Trump applauds statement by Manafort lawyer. TRANSCRIPT: 3/8/10, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now with Joy Reid, in for Rachel.
Good evening, Joy.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris, my friend. Thank you very
HAYES: You bet.
REID: Have a great rest of your night.
All right. Thanks to you at home for joining us. Rachel has the night
off. She will be back on Monday.
So, happy Friday, everybody.
So, yesterday, we were treated to two related pieces of news that were both
shocking in their own way. We witnessed the sitting president`s campaign
chair being sentenced to prison that, the first time in U.S. that that has
ever happened. That is one.
But the second piece is what kind of sentence Paul Manafort got. One that
shocked even veteran prosecutors because Paul Manafort`s sentence of nearly
four years in prison on eight felony financial fraud counts was far less
than the 19 and – 19-1/2 to 24 years that were recommended by the federal
sentencing guidelines for his crimes, far less than we`ve seen people
sentenced for for anything from mistakenly voting in an election with a
previous felony conviction or being convicted for marijuana possession.
For a lot of people watching that sentence yesterday, felt like an object
lesson in rich man`s justice. And then, last night, Manafort`s lawyer
exited the courtroom with a complete non sequitur talking point that had
nothing to do with what just happened in the courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT`S ATTORNEY: Good evening, everyone. As you
heard in court today, Mr. Manafort finally got to speak for himself. He
made clear he accepts responsibility for his conduct, and I think most
importantly what you saw today is the same thing that we had said from day
one. There is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved with
any collusion with any government official from Russia. Thank you,
REPORTER: What do you think of the sentence?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Thank you, everybody. No collusion. Wait, wait, what?
Even the very lenient judge who said that Manafort had led an otherwise
exemplarily life besides the eight major felonies that robbed the United
States of tens of millions of dollars, even that judge said early on the
trial that the charges against Manafort had nothing to do with Russian
collusion. So, to come out of that trial saying see that, no evidence of
collusion, that makes about zero sense.
And today, as if by coincidence Donald Trump picked up that familiar
talking point and ran with it, very pointedly directing reporters to those
comments from Manafort`s lawyers. Trump said he was quote honored that the
judge and case declared that there was no collusion in Russia. First of
all, that`s not true. The judge did not say that, because again, that`s
not what the Manafort case was about.
But Trump was very honored by those imaginary words by the judge. And
Donald Trump didn`t stop there. He kept on stirring the discussion back to
no collusion and even back to his long time lawyer Michael Cohen, even
though there is literally nothing in the Cohen saga that benefits him,
let`s talk about my other close associate who is headed to prison soon.
So, a couple things are weird about this. The fact Manafort through his
lawyer seemed to be parroting the Trump script as he prepares to go to
another judge for a second sentencing, who the judge was now absorbed the
massive public outrage how short a sentence he just received. And more
than a few legal observers are thinking the reason he`s singing from the
Trump no collusion song book is pardon, something Trump also brought up,
unprompted today about Michael Cohen.
Trump told reporters today that Cohen lied to Congress when he said he had
never saw a pardon. Then as soon as he boarded this plane for Alabama
today, Trump tweeted that Michael Cohen had asked him directly for a pardon
and Trump claimed he said no.
Now, Cohen says Trump is lying about that but Republican Congressman Jim
Jordan says he`s going to send another criminal referral to the Justice
Department over Cohen`s alleged lie about whether he asked for a pardon,
raising the following intriguing question: will Donald Trump have to be
interviewed as part of an investigation into Michael Cohen`s alleged lying
about trying for a pardon. I mean, if they had a one on one conversation
about it as Donald Trump alleges in his Twitter feed, wouldn`t Trump have
to give evidence?
Also today, White House Communications Director Bill Shine abruptly
resigned, meaning that this White House has gone through more
communications directors than the real housewives had cast members. Bill
Shine came to the White House from Fox News and he will now go to work on
Donald Trump`s reelection campaign. Perhaps one day, he`ll end up back at
Fox News. Oh, yes. It`s the circle of life.
And speaking of White House communications, one of the things that has made
this White House different from all the other White Houses is the amount of
leaking that happens inside it. This White House is so leaky, last year
“Axios” published a piece entitled “White House leakers leak about
leaking”, in which some of the administration`s most prolific anonymous
leakers spoke to “Axios” anonymously about what they leak and why.
And when it comes to White House leaking, there is the petty score settling
kind. There is the kind designed to advance your preferred policy position
if you`ve lost some internal debate. And in this White House, there is
even leaking because maybe you think the only way to reach the president is
to get something on to the TV so that he can see it during his executive
But there`s also leaking out of concern, leaking that appears to be
undertaken to sound the alarm. It was six months ago this week that we got
the astonishing op-ed in “The New York Times” in which an anonymous senior
Trump administration official described being one of a number of senior
administration officials, quote, working diligently from within to
frustrate parts of Trump`s agenda and his worst inclinations.
Quote, we believe our first duty is to this country and the president
continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our
republic. Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We are
trying to do what`s right, even when Donald Trump won`t.
Now, your mileage may vary as to whether you thought that op-ed was
courageous or self-justifying, reassuring or terrifying, but it was the
kind of leak from inside this administration. Here is something I think
the American people should know about what`s happening here. There have
been a number of these. At the beginning of Trump`s presidency, anonymous
White House officials leaked details and eventually transcripts of Trump`s
phone calls with foreign leaders.
And sure, maybe they did that to embarrass him, but it seemed that some
people inside this White House thought the public need to know what Trump
was saying on those calls. There was the report a few months ago that the
president was carrying on all kinds of sensitive conversations with friends
on his unsecured cell phone, conversations being listened to by Chinese and
Russian intelligence. Now, that leak certainly sounds like a warning or
maybe a cry for help.
Quote: Mr. Trump`s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cell phone
calls are not secure and have hold him that Russian spies are routinely
eavesdropping on the calls, but aides say the voluble president has still
refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only
hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.
Well, we haven`t been able to get him to do that dangerous thing, so we
better alert the public about it, those leaks seem to say.
And there have been various leaks about presidential son-in-law Jared
Kushner and his security clearance. That he had an interim clearance for a
year because officials would not clear him for a permanent one. And then
his interim clearance was revoked.
Then the president reportedly ordered that he be given a top security
clearance despite all the red flags that were raised by intelligence
officials. And the president`s chief of staff and White House counsel
being so alarmed by the president`s decision that they both wrote
contemporaneous memos documenting why they thought Jared Kushner should
never have gotten a clearance. And, yes, someone in the administration who
has a beef with Jared may be leaking this to undercut him. That is
But this is also someone sounding an alarm that this guy is having a lot of
trouble getting a security clearance for a reason. Like I said, we are
used to these leaks to the media, every day, it seems like we get at least
one. But today we got a signal that there may be a substantial shift under
way in the nature and the seriousness of these disclosures, a shift that
has all kinds of implications for oversight and for investigations of this
The House Oversight Committee has been asking the White House for documents
on the security clearance issue for weeks, ever since Democrats took over
the committee. And this week, the White House finally said, no, no
documents, which was expected to trigger a subpoena from the committee and
then possibly a big, huge fight over that subpoena.
Well, today, “Axios” reports that the Oversight Committee has already
gotten its hands on a number of the documents. They were leaked to the
committee by someone inside the White House. Quote: The House Oversight
Committee in early February had already obtained the leaked documents that
detail the entire process from the spring of 2017 to the spring of 2018 on
how both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were ultimately granted their
security clearances. Hmm.
Well, think about that. Leaking damaging information or sound the alarm
type information to the press is one thing. Leaking documents with
national security implications to a congressional committee controlled by
the opposition party with broad investigatory and subpoena power – if this
report is correct, we may be in a whole new ball game.
Joining me now is Congressman Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, who sits
on the oversight committee. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. RO KHANNA (D), CALIFORNIA: Joy, it`s good to be on.
REID: OK. So let`s go get into this leak. Obviously, now, the committee
now has the documents that walk your committee through the process of how
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump got their security clearances. What now
does the committee want to do about it? Is this – is this going to
trigger hearings and could we see Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner forced to
testify or White House officials who granted them their clearances?
KHANNA: Well, Joy, let me explain why this is such a big deal. For a
president who spent the entire 2016 campaign trail railing against Hillary
Clinton`s private e-mail servers, this is a far bigger national security
crisis. There are allegations that Jared Kushner had sensitive information
that he has allegedly been giving lists to MBS, the Saudi crown prince,
about Saudi dissidents. That he`s been on WhatsApp with Saudi Arabia`s
And we need to know what is it in his background that was causing concern?
Has he been sharing sensitive top-secret information with people in Saudi
Arabia or other countries? Why is it he has not disclosed a number of his
foreign business relations?
So this is not a partisan issue. It`s not a bureaucratic issue. This is
our most sensitive information that may be getting into the wrong hands.
REID: And can I ask you, does the committee have the contemporaneous notes
that John Kelly, the former chief of staff, and the White House counsel Don
McGahn wrote about the obtained – about these two obtaining these
clearances, do you all have those notes?
KHANNA: I don`t think we have those yet, but as you pointed out, both John
Kelly and the White House counsel at the time were opposed to the decision
to give Jared Kushner top secret clearance. They were so opposed to it,
that they felt the need to write a memo documenting how concerned they were
and why Jared Kushner shouldn`t be getting this information.
And this has implications about our policy in the Middle East. I mean, the
president has made Jared Kushner the point person on Middle East peace and
– or Middle East policy and we need to know what information he has and
who is he sharing it with.
REID: And in the documents that were leaked to the committee, is there
anything in those documents that indicates to you that Jared Kushner might
have shared classified information with the Saudi prince?
KHANNA: I can`t say it`s in that, but there has been public reporting on a
number of key points. One, that Jared Kushner had access to the
president`s daily brief, in that daily brief were numerous reports about
Saudi dissidents and he allegedly shared that list with the Saudi crown
prince. Second, Jared Kushner has allegedly had meetings with the Saudi
prince without having anyone in our embassy there. That is not standard
And we know the crown prince most likely ordered the killing of Khashoggi.
We know he`s ordering the bombing of hundreds of thousands of civilians in
Yemen. And here there are serious allegations of what Jared Kushner is
sharing with him.
This is not a bureaucratic issue. This is a hugely sensitive issue about
the highest national security of this country.
REID: And we know just from public reporting that one of the challenges
that Jared Kushner likely had getting a clears was the fact that he was in
a lot of debt. He had a building here in Manhattan that had a big balloon
payment due. His father was reportedly looking – helping him to try to
look for ways to pay that bill.
Have you found in anything of those leaked documents, any of those leaked
documents, anything that would indicate to you that Jared Kushner was
seeking funding, seeking money from the Middle East while he was in the
Middle East purportedly negotiating on behalf of the United States?
KHANNA: I can`t comment on those documents, but just in general with the
public reporting, there are huge reports that Jared Kushner hasn`t been
fully forthcoming about all of his overseas business dealings and all of
his foreign contacts. You know, I had a security background check when I
worked at the Commerce Department. You have to disclose every single
person you`ve ever met with in a foreign country in the past seven years.
And for Kushner not to have disclosed financial transactions or his
overseas contacts puts him and the country in a vulnerable spot. It might
not have even been something that he realized put him in a vulnerable spot,
but that`s why we have those background checks, to see if someone could
take advantage of him, and I have concerns whether the Saudis have been
taking advantage of the situation.
REID: All right. Congressman Ro Khanna, member of the House Oversight
Committee – thank you so much. Really appreciate your time tonight.
KHANNA: Joy, thanks for having me back on.
REID: Thank you very much.
Well, if this report today from Axios is accurate that somebody inside the
White House has leaked documents to the House Oversight Committee about how
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump got their security clearances, documents the
White House has been refusing to hand over to that committee, how big a
change is that from the run of the mill leaks to the press that we`ve all
gotten accustomed to? How worried should the White House be?
Joining us now is NBC presidential historian Michael Beschloss.
Great to have you with us, Michael.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thanks, Joy.
REID: So just give us the answer to that question. How unprecedented is
it for the White House to refuse to hand over documents of this sensitive
nature related to national security and then have someone in the White
House leak it to a congressional committee?
BESCHLOSS: Well, that`s the thing. Anyone who is complaining that the
Trump White House is not full of innovations, here is one of them, which is
that usually you see someone in the White House leaking something to the
press and if there is an investigation in Congress, the committee uses it.
The Trump White House, if that is the source of these documents, has now
cut out the middle person.
You know, Joy, maybe two of the biggest revelations of government secrets
in the last 50 years were the Pentagon Papers and the Nixon tapes. The
Pentagon Papers were leaked by a former pentagon employee, Daniel Ellsberg,
to “The New York Times” and “Washington Post” because he felt that this was
something that Americans needed to see, how we go into this catastrophic
And the Nixon tapes, that was one of the most closely-held secrets in the
Nixon White House. A member of the Senate Watergate Committee staff
basically guessed that perhaps Nixon was taping his private conversations
and asked a serving White House aide, Alexander Butterfield. That`s the
traditional way, very different from what we`re seeing now with these
documents from the Trump White House.
REID: You know, just to take it even further afield, right, if Donald
Trump, the president of the United States, ordered these security
clearances to be granted over the objections of his national security
advisers, national security staff – I mean, Ulysses S. Grant testified in
the whiskey ring scandal, right? I mean, so there is a precedent for a
president of the United States giving testimony to a special prosecutor, no
Could you see Trump has to do that?
BESCHLOSS: For sure. And Gerald Ford – yes, Gerald Ford testified before
the House saying there was no deal leading to the Nixon pardon. He did
that in the fall of 1974. There sure is.
So some of these old traditions – executive privilege is a tradition.
It`s not something that`s in the Constitution.
REID: Yes. And lastly, is there an antecedent to a Jared Kushner,
somebody who had so much debt, who was looking for it presumably among
foreign sources, and who was in a position to read the president`s daily
BESCHLOSS: And if he used his position – if he did, to essentially
compromise our American security interests in order to get money to bail
out his family in that building, that is something that we have never seen
before, and you have to assume that whoever leaked this, if this is someone
in the White House, felt that this was such an outrage and there was such a
danger that there might be future such behavior if Jared Kushner or his
wife had top security clearances that they would be a clear and present
We`ve got to look at this as a cry for help.
REID: Yes, it`s all extraordinary. I mean, just new historical record
being set seemingly every day.
NBC presidential Michael Beschloss, always here to unpack it for us. Thank
you, sir. Really appreciate it.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you, Joy. See you soon.
REID: Thank you very much.
Still ahead tonight, a little court transcript theater. Go get your
popcorn. I`ll wait here and we`ll be right back.
REID: We now know from the transcript of yesterday`s Paul Manafort
sentencing that moments after the judge handed down his fate, Manafort`s
defense team made one last brazen appeal. Specifically Manafort lawyer
Kevin Downing asked Judge T.S. Ellis if he could order, and I did say
order, that the sentence he just issued be served concurrently with
whatever the judge in his D.C. case issues next week.
Now here is the transcript. I cannot do this as well as Rachel, but go
with me on this.
OK. Quote: Your Honor, there is one other issue we`d like to raise,
Manafort`s lawyer told the judge. It has to do with whether or not you can
order this sentence to be concurrently served with – at which point the
judge interrupts him to say, quote: I can`t, but she can. I don`t believe
I can. If you find in the law that I`m incorrect, you can bring that to my
The judge then adds: I think it is entirely up to her whether any sentence
she imposes is to run concurrent to this sentence. It`s up to her.
Anything else, Mr. Downing?
To which Manafort`s lawyer replied: No, your honor – which is the more
diplomatic way of saying of course not! I mean, it takes a special level
of rich guy privilege to think you could ask the judge who just cut you a
massive break to make sure that the next judge makes that break stick. So,
clearly, there is no sense of contrition or remorse from Manafort`s camp,
like none, but rather a pretty bold presumption that the system should and
will continue to work for him.
Next week, Manafort will be in court before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who
first ordered Manafort to jail for tampering with witnesses, who could tack
on as much as ten years to the four he`s already facing behind bars.
Manafort`s ultimate fate next week comes as the prospect of Mueller`s
report looms over everything.
Today, the top Republican on the house judiciary committee said that he met
recently with Attorney General Bill Barr and predicted that the public may
only get a short summary of Mueller`s findings. Great. This is all fine.
His remarks today come as the Democratic chairs of six house committees
introduced a resolution that when completed, the Mueller report should be
made available to the public and to Congress.
Well, joining me now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother
Jones, and Chuck Rosenberg, former attorney from Virginia.
David and Chuck, I appreciate your time.
Chuck, I`m going to go to you first just to ask how unusual it is just from
your point of view for a defendant, who was just sentenced to say to a
judge, hey, judge, can you make the next sentence concurrent so I can have
less time? Like, is that normal at all?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: You know, Joy, I was a prosecutor
for a long time in federal court. Defense attorneys ask for all sorts of
crazy things. This one is an easy one. There is a federal statute right
I`m going to be a little bit of a nerd here, but if your viewers want to
read it, it`s Title 18 of the United States Code, section 3584. The simple
answer is no. The next judge, Amy Berman Jackson, gets to run the sentence
consecutively if she wants or concurrently if she wants, or some
combination of the two.
So I`ve seen lots and lots of defense attorneys ask for things that they
know they can`t have, and the judge was right in this case to say not in my
court, not in my jurisdiction. I don`t have the authority to give you what
you`re asking for.
REID: You know, Chuck, just to stay with you for a second, a lot of people
– I was. A lot of people were shocked with how little time that Manafort
was given for this sentence – this stuff about him leading an exemplary
life. We know what his life was beforehand.
Were you equally shocked by it and do you think that shock and outrage that
people felt around the country will impact Judge Amy Berman Jackson`s
decision? Do judges react to the public reaction to other sentences?
ROSENBERG: You know, they probably try not to, but they`re human beings
like all of us. Inevitability she saw what Judge Ellis did in Virginia and
had some sort of reaction to it. I`m sure in her own mind, probably
already having read, Joy, the presentencing report for Mr. Manafort in her
court, she has an idea of what she thinks is the just outcome here.
Was I shocked? Not entirely. I`ve practiced in front of Judge Ellis for
many years as a federal prosecutor.
Was I disappointed? I was deeply disappointed. I think it was the wrong
call, a bad call.
Here`s why: many, many years ago Congress passed the statute to create
federal sentencing guidelines to bring some parity into the system. So,
somebody who did what Manafort did in San Diego or Spokane or Topeka or
whatever would get roughly the same sentence, regardless of which court and
which judge was handling the matter.
And so, this was not just a departure, this was a dramatic departure, and
it was a departure without a motion from the government. Normally, if
someone helps the government, if they`re truthful and cooperative, the
government will move the court, will ask the court to depart downward.
Manafort did not help. He lied. He did not earn a departure. He
certainly was not entitled to what he got. He got a real lucky break in
front of Judge Ellis. I don`t think the same thing is going to happen next
week in front of Judge Jackson.
REID: Yes. And, you know, David Corn, that`s part of I think what`s so
outrageous about this. I mean, you have Michael Cohen out here bearing his
soul in front of Congress, and going back over and over again to be helpful
without really a deal. He knows he`s getting three years regardless, you
know, maybe he`ll get a break down the road.
But Manafort is a guy who wasn`t even helping the government. As a matter
of fact, he was obstructing the government`s attempt to find the truth
here. Tampering with witnesses, all the other things he did. So, just
preview for me then how it`s going – I guess not the optics, that`s the
wrong word, I feel. If in the end this man who did not help, then the
Mueller report comes out and we don`t even get to see it, what are we left
with here as a country after having gone through three years of this?
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: That won`t be the end
of it, OK? Let`s just, you know, I`m a little bit frustrated, Joy, because
people seem to be putting all their eggs in the Mueller report basket and
Mueller has no obligation under the Justice Department guidelines to
produce a comprehensive report telling – stating what he found out and
what he learned. His only obligation is to give a report at the very end
to the attorney general explaining why he prosecuted cases or declined to
prosecute other cases.
You know, it could easily be a 12-page report, you know, telling – you
know, without getting into details. Or if he chose to, it could be a
5,000-page report explaining everything he found and why he decided to
prosecute or not prosecute. We don`t know.
So it may well be at the end of the day if it`s a more limited report there
may not be much to show. And this gets back to a point I know you and I
have discussed previously. It`s not his job to tell Americans the truth.
That`s not what he was hired to do. He was hired to prosecute, look for
and then prosecute criminal cases.
It`s Congress` job or maybe an independent commission to dig into all of
this and tell us what happened with Trump/Russia connections and everything
else and the Russian intervention because a lot of probably what went on
may not have been a crime. It could just be wrong. You can have scandals
that aren`t necessarily illegal but they still can contain acts of profound
So, you know, we still have the, you know, the House Democrats have taken
control of the intelligence committee and are going back over an
investigation that the Republicans turned into a clown show. And so
there`s that. And hopefully they will give us some deeper and wider
answers than Robert Mueller was ever asked to do.
REID: But, you know, David Corn, my friend, you and I both know that what
the Democrats are saying publicly, what you`re hearing in the reporting, is
that they`re hanging everything on the Mueller report. That they don`t
even want to talk about impeachment, which is the hearings that would get
the public the answers you just described. They would have a public
hearing. It isn`t removal. It`s impeachment as a hearing.
CORN: Well, no –
REID: They say no, not unless the Mueller report comes out.
CORN: Well, not necessarily. I believe they are setting up expectations
and standards for the Mueller report that may well be unjustified, and, you
know, sort of painting themselves into a corner. But you can have a robust
investigation with public hearings into the Russia connections and into,
you know, emoluments and into, you know, Trump bad business practices.
You can do all that through these committees without it being an
impeachment proceeding. In fact, I would argue that it`s probably more
responsible of Democrats in Congress to look at all these various things
that need further digging and scrutiny and that the public deserves to know
about the security clearance issue that you talked about earlier in the
show, and they should spend their time not worrying about to impeach or not
to impeach, but go after the tax returns, look at the insurance issues that
Michael Cohen has raised, the tax fraud story that “the New York Times” put
forward a couple of months ago about the Trump family getting away with
hundreds of millions of dollars in tax fraud. That`s amazing.
CORN: They should look at each and every one of these and then at the end
of the day, then they can have a debate over whether to impeach or not. By
then it might be election time. But the American public is owed answers
and you don`t need impeachment to do that.
REID: Well, before we go, we are out of time, but, Chuck Rosenberg, very
quickly, can you envision a leak of the Mueller report, whatever it is,
coming out of that White House counsel`s office, if it`s not released?
ROSENBERG: Yes, I can`t imagine it coming from the Mueller team, Joy. But
almost everything becomes public some way at some point. My guess is that
we`re going to see it but we`re not going to see it from Bob Mueller. He`s
running a very tight ship over there.
REID: Yes, he is.
David Corn, Washington bureau chief of “Mother Jones”, Chuck Rosenberg,
former U.S. attorney for Virginia, thank you guys very much.
REID: All right. So I am not an accountant. Tax law`s not my thing.
Statistically speaking, it`s probably not your thing either, but there is a
strong possibility it`s about to be. More on that in a minute.
Stay with us.
REID: The new Democratic House has ushered in a whole lot of changes,
apart from all the new incredibly diverse freshmen members and a new, if
returning, speaker at the helm. The change of leadership in the committees
means that we are seeing oversight for the first time since Donald Trump
entered the White House.
And that kicked into high gear earlier this week when the House Judiciary
Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler`s committee sent over a sweeping document
request to 81 people and entities related to Trump world. That happened on
Monday. On Tuesday, we learned that the House Ways and Means Committee is
preparing to go after a decade`s worth of Trump tax returns, and they plan
on doing so using a 1924 law that gives the chairman of that committee
broad power to demand the tax returns of White House officials. In this
case, the White House official is the president.
Well, today, we`re learning that that committee might be taking that
request one step further. “Reuters” is reporting that Democrats are
looking at the possibility of broadening the request to ask for Donald
Trump`s business returns.
Now, Trump owns more than 500 companies and entities. And what that
exactly means basically is that Donald Trump`s business is not really a
business in the sense that we understand it. Those more than 500 companies
are all a series of LLCs that normally should show up on your personal
income taxes. That setup is common in the New York real estate business.
So, for the committee, the first step would be to get Trump`s personal
returns, to look for those 500-plus LLCs, and if they`re not listed there,
step two would be to try to go and get Donald Trump`s business tax returns.
So it could get compliment so it could get complicated.
The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee tells “Reuters”, quote,
tax policy is pretty complicated. There are times individual returns can
instruct you, other times you might seek a business return.
So, that`s something to look out for. It does make you think, if Donald
Trump never ran for president, all of this could have remained hidden
forever. So, elections do have consequences, including for Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: Now, too many kids don`t have parents
who care. Gangs and drugs have taken over our streets and undermined our
schools. Every day, we read about somebody else who has literally gotten
away with murder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: After Lyndon Johnson made the surprise decision not to run for
president again in March of 1968, and after anti-war Democrat George
McGovern was blown out of the election by law and order incumbent Richard
Nixon in 1972, Democrats were shook. And after those presidential defeats
there was a way to run for president as a Democrat. That way was to run as
a centrist, to try and reconnect as a Democrat with white working class and
white suburban voters who fled to Nixon and then to Reagan in 1980.
And number one on the list you needed to do was to talk tough on crime. It
worked for Bill Clinton. It`s one of the ways that Clinton got elected in
1992. And though he wound up apologizing for his part in mass
incarceration once his wife was running for president, being tough on crime
and fending on Republicans on the issue is how Bill Clinton came to sign
the omnibus bill against crime in 1994.
Today, Democrats who are trying to run from that same playbook are finding
themselves in a very different Democratic Party, where the progressive wing
is getting stronger again and winning elections for Congress. Candidates
for president who might naturally have appealed to the Rust Belt white
working class voter 20 years ago are struggling to figure out a credible
path to the nomination, this early on in the race.
And it may be impossible to say what kind of candidate or platform will
work in the Democratic primary. Just this week, we`ve seen a number of
potential candidates from that more centrist wing of the party begged off
First, Eric Holder who was an assistant attorney general under Bill Clinton
and attorney general under President Obama says he is not running. Then,
Senator Jeff Merkley, the only senator to endorse Bernie Sanders, another
crime bill yes vote last time, and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. Also
this week, Hillary Clinton confirmed in a local television interview that
she was not running for president again. And the latest, Senator Sherrod
Brown from Ohio announced that he would rather stay in the Senate.
Which brings us to Joe Biden, the former vice president of the United
States, the ride or die bestie of Barack Obama, is reported to be seriously
consideration making his third run for president. The challenge is that
Joe Biden comes from that law and order school of Democratic politics. If
you reach into his crates, what you`re going to find is the kind of
dialogue on crime that used to be the way that you became the nominee.
Whether it`s the way he oversaw the Clarence Thomas hearings and his
treatment of Anita Hill or the way he wrote and defended the 1994 crime
bill. All of that is going to sound very different when you hear it played
For Joe Biden, the upside is that he would enter the race as the front-
runner if he gets in, full stop. He was the vice president. Everybody
knows him. But the risk is the replay. Today, “The Washington Post”
published parts of an interview that Biden gave in 1975 to a local Delaware
At the time, he was a freshman senator on the verge of successfully passing
a measure to block federal funding for busing that would help integrate
school systems. He argued against that, saying, quote: The real problem
with busing, you take people who aren`t racist, people who are good
citizens, who believe in equal education and opportunity, and you stunt
their children`s intellectual growth by busing them to an inferior school,
and you`re going to fill them with hatred.
He continued, quote: I do not buy the concept popular in the `60s which
said we have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is
now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers. In order to
even the score, we must now give the black man a head start or even hold
the white man back to even the race. I don`t buy that.
Joining me now is Karine Jean-Pierre, chief public affairs officer for
moveon.org and a former deputy director for President Obama`s 2012
Karine, great to see you.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, CHIEF PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, MOVEON.ORG: Good to see
you, Joy. Good to see you.
REID: Thank you very much.
So, let`s talk about this. Biden`s spokesman on the busing issue, this is
a quote from spokesman Bill Russo about “The Washington Post” article said
he never thought bussing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware,
a position which most people now agree with, Russo said. And he said
during many years of debate that busing would not achieve equal
So, it looks like on this and on the crime bill and other things, Team
Biden is just doubling down on whatever he said before. They`re just
defending it. They`re going to the battlements. Is that wise in today`s
version of the Democratic Party?
JEAN-PIERRE: No, it is not wise at all. And full disclosure, I know Joe
Biden well. As you mentioned, I worked in the – I worked for Obama on the
campaign, but I also worked in the Obama administration, where I got to
work with Joe Biden.
And, look, it is a complicated position that Joe Biden is in. He is
incredibly popular. People remember him fondly and connect Joe Biden with
the successes of Obama.
And, you know what? That will help him in the primaries, especially a
state like South Carolina. Where Joe Biden is now is he`s in a situation
where the last time that he ran alone without Obama was 12 years ago, and
now, he`s going to be in a situation where his 40-year record is going to
be examined. There is going to be a fresh new look and things like the
crime bill, things like Anita Hill, the hearing with Thomas, Clarence
Thomas, is going to come up.
And so the thing is here is that they have to deal with this head-on
because four years ago was a different time. We have move add we have
moved away from that. We`re talking about structural inequality. We`re
talking about things that have really hurt the brown and black community,
like the crime bill, over these last few decades.
And so, they need to talk about how that was a mistake. They need to talk
about how the things that he has done in the last 15 years that dealt with,
you know, the – he`s talked about civil rights issues. He`s talked about
women`s issues. He`s going to have to talk about that as well, but say,
you know what? Where I was 40 years ago was a mistake and talk about why
it was a mistake.
But by doubling down on things – on records on things that he said in
1970s, on the crime bill, where he voted on Anita Hill is a huge mistake.
REID: You know, Karine, you and I both know during the 2016 campaign,
young voters, particularly young black voters really held Hillary Clinton,
who was first lady at the time. She didn`t pass or sign the crime bill.
She was just the first lady.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, predators.
REID: She really got tagged with her comment superpredators about the
We know in this cycle, Kamala Harris is being really tagged by a lot of –
but not a lot of, but, you know, some African-American voters because she
was a prosecutor and prosecuted people in California and the way that that
Can Biden – I don`t know how to put this, but Biden`s legacy is Obama, his
support for Barack Obama, his ride or die support for Barack Obama. If he
runs, does his legacy then get relitigated by young voters who really
weren`t around during his tenure in the `90s but who will now learn the
things they learned about Hillary Clinton about him.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, 2016 should be a wake-up call, not for just Joe Biden
but for everybody who is jumping in. And, clearly, for some folks who
decided they were not going to jump in. Remember we had the Black Lives
Matter movement that happened around that time and led to really playing a
big role in the primary of 2016, as you just mentioned, with superpredators
that Hillary Clinton said as first lady that really hurt her in that
And so, you – we`re just in a different time, Joy, and you cannot – you
cannot go by and not talk about your record because you`re going to be
called out for it, and this is just where we are. There is an energy,
there is an activism, there is a conversation happening, people are calling
out white supremacy, and we also have Donald Trump who is in the White
House who would – who is doing a bunch of things that hurt, you know,
front line communities.
So, we need candidates, not just talking the talk but walking the walk.
Not just having lines about the community, the African-American community
or the brown community in their stump speech, but actually putting forth
what are they going to do?
And here`s the thing, Joy, the reality is you cannot – a Democrat cannot
win the primary without the African-American vote. They cannot win the
general election without a high turnout in the black vote. Black community
and women in particular, black women hold the key to the White House.
REID: Yes. In sort of the reverse way. One might envision some more of
the Philadelphia speech, what President Obama did to sort of fix an issue
that came up regarding past associations.
JEAN-PIERRE: They have to deal with it.
REID: People might have to do it.
Karine Jean-Pierre from moveon.org, you are the best.
JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Joy.
REID: Thank you very much. Appreciate your time.
And up next, special purpose communication tubes. OK, it`s all going to
make sense in a minute. I promise. Stay with us.
REID: Special purpose communication tubes, they are a thing that looked
like this. They did not seem to do very much, even though these three
gentlemen are making some pretty intense eye contact with them. Those
tubes had something to do with radar technology. They were made by a
company called the International Telephone and Telegraph company, ITT for
They took this video when they opened a new radar tube plant in Virginia in
the late 1950s, but ITT was not just a special purpose communication
communications tubes company, they were a huge phone company in their day.
And in 1970s, ITT wanted to get even bigger. They started gobbling up
other companies to make one big monster conglomerate and they eventually
were sued for it for allegedly violating antitrust laws.
During the Nixon administration, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit
against ITT for bulking up their company in a way that potentially violated
federal antitrust law. It was a huge ordeal for ITT, being sued by the
Justice Department, until Richard Nixon made the whole thing go away. In
what wound up becoming kind of a sibling to the Watergate investigation,
Nixon ordered the Justice Department to drop the antitrust lawsuit against
ITT, and let them go ahead and make their mega company, and he did it in
exchange for a $400,000 check from ITT written out to the Republican Party.
The Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox set up a task force to
investigate that payoff and the allegation that the president leaned on the
Justice Department to get them to drop a lawsuit. The special prosecutor
reportedly turned up so much evidence of wrongdoing around the ITT scandal
that they were planning a prosecution, but they never got the chance.
Richard Nixon, of course, resigned and was pardoned before he could be held
accountable for his conduct in the Oval Office.
Now, Rachel has talked about this on this show before because there is a
lesson here that is important. The president cannot interfere with the
Justice Department. The president is not allowed to lean on or give orders
to the DOJ about who they do and do not prosecute. That kind of thing is
illegal, whether it comes with a $400,000 check from the telephone company
or not. Hold that thought.
REID: This week, Jane Mayer at “The New Yorker” reported that in 2017, the
current president tried to pressure the Justice Department when they were
trying to decide whether to open an entrust lawsuit against AT&T. AT&T was
trying to merge with Time Warner, which owns, drum roll, CNN.
The president has repeatedly attacked CNN at his rallies and on Twitter and
made CNN his number one enemy in the media. Even before he was elected, he
said that he did not think that the AT&T/Time Warner merger should go
Now, mind you, blocking that merger from happening would have been really
bad for those companies` business, but Donald Trump – from Donald Trump`s
point of view, it also would have been a kind of punishment for CNN.
According to “The New Yorker,” Donald Trump as president demanded that his
advisers instruct the Justice Department to open that antitrust
investigation into AT&T, a roundabout way of ordering the DOJ to meet out
that punishment against the company that owns CNN because he doesn`t like
the way he`s being covered.
The Justice Department did wind up filing a lawsuit to block the AT&T
merger that the president wanted, a case that they eventually lost. DOJ
says the president had no say in their deliberations when deciding whether
to bring that suit, but now that the Democrats control Congress, they say
they are going to find out for sure. Democrats on the House judiciary
committee have sent two letters, one to the Justice Department and one to
the White House counsel, requesting a trove of documents relating to the
president and his involvement in the AT&T/Time Warner merger.
The document request spans a time period of more than two years. They`re
essential asking for any piece of paper or communication that might
document Donald Trump`s actions or directions surrounding the merger. They
write, quote: Even the appearance of White House interference in antitrust
law enforcement matters, undermines public trust. The fact that actual
interference would constitute a serious abuse of power.
Democrats are asking for those documents by March 20th, so hold on to your
radar tubes, everybody, and watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back on Monday and I`ll see
you tomorrow morning on my show “A.M. JOY.”
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with the great Ali Velshi in for
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