Flynn/Miller case filings. TRANSCRIPT: 5/16/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Zerlina Maxwell and Laura Bassett, great to have
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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.
HAYE: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Back in December, the week before Christmas this past year, you might
remember that there was sort of a freaking debacle in a Washington, D.C.
Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn showed up in court to be
sentenced by a federal judge. And when he got there, Flynn appeared to be
in good spirits. And that was understandable. Prosecutors had filed a
public facing document that praised him for his cooperation since he pled
guilty. Prosecutors said, yes, yes, Mike Flynn committed and pled guilty
to have serious crimes.
But once he got caught, he pled guilty right away, he corresponded
substantially to investigators on multiple investigations and prosecutors
told the judge they wanted the judge in the Flynn case to take into account
when sentencing him what a good Cooperator Mike Flynn had been. So when
Flynn showed up in court that day in December, you know, you could
understand why he was a little buoyant, right? Everything was going to go
great. This was going to finally be behind him.
It did not go great. The judge at one point during that sentencing in mid-
December told Mike Flynn, quote, I`m not going to hide my disgust, my
That was right before the judge asked one of the prosecutors standing there
in the courtroom whether he had assessed whether Flynn`s actions actually
might rise to the level of treason. The prosecutor said in response
effectively, hamana-hamana-hamana. The judge later walked that back.
But he didn`t walk it back that much. This judge said to Flynn in the
courtroom that day, he pointed to the American flag in the corner of his
courtroom and he said to Flynn, arguably, this undermines everything this
flag over here stands for. He told Flynn, quote, arguably, you sold your
country out. And that went on for a while.
And ultimately, Flynn finally did get the message, the very unsettled
message from the judge maybe that would not be the best day to go through
with the sentencing. Maybe, it might be better to come back a different
day, see if there was any help that Flynn could maybe provide to anyone
else if there was any other investigations Flynn might possibly contribute
to help his country, the one with that flag there in the corner of the
courtroom. Try to help the cause of justice in some way, maybe try again
in a few months. That was in December.
Now, Mike Flynn`s case is not scheduled to be back in court until the
middle of next month. That`s when the next status report is due in his
case. All the more surprising – that made it all the more surprising
today when we got a whole new bunch of stuff from Flynn`s case unsealed by
that judge without warning.
And it`s interesting. This doesn`t seem to be related to any forthcoming
proceeding relating to Flynn. It doesn`t seem to be driven by something
else going on in Flynn`s case. This stuff just popped onto the public
docket today by order of that judge.
And one of the items that we got for the first time today is the sealed,
the previously sealed documents that prosecutors had filed with the judge
in Flynn`s case in advance of that doomed sentencing proceeding back in
December. Prosecutors had filed a public facing document, which is the one
that said Flynn is a great cooperator, you should give him credit for that,
judge. That public facing document didn`t spell out much what Flynn had
They saved that for this sealed document, this document that was sealed
until today which does spell out in detail exactly what Flynn helped with,
exactly what investigations Flynn cooperated in. And so, now, that it`s
been unsealed today, surprise, we`re seeing that for the first time.
You can see it there at the top it`s described as under seal and ex parte
but there`s a struck out. They`re struck out because as of today, this is
no longer under seal. It`s been released. It`s been posted publicly so
now we can see it.
Quote: This addendum to the government`s memorandum aid in sentencing
describes the significance and usefulness of defendant Michael T. Flynn`s
assistance to the government and the timeliness of that assistance. As
described here in the defendant`s assistance to the government was
substantial and merits consideration at sentencing.
Quote: The defendant has assisted with several ongoing investigations.
Number one, a criminal investigation in the eastern district of Virginia
that is likely to result in criminal charges. More on that in a second.
Number two, the special counsel office`s investigation concerning any links
or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated
with the campaign of President Donald J. Trump.
And then the next line down is presumably the third thing that Mike Flynn
helped with, maybe. The next part after the comma there, he helped with
the Eastern District of Virginia criminal case, comma, special counsel`s
office investigation, comma, and then redacted, redacted, redacted.
But this new document does go onto describe at least for the parts that
aren`t still redacted, it describes the assistance that Flynn provided in
pretty good detail. It spells out, for example, about that criminal
investigation in the Eastern District of Virginia is the case that
ultimately did result in criminal charges against Flynn`s former business
partner, a Trump transition official named Bijan Kian. Kian, you may
remember, is charged with acting illegally as an unregistered foreign agent
in this country, while he was working for Flynn, and also, while he was
working on the Trump transition, doing little unimportant tiddlywinks tasks
like oh, say helping pick out the CIA director.
Bijan Kian has pled not guilty. That case is ongoing in the eastern
district of Virginia. But prosecutors in Flynn`s case gave Flynn big props
for how much he helped in the Kian case. Quote: According to prosecutors
in the Eastern District of Virginia and the National Security Division at
the Justice Department, defendant Flynn`s cooperation and assistance have
been critical to their investigation in the Bijan Kian case.
And then there`s another big redacted chunk. The EDVA and the National
Security Division prosecutors have interviewed the defendant, redacted,
So that`s something dealing the Bijan Kian case. The second case where
they say Flynn helped is the special counsel`s investigation. And this is
sort of fascinating. This is new – at least in this form this is new.
Quote: The defendant has also assisted with the special counsel`s
investigation concerning links or coordination between the Russian
government and with individuals associated with the Trump campaign.
Defendant Flynn has assisted the special counsel`s investigation on a range
of issues, including interactions between individuals in the presidential
transition team and Russia, discussions within the Trump campaign about
WikiLeaks releasing e-mails and potential efforts to interfere with the
special counsel`s investigation.
And they break it down. Quote: Defendant Flynn provided first-hand
information about the content and context of interactions between the
transition team and Russian government officials. For example, after the
election, defendant Flynn communicated with the Russian ambassador as a
representative of the transition team on two sensitive matters. A U.N.
Security Council vote on a resolution calling for Israel to cease
settlement activities in the Palestinian territory, and Obama
administration`s imposition of sanctions and other measures on Russia for
interfering in the 2016 election.
Quote: Several senior member of the Trump transition team publicly released
false information conveyed to them by defendant Flynn about communications
between him and the Russian ambassador regarding the sanctions. Flynn
provided details on which transition team officials he conferred with
before communicating with the Russian ambassador, also, who on the
transition team was aware those communications were occurring, also, who on
the transition team was informed about what he discussed with the Russian
So, it`s really interesting to get all that detail. I mean, we know from
the context here and we know we can see in the Mueller report that that
contact between the Russian government and the Trump transition team about
sanctions, that was one of dozens of contacts between the Russian
government and Trump world during the campaign and during the transition.
That, in fact, was one of the contacts with the Russian government that all
the Trump people lied about.
Well, now, we know one of the ways Mike Flynn cooperated with prosecutors
was by telling them who knew the truth about his secret contacts with the
Russian government while he and everybody else in the Trump transition was
lying about those contacts. This new filing from prosecutors also says
that Flynn helped them investigate WikiLeaks and how the Russians released
the material that they stole from the Democratic Party and the Clinton
campaign in their effort to help Trump win the election.
Quote: Defendant Flynn also provided useful information concerning
discussions within the campaign about WikiLeaks` release of e-mail.
WikiLeaks is an important subject of the special counsel`s investigation
because a Russian intelligence service used WikiLeaks to release e-mails
the intelligence service stole during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Defendant Flynn relayed to the government statements made in 2016 by senior
Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks to which only a select few people
were privy. Meaning they got stuff from Flynn about how the Trump campaign
was talking about WikiLeaks, and it was information they probably couldn`t
have gotten otherwise had Flynn not told them about it.
Quote, for example defendant recalled conversations with senior Trump
campaign officials after the release of John Podesta`s e-mails during which
the prospect of reaching out to WikiLeaks was discussed.
So what we`re getting here, again, for the first time, this has never been
unsealed before. We get Flynn helping with the Bijan prosecution which is
ongoing. We get Flynn helping with all lying about the transition team
talking to the Russian government. We get Flynn helping with Trump
campaign and their enthusiasm fro the Russian efforts to help them during
the campaign and the Trump campaign`s response to reach out in response to
what Russia was doing to help them.
But then, remember, the other big volume of Mueller`s report, the whole
second half of Mueller`s report was about obstruction of justice. And now
we know Flynn was helpful there, too. Quote: Defendant Flynn also assisted
the special counsel`s investigation into potential efforts to interfere
with or otherwise obstruct its investigation. Defendant Flynn informed the
government of multiple instances both before and after his guilty plea
where either he or his attorney received communications from persons
connected to the administration or Congress. Or Congress?
That could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the
completeness of that cooperation. The defendant even provided a voice mail
recording of one such communication. In some of these instances, the
special counsel was unaware of the outreach until be alerted to it by the
So, before and after Mike Flynn pled guilty, people connected to the Trump
administration and also people connected to Congress, who`s that? They
were reaching out to Mike Flynn to talk to him about what exactly he
planned to tell prosecutors and whether he planned to cooperate with them
and how much and on what topics.
We know that one of those instances of outreach from persons connected to
the Trump administration was referenced as the voice mail here, which we
think is probably the same reference from Mueller`s report about a lawyer
for the president, quote, the president`s personal counsel leaving Mike
Flynn a voice mail. This is amazing.
So, right after Flynn withdrew from his joint defense agreement with the
White House, which is signal he was about to plead guilty, it was also a
very strong signal he was about to start cooperating with prosecutors,
right after he pulled out of that joint defense agreement, Mike Flynn got a
call. And in the Mueller report, this is sort of a particularly mafia-
esque episode in Mueller`s report. I mean, this is literally the part
where Flynn is about to cooperate, right?
He pulls out of the joint defense agreement, it`s pretty clear he`s about
to plead guilty. He`s about to start cooperating. And he in the dead of
night gets the warning from the president`s goon squad, letting Mike Flynn
know if he`s thinking about cooperating, you know what, Mike, here`s what
you might want to keep in mind.
I mean, this is from the Mueller report. Quote: In late November 2017,
Flynn began to cooperate with this office, meaning with Mueller`s
prosecutors. Quote, on November 22nd, Flynn withdrew from the joint
defense agreement he had with the president. Flynn`s counsel told the
president`s personal counsel and counsel for the White House that Flynn
could no longer have confidential communications with the White House or
Later that night, the president`s personal counsel left a voicemail for
Flynn`s lawyer that said this. I understand your situation but let me see
if I can`t state it in starker terms. It wouldn`t surprise me if you`ve
gone onto make a deal with the government. If there`s information that
implicates the president, then we`ve got a national security issue. So,
you know, we need some kind of heads up just for the sake of protecting all
our interests. Remember what we`ve always said about the president and his
feelings towards Flynn, and that still remains.
The following day, November 23rd, Flynn`s attorney returned the call from
the president`s personal counsel to acknowledge receipt of the voicemail.
Flynn`s attorneys reiterated that they were no longer in a position to
share information under any sort of privilege. Meaning, hey, we are out of
this joint defense agreement. We can`t talk to you anymore, and anything
you say to us from here on out, we can`t keep it secret.
Quote: According to Flynn`s attorneys, the president`s personal counsel was
indignant and vocal in his disagreement. Quote: The president`s persona
counsel said that he interpreted what they said to him as a reflection of
Flynn`s hostility to the president and that he planned to inform his
client, the president, of that interpretation.
Flynn`s attorneys understood that statement to be an attempt to make them
reconsider their position. Yes, you think? Would you look down to see if
your kneecaps were still in the front?
Nevertheless, on December 1st, so a week later Flynn in fact pled guilty.
And when he turned up in court to plead guilty, then everybody officially
knew he was cooperating with prosecutors, with the special counsel,
whereupon almost immediately the president changed his tune to start
publicly dangling a potential presidential pardon for Mike Flynn. We knew
some of that from the Mueller report.
We now as of tonight know the other side of it from a description of
Flynn`s cooperation that was just unseal bide this federal court today.
And I mean just a little personal aside here, how is the president not
being impeached for obstruction of justice right now? I mean, that episode
alone – I realize there`s a lot of equities involved in terms of whether
or not the president is going to be impeached for stuff like this.
But this is – this is the president`s personal counsel calling up Flynn
and being like, you know, it might be a national security issue if you said
anything about the president. You know how much the president likes you,
wouldn`t want me to tell him you turned hostile on him, would you? I`m
going to go ahead and tell him. I`m going to tell him you`ve become
hostile to him if you cooperate, are you sure you want to cooperate?
I mean, this is like the stuff that gets cut out of a B movie because it`s
a little too ham-handed in terms of explaining to the audience how this
particular crime family does its business. Are you sure you want to
cooperate? Oh, you`re going to go ahead and cooperate, well, I`m going to
tell my client about your hostility to him. Are you sure you –
This was made public today. Soon thereafter, we got another brief order
from the judge in Flynn`s case after he ordered the unsealing of this
stuff. He soon thereafter ordered the prosecutors to also file on the
public docket the full transcript of that voicemail recording that Flynn
handed over to prosecutors, the voicemail that is described in part in the
Mueller report. The prosecutors are ordered to hand over transcripts of
that voicemail. They`re also ordered to hand over transcripts of Flynn`s
conversations with the Russian government. Those are going to be on the
And the judge himself has told prosecutors that he doesn`t want just the
transcripts himself, he wants both the transcripts and the actual audio
recordings of both Flynn talking to the Russian government and the
president`s goon squad calling up Flynn and threatening him to not
cooperate. The judge wants the audio versions of both of those recordings
delivered to him on a DVD in chambers by the end of this month.
Now, I don`t know if that means we the public will ever get to hear the
actual audio recordings but we definitely are going to get the full
transcripts. And then oh, wait there`s more because that was followed
immediately by another short order from this judge, and this one I had to
read backwards and forwards a few times before I would believe my lying
eyes. I sort of can`t believe the judge just did this, but he did. And I
think this is huge deal, and I`ll have that over for you next.
MADDOW: So a federal judge in Washington, D.C. today issued an order
that`s not very long, only this long. And even though it`s this short and
this straightforward, I could not believe it when I first read it. I read
it backwards and forwards and convinced myself this isn`t what it said.
But this is from Judge Emmet Sullivan. He`s a Washington, D.C. federal
judge. He`s the judge in the Michael Flynn case. And in this little
order, Judge Sullivan is now ordering the government or the prosecutors in
this case, he`s ordering them to remove all of the redactions from the
Mueller report that have anything to do with the Mike Flynn case. This
judge today says take out those redactions and then publish that unredacted
version of Mueller`s report.
Quote: The government is ordered to file on the public docket in this case
by no later than May 31st an unredacted version of those portions of the
special counsel`s report that relate to Mr. Flynn, signed Judge Emmet G.
So plot twist, right? I mean, Mueller`s report gets released or gets
submitted, right? And then it gets released to the public with redactions
and under strange circumstances, right? We now know the attorney general
wouldn`t release the summaries from the report which Mueller`s team had
written specifically so those summaries could be released to public. He
refused to release those summaries and instead wrote up his own totally
misleading characterizations of the report.
We have since learned that Mueller and his team were furious about the way
that Barr has mishandled their report, their document, their findings.
Barr initially suggested that even the redactions in the report were all
things that Robert Mueller wanted. It was just purely Robert Mueller`s
wishes. He later admitted under reluctant questioning that, OK, there may
have been conflicts over the redactions and maybe the redactions don`t
reflect the way Mueller wanted this to come out.
Mueller still has not been allowed to testify about his own finings or the
handlings of his findings by the administration, nor any member of
Mueller`s team. The White House is saying they will not allow any
witnesses who spoke to Mueller to testify to Congress, nor will they allow
any documents about what Mueller found or investigated to be handed over.
They`ve gone so far as to retroactively throw a fire blanket over the
entire Mueller report, even after most of it was released to the public.
They`re now claiming the whole thing retroactively is covered by executive
privilege, which is weird assertion, but they`re doing that specifically
because they hope that gives them an extra tool so they can try to prevent
anybody from testifying about it or talking about it.
And in the midst of all that today, surprise, here`s Judge Sullivan saying,
actually, I order you to release it. I hereby direct you in this court
order to remove all the redactions which relate to my case, which is the
Mike Flynn case. Take all of that out, make this public, you`ve got two
So I know the White House is doing everything they can to try to keep
everything secret, to try to stuff the toothpaste back in the tube, but
look at how this is going now. The judge overseeing the Roger Stone case
started off this week by herself getting an unredacted version of the
Mueller at least as it pertains to everything having to do with WikiLeaks
and Roger Stone and anything else that might touch that case she`s
That judge, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, has already had the Mueller report`s
redactions removed. So, she can read the redacted part as she oversees the
Stone case. Now, we`ve got another judge in the same district who`s
overseeing another Mueller derived case, the Flynn case, ordering not just
he should get to see the redacted portions of that pertain to his case, but
he`s ordering that we all get to see it, too. That that stuff has to be
released to the public even before the Flynn case is over, even before
Flynn is sentenced.
Again, this deadline from Judge Sullivan for the unredacted version of the
Mueller report as it pertains to the Flynn stuff, the deadline for that to
be released to the public is a couple of weeks before there`s even the next
status report on Mike Flynn, let alone before he gets another sentencing
date. So even before the Flynn case is wrapped, he`s saying release
everything in that Mueller report, unredact everything in that Mueller
report that relates to Flynn. Do it, court order.
I mean today, literally, as I speak right now, members of the House
Democrats in Congress are conducting a marathon live reading of Mueller`s
report. At least the portion of it they`ve been allowed to see, right?
The House Democrats started with this at noon. They`ve been going all day
long reading Mueller`s report out loud. They`re expected to go through the
night and maybe finish some time tomorrow morning. That`s actually a live
shot right now. That`s Mary Gay Scanlon.
I will say I watched this on and off throughout the day shout out to Mary
Gay Scanlon, also to newly elected freshman Democrat Val Demings, who`s in
her second term. They today have been really, really good readers. They
make it sound like a better movie you could expect, even though in the
report itself we`ve got the president`s lawyers threatening Mike Flynn in
the dead of night and all that melodrama stuff.
Some of these readers are very good. But the reason they`re reading the
report out loud is they`re trying to stop the disappearing of this report.
It also highlights the fact not all of the report has been released.
Yesterday was the subpoena deadline for the Justice Department to hand over
the fully unredacted report to the Intelligence Committee, plus the
intelligence information that was turned up in the course of the
investigation. The Justice Department did not respond to that subpoena,
they did not hand over any of that material.
The Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff today said his committee
will meet next week to discuss an enforcement action of some kind in
response to the Justice Department defying that subpoena. The question of
what happened to the counterintelligence investigation into among other
things whether the president were acting as an agent of a foreign power,
wittingly or unwittingly, that counterintelligence investigation is not
really described at all in Mueller`s report. The question of what happened
in that investigation is becoming increasingly urgent as people wake up to
the fact that Mueller appears not to have done it. We`re going to have
more on that coming up a little later on in the show.
But one of the other things Schiff told reporters today is when his
committee meet next week to discuss this enforcement action in response to
the Justice Department ignoring their subpoena, one of the other things he
says they`re going to do at that meeting is that they`re going to release
the most recent testimony that committee got from Michael Cohen, the
president`s long time personal lawyer who`s serving a prison sentence among
other things for paying a quarter million dollars in hush money to two
women right before the 2016 election to prevent those women from describing
alleged affairs with then candidate Trump.
Today, the president had to release his most recent financial disclosures.
It was a nice reminder that the president has in effect confessed to his
own role in those campaign finance felonies for which Michael Cohen is now
serving his prison sentence. At least the president confessed his role in
those felonies to the extent this time last year when he put out his
financial disclosures, he had to put in an amendment mentioning the payment
he made to Michael Cohen to cover that illegal hush money stuff. Those
payments which he had previously been both lying about to the public and
keeping secret until Cohen`s court case forced the public to retroactively
add his accounting for his making those payments onto his own financial
And today`s financial disclosure from the president is interesting as far
as it goes in terms of figuring out how his businesses are going and
reading between the lines in terms of his accepting money from foreign
governments and stuff.
While he is required to release that financial disclosure, though, he has
also hired a whole new team of lawyers to keep his real financial history
and his taxes secret. We`ve been trying to figure out who`s paying those
lawyers. No one will cop to paying them. We don`t know if that`s the
White House or the RNC or the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization or
the Trump family, yes, right.
Is your elderly uncle who`s been buying Make America Great Again
merchandise from the Trump campaign website inadvertently fighting the
lawyers to keep the Trump taxes secret? I think he might be.
Whoever paying those lawyers fees, those lawyers are now fighting subpoenas
for the president`s taxes and financial information in two different court
cases involving Deutsche Bank and an accounting firm called Mazars. The
idea of both of those court cases is quite clearly to try to stretch those
fights out as long as possible, to delay as long as possible the prospect
that any investigators especially ones in Congress might ever get a look at
the president`s actual finances and taxes.
But you know what? I mean, subpoenas are a real thing. And the judicial
process, that among other things that enforces subpoenas, is a real thing.
Tomorrow, another subpoena deadline will arrive. Tomorrow`s the date by
which the IRS and the Treasury are supposed to hand over the president`s
tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee in response to that committee`s
lawfully issued subpoena. We`ll see what happens tomorrow when that
deadline hits and we presume the Treasury Department and IRS will stand in
defiance of it.
But, you know, we are at the point where the bluster and the defiance is
starting to kind of hit the wall here. I mean, a federal judge just
ordered the public release of whatever has been redacted from the whole
Flynn section of Mueller`s report, right? They`re all saying no, no, the
Mueller report, the redactions you`ll never get behind them, executive
privilege – you know what, court just ordered to release them.
I know they love the optics and they love the chest pounding joy of saying
they`ll defy the Democrats and they`ll defy Congress and they`ll defy any
kind of oversight, right? Now what are they going to do? Are they going
to defy a federal judge? Are they going to defy a court order? Really?
Stay with us.
MADDOW: This week, the calendars for special counsel Robert Mueller`s top
deputy Andrew Weissmann were publicly released. The released of these
calendars elicited a bunch of weird human interest stories how the Mueller
team had potlucks and made time for birthday cake, it was kind of weird.
But on the right, those calendars being released was used for occasion of
an attack on the individual members of the special counsel`s team. They`ve
been attacking prosecutor Andrew Weissmann specifically interest having
interviewed people and hired people to work on the Mueller investigation as
if that is some sort of gigantic scandal. But that`s how they`ve moved
onto pursuing this on the right. They`re now going after individually
named prosecutors and investigators.
We`ve seen a little bit of this from the very top, too. During Attorney
General William Barr`s testimony before the Judiciary Committee earlier
this month, he had an answer for a letter that was sent to him by the
special counsel that unceremoniously ripped William Barr for mishandling
the Mueller report. Barr responded to questions about that letter by going
after Mueller`s staff.
He told the committee, quote, you know, the letter is a bit snitty. I
think it was probably written by one of his staff people.
You`re seeing this pattern whereby the attorney general and other on the
right are trying to put the spotlight on, trying to specifically indict
staff members from the special counsel`s office, the prosecutors who did
the work under Mueller.
And they get to do whatever they want to do. But honestly, it also raises
the question of whether or not then those members of the special counsel`s
office and the prosecutors should be brought in to testify themselves as
well. I mean, you can`t make these people into villains and blame them for
all the worst things you think happened in the Mueller investigation and
then not allow them to explain themselves or speak for themselves.
That said, where`s Mueller anyway? I mean, it has been so long since the
release of his report and yet we still have zero clarity on when he will be
able to testify before Congress about his investigation and his findings.
“The Wall Street Journal” has this report this evening that maybe the hold
up has something to do with the White House asserting executive privilege
over Mueller`s report and so maybe that screws everything up. Maybe.
That said, a source familiar with the negotiations from the congressional
side tells “The Wall Street Journal” that`s bullpucky. That the whole
privilege thing is actually not the reason for the holdup at all.
Whatever is behind the delay, with each passing day, it becomes more
untenable that Mueller and his team have not been able to speak for their
own findings and their own investigation at all. One silver lining about
the delay, though, is that the Democrats` job does get easier with each new
day of delay because people like legal experts at Just Security keep
drawing up more and more comprehensive questions about what Mueller and his
team should be asked when they finally do get to testify. So by the time
their butts are finally in chairs, the Democrats will have a lot of their
homework already done for them by people who are watching this process
wondering where Mueller and his team are.
Joining us now is NYU law professor Ryan Goodman. He served as special
counsel to the Defense Department during the Obama administration. He`s
now co-editor in chief at Just Security.
Professor, thanks for being here.
: Thank you.
MADDOW: One of the questions that you guys wrote today in terms of
thinking about what Mueller should be asked is really what I want to ask
you about. You think Mueller should be asked: Did your office ever provide
an assessment to the extent President Trump is acting witting or
unwittingly to advance the interest of the Russian government? If so, has
that assessment been provided in some form to Congress? And if so, which
If your office didn`t make that assessment, are you aware of the FBI or
others in the government having produced such an assessment at any point?
Do you know if that has been provided in some form to Congress?
You were asking whether this “is the president a foreign agent” question
ever got investigated?
RYAN GOODMAN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW PROFESSOR: That`s right.
What on earth happened to it?
GOODMAN: “The New York Times” reported they opened an investigation and
Andy McCabe confirmed that, in fact, he was responsible for opening an
investigation on the president himself. They briefed it to the Gang of
Eight. And recently, last week, the former FBI general counsel was also on
your show, had also confirmed that`s exactly what they did. So what
happened to it?
Adam Schiff is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee just gave an
interview with “The Washington Post” in the last few days, and he actually
says as the chair of the committee, I don`t know what happened to the
investigation. I don`t know what happened to the investigation into the
Trump circle, and I don`t know what happened to the investigation with
respect to President Trump himself.
MADDOW: And when you read the Mueller report – I mean, obviously, you and
your colleagues putting together this list of questions people should be
asked – when you guys publish this today at Just Security, obviously this
is based on a close reading of the report. I`m gleaning from this as you
read the report as I do, I don`t see evidence that Mueller`s team actually
investigated those key counterintelligence questions. It doesn`t seem like
they investigated and then left those findings out and put them in some
classified annex that we haven`t heard about yet.
It seems like they didn`t look at those matters, is that how you read it?
GOODMAN: It`s how I read it and it`s consistent with what the former FBI
general counsel said to you. Recently, what he said, Mueller was just
seeing himself as a prosecutor and was embedded in this larger
counterintelligence investigation that was looking at these other
questions, where the public might think if there`s other questions there`s
not criminal conspiracy but collusion, or were people acting as witty or
unwitting assets of the Kremlin?
That`s what`s missing. And it`s missing from the public. It`s missing
from Congress. They don`t have access to it either.
It`s kind of astonishing we don`t have that information and we`re talking
about persons in the White House.
MADDOW: So, the reason I raised these questions to you and wanted to talk
about in the context of Mueller`s potential testimony, if Mueller and his
team were eventually allowed to testify, and I still don`t understand what
the holdup is, if they were allowed to come in and talk to Congress, is
there any reason why they wouldn`t be able to talk about the scope of their
investigation, whether or not it included these counterintelligence
questions, what they know about how that was followed up elsewhere in the
FBI if at all?
GOODMAN: It`s difficult to say, but at least in one respect, they should
be able to say something about just the scope, what was their jurisdiction,
what was their authority? Part of the reason they should be able to say
that is when James Comey was FBI director, he made this significant public
statement before Congress and he said I`m authorized to tell you, we have a
counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, and the campaign
and potential coordination with the Kremlin and there`s also potential
spin-off investigations that might come out of that.
So, he publicly announced it.
GOODMAN: And then, Rod Rosenstein`s order establishing Mueller in the
special counsel also seemed to suggest you take over the counter
intelligence investigation that James Comey announced. So, that`s why many
people had thought Mueller has it. That`s where it`ll be and it`ll be in
But he doesn`t appear to have it because the report itself seems to say,
no, there were just some FBI agents embedded in the Mueller team. But they
were feeding the counterintelligence information back to FBI headquarters.
MADDOW: And those FBI agents were not involved in our investigation.
That`s – I mean, in the report, he says those FBI agents who were gleaning
intelligence information from what they were doing in order to feed it to
other places they were not involved in the core investigation that Mueller
is carrying out.
GOODMAN: That`s right.
MADDOW: It`s remarkable.
Last question, briefly, do you think there`s an open question to this point
as to whether as to whether it`s Mueller or Mueller and his whole team
testifies? Is it clear to you how that`s going to go?
GOODMAN: It`s not clear how it`s going to go.
MADDOW: Ryan Goodman, co-editor in chief at JustSecurity.org, thank your
coming in, Ryan. Much appreciated.
GOODMAN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Republicans in the Senate have confirmed the newest Trump pick for
a federal judgeship in Louisiana. Her name is Wendy Vitter. Her name may
sound familiar to you because she`s famous for a lot of things besides
being a brand new judge.
Yes, she was married to a sex scandal-ridden Republican senator named David
Vitter, but that`s not what I mean. In her own life, she`s famous for her
radical, hard line and somewhat conspiratorial stance on abortion rights.
Here are some of the headlines about her confirmation yesterday. Wendy
Vitter, abortion foe, confirmed for lifetime federal judicial seat, judge
that endorsed theory abortion causes cancer, confirmed by Senate.
Wendy Vitter really did endorse the idea that abortion causes cancer.
Abortion does not cause cancer, but she endorsed that idea at a conference
she hosted called abortion hurts women`s health. Abortion does not hurt
women`s health, neither does birth control.
But at that same conference, Wendy Vitter endorsed this brochure which
claims that birth control causes cancer and HIV, and suicide and violent
death. Birth control does not actually do any of those things.
But according to Louisiana`s newest lifetime appointed federal judge, it`s
not just birth control causing violent death, it`s also Planned Parenthood.
According to now Judge Wendy Vitter, those abortion givers over at Planned
Parenthood kill over 150,000 women per year.
Planned Parenthood does not kill women. Abortions do not kill women.
Birth control does not cause you to die a violent death, but Wendy Vitter
says they do.
That is also conveniently all of the stuff that Wendy Vitter left off her
nominating paperwork when she was picked to be a federal judge. She did
not include any of those comments about abortion or birth control in her
disclosure form to the Senate Judiciary Committee when they were
considering her nomination, despite the fact you really are supposed to
include all your public statements when you are being considered for a
No matter, Senate Republicans don`t care, confirmed her all the same. All
but one Republican voting not to give her a lifetime appointment to the
That confirmation, of course, comes on the heels of Alabama effectively
banning abortion in that state full stop. Alabama Republicans have made it
so a woman is forced to carry her pregnancy to term by the state, even if
she`s pregnant as a result of a rape or incest. That new law in Alabama
is, of course, part of a package of legislation being pursued by Republican
controlled states across the country all aimed at making it illegal to have
The goal is to, of course, provoke a court challenge that will lead the
Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade. We`re still waiting for one of
those court challenges to drop in the Alabama case. The ACLU says they`re
dotting the I`s and crossing the T`s on that coming lawsuit.
I mean, ultimately, big picture, we know where this fight is headed, but
it`s anybody`s guess where the twists and turns it could take along the
way. And there`s interesting questions being raised about whether the
aggression that the Republicans are taking in their anti-abortion zeal
right now might actually hurt them in their effort to get done what they
want to get done.
That story`s next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us here in studio tonight is Nancy Northup. She`s
president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is an
organization that among other things helps health care providers sue states
that try to ban abortion. This is exactly how want to be talking to at
this moment in American politics.
Nancy, thank you very much for being here tonight.
NANCY NORTHUP, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Thank
you for covering this.
MADDOW: So Republican-controlled states across the country are in this
sort of frenzy right now, where they`re all passing the most aggressive
abortion bans they have ever tried before. And this has a lot of different
consequences. It has immediate consequences in the states in terms of the
availability of health care.
It has political consequences including for 2020. I mean, now, it`s very
clear, you know, that`s what the Democrats are going to say, vote for
Republicans if you want abortion to be banned in multiple states. That`s
what they are doing, vote Democrat otherwise.
What do you make though about the theory that is driving all this activity
in these Republican-controlled states that they think this gets them closer
to a nationwide overturning of Roe?
NORTHUP: Well, clearly, and you`re right. Everybody who cares about
women`s health, everyone who cares about women`s equality under the
Constitution should be alarmed by what`s happening, alarmed because these
are extreme laws and alarmed because they`re coming really quickly.
And, obviously, this is the strategy to try to set up. They say it on the
floor of the legislatures. They want to have a test case for Roe versus
What`s important is that every one of these laws will be challenged and
every one of these laws is going to be blocked, right? We`re talking about
complete ban on abortion. We`re talking about six-week bans on abortions.
All of these are in blatant violation of Roe versus Wade and almost 50
years of constitutional protection.
MADDOW: So, we have seen law – I`ve talked to you a million times all the
laws they passed in recent years, chipping away at people`s ability to
access abortion. But Roe stands as long as Roe stands, you can`t do
anything nearly as blunt as what they`re passing in these states, clearly.
NORTHUP: Absolutely right. The lower courts have to follow.
MADDOW: They`re constrained by that precedent.
NORTHUP: Absolutely. We`re challenging a 15-week ban in Mississippi. The
trial judge was pretty clear that he was outraged that the Mississippi
legislature had even done this and that they have to follow the law. Only
the Supreme Court can reconsider Roe versus Wade.
MADDOW: OK. And so, they think they can get the Supreme Court to
reconsider Roe versus Wade with these extreme laws. What do you make of
NORTHUP: Well, I mean they`ve been encouraged by the president who said he
was going to put justices on the court who are going to overturn Roe versus
But you know, Roe versus Wade is not a stand alone case. It stands after
50 years and 50 years beyond it of the protections of personal liberty
under the Constitution, these personal decisions about our family.
I think that the court has again and again since Roe versus Wade reaffirmed
that core right for women like other people in the United States to make
the decisions about their health care, their future, these incredibly
personal family decisions.
And you know, we are counting on the Supreme Court. We`ve got a case in
front of it right now out of Louisiana in which we need the court to block
Louisiana from trying to do exactly what the court blocked Texas from doing
three years ago in Whole Women`s Health versus Hellerstedt.
So, we got a stay from Chief Justice Roberts in that case and we are now
asking the court to summarily reverse it and tell states they cannot ignore
MADDOW: You are making an argument that in part you`re hoping the justices
hear in terms of how Roe doesn`t stand alone, how Roe fits in not only as a
sort of super precedent but it`s also supported by bigger doctrinal issues
that they would have to be – to have to take a radical swing at if they
wanted to get rid of.
I think a lot of people observing these issues and looking at these
Republican-controlled states right now think this is the court ready to
take that radical swing and they`ll do whatever they need to do and they`ll
do it quickly. And I think there`s a lot of fear because of that. And I
am starting to see you know, anecdotal evidence that some reported evidence
that advocacy groups and women`s groups and people who have worried about
this for a long time are starting to put their post-Roe plans in action.
NORTHUP: Well, absolutely. We have to be looking ahead. I mean, as we`re
looking to the court and as we`re asking it, to follow settled law as they
all said in their confirmation hearings, we`re also looking at what would
happen if Roe fell.
And the Center for Reproductive Rights for 15 years has been documenting
what would happen. We were concerned about it in the Bush administration
and we`ve been doing it forever since. And it is true that were Roe to be
reversed over probably over 22 states, as many as half the states would
either ban abortion or so severely restricted. It would be hugely
difficult for women in those states.
And so, we have to look beyond that. But we have to remember, we have
state constitutions. And we`ve been getting amazing rulings including one
out of Kansas –
MADDOW: That`s right.
NORTHUP: – which now protects the right to abortion more strongly under
the Kansas constitution than the U.S. Supreme Court.
And we`ll also be looking to federal legislation. The Women`s Health
Protection Act will be reintroduced in a couple weeks. I mean, we will
look for everything because women in the United States are not going back.
MADDOW: Yeah. And these – there are 22 states right now fully Republican
controlled in terms of legislatures and governors. So, I know the 22
you`re talking about. But that issue about state constitutions is going to
become really important really fast.
Nancy Northup is the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive
Rights – Nancy, thank you for being here. I appreciate it.
NORTHUP: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: As I mentioned at the top of the show, the IRS and the Treasury
Department face a deadline of 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow, to respond
to a subpoena that commands them to hand over six years of President
Trump`s tax returns. House Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal has called
for the returns as the law allows him to do.
The IRS and Treasury have said, no, they won`t hand over the taxes. The
resulted in the subpoena. The subpoena`s deadline, again, 5:00 p.m.
Eastern tomorrow. We will see what happens.
I`m also honestly looking forward to seeing what happens in response to
this court order from Judge Emmet Sullivan today ordering that portions of
the unredacted Mueller report be made public. I`m really looking forward
to see the White House freak over that.
But 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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distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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