Trump-Russia probe TRANSCRIPT: The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/9/2019

Guests:
David Laufman, Val Demings
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That is ALL IN for this evening.

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.  Good evening, Rachel.

 

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

appreciated.

 

HAYES:  You bet.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Happy Monday. 

 

You know, at least today, we knew in advance that there was going to be way

too much news to keep up with, right, so we knew, you know as long ago as

the end of last week today was a day for which we should, you know, gird

our loins.  I don`t know what girding our loins means, it sounds terrible. 

Bracing ourselves, if you will. 

 

But if you nevertheless did end up feeling overwhelmed by the amount of

news today, it may make you feel a little better to note that it wasn`t

just you.  It wasn`t just you and me and everyone we know.  We are not the

only people having a hard time keeping up with a news day like today. 

 

The Justice Department also today had to ask for a little extra time,

please.  Just couldn`t keep up.  One of the things we were expecting today

was for federal prosecutors to file notice with the judge who was

overseeing the criminal case of this man, President Trump`s deputy campaign

chairman, Rick Gates.  Federal prosecutors were due to notify the judge in

Gate`s case today as to what sentence they think Rick Gates should get. 

 

And this has been a really eagerly anticipated part of this case, and

indeed, part of the overall Trump scandals and their criminal case

components.  Because unlike Paul Manafort, the president`s campaign

chairman who said he would cooperate with prosecutors and then didn`t, and

lied to prosecutors and now he`s in prison for seven-plus years because of

it, unlike Manafort who said he`d cooperate and didn`t, Manafort`s deputy,

Rick Gates, who worked with Manafort, both in his Ukraine work, and you

know, they were working for pro-Kremlin political parties who came with

Manafort to work on the Trump campaign in 2016, Rick Gates actually has

been cooperating.  Manafort said he would and then he didn`t.  Gates said

he would cooperate and he certainly has, including testifying in multiple

trials so far. 

 

Gates has been a cooperating witness for prosecutors for almost two years

now.  So, we have been really anticipating this statement from prosecutors

summing up the extent of his cooperation, the value of his cooperation, how

they think a judge should weigh his cooperation against his felony

convictions and the stuff that he has confessed to, right?  It should be

super-interesting, right?  This is kind of the super cooperator of all the

Trump scandals, at least in terms of these criminal cases. 

 

Seeing what prosecutors have to say about how helpful he was to them, it

should tell us a bunch of stuff that we probably don`t know already.  So,

we have been waiting for this for a long time, and that document from

prosecutors was due by close of business today.  But surprise, in a last

minute filing right before the close of business today, right up against

the deadline, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. filed instead this

short notice with the court acknowledging that the judge, yes, had told the

prosecutors and the defense that they both had to have their sentencing

memos about Rick Gates in today, but the prosecutors say they are not

ready. 

 

Quote: The government is continuing to gather materials for the

government`s memorandum in aid of sentencing.  With the court`s leave, we

also plan to file under seal a supplemental motion regarding Mr. Gate`s

assistance.  A supplemental motion that contains sensitive information

related to ongoing criminal matters.  Oh, therefore, the government, quote,

respectfully requests a one day extension of time to file its memorandum in

aid of sentencing and also moves this court for leave to file under seal

its supplemental motion.  Mr. Gates consents to the government`s request. 

 

So, I mean, who knows why they need one extra day.  To the extent that it

had deadlines today, I put my deadlines off too.  It`s just one of those

days when it was impossible to keep up with everything. 

 

Now, it may be possible that there`s something materially significant about

exactly which day it is that they`re asking for as an extension.  Maybe

they really needed something they couldn`t get until tomorrow morning.  But

they have asked for a one day extension, and it is news itself that Rick

Gates is still providing assistance to prosecutors even at this last date,

something that relates to ongoing criminal matters and is sensitive and has

to be filed under seal.  That`s new itself.

 

I mean, we kind of thought Rick Gates testifying against Paul Manafort,

Rick Gates talking to the grand jury in the Mueller investigation, Rick

Gates testifying on the stand in the Roger Stone trial.  We kind of thought

that was it.  But apparently not, apparently there is more to get out of

Rick Gates and it is sensitive enough that we the public won`t be allowed

to see whatever it is that prosecutors are going to file. 

 

That was a little bit of a curve ball tonight, and I should tell you, just

as we were getting on the air, heading down to the studio just a few

minutes ago, we did get in the defense submission, Gates defense lawyers

telling the judge in his case why they think he shouldn`t get any prison

time.  That alone is interesting but we`re still waiting for what the

prosecutors have to say, which should be fascinating.  We`ll have a little

bit more on that coming up later on. 

 

I should also mention that we originally thought we`d be seeing Trump

national security adviser, Mike Flynn, finally getting sentenced around now

as well.  It was this time last year that Mike Flynn was initially in court

expecting to get his sentence for the felony counts on which he has pled

guilty.  This time last year when he showed up for his sentencing, that`s

when things sort of fell apart for Mike Flynn in open court when the judge

made clear that there was a real possibility that Flynn was going to get

the book thrown at him with his sentencing judge. 

 

After confronting Flynn with all sorts of things he thought about him, the

judge did show some mercy and allowed Flynn to delay that sentencing so he

could go back to prosecutors and cooperate some more to try to alleviate

what otherwise looked like it was going to be a really stiff sentence. 

That was a year ago that the judge sent him away and said you probably

don`t want to be sentenced by me right now.  You probably want to help

yourself a little more in terms of what you can stack up against the

sentence I`m thinking about giving you. 

 

He went away a year ago on that basically advice from the judge, but over

the course of this past year, that`s really not how it went.  Mike Flynn

didn`t go to prosecutors and help them lots more so prosecutors would come

back and say, wow, he`s been even more helpful, we want you to be more

lenient than he might otherwise been.  It didn`t go that way.  Prosecutors

to the contrary are now expressing dissatisfaction with the degree to which

Flynn has continued to be helpful to them. 

 

Flynn has switched to a different legal team, which is a sort of Fox News

pundit-based legal team, which appears to be gunning for a presidential

pardon for Flynn.  The legal team has made all sort of over-the-top

allegations about the evil Justice Department and evil FBI and innocent

Mike Flynn being targeted by deep state cabal, and the FBI themselves being

the real criminals.  Just a couple of weeks ago, Mike Flynn`s sentencing

was delayed again because his new lawyers said there was this inspector

general report coming out of the Justice Department which would shed

important new light on the bogus case against Mike Flynn. 

 

The judge in Flynn`s case, the same one who sent him away a year ago and

said you might want to help yourself more before you hear the sentence I`m

going to give you.  That same judge agreed to once again delay Flynn`s

sentencing, this time until after the inspector general`s report came out

so that everybody could see what the inspector general concluded about the

propriety of the case, even the propriety of the FBI`s original decision to

open an investigation into Flynn. 

 

Well, now, as of today, that inspector general report is out.  If you read

the judge in Mike Flynn`s case, it`s easy to imagine that you might be a

little bit annoyed at this point if in fact you delayed the sentencing

because of what you believed were good faith assertions from Mike Flynn`s

lawyers that this new report was going to change everything, it was going

to, you know, make the case against Mike Flynn fall apart.  It was going to

expose the dastardly FBI for, you know, only having pursued Flynn because

of some political vendetta against Flynn or against Donald Trump. 

 

Whatever else they thought this would give him, you might imagine the judge

today having the opportunity to see this report might be annoyed, because

the inspector general report out today does discuss the FBI opening their

investigation into Mike Flynn and they conclude that it was no problem. 

They took a hard look at it, it seems pretty kosher is pretty much the

conclusion.  Definitely nothing wrong with the Mike Flynn investigation. 

 

This is what`s in the inspector general report on Flynn.  Quote, the

initial investigative objective of Crossfire Hurricane, the Russia

investigation, was to determine which individuals associated with the Trump

campaign may have been in a position to have received the alleged offer of

assistance from Russia.  After conducting preliminary open source and FBI

database inquiries, intelligence analysts on the Crossfire Hurricane team

identified three individuals, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn

associated with the Trump campaign with either ties to Russia or a history

of travel to Russia. 

 

On August 10th, 2016, the team opened separate counterintelligence cases on

Page, Manafort, and George Papadopoulos, under code names designed by the

FBI.  Six days later, on August 16th, a counterintelligence case was opened

on Flynn under another code name assigned by the FBI.  Each case was

designated as a sensitive investigative matter because the individual

subjects were believed to be prominent in a domestic political campaign. 

 

Inspector general then explains the predicate information that was cited as

the reason for opening FBI investigations into each of those people,

including Flynn.  Quote, the opening electronic communication, the opening

statement for the Flynn investigation, stated that there was an articulable

factual basis that Flynn may have wittingly or unwittingly been involved in

activity on behalf of the Russian Federation, which may constitute a

federal crime or threat to the national security.  The document cross-

referenced the predication to Crossfire Hurricane investigation and stated

that Flynn was an adviser to the Trump campaign who had various ties to

state affiliated entities of Russia and who traveled to Russia in December

2015. 

 

That`s what the FBI did when it opened its investigation into Flynn.  Was

there anything wrong with them opening that investigation into Flynn?  The

inspector general says no.  Not at all. 

 

From page 352, quote, we concluded that the FBI had stuff predication to

open full counter intelligence investigations of Papadopoulos, page, Flynn

and Manafort in August of 2016, as with the opening of Crossfire Hurricane

itself, we concluded that the quantum of information articulated by the FBI

to open these individual investigations was sufficient, particularly in the

context of the FBI`s separate and ongoing efforts to address Russian

interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. 

 

So, the FBI was looking at Russia interfering in the 2016 elections.  They

were looking specifically at whether anybody on the Trump campaign might

have been in the position to accept that offer of assistance from Russia or

otherwise coordinate with Russia, wittingly or unwittingly, while they were

carrying out this operation to interfere in our election.  The FBI looked

at people in the Trump campaign who might have been in a position to do

that sort of thing and Flynn is one of the people they investigate.  That`s

the investigation that ultimately resulted in him pleading guilty to a

felony.  That`s now what he`s now waiting to be sentenced on.

 

So, to the extent that Mike Flynn`s sentencing was just delayed again

because his lawyers were totally sure, and told the court that this

inspector general report was going to be something the judge definitely

wanted to see before any effort to sentence poor old innocent Mike Flynn,

since the FBI so obviously set him up, let`s wait to see that report that

shows that he was. 

 

I mean, the inspector general report is now out.  It concludes that Mike

Flynn was not set up, and the FBI did nothing wrong when they opened their

investigation into him.  There`s also no indication in the inspector

general`s report that the FBI did anything wrong over the course of its

case against Flynn which again resulted in him pleading guilty to a felony. 

 

So, President Trump`s national security adviser Mike Flynn is resume apply

presumably running out of rabbits in terms of what his lawyers have

available to continue to try to pull out of a hat, to try to keep the judge

in his case from pronouncing his sentence.  We know he wants a presidential

pardon.  It would appear he`s at end of his rope in terms of what he can do

to continue to use to delay his federal court sentencing.  We`re now

waiting to hear at any time from the judge in Flynn`s case.  The inspector

general report is out.  It offers Flynn no help for this somewhat crazy

defense he and his Fox News lawyers have been mounting in court. 

 

Now when it comes to Rick Gates, we expect we will hear from prosecutors

about the Rick Gates sentencing tomorrow.  Some of that will be filed under

seal.  It`s not known if the ongoing criminal matter that Rick Gates is

still helping with pertains maybe to Mike Flynn.  I mean, after all, the

Mike Flynn case is still open.  Flynn hasn`t been sentenced.

 

It could also pertain to anybody else from Trump land, right?  But the

criminal cases adjacent to this president and his campaign in the various

Trump presidential scandals, all of these criminal cases, so many of them

are still live and underway. 

 

And don`t forget, all of these federal criminal cases are technically under

the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice run by Attorney General

William Barr, and that is becoming an increasingly weird and even

concerning dynamic, because the prosecutors who have brought all of these

cases against Manafort and against Gates and against Flynn and against

Papadopoulos, and against stone and all the Russian military intelligence

officers and against Konstantin Kilimnik, and against the guy who run the

Russian troll farm for the Kremlin, even guys like Alex Van der Zwaan and

Michael Cohen, all of these federal criminal cases that have been brought

by prosecutors that are alongside or abutting Trump and his presidential

scandals, all of the prosecutors who have brought all of those cases are

working under the auspices of Bill Barr, and Bill Barr appears now day by

day to increasingly be at war with the Justice Department that he is

leading, including specifically on this inspector general`s report, which

doesn`t just clear the FBI and the Justice Department in terms of their

handling of the Mike Flynn investigation, it includes the whole fantasy

that the Russia investigation was some sort of a deep state plot designed

to sabotage Donald Trump`s political chances. 

 

I mean, the inspector general chased down all the little fuzzy threads of

that hairball conspiracy theory and just found it to all be nonsense.  And

just look at the conclusions of the report.  There`s a long executive

summary.  Look at that.  Look at the conclusions.  Conclusion, page 410. 

 

Quote: The decision to open the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was made

by the FBI`s then Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director Bill

Priestap, and reflected a consensus reached after multiple days of

discussions and meetings among senior FBI officials.  We concluded, I mean,

the inspector general`s office concluded that Priestap`s exercise of

discretion in opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was in

compliance with department and FBI policies, we did not find documentary or

testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced

his decision.  We found that Crossfire Hurricane was opened for an

authorized investigative purpose and with sufficient factual predication. 

 

Now, as to the use of informants and confidential sources and these, you

know, allegations from the president and from Attorney General William Barr

that the Trump campaign was some how spied on and that was a real scandal

here, well, the inspector general ran all that down.  Quote: We did not

find any documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or

improper motivation influenced the FBI`s decision to conduct these

operations.  We found no evidence that the FBI attempted to place any

confidential human sources within the Trump campaign or recruit members of

the Trump campaign as human sources or task human sources to report on the

Trump campaign. 

 

So the inspector general looked into it in detail, and concluded that the

individual investigations they opened into people associated with the Trump

campaign, those all sound.  The Russia investigation and the specific

investigation into whether the Trump campaign was in on what Russia was

doing, that was fundamentally sound. 

 

Now, the report did criticize the way the FBI filled out the court

application for the one FISA warrant they obtained over the whole

investigation.  It was a FISA warrant into Trump campaign adviser Carter

Page who we know before the Trump administration – before his involvement

with the Trump campaign was also someone whose name surfaced in other

Russian intelligence investigations in the United States. 

 

But the inspector general`s report broadly debunks the conspiracy theories

on the right that everybody in these investigations had FISA warrants

against them.  It turns out one guy had a FISA warrant, Carter Page.  They

do take issue with the way that the Carter Page warrant was applied for and

the way the updates to those applications went.  But that`s it. 

 

The inspector general debunks that there was any anti-Trump political bias

motivating these decisions.  They debunked the idea that the Christopher

Steele dossier of opposition research against Trump was the basis for

opening the FBI`s Russia investigation.  It absolutely was not, and oh, by

the way, no, there was no spying on the Trump campaign. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH):  So, you`re not – you`re not suggesting,

though, that spying occurred? 

 

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I don`t – well, I guess you could – I

think there`s a spying did occur, yes.  I think spying did occur. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

BURNETT:  Spying did not occur, according to the Justice Department. 

Justice Department`s inspector general report came out concluding

definitively, that the Trump campaign was not spied on, which you would –

I mean, given the seriousness of the allegation the Trump campaign was

spied on, given the fact that the attorney general made that allegation,

right, while giving sworn testimony in Congress that he threw that out

there, now that his own Justice Department has concluded, no, they weren`t

spied on. 

 

Under normal circumstances that would be the occasion for the attorney

general to resign, right, from having thrown out an allegation that

serious, that grave, with no reason for doing so, and then being disproven,

under normal circumstances, a senior government official having being

called out that badly on something that serious, you might expect a

resignation.  Rather, what we actually got today was Attorney General

William Barr releasing a statement taking issue with the findings of the

inspector general report, basically saying he doesn`t believe it, trying to

spin the findings of the inspector general`s report to make them seem much

more in line with the kind of crazy criticism that he and the White House

have been promoting for months. 

 

It`s like when the Mueller was completed but we couldn`t see it yet, and

William Barr put out his report saying, well, I`ve read the Mueller report

and trust me, it`s awesome for Donald Trump, right?  It was oddly effective

for the public understanding – public misunderstanding of the Mueller

report when Barr did that the first time.  It appears that he is trying to

do this again with this inspector general report, right?

 

This inspector general report debunks all the conspiracy theories about the

Russia investigation.  Barr has nevertheless put out a statement saying,

well, as far as he can tell, none of that is right.  The problem this time

is that, number one, we`ve all got the report.  We can read it ourselves. 

We don`t have to rely on Bill Barr summarizing for us this time before

we`re allowed to see it. 

 

But number two, we`ve also seen him pull this trick before, right?  So, we

can now more easily recognize that, yes, this is what Bill Barr does as

Trump`s attorney general.  Him putting out a statement today dissenting

from the findings of the inspector general of his own department, we now

know that`s an important story about Bill Barr as attorney general, and

about how devoted he will apparently remain to whatever fake exculpatory

theory he and the president are promoting about the behavior of the

president and even though that of his campaign, including all the guys who

are under indictment or already in jail. 

 

I mean, it tells you something about William Barr as attorney general.  But

we know better than to expect that his statements about things like this

tell you anything about what`s actually in the report.  So, we can all read

the inspector general report ourselves. 

 

In terms of the criticism of the way the FISA application for the Carter

Page FISA warrant went, the FBI has already said they not only accept, they

embrace those findings of the report and they embrace the recommendations

of the inspector general about how to improve those policies and

procedures, apparently there will now be some sort of follow on report

about reforming the way the FBI and Justice Department seek wiretapping

applications from the FISA court, OK. 

 

But the whole witch hunt idea, the deep state cabal, the Russia

investigation being a coup against President Trump, all of those talking

points today, took a hard blow from this 476-page deep examination of all

of those crazy claims.  And that report arrives in the middle of what may

be the climactic impeachment hearing today before the Judiciary Committee. 

 

The committee spent the first several hours of this impeachment hearing

today having one long opening statement after the other from the committee

chair from the ranking member, from the committee counsel, then the from

other committee counsel, then from the witness who was also a committee

counsel and other witness who was also a committee counsel.  I mean, for

many hours today at the start of this hearing, it was just individual guy

lawyers talking out loud. 

 

When they finally started mixing it up and cross-examining the witnesses

and having actual back-and-forth between the questioners and really

interrogating the factual record about the president`s behavior in this

impeachment scandal, of course, that moment in the hearing is when they

released the inspector general report, and everybody had to go pay

attention to something else for a while when the hearing was finally

getting super interesting.  But we have to pay attention to everything at

once.  This is just what it`s like in our nation`s history and this news

cycle. 

 

In the end, this impeachment hearing today will go down in the record of

the scandal as the sort of definitive summation of what the president is

accused of having done.  What he`s being impeached for, and some of the

questioning, members of the Judiciary Committee did a good job, drilling

down not just into the nature of the president`s alleged crime here, but

the direct culpability for it and the ongoing danger of what the president

did, which is ultimately why the House of Representatives said they are

moving fast now to get this resolved before the next election is monkey

wrenched too. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DANIEL GOLDMAN, DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Just two

days ago, President Trump stated publicly that he hopes that his personal

attorney rouge will Rudy Giuliani will report to the Department of Justice

and Congress the results of Mr. Giuliani`s efforts in Ukraine last week to

pursue these false allegations meant to tarnish Vice President Biden. 

President Trump`s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign

country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger

to our free and fair elections and to our national security.  

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  Mr. Goldman, who sent Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine

to smear Joe Biden? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who fired the anti-corruption ambassador in Ukraine, Marie

Yovanovitch? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who told Ambassador Sondland and Ambassador Volker to work with

Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who told Vice President Pence to not go to President Zelensky`s

inauguration?

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who ordered his own chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to withhold

critical military assistance to Ukraine? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who refused to meet with President Zelensky in the Oval Office? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who ignored on July 25 his own National Security Council`s anti-

corruption talking points? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who asked President Zelensky for a favor? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who personally asked President Zelensky to investigate his

political rival Joe Biden? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who stood on the White House lawn and confirmed that he wanted

Ukraine to investigate Vice President Biden? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  Who stood on that same lawn and said China should also

investigate Vice President Biden? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump. 

 

SWALWELL:  As to anything we do not know in this investigation, who has

blocked us from knowing it? 

 

GOLDMAN:  President Trump and the White House. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  So there`s a lot of moving parts here.  Right now, a lot of stuff

happening at once.  I should tell you this is important breaking news, the

head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House, Congressman Eliot

Engel, tonight said that we should expect a press conference early tomorrow

morning in which the chairs of the various committees investigating the

impeachment scandal are going to announce their next steps on articles of

impeachment.  We had been expecting that that announcement might actually

include their plans for what they are going to put in the articles of

impeachment against President Trump. 

 

That`s what – I was comfortable saying we are expecting that when we got

on the air.  Since I have been on the air in the past few minutes, a senior

Democratic aide has confirmed to NBC News that the House will introduce

articles of impeachment tomorrow morning. 

 

“The Washington Post” has just in the past few minutes reported that their

expectations, that the House of Representatives is going to draft two

articles of impeachment against Trump, one on abuse of power and the other

on obstruction of Congress. 

 

So, again, that`s breaking news.  That`s from Eliot Engel, the chairman of

foreign affairs, one of the committees that has been investigating this

thing, saying at the press conference that they have called, that the

chairs of the investigatory committees have called for tomorrow morning, we

may be getting the articles of impeachment against the president as early

as then. 

 

So, it`s just a remarkable bookend on this time in our history, right, the

night before we`re apparently going to get the impeachment articles against

Donald Trump, for him inviting a foreign country to interfere on his behalf

of the 2020 election, the eve of those impeachment articles being unveiled. 

We also get the validation that the Russia investigation was sound and when

the FBI looked at Russia interfering in our election, and started

investigating whether anybody on the Trump campaign was wittingly or

unwittingly coordinating with Russia on that interference over our last

election, that decision by the FBI to launch that investigation was sound. 

It was not a witch hunt.  It was not the product of political bias. 

 

These bookends, right?  I mean for this to be happening the day before

we`re going to get the impeachment articles for him trying to get

interference in 2020, the spin coming out of Washington on both of these

developments, the inspector general`s report, and the expectations of this

impeachment articles, the spin coming out of Washington on these things is

like, you know, a blender or puree with a lid off.  You know, it`s an

absolute chaotic whirlwind of messy, messy spin, and it will stay like that

for a while. 

 

But there are simple facts at the heart of this that we are going through

right now as a country.  We`re going to be talking with a member of the

Judiciary Committee.  We`re also going to be talking with somebody who has

a significant role himself in this inspector general report reviewing the

origins of the Russia investigation. 

 

Big night for us tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  This is from Section 2, Subsection A, Department of Justice

National Security Division. 

 

The department was first notified about the opening of Crossfire Hurricane

on August 2nd, 2016, when FBI official Bill Priestap and the Intelligence

Section  briefed several representatives from the National Security

Division, including Deputy Assistant Attorney George Toscas, Deputy

Assistant Attorney General Adam Hickey, and David Laufman,

counterintelligence and export control chief. 

 

According to Laufman, and his contemporaneous notes of the briefing, FBI

officials described the information received from a foreign government that

had caused the bureau to open the initial investigation and the four

individuals the FBI had identified through its initial investigative work,

who are members of the campaign and had ties to Russia.  Laufman told us,

meaning he told the inspector general`s office, his impression had raised

obvious alarm bells in the FBI and he said the information resonated with

him.  He also said the information the FBI provided at the briefing

presented the question whether someone in the Russian government was

working with the campaign to influence the U.S. elections. 

 

Laufman told us that, quote, we certainly understood the significance of

the matter and the need for further investigation, and he said that it

would have been a dereliction of duty and responsibility of the highest

order not to commit the appropriate resources as urgently as possible to

run these facts to the ground, to find out what was going on. 

 

David Laufman led the counter intelligence and expert control section at

the Justice Department.  He served first under President Obama, and then

for a year under President Trump.  His work at the Justice Department has

led to the high profile convictions you have seen lately for unregistered

foreign lobbying.  He helped to oversee the Hillary Clinton e-mail

investigation and the Trump/Russia probe. 

 

He was there from the beginning.  He was there in the room, and he joins us

here now. 

 

David Laufman, former head of the intelligence section of the DOJ under

President Obama and Trump, sir, it`s great to have you.  Thank you.

 

DAVID LAUFMAN, FORMER CHJIEF OF DOJ`S COUNTERINTEL & EXPORT CONTROL

SECTION:  Thanks (ph), Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  So, that is one of the sections of the inspector general report

that discusses you, and your involvement at the outset of the Russia

investigation.  Let me just ask you whether you take any issue with the way

that you appear in this report and how you feel about it overall. 

 

LAUFMAN:  I`m fine with their mention of me.  I mean, I think this is a

prestigious (ph) piece of work that reflects really credibly on the

inspector general and his team.  There are a number of serious flaws and

irregularities in the FISA process, which we talked about before.  This

shouldn`t be pooh-poohed or swept under the rug.  The FBI as you said is

going to embrace those and commit to reforms that the Department of Justice

will support.

 

But on the key issues, on the thing that were gravamen of the grievances by

congressional Republicans who asked for this investigation that this was a

witch hunt, that this was spying on the campaign.  This was an effort to,

you know, foment a coup, there could not be a more utter and complete

repudiation of those conspiracy theories and the meticulousness with which

this investigation was conducted, laid out in hundreds of pages for the

American people to see. 

 

MADDOW:  And in terms of the somewhat – I mean, this is a dense report. 

It`s 470 something pages but it`s also single space, small type at times,

it`s got so much detail, it doesn`t read like a beautiful narrative, but we

do actually get a compelling narrative about the initial days of the

investigation, the FBI being confronted with information that they believed

was adequate predicate to start looking at something they knew was very

sensitive.  When you told the inspector general`s office that the initial

information that you heard about why the FBI opened that investigation,

this information from the Australian government that somebody in the Trump

campaign appeared to have advanced knowledge of what Russia had done, four

individuals associated with the Trump campaign who appeared to have links

to Russia that were at least worth looking at, according to the report you

said that resonated with you, what did you mean by that? 

 

LAUFMAN:  Right.  So, what`s important to remember, what get lost at times,

we had been living for weeks and months with the FBI cyber campaign to

subvert the upcoming election.  So, we already knew there was an intense

state sponsored effort by the Russian government to subvert the election. 

Now comes this report from the Australian government official that someone

associated with the Trump campaign said they may come into possession of

information derogatory to the rival candidate and it was like a bookend to

use your phrase to what we are living with. 

 

And it came from a credible source.  We would have been irresponsible not

to take appropriate actions to commit resources to undertake that

investigation, and I think everything you see in that report bears that

out. 

 

MADDOW:  Are you troubled by the fact that there isn`t, as far as we know,

there isn`t a parallel Justice Department or FBI investigation into the

president`s actions to openly solicit Ukraine and even China to provide

derogatory information about his political rivals for 2020?

 

LAUFMAN:  Well, I do think it`s curious.  In the end, the Department of

Justice, that normally undertakes the investigations, the public integrity

section is not known as wallflowers when it comes to aggressive,

investigative, creative theory and here along the side, we have this

attorney general fomenting reinvestigations of investigations that were

already begun and perhaps closed at the behest of political supporters of

the president, but in this current situation involving campaign finance,

we`re just not even going to start an investigation – I mean, that`s

really kind of hard to add up. 

 

MADDOW:  I want to ask you to stay with us for just a second because I want

to ask you about that.  We have statements taking issue with the inspector

general`s report from the attorney general but also a very unusual

statement from a U.S. attorney who`s been tasked by the attorney general as

looking into other parts of this.  Can you stick with us?

 

LAUFMAN:  All right. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Our guest is David Laufman.  He`s the head of the

counterintelligence section in the Justice Department until recently. 

 

We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  As we are informed this evening that the Congress will be moving

forward as early as tomorrow morning with unveiling articles of impeachment

against President Trump, remarkably because all of these things have to

happen all at once, and because there are poets among the news gods,

remarkably tonight, we have also got an inspector general report from the

Department of Justice reflecting on the origins of the Russia investigation

finding that there was not political bias or other improper considerations

that led the Justice Department and the FBI to open up investigations into

Russia interfering in our election and the question of whether the Trump

campaign was in on it.

 

Joining us once again is David Laufman, who`s the former head of the

counterintelligence inside the Justice Department under President Trump and

the first year of President – under President Obama and the first year of

President Trump`s turn, which means he was there at the outset of the

Russia investigation. 

 

David, I wanted to ask you about the response to this report today.  We

just discussed the fact that Attorney General William Barr put out a

statement essentially contesting the findings of his own department of the

inspector general, but there was also a second statement from John Durham,

the U.S. attorney for Connecticut who has been additionally tasked by

Attorney General William Barr with looking into other elements, a criminal

investigation into the Russia investigation.

 

LAUFMAN:  Right.  If you think Barr`s statement was unusual, Durham`s

statement is even more bizarre.  Here you have a sitting prosecutor

conducting a pending criminal investigation making a public statement

seeming to denigrate the scope and adequacy of the findings of the I.G.

investigation while pointing out that he appears to be in position of some

secret information from some other government agency that the I.G. had no

access to as if to preserve the possibility that these findings will be

undermined later by some new revelations. 

 

MADDOW:  It is – I mean, it`s worth stressing this is an active U.S.

attorney who is involved in an active criminal investigation that is

pending, of which we have seen no public facing indictments.  Even if all

he had said was – we`re positive things had nothing to do with the sort of

controversial ground that he`s tread upon, it`s weird for the prosecutor to

talk about his investigation while it`s ongoing period. 

 

LAUFMAN:  It`s very uncommon, for prosecutors speak through charging

documents, opening statements, closing arguments, examinations of

witnesses, they don`t issue press conferences in the middle of their

investigation to comment upon someone else`s investigation and to talk

about how much better their investigation is than the other investigation. 

I`ve never heard of such a thing happening. 

 

MADDOW:  Is Mr. Durham breaking a rule at the Justice Department by doing

this?  Are there regulations that prevent sort of thing? 

 

LAUFMAN:  You know, I`m not sure that there`s a specific rule that governs

that.  And maybe because no one has ever done this before, they didn`t

think they needed a rule to govern this.  Suffice it to say, it`s highly

unusual.  I think it reflects poorly on Mr. Durham to lend his name

prematurely and reflect and credibility into this political arena because

this has the patina of political support for Barr`s own statement, for the

statements that other people on behalf of the president have been making

and that reflects incredibly upon Mr. Durham. 

 

MADDOW:  David Laufman, head of the counterintelligence section at DOJ

under President Obama and President Trump, sir, thank you.  It`s good to

have you here. 

 

All right.  Much more here tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SWALWELL:  Take a wild guess, Mr. Castor, how many times has President

Trump met with Vladimir Putin or talked to him? 

 

CASTOR:  I don`t know the number. 

 

SWALWELL:  It`s 16. 

 

STEVE CASTOR, GOP COUNSEL:  OK. 

 

SWALWELL:  How many times has President Trump met at the White House with

President Zelensky? 

 

It`s zero. 

 

And who is President Trump meeting with at the White House tomorrow, do you

know? 

 

CASTOR:  I`m not. 

 

SWALWELL:  It`s Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. 

 

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL):   And what makes me angry is that this president,

President Trump thinks he can get away with it, but he got caught.  And he

tried to cover it up.  But we won`t let him do that. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Scenes from today`s apparently potentially climactic public

impeachment hearing at the Judiciary Committee.

 

Joining us now is Congresswoman Val Demings.  She`s a law enforcement

veteran, long time police chief.  She`s now a member of Congress with a

seat on the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee.

 

Congresswoman Demings, thank you so much for being here tonight.  I know

it`s been a heck of a long day. 

 

DEMINGS:  Good to be with you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  So, multiple news outlets, including NBC News, are now reporting

that the House is going to introduce articles of impeachment first thing

tomorrow, basically unveiling articles of impeachment against the president

at a press conference with key Democratic chairman.  I am guessing that you

can not get out in front of that news, but I`m hoping that you can share

what you might know about what seems like a fast moving series of events,

culminating that announcement tomorrow. 

 

DEMINGS:  Well, Rachel, as you know, the speaker made an announcement last

week that we were proceeding with writing articles of impeachment.  Of

course, we take this process very, very seriously.  We were at work all day

Saturday and all day Sunday.  After the hearing today, we had a meeting

today, and we`ll be back meeting first thing in the morning. 

 

So in terms of what the articles will look like, that is not my

announcement to make, but I do expect an announcement will be made tomorrow

in conjunction with the committee chairs who have jurisdiction over those

committees. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of putting together the case against President Trump

here, obviously, all those closed door depositions with 17 witnesses, that

remarkable series of public hearings in front of the Intelligence Committee

and now these two long public hearings in front of the Judiciary Committee

talking about not just the factual record but the constitutional basis for

impeachment.  Do you, yourself, in terms of thinking about making up your

own mind about how you are going to vote and also what you want to be in

those articles, do you feel like you know what you need to know or do you

feel like there are holes in the record that may materially affect your

base level decision here? 

 

DEMINGS:  Well, you know, it`s been amazing how much evidence that we have

been able to accumulate in about 75 days.  But the bottom line is this, the

best witness, the most effective witness, the most compelling witness in

this impeachment inquiry has been the president of the United States.  We

don`t have to guess or try to figure out or surmise on what the president

said on the call record from July 25th.  The president was clear when he

spoke to President Zelensky that he wanted him to get involved in political

investigations.

 

In other words, the president put his own personal political interests

above that of the nations, and also really jeopardize our national

security.  So, while it appears to have been a short period of time, the

evidence that we have in this case is pretty overwhelming, the testimony

has been very compelling.  And I do believe that we have everything we need

right now to proceed. 

 

MADDOW:  Congresswoman Val Demings really appreciate you being here

tonight, over nine hours today in that hearing today.  I know you all

working very hard.  Tomorrow`s going to be a very big day as well.

 

Thank you for making time for us. 

 

DEMINGS:  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Again, we`re following breaking news.  Actually, I can

tell you a little bit of it, in advancing the story – NBC News has now

confirmed what the “Washington Post” was reporting earlier this hour, which

is that the house is expected to draft two articles of impeachment against

President Trump.  Those may be unveiled as soon as tomorrow morning. 

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  I mentioned at the top of the show we got hold of a new court

filing from the defense attorneys for this man, Rick Gates, President

Trump`s deputy campaign chair.  He`s awaiting sentencing in federal court

after pleading guilty on felony charges. 

 

We just had time to review the submission.  Rick Gates` lawyers are asking

for no prison time for Mr. Gates.  Quote: We respectfully ask, your honor,

to impose a sentence consisting of a term of probation with minimum

supervision. 

 

Gates` lawyers say that their client`s extensive cooperation is the reason

he should get no jail time.  They`re saying specifically he spent over 500

hours working with the special counsel`s office and other federal

prosecutors.  They note that he testified in the trials of Greg Craig and

Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, and they say he is, quote, committed to

testify in still other trials if requested.  Prosecutors told the court

tonight that they want to file a sealed statement tomorrow about Rick

Gates` cooperation in ongoing criminal proceedings.  That is something they

describe as too sensitive to be shown to the public.  They want it to be

filed sealed with Gates` sentencing judge.

 

Despite all his cooperation, looks like there may be more to get out of

Rick Gates.  We will know more within 24 hours. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  The calendar is starting to look weird, all the stuff we have to

put at the same time, it`s like you should do some sort of weird mix of

colored pencils and pens and crayons and stuff.  Stuff just doesn`t fit

together. 

 

For example, the Iowa caucuses are eight weeks from tonight.  Also, NBC

News is reporting impeachment articles are expected to be unveiled against

President Trump tomorrow morning.  Also tomorrow night, Mayor Pete

Buttigieg is going to be joining me here live at 9:00 p.m. here in studio. 

 

How do I make these things coexist in my calendar in a way that keeps me

sane? 

 

That does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again tomorrow. 

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

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