Pence speaks at National Space Council. TRANSCRIPT: 3/27/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
MCKAY COPPINS: It`s being led by Mitch McConnell and a very kind of
ambitious, aggressive way of confirming these nominees.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yes, I`m reminded there is a Grover Norquist
line. I think it was back in 2012 when he was trying to rally the faithful
around Mitt Romney and the said faithful were not particularly excited
about Mitt Romney. He said all we need is a hand for member to sign stuff,
right? it`s sort of like that with the judges at this point.
Jane Coaston, and McKay Coppins, thanks so much for joining us.
JANE COASTON: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks for joining us at home this hour.
It was September 12th, 1962. It was a really, really hot day that day.
And the president`s speech was held in a big outdoor stadium where there
was not a single inch of shade for anyone who was sitting there listening
And that whole event ended up being a bit of an endurance test for the
thousands of people who were in attendance, not only because of the
unrelenting heat, but also because before the president eventually got up
to give his speech, all these other people went first. The university
president and a whole other cast of sort of lesser dignitaries all gave
fairly long remarks of their own, while all these thousands of people
wilted in the stadium under the noonday sun. All before the president even
started his remarks.
But when the president finally did come up to the podium at the football
stadium at Rice University in Houston, Texas, that hot September day in
1962, he I think somewhat wisely sort of recognized the environment he was
in. He started off taking note of the setting he was in. He was in the
school, the city, the state, and then frankly, the weight of the matter he
was about to discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate your
president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure
you that my first lecture will be very brief. I am delighted to be here,
and I am particularly delighted to be here on this occasion. We meet at a
college noted for knowledge in a city noted for progress in a state noted
for strength. And we stand in need of all three. We meet in an hour of
change and challenge in a decade of hope and fear in an age of both
knowledge and ignorance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the somewhat somber start before that very quiet crowd of
what would eventually become recognized as one of the triumphant oratorical
moments in U.S. presidential history. I mean, that was the quiet, somber
start to the speech in which JFK went on to inspire the nation to commit to
move proverbial mountains to do whatever needed to be done for America to
become the first nation on earth for Americans to lead humanity in put a
man on the moon.
And that speech is remembered for its pinnacle moments of inspiring
rhetoric, the stirring records from JFK. But it`s interesting. When you
go back to that speech now, what`s really striking given the legend of that
moment in history is that all the way up until the apex, the memorable apex
of that speech, JFK honestly was barely dragging that audience along.
This huge, sweaty stadium full of heat-struck Texans who had been sitting
there for a long time before he ever got up there, they were really not all
that into anything he was saying for any of the rest of his speech. But
the one indelible stanza from that speech, the one historical moment we can
all right now off the top of our heads recite from memory, that moment with
the crowd roaring and his crescendoing into this great memorable moment
about America putting a man on the moon, you know, when you go back and
look at it, it turns out the way he got the crowd to roar in that moment
was not because they seemed particularly psyched about going to the moon
before he got to that point in the speech. The thing they were all making
noise about at the start of that apex moment in the speech was that he had
just made a comedic football reference about why Rice University even
bothered to play Texas in football given what a mismatch that always was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer
space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves
the best of all mankind. And its opportunity for peaceful cooperation for
may never come again.
But some say why the moon? Why choose this as our goal. And they may well
ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why 35 years ago fly the Atlantic?
Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to
the moon –
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not
because they are easy but because they are hard. Because that goal will
serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because
that challenge is one that we`re willing to accept, one we are unwilling to
postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And then he sort of has the crowd with him there. Why does Rice
play Texas? And the crowd wakes up and is like, yes, Rice against Texas.
Why does Rice play Texas? That`s hard too, but we got to do the hard
stuff, like go to the moon, right? Right?
For all the rabbits that JFK had to pull out of the hat there, for
everything he had to do to bring that crowd, that tired, exhausted, hot
crowd, to bring them along with him, because that speech did ultimately
signal the public launch of an American effort that was extraordinary and
unprecedented and triumphantly successful in the end, that speech, those
words from JFK, they didn`t just go down in history as an important moment
in the JFK presidency, those words went down in history as an important
moment in the history of the U.S. presidency, in the history of this
country, frankly, in the history of the world.
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade
and do other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard,
right? This iconic indelible moment.
Not just because it was a well delivered line, but because in retrospect,
in hindsight looking back on that moment, we now know what JFK was setting
in motion. He really was setting in motion putting a man on the moon.
And now here`s the Trump administration version of that, which is happening
right now. Vice President Mike Pence has just gone to the Marshall Space
Flight Center in Alabama, and he has given what he clearly believes to be a
rousing, momentous speech for the ages about us going back to the moon
For the first time since 1972, we`re going to put astronauts on the moon
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going back to the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just like JFK, right? If Kennedy could make world history in 1962
with the “we choose to go to the moon” speech, clearly this is just as
inspiring, right? Mike Pence saying we are going back to the moon.
Here`s the thing. The reason JFK`s speech in 1962 became an iconic moment
in world history and will be remembered for the ages, no matter what ever
else ever happens on earth is because Kennedy said “we choose to go to the
moon,” and he was actually choosing that we would go to the moon, and then
we actually did it.
In contrast, Vice President Mike Pence has just announced we are going back
to the moon, and he has done it in like JFK style, but the Trump
administration actually has no plan to go back to the moon. And part of
the reason we know this is because Mike Pence admitted it in another
awkward part of his speech.
It turns out he didn`t make plans to go to Alabama to announce we`re going
back to the moon because he knew we had plans to go back to the moon. In
fact, he was just going there to give a speech and somebody said hey, maybe
we could do that a couple of minutes before he walked on stage. So, he
hoped that announcing it would make him look like JFK, maybe?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Administrator Bridenstiner told me five minutes ago we now have a
plan to return to the moon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mike Pence only heard about this going back to the moon idea five
minutes ago, but this speech sounds really good if you conduct that in
there. And by the way, I should mention when he says Administrator
Bridenstiner told me five minutes ago we now have a plan to return to the
moon, the dude`s name is not Bridenstiner. It`s just Bridenstine.
But you know, make sure you get my good side when you shoot this for the
news reels and the time capsules. This is what presidents and vice
presidents are supposed to talk like, right?
I mean, you could forgive the audience at Mike Pence`s speech for believing
that maybe this really was an announcement about something new that America
was going to do, something that was going to happen. You might forgive
them for thinking he was announcing that there was some new thing that was
being unveiled in order to actually effectuate putting people back on the
moon, but really, no.
After Pence`s speech, the NASA administrator, whose name is not
Bridenstiner, he actually got up and tried to explain what could
conceivably be a plan that might make good on what Mike Pence just said in
this speech. He told the aught audience at Marshall Flight Center that
maybe some of the way they could do it to accelerate research on a rocket
NASA has been working on for years. The part he said they could accelerate
work on I should tell you is a specific NASA project that was just put on
ice and stopped all together in the Trump budget that was submitted two
He also said another part of the astronauts back on the moon within five
years plan would, of course, be a lunar lander program, which sounds
amazing. It has not been funded at all by the Trump administration.
They`re not even working on it. They`re not getting that.
Astrophysicist Katie Mack helpfully pointed out what the current
administration might be missing about what it takes to be remembered for a
JFK-style speech about going to the moon. As she points out, this is
NASA`s budget over time. An arrow over there on the left, that shows where
the NASA budget was, and you can see where it was going when Kennedy gave
his landmark speech in 1962 saying we`re going back to the moon.
See what happened after Kennedy made that announcement? Looks like he
actually had a plan to do something, right? And that`s how we got to the
You can follow along here. I don`t need to put an arrow on the right side
of the graph to show you that`s where the Trump administration has the NASA
budget right now. But still, the speech sounds awesome. We`ll go back to
the moon! Please clap!
NASA does not actually have a plan the get astronauts back on the moon in
five years. They were hoping to do it by 2028. That`s what they were
already planning on doing. But Mike Pence has now announced no, we`re
going right away. We`re – there is no plan to do that at all.
And this has happened often enough now that I think we can see how this
works. I think we can see their mindset here. I think they think that if
you just give the speech, if you just make the announcement, that`s enough
to get credit for it if people don`t pay attention to the fact that you
don`t actually mean it.
I mean, this just seems to be a recognizable pattern now, two plus years
into this new American political experience we are all having. Announce we
are going to the moon. Maybe people will think you are like JFK who said
we are going to the moon, but he meant it.
Announce the denuclearization of North Korea, yes. Make sure you get the
handshake. It`s like they don`t know it`s not historic. It`s not an
iconic moment if it`s not real.
But they want the announcement. They want what appears to be the big
moment. So, we`ve had the announcement we`re going to the moon. Just this
week, we`ve had the announcement that North Korea is denuclearizing. We`ve
had the announcement from the president that ISIS is defeated. ISIS is
totally gone, which is an awesome thing to announce. Regardless of whether
The president has also announced there will now be health care for
everyone. Everybody in America now has health insurance. He says the way
it works is the hospitals will bill the government, and the government will
pay the bills.
Everybody gets health care now. That`s how it works now. The president
made the announcement.
The president not only announced, he actually signed a thing and said that
the thing that he was signing would require henceforth that only American
made steel would be used in U.S. pipelines. Look, he signed the thing. He
made the announcement. Summoned cameras for the photo op, had people stand
There, in fact, is no requirement that U.S. steel be used in U.S.
pipelines. He announced that he was doing that. That does not exist in
real life that is not at all what that signature meant on that piece of
He goes and he has these rallies in rural America and announces that he has
established rural broadband across America, and everybody goes crazy,
because that sounds amazing, right? It does sound amazing. That would be
great thing to announce. Even better, it would be a great thing to do.
But they`re not actually working on doing it at all. They just have him
announce it at his rural rallies because it sounds like a great thing to be
able to announce. I mean, we should have known it was going to be like
this when we got the initial White House announcements about his record win
the Electoral College, which he didn`t get, and the record crowd size at
the inaugural. We should have known this would be the pattern.
But I think we can all see the pattern now, right? And we should all be
able to agree that the announcement of things the White House wishes to be
true or wishes to be credited for should not be confused with actual
things, with actual reality, actual plans, actual policies, actual things
that may have come to pass. And I have receive my share of grief over
these past couple of years for my loose policy of not covering anything
they say, and instead only covering things they do.
But since this week is we`re going back to the moon and also I have been
totally exonerated by Robert Mueller, I`m going to stick with my policy for
now, because what they say is not that helpful for understanding what`s
actually happened or is going to happen. It has now been five days since
the report from special counsel Robert Mueller about the results and the
findings of his year and ten-month-long investigation, since that report
was delivered to the Justice Department.
So far, that Mueller report has not been released to the public at all.
The Trump administration has issued a brief characterization of Mueller`s
findings written by Trump`s newly appointed attorney general, but if you
don`t want to count on what the Trump administration is saying about
itself, and you want the see Mueller`s findings on all of it, on the
criminal side of it, on the counterintelligence side of it, on the
collusion side of it, on the obstruction side of it, on all of it, at this
point we don`t even know how close we are to all of that.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, said he spoke
with the Attorney General William Barr about that today, and he basically
came away frustrated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I had a phone call
with the attorney general, and I asked him about the length and breadth of
the Mueller report. He told me it was a very substantial report, a very
substantial report, one that in my judgment a four-page summary can do no -
- cannot begin to do justice to. I asked him when we could see it and he
couldn`t get specific. He said weeks, not months, as we`ve heard before.
I asked whether he could commit that the full report, an unredacted full
report with the underlying documents evidence would be provided to Congress
and to the American people, and he wouldn`t commit to that. He wouldn`t
make a commitment to that. I am very concerned about that.
REPORTER: How many pages is the report? When you say very substantial, do
you mean hundreds of pages? How many pages?
NADLER: I can`t say that, but it`s very substantial.
REPORTER: And you know how many pages it is?
NADLER: Yes. It`s very substantial.
REPORTER: Fox News is saying 700. Is that accurate? More than that?
NADLER: I can`t comment.
REPORTER: Why is that? Why is that an issue?
REPORTER: Why is that confidential?
NADLER: Because he – I was told that I wasn`t told I could release that
information. But it`s very substantial.
REPORTER: Is very substantial, less than a thousand?
NADLER: Oh, I would think so.
REPORTER: Is it more than 500?
REPORTER: Did he say it was a counterintelligence component to this
NADLER: We didn`t talk about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s very substantial. You know how many pages. You can`t say
how many pages is it less than a thousand? I would think so. Is it more
than 500? Hmm.
That last point he was asked about, did he say whether there was a
counterintelligence part to this report, that`s interesting. It`s a point
that looms large right now.
The Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has been hitting this very
hard, saying that even if Robert Mueller concluded in his investigation
that criminal charges shouldn`t be brought against the president or against
anybody in his campaign for coordinating with the Russian government in
that government`s attack on the 2016 election, Schiff says as far as the
evidence he`s seen, there was broadly speaking collusion between people
associated with the president and Russia, and it is the counterintelligence
part of Mueller`s investigation that he says should shed light on this
broader national security question of whether the president himself or
people around him have been under the influence of or compromised by any
hostile foreign power, Russia included. Until Mueller`s findings are
released, all we`ve got is Barr`s assertions. All we`ve got is what they
say about this report.
We`ve got Barr`s assertion that he and not Robert Mueller has decided that
the president shouldn`t be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, and we`ve
got this narrowly tailored assertion, again, from Trump`s newly appointed
attorney general, saying that there should be no American prosecutions for
helping the Russian government with the 2016 election attack. But that`s
all we`ve got is those assertions from the Trump administration thus far.
In terms of what we can actually observe beyond what they`re saying –
well, today in federal court in Washington, there was a surprise. Today in
federal court, the chief judge of the D.C. district court unveiled a
surprise about Mueller`s grand jury and ongoing investigations involving
foreign countries and the enforcement of subpoenas and potential
forthcoming indictment, and it was unveiled in court today in a way that
seemed to shock not only the reporters who were there in court to witness
that hearing, that revelation today in court also seemed to shock some of
the lawyers who are involved in that case and who are involved in that
hearing today. And that story is next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. So on last night`s show, we talked about the handful of
criminal cases that derive from the Mueller investigation that haven`t yet
been handed over from Mueller to other prosecutors. It`s an interesting
little list. It includes the Mike Flynn case. Flynn is awaiting
sentencing. Also, the Roger Stone case. He`s awaiting trial.
Also, the case against the Russian GRU officers. They`re all in Russia so
they haven`t been put on trial yet. Also, the company of that Kremlin-
connected oligarch who is accused of financing and organizing the Russian
government`s disinformation effort during the last presidential election to
help the Trump campaign and hurt Hillary Clinton.
All of those cases still today the special counsel`s office appears to have
not yet handed off. We expect that they will very, very soon. We expect
that will happen imminently. But it hasn`t happened yet, as far as we can
That said, Mueller has handed over to other U.S. attorneys some of the
other cases they`ve been working on, including the Paul Manafort case.
Manafort has started his federal prison sentence already. But that`s got
some interesting ongoing litigation now where news organizations are trying
to have more of the material from his case unsealed.
They`ve also handed off the Rick Gates case, the president`s deputy
campaign chair. He is awaiting sentencing. Also a couple others.
I mentioned last night on the show that today there was going to be a
hearing in federal court in D.C. in one of these cases that until now was
handled by Robert Mueller and his prosecutors, but it`s been handed over
now to a U.S. attorney`s office, to the U.S. attorney`s office in D.C.
That hearing happened today. It was the case that has become known as the
It`s a mystery because we don`t know who it`s about. Still. This case has
been in the court since last fall. It`s a mystery company owned by some
mystery foreign country that was sent a subpoena last year from Mueller`s
grand jury. Now this company is apparently not being targeted by the
special counsel`s office for prosecution. They`re considered a witness.
But the subpoena they got requires them to come give evidence to the grand
jury. The company refused to honor the subpoena, and it has been up and
down the federal court system ever since, including just a few days ago,
the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear their appeal. So this unknown
company, this mystery company, they really do have to comply with the
subpoena. They really do have to go give their evidence to the grand jury.
Under U.S. law now definitively, they don`t have a choice.
That is, of course, provided there still is a grand jury that still wants
to hear from them. And now that`s an interesting question, right? Because
the special counsel`s report has been given to the Justice Department, even
though it hasn`t yet been made public. The special counsel`s office is
closing down. They`re handing off all of their cases to other prosecutors,
So, it seems pretty clearly, well, this whole thing is over, right? So
presumably, this court fight will now end. It would appear, heading into
this hearing today, that the mystery company, whoever they are, they
outlasted the Mueller investigation.
They outlasted the grand jury that Mueller convened to collect evidence in
that investigation, right? It`s done, right? It`s over. They never had
to produce their evidence, right? It`s done.
That`s what we thought. Ahem. March 27, 2019, that`s today, 11:28 a.m.
Eastern Time. United States district court for the District of Columbia.
The honorable chief judge of the district court, Beryl A. Howell,
Court deputy, quote: Matter before the court, grand jury matter 18-41 in
regards to grand jury subpoena number 7049.
The judge: All right. Welcome, everybody. Let me just begin by reviewing
where we are in the case, because the reporter`s committee for freedom of
the press has a motion before me a motion to unseal redacted versions by my
count of the briefs, the records, the orders and transcripts in this
action, as well as the identity of the mystery company, the corporation
that has been held in contempt of court for not responding to Mueller`s
grand jury subpoena.
So there are lawyers in this court hearing today for the mystery
corporation owned by this foreign country. Also, there`s lawyers from the
U.S. attorney`s office in D.C. who just inherited this case from Mueller
and the special counsel`s office. And there is also lawyers there from the
reporters committee for freedom of the press.
And they`re there because they have been trying mightily for a long time
now to take the mystery off this case. To get these proceedings unsealed,
to publicly reveal the identity of this company from this foreign country
that is resisting Mueller`s subpoena. They`ve been fighting all the way to
the Supreme Court to try to avoid providing evidence to this investigation.
This investigation that is now over, right, isn`t it? So this case, this
part of it should be over too.
Here`s Ted Boutrous, famous Washington lawyer, making the case here to the
Your Honor, I think the key here is the unique circumstances that we are
in, that this is not an ordinary witness. This is a country, a nation. We
have foreign policy issues here where this country has been taking this
position in this court to the Supreme Court and back. It seems to me that
here where special counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report to the
attorney general, the attorney general has submitted a four-page summary,
we don`t really know what the conclusions really are. It seems that this
is a time for this court, consistent with the rules, its inherent authority
– and then the judge jumps in and interrupts. And this is, just so you
know, that is one of the questions I will ask the government, the
prosecutors, the prosecutors to explain.
The judge says why are we still here in terms of the fact that the special
counsel`s report has been delivered and whether this contempt proceeding
continues or not.
Mr. Boutrous: I was wondering what that – I was wondering what the status
of that was myself, because it certainly seems the report is in.
The judge: And the reason that that question is important, I think, is to
clarify whether there is a closed grand jury investigation now or whether
this is a grand jury investigation that is continuing, because I think you
would concede, would you not, Mr. Boutrous, that if it is an ongoing grand
jury investigation, that the redactions and the amount of information that
can be publicly disclosed has to be measured against the needs of an
ongoing grand jury investigation, correct?
Mr. Boutrous: Yes, Your Honor, I agree with that. I do think that the
arguments for disclosure are stronger, much stronger for greater disclosure
if in fact the grand jury investigating the Russia matters and related
matters has completed.
The judge: But if in fact, and we`ll hear from the government, if the grand
jury matter is continuing robustly, then that is a significant
consideration in terms of the response that may be available to your
Mr. Boutrous: I agree with that, Your Honor.
So, the judge and the lawyer who is arguing for this case to be unredacted,
for us to find out, you know, which country this is that`s resisting so
hard against Mueller`s subpoena, this judge and this first amendment lawyer
here, they`re basically both agreeing in court today. Hey, if Mueller is
done, and that means the grand jury here is done, then the grand jury
doesn`t need this testimony anymore. So this isn`t an ongoing
investigation anymore. So, yes, that makes it easier to make the call that
we should unseal this information and tell the country who this is.
The judge and the lawyer are agreeing on that point. The judge then says
thank you to the lawyer. The judge is very complimentary to him about his
good lawyering and the importance of what he is trying to do. She says,
thank you very much. She says transparency`s important. She says thank
The judge says – excuse me, the judge says thank you. The lawyer sits
But then look at this. The judge knew exactly what she was doing. She
then calls on the other lawyers in the courtroom. She turns to the
prosecutors, the government, right? The prosecutors from the U.S.
attorney`s office who have just inherited this case from Robert Mueller.
She calls them by name.
Mr. Faruqui, Mr. Goodhand, so, let`s start with the first question, is the
grand jury investigation over?
David Goodhand, the prosecutor: No, your honor, it is continuing. I can –
in the court`s words, I can say it`s continuing robustly.
The judge: All right. So this is a situation where the court must evaluate
the reporter committees request for unsealing in the context of a robust
and ongoing grand jury investigation. Is that correct?
Mr. Goodhand, Exactly. The judge: All right.
So, there is still a robust and ongoing grand jury investigation involving
at least one unknown foreign country which is still resisting subpoenas
from Mueller to provide evidence. And the ongoing litigation is not just
about whether or not that country needs to respond to that subpoena as a
matter of law and whether or not they`re in contempt. It`s an ongoing
matter because that grand jury investigation that they need to provide
evidence to as a witness, that grand jury investigation that Mueller
convened, it is, quote, continuing robustly, according to the chief federal
judge of the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. attorney`s office there, which is
now handling that grand jury and that ongoing investigation.
What does that mean? We`re going to have a report from the courtroom
coming up, and a lot more still to come.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today in federal court in Washington, D.C., lawyers for the
Reporters Committee Freedom of the Press, they were doing great in a
hearing before a federal judge in which they were trying to get a whole
bunch of stuff unsealed from one of the ongoing Robert Mueller cases.
Things were going great. They`re sort of getting what they want out of
this case. They`re getting stuff unredacted. They`re getting stuff
And at one point today they`re sort of getting what I think they thought
would be the kill shot in their case, where they would point out to the
judge that, yes, we`ve been arguing for all this stuff to be unsealed all
along. They`ve been trying to get all these redactions unredacted all
along. But now, they`re going to point out to the judge today, now Robert
Mueller is done. The investigation`s over. So clearly, we should – and
the judge basically jumped in and said not so fast. The legal version of
that without the drama.
But the judge today in this hearing, surprise, revealed that in fact the
investigation is not over. The Mueller grand jury is still at work on its
investigation. In her words, the grand jury`s investigation is, quote,
continuing robustly, which is bad news for the people who are trying to get
information about this case unsealed because it`s apparently an ongoing
investigation. But it`s also a big surprise as to what we thought was
going on with the work of the special counsel`s office.
Joining us now is Darren Samuelsohn. He is a senior reporter at “Politico”
who was in the courtroom today for this little surprise.
Mr. Samuelsohn, thank you very much for being here. I really appreciate
DARREN SAMUELSOHN, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Good evening,
MADDOW: So, let me start with a logistics question. Obviously, we`ve only
got the public transcript of what happened. But it seems like this must
have started some sort of sealed proceeding today, and then later they
opened the doors so you and other reporters and people from the public
could cover sort of the second part of this? Is that how this went down?
SAMUELSOHN: Yes, that`s correct. So this morning, I showed up at the
courthouse not even knowing if the doors would be open and I`d be able to
go in. I really was there primarily just to see who would be representing
the special counsel, who would be going in the doors, knowing that the
investigation had ended a couple of days ago, and obviously looking to see
who the D.C. U.S. attorneys would be and just simply lay eyes on the sort
of new world post-Robert Mueller.
The doors were opened after a couple of minutes of sealed proceedings that
we didn`t get a chance to see. Ted Boutrous, the lawyer you were talking
about, was standing outside with the reporters waiting to go in. There was
a brief intermission and we were brought into the courtroom. And that is
when the arguments that you just read the transcript from played out, I
would say for about 15, 20 minutes.
MADDOW: So there is this startling moment in court that I just recounted
where we learned that the grand jury that Mueller convened for his
investigation is continuing robustly. Obviously, I`m covering that
tonight, because that came as a surprise to me and to everybody here. You
mentioned that Ted Boutrous was not in there for the sealed part of the
It sort of seems like he and the other lawyers arguing for this case to be
unsealed, it seems like they had no idea about that either until the judge
basically directed the prosecutor to say so in open court. Is that fair?
SAMUELSOHN: Yes, that`s fair to say. I think we were all wondering if
this question would be coming up and how the answer would play out.
Obviously, knowing that Robert Mueller had supposedly finished four days
ago, that he was told pencils up by Bill Barr, and Bill Barr releases the
summary that we`ve all been poring over here for the last couple of days.
So, it was shock not only to Ted Boutrous, but to the reporters in the
room. Certainly my ears perked up. I thought about running out and
immediately filing that first story, but waited for the proceedings to end
just to see how it would play out and how everything else would go down.
It was about five or ten more minutes of questioning between the judge and
the U.S. attorney asking him a couple more questions about the nuances of
the grand jury proceedings. And then it was adjourned. Actually she
brought Ted Boutrous back up one more time if he wanted to do any
And she basically told him, you might want to stop. You`ve done pretty
good so far. You might want to end this thing right now. Boutrous
recognized he was being given a pretty strong hint that he should go sit
back down. Proceedings would be over.
I think we now have – a 30-day window we`re waiting to see if Judge Beryl
Howell will release the name of the company we`ve been wondering about for
MADDOW: And clearly, Darren, I think I know the answer to this, but we did
get this definitive statement from the prosecutors today and from the judge
that the grand jury investigation is ongoing, that the grand jury is alive
and kicking. We didn`t get any indication of what they`re working on,
SAMUELSOHN: We did not get any indication of what they`re working on.
Obviously, we`ve been watching the grand jury closely, you know. Your
network and other networks have had people staked outside that courtroom
for a long time, watching and seeing that there had been sort of a dark
period for a couple of week news where the grand jury hadn`t met. I don`t
think since Roger Stone back at the end of January.
So it had appeared that the grand jury was finished for all practical
purposes. Learning today it wasn`t just Judge Howell, but it was the U.S.
attorney`s office indicating that this grand jury proceeding is continuing
robustly. And the use of the world “robustly” as I talked to some other
people, you know, sounded purposeful. That it indicated indeed there are
things going on right now. We don`t know what they are. I`ve heard a lot
of speculation today what they could be.
But at this point in time I would think that anybody who maybe had been
breathing easy thinking that the Mueller investigation was over maybe
shouldn`t be, and that, you know, continuing to – that Robert Mueller
handed things off to other federal prosecutors. Obviously, you talked
about southern district of New York, possible in Virginia, and it seems
like possible here in Washington, D.C., there are active grand juries that
are looking into things, and it`s very possible Robert Mueller, you know,
he did have to take the pencil up and hand things over. But there could
still be indictments to come in the future.
MADDOW: Darren Samuelsohn, senior reporter of politico.com. Darren, I
want to take a moment the thank you for the clarity of your prose when
you`re covering this complicated stuff. It`s good to have you here on the
show. I read everything you write, your work at “Politico”, you and Josh
have been so clarifying. Thanks for being here. Thanks for your work.
SAMUELSOHN: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to come. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the first things that Betsy DeVos did as Trump`s education
secretary was go to a diner on Capitol Hill to support the Special
Olympics. The Special Olympics is an amazing American institution. It
relies on both private and federal funding to stay afloat, federal funding
that comes from the U.S. Education Department run by Betsy DeVos.
The Special Olympics is, frankly, a treasured event in sports and in the
American education system, and Betsy DeVos said as much at that dinner in
D.C. that she went to just a few days after she was put in charge of the
U.S. Department of Education. She told the Special Olympians who were
there, quote, I`m proud to stand beside you as a partner and support
Special Olympics, an important program that promotes leadership and
empowers students to be agents of change.
The very next day, a group of school kids involved with the Special
Olympics went to the capitol to meet with lawmakers and advocate for
federal funding. Being the one in charge of that federal funding, Betsy
DeVos was there, too, offering her support.
And it wasn`t just photo ops. Betsy DeVos comes from extraordinary
personal wealth. When she became education secretary, she loudly announced
that she would donate her whole government salary to charity. A big chunk
of it that first year specifically to the Special Olympics.
You put all that together, the donation, the dinners, the photo ops, the
bragging about her charity to them, it makes it all the more – stunning, I
don`t know. All the more Trump era expected to learn that Betsy DeVos just
proposed killing, eliminating the entire federal budget for Special
When the Education Department put out its budget for next year, they
suggested a 10 percent cut in spending across the board, but when it comes
to the Special Olympics line in their budget, the Education Department is
not suggesting a cut. Betsy DeVos is specifically asking not for just a
reduction in spending on the Special Olympics, she is specifically calling
to eliminate all federal funding, all U.S. government support for the
Special Olympics, full stop.
It turns out that it`s not going to happen quietly. Did you see the fight
break out over this today? That`s next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK POCAN (D), WISCONSIN: I want to follow up on the thing Ms. Lee
mentioned about the cuts to Special Olympics. Do you know how many kids
are going to be affected by that cut, Madam Secretary?
BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: Mr. Pocan, let me just say again we had
to make some difficult decisions with this budget.
POCAN: Again, this is a question of how many kids, not about the budget.
DEVOS: I don`t know the number of kids. I also know that –
POCAN: It`s 272,000.
I`ll answer it for you. That`s OK, no problem. It`s 272,000 kids that are
DEVOS: I think the Special Olympics is an awesome organization, one that
is well supported by the philanthropic sector as well.
POCAN: I have two nephews with autism. What is it that we have a problem
with children in special education? Why are we cutting these programs over
and over within this budget?
DEVOS: Well, sir, we have continued to retain the funding levels for IDEA
and held that level, so in the context –
POCAN: Sorry, I don`t think I brought up IDEA. I believe I brought up
Special Olympics, the special education grants to states, the National
Technical Institute for the Blind, Gallaudet University, federal program
for printing books. So if you could address those, that`s the question. I
would really appreciate it.
DEVOS: I`d address the broader question.
POCAN: If you could address the question I asked, that`s even a better way
to answer a question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: How did she describe the Special Olympics there? She said it`s an
awesome organization. An awesome organization that is no longer going to
be supported by the United States government because Betsy DeVos has just
asked that the agency she supports entirely kill off funding for the
Special Olympics, because the Special Olympics are awesome.
Joining us now is Congressman Mark Pocan. He`s a Democrat from Wisconsin.
He`s on the House Appropriations Committee, including importantly, the part
of that committee that oversees Betsy DeVos` budget at the Department of
Congressman, thank you so much for making time for us tonight.
POCAN: Thank you, Rachel. Glad to be here.
MADDOW: After that exchange that I saw between you and Secretary DeVos, I
was interested to see her put out a statement saying she`s very upset about
the shameful falsehoods that are being reported about her cutting all
funding to the Special Olympics and she`s very upset about all the terrible
media coverage and criticism she`s getting on that. She actually is
proposing cutting all funding to the Special Olympics, isn`t she?
POCAN: Yes, she is proposing about an $18 million cut. And important,
Rachel, she`s also while she`s cutting the department 12 percent across the
board, she`s increased the executive pay line in her department by over 15
percent. So I was just trying to figure out why it`s okay for her and her
political pals to make more money when kids with real special needs are
being cut – not just in Special Olympics but also in state grants, in
programs for visually and hearing impaired students and on and on. She has
an abysmal record in this area.
MADDOW: You know, I was struck by her inability or her unwillingness to
answer direct questions about this. I feel like if you are going to single
out the Special Olympics and not just give them the same 12 percent cut
that everything else in the department is getting, but to single them out
for zero funding, you can`t – you don`t do that by accident. Obviously
you`re going to expect blowback. Special Olympics are such a beloved and
treasured and important American institution.
I have to expect that the Trump administration is doing this for a reason,
for effect. They couldn`t think this would go quietly.
What do you make of the way they`ve rolled this out and dealt with
criticism, including from you?
POCAN: Well, you know, even taking it back just a little bit, they`re
cutting Social Security, they`re cutting Medicaid, they`re cutting by about
$5 billion funding to the National Institutes of Health, which help us find
cures for diseases. This is just the Trump budget. So when it comes to
education, they don`t care that much about education so they do these cuts.
Something like Special Olympics, I have two autistic nephews. I hear from
many parents, millions of people in this country rely on quality special
education for their children and to cut program after program after program
and then even something like Special Olympics after she`s praised it shows
a complete lack of understanding of what her job is as the secretary of the
Department of Education. She just doesn`t understand her job and Donald
Trump doesn`t understand his job either.
MADDOW: Well, let me press you on that a little bit because it may be that
Betsy DeVos doesn`t understand the priorities of the nation as the way that
you might understand them, or it may not be that she thinks that American
policy should continue to support things that she thinks are awesome. I
honestly don`t understand whether or not she gets that she is cutting the
Special Olympics, whether or not she actually knows that she has proposed
as the agency head zeroing this out.
I mean, I couldn`t read in that interaction with you and with other
Democrats on the committee whether she actually got this is what she was
doing or whether this might have been sort of, you know, handed to her by
the Office of Management and Budget, by the Trump administration, by the
White House more broadly, because she didn`t have any plan to defend it.
You`d have to know you were going to have to defend something like this
when you sat down before this committee having just proposed zeroing out
funding for an American institution that is so treasured.
POCAN: Either she`s the world`s worst, most evasive answering person when
it comes to questions or, you know, I saw a lot of light in the deer eyes
as she answered things that she clearly wasn`t getting what I was asking.
Because I thought I asked very clear and simple questions. At one point, I
had to ask her if I was speaking a different language because the answers I
was getting weren`t related to anything I asked.
But when it came to special education, she just refused to answer any
questions whatsoever in addition to a number of things we talked about
during the hearing.
MADDOW: Well, Congressman, thank you for pushing so hard to try to get the
answers you did try to get. I will back you up on the deer in the
POCAN: Only are we going to get that funding fixed. But I talked to the
subcommittee chair tonight and I think we`re going to propose increased
funding for special education as well.
MADDOW: Thanks for helping us make that news tonight, sir. Thank you.
Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, much appreciated, my friend. Thank
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Heads up for your morning news consumption tomorrow morning.
Maria Butina who pled guilty in December to acting as a secret agent of the
Russian government in an influence operation targeting the U.S.
conservative movement and the NRA and the Republican Party, she`s going to
appear in federal court at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow. We expect to
find out whether she is done cooperating with prosecutors and ready to be
If prosecutors are done with her, she will likely get a sentencing date
tomorrow. If they ask for more time yet again, it means she is still
providing yet more information that they are using in ongoing
investigations because, yes, it turns out there are ongoing investigations.
But, again, that hearing tomorrow, 10:00 a.m., we should learn more.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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