t.  In fact, today we had an off the record

conversation with the president`s primary negotiator with the North

Koreans.  And this did not come up.  I`ve seen the reports you have.

 

It`s certainly very worrying that they`re back working on a test site that

was supposedly closed.  You know, there was an assumption that when the

president at the end of this summit announced that notwithstanding the fact

they didn`t get any agreement, he was going to permanently shut down these

joint exercises with the South Koreans that maybe that had come in exchange

for a promise from the North Koreans to permanently stop these tests as

well.  That may not be the case, given the fact that they look to be

restarting one of these facilities. 

 

And if we have unilaterally decided to stop not military exercises without

any behavior given an exchange from the North Koreans, that`s even worse

than coming out of the summit without a deal. 

 

MADDOW:  On this point of the president giving up the military exercises,

there`s a – I mean, as far as I understand this, this is one of North

Korea`s major priorities in terms of dealing with the United States, sort

of one of their major international demands.  I have been slightly unnerved

about the president being so willing to trade away those joint military

exercises, not only because our military says they`re important, but also

because the president himself apparently told people that he got this idea

by speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who suggested this to him

as something he ought to give away to the North Koreans. 

 

That was reported in “The Wall Street Journal” a very long time ago. 

That`s very much stuck in my craw.  I don`t know if you have any take on

that aspect of this. 

 

MURPHY:  Yes.  So much for “The Art of the Deal”.  There were, you know, a

small number of things other than the sanctions that really stuck with the

North Koreans.  There were a small number of things that we could give away

in part of a confidence-building deal if we didn`t want to start loosening

the sanctions.  And those exercises were one of the few chips we had. 

 

Trump went into the negotiations thinking the, you know, these Danielle

Steele love letters that he exchanged with Kim Jong-un was going to lead to

a big comprehensive agreement.  That was never going to happen and he

walked away with nothing.  What he should have been doing was trying to

work on some small preliminary deal that would lead to a bigger deal later

on.  And we`re now seeing that the stakes of failure were pretty high if

the consequence is the North Koreans are going to start again. 

 

One last thing I`d mention, we have not gotten confirmation on this, but

there were reports that Sergey Lavrov was in Hanoi during the time of the

summit, which makes you even more worried about what he was doing there. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of what happens next here, I know you are a dedicated

student and leader on foreign policy issues, and I think that you have

strong ideas about negotiating even with people whom you disagree in order

to get America`s way in the world.  With this president and the way he has

approached this, though, do you think there is a course correction that is

available here in terms of how he is handling this matter?  Obviously, this

is a – this is a huge deal for not only the Korean peninsula, but for the

world in terms of national security. 

 

MURPHY:  Yes, you are running out of time and, of course, it may be that

this has all been simply a delay play by Kim Jong-un.  That he has been

assiduously working behind the scenes underground on developing nuclear

weapons capacity while he`s been sitting across the table from us.  In a

six-month period of time, it will be too late. 

 

The problem, though, is we could have used this last year to continue to

build up crippling sanctions.  Instead, because Trump was so eager to get

this deal, he set aside the sanctions work and went right for the

comprehensive agreement without having done any of the prep work ahead of

time. 

 

So, we`ve lost critical time to build up sanctions pressure.  We now are at

ground zero.  We don`t have even a preliminarily agreement that could have

been worked on in Hanoi.  And it may be that we`re going to find out as

this nuclear site continues to be developed that it`s all too late. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Chris Murphy of Foreign Relations Committee – really

appreciate your time tonight, sir.  Thanks for being here. 

 

MURPHY:  Thanks. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Thank you for being with us tonight.  We will see you again

tomorrow. 

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

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