Colt suspends production of AR-15. TRANSCRIPT: 9/19/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Shane Harris, Adam Schiff, Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  – park, to the utterly insane situation with

California`s emissions standards and the president, and, of course, we`ll

have the highlights from day two of our 2020 candidate forum.  The full

forum will be streaming live on NBC News now, starting at 9:00 a.m.

tomorrow. 

 

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us here tonight at Georgetown.  I

really appreciate it.

 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with some breaking news. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  I do have some breaking

news. 

 

But I have to tell you, I had no idea how this whole thing was going to

work today.  I didn`t have my head around it. 

 

HAYES:  I didn`t, either. 

 

MADDOW:  It`s been fantastic.  It`s really, really awesome.  I can`t wait

for tomorrow.  It`s amazing. 

 

HAYES:  Thank you very much.  I`m going to watch the breaking news right

now. 

 

MADDOW:  OK, very good.  Thanks, Chris. 

 

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

 

Boy, has this been an incredible day of breaking news.  I just want to jump

right in because we have a lot to get to. 

 

First, I`m somewhat amazed to get to report to you right now that the Trump

administration has completely reversed themselves on a story that we have

been covering pretty intensively for the last couple of weeks.  It`s this

astonishing policy decision by the Trump administration to specifically

target dying kids or kids who are receiving medical care that was keeping

them alive in this country and that they can`t get in other places.  The

Trump administration specifically targeted those families last month and

sent them these letters, boilerplate letters, advising them they had 33

days to stop their life-saving medical treatment and get out of this

country.  With no way to appeal, with no second chances, nothing.  Initial

contact, final declaration. 

 

The Trump administration never announced this policy decision.  They just

sent out these letters and I guess maybe hoped that they would get to do

this without too many people noticing because, hey, it`s just immigrants,

so who cares?  Well, those brave families went public with the fact that

they had received these letters.  In some cases, these kids went public

with the fact that their families had received these letters. 

 

The resulting publicity and nationwide revulsion, I think it`s fair to say,

over this action by the Trump administration, which would quite literally

single out these kids and young people and end their lives, deliberately,

right, you`re getting life-saving medical care that you can`t get anywhere

else, and that`s the grounds on which you have been legally in this

country, they`re ending that telling you to end that life-saving medical

care and leave, that`s singling out individual known human beings for

death. 

 

So Trump administration does this quietly.  I think they think they`re not

going to get any bad press for it.  They get some bad press for it. 

 

They initially tried to claim they weren`t actually getting rid of this

program, they were just transferring it to a new agency.  Well, that other

agency inside the Trump administration denied knowing anything about that. 

Then they tried a new announced ending the program overall, the kids and

young people who had gotten this round of negative press attention from the

Trump administration because of what the administration was trying to do,

those kids would have their individual cases reviewed but nobody else would

be allowed to stay. 

 

Well now, as of tonight, they have finally reversed the whole thing.  A

homeland security official quietly notifying individual members of Congress

that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is reinstating the old

policy.  And so this time it appears to be well and truly over. 

 

Now, what may have gone on here is that Democrats on the Oversight

Committee in the House had announced that they were going to hold another

hearing on this policy.  The previous hearing they heard from some of the

kids and young people who would be killed by this policy change.  Democrats

had announced that at the next hearing next week, they expected the head of

this Trump administration agency that had gotten rid of this program, they

expected him there in person to testify on this policy next week. 

 

Well, as soon as the policy was rescinded today, that acting head of that

agency sent this letter to those House Democrats notifying them with sort

of palpable relief that now that the policy has been reversed as of today,

he has no intention of showing up for that hearing. 

 

Isabel Bueso is one of the young people who spoke at the first hearing.  We

had her here on this program last week talking about the threat to her own

life, the near certainty that she would be killed by this action from the

Trump administration.  She said today in response to the administration

finally caving on this, quote, I am so grateful to all the leaders who

spoke with me last week in D.C. and played a role in helping reinstate the

deferred action program.  While we have not received any official

confirmation that my deferred action case will be approved, we are

cautiously optimistic about this news.

 

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley from Massachusetts who played a leading role

in fighting against what the Trump administration was trying to do here,

she put out, as did several members of Congress today, she put out a long

statement in response to the policy`s reversal today, what was notable I

think about Congresswoman Pressley`s response was it landed on this

concluding line.  Says, quote: When we fight, we win.

 

So that happened today.  Knock me over with a feather. 

 

In addition, it looks like the nickname, Moscow Mitch, being attached to

Republican have aggravated and upset him just exactly the right amount if

today`s about-face by Mitch McConnell is any indication.  After resisting

for months any effort to do anything to protect U.S. elections from foreign

interference, despite what happened in 2016, Senator Mitch McConnell, who

has recently been dubbed Moscow Mitch for his willingness to apparently

sort of aid Russian interests whenever they cross his desk, Senator Mitch

McConnell today finally reversed course, and announced that actually now he

will support and, indeed, co-sponsor what has otherwise been a lonely

mostly Democratic effort to spend $250 million on election security against

foreign interference for 2020.  Knock me over with a feather. 

 

Also in the realm of news you didn`t think was possible that nevertheless

broke today, the gun manufacturer, Colt, which I think holds the original

patent for the ar-15 assault rifle to be marketed to civilian populations,

Colt announced today that they will no longer manufacture AR-15s for the

civilian market.  OK. 

 

So there`s this whole succession of breaking news tonight that`s all stuff

that could be filed under, right, they said it couldn`t be done.  Oh, yes,

it is, and yes, it is, and yes, it is.  I think all those stories today fit

that category. 

 

You would need a very different category, however, to characterize the big

sort of shocking legal news of the day.  And this happened in one of the

many cases where the president`s financial records and his tax returns are

being sought by one prosecutor or one investigator or another. 

 

There was some actual down to the wire drama in this one today.  This was a

subpoena for eight years of the president`s personal and business tax

returns that was served last week by prosecutors in New York.  That

subpoena required the president`s accounting firm, Mazars, to hand over

those eight years of tax returns under the terms of the subpoena by 2:00

p.m. today. 

 

Well, I said down to the wire.  Just hours ahead of that deadline, today,

the president`s legal team asked a judge in the Southern District of New

York for a restraining order to block Mazars from having to respond to that

subpoena at 2:00 p.m., which would have resulted in them handing over all

the president`s tax documents.  So I said this came right down to the very

end. 

 

In the end, the judge did decide to grand at a restraining order which

blocks Mazars from having to hand over those tax documents at least yet. 

So, we got sort of close to the deadline then ultimately the president got

some respite there and his tax returns weren`t handed over. 

 

Aside from little bit of temporal drama, last-minute legal action, that

last-minute restraining order, aside from that, though, what really ended

up being the big news in that story today is the filing that the

president`s lawyers made on his behalf defending him against the threat of

his tax returns being released by this subpoena. 

 

In this case, the legal case made by the president`s lawyers was so

radical, and, indeed, so potentially historic, it is literally on the front

page of “The New York Times” right now.  Quote: Trump lawyers argue he

cannot be criminally investigated – and that is actually what the

president claimed today in federal court in New York.  Quote: The president

cannot be subject to the criminal process while in office.  That is from

page 3 of their filing today. 

 

Here it is on page four, even more emphatically.  “The president cannot be

liable to arrest, prison, or detention while he is in the discharge of his

office, nor can he be investigated, indicted or otherwise subjected to

criminal process.

 

Nor can he be investigated?  Wait a second.  Now, again, the case, they`re

making this claim specifically in the context of this subpoena to the

Mazars accounting official to get President Trump`s tax returns and they

tie this argument specifically to that one subpoena. 

 

Quote: Because the Mazars subpoena attempts to criminally investigate a

sitting president, it is unconstitutional.  But, again, the basic and

broader point they`re making here, you can`t investigate a president.  I

mean, make no doubt about it, there`s a reason this is on the front page of

“The New York Times” right now.  The president is not just claiming that

you can`t indict a sitting president.  The president is now claiming that

you can`t investigate a sitting president. 

 

You might be remember that the president was quite recently the subject of

a very high-profile criminal investigation.  One conducted by special

counsel Robert Mueller, right? 

 

Mueller`s report, Mueller`s public defense of his report, said despite the

fact Justice Department policy says you can`t indict a president, that same

Justice Department policy, quote, explicitly permits a president to be

investigated.  That`s why the Mueller investigation happened. 

 

Well, apparently that may have been true within the U.S. Justice Department

as of May of this year, but now, it`s September.  And now it`s the

contention of the Trump administration that not only can a president not be

indicted, he can`t be investigated at all for anything, no matter what he

does.  And so, and the good thing here is at least they`re putting all

their cards on the table and they`re doing so in court in a way that that

contention – in a way that means that contention will presumably now be

tested in court?

 

But it is a remarkable thing to see it in black and white.  And that is

just what they are claiming that the president really could stand in the

middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone in cold blood.  Not only are they

now claiming that he could not be indicted for doing that, they are now

claiming he could not be investigated as to whether or not he did it no

matter how many people saw him do it in broad daylight. 

 

And that brings us to by far the biggest news of the day, which is this

whistleblower story which is now going officially nuts.  Now, this story`s

been percolating since late on Friday night.  It really blew up in the 9:00

hour last night in the middle of our show when the “Washington Post”

published this sort of headline for the ages: President`s communications

with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurs standoff

between spy chief and Congress.

 

President`s communications with foreign leader, what`s that about?  “The

Post” reporting last night that this whistleblower complaint that has been

brewing in Washington has a sort of spooky and unplaceable story, “The

Post” reporting last night it was sparked by President Trump`s

communications with a foreign leader.  Quote: Trump`s interaction with the

foreign leader included a promise that was regarded as so troubling that it

prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal

whistleblower complaint with the intelligence community`s inspector

general. 

 

So that lands with a gigantic thud last night in the 9:00 hour.  Since that

initial “Washington Post” reporting 24 hours ago, the main substance of

that report has been matched by NBC News, “The Wall Street Journal,” CNN,

“The New York Times,” a whole bunch of other outlets.  We still don`t know

who this whistleblower is or how exactly he or she came to know the alleged

contents of President Trump`s communication with a foreign leader,

including his alleged startling promise. 

 

But we do now know that whoever this whistle-blower is, he or she has just

hired a lawyer and a real heavyweight lawyer who is, himself, ex-Department

of Defense and an ex-CIA officer.  According to his law firm, he is

considered to be one of the nation`s leading experts on whistleblower

reprisals, meaning people who get attacked, fired or otherwise punished for

legally whistle-blowing on alleged misbehavior in government. 

 

This lawyer apparently created the program inside the CIA to investigate

and prevent reprisals against whistleblowers inside that agency.  So, we

don`t know if this unknown whistleblower retained this heavyweight lawyer

before or after the whistleblower filed his or her complaint on August

12th, but it seems like picking up this lawyer might have been a prudent

thing to do, because what has emerged over the course of the past 24 hours,

astonishingly, is that the Trump administration at multiple levels appears

to be handling this whistleblower complaint in such a way that they may be

basically threatening prosecution of this whistleblower for coming forward

with whatever this disturbing information is about President Trump`s

alleged behavior. 

 

Now, the complaint at least appears to be getting treated here as if it is

outside the bounds of the law that protects whistleblowers.  The law that

protects whistleblowers from among other things being prosecuted for

bringing forward sensitive information like this through the appropriate

channels. 

 

Now, why would that be?  It has emerged over the past hours that the

Justice Department led by William Barr for some reason they have been

brought into this process.  They`re not supposed to be within the

whistleblower process, but the Justice Department has now been brought into

this and it appears that they have provided some sort of legal argument,

which nobody has seen, but the legal argument is reportedly that this

complaint, this whistleblower complaint, isn`t a real whistleblower

complaint and shouldn`t be treated this way.  This whistleblower should not

be treated as a real whistle-blower who was protected by the law.  And,

therefore, this whistleblower complaint doesn`t need to be handed over to

Congress. 

 

That appears to be the legal analysis provided here by the Justice

Department under William Barr, nobody knows why they were even consulted

but this is apparently how they have insert inserted themselves into the

process. 

 

CNN is reporting today in addition to the Justice Department getting

involved here, the Trump White House has been directly involved in the

handling of the complaint, which if you think about it is bizarre, right? 

Here`s CNN`s reporting, quote: The White House and Justice Department

advised the director of national intelligence that the complaint regarding

President Trump is not governed by laws covering intelligence

whistleblowers.

 

So, it seems clear from multiple sources, including Congress, that this is

the advice that William Barr and the Justice Department have provided on

this issue.  CNN is reporting it`s also advice the White House is providing

as well.  Think about that for a second.  The fact that the White House was

consulted on this at all, this is a whistleblower complaint about allegedly

very troubling behavior by the highest ranking occupant of the White House. 

 

So, you bring that complaint to the White House to ask how you should

handle it?  I mean, that itself is a complete deviation from how

whistleblower complaints are supposed to be handled.  You`re not supposed

to go to the subject of the complaint, the person about whom the complaint

has been registered and ask them how they think this matter should be taken

up. 

 

If this matter was, in fact, brought to the White House, has this

whistleblower`s identity been protected even to the White House? 

 

But that`s apparently how the Trump administration is handling this matter. 

After the intelligence community`s Inspector General Michael Atkinson met

behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee for hours today,

the chairman of that committee, Adam Schiff, raised the prospect publicly

that not only is this unknown whistleblower potentially at risk of being

retaliated against now and potentially even prosecuted by William Barr, but

the inspector general who received the complaint might also be at risk here

from the Trump administration and their reprisals. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  And the inspector general is doing his very best

to be very careful that he follow the law.  And in some respects, the

inspector general is in the same position of the whistleblower which is, if

the inspector general steps one foot outside of what he`s authorized to do,

then he`s not protected.  And so this shows how someone is trying to

manipulate the system to keep information about an urgent matter from the

Congress. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Whether or not the inspector general, himself, is at risk of being

prosecuted by William Barr for the crime of receiving this whistleblower

complaint about the president`s behavior, the inspector general appears to

be doing everything he can under the law to try to make sure that this

complaint is actually investigated, and that it is actually handled over to

the intelligence committees in Congress which are supposed to have

oversight over things like this and which are specifically supposed to

receive whistleblower complaints without any interference from the subject

of the complaint. 

 

The Intelligence Committee today released a letter today from the inspector

general in which the inspector general says that he considers himself to be

bound by the administration`s decisions but he respectfully disagrees with

their determination that this complaint doesn`t have to be handed over.  He

said, quote: The complainant`s disclosure not only falls within the DNI`s

jurisdiction but relates to one of the most significant and important of

the DNI`s responsibilities to the American people.

 

He also complained that while the backstop here is supposed to be the

whistleblower him or herself should be allowed to convey their complaint

directly to Congress, through secure and legal channels made available to

them for this purpose, the Trump administration appears to be blocking the

whistleblower from doing that as well.  The inspector general also says he

asked for permission to at least convey the general subject of the

complaint to the intelligence committees today and he was denied permission

to do so. 

 

So, the inspector general got this complaint, has tried to do the right

thing with it.  This inspector general who looked into it, find it

credible, found it to be urgent, found it something that needed to be

investigated, that needed to be handed over to Congress, he is now in this

anguished position saying what the Trump administration is doing here is

blocking him from protecting this whistleblower which he`s legally

obligated to do, Trump administration is also blocking him from making sure

this serious and properly conveyed complaint is delivered to Congress. 

It`s his statutory responsibility to ensure that and they`re blocking him

from doing it.  So, he`s absolutely stuck and Congressman Schiff is

signaling that that inspector general might, himself, find himself

prosecuted or retaliated against just for receiving this complaint and

trying to do the right thing under law with this matter. 

 

Congressman Adam Schiff is going to be joining us live in just a moment. 

 

We still, of course, do not know what the complaint, itself, is, but I have

to tell you, “The Washington Post” just moments ago posted the next big

development in this story.  This is a story from “Washington Post” which

has just posted, it cites two sources in saying that the whistleblower`s

complaint about President Trump involves the nation of Ukraine. 

 

There`s been a bunch of speculation about this over the course of the last

24 hours, in part just because of the tile timeline here.  I don`t mean to

be weird, this is going to sound weird, but don`t take it that way.  If you

have been watching this show over the past few weeks, you are probably

better equipped to understand what`s going on here, this latest version of

this story.  You are probably better equipped to understand what`s going on

here than your friends who have better things to do at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on

a weeknight. 

 

So, this story, this part of the story in this new development that this

complaint about President Trump may involve the nation of Ukraine, this is

– this ought to ring a bunch of bells for you because we`ve been covering

this pretty intensively.  Two weeks ago on September 5th, “The Washington

Post” ran this on the editorial page and even though it was on the

editorial page, it contained this remarkable claim. 

 

You see the headline there.  Quote: Trump tries to force Ukraine to meddle

in the 2020 election – meaning the 2020 U.S. election.  Explaining that

the newly elected president of Ukraine appears to be a real reformer and a

real small “D” democrat and that, therefore, ought to be a cause for

celebration in Washington. 

 

“The Post” argues that nevertheless the new Ukrainian president has

received the cold shoulder from the Trump administration.  He, quote, has

so far failed to win the backing of President Trump.  Not only has Trump

refused the grant the Ukrainian leader a White House visit, he`s also

suspended the delivery of $250 million in U.S. military aid to this country

that is still fighting Russian aggression in its eastern provinces.  Some

suspect Mr. Trump is once again catering to Russian President Vladimir

Putin who, of course, is dedicated to undermining Ukrainian democracy and

independence.

 

But “The Post” says, we`re reliably told the president has a second and

more venal agenda.  He`s attempting to force the Ukrainian president to

intervene in the U.S. 2020 election by launching an investigation in

Ukraine of the leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden.  Mr. Trump is not

just soliciting Ukraine`s help with his presidential re-election campaign,

he`s using U.S. military aid that that country desperately needs in an

attempt to extort it.  So, again, we still do not know if that`s exactly

what this whistleblower complaint is about that`s currently blowing up

proverbial Washington. 

 

Shane Harris from the “Washington Post” tonight is reporting that the

whistleblower complaint has something to do with Ukraine, but the timeline

here may be instructive.  This is what we know of the timeline: President

Trump has a phone call with the new president of Ukraine July 25th.  Three

days later, the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, is out.  He

submits his resignation. 

 

Less than two weeks later, there`s a strange incident in the White House

first reported by CNN in which that outgoing director of intelligence, Dan

Coats, for some reason steps into a meeting being led by his deputy, Sue

Gordon, and he tells her in the middle of the meeting, in front of a bunch

of other people, hey, Sue, you need to resign.  And Sue Gordon, in fact,

submits his resignation that day.

 

Four days later, the whistleblower complaint is filed with the intelligence

community`s inspector general.  Three days after that, Dan Coats and Sue

Gordon leave the White House.  Before that week is out, President Trump

says publicly that whatever Russia did to Ukraine to get themselves kick

out of the G8, that should basically be forgiven.  Russia and Vladimir

Putin should be let back into the G8. 

 

Before the next week is out, Politico is first to report that Trump has put

on hold $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, money that was

appropriated by the Congress to help Ukraine stands up to Russia.  Before

the next week is out, the White House announces that it is cutting almost

the entire military construction budget in Eastern Europe that is

specifically designated to help other nations on Russia`s border stand up

themselves against Russian aggression of the type faced by Ukraine. 

 

Two days after that, “The Washington Post” publishes its op-ed about Trump

allegedly demanding help from Ukraine for his re-election effort and

threatening to deny Ukraine U.S. military assistance unless and until he

gets it.

 

And now, there`s a new acting director of national intelligence that isn`t

letting the whistle-blower complaint that`s reportedly about Ukraine be

forwarded to the intelligence committees which they`re legally required to

do. 

 

Somewhere out there right now in America is a whistleblower from the

intelligence community who has gone through channels and done things by the

book and sought whistleblower protection under law to alert Congress in

good faith about a serious and urgent matter that reportedly involves the

president, his communications with foreign leaders, some sort of promise

that he has made to foreign leaders, and potentially some shenanigans

involving the nation of Ukraine. 

 

Bit by bit, the substance of the complaint seems to be coming to the

surface while hour by hour, the Trump administration appears to be fixing

its crosshairs on the whistleblower, and on anybody who helps him or her

make this story known. 

 

At a fundamental level, this is repulsive in terms of how whistleblowers

are supposed to be treated in our country or in any.  But this is also

ongoing.  This is live.  It`s happening right now. 

 

Shane Harris joins us next.  Congressman Adam Schiff will be with us in

just a moment.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  A team of “Washington Post” reporters, Ellen Nakashima, Shane

Harris, Greg Miller, Carol Leonnig, have been leading the way on this

remarkable and still expanding story, about an unknown intelligence

community whistleblower who`s come forward with a reportedly credible and

urgent complaint concerning behavior by President Trump – a complaint that

the intelligence community inspector general is apparently trying to share

with Congress although the Trump administration is blocking him. 

 

Well, “The Post” just in the last hour has reported that that whistleblower

complaint about President Trump has something to do with the nation of

Ukraine.  Very shortly after “The Washington Post” published that story

tonight, “The New York Times” matched that detail of their reporting. 

 

Joining us now is “Washington Post” national security reporter Shane

Harris. 

 

Shane, thanks for getting to a studio for us on short notice.  I really

appreciate it. 

 

SHANE HARRIS, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  No problem,

Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  So you heard me explain sort of my understanding about how the

story has developed and the context here.  I just want to ask you if

anything that I said struck a sour note or seemed wrong or if there`s

anything that I should correct there. 

 

HARRIS:  No, I think that that narrative right.  And it`s important to

piece these things together.  We sometimes forget how they do line up in

retrospect, don`t they? 

 

MADDOW:  OK.  Yes.  And for me, it`s not so much connecting the dots, it`s

remembering what all the dots are. 

 

HARRIS:  Right. 

 

MADDOW:  Because they seem to connect in different ways with each new news

story. 

 

You and your colleagues are reporting that the complaint centers on

Ukraine, but you don`t in tonight`s story offer any further detail on what

about Ukraine or whether, in fact, it was a conversation with the president

of Ukraine that was the nature of this. 

 

Can you expand at all in terms of what you know about the Ukraine part of

the story? 

 

HARRIS:  Yes, what we know is what`s in the story, and I realize that it`s

frustrating to people.  But we`re trying to be careful in making sure we

understand each of these details here as we go.  But I think a key piece of

this is understanding that that whistleblower complaint does follow by a

very short period, only 2 1/2 weeks, that conversation, that phone call,

that President Trump had with the president of Ukraine. 

 

And as you laid out these other dots, it`s clearly happening sort of in the

same timeframe.  So, I think we build on the reporting that we had

yesterday where we knew that this was some allegation involving a promise,

clearly some sense of wrongdoing by the whistleblower against the

president, now we know that that centers on Ukraine.  I think we`re kind of

getting closer to the nexus of these facts.

 

But right now, all we know is what we put in the paper and that`s all we

were prepared to report tonight. 

 

MADDOW:  And, Shane, there has been some reporting from various news

organizations over the course of the day that maybe the whistleblower`s

complaint isn`t about one thing that was done by the president, maybe it

was about a series of events and this phone call with the foreign leader

may have just been one thing. 

 

Do you have any clarity in terms of whether or not this is about a specific

single incident or whether this might be a broader complaint about a

broader pattern or sequence of behavior? 

 

HARRIS:  Yes, I think we got some more of that today.  There`s reporting

that we have on our story as well, I believe it`s in “The New York Times”

reporting tonight, too, when the inspector general for the intelligence

community testified today, and we understand that in that closed-door

session with lawmakers, he said that this allegation by the whistleblower,

it doesn`t center on just one single event. 

 

So, it`s important that we`re not simply focused on the phone call or the

communication, it seems like there`s more to it than that.  It could be a

series of events.  It could be a pattern of behavior.  We don`t know. 

 

But we shouldn`t be thinking about this as just a single incident, it

sounds like, that this whistleblower saw, it sounds like there is more kind

of a tapestry here, too, to try and examine. 

 

MADDOW:  To the extent that a presidential phone call is at least part of

the basis of this complaint, does it seem clear to you, either from direct

reporting or just from the way what you know about how these things work in

the White House, that we can narrow down how this whistle-blower might have

come into knowledge of what was said on a presidential phone call with a

foreign leader?  Does the White House still produce transcripts of these

calls or notes on these calls?  Do we know who sees them? 

 

HARRIS:  There is still documentation, it`s my understanding, on some of

these although the distribution of that is much more tightly controlled, in

part because of reporting that colleagues of mine did in 2017 on President

Trump`s discussions in the Oval Office with two senior Russian officials

where he actually ended up divulging the source on an important

counterintelligence source of information for the United States that was

being managed by Israel. 

 

After that, we understand sort of the paper that gets produced after a lot

of these meetings, kind of seeing what was going on, is less distributed. 

That doesn`t mean it`s not distributed.  So, of course, there are still

channels that these things can get out. 

 

But, you know, there are a lot of people working in the White House on a

lot of these issues.  So, I don`t know that it necessarily narrows it down

very much.  But this person would have conceivably could have been in a

position to either have direct knowledge of this information based on those

kinds of readouts or to be in a kind of universe of people who understand

what`s going on when the president does things like has a phone call with

the president of Ukraine. 

 

MADDOW:  “Washington Post” national security reporter Shane Harris, thank

you for your time.  First of all, thank you and your colleagues for your

reporting on this.  You`ve done more than anyone else to help clarify this,

thus far, and thanks for helping us this understand it tonight. 

 

HARRIS:  It`s always good to talk to you.  Thanks, Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Shane.

 

All right.  The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff,

joins us live next.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  We will be releasing the inspector general`s

letters but I want to read one sentence from them. 

 

Mr. Atkinson wrote: I set forth the reasons for my concluding that the

subject matter involved in the complainant`s disclosure not only falls

within the DNI`s jurisdiction but relates to one of the most significant

and important of the DNI`s responsibilities to the American people.

 

This is what`s being withheld from Congress right now. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff today quoting

the intelligence community`s inspector general about this whistleblower

complaint, which is now consuming Washington, right?  It`s a complaint that

reportedly concerns President Trump.  The Trump administration is basically

refusing to treat the complaint as if it is a whistleblower complaint under

law which means they are not protecting the whistleblower from potential

retaliation or even prosecution here. 

 

They`re also refusing to hand the complaint over to Congress which

whistleblower law requires. 

 

Congressman Schiff joins us now live. 

 

Mr. Chairman, it`s really good to have you with us tonight.  I know it`s a

very busy time. 

 

SCHIFF:  Thanks for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  We just spoke with Shane Harris of the “Washington Post” about

their new reporting that this whistle-blower complaint may center on the

nation of Ukraine, combined with earlier reporting from “The Post” and

another others that might suggest this complaint has something to do with

presidential communication with a foreign leader, potentially with the

president of Ukraine, something else having to do with that country. 

 

Just have to ask you, as the chairman of the intelligence committee, does

that jive at all with what you know?  Do you have any further information

about the nature of the complaint? 

 

SCHIFF:  You know, I can`t comment completely in answer to the question. 

We haven`t received the complaint.  Some of what we`ve been able to

determine has been based on what the inspector general and the director of

national intelligence have told us, and divining sort of between the lines. 

 

But I can tell you this with certainty, and that is the inspector general

found this complaint to be credible after doing an investigation.  Found it

to be urgent and found something else which has not really been focused on

and that is that this does not involve a policy disagreement.  So, a lot of

people have been speculating, does this involve a presidential

communication, does it not, and if it does, doesn`t the president have a

right to be confidential? 

 

This doesn`t involve some policy disagreement.  This involves an allegation

of serious wrongdoing.  Something that the inspector general felt needed to

be presented to Congress, was squarely within the jurisdiction of the

director of national intelligence, and it is unprecedented for a director

to withhold that information from Congress and I just want to say what`s at

stake here, and why this is so serious for us. 

 

The intelligence committee in both House and Senate do their work in closed

session because we`re dealing with classified information, but the result

of that is outside stakeholders don`t get to weigh in, don`t get to correct

the record, don`t get to say that the intelligence agency representation on

this isn`t accurate.  We rely on the agencies to self-report when they have

problems.  And much of the time, they do. 

 

But when they don`t, we are totally reliant on whistle-blowers which means

if you can nullify that process, which the Department of Justice is

effectively doing, it means the ability to do oversight is just crippled. 

And it means that serious problems, urgent problems that affect our

national security, go unaddressed like this one, and it means that other

whistleblowers who are watching – I want to say to the whistleblower if

the whistleblower is watching you tonight, that we are grateful for their

courage in coming forward.  We`re going to do everything we can to make

sure this urgent issue is addressed and you`re protected. 

 

MADDOW:  If this whistle-blower whether or not he or she is watching

tonight, if you are, hi – if this whistle-blower does want to come

directly to your committee and to the Senate Intelligence Committee,

because the Trump administration is otherwise trying to throttle this at

the level of the DNI, when I look at the comments of the inspector general,

and I`ve been reading transcripts of your own remarks on this today,

reading them closely trying to figure these out, it seems to me like the

whistle-blower should be able to legally and securely come to you directly

with his or her complaint provided that sort of channel for them to legally

do so is open. 

 

Is that channel available to them, is there a way you can directly tell the

whistle-blower on TV tonight, here`s how you reach me, here`s how you

connect legally with our committee? 

 

SCHIFF:  Look, we would love to talk with the whistleblower directly.  And

it was certainly our expectation when we wrote this statute that there

would be an opportunity for anyone in the I.C. to come to the committee and

expose wrongdoing, and that`s always been the case because whistleblower

complaints, even when they were found not credible, even when they were

found not urgent, were referred to our committee and the whistleblower was

told you can talk to the committee. 

 

Here, the director is refusing to tell the whistleblower that.  In fact,

the Department of Justice is effectively telling the whistleblower you are

not covered. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

 

SCHIFF:  Which means there is a real risk even in coming to Congress and

that is obviously a supreme problem.  I would love to be able to say that

the president won`t be vindictive, that the Justice Department won`t be

vindictive but I can`t make that assurance if the Department of Justice is

taking the position you`re not covered. 

 

And, you know, the people who do come forward, they`re assured that if they

do, their complaint will get to Congress.  And so, a lot is riding on this

if those promises are hollow, then it means these important sources of

information about wrongdoing are going to dry up. 

 

MADDOW:  Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence

Committee – sir, thank you so much for your time tonight.  I know this is

an ongoing fast-developing story.  We`d love to have you back whenever

we`ve got further developments to talk about, sir. 

 

SCHIFF:  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you very much. 

 

All right.  Much more to come tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  About two years ago, a pair of excellent reporters at “The New

York Times” started breaking a story about allegations of rampant basically

institutionalized sexual abuse carried out by a very powerful movie

executive named Harvey Weinstein.  That story set off a movement that

touched not only movie executives but actors, comedians, musicians, chefs,

doctors, senators, casino owners, attorneys general and, and, and. 

 

Now, those two reporters, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, have written one of

the world`s great books about journalism, which is also the story of how

they broke that story.  I`m going to read a little bit because I want you

to have a little idea of what I mean. 

 

This is Jodi Kantor tracking down an internal memo from inside the

Weinstein organization that details basically Weinstein`s sexual abuse. 

 

Quote: Jodi reached into her bag, drew out a printout sheet prepared a few

hours before and passed it to the Weinstein executive.  Jodi explained that

this was an account she heard from a well-known actress, to describe how a

woman arrived unsuspecting to a meeting in a hotel room with Harvey

Weinstein.  To her surprise, she`d been shown upstairs instead.

 

When she got there, Weinstein was waiting in a bathrobe and asked for a

massage.  He tried to pressure her into sex by saying he could help her

career.  She fled. 

 

As Jodi had guessed, the executive appeared aghast at hearing this.  She

told him that this actress was far from alone.  That she and Megan Twohey

had heard variations on this same narrative again and again.

 

Jodi and Megan didn`t know how many women had these kinds of stories about

Weinstein, but based on what they were hearing, they believed the number

might be very high.  Jodi asked the executive again for the memo.  He had

already read her a few quotes which she had jotted down, but she wanted to

understand the document better. 

 

Could he pull it up again on his phone?  He started to read the memo aloud

then paused, he said, I`m going to pay a visit to the little boy`s room. 

He threw Jodi his phone.  Open to the email with the memo.  He rose from

the table and left her alone. 

 

Later that night, when they read the memo in full, the moral stakes of the

investigation suddenly transformed and expanded.  What had once been a

historical corrective suddenly seemed a far more urgent pursuit.  No one

has ever stopped this man.  If the reporters failed to publish their

findings, he might go on to hurt someone else. 

 

The reporters who broke that story and wrote this new journalistic thriller

which is going to spawn a million young people to go to journalism school,

they join us next.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us here in studio are Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, two

“New York Times” reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story, which of

course has propelled the #metoo movement into the cultural and political

force that it has become.  Their new book is about how they chased down

that story and put this bend in the arc of history.  It`s called “She Said:

Breaking A Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement.”

 

Ms. Kantor, Ms. Twohey, congratulations. 

 

JODI KANTOR, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Thank you very much.

 

MADDOW:  It`s really good to have you both here. 

 

Megan, I actually want to ask you an inappropriate first question. 

 

MEGAN TWOHEY, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  OK. 

 

MADDOW:  Which is you came back from maternity leave in July 2017.  You`re

given the option of reporting on Trump Tower Moscow or Harvey Weinstein. 

 

Was that like close my eyes and pick?  I mean, that`s two very difficult

doors to choose between.  Why did you pick the way you did? 

 

TWOHEY:  Well, that`s right.  I mean, I took a day to contemplate that

question and consulted with some colleagues.  I had colleagues who had been

reporting on Trump as I had before I`d gone off on maternity leave who said

here`s the story of a lifetime, you`d be crazy to go off and look into this

supposedly sleazy producer. 

 

And I did actually have some questions about the investigation in terms of

famous actresses.  It was hard for me to conceive famous actresses as being

victims.  As investigative reporters, we really want to help give voice to

the voiceless. 

 

But in consulting with Jodi, she had really made the case that like

actually if people like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd had been

victimized, if they`d been victims of sexual harassment, nobody is immune. 

And if we can help get to the bottom of this and bring this to light after

so many years of silence, we may be able to make a difference. 

 

MADDOW:  And there is this story about getting people to put their names to

the story, finding the victims.  Once you found the victims, once you`re

hearing the story, once you`re recognizing the similarity between all the

stories, getting people to put their names on them.  But that`s not it. 

That doesn`t get you to where you need to be. 

 

And, Jodi, I feel like the decision to write this essentially as a

journalistic thriller is to put at the center of the story this idea of

provable fact.  It`s not just accusation.  It`s not just coming out.  It`s

about telling the story in a provable, objectives way. 

 

KANTOR:  Absolutely.  In part because these events have come to mean so

much to so many people, we realized that people did not know the true

surprising story of how this unfolded behind the scenes.  And so, we wanted

to put that to paper and to take you into all of these situations.  The

first very tentative phone calls with these actresses.  The final

confrontations with Harvey Weinstein in the offices of the “New York

Times,” which were in part about trying to be fair to him and giving him a

chance to respond to the allegations. 

 

And showing exactly what you`re saying, that we weren`t just trying to put

one or two hotel room stories in the newspaper, we were trying build a

solid body of evidence about 25 years of allegations. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes, and the fact – I mean, one of the things that I think has

been such a – has propelled this and ignited a movement is that it does

reach the elite in every way.  And I also feel like that`s kind of a

product of the reporting process here. 

 

 

I mean, if what you`re able to follow, if the money you`re able to follow

is financial settlements and non-disclosure agreements, those are the tools

of elite institutions used to protect elite men.  And in non-elite

environments, those might not be the tools that are used to cover these

things up.  And so, this reporting process is almost destined to bring down

men at the highest echelons of society. 

 

TWOHEY:  Right.  I mean, this story goes way beyond Harvey Weinstein.  This

is really an x-ray into abuse of power. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

TWOHEY:  So, in our first article we had been able to connect some of the

dots of Weinstein and his alleged predation and how he had covered it up

over the years.  But since then in the reporting of this book, we were able

to bring together so many other pieces of the puzzle to really pull the

curtain back on the machinery that was in place, to silence accusers and

cover up his tracks, and these legal settlements that had been paid to

silence women.  Harvey Weinstein had paid at least eight settlements from

1990 through 2015, and those – that was basically (AUDIO GAP) covering up

his tracks.  So, we call into question those legal settlements that are

used not just in the case of Weinstein but in sexual harassment and sexual

assault cases across the country. 

 

MADDOW:  Well, the elite lawyers who come out worse than almost anybody in

your story in part tells the story of how the elite legal profession has

not only greased its own wheels doing this but has created a vehicle by

which money gets you off, money allows you to do this sort of thing. 

 

Do you feel like that`s punctured? 

 

KANTOR:  Well, there is a shocking memo in this book – we included a lot

of original documents here.

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

KANTOR:  So people could just see and examine them for themselves, kind of

join our partnership in puzzling through this stuff.  There is a document

that Megan got that Lisa Bloom, the famous feminist lawyer, wrote.  And

it`s essentially her job audition memo for Harvey Weinstein where she`s

saying, I`m going to use my experience as a victims` advocate and I`m going

to cross over to your side and put all of that experience and credibility

to work for you.

 

(AUDIO GAP) memo on how she`s going to sort of fight back Rose McGowan`s

allegation.  And she is seen very explicitly I will cheat for you – excuse

me, I will manipulate for you, I will smear on your behalf. 

 

MADDOW:  For $895 an hour. 

 

KANTOR:  Exactly. 

 

MADDOW:  You can use my reputation as a victims` advocate to get rid of the

victims that are haunting you. 

 

KANTOR:  Yes. 

 

MADDOW:  What about the use of the security firms and these other sort of -

- forgive the term.  These sort of hit men of the industry that are used

not only to go after and silence sources but to try to intimidate

journalists who are doing this kind of work? 

 

TWOHEY:  Well, that`s right.  Harvey Weinstein used a variety of private

investigative firms to try to silence accusers and go after journalists as

well, which in some ways was not that surprising to us.  But the fact that

he had used Black Cube, a firm that`s made up of former Israeli

intelligence officials and agents who adopted fake identities to try to

extract information from women who he thought might go public as well as

reporters was like just jaw-dropping to us.  I mean, Ronan Farrow was the

first to break that news back in 2017.  But you know, one of those

contracts was basically a promise to those former Israeli intelligence

officials that they would be paid a $300,000 bonus if they could bring a

stop to our investigation. 

 

MADDOW:  Specifically if your article wouldn`t run. 

 

TWOHEY:  It was like a hit on our investigation. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.  Well, the investigation obviously was brought to fruition

not only through your intelligence and your diligence but through the

support of the institution of the “New York Times” that had the resources

to get this done.  People coming out is necessary.  It is not necessarily

sufficient.  You do need the kind of work that you guys did and the kind of

support you had to do it in order to make this happen.  And you did. 

 

Congratulations. 

 

KANTOR:  Thank you so much. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you. 

 

TWOHEY:  Thanks so much.

 

MADDOW:  It`s great to have you here. 

 

TWOHEY:  Thanks so much. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey, two of “The New York Times”

reporters behind the book.  It is called “She Said: Breaking the Sexual

Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement.”  You should read it. 

 

A lot of people are comparing this to “All the President`s Men.”  And when

it gets compared to “All the President`s Men,” “All the President`s Men”

does not come out on the long end of the comparison. 

 

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. 

 

END

 

                                                                                                               

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