Britain votes to delay Brexit. TRANSCRIPT: 3/14/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Joaquin Castro, David Wheeler, Joshua Koskoff



Good evening, Rachel. 


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



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


We start tonight, actually, with some breaking news out of a federal court

case in Florida.  You will remember that between the 2016 presidential

election and the subsequent inauguration of Donald Trump, in January of

2017, the news organization “BuzzFeed” published this document which soon

came to be known as the Steele dossier, the Christopher Steele dossier. 


This is a document that at the time some reporters had seen or at least

they`d seen parts of it.  Parts of this document or perhaps all of it had

been handed over to the FBI and over to the State Department.  This

document had also been briefed, at least in part, to the incoming

president.  Remember that dramatic scene in James Comey`s book where he

talks about going in one-on-one and briefing President-elect Donald Trump

on the content and the nature and most importantly the existence of this

dossier, which was starting to circulate. 


So, it was a round in various circumstances but “BuzzFeed” was the first to

make it available to the general public when they published it online in

January 2017.  And to put it mildly, their publication of that dossier

exploded like a freaking fireball, right?  I mean, it had, you will recall,

this awkward and still difficult to talk about front page allegation that

President-elect Donald Trump had engaged in some very specific

extramarital, extracurricular behavior in a Moscow hotel room that had been

videotaped and was being used to leverage or blackmail him.  That

allegation about that supposedly videotaped behavior by the president and

Russia holding it over him, that obviously got the most attention because

of the nature of that allegation, and that specific allegation has never

really gone anywhere in the interim coming of years. 


But as reporter Matthew Rosenberg notes at “The New York Times” tonight, a

lot of the other stuff in the dossier, certainly the headline stuff in the

dossier, did ultimately pan out.  Quote, parts of the dossier have proved

prescient.  Its main assertion that the Russian government was working to

get Mr. Trump elected was hardly an established fact when it was first laid

out by Christopher Steele in his first memo in June 2016.  But that has

since been backed up by the United States` own intelligence agencies and by

Robert Mueller`s investigation. 


The dossier`s talk of Russian efforts to cultivate some people in Mr.

Trump`s orbit was similarly unknown when first detailed in one of

Christopher Steele`s reports, but it has proved broadly accurate as well. 

When “BuzzFeed” published the Steele dossier so everybody could read it,

though, there was one Russian guy who was mentioned on the final page of

the dossier who went beyond just complaining about the document being

published or denying that the claims about him in the dossier were true. 

It was this one guy who was not known in the United States at all but who

was mentioned in the dossier and described as sort of having bank shot roll

in this whole scheme.  He went so far as to actually file an American

lawsuit, a defamation case in federal court in Florida against “BuzzFeed”,

basically trying to destroy them as an entity as punishment for “BuzzFeed”

publishing this dossier, which he said contained allegations about him that

were not true. 


So, this Russian guy files that defamation lawsuit against “BuzzFeed” in

February of 2017, right after “BuzzFeed” publishes the dossier. 

Ultimately, “BuzzFeed” prevailed in that case.  A judge dismissed the

defamation case from this Russian guy just this past December.  The court

found that “BuzzFeed`s” decision to publish the dossier was lawful, it was

not defamatory, threw the case out. 


Well, last week on this show, you might remember me giving you sort of a

heads up that there might be some potentially interesting new information,

some potentially interesting new fallout from that lawsuit after its

dismissal, because even though the case has been dismissed and it is done

in court, there has been some additional legal wrangling about whether the

materials produced in that case would be kept secret indefinitely or

whether the materials produced over the course of the fight over that case,

whether they would now be made public. 


Well, bingo.  That`s what we got tonight.  Tonight, that slot machine

finally paid out its jackpot, because tonight, the court unsealed this

report which was created by the guy whose name you see on screen there. 

He`s not a famous person, but he`s the former chief of staff of the FBI`s

cyber division. 


He`s the former director for cyber incident response at the National

Security Council at the White House.  He`s now the head of a cyber security

company that has hired in the course of this lawsuit to investigate whether

the Steele dossier was true.  Not all of it, but specifically the part of

it that was the basis of this lawsuit. 


As I mentioned, it`s on the last page of the Steele dossier, as published

by “BuzzFeed”, where this Russian guy and his tech firm are described as

having an important technical role in the Russian attack on our election in

2016.  You sort of have to read through the redactions of various kind to

get there, but what the Steele dossier said about this guy was over the

period from March 2016 to September 2016, his company and its affiliates

had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs,

steal data and conduct altering operations against the Democratic Party`s

leadership.  Entities linked to blank were involved and he and other – he

and another hacking expert both recruited under duress by the FSB were

significant players in this operation. 


So, the guy whose companies were described that way in that part of the

Steele dossier, he`s the one who filed this defamation lawsuit against

“BuzzFeed” right after “BuzzFeed” published the dossier.  And this guy,

this other guy was the chief of staff of the FBI`s cyber division, top

cyber incident response guy at the National Security Council, he was hired

by “BuzzFeed” as part of them fighting this lawsuit, to produce a report –

look at the data and produce an expert report basically to determine

whether those allegations in the dossier about that guy and the botnets and

the porn traffic and how exactly they used that stuff to get at these

Democratic documents, they hired that expert guy to determine whether or

not those allegations in the dossier were true, right, because that`s a key

point of fighting a defamation case. 


You can`t sue someone for saying bad things about you if the bad things

they`re saying about you are true.  So, I mean, the lesson here for all of

us is don`t sue somebody for defamation unless you`re absolutely sure that

the thing they`re saying about you is a lie because the discovery process

in a defamation lawsuit will ultimately turn up the truth.  About whether

those terrible allegations against you that you didn`t want anybody to

hear, that you`re so mad about them, you`re suing about them.  Eventually

in this defamation case, it will come out whether or not the bad things

about you are in fact true, because if they`re true, somebody can legally

say it about you, no matter how bad it makes you look. 


I know these things and I can riff on them off the top of my head because I

basically got that all printed out on a rubber stamp in my office, which I

use as a response to everybody who contacts me to complain about something

that I say about them on this show.  I`m terribly sorry, but it`s true. 

Stamp.  Give me the next one. 


We now know because this expert report has been unsealed tonight after that

lawsuit ran its course in Florida.  We now know that at least according to

this guy from the National Security Council and the top cyber guy at the

FBI.  We now know that what it says in the Christopher Steele dossier about

those Russian botnets and the porn traffic and viruses and bugs and how

those were used to steal data in the Russian operation against the

Democratic Party, according to this expert report, that stuff in the

dossier broadly is true. 


Quote: Technical evidence suggests that Russian cyber espionage groups used

XBT infrastructure to support malicious spear phishing campaigns against

the Democratic leadership which resulted in the theft of e-mails from a

senior member of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.  Technical

evidence suggests that the Russian cyber espionage group that`s linked to

the DNC hack has used an XBT-owned IP address.  XBT owned infrastructure

was used to support the malicious spear phishing attack of Democratic Party

leadership in 2016, which resulted in the theft and subsequent publication

of sensitive information related to the Clinton campaign. 


So, you know, this is the spear phishing attack on John Podesta.  This is

Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear, the two different Russian intelligence groups

that were conducting the attack and how they did it.  I mean, what this

technical report that we`ve now had unsealed out of that lawsuit, what it

suggests is that at least in the part of the dossier, Christopher Steele

was right. 


As “The New York Times” sums it up tonight, quote, a report by a former FBI

cyber expert unsealed in a federal court in Miami finds evidence that

suggests Russian agents used by the guy who sued “BuzzFeed”, Mr. Gubarev,

to start their hacking operation during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Quote: The report`s suggestions of a link between Mr. Gubarev and Russian

hacking is likely to spur new demands for renewed investigations. 


It has long been fascinating to me that Republicans and the Trump White

House have focused on Christopher Steele and the Steele dossier as if it is

embarrassing or bad somehow that that document and his work might in any

way have been a predicate for the larger Russia investigation and

ultimately the special counsel.  I mean, honestly, bits and pieces of the

dossier keep getting proven true all the time.  Nothing in it has been

conclusively disproven at all. 


And – I mean, flip through it again some time.  I mean, you know, I don`t

understand why Republicans in the White House keep drawing people`s

attention back to the dossier.  Really, you want people to read the

dossier?  What it says about the Trump campaign and Trump himself is not

good, and bits and pieces of it keep being proven true. 


Now, we think but we are not sure that there may yet be more unsealed

documents that derive from this case in Florida, but this piece of it

unsealed tonight verifying the only real technical stuff in the dossier

about the Russian attack on our election and the Russian attack on the

Democrats, that is new as of tonight.  So very interesting news. 


“New York Times” was first to break it, but that report is available to

everybody because it`s been posted publicly by the court.  And, you know, I

should mention when it comes to efforts by congressional Republicans and

the Trump White House to try to fend off the Russia investigation, one of

the things that`s also been happening over the past few days is that the

top Republican member of the Judiciary Committee in the House, remember,

Republicans are in the minority there now, so the chairman in the Judiciary

Committee is Democrat Jerry Nadler.  The top Republican is Republican

congressman from Georgia. 


He personally, that top Republican from that committee, has unilaterally

been releasing un-redacted transcripts or almost totally un-redacted

transcripts from a whole bunch of different witnesses who have come before

that committee for its part of the Russia investigation.  And the

transcripts he`s been releasing are from witnesses who the Republicans and

the Trump White House and the conservative media have been trying to vilify

as terrible bad guys somehow in the Russia investigation.  Today, for

example, these Republicans released the 300-page-long transcript of the

testimony of the former top counterintelligence agent in the FBI, Peter



This was the Strzok testimony they released today.  Two days ago, they

released the testimony, almost as long, from a top FBI lawyer named Lisa

Page.  A couple of days before that, they released the testimony of one of

the top experts in the Justice Department on Russian organized crime, Bruce



And again, they picked those three – they picked Peter Strzok, Lisa Page

and Bruce Ohr – because all of those public servants are people who the

Republicans and the White House and conservative media have vilified,

right?  Have tried to turn into terrible, terrible bad guys because of

their roles in the Russia investigation.


And, you know, knock yourself out.  You can try to turn anybody into a bad

guy that you want.  Especially when you`ve got access to privileged

information that isn`t public, that gives you an easy way to vilify people,

right?  You take little dribs and drabs, specific allegations, phrases from

here and there, and if people don`t have access to the full record, they`ve

only got access to what you`re telling them about, it`s easy to spin things

and characterize things in as negative a way as possible, and they`ve been

doing that for months now when it comes to these law enforcement and

counterintelligence officials. 


But now this congressman from Georgia, Doug Collins, has decided that

unilaterally what he`s going to do to stick it to the Democrats is he`s

going to release the whole transcripts from these witnesses, to point,

according to the Democrats, of rejecting suggested or requested redactions

from the Justice Department when the Justice Department has asked for stuff

to be held back because it`s law enforcement or national security

sensitive.  Collins just says no and he`s been rejecting those redactions,

just releasing the whole thing. 


And I know why he`s doing it, but I`m not sure he`s thought it through.  I

mean, taking an individual line or a phrase, right, and posting it on

Twitter and giving it to conservative media as if he`s turned up these

damning admissions.  We`ve seen Congressman Collins do that with bits and

pieces of these transcripts that he`s released, but we`ve all got the whole

transcripts now to read. 


And the whole transcripts definitely don`t help their case when it came to

trying to – comes to trying to make people like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page

and Bruce Ohr look like bad guys.  So, like, from the Lisa Page transcript,

for example, there is this. 


Question, are you aware of any FBI officials leaking information about this

investigation before the election?  Lisa Page: not to my knowledge. 


Question, did you make any disclosures about this investigation to the

press or the public before election day?  Lisa Page: No, ma`am.  Question:

why not?  Lisa Page: It`s both impermissible and it would be patently

unfair.  Thank you. 


Question: How do you think a disclosure to the press or the public would

have impacted Donald Trump`s electoral prospects?  Lisa Page: that`s not

mine to speculate on, ma`am. 


Quote: Well, on the basis of the information, would it have been damaging? 

Would have been major?  Lisa Page: I would – yes, I would suspect so. 


Question: If someone at the FBI was trying to stop Donald Trump from being

elected president, yourself or Peter Strzok or any of the others, do you

think they could have publicly disclosed that Trump`s campaign was under

investigation for potentially colluding with Russian government actors? 

Lisa Page: That`s what you would think.  Question: So you`re saying yes? 

Lisa Page: Yes, ma`am. 


Question: but to your knowledge, nobody the FBI did disclose this fact

publicly correct?  Lisa Page: No, ma`am.  Question: Would you consider this

strong evidence that there was not a deep state conspiracy at the FBI to

stop Donald Trump from being elected?  Lisa Page: Yes, ma`am.  That and the

fact that this is an extraordinarily conservative organization, the notion

that there is an FBI deep state conspiracy about anything is laughable. 


Question, just to be clear, so you were not personally trying to stop

Donald Trump from being president?  Answer: Oh, no. 


Again, Republicans are releasing this transcript from Lisa Page because

they think that`s going to make her look terrible.  Let`s show the whole

terrible truth about – I mean, on the one hand, this is fascinating, and

on the other hand, this does not make her look bad. 


I mean, here she is, for example, explaining the urgency within the FBI of

the Russia investigation ha w.  That they were secretly conducting during

the president campaign and how that urgency was inflicted by widespread

expectations about whether or not Trump actually had any prospect of

winning the election. 


She says, quote, by which I mean if he is not elected to the extent that

the Russians were colluding with members of his team, we`re still going to

investigate that, even without him being president because any time the

Russians do anything with a U.S. person, we care and it is very serious to

us.  But if he becomes president, that totally changes the game because now

he is the president of the United States.  He`s immediately going to start

receiving classified briefings.  He`s going to be exposed to the most

sensitive secrets imaginable.  If there was somebody on his team who

wittingly or unwittingly is working with the Russians, that is super



Thank you, Lisa Page.  No, seriously, thank you, Lisa Page.  I mean, I am -

- I – the circumstances under which it was released are contested, but I

am glad to have this access to this information from your transcript.  I

don`t know why Republicans think it makes you look bad. 


Also, in the Peter Strzok transcript released today, it`s long and there is

a ton in it, but there is, for example, again, something the Republicans

think makes him look terrible, which I don`t think most people are going to

see it that way.  For example, a sort of hilarious back and forth that I

can`t put fully on television because there is a lot of swearing, but a

Republican congressman is trying to get Peter Strzok to spell out why he

expressed in a text message that it would be, forgive me, F-ing terrifying

for Trump to actually be elected president.  And Republicans are

questioning him about that and they clearly think they`ve got him nailed on

something super bad about him expressing that it would be terrifying for

Trump to be elected president. 


How terrible it is that Strzok is expressing that while he`s part of the

investigation into whether or not the Russians had successfully infiltrated

Trump`s campaign in order to install Trump in the White House because they

had basically flipped people close to him.  Why would you think that would

be bad?  They have this whole back and forth about it, and at the end of

it, you can actually just see in Strzok`s own words, rather than

Republicans` characterizations of it, why he would have been so F-ing

terrified about the prospect of Trump`s election. 


Here we go.  Quote, what did you mean by F-ing terrifying?  Peter Strzok,

I`m sorry?  Question, what did you mean by F-ing terrifying?  Peter Strzok:

the prospect that candidate Trump might be elected president. 


Question, in November when you said it would be F-ing terrifying, you were

investigating whether or not he had colluded, coordinated or otherwise

conspired with a foreign actor to interfere in the election.  Peter Strzok:

the allegations that have been made public – he`s being careful not to

step on open investigations – but the allegations made public are

allegations that members of Trump campaign may have been doing that. 


Question, then why in the world would you be talking about impeachment if

you did not think that he, Trump specifically, had done anything wrong? 

Peter Strzok: Because without getting into details here that are either

classified or in the context of an ongoing investigation, my concern, based

on the credible allegation that members of his campaign were actively

colluding with the government of Russia struck me as on extraordinary

threat to America and represented – interruption with a question.  Well,

you had already – he then finishes, represented the most unbelievably

severe and reprehensible behavior that any sort of American could have

engaged in. 


Oh.  So even if it wasn`t at that point in the investigation, the prospect

that Trump himself was colluding, it was the people in his campaign, the

prospect that he would get elected while people within his campaign were

colluding with the Russian government in order to get the Russian

government to help install Trump in the Oval Office, that would be the most

unbelievably severe and reprehensible sort of behavior that any American

could engage in so, therefore, of course it would be F-ing terrifying that

that person might become president of the United States.  Further



No wonder Peter Strzok had to be demonized and run out of the place, right? 

But now, thanks to the Republicans who think they`ve really nailed him

here, we`ve got 300 pages of him in his own words.  I don`t think it`s

playing the way you guys want it to. 


That`s a lot of things are happening all at once right now.  Obviously,

we`re getting continuing revelations, both from Congress, including from

some unexpected corners in Congress.  We`re getting unexpected revelations

from court cases, which we weren`t watching closely, we didn`t expect to

get new news developments. 


Today, the president`s longtime political adviser Roger Stone got a trial

date for early November.  Tomorrow, we`ll get a status update on Rick

Gates, the president`s deputy campaign chair.  He has been a cooperating

witness for over a year now.  His sentencing in federal court has been

delayed four times already.  We will find out tomorrow whether they`re

going to delay his sentencing yet again or whether prosecutors in the

special counsel`s office are ready to tell us how cooperative Rick Gates

has been, what they`ve got from him and therefore what they think he ought

to get in terms of a sentence.  That deadline is tomorrow. 


Yesterday, of course, it was the president`s campaign chairman who was

sentenced to several years in federal prison.  Within minutes of that

sentence being handed down, the same man was handed a multi-count felony

indictment out of New York state, which among other things has profound

questions or a profound impact on the overall question of whether or not

President Trump might be able to use his pardon powers to get him,

witnesses and defendants basically out of the line of fire when it comes to

the Russia investigation writ large. 


It`s interesting, though, today in the wake of that development with

Manafort getting charged in New York state, today a whole bunch of New York

stuff sort of exploded.  First thing today, this morning there was a

landmark ruling in a New York state appeals court, which said that a

sitting president is not immune from lawsuits filed against him in state

court.  This is a landmark ruling because this is considered to be

unsettled law. 


Back in the Clinton administration, the Supreme Court established that a

president can be sued in federal court.  That was the Paula Jones case. 

But that Supreme Court ruling in 1997 left the question about state court

cases open.  Well, today, this New York state appeals court said we think a

president can be sued in state court.  And so, therefore, this particular

state court lawsuit against president Trump that is before us today, it can

go forward. 


The immediate material consequence of that ruling in New York today is that

the lawsuit they were considering when they made this ruling, a lawsuit

against the president by a woman named Summer Zervos, that lawsuit will

proceed.  This is a woman who says the president sexually and aggressively

groped her and crucially says he then defamed her when she made that

allegation publicly and he publicly claimed that she was a liar. 


Her case proceeding now in state court will ultimately lead to discovery in

that case.  And discovery can be a very big deal.  I mean, remember from

where we just got all this stuff in the Christopher Steele case? 

Defamation cases really are one way to get courts to prove one way or nut

whether nasty-sounding allegations are actually true.  Somebody says you

defamed them, they bring you to court for it, right. 


Ultimately, the court`s going to be called on, the court process is going

to be used, among other things, to determine whether or not the supposedly

defamatory allegation was true.  So the court will effectively be used in

this case if it goes forward to prove whether or not Trump sexually and

aggressively groped that woman.  So that case at least for now will go

forward, although the president`s side certainly will appeal. 


As a secondary consequence of that landmark ruling today about state

lawsuits being okay against a sitting president, we also got this late in

the day, the New York state attorney general going forward with a case

against President Trump`s foundation, his so-called charity.  Now, that may

sound surprising to you because you might remember that in December the

president`s charity was shut down after the New York attorney general filed

a lawsuit that alleged persistently illegal conduct at that foundation. 

Well, apparently it being shut down doesn`t mean it`s out of trouble



Within hours of that Summer Zervos appeals court ruling today, Attorney

General Tish James in New York was back in court saying that shutting down

that foundation down is not enough and that New York state is going after

him for it.  Quoting from the filings today, quote, Mr. Trump used the

foundation`s assets for his own benefit and benefit of entities in which he

had a financial interest.  Mr. Trump used foundation funds to among other

things pay for portraits of himself, make political donations, pay for

advertisements for Trump Hotels, settle lawsuits involving his business,

the Trump Organization and used it to improperly intervene in the 2016



In using the foundation`s charitable assets, Mr. Trump`s conduct was

willful and intentional.  Mr. Trump was aware that directors of charities

may not use charitable assets for a director`s benefit, and the foundation

is absolutely prohibited from using its assets to intervene in public

elections, but he nevertheless used money donated to the foundation to

benefit his campaign.  This arrangement not only violated New York state

law, it also ran afoul of federal campaign finance law, turning a charity

fund-raiser into a campaign fund-raiser and campaign rallies into

opportunities for the candidate to dole out money that the public donated

to charity.  As a result of this willful and intentional conduct, the court

should require Mr. Trump to pay restitution of $2.8 million plus a penalty

in the amount of two-point – excuse me, a penalty in the amount of up to

$5.6 million. 


So how was your day today?  I mean, today the New York attorney general

told the president of the United States that he needs to pay $8.4 million

to make good on the wrongdoing of his charitable foundation, which he was

already forced to shut down by previous action by the New York attorney



When it rains, it pours.  I mean, all of this stuff is happening all at

once.  Honestly, it`s not even half of it.  More to come. 


Stay with us.




MADDOW:  Last night, the Republican controlled Senate voted 54-46 to pull

the plug on U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.  Seven

Republican senators voted with the Democrats on that.  So, it passed. 


That measure is also expected to pass over overwhelmingly in the House. 

Because it passed the House and the Senate, that resolution will tee up

what could be President Trump`s first ever attempt to veto something.  He

hasn`t tried to do that yet. 


Even if it`s first on the resolution, it won`t be the only one.  Hard on

the heels of the vote yesterday, today, the Republican controlled Senate

voted to void the president`s declaration of an emergency so we can build

his southern border wall.  This time even more Republicans broke ranks and

sided against the president, 12 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with

the Democrats this time.


And it was an interesting thing to watch this take shape.  On this vote on

the wall on the emergency declaration, the president kept insisting

Republican senators would stick with him and saying that publicly over and

over again.  Even as he kept claiming that, the number of Republican

defectors on this issue went from initially two and then three and then

four, all the way up to the 12 Republican senators who sided against him



This is a historic thing, though.  This is the first time that the U.S.

Congress has ever blocked a presidential emergency declaration.  Even ahead

of whatever happens with this veto, they have never done something like

this before. 


Joining us now is Congressman Joaquin Castro of the great state of Texas. 

He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee.  He also authored the

bill in the House to overturn the president`s declaration of an emergency. 


Congressman, thank you so much for being here tonight.  It`s a real

pleasure to have you here. 


REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS:  Thank you for having me, Rachel. 


MADDOW:  You have to feel validated by the bipartisan nature of the support

for your resolution in both the House now and in the Senate. 


CASTRO:  Yes, that`s right.  We got 245 votes in the House and 59 votes in

the Senate.  So it was a strong bipartisan condemnation of President Trump

attempting to go around Congress to fund his border wall.  You know, I was

predicting we`d get 54 votes in the Senate.  We got 59. 


MADDOW:  In terms of the expected veto, obviously, you need a whole bunch

more senators to flip against the president in order to get it up to a veto

override.  Obviously, it would be a heavy lift to get that threshold in the

House, as well.  To me, just as an observer that doesn`t seem like a

realistic possibility.  I imagine you and your colleagues will try for it



CASTRO:  Yes, that`s right.  You know, when we started this, I said if he

tried to use the emergency declaration, to build his border wall and fund

his wall, then we would fight him in the courts.  We would fight him in

Congress and that the American people would fight him.


And so you`re right, overriding any veto is going to be very tough but

we`re not going to give up.  We`ll continue to fight and do everything that

we can to terminate this emergency resolution. 


MADDOW:  Well, is there a connection, actually, between what just happened

with these again votes against the president, those votes to block the

president in both houses and pretty big votes in both houses to do that? 

Is there a connection between that and the legal strategy if this does get

into court, will these votes in the House and Senate be material to the way

the courts look at this and decide whether the president acted within his

constitutional powers here? 


CASTRO:  Yes, I think you`re absolutely right.  They are related.  It will

be very significant for the courts and perhaps the Supreme Court if it

reviews this to see that both chambers of Congress, one re pub can chamber

in the Senate and one Democratic in the house of representatives both voted

the terminate President Trump`s emergency declaration, because we don`t

believe it`s legal and because there is no emergency on our southern



MADDOW:  To the extent that the Congress, excuse me, that the courts will

be considering the sort of plain language understanding of what an

emergency is, a majority, bipartisan, bicameral majority of Congress

looking at that matter and saying, no, Mr. President, we don`t see the

emergency, you have to imagine that moves the courts somewhat but we will



CASTRO:  No, that was very significant.  Thank you, I just want to say as a

final thought, Rachel, a thank you to all the Americans who reached out to

their members of Congress and their senators and put pressure on these

folks to do the right thing.  I think that`s why we saw overwhelming

numbers in both the House and the Senate. 


MADDOW:  Congressman Joaquin Castro of the great state of Texas who

authored this bill overturning the president`s declaration, of an emergency

– really appreciate you being here tonight, sir.  Thanks a lot.


CASTRO:  Thank you. 


MADDOW:  I should always remember, you have to – if you start stepping on

the person, you have to re-invite them back into the conversation or you

both end up – I`ll work on it.  I`ll be right back.




MADDOW:  Here is one ad, this is subtle.  Consider your man card reissued. 

The fine print reads, if it`s good enough for the professional, it`s good

enough for you.  Who`s the professional?


One 2012 product catalog shows the silhouette of a soldier holding his

helmet.  It says, when you need to perform under pressure, if you buy this

product, you, too, can do what this soldier does under pressure. 


Here`s anther one.  Forces of opposition bow down.  You are singlehandedly

outnumbered, and at this point, just in case it`s not clear we`re selling

military capacity here, there`s this quote, it`s tested and proven reliable

in the most brutal conditions on earth.  It`s the uncompromising choice

when you demand a rifle as mission adoptable as you are.  It is, quote, the

ultimate military combat weapons system – the ultimate combat weapon



In 2014, the families of the first graders and the educators who were

killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, they filed a wrongful death lawsuit

against Remington, the manufacturer of the rifle that was used in that

massacre and they used the company`s marketing as evidence that this was a

product that was not being marketed for a lawful use.  The argument in

court was that this gun maker was specifically marketing the AR-15 rifle to

civilians so that those civilians could use it for military style combat in

civilian life, which is not a thing you`re legally allowed to do. 


During the trial, the lawyer for the families explained it the different

way.  He said, imagine if a car company marketed a vehicle as being perfect

for running people over. 




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can you imagine Ford Motor Company advertising a car to

go run over people?  Who would hesitate for a second to hold Ford

accountable for that? 




MADDOW:  Who would hesitate to hold Ford accountable for that and who would

question that Ford should be held accountable for that, and that American

law would allow it? 


There is a very specific reason it`s been impossible to hold gun

manufacturers accountable following America`s epidemic of mass shooting. 

It`s because the gun industry alone, among all American industry, the gun

industry alone has special immunity.  I mean, if you make a pillow that`s

prone to burst into flames when exposed to heat, or if you manufacture a

flotation device that sinks, not only are you liable to consumer protection

regulations that will likely remove your product from the marketplace, or

prevent you at least from advertising it.


Not only that, if your product injures or kills somebody because of those

failures, you`ll get nailed for it, right?  It`s not the case with guns. 

Guns alone are protected from those types of lawsuits. 


In 2005, Congress passed a bill that was later signed into law by President

George W. Bush.  It`s called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. 

You say the Benetton array there of the diverse group supporting that. 

That was right before the Democrats swept the House and Senate. 


But the lawyers for the families of the Sandy Hook victims may with this

lawsuit they initially filed in 2014, they may have become the first people

in the country to find a way around that gun maker`s immunity law and it

starts with the marketing strategy used by gun makers. 


Today, huge, hugely, hugely important ruling in Connecticut.  The Supreme

Court in Connecticut today ruled that marketing military style guns to

civilians as a way of killing enemies, that could be a violation of state

fair trade laws.  There is a 4-3 decision overturned a lower court ruling

that thrown out that lawsuit and, boy, does this open a world of



I mean, this ruling paves the way for families to subpoena internal

documents on how the gun companies marketed their AR-15s, this rifle that

has become the weapon of choice for mass shooters.  These are documents,

internal documents and communications how they try to sell them and

documents the manufacturers fought tooth and nail to keep out of the public

eye.  Because they fought so hard, it is expected that these documents may

provide a brutal glimpse how the industry operates and how it has

strategized how to sell its products. 


A similar discovery process in court is what pulled back the mask on the

tobacco industry and what that industry knew about what it was selling to

the American people and how.  Discovery in the tobacco cases what forced

that industry into a quarter trillion dollar settlement that became the

beginning of the end of that industry. 


Here for me, though, is maybe the part of this that`s going to be most

important to watch.  In their ruling today, these judges in the Connecticut

Supreme Court said it will fall to a jury to decide the promotional schemes

alleged in the case rise to the level of illegal trade practices and

whether fault for the tragedy can be laid at their feet.  Which means this

will no longer be knocking around among judges.  This will be a jury, a

Connecticut jury that will finally get to decide this case as it

specifically relates to what happened at Sandy Hook, and they will get to

look how this gun manufacturer marketed this rifle as the ultimate combat

weapon system for civilians, in the context of knowing that that rifle took

the lives of 20 first graders and six adults, right? 


Twenty-six people killed at Sandy Hook, killing all 26 of them took 264

seconds because of the capabilities of that ultimate combat weapon system,

for civilians.  Two hundred sixty-four seconds. 


Gun lobbyists may have immunity thanks to Congress and thanks to President

George W. Bush and you may be allowed to market this type of weapon.  But,

you know, you can`t market a car on the basis how good it would be for

running people down in a crowd and maybe this jury in Connecticut will find

you can`t market weapons like this to civilians for combat use in civilian

life because in civilian life, there is no such thing as legal combat use. 




MADDOW:  Today, there was a Supreme Court ruling in the state of

Connecticut that I think may end up being very, very important for the

entire country.  It will pave the way for a gun manufacturer called

Remington to potentially be held liable for the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy

Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  One of the mothers of the

victims said about this ruling today, quote: Nobody has blanket immunity. 

There are consequences.  We want our day in court to see what they do to

see why they do this this way and what needs to change. 


Joining us now here in studio is Joshua Koskoff, who is a lawyer for the

Sandy Hook families, and my friend David Wheeler whose son Ben was killed

during the shooting. 


I want to thank you both for being here.  Big win today. 




MADDOW:  David, let me ask you about your reaction.  It was a close ruling. 

It`s 4-3 but you prevailed.  How did it – what was your reaction? 


WHEELER:  It was overwhelming, of course, in a lot of ways.  But when I

think back to in the months and weeks when we learned about how this

industry works and when we first saw those advertisements that you showed

earlier tonight, absolutely shocking and overwhelming in that respect, as

well.  None of us had any idea that this kind of thing was prevalent and I

just don`t understand as I look at it what kind of society allows manhood

to be defined that way and that`s what this is about for me, it`s about

corporate responsibility. 


MADDOW:  Josh, one of the reasons I wanted you to be here is because I

talked to you here when you filed this because I was intrigued by this as a

legal strategy.  You at the time were also an interesting character in this

because you have not been a gun rights advocate.  This is not the space in

which you are practicing law. 


You came from outside this advocacy world to say hey, I think I see a way

forward here.  Is this going the way you expected it to? 



100 percent but it`s going the way, remember, I remember speaking with you

and talking about a path that we thought we had found through the block

immunity, the gun immunity.  That part is going exactly as we thought, and

that perspective I think we were able to bring was that of an outsider.


And I had the same experience that David had when you learned about the gun

and we saw the marketing.  It just leads you to say to yourself, this

cannot be legal. 


MADDOW:  Uh-huh. 


KOSKOFF:  This cannot just be above reproach, or above investigation, and

that belief and having David come to me and the other clients was more than

enough motivation to try to find that path around this thing. 


MADDOW:  David, I was struck by one of Josh`s arguments in court is that

this gun maker didn`t know the man who killed your son and who committed

that massacre but that gun manufacturer had been courting him for decades,

has essentially been driving their products in the marketplace toward

people who should have been recognized as likely to misuse these products. 

Do you think that`s a fair characterization at all? 


WHEELER:  I think that`s accurate and it`s important for us to be able to

take a look at how those decisions were made.  It`s really important for us

to be able to see how that manufacturing and marketing and advertising

process is related to what happened to us.  It`s crucial and this decision

allows us to do that.  It`s really important. 


MADDOW:  In terms of Newtown and Sandy Hook and families bonded together

because of what you`ve been through. 


WHEELER:  Right. 


MADDOW:  I remember talking to you very early on after it happened and

there was no clear sense of what was going to feel like the right way

forward.  Obviously, there`s no right way to do this.


How does it feel overall in the context with everything you`re coping with,

to be working on fights like this?  I mean, this is a confrontational thing

and it upsets people and it gets people mad and calls to question – how

does it feel? 


WHEELER:  Well, I can only speak to that personally and I think it`s

important work and I think it has to be done, and I certainly respect and

allow anyone else the validity of the way they respond to something like





WHEELER:  But this is what I have to do.  This is how I have to move

through the world.  This is how I have to look at myself in the mirror in

the morning.  If I don`t do this, it has to be done. 


MADDOW:  Josh, what happens next in the case? 


KOSKOFF:  We`re ready.  We`re ready to peel back the curtain and find out

if I get the stuff they had been hiding. 


MADDOW:  To get the internal documents from manufacturers. 


KOSKOFF:  You know, one thing is clear, Rachel, is that they have done

everything they can so far to prevent us from seeing their documents and

their e-mails and their marketing strategy.  So, it just kind of begs the

question what are they afraid of.


And so I think we owe it to certainly the families and I think the public

ought to see these things and make up their minds whether this is something

acceptable for the community or not. 


MADDOW:  Joshua Koskoff, lawyer for the Sandy Hook families, David Wheeler,

it`s great to see you, my friend.  Thanks.  Thanks.  Come back.  Keep us



We`ll be right back.  Stay with us.




MADDOW:  Here is a deep cut.  Do you remember the one absolutely

inexplicable moment late in the 2016 campaign when Trump held a rally in

Jackson, Mississippi?  Right, that`s weird late in the campaign because

Mississippi is not a place Republicans have to campaign in the general

election.  What`s he doing in Mississippi? 


Then while, he`s in Mississippi, out of nowhere in Mississippi, he invites

up on stage a British guy in a pink tie who starts talking in his British

accent about fighting Brussels bureaucrats and how terrible Angela Merkel

is and everybody is like, who is this guy and why is this happening in



Then, when Trump got elected, that guy, Trump`s favorite British person was

like the first person to show up at Trump Tower after election to

congratulate Trump on his win.  That was also weird. 


Today, it all came due and that`s our last story tonight.  That`s next.




MADDOW:  British parliament voted to delay their country leaving the E.U. 

That exit is otherwise slated to happen catastrophically in two weeks.  So,

they voted to delay it, but it`s not their decision to make.  All 27

members of the E.U. have to agree unanimously to let the Brits have an

extension.  Only one country peeling off blows the whole thing up. 


I know this is hard to imagine but the man we know to be President Trump`s

favorite British person of all, his friend, the right wing, super anti-

immigrant Brexit advocated Nigel Farage is now reportedly actively lobbying

other countries in Europe to get one of them to block the delay.  Farage is

trying to find one European country, maybe the new right wing government in

Italy, anybody will do, to stop the U.K. from getting this delay it`s

elected leaders are asking for so that Britain is forced to crash out in

two weeks with no plan. 


One British paper summed it up, quote, having campaigned for most of his

life for British sovereignty, Nigel Farage is now asking the E.U. to go

against the British government.  And Farage may be blowing smoke here, but

that feeling today that I`m pending disaster may temporarily postponed in

our closest overseas ally, that may be short lived if President Trump`s

best British friend gets his way. 


That does it for us tonight.  See you again tomorrow. 




Good evening, Lawrence.







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