US Sanctions on Russia. TRANSCRIPT: 9/30/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Raja Krishnamoorthi
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That was awesome.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Thank you so much.

 

HAYES:  Come back anytime.

 

MADDOW:  I will.

 

HAYES:  You`re welcome in my television show whenever you want.

 

MADDOW:  I will just tell you that I have been – I mean, I wrote this

book, obviously, so I know what it`s about.

 

HAYES:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  But I`ve been super stressed about talking about it because it`s

not easy to sort of bottle up.  That`s why it had to be a book instead of

just talking about it on TV.  But the fact that knowing – the fact of

knowing that you were going to be my first interview, I think, like, scaled

up my prep so intensively, I`m kind of ready for anything now. 

 

HAYES:  Well, that`s good. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

HAYES:  I`m glad.  Now, that was a great conversation.  The book is great

and I`m excited for people to get their hands on it. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you very much.  You`re very, very kind.  I really appreciate

it. 

 

All right.  Thanks for being with us tonight.  Happy to have you here. 

 

It is day seven of the impeachment proceedings against President Donald J.

Trump.  This story and the impeachment process itself are still developing

just as fast today and tonight as they have been over the past week.  We`re

going to get to all of that tonight, including the new news from “The Wall

Street Journal”, which NBC News just matched. 

 

“The Wall Street Journal”, now NBC News reporting that Secretary of State

Mike Pompeo was personally listening in on the call that has now led to

these impeachment proceedings against president Trump.  I mean, unless Mike

Pompeo is himself the whistleblower, that means that he was aware in real

time that President Trump had personally blocked military aid to Ukraine

and then when that country`s president brought up the need for U.S.

military aid in a phone call with President Trump, President Trump

responded by saying I would like you to do us a favor, though.  That`s when

he asked that foreign leader for help with items on his personal wish list,

including some sort of law enforcement or legal proceeding against his

potential 2020 Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. 

 

Now, tonight, we`ve got news that the secretary of state was listening in

on that call while that ask from the president happened.  And that is

remarkable. 

 

I mean, Pompeo`s own department, the State Department, had signed off on

that military aid going to Ukraine.  He knows that, right?  And then he

hears with his own ears the president essentially making that aid

contingent on him getting this favor about what Ukraine can do to dirty up

Joe Biden for the next election. 

 

The secretary of state knows that and says nothing about it?  Again, of

course, unless, he`s the whistleblower.  I mean, he is CIA.  I don`t think

he is the whistle-blower. 

 

But now, in addition, to the president, the secretary of state is up to his

neck in this impeachment scandal.  He is there alongside this guy, the

attorney general of the United States, William Barr.  “The Washington Post”

has an actually shocking report tonight about the attorney general, William

Barr, personally traveling around the globe, personally trying to get

foreign governments to help him in an inquiry that the White House hopes

will, quote, discredit U.S. intelligence agencies` examination of Russian

interference in the 2016 election. 

 

William Barr himself, the attorney general personally has been working on

that for the president around the globe.  Why is he doing that?  I mean,

the impeachment proceeding is about President Trump trying to get help for

his 2020 election. 

 

Why is Bill Barr traveling around the globe working on stuff with foreign

governments that they hope will change the view that Russia interfered in

the election that already happened in 2016? 

 

To understand that, I think it`s worth taking a step back.  And also, it`s

worth taking a step back just because this is moving so fast now.  I mean,

Trump`s envoy to Ukraine suddenly resigning within hours of him being

notified that he`ll be deposed this week by House Intelligence Committee. 

 

Tonight, that Ukraine envoy is confirming that he will attend that

deposition on Thursday of this week.  Oh, the stories he could tell.  The

U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was attacked and slimed by the president, by

the president`s son, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who Mike Pompeo

recalled early from office without explanation in the middle of this

pressure campaign to try to get the Ukraine government involved in helping

Trump for 2020, that U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is going to be deposed the

day before the envoy has his deposition.  She`ll be deposed on Wednesday of

this week. 

 

I mea, we`re breaking news by the hour still.  This sandal is still

unfolding.  There was a bunch of important developments over the weekend,

but to try to keep it in perspective and not get too overwhelmed. 

 

Also, I think to help stack up when something new happens, how important is

this and how much does this change the story.  I think in order to keep

perspective on it, it`s good to start with the basics, right?  Go back for

a second to where this started. 

 

2014, halfway through Barack Obama`s second term in office as president,

Russia invades the neighborhoods country of Ukraine.  Ukraine had been

interested in orienting itself more toward the West, more toward Europe,

the European Union, maybe even NATO someday. 

 

Russia and Russian interests had paid darn good money to install a pro-

Putin, pro-Kremlin strongman leader in Ukraine to keep Ukraine oriented

toward Russia instead of toward the West, but that pro-Putin, pro-Kremlin

strongman was thrown out by his own people in part because of him reneging

on commitments to ally Ukraine more with Europe and less with Russia. 

Russia decided 2014, enough was enough.  They decided that they were just

going to invade. 

 

They marched over the border.  They took part of that neighboring country

for themselves.  They declared that that part of Ukraine was now part of

Russia instead.  And this, to say the least was an unusual occurrence in

the modern world. 

 

Since World War II, we have not seen countries using their militaries to

just seize parts of other countries and make them their own, particularly

on the edges of Europe.  But that`s what Putin did in 2014.  And the West

was horrified, right?  The international order was shaken. 

 

For starters, the G8 group of countries kicked Russia out.  The G8 became

the G7 instead because Russia was no longer considered worthy of inclusion

in that group.  The Western world also united behind strong sanctions

against Russia to punish their behavior, to pressure them to reverse

course. 

 

After Russia did what it did to Ukraine, nobody was quite sure if that was

all they were going to do or if they might try something else with some

other country.  What else would they do next and to whom would they do it? 

 

So, in 2014, when all this happened, President Obama went over there.  He

traveled to Eastern Europe on a trip that was designed to reassure our

nervous allies, particularly our NATO allies, that they would be protected,

that they had our support.  President Trump gave a speech in Warsaw in

Poland behind a backdrop of F-16 fighter jets that were used in joint

military exercises between the U.S. and Poland.  And Obama declared in that

address that America`s commitment to the security of our allies in Central

and Eastern Europe is, quote, sacrosanct. 

 

President Obama also announced a new billion dollar program named the

European Reassurance Initiative to increase U.S. military presence in

Central and Eastern Europe, to upgrade NATO`s ability to operate and defend

the NATO countries in that region.  He also announced the expansion of

joint military exercises there, all to show Russia this strong, unified

U.S.-led Western backstop, basically, in case of any further Russian

aggression. 

 

The fundamental idea was to use American resources, American prestige,

American leadership, American might, not to fight Russia, but to stop them

from fighting weaker countries than themselves, to bolster our NATO allies,

to help them beef up their own readiness, their own ability to push back

against Putin. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT:  Russian provocation will be met with

further costs for Russia.  Today, I`m announcing a new initiative to

bolster the security of our NATO allies here in Europe.  The United States

will preposition more equipment in Europe.  We`ll increase the number of

American personnel, Army, and Air Force units, continuously rotating

through allied countries in Central and Eastern Europe. 

 

I`m calling on Congress to approve up to $1 billion to support this effort,

which will be a powerful demonstration of America`s unshakable commitment

to our NATO allies. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  That was five years ago. 

 

And now, as we`ve been covering here for a while now, now that U.S.

commitment as articulated by President Obama there, that is being quite

dramatically unwound by the Trump administration.  In February of this

year, President Trump declared a national emergency that he said required

him to build a wall between us and Mexico.  Both the House and the

Republican-controlled Senate have since voted the kibosh that declaration,

which itself is something.

 

But the whole idea of that emergency declaration was to let the Trump White

House conjure up money from somewhere else to fund the construction of this

wall, specifically they wanted to take $3.5 billion out of U.S. military

construction projects.  Even more specifically than that, close to $1

billion of what they wanted to take and what they still want to take is the

budget specifically appropriated by Congress to fund that European

Reassurance Initiative, that thing that President Obama announced, which

the U.S. government started not because President Obama thought it was a

great idea and he conjured it out of nowhere, it came from Congress.  It

came from the administration.  It came in bipartisan fashion from the

United States after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

 

The whole idea was that the United States would stand up in order to help

our NATO allies push back against Russia`s new interest in invading its

neighboring countries and taking over parts of them. 

 

Earlier this month, NBC News obtained an internal Air Force report which

detailed 51 U.S. Air Force construction projects that will see their

funding cut off and military readiness are adversely affect by this plan. 

The document showed that, quote, projects to upgrade airfields in Germany,

Luxembourg, Great Britain, Hungary, Slovakia, have all been shelved,

leaving those bases unable to support U.S. and NATO airlines. 

 

Quote: Construction of storage facilities and fuel supply has also been

postponed, directly limiting theater presence and impairing mission

capability and readiness. 

 

So, it`s not like this was, like, just paint jobs and vanity projects that

they were cutting.  This was the muscle in terms of what NATO could offer

to backstop central and eastern Europe, right, that could backstop our NATO

allies, backstop our NATO capability in that part of the country to try to

push Russia back from what they were doing.  As for what President Obama

described as that sacrosanct U.S. commitment to our allies` security, well,

Trump`s new defense secretary has urged those allies to, quote, pick up the

tab themselves for those projects. 

 

The new position of the Trump administration, including Trump`s new defense

secretary is that our allies should pick up the tab for our upgrades to our

U.S. military bases in their countries, even though the whole point of them

in the first place was to show that we`re with them and will spare no

expense to help them against Russia, as long as Russia is pushing against

them. 

 

And that story, that`s what seemed like it was going to be this year`s big

new, weird national security story about yet another thing the Trump White

House was pushing to benefit Russia and to hurt and insult our exposed

allies and to undermine western alliances.  Seems like that was going to be

the big national security thing that we had to deal with in 2019.  Turns

out that was just the appetizer, that was the amuse-bouche.  That was just

the spinach dip, because that was about the countries that were frayed for

themselves after they saw what Russia did to Ukraine. 

 

When it comes to Ukraine itself, of course they`ve had it considerably

worse.  They got invaded, right?  They are still engaged in a war with

Russia since Russia took Crimea from Ukraine.  Russia has since begun and

continued an apparent endless occupation in another part of Ukraine.  And

that war, that Russian occupation of big swaths of Ukraine has been

grinding on for five years on Ukrainian soil.  It`s cost as many as 13,000

lives and counting. 

 

And while it is always an advantage to fight on your own soil, on our own

home turf, the Ukrainian military is absolutely outnumbered and outgunned

by Russia.  And here`s where we come back into the plot and where President

Trump does too, because one of Ukraine`s most prized weapons to defend

itself against this Russian invasion and occupation is a weapon they`ve

only recently acquired.  It`s called the FGM 148 Javelin.

 

Looks like that kind of clunky oversized dumbbell, right?  Remember the

shake weight, that infomercial?  That looks like a big menacing shake

weight. 

 

But what the FGM 148 Javelin is, is one of the world`s premier anti-tank

missiles.  For one thing, it`s light.  It weights just under 50 pounds. 

You need only one person to operate it. 

 

In addition to that, when it is launched, it creates little back blast. 

That means if you shoot one of these things at an enemy tank, the lack of

back blast from the weapon makes it hard for the other side to spot you, to

identify where you launched the missile from.  Because it has little back

blast, you can also fire it from enclosed spaces, which can help you avoid

return fire, right? 

 

And unlike most long-range anti-tank missiles, the Javelin is what they

call a fire and forget system.  Fire and forget – which means that it

requires no further input from you after the launch.  It`s got infrared

technology to guide the missile, which means after you shoot it, you don`t

have to stand there doing stuff to make the missile land where it`s

supposed to.  You can just shoot it and immediately run to find cover. 

 

So, the Javelin missile is a formidable weapon.  It is precise.  It`s

effective.  It`s got good range.  It`s sort of imminently usable.  It can

destroy tanks and armored vehicles and helicopters. 

 

The Javelin is primarily used by U.S. soldiers, but as of last year, it has

also been used by the Ukrainian military as a way of fending off Russian

forces and Russian-backed forces pushing further into the eastern part of

Ukraine, which Russia has been occupying.  Ukraine got those missiles from

the United States last year. 

 

But there was something a little bit hinky about that last year.  Last

year, while President Trump`s campaign manager, campaign chairman, Paul

Manafort, was on trial here in the U.S., he was also the subject of four

separate criminal investigations in Ukraine, stemming from his work for

that country`s former pro-Russian leader.  Those investigations into Paul

Manafort dovetailed into some of the work that special Robert Mueller was

doing.  He ultimately charged Paul Manafort.  Paul Manafort was ultimately

convicted and sent to prison for more than seven years. 

 

But last year, while all of this was pending, the Ukrainians had actually

reached to special counsel Robert Mueller`s office to offer to coordinate

their law enforcement effort, since they also had this multiple open

investigations into Manafort.

 

As Andrew Kramer reported last year, last May for “The New York Times,” and

this is picked by Dan Friedman and David Corn at “Mother Jones” today,

those Ukrainian investigations into Paul Manafort last year, those

investigations that were proceeding alongside our special counsel`s

investigation here, those Manafort investigations last year got spiked by

the Ukrainian government.  They got shut down. 

 

The order from the government, quote, blocked prosecutors for issuing

subpoenas for evidence or interviewing witnesses.  The prosecutor told “The

New York Times,” quote, we have no authority to continue our investigation. 

 

So why did the Ukrainian government spike those Paul Manafort

investigations last year?  Well, at the same time that they did so, Ukraine

was finalizing plans to finally acquire these Javelin missiles that they

really wanted from the United States.  The State Department had issued an

export license for the Javelin missiles at the end of 2017, December 2017. 

 

On March 2nd of last year, the Pentagon had announced final approval for

the sale of the Javelins to Ukraine, as well as their launching units.  But

still, the missiles didn`t come and the Ukrainian government apparently

came to believe that the missiles were not going to come unless they did

something to please the Trump administration.  Unless they did something

that the U.S. government wanted them to do.  And they came to believe what

they needed to do in order to get those missiles was stop those live

investigations into Paul Manafort. 

 

In early April, Ukrainian officials gave the order to halt the

investigations into Paul Manafort and halt Ukrainian cooperation with the

Mueller investigation.  On April 30th thereafter, Ukraine announced that

they had finally received those missiles, which they had been waiting on

for months. 

 

And from Ukraine`s perspective, there didn`t seem to be mystery as to

whether there was a connection between those two things.  One Ukrainian

member of parliament telling “The Times” bluntly that their government was

trying to, quote, avoid irritating top American officials, saying, quote:

We shouldn`t spoil relations with the Trump administration. 

 

Excuse me.

 

Another member of parliament said that Ukrainian investigations into

Manafort, quote: Put at risk vital American aid to Ukraine.  Quote:

Everybody in Ukraine is afraid of this case. 

 

Now, who created the impression in Ukraine that if that government wanted

military aid, if they wanted those Javelin missiles to fight back against

Russia, they needed to stop investigating Paul Manafort?  Who conveyed that

information to them?  Why did that government come to believe that they

wouldn`t get those missiles unless they stopped investigating Manafort and

they stopped helping with the special counsel`s investigation? 

 

Well, a handful of senators tried to follow up after that reporting from

“The Times” last year.  They tried to get information from the Ukrainian

government.  “Mother Jones” posted online a copy of their letter today.  It

includes this blunt question: Did any individual from the Trump

administration or anyone acting on its behalf encourage Ukrainian

government or law enforcement officials not to cooperate with the

investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller? 

 

But as best as we can tell, the senators were never able to get a reply or

any other information out of Ukraine, so the matter was essentially

dropped.  Until now, hello, Ukraine is once again trying to get more of

those Javelin missiles.  And in the phone call that is leading to President

Trump`s impeachment, in the phone call that took place in late July between

President Trump and Ukraine`s new president, according to the notes of that

call released by the White House this past week, there`s a remarkable

moment where the Ukrainian president asked specifically about those

missiles. 

 

President Zelensky, quote: We are ready to cooperate for the next steps,

specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from United States

for defense purposes.  President Trump immediately responds with, quote, I

would like you to do us a favor, though. 

 

You want the javelins?  I`m in need of a favor.  Right.

 

Last year, they were under the same impression that they had to trade some

kind of favor in order to get those Javelins, and it was a favor related to

the investigations of Paul Manafort.  This year, you get your Javelins. 

Well, the president wants a favor.  A few favors. 

 

We now know that the president and his emissary, Mr. Giuliani, are pressing

Ukraine basically for three things. 

 

And one of them has to do with the 2020 election.  Apparently, they want

Ukraine to give Trump something he can use against Joe Biden in the 2020

election.  Either to keep Biden from becoming the Democratic nominee or

beat him in the general or maybe both, right?  So, that`s one thing. 

That`s what president Trump is going to be impeached for. 

 

But then there`s these other two things that they`ve been asking Ukraine

for.  Rudy Giuliani has been telling Ukraine they need to open some sort of

investigation into what happened to Paul Manafort.  These revelations in

Ukraine in 2016 not only resulted in Manafort getting fired as Trump`s

campaign chairman, they resulted in some of the prison time Manafort is now

serving, because he didn`t pay taxes on that secret coming.  Rudy Giuliani

and President Trump have been pressuring Ukraine to investigate those

revelations about Manafort from 2016, to try to get Manafort off the hook

for what he did over there, for what he got caught for in 2016. 

 

Trump has also told Ukraine that he wants them to investigate the security

firm that first determined it was the Russian government that hacked the

Democratic Party and started the attack on the 2016 election.  Which is –

I mean, just step back from this a second, right?  I mean, you look at this

in terms of what Trump is going to be impeached for, he`s definitely going

to be impeached, at least it looks like he`s definitely going to be

impeached for what he was asking for from Ukraine for 2020.  He went to

Ukraine to ask for help with 2020, went to Ukraine for help with beating

Biden, if he is Trump`s Democratic opponent.  That, of course, would help

President Trump. 

 

But there are also simultaneously asking for help with the 2016 election

too, with the election that`s already over.  We, the United States, have

not been supporting Ukraine for these past five years out of some inherent

love for Ukraine.  Lovely as they are, right?  There isn`t some

terrifically spiritual bond between our countries that supersedes the bonds

we have with other countries. 

 

The only reason we`ve been supporting Ukraine the way we have for the past

years is because they were freaking invaded by Russia, right, which is a

very unusual thing.  Right? 

 

Up until now on a bipartisan basis, we, the United States had helped

support that country because they were invaded by Russia and Russia is

occupying part of them.  We have been helping them keep their country

intact while Russia is trying to take it. 

 

So, to the extent we are now no longer supporting Ukraine or we are making

our support for them contingent on these political favors for President

Trump for his re-election campaign, right, it`s a radical change in a very

short period of time in terms of what the U.S. is doing and what are when a

our attitude is toward that world-changing event from 2014. 

 

And I think now it`s – it`s becoming clear why or at least it`s becoming

clear how this all fits together.  “The New York Times” this weekend

published a long, excellent rundown about this big change our country has

gone through toward Ukraine, and how it hasn`t been run through any normal

policy process.  It hasn`t been publicly articulated at all.  It`s been

sort of off the books odd process involving people who were not sure who

they worked for and maybe in Giuliani`s case, he`s doing energy deals on

the side.  Just this mess in terms of not knowing who`s acting as a lawyer,

who`s being paid by who. 

 

One of the things “The Times” slips in in literally paragraph 75 of this

85-paragraph article is the bigger thing at work here, which is that,

according to “The Times”, president Trump has quietly been working to get

Ukraine to settle with Russia to end this war.  Quote, Mr. Trump has

quietly been urging a deal to reduce tensions between Ukraine and Russia

that would pave the way for a removal of Western sanctions on Moscow, long

a goal of Mr. Putin`s.

 

Mr. Trump himself hinted that was his goal when asked about Ukrainian

President Zelensky two weeks after the July 25th call.  President Trump

told reporters, quote, I think he`s going to make a deal with President

Putin, and he will be invited to the White House. 

 

He makes a deal with Putin and that gets him an invitation to the White

House? 

 

The U.S. president is quietly and maybe not so quietly too trying to get

Ukraine to make a deal with Russia, on Putin`s terms.  Russia invaded

Ukraine in 2014.  They shouldn`t get to settle this on their terms, but

that`s what President Trump is trying to arrange.  I mean, obviously, to

the extent that we`re no longer standing with Ukraine, we`re denying them

military aid whenever we feel like it, that doesn`t put them in a good

position for negotiating into their five-year long war with Russia, where

Russia is trying to take over part of their country and keep it. 

 

But President Trump is apparently trying to arrange that, which, of course,

would result ultimately in the dropping of U.S. and international sanctions

on Russia for what it did to Ukraine.  And those sanctions were in place

when President Trump took office.  He`s been trying to get rid of them ever

since he got to Washington. 

 

The additional problem for President Trump is because of the means by which

he took office, because of the means by which he was elected, beyond just

the sanctions on Russia for what they did on Ukraine, there was the

additional round of sanctions against Russia too, really bad, really tough

sanctions that hurt them in ways that are important to their economy.  I

wrote a book about it that comes out tomorrow.  I`ll tell you more later.

 

But those additional sanctions that happened after Trump got in – or as

Trump was coming into office were from Russia messing in our 2016

elections.  So, there`s the first sanctions for what they did this Ukraine. 

Trump is trying to drop those.  There`s the second round of sanctions,

which is Russia messing with our elections, right?  Those sanctions can`t

be dropped as long as the U.S. government still official attributes the

attack on our election to Russia. 

 

And so, we see the president and Rudy Giuliani and apparently now, Attorney

General William Barr traveling the world trying to undo the U.S.

government`s attribution of the 2016 election attack to Russia, trying in

“The Washington Post`s” words tonight, to discredit U.S. intelligence

agencies` examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Well,

that`s the other thing Russia needs in order to free itself from sanctions,

right? 

 

Russia is sanctioned for what they did in Ukraine.  Trump is apparently

working to undo that so those sanctions can be dropped.  They also

interfered with our elections and have been sanctioned for that.  Trump is

also apparently working very hard to undo that. 

 

Trump is working very hard on both of those things.  Yes, he`s trying to

get help for 2020, but those two things about Russia invading Ukraine and

Russia helping him get elected, he`s working on those just as intently. 

And both of those things have bank shot, knock on, indirect benefit to him

in terms of helping his reputation for how he got elected, but both of

those things have direct benefit to Russia because they need those

sanctions dropped desperately, because their economy cannot function with

those sanctions in place. 

 

Dropping those sanctions is the most important foreign policy goal that

Russia has.  And Trump is working double time to get it done before he gets

impeached. 

 

We`ll be right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Tell me if you are sensing a theme here.  When President Trump`s

first national security adviser Mike Flynn was indicted for lying to

investigators, what he lied to them about was his secret conversations with

the Russian government about U.S. sanctions on Russia. 

 

The Obama administration had instituted sanctions against Russia.  Flynn

was telling them not to be worry about that now that Trump was getting in. 

 

Soon after Trump arrived in Washington, Michael Isikoff was first to report

that the first order of business for the Trump landing team at the State

Department was also to try to come up with a way to unilaterally relieve

U.S. sanctions on Russian. 

 

Well, now, in this impeachment proceeding against President Trump, it

emerges that what President Trump has been trying to do in Ukraine is not

only to get that country to help me him with his 2020 re-election effort,

but he`s been trying to undo the U.S. government`s conclusion that Russia

attacked us in the 2016 election, something for which we sanctioned Russia. 

He`s also reportedly been trying to pressure Ukraine into settling with

Russia over Russia`s ongoing war and occupation in that country. 

 

“The New York Times” reporting this weekend that Trump has, quote, quietly

been urging a deal to remove Western sanctions on Russia for what it did in

Ukraine as well. 

 

So, secret talks about relieving sanctions on Russia during the campaign,

it was secret talks about relieving sanctions on Russian during the

transition, it was secret talks about relieving sanctions on Russia when

they first got to Washington.  Apparently, now, it is secret talks about

relieving sanctions on Russia between the president and various foreign

governments. 

 

For a scatter-shot administration that can`t seem to hold a single idea in

its head for more than 15 minutes, boy, do they seem focused here on

relieving sanctions in Russia, working on it in every possible way,

including this breaking news tonight about not just the president`s

involvement in this but what Attorney General William Barr has been

traveling around the world trying to do himself. 

 

Joining us now is Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia under

President Obama. 

 

Mr. Ambassador, it`s nice to see you.  Thanks for coming back. 

 

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA:  Rachel, thanks for

having me.  Hey, and congratulations on the release of your book tomorrow,

“Blowout”. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you.

 

MCFAUL:  I know how hard it is to write books.  Congratulations. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you.  It has basically killed me.  I am basically dead. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MCFAUL:  Doesn`t seem that way to me. 

 

MADDOW:  If you get a chance to read the Russia chapters of it, I would –

I would absolutely love to hear it. 

 

MCFAUL:  Of course I will.  Looking forward to it.

 

MADDOW:  Let me ask you about the latest developments here in terms of this

breaking news tonight about what Attorney General William Barr traveling

the world trying to get foreign governments to help him in an investigation

that the White House hopes will undo the U.S. attribution that Russia

attacked our election.  That`s just one of the developments that`s being

reported in this fast-moving story. 

 

What`s your take on that one in particular? 

 

MCFAUL:  Just outrageous.  I just can`t believe it.  I have to tell you

honestly, I think that we get to the end of the craziness and then there`s

a new revelation. 

 

And Attorney General Barr of all people should know better about doing

this.  It does underscore to me what happens when people get close to

President Trump and how he pulls them into his way of doing things, his way

of conducting foreign policy if we can even call it that. 

 

And it really saddens me as an American.  This is not in America`s national

interest.  This damages our reputation around the world. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of the way Russia has suffered with U.S. and U.S.-led

sanctions, obviously, they were sanctioned aggressively in a U.S.-led

international effort after they invaded Ukraine.  They were sanctioned

additionally by the U.S. because of their 2016 election interference. 

There have been other actions by Russia, including the attempted

assassination on British soil for which there were both U.S. and

international sanctions. 

 

How tough have these sanctions been on the Russian economy and on Putin? 

And how much of a priority is it for them to get these sanctions lifted? 

 

MCFAUL:  Well, you know, we academics debate how to exactly measure the

percentage of how much damage it`s done to the economy.  Some say 1

percent, others go up to 2 percent.  And remember, it`s compounded because

the sanctions have been in place for several years.  So, that`s one part of

the argument. 

 

The second are the actually people on the sanctions list.  Believe me, I

know some of them.  It hurts them and some of them are very close to Putin. 

One of them that we discussed before, for instance, Oleg Deripaska, spent

hundreds of millions of dollars to get off the sanctions list and invested

in Kentucky to try to do that.  That shows you the level of effort that he

was putting in.

 

But I think the most impressive evidence for how important it is to get the

sanctions lifted is how much time and attention Vladimir Putin has put to

the issue.  As you very rightly described in your opening remarks today, it

is a central talking point that he does all the time, and they`ve always

thought that some day, some way, President Trump would finally deliver on

what he promised during the campaign in 2016. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of how Barr is approaching this in particular, this new

news, that I found – I mean, not very much surprises me anymore.  I was

legitimately surprised to see this report in “The Washington Post” that the

reason that William Barr was mysteriously in Italy for this past week is

apparently because he has been personally working the Italian government

try to get them to cooperate in this investigation, that again they`re

hoping will undo the attribution of Russia attacking our election. 

 

He apparently, according to “The New York Times” today, asked President

Trump to make this call to the leader of Australia, to ask for Australian

cooperation in this probe as well.  How unusual – obviously, when there

are law enforcement investigations with an international cast, it`s not

unheard of to have international cooperation and to have it asked for by

the U.S. government.  But this with the attorney general personally showing

up in foreign countries asking for help on this incredibly politicized

thing, I mean, as a former ambassador, how unusual is that?  How will

foreign countries react to that? 

 

MCFAUL:  Well, I think – you made a great point.  It`s not unusual for us

to cooperate with the Italians or the Australians about an intelligence

matter or national security matter.  But we`re usually doing it to deal

with countries like Russia, with Vladimir Putin.  We`re not usually

negotiating our own intelligence agencies.  And that`s what is so

extraordinary and sad to me about this reporting. 

 

And it just underscores how obsessed President Trump is with trying to

unravel the facts that are overwhelming from 2016.  And in the call with

Zelensky, as you rightly noted as well, he brings up CrowdStrike.  Why is

he doing that?  Because he`s trying again to undermine the evidence that we

have about what the Russians did in intervening in our 2016 elections. 

 

MADDOW:  Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia – sir,

appreciate you being here tonight.  Thank you. 

 

MCFAUL:  Thanks for having me. 

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  I know I seem flustered tonight.  I am flustered, as I have been

freaking out about for the last several weeks. 

 

My new book comes out tomorrow, comes out actually just over like a couple

of hours from now.  The title is “Blowout.”  The subtitle is, “Corrupted

Democracy, Rogue State Russia and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on

Earth”. 

 

This book has been killing me actively for more than a year.  It`s been my

pet project for this past many, many months.  And it turns out much to my

surprise, I guess, timing-wise that all of this stuff that I have

researching and writing about, in terms of the oil and gas industry around

the world, particularly the oil and gas industry as it relates to Russia

and Ukraine and Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump – all of that is like hot

in the news right now because that`s the kernel of the Trump impeachment,

it turns out.  I didn`t know it was going to time out this way, but it has. 

 

The book comes out midnight tonight.  I start the book tour later this

week.  You can find out more about it at MSNBC.com/blowout.  If you do want

to see me talk about the book, if you want to see me in person, you want to

see me on my crutches on a stage somewhere, I checked tonight and I think

at this point, there`s only one stop on the book tour that is not sold out,

and that is the one stop in Atlanta. 

 

So I think that there are still tickets available in Atlanta even though

every place else in the country is sold out.  I`m sorry about that, but

happy for Atlanta.  If you want to see me there, that`s the one spot you

can still do it.  Tickets still available there. 

 

While I am getting ready for this launch, though, while I`m getting ready

to spend a couple weeks out in the world talking about Ukraine and

corruption and U.S. politics and Russia and where this impeachment scandal

came from in the first place, which is kind of what the book is about,

there is also tonight some new news about the president`s envoy to Ukraine,

the envoy who just suddenly quit the day after the whistleblower complaint

came out.  He quit just hours after he found out he was about to be deposed

in this investigation. 

 

We just found out that that deposition is going ahead.  There`s important

stuff you should know about that, and that`s next. 

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Before anybody knew about President Trump pressuring Ukraine to

dig up dirt on his political rivals for 2020, a good month before that

story broke open, two journalists in Ukraine sat down with the U.S. special

envoy to that country.  They sat down with Kurt Volker, which was in

August, and asked him about the president`s personal attorney, Rudy

Giuliani and why it was that Rudy Giuliani was being spotted in Ukraine so

much and what exactly he was doing there. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

KURT VOLKER, THEN-U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO UKRAINE:  He is not representing

the U.S. government.  He is a private citizen.  I just think that we need

to get anything that people have any concerns about anywhere off the table

because the U.S./Ukraine relationship is too important. 

 

REPORTER:  Just the final question to this topic, Mr. Ambassador.  If

hypothetically this investigation is done here in Ukraine about meddling in

the U.S. elections in 2016, would it be considered again as a meddling in

the U.S. elections, at least by the Democratic Party? 

 

VOLKER:  I think it`s important that we make sure there is no interference

or no effect on U.S. elections.  That anything that is, you know,

investigated or anything would have happened in the past should be treated

as a matter of looking at what happened, not trying to influence anything

happening today. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Nothing trying to influence anything happening today. 

 

Again, at the time that have interview, Kurt Volker was the U.S. special

envoy to Ukraine.  Now, he is the former special envoy because last Friday,

he abruptly resigned, just after he was named in the whistleblower

complaint that has given rise to this impeachment investigation. 

 

And really, even with the seemingly nonstop flow of breaking news about

this whole impeachment scandal, there is a ton we don`t know.  It is

unclear whether U.S. special counsel envoy Kurt Volker may have been part

of this scheme to pressure the Ukrainian government.  He showed up meeting

with the Ukrainian government right after President Trump pressured them in

a phone call to hand over dirt on Biden as a condition of getting military

aid. 

 

Was Volker part of the scheme?  Part of enacting that pressure campaign by

president Trump?  Or was he not part of this scheme but rather an important

witness to it who might be able to shed light on what was done wrong? 

 

We may be about to get some answers.  The House of Representatives as part

of the their inquiry has now announced they`ll be deposing five key State

Department officials who are named or referenced in the whistleblower`s

complaint.  They include Kurt Volker, former special envoy to Ukraine.  Mr.

Volker tonight says he will be there, he will show up for that House

deposition on Thursday, which raises all kinds of interesting questions in

terms of the prospect of really unraveling some of the mystery and intrigue

that continues to surround this situation. 

 

I mean, Congress has to start somewhere.  They are starting with the State

Department depositions this week.  They appear to be planning to move fast. 

 

Joining us now is Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.  He is a member of the

House Intelligence Committee, which is currently the leading the

impeachment proceedings.  He also serves on the Oversight Committee. 

 

Congressman, I really appreciate you being here.  Thanks tonight.

 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  Hey, thanks, Rachel.  And congrats on

your book. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you very much.  I`m very embarrassed. 

 

Let me ask you about your committee and its plans and the speed at which

this is proceeding.  As far as I can tell, we`ve got the slate of five

depositions coming up, five State Department officials who would have had

knowledge of Trump`s engagements with Ukraine.  Those depositions are

scheduled to begin this week. 

 

Do you think you`re going to get all those people to come in for the

depositions? 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  I hope most of them come in.  Certainly, it`s important

that Mr. Volker comes in as you mentioned.  He is mentioned in the

complaint several times by the whistleblower, and, you know, he has some

interesting potential conflicts of interest that might shed light on

whether he actually helped to pressure the Ukrainian president to actually

do what President Trump wanted him to do. 

 

In any case, he`s an important witness to some of the events that unfolded

in Ukraine at that time. 

 

MADDOW:  Having him resign basically very shortly after you announced – 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:   – your committee announced that you wanted to depose, you raised

some interesting questions as to the timing of his resignation.  I wonder

if that has an effect, though, on the White House`s ability to try to block

this deposition if they`re going to try to do so?  We`ve seen them say,

basically, no to request for information. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Right.

 

MADDOW:  We`ve heard them saying no to subpoenas.  Do you think they`re

going to try to block any of these depositions and does it make a

difference if these are current or former employees if they`re going to try

to do that? 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Yes, if they are not currently employees of the

administration, so to speak, in his case he was never an employee.  He was

kind of some kind of unpaid volunteer adviser in any case.  But, yes, if

they are no longer employees of the administration, they have a little more

freedom to testify. 

 

That being said, I wouldn`t put it past this White House to assert all

kinds of privileges with regard to information that these folks may or may

not possess.  Certainly, we`ve seen that in the case of Don McGahn in our

demands for him to come before Congress to testify on any number of issues. 

 

MADDOW:  Obviously, there`s going to be a huge amount of public interest in

what Kurt Volker might have to say.  The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine,

who was recalled early from her post in sort of suspicious circumstances,

seemed suspicious at the time.  It seems particularly suspicious now in

retrospect, now that we know what was going on at that time. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Sure.

 

MADDOW:  Do you expect the public will ever know what happens in these

proceedings?  Are these going to be taped or transcribed?  Is this

committee council who`s going to be carrying them out or members of

Congress?  Are we ever going to see any of this stuff? 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Sure.  I think with regard to former Ambassador

Yovanovitch, I don`t think that you`re exactly right.  I think she`s going

to have a lot to say about what occurred with regard to the allegations in

the complaint. 

 

I think that we should have maximum transparency with regards to the

proceedings.  That being said, if classified information is shared or

something that can`t be, you know, displayed in open setting, it makes

sense to have them in closed setting and perhaps later on, Chairman Schiff

will decide whether to publish the transcripts as he has in other

situations. 

 

But in any case, we`re trying to get exactly what`s what and make sure that

we get to the bottom of the complaint ASAP. 

 

MADDOW:  With the exception of classified information which, of course,

goes without saying – 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Correct.

 

MADDOW:  – people like me and a lot of people in the public will be

banging down the door trying to get the transcripts of these depositions,

if not the tapes.  I can tell you now.

 

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democratic member of the House

Intelligence Committee – sir, thank you for being here tonight. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Thank you.  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  They were first Republican members of Congress to endorse him,

Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California.  Chris Collins

and Duncan Hunter both came out in support of Donald Trump for president on

the same day, on February 24th, 2016, they were first. 

 

Even so, they were not exactly profiles in courage.  They signed on for

Trump only after Trump had already won three of the first four primaries

and caucuses.  Still, though, they were the first members of Congress.  And

being first makes you stand out. 

 

So does being indicted.  Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter, the first members

of Congress to proclaim themselves Trump supporters were both criminally

indicted in August 2018 in two unrelated felony schemes.  Duncan Hunter was

charged for allegedly misusing more than a quarter million dollars in

campaign funds on his personal expenses.  In some cases, very personal

expenses.  His trial starts next year. 

 

Congressman Collins was indicted for alleged insider trading.  He used his

position as an early investor in an Australian biotech firm to tip off his

son and other family members about a failed drug trial in order to help

them avoid over three quarters of a million dollars in losses.  According

to his indictment, Congressman Collins actually tipped off his family

members from the White House grounds while he was attending a White House

picnic. 

 

You can actually see the video of him there on the White House grounds

making phone calls.  Prosecutors say that at that moment, he was basically

saying son, you need to sell.  You need to sell. 

 

Those indictments landed in the middle of the run-up to the congressional

midterm elections.  And President Trump took that coincidence of events to

opine about exactly how he believes the rule of law should be employed and

enforced as long as he`s in power.  The president publicly attacked

Attorney General Jeff Sessions for those two members of Congress being

indicted, saying it would hurt Republican chances of holding control of the

House of Representatives. 

 

The president said, quote: Two long running Obama era investigations of two

very popular Republican congressman were brought to a well-publicized

charge just ahead of the midterms by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. 

Two easy wins now in doubt because there`s not enough time.  Good job,

Jeff. 

 

Rule of law, rule of law! 

 

As it happens, Congressman Collins and Congressman Hunter each plead not

guilty at the time.  Remarkably, after pleading not guilty, both Collins

and Hunter did win re-election in their deep red districts in 2018.  That`s

where we left this story until today. 

 

Ahead of an expected change of plea to guilty in federal court tomorrow,

Congressman Chris Collins today resigned from Congress today.  He did so

effective immediately, in a letter to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which

means that Congressman Collins part of this story is over. 

 

But we do still have Donald Trump, the real Donald Trump on the record with

one of his most brazen attacks on the rule of law, attacking the indictment

of those two Republican members of Congress, one of whom has now resigned

is reportedly about to plead guilty.  It`s not the first time President

Trump revealed how he thinks the rule of law should be applied to the red

and blue teams while he`s president and for what purpose.  But it was

perhaps one of the bluntest and most shocking and it will come to its most

abrupt end tomorrow when Congressman Collins walks into court and pleads

guilty. 

 

That`s going to do it for us tonight.  Again, thanks to everybody for being

so nice about my new book which comes out in hour, in a couple hours.  It`s

called “Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest

Most Destructive Industry on Earth.” 

 

I`ll be book-touring starting later this week.  There`s one location on the

book tour for which tickets are still available and that is at Atlanta. 

So, if you`re within reaching distance of Atlanta, hope to see you there. 

In any case, I`ll talk more about what`s in the book over the course of

this week.  I`m so freaking exhausted and like post-adrenaline about having

putting it out there in the world as of tonight, that I don`t think I can

speak about it yet. 

 

See you again tomorrow. 

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

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