GOP Rep. Justin Amash calls for impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 5/30/19, The Rachel Maddow Show
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: You can be there, too. Full details on how to
attend on our website, AllIn.MSNBC.com. I hope to see you there. It`s
going to be a lot of fun.
That is ALL IN this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I`m so excited for that, I can hardly stand it.
HAYES: I am extremely excited. It`s going to be really good.
MADDOW: I mean, A, it`s you, B, it`s Elizabeth Warren, C, the setting,
and, D, I think you need to be appreciated as the person who of all of the
people on all the cable networks who does all of these things, you are the
best person at the town hall format of everyone.
HAYES: That`s extremely sweet of you to say. And I really appreciate it.
MADDOW: I would say it even if I didn`t like you.
HAYES: We worked very hard on that.
MADDOW: You`re great at it.
HAYES: I have a lot to live up to.
MADDOW: Thanks, my friend.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
And I would like to wish you all congratulations on your new home because
tonight, you are the proud owner of some sort of nice but maybe not to your
taste New York City real estate. Tonight, my friend, you – yes, you –
and me, too, we are the new owners of a condo in Trump Tower. You and I
and every American taxpayer as of tonight, we the people have taken
possession of the Trump Tower apartment formerly owned by Trump campaign
chairman Paul Manafort who is currently serving a long federal prison term
for multiple felonies.
The federal judge in Manafort`s case today entered an order granting the
forfeiture of Paul Manafort`s apartment in Trump Tower to the U.S.
government, to help basically make good on his ill-gotten gains and the
money he ripped off as part of his crimes. After Manafort was initially
convicted on eight felony counts, he struck a plea deal with prosecutors a
in the special counsel`s office to try to avoid a trial on several more
counts. It was part of that deal that Manafort would agree to forfeit his
real estate and his other assets. Altogether, the value of Manafort`s
forfeiture to the government was estimated to be as much as $46 million,
which as many people have pointed out, would mean that the special
counsel`s investigation has more than ended up paying for itself, despite
the president`s frequent complaints that it cost taxpayers too much money.
Taxpayers actually made money on the Mueller investigation. Taxpayers made
millions of dollars. And now, look, here we are tonight with a Trump Tower
apartment of our very own.
Now, we don`t yet have pictures of our new apartment. We have external
pictures of the building, of course. We don`t have pictures from inside,
from Manafort`s apartment specifically from our new apartment. We will
have those pictures soon though, because the U.S. Marshal Service will soon
put that condo up for auction.
So, we expect there to be a proper real estate listing for it on the U.S.
Marshal`s auction website. And once that listing goes up then, you know,
we can look at the floor plan. We can argue about who gets what room and
where are you going to put the ugly dresser your grandma gave you and
whether we can be trusted to have a ficus together, right? Anyway,
congratulations to us on our new condo.
Also, as of tomorrow, we the people will also own brand new transcripts we
have never seen before from Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn,
specifically his secret conversations with the Russian government during
the presidential transition. Transcripts of those conversations of him
talking to the Russian government are going to be released publicly
tomorrow. These are the calls in which Flynn and the Russian ambassador
definitely did talk about sanctions even though Flynn told the FBI they
definitely did not talk about that. That`s what`s going to be made
available on the public docket by tomorrow per a court order from the judge
in the Flynn case.
Also, keep the trunk open. There`s more. Also as of tomorrow, you will
also be taking possession of the redacted parts of the Mueller report that
pertain to Mike Flynn. The judge in Mike Flynn`s case in addition to
ordering the release of those transcripts of Flynn talking to Russians, he
also ordered that tomorrow, the Justice Department has to release the stuff
that`s blacked out in the Mueller report that has anything to do with Mike
Flynn. All of that stuff has to be unredacted and released to the public
So, despite the attorney general saying, no, no, no, he won`t release any
of the redacted parts of the Mueller report, no way, no how, by tomorrow,
some of those redactions are going to be removed. And we the public will
get access by order of a federal judge.
And while we`re at it, also tomorrow, at 9:30 a.m., Robert Mueller`s grand
jury is finally going to get testimony from a recalcitrant witness who has
been fighting tooth and nail for, like, a year to try please to not
testify, to not have to turn up and talk to the grand jury despite a
subpoena ordering him to do just that.
Andrew Miller is a young man who worked with Roger Stone. He`s been
fighting for almost a year now to not respond to a grand jury subpoena that
orders him to testify to Mueller`s grand jury. Mr. Miller has lost at
every step of the way in this legal fight that he has waged. But in a
process that I have to guess has created a Matterhorn of legal bills, he
has nevertheless been trying everything he can to get his case appealed and
appealed, hopefully all the way to the Supreme Court.
Well, yesterday in Washington, that quest – that presumably really
expensive quest, it finally came to an end when Andrew Miller finally, and
finally was ordered by the chief judge in D.C. District Court that he must
turn up to give grand jury testimony tomorrow morning at 9:30 or he should
expect a warrant to be issued for his arrest.
Now, Mr. Miller does not expect to be arrested. As far as we understand
from the court hearing this week, he expects to testify tomorrow. This is
interesting for a few different reasons.
I mean, for one, this testimony from Andrew Miller is finally going to
happen, after all the back-and-forth and every legal argument under the sun
being deployed by his lawyers to try to block this grand jury subpoena,
including every legal argument they could conceivably try to challenge the
legitimacy of the special counsel`s investigation, all of that is finally
over. That`s interesting in its own right.
It`s also interesting because we really don`t know what the testimony will
be about. We know that Andrew Miller did work with Roger Stone for a
while. So maybe it`s connected to Roger Stone?
Roger Stone is already indicted on charges of lying to Congress and the FBI
about his interactions with WikiLeaks as they were distributing stolen
Russian material during the 2016 campaign. Stone has pled not guilty. His
case is moving forward. There was a hearing in that case just today.
But because that case is already rolling through the courts, it`s really
not clear what Mueller`s grand jury might still be working on pertaining to
Roger Stone at this point if that`s what they want this guy`s testimony
for. Then there`s also just the fact that this Andrew Miller`s testimony
tomorrow morning in D.C. means that Robert Mueller`s grand jury is still
operating in D.C.
I mean, Robert Mueller himself yesterday gave his farewell speech. He
officially announced that he was closing the special counsel`s office. He
officially left the Justice Department. But his grand jury is chugging
along. Miller will testify to that grand jury tomorrow.
And maybe his testimony pertains to a potentially new superseding
indictment against Roger Stone, maybe it pertains to a new potential
indictment against some entirely new person. We really don`t know,
intriguing questions. But we do know from the resolution of this part of
the case that the Mueller grand jury is still ongoing and still hearing
And as that grand jury hums along in the Roger Stone case, and the Mike
Flynn case and the Paul Manafort forfeitures continue, as this stuff rolls
on, we, of course, are all in day two of riding the shockwave from Robert
Mueller`s first and perhaps only public comments yesterday. I mean, I know
it was less than ten minutes and he didn`t go beyond the four corners of
his report and there were no pyrotechnics from podium. I mean, there are a
number of reasons why you think Robert Mueller`s sort of monotone, serious,
no questions comments yesterday might not have the impact that they did.
But they have had a remarkable impact.
I mean, as I said last night in the show, it is one thing to read his
conclusions in black and white on paper. It is another thing to hear him
deliver them in person. In particular, to hear him say what he thinks are
the important points of his investigation and their findings that he wants
to highlight. To hear him say in no uncertain terms we were not allowed to
charge the president with a crime but if we had determined he didn`t commit
a crime, we would tell you.
I mean, that`s in the report, but to hear Mueller say it lands. I mean, it
A lot of the energy from Democrats in Congress since Mueller`s appearance
yesterday has been around the prospect of getting him to Congress to
testify there, even though Mueller himself would clearly very much prefer
not to do that. But you can see why Democrats want him to testify live in
person on camera, even if he doesn`t go beyond the four corners of his
report. It makes a difference.
I mean, what we have learned over the past 36 hours is that when people
hear Robert Mueller describe his findings, describe what`s in his report,
describe his investigation, describe what he and his investigators found,
when people hear him say it, they are shocked by the seriousness of what
I mean, this parallels what we have seen when people actually read the
report. Turns out they get shaken up when they look at it themselves.
Congressman Justin Amash recently became the only Republican lawmaker to
call for the opening of an impeachment inquiry. He said he came to that
decision specifically because he read the Mueller report. And he said, if
you read the whole Mueller report, you can`t avoid the conclusion that an
impeachment inquiry is called for.
Not because of a pre-existing, ideological bent in that direction, not
because you are sure you read about what you were going to read about
before you got there. He says, if you just open mind, open book read that
stuff, you`re going to say an impeachment inquiry ought to be started.
If you want to boil down the case for televised public hearings with Robert
Mueller, even if he stays within the four corners of his report, if you
want to boil it down to one quote, one anecdote, let me offer this – after
Justin Amash held a town hall to talk about his call for impeachment
hearings and why he came to that conclusion after reading Mueller`s report,
after he explained that point to his constituents at home in his district
in Michigan, here`s what one of his Michigan constituents told NBC News,
quote: One Republican who supported Amash and the president said she was
upset about Amash`s position but wanted to hear his reasoning. She said
that she will definitely support in – support Trump in 2020, but the
Tuesday night was the first time she heard that the Mueller report didn`t
completely exonerate the president.
Quote, I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller
report at all about President Trump. I hadn`t heard that before, she said.
Quote, I have mainly listened to conservative news. I hadn`t heard
anything negative about that report and President Trump has been
The Mueller report says what now? Obstruction of – are you telling me
there`s bad stuff about the president in there? I mean, that`s not just
this one constituent`s take on this, right? I`m not saying this to poke
fun at any of Congressman Amash`s constituents. This is what`s happening
in the country, right? This is what happens when you have weeks and weeks
and weeks of the attorney general and the White House and all of their
allies and especially the conservative media telling these exculpatory lies
saying that what the Mueller report`s conclusions are – no collusion, no
You`ve got this whole symphony from the right, from the media, the
Republican Party, from the White House, from the overall administration,
all telling these giant exculpatory lies about what is a giant dense
document that at first we couldn`t see, for weeks while they started saying
these things about it. And even now once we`ve got most of it, most people
still have not read it. Most members of Congress still have not read it.
In a clip released today of an interview that Attorney General William Barr
has taped with CBS, William Barr says he thinks Robert Mueller could have
and should have made a determination as to whether the president committed
crimes, even though Mueller was prohibited by Justice Department policy
from indicting the president. This is an unusual thing for Barr to be
saying now since according to Robert Mueller under Justice Department
policy, he was not allowed to make any such determination. It seems like
the kind of thing these guys ought to be on the same page about.
Mueller says, I`m part of the Justice Department. I have to follow Justice
Department policy. Justice Department policy says I can`t indict and I
can`t determine if the president committed crimes.
William Barr, head of the Justice Department, is saying, that`s not Justice
Department policy. No, no, no. You have misunderstood that. I`m the head
of the Justice Department. Justice Department policy is you are supposed
to say if you think the president committed crimes.
So, here`s Barr saying actually it is Justice Department policy that
Mueller should determine if the president committed crimes. And if Barr is
now saying that as the head of the Justice Department, as the attorney
general, well, then, why can`t Robert Mueller and his team make that
determination now? If they are supposed to be following Justice Department
policy and the head of the Justice Department says, here is the way to
follow policy by saying whether or not the president committed a crime,
well, then, why can`t Mueller do that? Why can`t he tell Congress? Why
can`t he tell us what he thinks about potential criminal behavior by the
president if the head of the Justice Department now says that`s what
Justice Department policy requires?
So, yes, I think Mueller will end up testifying before Congress. And I`m
sure he will want to stay within the four corners of the report, among
other things his boss from the Justice Department is making that difficult.
In the meantime, what Mueller delivered yesterday, what he clearly hoped
would be his final word on the matter was a fairly simple and direct
message. We were investigating an incredibly serious attack on our
country, obstruction of the investigation is a gravely serious matter.
We gathered all this evidence of obstruction but we can`t charge the
president. We can`t say whether or not what he did constitutes a crime.
We`d tell you if we were sure it didn`t.
Now, a process outside the criminal justice system must be employed in
order to make that determination, Congress, right? That`s what Mueller
And I think that is why over the last 36 hours or so, you started to see
this perceptible movement of Democrats toward opening the impeachment
inquiry. I mean, at this point, we`re getting a new Democratic member of
Congress coming out in favor of opening such an inquiry pretty much every
Last night, two House committee chairmen came out in support of an
impeachment investigation for the first time. Bennie Thompson of
Mississippi chairs the Homeland Security Committee. Also, Jim McGovern of
Massachusetts, he chairs the powerful Rules Committee. Those two chairmen
both came out last night for the first time. They joined Financial
Services Chair Maxine Waters, some of the most senior members of the House,
to publicly support the impeachment inquiry despite the resistance against
it from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Seniority matters very much in the House Democratic Caucus, both in terms
of respect for the chairs, but also in terms of respect for the speaker.
This afternoon, Congressman Greg Stanton of Arizona became the latest
Democrat on the Judiciary Committee to come out in favor of one. That`s
important because the Judiciary Committee would run any impeachment inquiry
if one were opened.
Also, this is interesting – this afternoon, Senator Bernie Sanders
announced for the first time he thinks an impeachment inquiry should begin.
As recently as yesterday, Senator Sanders would not go that far. But now,
he says, yes, such an inquiry should be opened and that`s a big deal
because Senator Sanders is obviously a high profile senator, also because
he`s a leading 2020 presidential candidate. I should say, the Democratic
presidential candidates are approaching unanimity on this issue now.
But it`s also obviously a big deal because Senator Sanders leads his own
large faction of the progressive base in the Democratic Party, and so him
changing his mind on this matters. I think there is one other factor at
work here that`s worth recognizing and paying attention to, which is going
to get a boost from the front page of the “New York Times.” We`re seeing
this trend of more and more people actually reading and digesting the
content of Mueller`s report. Now, people are hearing the special counsel
speak for the first time, hearing him make clear himself how serious the
evidence and allegations in the report are.
As this stuff is starting to sink in, we are seeing people organically
coming to the conclusion that impeachment proceedings are the logical next
step and the necessary next step. Now, the political framing around that
trend has tended to be so far, well, OK. I get the argument, but is going
down that road worth the political cost? Is it worth the political cost to
the Democrats given how we know the Republicans will react to it?
It seems like today in the wake of Mueller`s remarks yesterday, Democrats
are starting to realize there is a political question on the other side of
that coin, too. “New York Times” just published this piece today with I
think what should count as a helpful, clarifying headline. Quote: Black
voters challenge House members, why is Trump still in office?
Here`s the lead. Quote: Moments after the special counsel Robert Mueller
wrapped up his appearance at the Justice Department on Wednesday,
Representative Dwight Evans stepped out of his office in a black working-
class neighborhood here in Philadelphia to visit with local business
owners. Quote: They had one question on their minds. Why is president
Trump still in office?
Mr. Evans, a Democrat who began calling for Mr. Trump to be impeached long
before Mr. Mueller issued his report was not surprised. The issue that I
hear constantly here is we sent you for one reason only, to get rid of the
president, right? Why haven`t you gotten rid of him yet?
In cities around the country, black Democrats like Evans and other House
members who represent majority black districts are hearing much the same
from their African-American constituents. Paulette Beale-Harris who owns a
florist shop in Philadelphia said, quote, it`s time for Congress to do
something, it`s time for them to stop being afraid to do what has to be
done for the country.
You know, it is – it is worth remembering that there was already a vote in
the House on impeaching the president. It was a vote in December 2017 that
was forced to the floor by a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, by
Democratic Congressman Al Green of Texas, 2017. On the House floor at the
time, he said, quote, I am a voice in the wilderness but history will
vindicate me. He got 58 votes for that impeachment resolution back in
African-American voters are nearly a quarter of the Democratic electorate.
A surge in black turnout was responsible for a significant portion of the
Democratic gains in the house last year. It almost goes without saying but
if the Democratic Party gives African-American voters reasons to be bored,
or demoralized or turned off, it doesn`t really matter who the Democrats
are going to run for president in 2020.
And right now, I think the Democratic Party is waking up to the fact that
they not only have to think about how Republicans view the issue if they
open an impeachment inquiry, but how their voters and would be voters would
view them if they don`t. How Democratic voters and would be Democratic
voters will view them on this continuum of strength and action. What will
mobilize Democratic voters? What will make Democrats in Congress and the
Democratic Party look not weak? Can they go to their voters with positions
that are defensible?
There is a shift happening in the Democratic Party right now on this, one
by one. Like I said, every few hours, we are seeing a new member of
Congress say, actually, I was against it before but I`m for it now. The
only question, it seems to me is how big and how fast the shift is, and how
long it`s going to go on.
Joining us now is Congressman Mike Quigley. He`s a member of the
Intelligence Committee in the House.
Congressman Quigley, it`s great to have you here tonight. Thanks very much
for joining us.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Thank you. Glad to be here.
MADDOW: Tell me where you have been previously on the issue of impeachment
and whether or not that inquiry should be opened and how you`re feeling
about it now.
QUIGLEY: Sure. I mean, for me, it was never a question of whether the
president was fit for office – he is not. It was never a question of
whether he has abused his powers – he has. Whether he obstructed, he
certainly has. And I believe he and his cohorts conspired with the
To me, it was an effective way to move forward in the investigation. What
was the best strategy?
And I attempted for all these three years that I have been watching this
sadly because it`s been three years since my Intel Committee started to get
briefed about Russian meddling in the democratic process. I tried to be a
reasonable voice that talked about getting to the truth so the American
public can help us make that decision and we couldn`t get ahead of them.
But, you know, events in the last couple of weeks just made it impossible
for me to stay where I was. The fact that there is obstruction after the
fact, that`s how I describe the fact that clearly the president in detailed
analysis by the special counsel obstructed prior to his release of that
report. What`s maddening is he and his office and the attorney general
have obstructed after the fact.
They have made getting subpoenas answered, getting the unredacted report
available to Congress impossible.
So how will we reasonably make a decision as to whether other crimes and
misdemeanors were conducted without getting this information? So, at this
point, we have nothing to lose and I think opening impeachment inquiry will
help us get that information.
And to your point, I think it will help educate the American public – who,
obviously, most have not read the Mueller report. And their first blush
with the Mueller report was a lie by the attorney general that the
president was exonerated. And we`re still overcoming that.
And I think, if anything, the special counsel gave us the window to present
the alternative to it. And that`s an inquiry.
So, for whatever it`s worth, on your program, I`m announcing that I
notified the speaker`s office today that I`m now asking that we open an
MADDOW: Is it your sense that the speaker is keeping a tally or keeping
track as your conference – as Democrats in the House seem to start to be
shifting on this?
As I mentioned, we have been seeing a lot of people who were previously
reticent or previously opposed to opening an inquiry now saying, like
yourself, that it should happen. Is there dialogue happening with the
speaker`s office here?
QUIGLEY: Oh, certainly. I think Speaker Pelosi may be one of the great
underrated politicians of our time. She understands how to work a caucus.
It is tough to be a speaker in this day and age, Democrat or Republican.
I mean, Republicans had more members of Congress than at any time since the
Hoover administration and they shut down the government and chased out
Speaker Boehner and Speaker Ryan.
So, to answer your question, absolutely. I have never seen the speaker in
better form than she is now under extraordinary circumstances. So I think
we are going to move forward. I think it`s a process that we`re going
through right now and clearly she`s in touch with all members.
MADDOW: When you say that part of your calculus on this, part of your
thinking about this now is you feel you have nothing to lose, that opening
an inquiry may help obtain documents, obtain testimony, obtain witnesses
that you otherwise are getting stonewalled for. One of the objections that
has been raised by the speaker`s office and I think it`s an interesting
one, is that if an impeachment inquiry is opened in the Judiciary
Committee, it might potentially head off the kind of investigation that
you`re doing on your committee, the intelligence committee or that
Congressman Cummings is heading up in the Oversight Committee.
There are these robust inquiries that are happening in other committees
that I guess would have to interact with the impeachment inquiry or somehow
be melded with that.
Do you worry at all about the ability of your committee, the Intelligence
Committee, to continue its work if an impeachment process was started?
QUIGLEY: Well, considering what we have been through, I mean, let`s just
remember Chairman Nunes co-opted my committee, the Intelligence Committee`s
investigation and they shut it down obviously prematurely. So, it`s not
easy working together through complicated matters like this.
But I think those chairmen all get it, right? Nadler, Cummings, and
Schiff, they understand that there is more than one task that`s involved
This investigation began at its very start as a counterintelligence
investigation. The American public needs to know we are still on that.
The House Select Committee on Intelligence continues that work through the
subpoena process. The Justice Department just released some of the
documentation to us. But we are ready to proceed if at any point they stop
It is extraordinarily important for folks to know that Mueller thought that
most of that was outside the scope of his investigation. But it`s fair for
us to ask whether the president of the United States was compromised. And,
frankly, I believe he was.
So I believe, to answer your question, we can do more than one thing at a
time. It won`t be easy, but it`s additional information that tells us what
kind of president we have.
MADDOW: Congressman Mike Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence
Committee, says he now favors starting the impeachment inquiry. Sir, I
really appreciate your time tonight and thanks for helping us understand
your decision here. Thanks for making the announcement here.
QUIGLEY: Any time. Thank you.
MADDOW: Much appreciated.
All right. More ahead to come. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL ON RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: Russian
intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a
concerted attack on our political system. The releases were designed and
timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential
I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments that
there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And
that allegation deserves the attention of every American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Russians really did attack our election. They did so with the
explicit purpose of damaging one candidate – Hillary Clinton – and
benefitting Donald Trump.
That warning was the whole first volume of Robert Mueller`s report. But we
just heard it yesterday out loud for the first time from Robert Mueller as
he started and ended his first public remarks on his investigation with a
description of the seriousness of what Russia did, Russia`s intervention in
our presidential election to help install their chosen candidate in the
The section of the Mueller report that is titled Russian government links
to and contacts with the Trump campaign is a section of the report that is
over 100 pages long. It lists 140-plus contacts between the Trump campaign
and various Russians, to the point where it takes up three whole pages just
in the table of contents. That seems like something worth looking into.
The former deputy director at the FBI who was part of launching the Russia
investigation, former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe, has publicly
expressed his concern about what he calls the remarkable number of contacts
between the Trump campaign and Russian-linked individuals.
Former Deputy Director McCabe told “ProPublica” and WNYC in the wake of the
Mueller report, quote, I have questions about the president and his
associates` connections with Russia. Why is it that there are so many
representatives, so many people who have official connections to sanctioned
entities or banks in Russia who are interacting with the president, with
his associates, his family members? Have we ever seen that before by any
president or really any high level government official? I haven`t in all
the years I have been doing this.
So, those are questions that I think were outside the scope of what
Director Mueller was doing, to some extent. But certainly questions I
would love to see answered. Outside the scope of what Mueller did – tell
Joining us now is Andrew McCabe. He`s the former acting director and
former deputy director of the FBI.
Mr. McCabe, it`s an honor to have you here tonight.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: Thank you, Rachel. It`s good
to be here.
MADDOW: So, Congressman Quigley of the Intelligence Committee just told me
here live a moment ago that from his work on the Intelligence Committee
over the past three years, he said he believes that President Trump is
compromised by a foreign power. But he also said that it seems to him that
the question was outside the scope of what Robert Mueller looked at.
Part of the reason I wanted to talk to you tonight even before I heard that
from Mike Quigley is I think maybe you have been raising those same kind of
concerns, particularly the part about understanding the scope of what
Mueller looked into.
Am I reading that right from you?
MCCABE: Well, you are, Rachel. I think that, you know, Director Mueller
was very careful about staying within the guide rails he had been given by
the Department of Justice, by the Acting Attorney General Rosenstein
particularly. And I think that was a particular way to conduct the special
That does not completely eliminate every possible suspicion, every
curiosity, every concern that counterintelligence investigators would have
about a high level government executive, someone – not even the president
of the United States but anybody with access to the sort of material that
the president has access to who also has a history of interactions and
dealings with Russians of questionable background, with individuals who
have – surrounds himself with people who have contacts to sanctioned
entities or to Russian intel – people with backgrounds in Russian
Those are the exact sort of flags that you look for in a
counterintelligence investigation to determine, is this person the
principal – in this case the president of the United States – somebody
who would be subject to influence from a foreign power, or is it someone
who actually may even have some sort of a relationship with a foreign
MADDOW: When you were acting director after the firing of James Comey, as
far as I understand it, you were the one who signed off on the
counterintelligence investigation into the president specifically. Given
the simplicity of that question as you just laid it out, could the
president be compromised by a foreign power? Could he be acting on behalf
of a foreign entity rather than on behalf of the United States of America?
I mean, do you have a sense of what happened to that investigation? I
think we all either somewhere between assumed and believed that had been
folded in to the work of Mr. Mueller and the special counsel`s office and
that therefore we would see some sort of attestation as to the resolution
of that fundamental question.
We have this detailing of the contacts but no statement at all as to what
the conclusion might be as to potential compromise.
MCCABE: Right. So, I think, Rachel, to understand that completely, you
have to go back to the fact that is we knew at the time and how we were
thinking about the question. We already had a viable, thriving
investigation as to whether or not people associated with the campaign were
coordinating with the Russian government. That was focused on the four
individuals that we have talked about a lot – Carter Page, Paul Manafort,
George Papadopoulos, and, of course, Michael Flynn.
It was only after the president`s own actions, his statements to Jim Comey,
his clear, clear indications that he was not happy about the fact that we
were investigating Russia, his disparagement of the case publicly, his
repeated requests to Jim Comey that we publicly acknowledge that he was not
under investigation and then, of course, his direct request that we drop
the investigation of Mike Flynn. And after we failed to follow through
with any of those requests with any of the pressure by the White House on
May 9th, of course, President Trump fired the director.
He fired the director and told the deputy attorney general as he was
assigning him the task of writing the memo justifying the firing, he told
him to include Russia in the memo. He told Lester Holt the next day in a
widely reported interview that he was thinking about Russia when he fired
the director. And then, of course, he told the Russians in the oval office
he fired the director and that had relieved a lot of pressure on the
So, with those facts, we applied those to our authorization to open a case
which is, of course, a factual basis to believe that a threat to national
security exists. It was absolutely clear to us that we had reached the
threshold and therefore it was time to step up to our obligation and begin
The question as to whether or not all of the questions and issues
surrounding that investigation were resolved by the Mueller report, I think
is fairly obvious. They were not. Director Mueller in the end of the day
determined that his remit, his jurisdiction as it were was fairly narrow to
the specific question about coordination between the campaign and the
Will we ever see a resolution to those questions? I don`t know. We`ll
have to see. We`ll have to wait and see what actions, what investigative
actions the FBI takes, if, in fact, any of those actions are ever shared
with the public.
MADDOW: And aside from the public, based on your understanding of the
responsibilities of the FBI to congressional oversight, if the intelligence
committee in the House or the intelligence committee in the Senate wants a
full briefing on the status of that investigation in particular, whether
it`s resolved or whether it`s open – are they entitled to that?
MCCABE: Well, in my experience, Rachel, we were very careful to keep the
Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate up to speed on the most
significant investigations that we`re pursuing. This is certainly one that
would fall within that – within that realm. I was very careful even in
just opening the case on the president to notify the Gang of Eight in
Congress as to the steps we had taken and why we had taken the steps
immediately after we had.
MADDOW: Andrew McCabe, former acting director and deputy director of the
FBI – sir, again, it`s an honor to have you here. Thanks for taking the
MCCABE: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZERLINA MAXWELL, SIRIUS XM: If President Obama had done half of the things
and said half of the things that President Trump is saying, even as
recently as this morning, would he have been impeached and how long do you
think it would have taken?
VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER PRESIDENT OBAMA SENIOR ADVISOR: About a nano-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: About a nano-second is how long it would have taken for President
Obama to be impeached if he did or said half the things that President
Trump said just today.
That was President Obama`s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on Sirius XM
today, with Zerlina Maxwell and Jess McIntosh.
And this has become an interesting norms check in this era of our politics,
right? That little game, imagine if it had been Obama who – take your
pick – saluted a North Korean general. Imagine if that had been Obama.
Imagine if it had been Obama who skipped going to Arlington on Veterans`
Day, or imagine if it had been Obama who skipped going to a war memorial
for the U.S. dead on the 100th anniversary of World War I because it was
raining and he for some reason he can`t go out in the rain.
Imagine if it was Obama who gave an inaugural address that described the
United States as a horror show, literally captioned with the phrase
American carnage. Imagine if it was Obama who said he was exchanging love
letters with Kim Jong-un or if Obama kept taking solo meetings with Putin
and claiming he believed Putin more than the U.S. government. Imagine if
Obama tried to do any of this stuff.
This exercise is supposed to be kind of a norms reset to remind us of when
things were less insane in American politics, supposed to remind us that
there used to be normal incentives for rational behavior and predictable
punishments for bad behavior when it came to national politics. And that
time was the Obama era.
You know what? That admittedly satisfying line of reasoning does have an
antidote. We got it from the news gods this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: If a Supreme Court justice was to die next year, what would you
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Oh, we`d fill it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Imagine if Obama had a Supreme Court vacancy in his time in office
and the other party decided they would not consider any Obama nominee to
fill that seat on the court. Instead, they would hold it open and hope for
a Republican president. They would invent a new principle that presidents
are no longer allowed to nominate Supreme Court justices in the last year
before an election. Imagine the outrage if they tried that.
Imagine the outrage. They would never get away with that. If they did get
away with that – which they did – at least, of course, they`d have to
live by that standard from here on out, right? Even if they got a
Republican president, they now had this new rule, right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: If a Supreme Court justice was to die next year, what would you
MCCONNELL: Oh, we`d fill it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Trump is a president like we have never had before.
Lots of different levels. Granted, you know what I mean.
But where did we get this idea that this particular Republican president is
facing no limits from his party? This idea that it`s OK if you`re a
Republican no matter what it is, that it`s better for a Republican to vote
against his or her own legislation if, God forbid, any Democrat signs on as
well. Where did we get the shameless idea that only Republican presidents
are allowed to put nominees on the Supreme Court now?
I mean, these are all Republican Party rules now, but they all precede
Trump. Those are all Republican rules that came to their zenith, in fact,
in the Obama era when Obama who is the opposite of Donald Trump tried over
and over again to try to work with Republicans, to try to find common
ground, to meet halfway.
The modern iteration of the Republican Party revealed themselves during the
Obama era and especially since as really, really, really not interested in
any normal rules of governance like that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: One of my proudest moments is when I looked at Barack Obama in
the eye and said, Mr. President, you will not fill this Supreme Court
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As Democrats compete now to try to earn the right to run against
Trump next year and as Democrats in Washington now try to figure out how to
respond to criminal allegations against this president, does the Obama era
of dealing with this Republican Party offer any tips or tricks for what not
to do here? Or even what to still try?
We`ve got an excellent guest here next who is just the person to ask.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: I`m very pleased to say that joining us here in studio is Valerie
Jarrett. She`s former senior advisor to President Obama. She`s author of
the new book “Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path
Ms. Jarrett, thank you so much for being here. I`ve been really looking
forward to get a chance to talk to you.
JARRETT: Me, too. Thank you for having me on set, Rachel.
MADDOW: How was your post White House life?
JARRETT: Pretty good.
JARRETT: Pretty good, wake up every day and do exactly what I want to do.
It`s pretty good to me, yes.
MADDOW: Well, do you feel like your political life is behind you or just
you`re electoral politics life is behind you? I mean, obviously, you are
still a very engaged person.
JARRETT: Well, I think my life is committed to service. And the issues
that I care most about – from gender equity to getting people to vote to
focusing on criminal justice reform, ending gun violence, those issues I
can work on whether I`m in the White House or whether I`m an ordinary
citizen. And so, that`s what I`m really devoting myself to.
MADDOW: What do you make about the storm in Washington right now about the
Mueller report? Obviously, it`s been 70 days or something since Mueller
completed his investigation. We got a long time waiting for the report and
we got a piece of the report, and we`ve had Mueller for the first time
speak out yesterday.
We`ve been talking the whole rest of this hour about how it`s driven this
increasing interest among Democrats in opening an impeachment inquiry. It
has to sort of feel like politics from another planet for you compared to
what you went through with the scandal-free, two terms of the Obama White
JARRETT: It`s pretty night and day. That`s for sure.
MADDOW: What do you think about what`s happening now, about the Democrats`
JARRETT: Well, look, my take away from this is: first of all, there`s
clear evidence that the Russians meddled in our election with an intended
outcome to let Trump be elected. Two, there`s evidence according to the
report that there was an attempt to interfere where an investigation. That
And also, as he said yesterday, that if he had confidence that President
Trump had not committed a crime, he would have said so. So, when you add
those up, those are all very troubling.
As for Russia meddling, what are we doing right now with an upcoming
election to make sure no foreign government meddles in our election? Why
is that not the topic of conversation in the White House?
MADDOW: If there is – if it`s brought up in the White House, we`re told
that the president doesn`t want to hear it. I mean, the only thing that we
can see about potential efforts to shut that down that are things that are
happening sotto voce so the president doesn`t hear about them because he
finds them so upsetting. I mean –
JARRET: But this isn`t about him being upset. This is about protecting
the integrity of our democracy. There`s a lot at stake here, Rachel, as
you well know. And so, I think it`s incumbent upon all of us to lift up
And what I`ve been hearing as I`ve traveled around the country is an
increased concern coupled with an increased activism. And that is what
gives me reason to be hopeful.
I was in Minnesota yesterday and I met with a group called Women Winning.
And they are women who support women who run for office who are pro-choice.
But we need that right now, given what`s going on around the country, with
state after state passing laws that are infringing on our constitutional
And so, what I am interested in is not so much what the Democrats in the
House do because I have confidence in Speaker Pelosi, and she knows her
caucus well and she will determine if and when it`s time to pursue an
impeachment. But what are we all going to do as citizens to try to take
back our country and insure that we get back on the right track, where
we`re focusing on what we have in common and not divisiveness and
polarization and throwing ideas up against the wall, literally the wall,
that don`t make any sense.
MADDOW: Do you think the sort of motivation and activism and enthusiasm
that got Democrats control of the House in 2018 is continuing?
JARRETT: Yes, absolutely.
MADDOW: Do you feel like the Democrats are well-situated for 2020?
JARRETT: Well, that`s a little bit too far down the path. I think that
there is building momentum. I was in Texas earlier last week. And the
Democratic Party there is mobilized. You saw all these African-American
women who won judgeships.
And so, I do think that there is an appetite around the country for change
and engagement and activism. And the question is, on Election Day, do
people actually turn out to the polls?
Activism is one thing. Voting is another. And I am deeply troubled that
in the last presidential election, 43 percent of eligible voters didn`t
We have to change that. You can`t complain about what is if you didn`t
participate in trying to make it better.
MADDOW: Valerie Jarrett`s new book is called “Finding My Voice: My Journey
to the West Wing and the Path Forward,” which is really good.
JARRETT: Thank you.
MADDOW: People right these memoirs about my time in the White House and
everything. A, you have an unusually interesting life story. But, B,
you`re a really good writer.
JARRETT: Thank you. I appreciate that.
MADDOW: It`s good to see you, Valerie. Thanks very much for coming in.
JARRETT: Nice to see you. Thanks for having me on.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the