One on One with Seth Moulton. TRANSCRIPT: 4/22/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Seth Moulton
Transcript:

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  So, I`m going to go

everywhere.

 

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  All right.  We are out of time.  Congressman Eric

Swalwell, thank you very much.

 

SWALWELL:  Thanks, Joy.  Of course.

 

REID:  Good luck on the campaign trial.  Appreciate it.

 

That does it for ALL IN this evening. 

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” stars right now.  And there she is. 

 

Good evening, Rachel. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Joy.  Thank you, my friend.  Much

appreciated.

 

REID:  Thank you.  Cheers.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks to you so much for joining us this hour.  Happy Monday. 

 

By the summer of 1970, the U.S. military had been in Vietnam in one form or

another for nearly 15 years.  Richard Nixon had taken office the previous

year, sworn in at the beginning of 1969, promising to finally end that

endless war in Vietnam.  But there, of course, was no sign that it was

ending by the following year, 1970.  On June 21st, 1970, this was the story

on the front page of “The New York Times.” 

 

The headline: War stirs more dissent among G.I.s.”  Quote: As the war drags

on, the Army is finding itself plagued by a growing struggle of another

sort, against dissidence in its own ranks.  The ultimate aim of the

dissidents, who are aided by civilian radicals is to stop the war machine. 

They want to end the war in Indochina, bring all American troops back from

overseas and democratize the U.S. Army.  They are also seeking to create a

radical force in the military that will carry its commitment back into

civilian life. 

 

These are the men who are publishing the G.I. underground newspapers,

organizing protests and peace demonstrations, working closely in many base

areas across the country with at least eight coffee houses and with other

projects sponsored by such civilian support organizations as the United

States Servicemen`s Fund. 

 

G.I. coffee houses.  Hmm. 

 

Starting the late `60s, right through the end of the Vietnam War,

individual anti-war activists and organizations like the United States

servicemen`s fund, they established these coffee houses, these gathering

spots sided near U.S. Army bases across the country.  That were basically

trying to support and build anti-war sentiment among serving soldiers, the

idea was to give service members a place nearby the base, not too far of

the way, where they could safely vent their frustrations with the military

or vocalize their opposition to the Vietnam War or connect with civilian

activists to organize against the war. 

 

“The Times” reported in 1970 that the U.S. Servicemen`s Fund, USSF, was

providing assistance to these coffee houses to anti-war underground

newspapers and to other anti-war projects.  “The Times” interviewed one

regional coordinator for that fund, made sure to point out that, quote, he

wears the mustache and moderately long hair now in style in the movement. 

You know what that means. 

 

The following year in 1971, the actress Jane Fonda, and a troop of other

actors and comedians actually did a tour of the G.I. coffee houses, with

musical performances and readings and skits.  “The Times” filed a report

from one of their stops from a Servicemen`s Fund run coffee house called

the Haymarket Square, near Fort Bragg in North Carolina. 

 

In one skit, as “The Times” reported it, Jane Fonda played First Lady Pat

Nixon, and in this skit he rushes in to tell her husband the president that

there`s a massive demonstration outside preparing to storm the White House,

and the President Nixon character says, oh, I`d better call the army.  Jane

Fonda/Pat Nixon says, you can`t, Richard.  He says, why not?  And then Jane

Fonda with the punch line, Dick, it is the army out there. 

 

So these coffee houses, this slice of the anti-Vietnam War movement, this

provocative organizing effort targeting serving G.I.s, it started to get a

bunch of media attention.  Once it did, it got congressional attention, and

that got really aggressive really fast.  The Senate convened hearings into

whether the U.S. Servicemen Fund was engaging in activists harmful to the

morale of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

 

And then the Senate subpoenaed the bank that the U.S. servicemen`s fund

used as its bank, demanding their financial records.  And the U.S.

Servicemen`s Fund fought back against that.  This is how the case was

described in “The Journal of the American Bar Association” in 1975. 

 

Quote: The Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security issued a subpoena to

the bank at which USSF had an account.  The USSF brought suit to restrain

enforcement of the subpoena and to prevent the bank from complying with the

subpoena.  The organization alleged that the sole purpose of the subpoena

was to harass, chill, punish, and deter the servicemen`s fund in their

exercise of their rights and duties under the First Amendment. 

 

The Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security.  The Senate Subcommittee on

Internal Security was the entity that issued the subpoena to the bank of

this servicemen`s fund that was running these coffee houses.  The Senate

Subcommittee on Internal Security is not considered to be one of the high

points in proud American governance.  It was kind of a Senate equivalent to

the House on American Activities Committee. 

 

This subcommittee on internal security in the Senate, it was ultimately

abolished not long after in 1977.  But for the two decades leading up to

its abolition, it was chaired by the floridly white supremacist,

segregationist Mississippi Senator James Eastland.  That`s why this case

involving the servicemen`s fund and the anti-war G.I. coffee houses, the

case was actually called Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen`s Fund. 

 

That case ended up going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and it was

decided in 1975 and ended up being sort of a landmark Supreme Court case. 

It now recognizes law when it comes to subpoenas from Congress, and the

grounds on which you might challenge a subpoena from Congress.  Or you

might resist one or you might decry one as improper and thereby get out of

having to respond to it. 

 

And the reason it is seen as a foundational case in that regard is because

the U.S. Servicemen`s Fund, the group that was funding the G.I. coffee

houses, part of anti-war movement, they lost that case in the Supreme

Court.  The Supreme Court ruled as long as the Congress is performing its

legislative duty, which necessarily includes investigations relating to all

sorts of things, including the functioning of the Armed Services or any

part of the U.S. government, as long as they are pursuing a legislative

duty, then the question of why Congress is undertaking any particular

investigation or issuing any particular subpoena, it`s none of the court`s

business. 

 

This is from a concurring opinion in the case by the great justice,

Thurgood Marshall.  Quote: A court`s inquiry in such a setting is

necessarily quite limited.  If the senator`s actions were within the

legitimate legislative sphere, the matter ends there and they are

answerable no further to the court. 

 

I mean, you could be forgiven here if the side you were rooting for was the

anti-war activists funding these little G.I. coffee shops near army bases,

right?  If you`re sympathies here were not with the segregationist white

supremacist senator who was running his own personal dissent smashing

subcommittee in the U.S. Senate.  I also think it`s fair to assume that

Justice Thurgood Marshall who vote the concurring opinion in this case, he

was not a huge fan of James Eastland in most of the things that James

Eastland did in the U.S. Senate. 

 

But so much more to the point here, that the law here ever since 1975,

reaffirmed over and over again since then, is that even when Congress is

terrible, even if the worst case scenario when Congress is being a bunch of

freaking jerks, even when Congress plainly is issuing subpoenas in what is

obviously terrible bad faith, even when they are at rock bottom in terms of

their credibility and what they`re trying to do, they have absolute

authority to do what they want to do. 

 

The courts may or may not like why a particular committee or subcommittee

in Congress is seeking some kind of information.  But they`re Congress. 

They are a coequal branch of government.  They get to decide what they want

to look into. 

 

And the courts, as a coequal branch of government, they don`t get to weigh

in on whether a subpoena idea from Congress is noble or sober or wicked or

dumb.  What Congress investigates is up for Congress to decide, and how

Congress subpoenas information is Congress` decision. 

 

And that clear precedent, that clear and unequivocal precedent means that

our president now, today, did something desperate, that is, destined to

fail and fail quickly when the president today decided he was going to

bring a personal lawsuit against Congress.  President Trump in his personal

capacity today sued Congress, sued the Oversight Committee in the House for

them having the temerity to issue a subpoena for his financial records from

an accounting firm that spent a lot of years doing various financial work

for him including preparing his taxes. 

 

Even if it were a super far-fetched investigation that hey were pursuing,

what the case law in this area tells us is that the courts would still stay

out of it.  But in this case, it`s not that farfetched.  I mean, the

president`s longtime personal lawyer just testified to Congress under oath

that President Trump committed multiple financial felonies, and he pointed

them to the documents that would show evidence of that.  Kind of seems like

there might be a really good reason for Congress to see those records. 

 

And yes, the president filed this lawsuit today trying to block the

Oversight Committee from subpoenaing these years of records from his

longtime accounting firm.  You can see in the lawsuit that the Oversight

Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is personally named the defendant in

that lawsuit from the president today.  But as much as I`m sure the

president`s lawyers are enjoying the billable hours here, this lawsuit

appears on track to fail and without much suspense. 

 

This is an area of the law where there just isn`t that much gray.  I mean,

I`m not a lawyer.  Don`t hire me for anything. 

 

But once the president did this today, we spoke with a number of people

today who are lawyers, including experts in the field, and they told us,

one, this is not an area of law where there is wiggle room.  This lawsuit

may be an effort by the president to slow things down but it`s certainly

not going to stop what Congress is doing. 

 

Congressman Elijah Cummings for his part responded to this lawsuit against

him today by saying there is simply no valid legal basis to interfere to

this duly authorize subpoena from Congress, this complaint reads more like

political talking points than a reasoned legal belief. 

 

In terms of the target of the subpoena, Trump`s accounting firm, Mazars,

they say only they will, quote, respect the legal process and fully comply

with our legal obligations.  And that in an uncomplicated way would include

complying with a legal congressional subpoena. 

 

So, I mean, we sort of now how this is going to end.  It is fascinating

that the president is spending his own money, we presume, to try to end

this.  He really, really does not want Congress to see his finances. 

 

In addition to this lawsuit to try to stop the subpoena to his accounting

firm, the president has hired a whole team of lawyers that is specifically

and only working on the task of keeping his taxes and finances secret.  I

mean, that`s their whole job.  That`s who`s doing this lawsuit for him,

concerning the Mazars subpoena, that is presumably who is also going to do

the other lawsuits that he will file like this for the other subpoenas that

will pursue other elements of the president`s financial history. 

 

That same team of lawyers has written multiple letters to the IRS, telling

the IRS that they shouldn`t comply with the demand for the tax returns

that`s been issuing by the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. 

Again, now, in this case, the law is not gray.  The law is very clear cut. 

The IRS is required under law to hand over those returns as requested by

the committee chairman. 

 

But they`re sending threatening legal-sounding letters trying to slow the

whole thing down.  Presumably we expect similar letters if not additional

lawsuits to Deutsche Bank and all the other financial institutions that

have worked with the president who were recently subpoenaed by the chairs

of various House committees. 

 

Congressional Democrats are just going ahead and pushing forward with

investigating this stuff, despite the fact that the president seems fairly

desperate to pull out all the stops to try to block them, slow them down

somehow, even when it`s clearly legally pointless in the end for him to

fight this in some of the ways that he is. 

 

The question that Democrats are wrestling with is not whether or how much

investigating to do.  They`re all on board with that.  The question now for

Democrats is whether their ongoing and increasingly aggressive

investigations should stay under the rubric of congressional oversight of

the executive branch as they have been doing or whether they should pursue

some of these investigations, to pursue some of this fact finding under the

rubric of an impeachment inquiry. 

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Friday night became the first

Democratic presidential candidate to see an impeachment inquiry should

begin in the House based on the findings of Robert Mueller`s redacted

report, which were made public last week. 

 

This weekend, Elijah Cummings, Congressman Adam Schiff of the Intelligence

Committee, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, his committee would be the

venue for an inquiry, they edging up to the line of considering an inquiry

but they ultimately said they weren`t there yet.  House Democrats held a

conference call among themselves tonight to discuss how they might move

forward.  The upshot of which was that if the committee chairs committed to

conducting aggressive and extensive investigations and oversight of the

president, but they did not commit to opening an impeachment inquiry, at

least not yet. 

 

In terms of the oversight and in terms of these congressional

investigations, Democratic committee chairs plan to summon a number of

interesting witnesses in the days ahead, including newly appointed Attorney

General Bill Barr and the special counsel himself, Robert Mueller, and the

FBI Director Chris Wray.  And now, as of tonight, the House Judiciary

Chairman issued a brand-new subpoena to former White House counsel don

McGahn. 

 

Now, this is a big deal.  This subpoena to Don McGahn marks the first

subpoena to any Trump White House employee, current or former, since

Mueller`s report became public.  Calls on McGahn to hand over documents and

testify on May 21st. 

 

If you were planning on going on vacation in the third week in May, you

should cancel that.  If the don McGahn testimony is happening May 21st,

you`re going to want to watch that. 

 

Don McGahn is what seems to be the key witness in at least three

obstruction of justice instances laid out by the special counsel in his

redacted report.  These include Trump asking McGahn to tell the Attorney

General Jeff Sessions that he should unrecuse himself from overseeing the

Russia investigation.  Trump also ordering don McGahn to reach out to the

Justice Department about firing Robert Mueller as special counsel.  The

president later pressuring don McGahn to deny that he had ever received

that order from the president once word of it leaked to “The New York

Times.”

 

McGahn is memorably quoted in the Mueller report saying he needed to quit,

leave the white house and leave the job of White House counsel because the

president was asking him to do crazy – rhymes with “spit”. 

 

So, I mean, if Don McGahn is going to testify, you will want to see that. 

In terms of attorney/client privilege and executive privilege, there will

certainly be a fight over that.  But remember, the White House counsel is

not the president`s lawyer.  The White House counsel is the lawyer for the

Office of the President and the start of attorney/client privilege

afflictions might attend to the president and some lawyer who was working

directly for him not as White House counsel will not be available to shield

McGahn`s testimony in the way that Donald Trump might want. 

 

So we shall see how the Democrats decide to settle the issue of whether

they`re going to investigate all of this stuff in then context of an

impeachment inquiry, or whether they will continue with traditional

oversight responsibilities.  But one of the reasons lawmakers seem pretty

well-justified in demanding particularly the president`s financial

information, even as he sort of freaks out in response to these demands,

one of the reasons that this line of inquiry seems sort of different and

maybe more importantly than all the others is that they will be plumbing

these depths for the first time.  It appears that Robert Mueller`s special

counsel investigation, this huge criminal investigation just accounted

without Mueller having looked at Trump`s finances at all. 

 

And given what a key issue money and influence could be in the

counterintelligence matter at the heart of Russia investigation, it doesn`t

seem crazy that Congress would feel the need to look at this stuff trying

to get to the bottom of this scandal overall.  That said, remember, in

terms of the case law here, even if Congress was being totally crazy, even

if this was a total wild hair and they`re doing this out of pure animus for

the president, it would probably still be fine.  The president would still

lose in a court fight against a congressional subpoena, you know, even if

it came from some old racist Senator Eastland personal activist targeting

committee, right?  It doesn`t matter even if Congress is pursuing things

that a court might find disingenuous or objectionable.  If Congress is

pursuing this stuff, subpoenas work. 

 

In this case, following the money doesn`t seem crazy.  I mean, we know that

Robert Mueller didn`t follow the money.  There was a counterintelligence

component to the Mueller investigation.  He did not produce a

counterintelligence report on the findings of that investigation.  Instead,

we learned from Mueller`s redacted report that he took all the information

his investigators gathered that did not fit into the criminal refutation

and sent it to the FBI for them to deal with it in some other way. 

 

This is from Mueller`s redacted report.  Quote: From its inception, special

counsel`s office recognized its investigation could identify foreign

intelligence and counterintelligence information relevant to the FBI`s

broader national security mission.  FBI personnel who assisted the office

established procedures to identity and convey such information to the FBI. 

The FBI`s counterintelligence division met with the special counsel`s

office regularly for that purpose for most of the tenure of the special

counsel. 

 

For more than the past year, the FBI embedded personnel at the special

counsel`s office who didn`t work on the special counsel`s investigation,

but whose purpose was to review the results of the investigation and to

send in writing summaries of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence

information to FBI headquarters and FBI field offices. 

 

These communications and other correspondence between the special counsel`s

office and the FBI contain information derived from the investigation, not

all of which is contained in this volume.  This volume is a summary.  It

contains in the special counsel`s judgment information necessary to account

for the special counsel`s prosecution and declination decisions and to

describe the investigation`s factual results. 

 

In other words, this isn`t the counterintelligence investigation.  In other

words, the special counsel`s report, Robert Mueller`s redacted report last

week says we developed all kinds of information in the course of this

investigation that we`re not going to put in our report here because it

doesn`t pertain directly to criminal cases.  This is just about potential

federal crimes being committed.  This is not the report of our

counterintelligence investigation.

 

That said, we turned up some intelligence information and

counterintelligence information, we shoved that off to the FBI.  NBC News

reported late last week that the FBI`s counterintelligence investigation of

the Trump team and Russia is still active now.  House Intelligence

Committee under Congressman Adam Schiff has made clear that they expect a

full briefing on what has been found thus far in that ongoing

counterintelligence investigation. 

 

And I mean, clearly some of what Mueller found does have intelligence

consequences, does have consequences in terms of thinking about the

prospect that people in the government or people associated with the Trump

campaign may have potentially been compromised by a foreign power.  I mean,

we now have all this new detail about Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort

and his right-hand man from his years in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik. 

 

Mueller`s prosecutors repeatedly asserted in court documents over the

course of their investigation that the FBI has reason to believe that

Kilimnik has ongoing ties to Russian intelligence.  Well, in his final

redacted report, which we just got, Mueller lays out for the first time,

why it is that they think Konstantin Kilimnik is actually an agent of the

Russian government.  The report says, for example, that Kilimnik has been

working on behalf of the Russian government in very recent years, for

example, trying to get a Western PR company to sell the Western press some

positive spin on Russia taking over Crimea. 

 

He`s also been traveling on a Russian diplomatic passport.  Oh.  We – in

that context, we still don`t know why in 2016 during the campaign Paul

Manafort repeatedly gave this guy, Kilimnik, months and months and months

of internal Trump campaign polling data, repeatedly.  He also gave

Kilimnik, quote, the status of the Trump campaign and Manafort`s strategy

for winning Democratic votes in mid-Western states. 

 

Manafort also briefed Kilimnik on, quote, the campaign`s messaging,

including battleground states which Manafort identified as Michigan,

Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.  What was all that about?  This guy

that Mueller is telling us all these reasons why they believe that he`s a

link to Russian intelligence and he is actively working with the Russian

government, including traveling on a Russian diplomatic passport and all

the rest of it.

 

Why is that guy getting months of internal polling data and everything from

the Trump campaign about how they`re planning on winning the election,

targeting Democratic voters, Midwest strategy, their last, their end of the

campaign messaging stuff?  Why did they need all that stuff?  Why was that

all going to Russia?  I mean, is that some of the counterintelligence stuff

of Mueller`s work that we have not seen? 

 

There`s also something that broke on Friday night, which seems relevant to

all of this stuff and seems like reason enough to pursue the

counterintelligence part of this investigation wherever it leads.  Maria

Butina is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday of this week for working as a

foreign agent in the U.S., infiltrating the NRA and conservative circles on

behalf of the Russian government. 

 

Just as an example the kind of thing that Congress might want to know more

about, in Friday`s sentencing memo on Maria Butina, federal prosecutors lay

out Butina`s conversation on election night 2016 and in the days afterwards

during the transition, including specifically about who Donald Trump should

nominate for secretary of state, a position that eventually went to oil

executive and Putin whisperer Rex Tillerson. 

 

I mean, we had seen some of this in court filings before, but on Friday,

prosecutors laid it out three days after the election according to

prosecutors.  Butina, quote, provided the Russian official with a name of

an individual she claimed was being considered for U.S. secretary of state. 

She asked the Russian official to seek the input of the Russian government

on the name she provided and told him, quote, our opinion will be taken

into consideration in the United States. 

 

The Russian government`s opinion will be taken into consideration in the

United States?  As to who should be the secretary of state, as to who Trump

should put in the cabinet as secretary of state? 

 

To the extent that this intelligence stuff was not reported on in Mueller`s

redacted report that we got last week, to the extent that the

counterintelligence investigation as NBC News reports is not over, to the

extent that this counterintelligence stuff is a live matter of inquiry that

has not been resolved, it`s Congress, presumably, that is going to be

trying to resolve it from here on out, and to the extent that this stuff is

it going to be pursued through the intelligence committee, through the FBI,

through Congress, it turns out there is a problem with that at the very,

very top.  And I do not mean Trump.  And that story is next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  OK.  This is something that I think is going to be an ongoing

problem, at least until this is resolved, or least somebody tries to

explain.  This is a sort of thing that can`t just hang out there the way it

has been left in Mueller`s report. 

 

Quoting from the Mueller report, quote: On March 22nd, 2017, the president

asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Michael

Pompeo to stay behind in the Oval Office after a presidential daily

briefing.  According to Coats, the president asked them both where whether

they could say publicly that no link existed between him and Russia.  Coats

responded that his office had nothing to do with investigations and it was

not his role to make a public statement on the Russia investigation. 

 

OK.  So that sounds familiar, right?  That jives with what we knew heading

into the release of the Mueller report.  “The Washington Post” reported

months ago that president Trump had asked the Director of National

Intelligence Dan Coats to make a public statement exonerating Trump on the

Russia scandal.  Coats refused to do so.  “Washington Post” was right in

that reporting. 

 

But then listen to this next part.  This is the part that I think is going

to leave a mark.  Quote: According to a senior official at the office of

the director of national intelligence, Michael Dempsey, Coats said after

that meeting with the president that the president had brought up the

Russia investigation and asked him to contact James Comey to see if there

was a way to get past the investigation, get it over with, end it, or words

to that effect.  Dempsey said that Coats described the president`s comments

as falling somewhere between musing about hating the investigation and

wanting Coats to do something to stop it. 

 

It turns out that was not the only person Dan Coats described that

conversation to.  Quote: Edward Gistaro, another ODNI official, recalled

that right after Coats` meeting with the president, on the walk from the

Oval Office back to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Coats said

that President Trump had kept him behind to ask him what he could do to

help with the investigation.  Another ODNI staffer who had been waiting for

Coats outside the Oval Office talked to Gistaro a few minutes later and

recalled Gistaro reporting that Coats was upset because the president had

asked him to contact James Comey, to convince him there was nothing to the

Russia investigation. 

 

So, this is multiple staffers recalling all of the same thing all around

the same meeting, immediately after an Oval Office meeting with the

president, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats walked out of that

meeting and was upset and told multiple staffers that the president had

just asked him to contact the FBI Director James Comey to tell Comey to

drop the Russia investigation.  Multiple staffers heard this from Comey. 

It was – they described among themselves that Coats was upset about having

received this reported request from the president. 

 

We know that because the staffers were called in by the special counsel and

they testified about what Coates had told them.  But when those same

investigators spoke to director of National Intelligence Dan coats himself,

quote, Coats told this office that the president never asked him to speak

to Comey about the FBI investigation.  So you made it up back then? 

 

I mean, we now have competing stories about what happened in that meeting

with the president.  Are the staffers for Dan Coats misremembering this

extraordinary thing they say he told them about?  Did Dan Coats make that

up at the time and feign being upset about it?  Did Dan Coats, in fact, get

that order from the president and tell his staffers at the time but by the

time he got in to talk to the special counsel`s office, he forgot all about

it? 

 

Or did Dan Coats tell his staffers one thing about receiving that request

from the president and they saw him be visibly upset in response to it? 

And then when it came time to talk to the special counsel about it, he told

the special counsel something that sounded better for the president,

something that didn`t indicate that the president had ordered him to shut

down the investigation? 

 

I mean, which one of those explanations is what happened here?  What would

any of this mean for his tenure as the director for national intelligence? 

And actually, from a legal standpoint, how do you square the competing

versions of this story? 

 

Joining us is Barbara McQuade.  She`s a former U.S. attorney in the great

state of Michigan.

 

Barb, thank you for being here.  Much appreciated.

 

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Oh, thanks, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  So the thing that I have trouble with here is that Dan Coats is

obviously still the serving director of national intelligence.  The

competing stories that are told in the Mueller report suggest that best-

case scenario, he forgot that this happened, he told his staffers at the

time that it happened, but later when he talks to the special counsel`s

office, he couldn`t recall.  That seems like the best-case scenario, in

which case I don`t want him as director of national intelligence if he`s

forgetting stuff like that. 

 

The worse case would appear to be that this happened.  He told staffers

about it at the time, and then when it came time to talk to the special

counsel, he covered up for the president. 

 

I find both of these scenarios disturbing given that he`s still in his

role. 

 

MCQUADE:  Yes, this could be one of those instances that we see quite a bit

of in the Mueller report where there`s some evidence of a crime but not

enough to establish all of the elements of a crime.  And so, we have some

contradictory statements. 

 

And as a prosecutor, you have to look and see whether all of the elements

of an offense are established.  Here you have to show the person knew the

statement was false when he made it, and that it was material.  So

difficult to know which of those may have been missing here. 

 

But one of the things that I would look for is, is it the kind of thing you

might remember?  You might not remember you talked about the weather or

someone asked about your weekend.  But something as startling as the fact

that the president asked you to ask James Comey to stop an investigation is

of such significance that it`s difficult to imagine that he simply forgot

that fact. 

 

MADDOW:  As testified to by the fact that multiple staffers of his who he

spoke to at the time not only all reported the same story about what he

told them, that he seemed upset about it at the time.  I guess if you were

trying to pursue this as a prosecutor, you`d try everything you could to

get as close to the facts that you could about the conversation in

question.  Without the opportunity to interview the president about this,

is there any other way that prosecutors might pursue this? 

 

MCQUADE:  Well, I think if they were interested in pursuing it, they might

re-interview some of these people.  Now, at the time of the interview, I

think only three months had passed from the initial meeting.  That was when

memories were very fresh. 

 

And I would really love to see the underlying reports.  We get just a

couple sentences from the FBI 302 reports.  I would be curious to see all

of the things that happened in those reports.  Did they ask Dan Coats to

follow-up these things?  Did they refresh his recollection by saying,

that`s funny, because one of your aides said you understanding this thing

about Comey?  Does that refresh your recollection about that? 

 

He may say it never happened or he may say, oh, now that you mentioned it,

I do remember that fact.  I don`t know whether any of those efforts were

made to try to do that.  It looks like all these interviews were conducted

on the same day, so it`s difficult to know what the sequence of those

interviews were and how hard they pushed to find out the truth here. 

 

There`s also rules of evidence when you make decisions about whether to

charge.  At least one of these sounds like it`s likely hearsay because it

was not just second hand but third hand information.  So, it can be

difficult to prove.  So, you know, we often talk about information that is

awful but lawful, so it may be that he lied and it just can`t be charged as

a crime. 

 

MADDOW:  Fascinating.  And I feel like this is not only interesting in

terms of DNI Dan Coats, it`s a case study in terms of why it is that

Congress wants not just the unredacted report but all of the underlying

evidence, as you`re saying, including those reports. 

 

Barb McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the great state of Michigan, thanks

for being here, Barb.  Much appreciated.

 

MCQUADE:  Thanks very much, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  We got much more to get to tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  For Memorial Day in 2006, “NBC Nightly News” reported on a new

book of photos that was taken by soldiers serving in Iraq, including a

young lieutenant from Massachusetts. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SETH MOULTON, THEN-U.S. MARINE CORPS OFFICER:  I felt a little bit awkward

taking photographs, but it was one of those scenes that I thought we should

remember.  The decision was made to have a memorial service on Christmas

Day.  So right after this, we had a fantastic Christmas dinner, which was

one of the best meals we had had in months. 

 

And so, there`s this dichotomy that you have incredibly sad moments, often

followed by really happy times.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  That was First Lieutenant Seth Moulton.  He had decided to join

the Marines a few months before 9/11 after he graduated from Harvard in

2001.  He ended up serving four combat tours in Iraq in five years. 

 

For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and the Navy and

Marine Corps Commendation medal for valor. 

 

But it`s interesting.  Seth Moulton did not trumpet those medals, quite the

contrary.  His own parents did not learn that he won the Bronze Star in

Iraq until 2014 when a reporter dug it up for “The Boston Globe” when the

Lieutenant Moulton was running for Congress that year.  He had not

mentioned those medals at any point in his congressional run nor even to

his family. 

 

In the Democratic primary that year, he defeated a nine-term, 18-year

incumbent Democratic congressman named John Tierney.  He then won that

congressional seat. 

 

Seth Moulton won a seat in Congress in the first place by upsetting the

established order of things.  Since then, he`s stayed through to form. 

 

In 2016, Moulton joined a small coalition of Democrats trying to unseat

Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic leader.  That did not work, but Seth Moulton

did not give up.  Even as Democrats were still celebrating their historic

gains from this last election in 2018, Seth Moulton was working on it again

trying to block Nancy Pelosi from regaining the speaker`s gavel. 

 

Moulton`s constituents at one point let him know what they thought about

that effort. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOULTON:  The majority of Americans want this change.  The majority of

Democrats want this change. 

 

AUDIENCE:  No!

 

MOULTON:  Yes, we do.  We want – 

 

AUDIENCE:  No!

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Congressman Moulton came for the queen twice, two election cycles

in a row, both times he missed, with consequences.  There has been open

talk on the left about a primary challenge to him for his congressional

seat if he runs for his House seat again.  But it`s an interesting question

about that House seat because that`s not the only platform that Congressman

Seth Moulton has. 

 

Today, Congressman Seth Moulton announced that he has a whole other idea. 

Today, he announced he`s running for president in the crowded Democratic

primary, full speed ahead. 

 

Joining us now for the interview is Seth Moulton, congressman from

Massachusetts, presidential candidate in the Democratic primary.

 

Sir, thank you for being here. 

 

MOULTON:  Thank you very much for having me, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  Really appreciate it.

 

All right.  So, I`m going to go right to it. 

 

MOULTON:  Go for it. 

 

MADDOW:  So, I said on Twitter today that I was going to have you here. 

And I have – I have a lot of people following me on Twitter.  I don`t know

why, but it`s great. 

 

And I said that you were going to be here, and there`s something that`s

called getting ratioed on twitter, which means more people respond with a

reply than retweet your message to pass it to other people. 

 

MOULTON:  I know.  I know.

 

MADDOW:  I have never been ratioed before, but I was today when I said that

you were going to be here because people are so mad at you about the Nancy

Pelosi thing.  And I got to think when you decided to make this run today,

you`re running not – you don`t get to straight up run for president.  You

have to run to be nominee in the Democratic Party.

 

MOULTON:  Sure.

 

MADDOW:  This is really fresh in the minds of Democratic Party activists

right now, this effort of you to take on Pelosi two years running.  Tell me

– tell me how you feel about that anger, and about being sort of a big

part of your national profile as you start to do this?

 

MOULTON:  Well, look, I`m willing to challenge the Washington

establishment.  And, frankly, I think we should have a nominee who is

willing to challenge the Washington establishment because outside the

Twittersphere, Twittersphere, that`s what people want on the ground. 

That`s what I`ve heard everywhere I go. 

 

In fact, when I`ve gone to early primary states over the last two months,

this hardly even comes up.  But if we are going to challenge Donald Trump,

we have to show that we`re willing to change Washington.  And as a result

of that challenge – which, by the way, was never just about Pelosi.  It

was about the top three leadership positions and it was about giving a new

generation of voice in our party. 

 

As a result of that challenge, we got the Climate Change Subcommittee, we

got the Voting Rights Subcommittee, we got term limits on leadership. 

They`re going to allow this historically diverse class of freshmen to

actually have a chance to lead themselves. 

 

MADDOW:  You don`t think the Climate Change Subcommittee would have

happened without that challenge? 

 

MOULTON:  No, absolutely not.  That was a product of that challenge at that

time when our leadership said, okay, we have to do some things to win more

people over to our side. 

 

The fact that we came to a compromise on term limits, let`s not forget that

gave Speaker Pelosi the votes that she needed to become speaker.  And it

did so without forcing these freshmen who had won their elections on a

promise to vote against her to have to change that vote. 

 

MADDOW:  You don`t run against her in the end? 

 

MOULTON:  No, because I wanted the freshmen to keep their promise.  In

exchange for that term limit deal, I said I would support her.  That`s good

for the party, it`s good for her, and she`s doing a fantastic job of

standing up to Donald Trump. 

 

But it also ensures in the future people will look at our leadership and

say not only are they willing to stand up to Trump, but they`re the party

of the future.  They`re going to lead us into the future. 

 

And, frankly, if I`m chosen to be the nominee, going into the generally

election with that position will make me stronger against Donald Trump. 

 

MADDOW:  The majority of voters in the Democratic Party and the majority of

voters in America are women. 

 

MOULTON:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  After Hillary Clinton`s loss to Donald Trump in 2016, Nancy Pelosi

standing there as the most powerful woman in American politics, she`s the

most powerful woman in American politics ever. 

 

For you to be shooting at her, I think, made women mad.  I think that

there`s been a response against you on that, against Tim Ryan on that,

that`s going to be a foundational thing for you both running for president

now.  And I wonder just how – I mean, obviously, you`re a guy who`s –

you`re unafraid and you are unafraid about going at this stuff straight on. 

But with women voters being mad about women at the top of the Democratic

Party getting shots from within, how do you regain trust?  How do you build

it?

 

MOULTON:  You know, you showed a picture of my town hall.  There were about

100 people there.  There were 20 to 25 protesters. 

 

Now, you got a good clip where those protesters were speaking up, but I

can`t tell you how many women have come out and said we want generational

change in our party as well.  We want to make sure that there is a new

generation that`s able to step up and lead.  These amazing women who are an

incredible part of this class, you know, of the 40 seats we flipped to take

back the House, 21 of them were endorsed and supported by my Serve America

Group, and a lot of them were women. 

 

And they are the new leaders in the party.  Many of them pledged themselves

to vote against Pelosi in order to win. 

 

MADDOW:  Pelosi has a 70 percent approval rating on Democrats. 

 

MOULTON:  I`m not – I`m not disputing the fact that she`s doing a good job

right now.  But we`re talking about the future.  I`m talking about the

future. 

 

MADDOW:  And that she`s beloved within the party.  The part of premise that

I don`t agree with – 

 

MOULTON:  Sure.

 

MADDOW:  – is the idea that you were channeling a groundswell of anger and

upset about Pelosi being a problem within the Democratic Party. 

 

MOULTON:  Well, the fact of the matter is it changed. 

 

MADDOW:  The upset of Pelosi is from the Republicans, right?

 

MOULTON:  Look, it changed, it changed. 

 

There was a groundswell for that change before the election and then it

changed afterwards.  A lot of people changed their position. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

MOULTON:  There are a lot of people in the party who said, OK, now I`m not

against her.  I was against her before.  There were a lot of people who

called me and others in the group, including a lot of women. 

 

Let`s not forget, there were women at the forefront of this movement as

well – Kathleen Rice, Linda Sanchez, Marcia Fudge – who were leading this

group as well.  And said we want change. 

 

And then after the election, they said, OK, we`re fine with her. 

 

Look, I stick to my guns.  I don`t just talk about a new generation of

leadership, I fight for it.  I think that will make me a stronger nominee

if I`m chosen to take on Trump. 

 

But the fact of the matter is, look, this is who you get, you know?

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

MOULTON:  I`m someone you may not always agree with, but you always know

where I stand.  And the toughest job that I`ve ever had to do in my life

was take an incredibly diverse group of Americans, people from all over the

country, different religious beliefs, different political beliefs,

different races, different backgrounds and get them behind – united behind

a common mission to serve our country in the most difficult circumstances

imaginable.  I mean, literally, in the middle of a war that half of us

disagreed with. 

 

That kind of unifying leadership is I think fundamentally what we need in

the next commander-in-chief.  And I recognize there will be some women that

I`ve got win back, and that`s OK.  That`s OK.  I`m proud to do that.  I`m

proud to take on that challenge because we have got to defeat Donald Trump

to bring this country back together. 

 

MADDOW:  Seth Moulton is our guest.  We`ll be right back with Congressman

Moulton from Massachusetts.  He is a declared presidential candidate in the

Democratic primary.  He is the 19th Democrat who has announced and you know

all the ones who haven`t announced yet. 

 

We`ll be back with Congressman Moulton right after this. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Back with us is Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, who`s the

newest Democrat to jump into the presidential race.

 

Sir, thank you for sticking with us.

 

MOULTON:  It`s great to be back.

 

MADDOW:  So, you said this morning on ABC that you believe President Trump

did obstruct justice. 

 

MOULTON:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  But that it`s too soon to move on actual impeachment.  Have you

read the Mueller report?  What do you think Democrats should do?

 

MOULTON:  No, it`s too soon to vote on impeachment. 

 

But let me be clear – I voted in the House to start debate on impeachment

last year.  I think that we`ve waited way too long to start this

investigation, to seriously start debating whether the president should be

impeached. 

 

I mean, look, he`s clearly committed crimes.  I mean, he`s profited off his

office, violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.  Thirty of his

– over 30 of his close associates have been indicted.  His campaign

chairman is in prison. 

 

Don`t tell me there`s not enough to debate right now.  And that`s why –

 

MADDOW:  So, do you think the Judiciary Committee should open up an

inquiry? 

 

MOULTON:  Absolutely.  And they should have done it a year ago.  I think in

some ways, we backed ourselves into a corner by waiting for the Mueller

investigation to come out, and I think that was a mistake.  There`s clearly

evidence a year ago.  That`s why I voted a year ago to start this debate. 

 

But Congress does two things.  They debate things and they vote on things. 

We don`t have all the facts yet.  We haven`t seen the full Mueller report. 

 

So, it`s not time to have a vote on impeachment but absolutely we should be

debating it. 

 

MADDOW:  Are you concerned or where do you fall down the issue about

whether Democrats can pursue these investigations and also pursue a

positive legislative agenda?  I mean, I know your priorities include

obviously veterans issues, national security issues.  You`ve talked a lot

about cyber defenses.  I mean, you`re very specific in terms of the stuff

you want to pursue through Congress.  Can Democrats in Congress do both? 

 

MOULTON:  We absolutely must do both.  And what a lot of people are missing

about this Mueller report is that the one unmistakable conclusion is that

Russia interfered in the election.  Russia wanted Donald Trump to be

elected president.  And every American, whether you`re a Trump supporter or

a Trump hater, should want to know why Putin wants Trump to be our

president.  That`s a fundamental national security question for us. 

 

MADDOW:  Do you know what the answer to that question? 

 

MOULTON:  I don`t.  But I can guarantee you this – Russia is interfering

in this election today.  I mean, there`s probably watching the show, and

this whole like transparency of democracy that you do –

 

MADDOW:  Hi, guys. 

 

MOULTON:  They are not fans.  I can guarantee you, they are not fans.  All

right?

 

But, seriously, they are interfering in today`s election, I guarantee it,

because we`ve done nothing to stop them. 

 

If you think about it, after Japan attacked us on Pearl Harbor, we had a

Pearl Harbor Commission.  It was very critical of Roosevelt. 

 

After the terrorists attacked us on 9/11, we had a 9/11 Commission.  It was

actually very critical of the Bush administration.  Roosevelt and Bush

didn`t say, no, no, no, don`t investigate because it might look bad on me. 

 

Russia attacked us in 2016.  I guarantee you, they`re going to attack us in

2020 and we`re doing nothing to stop it.  That`s a national security

concern we needed to he talk about and need to lead on as Democrats because

it`s actually where Trump is weakest.  If we want to beat Trump, we`ve got

to attack him where he`s weakest and that`s what I`m talking about this in

debate. 

 

MADDOW:  Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, newly declared

presidential candidate, thank you for coming in.  You know I was going to

talk to you about that Pelosi stuff right off the bat.  Thank you for being

–  

 

MOULTON:  That`s totally fair.  And, you know, it`s important to have that

debate.  And I`ll tell you what, if there`s anything that you liked or even

didn`t like but want to hear on the debate stage, I hope people will just

go to the website and donate a dollar so I can get on the debate stage, and

bring these issues, especially these national security issues which no

other candidate is talking about right now in this race, and actually where

Donald Trump is weakest, where I think we can beat him. 

 

If you want those issues on the debate stage, I hope people will donate. 

Thanks.

 

MADDOW:  Thank you.  Thanks for being here.  Much appreciate it.

 

MOULTON:  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  I have accidentally landed on real estate that belongs to another

TV host. 

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence.  I`m sorry I`m standing on your show.

 

                                                                                                               

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