Roger Stone trial set for November 5th. TRANSCRIPT: 9/23/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Elaine Luria
Transcript:

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend, much

appreciated. 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”:  You bet.

 

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Happy to have

you with us. 

 

What a time to be alive, right?  You will always be able to look back at

this time in your life and say, you know, I was alive during that

presidency.  I remember how crazy it was.

 

The campaign chairman for the sitting president of the United States is

currently in jail.  Specifically, he`s in federal prison serving a seven-

plus-year sentence for multiple felony convictions, while he is

simultaneously awaiting the start of his state trial on similar charges. 

That`s the president`s campaign chairman. 

 

The president`s deputy campaign chairman today just got happy news from the

federal judge overseeing his case.  When she let him know that while he is

awaiting his own sentencing on federal felony charges, from here on out

after today, he no longer needs explicit permission from that judge every

time he wants to leave the jurisdiction in which his case is being handled. 

So, in Rick Gates` case, he`s still awaiting sentencing on federal felony

charges, but the judge in his case trusts him enough now to let him roam

around a little bit more than he used to be allowed, at least leading up to

his sentencing.  That counts as a happy day for the president`s campaign

alumni association. 

 

The president`s longtime political adviser is going on trial a little more

than a month from now.  Today, we got the exhibits list from prosecutors

for his trial.  It`s basically a list of evidence that prosecutors plan to

use against him at his trial.  According to this new filing, among the

evidence prosecutors plan to present, apparently, includes some sort of

chart.  See number 167 there?  Yes, it`s a chart showing the number of

written communications between this particular adviser and Trump campaign

officials during the 2016 campaign. 

 

I think from the right-hand column there that list of objections, I think

that means that the defense is apparently objecting to prosecutors using

this evidence on multiple grounds including it being unduly prejudicial. 

But we know, officially, as of today, that prosecutors say they want to use

that and more than 150 others things against Roger Stone at trial. 

 

That trial in which the president`s political adviser is accused of lying

to investigators about his contacts with the entity that was posting

online, all the Democratic documents that got hacked and stolen by Russian

military intelligence, his trial is scheduled now for November. 

 

Soon thereafter, we are expecting yet another federal sentencing date for

the president`s first national security adviser who will be sentenced for

lying to investigators about his secret contacts with the Russian

government during the transition period between when Trump won the election

and when he was sworn in as president. 

 

The president`s longtime personal lawyer also sits today in federal prison,

but there`s a lot of anticipation now that there may also potentially be

new state charges brewing related to the president or potentially his

business entities that could derive from information provided by the

president`s longtime lawyer to state prosecutors in New York.  The reason

there is that anticipation, at least discussion of that possibility, is

because in quick succession we recently learned that Michael Cohen had met

with state prosecutors at the federal prison where he is currently serving

his sentence.  The state prosecutors went up to o this Otisville, New York,

and met with him in federal prison. 

 

He reportedly spoke to them on that visit under a proffer agreement which

means he was basically seeking lenience for himself in the event that any

state charges are brought based on the information that he`s given them. 

Soon thereafter, we learn that those state prosecutors have also issued a

subpoena for eight years of the president`s tax returns.  That subpoena is

currently being litigated in court. 

 

That`s what led to the novel argument from the president`s legal team last

week that not only can the president not be indicted while he`s serving in

office, his new legal team claims now that the president can also not be

criminally investigated for anything.  No matter what he does.  No matter

the alleged or apparent crime, he can`t be investigated.  Let alone

prosecuted. 

 

So, you`re alive right now.  This is one of the things that happened in

your lifetime.  Nobody will ever be able to take that away from you.  What

a time to be alive, right?  But, I mean, taking that sort of tour around

the lazy Susan of the president`s indicted and convicted advisers and

campaign aides, there is a piece of this that is coming back around now in

the midst of this now-roiling controversy over the president essentially

admitting that he and another one of his personal lawyers have been

pressuring a foreign government to start an investigation into the front-

runner in the Democratic presidential primary with the somewhat obvious

hope that such an investigation by a foreign country might dirty up Joe

Biden`s reputation enough to either prevent him from getting the Democratic

nomination or at least hurt him in the general against Trump if Biden does,

in fact, become his party`s nominee. 

 

Now, this controversy over Trump`s behavior toward Ukraine, enlisting them

to help in his re-elect, this controversy has been bumbling for more than a

week now, since we first learned about this unnamed whistleblower in the

intelligence community who have gone through appropriate channels, who had

registered an official whistleblower complaint about the president`s

alleged behavior. 

 

It then later emerged first in the “Washington Post” and other news outlets

that it was the president`s behavior specifically related to Ukraine that

had spurred that whistleblower to come forward.  Still don`t know who is

the whistleblower is, still don`t know the exact nature of the complaint. 

A lot of this still has to come out, it likely will, I think, come out,

over the next few days. 

 

But the legal and ethical bottom line here appears to be fairly contested

and already quite clear, which is the president, once again, has gone and

solicited foreign help for his election effort, right?  That`s the sort of

legal and ethical bottom line.  The political bottom line here is even if

Republicans decide they don`t care about that, this does appear to be

bridging any pre-existing Democratic divisions over the question of whether

or not they should pursue impeachment proceedings against Trump.  It is

starting to look like if nothing else, Trump is going to get himself

impeached in the House for doing this with Ukraine.  We`ll have more on

that coming up on the show later tonight. 

 

But aside from that legal and political – legal and ethical bottom line,

and that really big political bottom line which I think is going to change

the way the whole rest of this next year goes, here`s the other thing that

I think is worth keeping an eye on and sort of maybe even worth keeping in

the center of the frame here, which is the question of why this is

happening specifically in Ukraine, right?  There`s lots of countries around

the world, including lots of countries who have leadership that is very

inclined toward Trump, that likes Trump, or that at least wants to flatter

him and do him favors.  Why is this Ukraine?  Why are we back to that

country in particular? 

 

We`ll go back to the president`s campaign chairman, the one who is now in

federal prison awaiting word on whether he will also subsequently someday

have to do time in state prison.  When Paul Manafort was hired to run the

Trump campaign, it was an unusual hire, right?  Paul Manafort was not a

totally anonymous figure, but – I mean, what he was known for wasn`t the

kind of thing that would stack you up to be the next presidential campaign

chairman. 

 

I mean, he had been a business partner of Roger Stone, who is the

president`s political adviser who`s going on trial on felony charges in

November.  He had been implicated in a big criminal fraud scheme involving

federal housing funds during the Reagan administration.  That`s one way to

be famous.  He was known basically as a gun for hire who would represent

the most odious dictators in the world, guys who other hired guns in

Washington would be ashamed to be associated with, Paul Manafort was your

guy, right? 

 

So, he did have a reputation, but it was the – it was not the typical

resume for a presidential campaign chairman.  He was a strange choice to

come in and run not just a presidential campaign but the presidential

campaign for the de facto nominee of the Republican Party, which Trump was

basically at the time that Manafort came onboard.  And in part it`s because

of his background, in part, it`s also because he hadn`t been working in

Washington very much at all for more than a decade at the time that Trump

picked him. 

 

Manafort had been primarily working in Ukraine.  He was the political

brains behind a pro-Russia, pro-Putin political party in Ukraine called the

Party of Regions.  Paul Manafort famously took the leader of that party who

was previously known as a kind of inarticulate, menacing, thuggish guy.  He

was an organized crime figure.  His real claim to fame was in chicken

smuggling, I kid you not. 

 

But Paul Manafort gave Viktor Yanukovych an extreme makeover, where he

basically donated his own haircut to Viktor Yanukovych and own stylish

shiny suits.  He remade this guy in his own image and he built this pro-

Putin political party under Yanukovych into the ruling party in the

fractious and very corrupt country. 

 

Now, eventually, Manafort would get kicked off the Trump campaign after

“The New York Times” first reported on documents that were discovered in

Ukraine which showed Manafort being paid more than $12 million off the

books by Yanukovych`s political party.  So, he lost his job running the

Trump campaign in August of 2016.  But even then, like from there on out,

like it was clear that he was going to sort of leave a trail behind him,

right, even long after Manafort was gone from the Trump campaign and Trump

was already serving as president but before Manafort was indicted, right? 

 

His ties Ukraine were still periodically making national news in this

country because it was weird that Manafort got picked to be running a

presidential campaign in the United States in 2016.  And his Ukraine ties,

the more we learned about them, even after he was fired, they really did

seem like real liabilities for somebody who had brought in at the top to

run an American presidential operation, let alone one that resulted in

actually putting a candidate in the White House. 

 

There was, for example, this article in “The New York Times”, July 2017, by

Mike McIntyre, which showed that right up until Manafort came out of

nowhere to take the job running the Trump campaign in 2016, he was in debt,

massively in debt, to business entities linked to two Kremlin-linked

oligarchs.  One of those two Kremlin-linked oligarchs was Oleg Deripaska, a

Russian oligarch reportedly close to Putin, a guy with lots of interest in

Ukraine.  He reportedly entered into a $10 million a year contract with

Paul Manafort for Manafort to promote the interests of the Putin government

around the world including in the United States. 

 

Over the course of the Russia scandal and the Mueller investigation and all

the open-source reporting around that, it would emerge that Manafort tried

to use his position on the Trump campaign to, quote, get whole with

Deripaska.  Remember, he owed Deripaska a lot of money.  He offered

Deripaska private briefings on the Trump campaign during the course of the

campaign. 

 

As the Mueller report laid out in detail, Manafort also repeatedly used

encrypted apps to send detailed polling data from the Trump campaign to an

associate who the FBI assessed to be an asset of Russian military

intelligence.  That Russian military intelligence source is then thought to

have passed that detailed polling information from Manafort on to Oleg

Deripaska.  The GRU asset incidentally was also indicted by Robert Mueller,

that`s him in the blue shirt on the left.  He has not been arrested.  He is

believed to be in hiding and at least evading U.S. justice in Russia. 

 

Deripaska, right, one of the Kremlin-linked oligarchs to whom Manafort

reportedly owed a ton of money at the time he took the job running Trump`s

campaign.  Deripaska for years has been denied a visa to visit the United

States reportedly of what the U.S. government believes to be Deripaska`s

ties to international organized crime.  Deripaska was also sanctioned by

the U.S. government in response to the Russian attack on the 2016 election,

although thanks to the intervention and largesse of Republican Senate

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Oleg Deripaska was recently relieved of

much of the burden of those sanctions. 

 

But that`s one of the two guys to whom Manafort owed millions of dollars

when he took over the Trump campaign.  The other guy was this fellow, guy

with the three-piece suit there in the nice red tie.  His name is Dmitry

Firtash. 

 

When Paul Manafort was running the political operations of the Party of

Regions in Ukraine, Firtash was funding that party.  He is rich almost

beyond believe, specifically because Vladimir Putin made him so.  One of

the mother lode corruption stories of Ukraine and Russian foreign influence

is for years, Kremlin insisted their guy in Ukraine, Dmitry Firtash, would

be given a cut of every cubic inch of natural gas that Russia pumped

through Ukraine on its way to Europe. 

 

Ukraine is full of pipelines that start in the east and carry toward the

west, right?  And to the extent that Russia has a stranglehold on European

energy policy, because they are an almost monopolistic supplier in Europe

in terms of their gas supply, all of that gas transits, a lot of that gas

transits through Ukraine and Firtash got a cut of every inch of it. 

 

Firtash did not do anything to earn that money.  He was literally just the

artificially installed middleman who got paid literally billions of dollars

a year in pure profit just at the Kremlin`s direction.  You want Russian

gas to transit your country, you will have Dmitry take a cut of all of it. 

 

So, Firtash was making billions of dollars a year for that.  As a sort of

hostess gift “thank you” for that arrangement, Firtash in turn used some of

his money to prop up pro-Russia political parties in Ukraine, pro-Kremlin

political parties in crew Ukraine, pro-Kremlin politicians, including

paying for Paul Manafort to run the Party of Regions and get Viktor

Yanukovych installed as Ukraine`s president, right?

 

So, Manafort reportedly owed millions of dollars to those two guys and the

reason he owed them money is because of various business entanglements.  He

got involved with each of them.  He had separate business deals with each

of them. 

 

But there was one deal that they had in common.  A supposed plan to spend

almost a billion dollars turning a Park Avenue hotel site into a new

Bulgari Tower in New York city.  That one actually involved Manafort and

both of those Kremlin-connected oligarchs.  Jackpot. 

 

Now, that deal never came to fruition but it was the source of huge

controversy in Ukraine because it was seen as basically a way, an effort,

to launder hundreds of millions of dollars of ill-gotten gains through New

York City real estate. 

 

But as with Deripaska, it`s not just the money and the Kremlin connections

and the unexplained financial ties to Trump`s campaign chair.  With

Firtash, it`s also the mob stuff.  It`s also the organized crime. 

 

In 2014, right after Manafort`s client, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted in

Ukraine, ousted in a popular uprising and he fled first to eastern Ukraine

and Moscow for his own safety, three weeks after Yanukovych was ousted from

power and fled the country, Russia`s man in Ukraine, Dmitry Firtash, this

billionaire they created by giving him all that natural gas money, Dmitry

Firtash was arrested at the FBI`s request. 

 

The FBI said they wanted him arrested for alleged involvement in a

multibillion dollar bribery scheme.  Firtash was living in Vienna at the

time that this FBI request to arrest him went out.  Authorities in Vienna

were willing to arrest him at the FBI`s request.  But they have not been

willing to ship him over to the U.S. to face trial on these bribery

charges. 

 

First thing they did is they let him out on bail.  Guess what he paid his

bail?  He paid $174 million as his bail.  Hey, if you got it, why not? 

Literally wrote a check, $174 million. 

 

That $174 million bail payment has kept him out of jail for I think, like,

five years now.  But they also haven`t sent him abroad to face trial.  He

has been fighting his extradition from Austria with the help of some of the

most expensive lawyers that money can buy.  And, again, if you got the

money to spend, why not spend it on that? 

 

Well, in 2017, around the time “The New York Times” is reporting on

Manafort`s mysterious financial ties to Dmitry Firtash and Oleg Deripaska,

federal prosecutors were arguing in court about why it was important to get

their hands on Firtash, why Firtash`s case shouldn`t be dismissed, why they

needed to have him extradited to the United States, why he needed to go on

trial in this country.

 

And their claims to the court in the summer of 2017, including this

startling assertion from Justice Department prosecutors.  Quote: Dmitry

Firtash has been identified by U.S. law enforcement as an upper echelon

associate of Russian organized crime.  His prosecution will disrupt this

organized crime group and prevent it from taking further criminal acts

within the United States.  This prosecution, therefore, seems to protect

this country, its commerce and its citizens from the corrupting influence

and withering effects of international organized crime.

 

So, this is like a remarkable thing in American politics, right?  Once

again, like, you`re alive now.  You`ll always be able to tell this story. 

I mean, here is the campaign chairman for U.S. presidential candidate who`s

actually the nominee of the Republican Party for president of the United

States, that campaign chairman is revealed to have extensive, unresolved

financial liabilities to two different billionaire oligarchs, both of whom

are assessed by the U.S. government to be seriously tied to international

organized crime.  Both of whom are very tightly and financially connected

to the Kremlin. 

 

And at the same time, this guy brings all that baggage over here with him

from Ukraine to inexplicably start running a U.S. presidential campaign, at

that same time, the Kremlin starts intervening to help the candidate who

that guy is working to elect president of the United States, to help him

here in this election in the United States, to help get his candidate into

the Oval Office. 

 

So how does it work out in the end for all these guys?  Well, one of them

gets to be president.  One of them goes to jail.  Paul Manafort is in jail

in part for not paying taxes on any of the secret payments that he received

from the Party of Regions. 

 

One of the Kremlin-connected oligarchs to whom Manafort was indebted

initially got himself sanctioned by the U.S. government which looked like

it might be financially devastating for him, but alas, he was rescued from

those sanctions at the last moment by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of

Kentucky whereupon Deripaska`s firm somewhere found it in its heart to

invest hundreds of millions of dollars building a new aluminum plant in

Mitch McConnell`s home state. 

 

But that still leaves Firtash.  Dmitry Firtash who`s still in Vienna, still

fighting extradition to the United States against these bribery charges,

still fighting because he does not want to face federal prosecutors who

have said formally and in writing to the court that they believe him to be

an upper echelon associate of Russian organized crime.  In June of this

year, the Supreme Court in Austria ruled that Dmitry Firtash, indeed, could

be extradited to the U.S.  He still hasn`t been, though.  He is using his

infinite financial resources to pay for a battery of U.S. lawyers to

prevent that from coming to fruition. 

 

But now in the midst of this whole kerfuffle, right, this whole roiling

boil of a scandal about Trump and whatever it is he`s doing with Ukraine,

now today in the middle of all that, we get word that Dmitry Firtash, Paul

Manafort`s old business partner, the guy who paid Paul Manafort to elevate

a pro-Putin government in Ukraine, reported by the U.S. government to be an

organized crime figure who`s been indicted and wanted by U.S. law

enforcement, today we get word that Dmitry Firtash has hired new lawyers. 

And they are not like the rest of his A-list lawyers.  They are very

different than his very expensive A-list lawyers. 

 

They are, in fact, these people who are husband and wife and they are

fixtures on the Fox News Channel.  They are part of the “Trump is being

framed, it`s all a witch hunt” chorus in the Fox News greenroom. 

 

And I don`t mean to be rude and I do not mean this in an ad hominem way,

but Dmitry Firtash is like the richest dude in Ukraine, right?  Dmitry

Firtash already has really accomplished, really expensive, really fancy,

really shameless U.S. lawyers.  He does not need to beef up his

representation in that regard. 

 

The only reason you would need the people from TV, the only reason you

would need these particular new lawyers would not be to, like, add to your

intellectual firepower, the only reason you would need the lawyers from the

TV would be to get the attention of the president, presumably by having

favorable statements about your case appear on “Fox & Friends” or on select

Fox News shows that air in primetime. 

 

And I think part of what may be going on here is that the Manafort part of

our lives, the sort of scummy Paul Manafort universe that came into view

through him inexplicably being elevated to run that presidential campaign,

and then ultimately through his firing from the campaign then ultimately

through the Russia investigation and through the prosecution of Paul

Manafort that has put him in federal prison this night, as I speak, the

scummy universe of Paul Manafort appears to still be operative here. 

 

I mean, right now, there`s lots of attention, I think, rightfully, being

paid to the fact that the president and his personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani,

have told Ukraine that Ukraine needs to produce some sort of dirt on Joe

Biden that could be helpful in the president`s 2020 re-election campaign. 

But Giuliani isn`t just asking for dirt on Biden, right, he`s also

reportedly telling Ukraine they need to open an investigation into what

happened to good old Paul Manafort.  They need to investigate the

revelations from those off-the-books payments to – those revelation of

those off-the-book payments to Manafort which, again, not only resulted in

Manafort getting fired from the Trump campaign, it resulted in some of the

prison time he is now serving because he didn`t pay taxes on that income. 

 

I mean, the president has waded deeply into impeachment liability here by

apparently seeking foreign assistance to help him try to win the next

election, too.  Part of what is also going on here is some sort of effort

to undo the downfall of Manafort, to rehabilitate or resurrect the guys who

were the funders of Manafort, for all his pro-Putin political work in

Ukraine. 

 

I mean, there aren`t serious questions about whether or not Manafort

secretly took millions of dollars for his political work in Ukraine.  That

ledger that showed those payments to him was rigorously authenticated both

by journalists in the United States and by authorities in Ukraine.  It was

also further validated when the payments were cited in his federal court

case in Virginia where he was convicted on financial crimes in part related

to those payments. 

 

So, why on earth would the president and his personal lawyer now be going

back to Manafort, right?  Shouldn`t they be saying, oh, Manafort, we had no

idea he`d done this bad stuff before he got on the campaign, bad guy, sorry

about that.  I guess they`d never say sorry about that.  But you at least

think they`d want people to forget him. 

 

They`re going back to Manafort now and trying to retroactively justify, or

at least muddy the waters over whether or not what Manafort did in Ukraine

was illegal and corrupt and bad for that country.  Why would they be going

back to the case of Manafort here?  I mean, we don`t know yet.  A lot of

the story remains to come out. 

 

But whether or not Paul Manafort, himself, is going to spend the rest of

his days in prison, personally, what happened around the time that Paul

Manafort was the campaign chairman for the Donald Trump for president

campaign in 2016 is that however weird it seemed that the Trump campaign

was hiring a guy like Manafort to come basically from Ukraine, come back to

the U.S. and work on a political campaign here, I mean, what he brought

with him were contacts and business partners and secret funders and

organized crime-linked Kremlin connections in Ukraine.  That was the

cartful full of baggage that Paul Manafort brought with him as a

presidential campaign chairman for Trump in 2016 at a time when the Kremlin

wanted to use lots of different levers of power to try to get Donald Trump

elected president. 

 

And now, four years later, for the re-elect, Trump is going back to

Ukraine, directly asking for their help against their likely Democratic

opponent this year, but also making clear that, you know, as far as they`re

concerned is looks like Manafort may have gotten a raw deal, trying to

vindicate Manafort`s tenure in Ukraine, trying to make it seem like it

maybe wasn`t a bunch of illegal payments and a massive corruption scandal

tied to these Kremlin-linked oligarchs.  Maybe Manafort got a raw deal. 

Maybe Manafort was all right.  Maybe the whole scheme that was propping up

Manafort was not a scandal at all. 

 

Meanwhile, Deripaska is getting a sanctions relief.  Dmitry Firtash is

successfully fending off extradition and now, he`s got his Trump lawyers to

make sure his case gets piped right into the president`s ear.  It`s working

out for everybody. 

 

If 2016 had been a movie, you could not sell this as a sequel.  You would

have to sell it as a remake because apart from Paul Manafort being in

prison this time around, it`s basically all the same stuff happening all

over again involving all the same people. 

 

More ahead.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  We have some breaking news just within the past few minutes.  “The

Washington Post” has published this op-ed.  It – you see it`s got a big,

long byline there.  It`s because it`s is co-authored by seven members of

Congress.  These are seven Democrats, each of them freshmen, each of them

in their first term.  And each is a veteran of either the military or one

of the defense or intelligence agencies. 

 

So, this is seven freshmen Democrats speaking in one voice in this short

new op-ed that`s just been posted about this new explosive scandal about

Trump seeking, apparently seeking assistance for his re-election campaign

from the government of Ukraine. 

 

Quote: These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect. 

Quote: We call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all

congressional authorities available to us, including the power of inherent

contempt and impeachment hearings to address these new allegations, to find

the truth and to protect our national security.

 

I should say that one of the signers of this op-ed who has never previously

before called for impeachment is going to be joining us here live in studio

in just a moment.  I can also tell you we have learned just before we got

on the air tonight that Speaker Nancy Pelosi tomorrow called a meeting of

the full Democratic caucus for 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  Apparently, this is

a meeting of all the Democrats in the House to focus at least in part on

their response to this ongoing scandal. 

 

So, there`s a lot happening.  Before we end up talking about the potential

consequences for the president, though, I do want to spend a little bit

more time talking about the substance here about what`s actually being

alleged here. 

 

And joining us now to help us with that is Michael McFaul, who`s former

U.S. ambassador to Russia. 

 

Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for being here.  I really appreciate it. 

 

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA:  Sure.  Thanks for having

me, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  One of the reasons I really wanted to talk to you tonight is

because as I laid out at the top of the show, I really feel like we`re

seeing something that feels a little bit like a rerun, something that feels

a little bit like not just the same type of misbehavior in terms of

enlisting a foreign government in trying to effect our presidential

election, but also going back to some of the same characters and some of

the same entities. 

 

Do you feel like that deja vu is warranted? 

 

MCFAUL:  Especially after listening to your first segment, I do, yes,

you`re right.  They`re all the same players. 

 

I don`t exactly remember what Mayor Giuliani played in 2016 but it`s the

same techniques, it`s the same leaning on people to help.  But this time

it`s the president of the United States doing it, it`s not just candidate

Trump, and he`s doing so at the expense of American national security

interests.  And that`s the one piece that is different, right? 

 

So, he`s letting his narrow, private interests, Trump, the public interest,

the one he also took an oath of office to protect, just like those seven

members of Congress that you just mentioned. 

 

MADDOW:  How do you think this is going to end?  Obviously, there`s process

questions here involving Congress.  There is what feels like a real ground

surge from Democrats in terms of thinking quite differently about

impeachment than they were even several days ago.  There`s also questions

about whether or not the acting director of national intelligence will say

anything useful or provide any useful information to the intelligence

committee on Thursday.  There are demands that the president should release

the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president. 

 

How do you imagine this might unfold? 

 

MCFAUL:  Well, I would like it to unfold with the complaint being given

over to the U.S. Congress like the law says.  And I got to remind you

something else that`s deja vu for me, when I was a U.S. ambassador, Mr.

Snowden came to Russia and I went on the record many, many times as a U.S.

government official and said Mr. Snowden should have used the whistle-

blower procedures and laws to do this the right way. 

 

Now, when this whistle-blower is not allowed to use those procedures and

law the right way, I fear it`s going to come out through the leaking of

secret information.  What else can happen, right?  What other recourse does

the whistle-blower have? 

 

And that is a tragedy, not only because it makes it – you know, it should

be done according to the law, but I think it suggests to other future

whistle-blowers that the system doesn`t work.  And we`re going to have more

leakage as a result of that.  So, I think that`s a long-term unintended

negative consequences against all the other negative consequences, let`s be

clear, in the short term.

 

But my prediction is that`s where we`re going to end and I do not believe,

by the way, that this one phone call is the whole story.  I just can`t

believe that somebody would go through all the trouble of filing a whistle-

blower complaint that could probably be career-ending for whoever this

individual is because of one phone call?  I think there`s more to this

story to come. 

 

MADDOW:  Do you think it matters whether or not there`s ultimately a public

release of the transcript of this call?  Or do you feel like the

whistleblower`s full complaint is really the only way to put it in context? 

 

MCFAUL:  I`m 100 percent against releasing the transcript. 

 

MADDOW:  Hmm. 

 

MCFAUL:  I worked for President Obama.  I was part of making those

transcripts.  That is a really bad precedent. 

 

But I`m 100 percent for the rule of law being implemented here and the

whistleblower`s complaint being transferred.  Part of that is I like the

rule of law.  I think it`s a good idea.  I think it`s good for our country,

but second, my prediction is that that whistleblower`s complaint will have

much more material in it than simply the transcript. 

 

MADDOW:  Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, sir, it`s great

to have you here.  Thanks for your time tonight. 

 

MCFAUL:  Thanks for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  We got more news ahead.  As I mentioned, “The

Washington Post” has just published an op-ed by seven freshmen Democrats,

all of whom are military, defense, or intelligence veterans.  They`re all

calling for impeachment in one voice, including members who have never

called for that before. 

 

One of the co-authors of that op-ed who, again, has previously never called

for impeachment, is going to be joining us here live next.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Last year, a Republican Virginia congressman who`s running for

second term, guy named Scott Taylor, got himself into little bit of trouble

related to election fraud.  Up one of his staffers was indicted on federal

election fraud charges.  The scheme was about forging signatures to try to

get a third-party candidate on the ballot. 

 

I mean, he was the Republican incumbent, why does he want a third-party

candidate on the ballot?  I think it was an act of desperation.  I think

the thinking was if there was a liberal third-party candidate on the

ballot, that might split off liberal voters and have a spoiler effect on

the chances of the Democrat who was running against him in the general

election. 

 

So, at least one of Scott Taylor`s campaign staffers is maybe going to

prison because of that fraud scheme, which is lurid and crazy and also

reflects how much of a long shot they`re willing to take to try to get him

re-elected, right?  This convoluted fraud scheme to get a third-party

candidate into the race to split the Democratic vote.  It seems like it

really wouldn`t be worth it, but you can see why Scott Taylor might have

been nervous. 

 

The 2nd district in Virginia is a district that in many ways is dominated

by the presence of the U.S. Navy.  It includes Virginia Beach and the naval

base at Norfolk.  Scott Taylor`s a Navy veteran, himself, but look who he

was running against. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA):  I was one of the first women to serve my entire

navy career on combatant ships, deployed six times.  I`m Elaine Luria. 

When this is your office, your only option is to work together.  Congress

could learn a thing or two at sea.  Partisan politics can`t protect Social

Security and Medicare or fix our broken health care system. 

 

I approve this message because it will take leaders from way outside

Washington to bring a sea change to Congress. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Sea change, right?  You and I can`t make that claim, but she

earned it.  Elaine Luria graduated from the Naval Academy with a physics

degree.  She became literally an engineer running nuclear reactors, in

charge of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, eventually commanded an

assault craft force of 400 sailors, just incredibly accomplished military

veteran. 

 

Ultimately, Democrat Elaine Luria goes on and she beats Scott Taylor in the

general.  He had reason to be worried, it turns out. 

 

And now that she`s a member of Congress, she has the distinction of having

served longer on active military duty than anybody else in the House

Democratic caucus.  It was a big deal when Democrats took back the House. 

There`s a lot of interesting people in the Democratic freshmen class that

just took over. 

 

Elaine Luria stands out for a lot of reasons but she represents a district

that went not just for Trump, it went for Romney before that, went for

McCain before that.  She`s not one of the lefty leaders of the progressive

caucus from this new crop of Democrats.  But she`s obviously got national

security chops like literally nobody else in Congress right now. 

 

That`s why in the midst of this current national security crisis that has

arisen around the president basically admitting that he pressed a foreign

leader to dig up dirt on his political opponents while withholding military

aid to that leader in the meantime, it is making people sit up and take

notice tonight that Elaine Luria has now joined six of her fellow freshmen

Democrats to call those actions, quote, an impeachable defense. 

 

Congresswoman Luria and her colleagues write tonight on “The Washington

Post”, quote: We call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of

all congressional authorities available to us, including the power of

inherent contempt and impeachment hearings to address these new

allegations, find the truth and protect our national security.

 

Joining us now is Congresswoman Elaine Luria. 

 

Congressman, thank you so much for being here. 

 

LAURIA:  Thanks.  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  It`s weird to talk about you right next to you.  So, I`m sorry

about that social awkwardness. 

 

This is a serious step, though, this op-ed that you`ve written with your

colleagues tonight.  Can you tell me about your thinking process leading up

to this? 

 

LURIA:  Well, my thinking process is if this particular instance that`s

happened with the president of the United States, enlisting a foreign

leader to assist him in conducting an investigation that will smear and

damage his potential political opponent in the upcoming election and in the

process of doing that potentially withheld foreign aid to that country, if

this isn`t impeachable, what is? 

 

So I feel like this is a clear and concise instance that the American

people can understand where the president of the United States has tried to

enlist foreign influence in our election process and also threaten our

national security by withholding foreign aid.  And this is a game changer. 

 

MADDOW:  Threatening national security.  Can you expand on that some? 

 

I mean, obviously, whenever you`re talking about relations with foreign

country, whenever you`re talking about military aid, wherever you`re

talking about potential private interests trumping the public interests in

terms of our international relations, it`s easy to invoke national

security. 

 

But given your background, how do you specifically think this is dangerous

to us as a country? 

 

LURIA:  Well, in your earlier segment you spent a lot of time talking about

background related to Ukraine in position with the 2014 invasion of Russia

into Crimea, and Congress has appropriated funds, $250 million,

specifically, to the security assistance of Ukraine.  And the fact that

that money was withheld and to me, whether it was explicitly stated or not,

I believe that the president and leadership within Ukraine would understand

in the case of these demands the fact that this money be withheld was meant

to coerce their actions towards conducting this investigation. 

 

In this case, it`s different because in this case the president and his

lawyer Rudy Giuliani have stated, yes, we said this during the

conversation, we asked a foreign leader to investigate a political

candidate in the United States and their intent could have been nothing

other than to try to smear him, to find dirt, or malign him, in order to

influence the outcome of the next election. 

 

MADDOW:  In the Russia investigation, in the course of the Mueller

investigation and the Mueller report, all of the revelations about the

president`s behavior and, indeed, his inviting Russian interference in the

election, to the extent that that was proven by Mueller`s investigation,

through all of that you didn`t call for impeachment proceedings even as

many of your colleagues did, and I know – I hear you when you say this is

a clear and concise and direct problem in terms of what the president has

done here. 

 

Do you worry about the political consequences of you endorsing impeachment

proceedings over this?  I mean, you are from a narrowly Republican-leaning

district. 

 

LURIA:  Yes.  Well, as you mentioned in the intro, I spent 20 years in the

Navy.  I spent my entire career in a position that was nonpartisan.  If you

think about the fact that, you know, operating nuclear reactors on an

aircraft carrier, we`re simultaneously conducting strikes into Iraq and

Afghanistan, I`m supervising the operation of eight nuclear reactors, I

didn`t turn to the reactor operator next to me, say, are you a Democrat, a

Republican?  We had a mission to accomplish. 

 

And I think that that idea of, you know, this is not a partisan issue.  I

think it is an issue of doing the thing that is right and I understand for

myself, this could very well be a political liability, but I came to

Congress to do what was right.  The people in my district sent me to

Washington to make hard choices, and I think that they did that in part

because I`ve been making hard choices my entire career in the Navy. 

 

I commanded a combat unit of 400 sailors.  I served as executive officer on

a guided missile cruiser.  I did six deployments on ships in dangerous

circumstances and operating nuclear reactors and weapons systems.  There

are a lot of hard choices had to be made during my career.  I think that

very background is why the voters in my district sent me to Washington.

 

So I think I`ve made a choice that is clear and I`m doing this because I

think it is right.  And there really doesn`t need to be a political

calculus in this situation.  There is not for me. 

 

MADDOW:  Looking at this from the outside, it does feel like things are

different to see your name on this op-ed.  The names of the other people

who signed on to this with you, Mikie Sherrill, Abigail Spanberger, Elissa

Slotkin, Gil Cisneros, Jason Crow, Chrissy Houlahan.  To see people who

have not only been banging the drum for impeachment but who have been

reticent on this issue, really not willing to be out ahead of other people

on this, taking a sort of moderate line on all of these things, it feels

different.  It does feel like something`s broken and that the Democrats are

going to move forward in a different way. 

 

Does it feel that way to you, too? 

 

LURIA:  It definitely feels that way.  I made this decision on my own, but

I very quickly consulted with my colleagues who I found were all on the

same page and you can see that seven of us came together with a national

security background and shared our thoughts with the public as to why we`ve

made the decision that we`ve made.  And I truly can`t speak for every

colleague within the House and, but I just definitely feel that the tide is

changing.

 

And truly for those of us who`ve signed onto this op-ed, we took this oath

many times in different capacities, either in the military, serving in

intelligence, CIA, to support and defend the Constitution of the United

States against all enemies foreign and domestic.  I took that oath the

first time when I was 17 years old and went to the Naval Academy, and took

it again upon every promotion in my 20-year Navy career and most recently

now serving in Congress representing my district. 

 

So, I take it very seriously.  I think all of us come at it from that

perspective that we were sent there to uphold the Constitution and that

this is clear and concise evidence to the American public that wrongdoing

has happened and that we need to take the next step to follow through, get

to the bottom of that information and let the American public know all the

facts. 

 

MADDOW:  Elaine Luria, representative from Virginia, thank you so much for

coming in to talk to me about this.  It`s good to have you here. 

 

LURIA: Thank you so much.  It`s great to be here. 

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  OK.  Here`s something else to keep an eye on.  And I know you are

not going to believe me on, this but I swear this is happening.  One of the

myriad legal disputes the president is tangled up in right now involves

this incident from 2015 when the president`s bodyguard allegedly punched a

protester outside Trump Tower during the presidential campaign.  It`s on

film, so I`m still going to say allegedly, but there it is on film. 

 

OK.  After that incident a few of the protester in that video filed a

lawsuit against the president`s bodyguard and they sued Donald Trump

personally since those bodyguards were working for him.  There`s a trial in

that case that is scheduled to start this week in state court in New York. 

The trial`s supposed to start on Thursday.  As part of this lawsuit

involving the Trump bodyguard, president Trump has just been ordered by a

judge to deliver a sworn deposition on camera.  I kid you not. 

 

His lawyers just got this notice about it.  Quote: Defendant Donald J.

Trump has been ordered to appear for a videotaped deposition to be used as

trial testimony prior to the commencement of trial.  Please advise what

date, time and location Mr. Trump will be made available to appear for said

testimony.

 

Now, there is some precedent for this, for a sitting president being

deposed.  In his second term then President Bill Clinton was told by a

federal court and ultimately the Supreme Court that he had to give a

deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.  It was in that sworn

deposition that the president first lied about his relationship with a

White House intern, and we know how that turned out. 

 

So there is some procedural precedent here, but never minding that, Donald

Trump`s lawyers are fighting this order from the judge for the president to

give sworn testimony on tape in this state court case.  The president`s

lawyers have told the judge they will be in court tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.

Eastern seeking an emergency halt to her decision.  And emergency is the

key word there because the president really is running out of time to fight

this thing. 

 

I mean, the judge`s order, which is operable at this point, says the

president has to sit down in front of a camera and deliver testimony before

the trial starts.  And again, the trial starts on Thursday. 

 

So, stick a pin in this.  This is about to light up. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Today the Democratic national committee announced new criteria for

its candidates to make it into the November presidential debate.  The

November debate criteria including both polling numbers and numbers of

donors is going to be more strict than the criteria for any debate thus

far.  They`re trying to winnow down the number of people in the debate. 

 

Well, tomorrow night on had show, I`m going to interview one of the

candidates who qualified easily for this next debate and for the last two

as well, but this is a candidate with whom I have never spoken before.  I

have never interviewed this person.  I have never been in the same room

with this person. 

 

Do you know who it is?  Do you know who I mean?  Door prizes and tacos if

you figure it out before I`m back after the next commercial. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Tomorrow evening, my guest here in studio is going to be 2020

presidential candidate Andrew Yang.  We will have him live here in studio. 

This will be my first opportunity to interview Mr. Yang one on one.  I have

never spoken with him before. 

 

The only time I`ve ever been anywhere near him before was at the debate

that MSNBC and NBC and Telemundo moderated.  I saw him across the stage. 

 

He`s 44 years old.  He was a confounding candidate for much of the beltway

press and the political media from the outset, but he is turning out to be

a slow and steady climber and a solid performer in the Democratic

presidential field.  I am totally looking forward to that interview

tomorrow.  Andrew Yang here live.  I will see you then. 

 

That does it for us tonight. 

 

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL” with Ali Velshi

filling in for Lawrence tonight. 

 

Good evening, Ali. 

 

 

END

 

 

 

                                                                                                               

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