Quid Pro Quo is done TRANSCRIPT: 10/18/2019, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests:
Mike Spies, Jamie Raskin
Transcript:

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW

Date: October 18, 2019

 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”:  There are still tickets left. 

 

Plus, big news, we have details for the third stop of our tour, which is

Chicago.  Tuesday, November 12th.  We`ll release tickets at Monday at 10:00

a.m. Central.  You can get the tickets for Chicago at the same place you

got them for L.A.  That`s MSNBC.com/withpodtour. 

 

That is “ALL IN” for this evening. 

 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. 

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thank you, my friend. 

Man, I love these live shows.  Excellent.  Thanks. 

 

HAYES:  I do, too.

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Thanks for joining us this hour.  Happy to have you

with us.  

 

A little bit less than a year ago, shortly after former President George

H.W. Bush died, his funeral in Washington was the kind of occasion that we

only very, very, very rarely see in U.S. politics, right?  I mean, there

are only so many U.S. presidents.  There are only so many ex-presidents

alive at any one time, and any one of them passing is always going to be a

very, very big deal, let alone one as revered as former President George

H.W. Bush. 

 

One of the things that was remarkable about his funeral last year were the

pictures from the funeral.  Do you remember this shot?  Rosalynn Carter

next to Jimmy Carter next to Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, next to

Michelle Obama and Barack Obama, next to Melania Trump, next to Donald

Trump, all there together, the vice presidents and their families sitting

behind them. 

 

You just don`t see that in real life.  That`s like flipping through a

history book, right?  Except there they all are on the same page in the

same place, at the same time all together.  You never see that. 

 

But President Bush`s funeral at the National Cathedral was a huge affair. 

It wasn`t just presidents and vice presidents and their families.  It was

everyone imaginable in U.S. politics. 

 

One of the weirder things we have since learned about the attendance of

that funeral is that when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani decided

that he would attend that funeral, he brought with him a date, a most

unusual date.  The Bush family has since pronounced themselves, quote,

disappointed to learn that the man who Rudy Giuliani brought to Poppy

Bush`s funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington was Lev Parnas? 

 

Lev Parnas now famous as one of Rudy Giuliani`s two associates who was just

last week arrested at Dulles Airport with a one-way ticket out of that

country.  He and three other men have been charged with a sprawling

campaign finance scheme that prosecutors say was designed, among other

things, to funnel illegal foreign donations to the president`s re-election

effort and to a number of different Republican campaigns. 

 

Well, since those arrests, the picture that has unfolded about Mr. Parnas,

about Rudy Giuliani`s date for the Poppy Bush funeral, it started bad, but

it`s gotten very dark very fast.  Here, for example, is Ben Schreckinger

and Darren Samuelsohn writing for Politico.com. 

 

Quote: On October 25th, 2008, the owner of a property in Florida in which

Lev Parnas had been living told Parnas he needed to leave.  When the men

began to argue and the owner told Parnas he would call the police, Parnas

told the man, quote, if you call the cops, they`re not going to find you,

ever. 

 

That`s according to a petition for a restraining order that was

subsequently filed in court in south Florida.  That restraining order

petition was obtained by these “Politico” reporters.  According to court

filings, despite that, they will never find you ever threat, three days

later, quote, the men met again to discuss the matter further. 

 

According to the restraining order petition, this time it went even worse. 

Quote, Lev Parnas held a gun to the man`s head and said, this is my last

warning to you.  He then, according to the court filing, got into his car,

a dark blue Porsche, and he drove off. 

 

We know from another court motion obtained by “Politico” that soon

thereafter, on Halloween night, police found Mr. Parnas and seized at least

three guns from him, including a 40 caliber Glock, a 9 millimeter

semiautomatic pistol and a .38 revolver. 

 

So, now, in what is turning out to be sort of the criminal prosecution

offshoot to the ongoing proceedings against President Trump, some of the

mystery here, some of the weirdness here is finally start to come into

focus after a week or so of starting to figure out who this cast of

characters is.  I mean, first, you should know this particular guy, the one

who went to the George H.W. Bush funeral as the guest of Rudy Giuliani, the

guy with the gun to the head restraining order filings in Florida, he`s the

only one of these four guys who were charged in this criminal case this

past week who apparently has not made bail.  Interesting. 

 

His friend, Igor, did.  Igor is out on $1 million bail.  After some initial

confusion as to the bail status of these guys, we actually talked with the

reporter who told us that with her own eyes she saw Igor walk under his own

power out of a federal courthouse with his lawyers.  So we`re confident

that Igor was ultimately bailed on $1 million bail. 

 

We also know from the arraignment of the other two defendants in this case,

yesterday in federal district court in New York, the other two defendants

in this case have also made bail, the guy arrested in San Francisco.  Like

Igor, he was released on $1 million bail.  The guy who was at large for

several days after the indictment was unsealed who was only eventually

arrested just a couple of days ago after arriving at JFK airport.  He too

is out on bail, although his bail was set lower, was set at a quarter of a

million dollars. 

 

We actually got the transcript of their arraignment today and we can see

from the transcript of the arraignment that the judge hearing the case –

he confirms the bail arrangements for all these defendants.  The judge then

in his interactions gives us a couple pieces of information about this case

that we didn`t previously have.  First of all, the judge makes clear this

might be a case that is a little bit sprawling.  I mean, soon after an

arraignment like this, it`s incumbent upon the prosecutors basically to

share with the defendants and their lawyers, to share with the other side

the evidence that prosecutors are going to use to try to prove their case

against these defendants a process called discovery.  It`s part of a fair

trial.  You get to see what the government has against you. 

 

Well, in the arraignment in federal court yesterday afternoon, prosecutors

told the judge that in this case, the discovery is going to be a lot.  So

much so that it`s going to take a long time for them just to hand it all

over. 

 

From the transcript, the judge says, quote: Before we address scheduling, I

would like to ask counsel for the government if they could briefly describe

the categories and volume of discovery to be produced. 

 

Prosecutor says: Yes, your honor.  The discovery in this case is fairly,

fairly voluminous.  It includes approximately 10 search warrant

applications and records obtained pursuant to search warrants for over 10

email accounts which encompass multiple gigabytes of electronic data.  The

discovery will also include financial records for more than 50 bank

accounts. 

 

Again, according to the prosecutor, quote: fairly voluminous an amount, as

well as records from a number of third parties that either have been

produced or continuing to be produced.  So, your honor, the government`s

intention is to begin discovery on a rolling basis. 

 

I mean, I know it is four guys who are charged in this indictment, but more

than 50 bank accounts? 

 

Prosecutors also made clear under further questioning from the judge that

seems like this is not over, that this investigation is not done.  The

judge says, quote, to the prosecutor: Do you anticipate any superseding

indictments at this point, meaning further indictments of these four

defendants? 

 

Prosecutor says: Your honor, I think it is fair to characterize the

investigation as ongoing, but no decision about any type of additional

charges has been made. 

 

So, I mean, we know that the government`s case, prosecutor`s case is

ongoing here because since these guys were all indicted, we know that at

least one former Republican congressman to whom they allegedly steered

illegal foreign campaign contributions, former Texas Republican Congressman

Pete Sessions has received a subpoena from the same grand jury that

indicted these guys.  So, because the grand jury still handing out

subpoenas, we know this investigation is ongoing and there`s the

possibility of further charges against either the guys who have already

been charged or against additional defendants. 

 

But now from the transcript, we`ve got it here from the prosecutor`s mouth

as well.  Your Honor, I think it is fair to characterize the government`s

investigation as ongoing. 

 

In this criminal case, though, that, again, appears to be the sort of

criminal prosecution that is adjacent and connected to the ongoing

impeachment proceedings against the president, I find it interesting that

of the four guys who were charged, only one of them appears to still be in

because no not bailed out.  He`s the one opt far left, the one who has in

his public record this holding a gun to the guy`s head stuff from Florida. 

 

There`s also been extensive public reporting on the number of outstanding

civil fraud suits that he appears to have been running from from some time. 

If you look at the public record of his past experience as a stock broker,

you also find that he`s been associated with at least three financial firms

that have been shut down by financial regulators, including one that later

surfaced in a lurid, mob-connected stock scheme that involved senior

members of the Colombo crime family.  Tell me again how he ended up as Rudy

Giuliani`s date at Poppy Bush`s funeral? 

 

Tell me also how he ended up having dinner at the White House with the

sitting president of the United States.  Tell me again why he`s got all

these different pictures of himself with the sitting president of the

United States.  I mean, it`s almost more unnerving that in addition to the

pictures of himself with the president, we`ve also got a picture of him

with the president`s eldest son, right? 

 

The other guy besides his codefendant on the far right side of this picture

and the president`s son on the far left side of this picture, the other guy

in this picture is a man who at the time this picture was taken was running

the main super PAC that is supporting President Trump`s re-election

efforts.  That`s a super PAC called America First, which itself is named in

these felony allegations from federal prosecutors about these illegal

foreign campaign donations.  We`re going to have more on that aspect of

this case coming up in just a moment, ProPublica has just published some

eye-popping new stuff about that part of the president`s re-election effort

and how that might factor in here. 

 

But on Capitol Hill in Washington, right, I mean, the impeachment part of

this, the impeachment thing is obviously not going very well for the

president.  There`s no clear sense as to who is quarterbacking the White

House`s defense for the proceedings.  There have been some insinuations

over the last week or two that maybe it was White House Chief of Staff Mick

Mulvaney who was running the defense to the impeachment, whether or not

that was true before yesterday, it`s definitely not true now.  Not after

Mr. Mulvaney strode to the White House podium and cheerfully admitted that

not only, yes, the president definitely submitted help from a foreign

government to use against the Democrats, but of course there was pressure

behind it, a little trade, call it quid pro quo, whatever you want, just

get over it. 

 

White House chief of staff cheerfully, even boisterously admitting

yesterday that, yes, military aid was withheld in exchange for these

demands from the president for domestic political help against his

opponents. 

 

That performance by the White House chief of staff yesterday – I mean,

it`s scrambled Republicans defense of the president`s behavior, right? 

That cheerful admission from him that yes, there was a quid pro quo.  That

has undermined the chief defense of the president`s actions from multiple

Republicans in Congress.  I keep they`ll be paying for that politically for

a very long time. 

 

The other thing, though, that Mick Mulvaney set out to announce was the

plan by the administration to steer what amounts to a gigantic government

contract to the president`s golf property in Florida, which is called

Doral.  We`re going to talk about that a little later on tonight in the

context of the impeachment inquiry because it`s starting to look like that

itself could end up being an additional stand-alone article of impeachment

against President Trump. 

 

Again, that is still to come just this hour.  It`s Friday, right, so the

news is like pureeing something in a blender with no lid on.  It`s just

happening.  We`ll get to everything, I swear. 

 

But I do want to say tonight kudos to Bloomberg News and CNN for what I

think is the most important new reporting of the day, important new

reporting about how this scheme for which the president is being impeached

appears to have come together.  They – both of these two reports give us

something new and very, very fundamental that makes a lot of what is

otherwise been confusing suddenly seem crystal clear. 

 

Let`s start with Bloomberg.  Bloomberg reporter Stephanie Baker and Irina

Reznik tonight have what amounts to the scoop I`ve been waiting for for the

past few weeks, a scoop at a finally makes the whole cast of characters

that Rudy Giuliani and the president appear to have employed here sort of

makes sense as part of one cogent and rational, if potentially quite

illegal story.  It has to do with this Kremlin connected Ukrainian oligarch

who we have been talking about for the last few weeks in conjunction with

this scandal. 

 

His name is Dmytro Firtash.  For years, he was the Kremlin main power

player in Ukraine.  The Putin government set him up in business in Ukraine

as its cutout.  The deals that Putin set up for him made him very rich and

very powerful in that country.  He in turn then funded pro-Putin political

parties in Ukraine, including funding the career of Trump`s now-imprisoned

campaign chairman Paul Manafort what he was working for pro-Putin interests

in that country. 

 

The problem is that U.S. law enforcement considers Dmytro Firtash to be an

upper echelon associate of Russian organized crime and the Justice

Department has indicted him in a gigantic bribery scandal.  They want to

put him on trial in the northern district of Illinois. 

 

Now, he`s been under house arrest.  Dmytro Firtash has been out on bail,

like $174 million bail, he`s out on bail in Vienna, he`s under house

arrest, he`s been fighting efforts to extradite him to the United States to

face those felony charges.  He`s been fighting those efforts for years. 

 

I`ve been obsessed with this guy for a long – I mean, he`s the reason kind

of that I wrote this book.  It`s weird that it just came out at the same

time.  This is happening with the president`s impeachment. 

 

But as interesting as this story is, as important as it is to understand

that part of the world, what Bloomberg is reporting tonight kind of makes

it all fall into place.  What Bloomberg is reporting tonight is that the

way we may have gotten ourselves into this impeachment drama we are in in

this country is, when his case took a bad turn for him this summer, this

thing for which the president is now being impeached seemed to sort of kick

into gear. 

 

Here`s what happened.  This summer, a court in Austria ruled in what

appeared to be a final decision that this guy, Dmytro Firtash, finally had

to be extradited to the United States to face federal bribery charges in a

U.S. court.  He`s been fighting this for years.  This court ruling this

past summer makes it seem like it`s finally going to have to go. 

 

Quote: In five years of court battles, Firtash`s legal team had

successfully beaten back U.S. efforts to bring him to trial in Illinois. 

The tide appeared to turn in the summer when the Justice Department won a

ruling in Austria securing Firtash`s extradition.  At that point, as

Bloomberg reports tonight, Firtash essentially hit the panic button in his

case, or at least decided he was going to put plan B into action. 

 

Up until that point, his highest profile U.S. lawyer had been a man named

Lanny Davis, which might have made sense for a while for Mr. Firtash, but

after Mr. Davis became publicly associated with Michael Cohen, President

Trump`s one-time personal lawyer who famously turned against President

Trump, one Lanny Davis and Michael Cohen were an anti-Trump force out there

in the world, that no longer was a good look for Mr. Firtash`s defense

efforts. 

 

So, Mr. Firtash after that ruling that said he was going to get extradited

to the United States, when he put into effect plan B, when he hit the panic

alarm and changed gears in terms of how he was trying to avoid trial in the

United States, he got rid of Lanny Davis and, quote, shuffled his lawyers,

dropped Lanny Davis and instead added these two pro-Trump TV lawyers whom

Bloomberg describes as vocal supporters of President Trump who had worked

with Rudy Giuliani. 

 

So, here`s Firtash, right?  Putin`s guy in Ukraine, allegedly connected to

the Russian mob, very, very, very, very rich, very powerful, fears that

he`s finally going to lose his extradition fight and ends up in court.  He

dumps his lawyers who might be seen as anti-Trump, picks up new Fox News

lawyers who are very pro-Trump and who specifically have connections to

Giuliani. 

 

What else can he do to try to help his case to stop the U.S. Justice

Department from extraditing him and putting him on trial?  He believed he

had one other card to play.

 

Quoting from Bloomberg tonight: Associates of Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian

oligarch fighting extradition to the U.S. were working to dig up dirt on

former Vice President Joe Biden last summer in an effort to get Rudy

Giuliani`s help in the oligarch`s legal case.  That is according to three

people familiar with the exchanges. 

 

Dmytro Firtash charged with conspiracy by the United States and living in

Vienna shuffled lawyers to add vocal supporters of President Trump to their

team, vocal supporters of President Trump who had worked with Mayor

Giuliani.  Around that time, Firtash`s associates began using his broad

network of Ukraine contacts to try to get damaging information on Biden. 

 

The pro-Trump lawyers have billed the oligarch $1 million for their work

thus far, that includes costs to be paid to Lev Parnas, a Giuliani

associate who reportedly acted as a, quote, translator and important

contact. 

 

So, this very rich guy in Ukraine is pulling every string he can to try to

get out of trouble with the U.S. Justice Department.  Gets rid of the anti-

Trump lawyer, puts these pro-Trump lawyers on the payroll, and that

includes putting Lev Parnas on the payroll. 

 

Rudy Giuliani then says he in turn has been paid about $500,000 by Lev

Parnas.  I wonder where that money came from.  Giuliani by his own

admission, along with his friend, Lev, according to U.S. prosecutors, then

got to work trying to get rid of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine because

they saw her as an impediment to this scheme. 

 

They also, Lev and Igor, according to the U.S. prosecutors, suddenly became

conduits for mysteriously large sums of money that appeared to be foreign

in origin that got funneled to the president`s reelection efforts and to

multiple Republican campaigns. 

 

Giuliani then gets inserted by the president into the diplomatic process

between the United States and Ukraine so that Ukraine through him gets the

quid pro quo message.  They`re not going to get any White House meeting for

their new president.  They`re not going to get their military aid unless

they cough off damaging information that President Trump can use against

Democrats. 

 

And what is this specific damaging information that the president and Rudy

Giuliani want, that they think they can get from Ukraine?  Turns out it`s

all stuff, all allegations against Biden, coughed up by Dmytro Firtash,

including the supposed holy grail of this whole effort, sworn allegations

against Vice President Biden from a former Ukrainian prosecutor whose sworn

statement it says right on the front page was obtained via Dmytro Firtash. 

 

And that`s where the other big scoop of the night comes in.  CNN reporting

exclusively tonight that one of the State Department depositions that

happened behind closed doors this week in impeachment proceedings against

President Trump included testimony that Rudy Giuliani intervened at the

State Department and the White House to try to get a U.S. visa to the guy

who swore out that statement with all those made-up allegations against Joe

Biden.  That sworn statement that Firtash gave to Giuliani that Giuliani

have been waving around on television and saying is all the dirt on Biden

that the Ukrainian government is supposed to investigate, right? 

 

Dmytro Firtash gave that statement to Giuliani, apparently, because he

thought it would be something that would be of value to President Trump. 

This is a guy who`s very rich and directly connected to the Kremlin,

allegedly connected to Russian organized crime.  He`s facing trial in the

United States.  He switches gears last summer, right, when it looks like

he`s going to get extradited and he gets busy filling out his payroll and

pulling every string he can possibly get to get the Trump administration

and people connected to the president to kibosh his extradition to the U.S.

and his felony prosecution. 

 

According to CNN tonight, the State Department objected to that guy being

given a visa because of his whole life known involvement in corruption in

Ukraine.  The State Department didn`t grant his visa.  According to the

State Department official who gave his deposition in the impeachment

proceedings this week, Giuliani then, quote, appealed to the White House to

have the State Department reverse its decision and grant that visa.  The

man`s visa was, however, quote, never granted. 

 

So at least that`s one story line, right?  I mean, since this cast of

characters started to emerge, it was pretty clear that this was going to be

a dark story.  As the impeachment proceedings go forward in Congress, as

this criminal case goes forward in the Southern District of New York, if

it`s true as reported that a counterintelligence investigation has also

been opened into Mr. Giuliani to ascertain how much of this may be a

foreign influence operation directed by a foreign government or directed by

a foreign intelligence service, presumably as all those things go forward

in concert, we are going to learn more. 

 

But at least the view from here as of tonight, as of this part of the hour,

who knows what will break in the next two minutes, right, but at least our

view from this vantage point is – I mean, it`s a movie.  The scheme for

which the president is going to be impeached kind of seems to have started

with a Kremlin-connected billionaire, who U.S. law enforcement says is

linked to the Russian mob.  He`s wanted in this country on felony charges. 

 

He`s been buying up people in Trump world to buy help for himself to stop

himself from being prosecuted for corruption in U.S. federal court.  If

this new reporting bears out, it would appear that part of the way he was

trying to buy himself out of being prosecuted by the U.S. Justice

Department was by concocting anti-Joe Biden documents and allegations to

attract the attention of and win the favor of president of the United

States by giving him fake foreign origin dirt that the president could use

against his Democratic opponents in the next election.  Because, of course,

why would you try that after how well everything worked for these guys in

2016? 

 

The other piece that is emerging today thanks to new reporting from

ProPublica is that main super PAC supporting President Trump`s re-election,

that super PAC appears to be not only directly implicated in the criminal

part of this scheme involving Rudy Giuliani`s funeral date for Poppy Bush`s

funeral and all the rest of these guys, it also appears to have some other

quite serious problems that look bad in this criminal case but look worse

in terms of the new stuff that is just coming to light. 

 

Again, this is the main dark money group supporting the president`s re-

election effort, and that`s our next story. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  When associates of Rudy Giuliani, the president`s lawyer, got

arrested last week, these guys, it was alleged conspiracy to break the

campaign finance laws of this country.  Prosecutors say one part of their

scheme involved them trying to funnel foreign money into U.S. elections, in

part, through a political action committee that`s referred to as committee-

1.  Committee-1 is referred to by reporters as America First Action, the

main super PAC supporting President Trump`s re-election. 

 

Now, why were these guys allegedly carrying out this felony campaign

finance scheme that involved trying to funnel hundreds of thousands of

dollars into the president`s re-election super PAC?  I don`t know.  Stay

tuned.  I want to go to all the court hearings. 

 

But the same super PAC shows up in new reporting from ProPublica today. 

Looks at the PAC in terms of some of their ongoing drama.  Quote: Last

year, a Department of Defense contractor quietly donated a-million dollars

to this PAC, America First Action.  A day after the company was awarded a

supplemental government contract worth just under half a million dollars,

they turned around and basically spent that much money on a campaign

donation to the Donald Trump super PAC. 

 

That`s a problem because federal contractors are not allowed to donate to

political entities.  Now, upon being caught out for having done this, the

company`s founder said oops, he meant to make this as a personal donation,

not as an illegal contractor donation.  He subsequently filed paper work to

clean up as the did the pro-Trump super PAC.

 

But the company founder first acknowledged to ProPublica that, quote, the

optics of his America First donation were less than ideal.  The executive

told ProPublica, quote: The facts might be a problem, but they are facts –

which means we now have a new caption for our time in this period of

American history. 

 

Joining us now is Mike Spies, he`s a member of the ProPublica reporting

team that broke this story. 

 

Mr. Spies, it`s really pleasure to have you here.

 

MIKE SPIES, PROPUBLICA REPORTER:  Thanks for having me on.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks for doing this.

 

So, I have been interested in the president`s super PAC for a long time,

even from before they turned up in this indictment.  There have been

allegations that the president`s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has used

this PAC basically to self-deal.  He`s not supposed to coordinate between

campaign and the PAC. 

 

SPIES:  Right. 

 

MADDOW:  Also, the president`s troubled inaugural committee, the treasury

from that inaugural committee is one of the board members for this PAC. 

 

SPIES:  Yes. 

 

MADDOW:  We all know about that trouble. 

 

But what you`re finding is direct evidence they`ve been taking illegal

donations. 

 

SPIES:  Yes, there have been a number of complaints filed over the last

year and a half, none on which – seems like nothing will happen with them

because the FEC at the moment is utterly toothless, which is terrifying at

this particular moment in time.  Though this particular example, campaign

finance law is just a giant gray area in general.  The one thing, the one

thing that`s black and white is that if you have a federal contract, you

can`t do not to a political committee or campaign. 

 

So, this was just like one of the most brazen violations imaginable, and it

went totally unnoticed for several months until a watchdog happened to

catch it and filed a complaint, which is what caused Mr. Perkins to then do

a shuffle and say something like, no, no, it did what it says specifically

was.  It was a corporate check, but it was from my corporate personal

distribution account, which is a phrase I`ve never heard before. 

 

MADDOW:  Corporate personal distribution account? 

 

SPIES:  Nobody has ever heard.  I have not met anyone who knows what this

actually is, but according to him the money he used will get taxed as

personal income.  It`s very confusing, but it still, he admits was a

corporate check.  He also said it didn`t explain they cleared it first with

America First, which presents its own issue. 

 

MADDOW:  That was another big red flag here for me in your reporting.  Part

of the reason I wanted to talk to you.  If people who are giving illegal

campaign donations accidentally or not to this campaign are checking it out

– this campaign committee, if they`re checking it out with the campaign

committee in advance before they do this stuff, that would imply this may

be a sort of systematically okayed, systematically organized thing by the

PAC. 

 

SPIES:  Perhaps it should have been returned.  What`s interesting was when

Mr. Perkins said to me, I then tried to follow up within the next day and

maybe he realized he had gone too far and wouldn`t respond to any of my

follow-up queries. 

 

But yes, it`s also the PAC`s responsibility once it gets a donation to

check it out and make sure it doesn`t have red flags attached to it.  So,

there`s something very odd happened.  If there was cleared with them

beforehand, seems like it`s totally possible that they knew that they were

getting a donation that wasn`t above board. 

 

MADDOW:  And for that to be surfacing at the same time that they appear in

this indictment from this illegal $325,000 donation from these guys, weeks

apart. 

 

SPIES:  Weeks apart.  It`s not the only thing, the only problem that was

going on. 

 

MADDOW:  I will say that part of the reason I wanted you here is I want to

use you as a human demonstration project to tell people we do not have an

FEC at this point in this country, we don`t have an active one.  Which must

groups like the Campaign Legal Center and reporters like Mike Spies at

ProPublica are the only people who are finding these things out, which

means figure out a way to support journalism monetarily and bodily in this

country because it`s the only way we`re going to get to the bottom of some

of these criminal pursuits. 

 

Mr. Spies, thank you for being here. 

 

SPIES:  Thanks for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  Appreciate it.  Come back soon.

 

SPIES:  OK.

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Much more ahead.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Quote: On or about arch 6th, 2016, the plaintiff, Eric Linder

checked in as a resort guest.  He was assigned a guest room in the Jack

Nicklaus villa building.  The plaintiff awoke to discover that he had

multiple welts, lumps and marks over much of his face, neck, arms, and

torso and complained to resort management who had both villa guest rooms

tested for bed bugs. 

 

The plaintiff was advised by resort staff and/or management the guest room

in the Jack Nicklaus villa had tested positive for bed bugs.  The resort

generally and the Jack Nicklaus villa in particular has a history of severe

bed bug infestation, going back to at least the beginning of 2016, and the

remediation was either not performed or was inadequate.  Yet the resort

permitted guests to continue to stay in unsuitable rooms nonetheless. 

That`s according to the complaint filed about this incident. 

 

Today, we spoke with a source who confirmed that these are photos of the

welts in question.  This is the plaintiff from that complaint following his

stay at the resort.  As you can see, the bites were all over his neck, both

sides of his face, all down his arms. 

 

Lawyers for the resort later reached an undisclosed settlement with the

plaintiff.  I think it`s fair to say he will not be returning to that

particular resort anytime soon. 

 

But what`s the loss, really, when you have world leaders lining up to sleep

in the Jack Nicklaus villa in the meantime?  Because the resort in question

here is the president`s struggling golf property in Doral, Florida. 

 

Yesterday, the president`s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, confirmed to the

press that that resort, the president`s golf course in Doral, will host

next year`s G-7 summit.  And, clearly, this is an unprecedented use of the

presidency to put revenue into a president`s pockets.  But what`s

interesting about this new scandal is that it`s also quite clearly a way to

prop up a business that has been severely underperforming for the

president. 

 

“The Washington Post`s” Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Fahrenthold

has done some remarkable reporting specifically on this Doral property

showing how steep of a decline the resort is in.  And that`s no small thing

for the president and his business.  Doral is where he makes most of his

money.  It`s his keystone property.  It`s his biggest moneymaker hotel. 

 

But in the past few years, the net operating income at a club has dropped

by 69 percent.  A tax consultant hired by the club has told officials it

is, quote, severely underperforming. 

 

That maybe explains why the property has been recently not all that

discerning when it comes to the type of events that it has looked to host. 

Back in July of this year, you might remember the resort teaming up with a

notorious Miami strip club at that planned event at the president`s Doral

resort, golfers were given the option to pay for a nude dancer who would

then serve as their caddie girl while they shot around at the president`s

club. 

 

The planned itinerary was to have everybody head back to the strip club for

what was described as a, quote, very tasteful burlesque show, one that

however should be noted could involve nudity.  No promises, we`re just

saying, it could.

 

That strip club event at the president`s property was ultimately canceled

when the president`s family business decided not to go through with it. 

More recently, though, that`s the same property that`s been in the news for

hosting a pro-Trump conference on a recent weekend.  That`s the conference

in which a video was shown that depicted President Trump shooting and

murdering and decapitating and stabbing his political opponents and

specific members of the news media. 

 

So, clearly, the natural progression is now host the G-7 summit of world

leaders at that same property. 

 

The event is set for June when business is already very slow at that

property.  Just to give you an idea in June of 2017, Doral had a 38 percent

occupancy rate.  I guess if they host the G-7 there in June, maybe it`ll

help with that. 

 

The White House said today they vetted 12 possible sites all around

America, and what do you know, Doral was just the only one that made sense. 

 

Nobody actually knows if a selection process took place at all.  Extensive

federal reviews have to be done to secure a location for an international

summit of this magnitude.  There seems to me indications that reviews like

that just weren`t conducted ahead of this announcement about the G-7.  Key

local officials, like, for example, the mayor of Doral, Florida, say that

they only learned about the summit when everybody else did, on Twitter, on

TV.  The mayor of Doral says he`s yet to get a call from the White House

about this at all, which would imply there hasn`t been an extensive federal

review about the city`s planning and security preparations that they would

need to be able to promise to carry off an event like this. 

 

I mean, there`s no shortage of reasons as to why this whole idea is a major

problem.  My colleague, Steve Benen, who writes the Maddow Blog I think has

honed in on the biggest issue of all. 

 

Steve writes for us today, quote: We`re watching a passive versus active

problem play out.  When Saudi Arabia, for example, books rooms at the Trump

International Hotel in D.C., and some of the profits from that transaction

end up in the U.S. president`s pocket.  President Trump can defend the

arrangement by saying it`s entirely passive.  He played no role in the

Saudi`s decision to stay there.  That defense disappears with the G-7

summit scheme.  It`s all active corruption, not passive corruption. 

 

President Trump with this deal in no uncertain terms is telling some of the

most powerful leaders that if they wish to participate in next year`s

international diplomatic summit, they have to spend quite a bit of money at

one of his struggling businesses.  It`s, quote, conscious, it`s deliberate,

it`s direct. 

 

Well, the problem with this happening while an impeachment proceeding is

already under way, it appears to be blatantly unconstitutional, and there`s

the prospect that this alone might stand as its own article of impeachment

in these proceedings.  We`re going to speak next with a lawmaker who wants

Congress to go on the record to vote on why they explicitly don`t approve

of this move on the part of the president.  That`s an important thing as to

whether or not this is a proven anti-constitutional effort by the

president.  When something like that happens in the middle of impeachment

proceedings, it doesn`t tend to end well for the president in question. 

 

That`s ahead. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  In the Constitution, there`s a specific line that says a president

can`t take payments from foreign governments without the express consent of

Congress.  Two things that are very important about that.  First of all,

it`s just unavoidably clear.  Whether it`s small payments or big payments

or market rate payments or discount payments, it doesn`t matter.  The

president can`t take payments from foreign countries. 

 

Then there`s the consent of Congress part of it.  I mean, who knows what

this president considers to be permission from Congress to take money for

himself from anywhere?  Now that the president has proposed that the G-7

summit be held at one of his personally owned properties, which would force

foreign governments to pay him for the privilege of coming to that event,

Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland has come up with a plan to make it

clear that the president has the opposite of the consent of Congress for

this scheme. 

 

Congressman Raskin is proposing that Congress vote explicitly to make clear

that they don`t approve of this.  If that happens, that would make it so

there`s no constitutional way out for the president.  His resolution

opposing the decision to host the G-7 at the president`s golf resort in

Florida is planned for the House Rules Committee for Tuesday, 3:00 p.m.

Eastern Time for a vote. 

 

If that vote goes against the president, which it will, and if the

president still goes ahead with this, that means he is explicitly taking

money from foreign governments with the explicit lack of consent from the

Congress, which sort of feels like the only two ingredients you need for a

ready-made, fully cooked new article of impeachment just on this point

alone. 

 

Joining us now is Congressman Jamie Raskin.  He sits on the Rules Committee

and also Oversight Committee, which I should mention is one of the three

committees leading the impeachment proceedings against the president right

now.

 

Sir, thanks very much for your time tonight.  It`s nice to see you. 

 

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD):  Nice to see you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  I want to mention before I ask you about this just how sad, how

devastated we are about the loss of your chairman in the oversight

committee.  Congressman Cummings passing feels like a landmark moment in

American politics, in U.S. history.  I imagine you on the committee under

his leadership, you guys must be just gutted. 

 

RASKIN:  I mean, it`s been a very tough week for us for that reason and a

very tough week in Maryland.  He was, of course, our favorite son in every

way.  But Elijah showed us how you fight with every fiber of your being to

defend democracy but maintain your decency and your civility and your sense

of humor at the same time.  So, he leaves a remarkable example for us and

his memory will always be a blessing to those of us who had a good fortune

of knowing him. 

 

MADDOW:  Let me ask in the way that I set up this discussion talking about

this plan for a resolution of disapproval for what the president is trying

to do with this G-7 Summit, hosting it at one of his properties.  To me, it

seems like that would have pretty direct implications in terms of the

surface level, unconstitutionality of what the president is trying to do.

 

Did I explain that in the way that you`re thinking about it?  Or is there

any of that I missed? 

 

RASKIN:  No, very much so.  You know, one thing we need to point out is

that no other president in the history of the United States of America has

come remotely this close to even touching the emoluments clause. 

 

In the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln got these beautiful

elephant tusks from the king of Siam.  And he took them to Congress.  He

wanted to keep them and he said, can I keep these in the middle of the

civil war.  They said, you`re doing a great job, Abe, but no, you have to

turn those over to the Department of the Interior. 

 

Trump`s great racial nationalist hero, Andrew Jackson, received a gold

medallion from the prime minister of Venezuela, Simon Bolivar.  He wanted

to keep that, turned it over to Congress, Congress said no. 

 

This president has been collecting millions of dollars from foreign

governments at hotels, resorts, golf courses and business deals all over

the world.  And, of course, at the headquarters of all the corruption, the

Trump Hotel in Washington, which we call the Washington emolument. 

 

But now, he`s outdone himself with this event which will be clearly the

most unconstitutional event ever to take place at a hotel in the history of

the United States because you`ve got a convergence of foreign emoluments

violations with domestic emoluments violations.  He`s going to be shaking

down these foreign governments for hundreds of thousands, at least probably

millions of dollars, which he cannot receive, as you pointed out.  He can`t

take one dollar from them without the consent of Congress.  And he`s not

asked for our consent. 

 

And then he`s also going to be directing millions of dollars from the U.S.

government directly to his property.  The concede here apparently is

they`re not going to take profits, whatever that means.  In any event, it`s

totally irrelevant because the Constitution doesn`t say the president can`t

take profits from foreign governments.  It says he cannot take payments of

any kind whatever, whether that`s gross or that`s net. 

 

So what we`re going to do, I hope, is to adopt this resolution, which

expressly forbids the president to go ahead with this plan and to manifest

our non-consent to his collection of these foreign government emoluments. 

We are also pointing out his violation of the domestic emoluments clause,

which says that the president is limited to his salary in office and he

cannot collect any other money from the taxpayers. 

 

So when the president says, I don`t even take my salary, that`s all he`s

allowed to take.  He cannot take millions of dollars flowing to his hotels

and resorts from the Department of Defense and the Secret Service and the

White House as they put people up and pay for their meals and golf carts

and so on.  It`s just a scam.  It`s a get-rich-quick scheme. 

 

MADDOW:  Congressman Raskin, thanks very much for being here tonight. 

We`re going to be watching this closely on Tuesday.  But as this continues

to unfold in the context of the impeachment proceeding, I hope you`ll come

back and talk to us about it again. 

 

RASKIN:  Absolutely. 

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Because it`s Friday, naturally, “The New York Times” has just

broken another late-night story that relates to the president`s personal

lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.  The headline, Giuliani mixes his business with role

as Trump`s lawyer.  A dense new story from Ken Vogel and Michael Schmidt

and Katie Benner at “The New York Times.”

 

Central allegation in this piece, the central reporting in this piece is

that Giuliani has continued to represent clients and broker deals and take

on consulting contracts even as he emerges as a central figure in the

impeachment inquiry.  Kind of along the same lines as our A-block tonight,

in terms of talking about how the impeachment proceedings appear to fit

alongside the criminal investigation of these matters, that is working its

way through the courts in the Southern District of New York. 

 

I will just highlight this new detail from “The New York times.”  Quote, a

few weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani secured a meeting along with some other defense

lawyers with the head of the criminal division at the Justice Department as

well as attorneys in the fraud section.  They were there to discuss a

foreign bribery case for a client that Mr. Giuliani described as very, very

sensitive.  Mr. Giuliani declined to divulge details about the meeting. 

 

But as – serving as the president`s lawyer, he`s taking meetings with the

head of the criminal division trying to get somebody off on a foreign

bribery case?

 

We`ll be right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  That`s going to do it for us tonight.  Presumably, I`ll be up all

night looking at breaking news because it`s a Friday.  I`ll see you again

on Monday. 

 

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Katy Tur filling in for Lawrence

tonight.

 

Good evening, my friend.

 

 

 

                                                                                                               

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