Mike Flynn asks to withdraw guilty plea. TRANSCRIPT: 1/14/20, The Rachel Maddow Show.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I had my office door closed because I was
freaking out and I wanted to be alone. And I heard you come down from your
end of the hall to explain to my folks, is this what I think it is? I was
like, oh, good, at least Chris is freaking out as much as I am. He can just
do it with other people whereas I have to be alone.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Right, your staff.
MADDOW: Presumably you hid your own freak out from your staff.
HAYES: Yes, exactly. All right. Good night.
MADDOW: Thanks, my friend. Good night. Yes, leave me with it.
All right. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
As Chris mentioned there, the news has taken a remarkable turn this
evening, and I think it is fair to say it has taken a dark turn.
All right. It was late last spring, early part of last summer when we first
started seeing press reports about the gentlemen we would all come to know
affectionately as Lev and Igor. Two Soviet-born Russian-speaking
businessmen who were apparently working with President Trump`s personal
attorney Rudy Giuliani on some sort of scheme involving Ukraine, and
allegations that Giuliani was making about Joe Biden and what appeared to
be sort of pressure on the Ukrainian government.
This would take awhile to unspool, but it, of course, would ultimately
become in President Trump becoming only the third president in U.S. history
to be impeached. And, of course, we are right in the middle of that
impeachment process right now. The House will vote tomorrow to appoint the
members of Congress who will act as impeachment managers, effectively the
prosecutors, who will try the case in the Senate against President Trump.
The House will simultaneously vote tomorrow to formally convey the articles
of impeachment from the House over to the Senate.
That means that at some point tomorrow, we expect some point after 5:00
p.m. Eastern tomorrow, we will see this dramatic ceremonial thing in which
the House impeachment articles are literally walked across the capital
grounds from the House side to the Senate side whereupon the impeachment
managers will physically deliver those articles of impeachment to start the
process of putting the president on trial. That is all about to happen. We
are on the eve of that very dramatic stuff that`s supposed to start the
Senate trial tomorrow.
But as the impeachment scandal has developed over these few months, out of
the corner of your eye, you`ve been able to sort of monitor all of these
recent – in all of these recent months, this parallel story of Lev and
Igor. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Mr. Giuliani, whose
relationship with Mr. Giuliani has been vague at times. It appears that
they were paying Mr. Giuliani. There is a record of them paying him half a
On the other hand, at times, he appears to have been paying them, or at
least employing them in some capacity. Fruman and Parnas have represented
themselves as having been working forge in Giuliani`s capacity as President
Trump`s personal lawyer, which would mean by the transit of property, they
were working for President Trump. It`s never been totally clear what
exactly the relationship of that – what exactly the contours of that
relationship were and how money factored into it. Presumably that will
become clear at some point. But there has been this parallel case of these
two unusual guys – it`s been sort of chugging along in the news alongside
and abutting the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill against the
president for this scheme in which they were apparently involved with Mr.
Well, now, today, most unexpectedly, that has just blown open. The
impeachment inquiry in the House first sent a request for information,
documents, testimony to Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman at the very end of
September, the very beginning of October, right at the start of the formal
impeachment inquiry in the House. It was October 3rd when impeachment
investigators got a “no” from Lev and Igor, no, they`re not going to help.
They got a letter from then lawyer saying those two gentlemen would not
Cooperate with the request for information. They wouldn`t testify. They
wouldn`t hand anything over.
That letter was from their lawyer at the time who was John Dowd. You can
tell this because the typeface there is comic sans, which is like his
signature. John Dowd, you`ll remember, was President Trump`s lawyer for a
long time in the Russia investigation. He at the beginning was representing
Lev and Igor as they were summoned to testify at the impeachment inquiry.
And stick a pin in that for now. We`re going to come back to that in a few
But October 3rd, John Dowd sends a letter saying, I represent Lev and Igor
and they are not going to cooperate with your request for information for
the impeachment investigation. Less than a week after that, October 9, Lev
and Igor were arrested at Dulles Airport just outside D.C. They were about
to board a flight to Vienna, first class tickets, one-way tickets.
That apparently is what moved up the urgency of arresting them right then
and there because of fears by prosecutors that they might be fleeing the
country. When Lev and Igor were arrested at the airport, an indictment was
unsealed against them thereafter that showed multiple felony charges
related to them allegedly funneling illegal foreign donations to various
Republican candidates and campaigns. As part of that illegal donation
scheme, the indictment spelled out allegations that the two of them tried
to orchestrate the ousting of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie
So, the day that indictment was unsealed, October 10th, the day after they
were arrested at the airport, the impeachment investigators who had earlier
sent a request to Lev and Igor that they testify and provide information,
the day after those guys got arrested, there was no longer a please and a
voluntary element to that request. Once those guys got arrested on October
10th, that request was turned into a subpoena.
So the impeachment investigation sent a legally binding demand that Lev and
Igor provide information into the impeachment inquiry. After that subpoena,
Lev and Igor each switched lawyers and Lev Parnas, at least, seemed to have
had a change of heart.
By the end of that month, October 30th, he had told the impeachment
investigators in Congress actually he would like to cooperate with them and
he would respond to that subpoena. And he would start producing material
that would be relevant to their impeachment inquiry and he would do so on a
So since then – again, this has been sort of in the corner of your eye.
This has been sort of proceeding alongside the impeachment investigation,
and we know that this is an abutting case, but we never knew what this
would yield. This criminal case against Lev and Igor and two of their
colleagues has proceeded apace. It`s a real criminal case in the southern
district of New York.
There`s been some drama in the courtroom around, for example, their bail
conditions. Prosecutors at one point complained that they hadn`t known
about a million dollar wire transfer to Lev from a Russian bank account.
That made prosecutors request that Lev`s bail be revoked and he be put in
jail to await his trial. Now, the judge disagreed, allowed Mr. Parnas to
stay out on bail. He has remained at liberty awaiting the start of his
But while he has remained at liberty at the start of his trial, something
has been brewing there. His current lawyer, man named Joe Bondy has made
frequent public statements about how much Lev wants to testify to the
impeachment investigators, and how much he knows. He has used online
#LevRemembers and #LetLevSpeak. And we haven`t known what exactly Lev
remembered or what Lev wanted to speak about.
We`ve been asking about that. We`ve been trying to report on what
information Mr. Parnas might have to convey to the impeachment inquiry, how
significant that information might be. We`ve been trying to report it out
for weeks now.
But, now, tonight, surprise, on the eve of the impeachment articles being
conveyed from the House over to the Senate, and the Senate trial starting,
the Intelligence Committee in the House tonight has released about 60 pages
of material that they have, in fact, received from Mr. Parnas. And, boy, is
this not what anyone was expecting.
I mean, maybe somebody knew this was coming, but this is – I`ve been
following this closely, and this to me is nuts. And there`s a few different
elements here we`ll talk about over the course of the show tonight. There`s
new doubts about the president`s emphatic public statements that he doesn`t
know these guys and never had anything to do with them.
There`s the interesting multi-level involvement of some of the president`s
defense counsel in the impeachment inquiry with these guys who appear to
have carried out the scheme for which the president is being impeached.
There is the involvement in the scheme of a figure who prosecutors say is
an upper echelon associate of Russian organized crime. We`ve got further
new detail about that.
But in terms of the craziness factor here, we have to start with what we
have just learned about Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. I mentioned that in
the criminal indictment of Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas, prosecutors described
their illegal donations to names and causes including the main super PAC
supporting President Trump.
But prosecutors also explained in the indictment that what Fruman and
Parnas were trying to do with access to the donations was they were trying
to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, fired. You will
remember from the impeachment testimony that ambassador Yovanovitch was not
just, you know, saddened or even just bewildered that she was inexplicably
fired and called from her post by the Trump administration in the middle of
her tenure as ambassador to Ukraine. You may recall from her dramatic
testimony there was also an element of fear, or at least some kind of
possible threat against her.
This moment where she describe at stood out in the impeachment hearings
because, A, we didn`t know what this was about, and B, it was a dark and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMB. MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Around 1:00 in the
morning, she called me again and she said that, there were great concerns.
There were concerns up the street. And she said I needed to come home
immediately, get on the next plane to the U.S. and I asked her why.
And she said she wasn`t sure, but there were concerns about my security. I
asked her, my physical security? Because sometimes Washington knows more
than we do about these things. And she said, no, she hadn`t gotten that
impression it was a physical security issue, but they were concerned about
my security and I needed to come home right away.
You know, I argued, this is extremely irregular. And no reason given. But
in the end, I did get on the next plane home.
DAN GOLDMAN, DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL: You said there were concerns up the
street. What did you understand that to mean?
YOVANOVITCH: The White House.
GOLDMAN: Did she explain in any more detail what she meant by concerns
about your security?
YOVANOVITCH: No, she didn`t. I did specifically ask whether this had to do
with the mayor Giuliani`s allegations against me and so forth. And she said
she didn`t know. It didn`t even actually appear to me that she seemed to be
aware of that. No reason was offered.
GOLDMAN: Did she explain what the urgency was for you to come back on the
YOVANOVITCH: The only thing that`s pertinent to that, there were concerns
about my security. That`s all. But it was not further explained.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s Marie Yovanovitch who had been the U.S. ambassador to
Ukraine. She was inexplicably fired and recalled to Washington in the
middle of this pressure campaign on Ukraine that they needed to produce
investigations into President Trump`s political rival Joe Biden, or they
wouldn`t get their military aid from the U.S. government.
That was Marie Yovanovitch testifying in the impeachment inquiry in
November. She was told to get on the next plane. There were concerns about
We didn`t know what that was about during the impeachment investigation.
Now tonight, we maybe know what that was about, because in the material
from Lev Parnas that was just handed over to the Intelligence Committee –
that the Intelligence Committee has just released to the Judiciary
Committee in conjunction with the impeachment and to the public so we can
all see it, in the middle of this pile of evidence, these documents, there
is a strange and legitimately alarming series of WhatsApp text messages,
encrypted text messages between Mr. Parnas and a man named Robert F. Hyde
who appears to still be a Republican congressional candidate in the 5th
district of Connecticut. This is his campaign website.
He has been running for Congress on the platform that he`s very close to
Trump`s world. He`s very controversial candidate. At one point, “The
Hartford Courant” ran a blistering editorial about him that was titled
“Robert F. Hyde, get out of the race.”
That was after Hyde posted online an almost unbelievably vulgar, sexist
tweet about Senator Kamala Harris dropping out of the presidential race. It
was a tweet that explicitly referenced oral sex. I`m not going to go
further than that. Don`t look it up. You`ll thank me.
But apparently last spring, this gentleman was working with Lev Parnas or
at least reporting to Lev Parnas about an effort that appeared to target,
maybe even literally Ambassador Yovanovitch in Ukraine. According to these
materials released tonight, this conversation, the series of conversations
between Mr. Parnas and Mr. Hyde starts March 21st last year. Mr. Parnas
sends Robert Hyde a series of articles and tweets that are basically in
support of Giuliani and Trump`s conspiracy theory, that it was really
Ukraine that interfered in the election and all the anti-Biden stuff and
stuff smearing Ambassador Yovanovitch.
The first message that we see from Mr. Hyde is March 22nd, in which he
says: F that five letter word that starts with B. And that`s in reference,
apparently, to Ambassador Yovanovitch. F that.
The following day, Lev Parnas sends Mr. Hyde yet more Ukraine conspiracy
stuff from the Fox News Channel. Hyde responds saying, wow, can`t believe
Trump hasn`t fired this B word. I`ll get right in that.
He then sends Mr. Parnas some attachments that we can`t really tell what
they are because of the way in which the materials have been produced.
But then on March 23rd, here`s the sort of dark turn. Quote: She under
heavy protection outside Kiev.
She`s under heavy protection, and she`s outside of Kiev? How would this guy
know that about Marie Yovanovitch if that`s who we`re still talking about?
And why would it be important to this discussion that he`s having with Mr.
Parnas? Within a couple of days, their texts continue along the same lines.
Robert Hyde telling Mr. Parnas, quote, they are moving here tomorrow. The
guys over, they asked me what I`d like to do and what`s in it for them. He
says, wake up, Yankee`s men.
And he says, she`s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is
off. And he says, she`s next to the embassy, not in the embassy. Private
security. Been there since Thursday.
Parnas responds, interesting. Then Hyde says, quote, they will let me know
when she`s on the move. Parnas says, that`s perfect. Hyde responds, I mean,
where if they can find out? That address I sent you checks out. It`s next
to the embassy.
Quote, they`re willing to help if we/you would like a price. He says, guess
you can do anything in the Ukraine with money, what I was told. Parnas
responds, LOL, as in laugh out loud.
Hyde responds the next day. Update, she will not be moved. Special security
unit upgraded force on the compound. People are already aware of the
My contacts are asking, what`s the next step? Because they cannot keep
going to check. People will start to ask questions.
Then a new text from him. If you want her out, they need to make contact
with security forces.
Following day, he says, quote, nothing has changed. She`s still not moving.
They check again today. And then moments later he says, quote, it`s
confirmed. We have a person inside.
Two days later, hey, brother, do we stand down or do you still need intel?
Then, Hyde says moments later, she had visitors. It`s confirmed. We have a
Hey, broski, tell me what we`re doing, what`s the next step?
What this appears to be is Lev Parnas in communication with somebody who
purports, at least, to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine under physical
surveillance in Ukraine, down to where exactly she is, her exact address,
who she`s with, and whether her phone and computer are turned on or off.
If you want her out, they need to make contact with security forces. And
it`s confirmed. We have a person inside.
The people who he has doing this surveillance he says are, quote, willing
to help because in Ukraine you can do anything with money. Would you like a
As I mentioned, Lev Parnas is the one who handed this material over to the
impeachment inquiry. The person he was in discussions with here is this
Republican congressional candidate from Connecticut. He was reached for
comment tonight by “The Daily Beast.”
Robert Hyde told reporters Sam Brody and Betsy Swan at “The Daily Beast”,
quote: Bull Schiff is a giant B word. That was his response to comment on
But if this was the reason that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was told to
get out of that country on the next flight for her own safety, if this is
the reason she was told, there are concerns about your safety – I mean,
those warnings, that urgent warning, get on the next flight, that warning
from the State Department happened about a month after – almost exactly a
month after these guys were having these detailed WhatsApp text message
exchanges about when she was on the move and what her security is like, and
these guys who can help out if there`s a price.
What did the State Department know about this? What did the White House
know about this? When the State Department conveyed its concerns to Marie
Yovanovitch that she should get on the next flight, it was purportedly
about concerns about her safety that were – or concerns about her security
from up the street, meaning up the street at the White House.
Did they know about this? I mean, if that`s what this is about, this story
has taken a very, very dark turn.
Now, we had known, because Lev Parnas` lawyer has been talking about it
publicly. We had known Lev Parnas was turning over material to impeachment
investigators, to the House Intelligence Committee and Mr. Parnas through
his lawyer said the material he was handing over was relevant to the
impeachment inquiry. We hadn`t before tonight heard anything from Congress
as to what the content was of this material that Lev Parnas was handing
But in addition to the stuff that`s been released publicly tonight, it`s
not only been shown to the public. It`s been formally conveyed to the
Judiciary Committee, which of course is the committee that wrote the
articles of impeachment which passed against President Trump, the articles
that are being conveyed tomorrow to the Senate. In a joint statement
tonight, the chairs of the Intelligence, Judiciary, Oversight and Foreign
Affairs Committees, the four committees that investigated the impeachment
scandal, a joint statement from those four chairs says tonight that they
want this new evidence that they have released tonight publicly considered
by the Senate in the Senate trial of president Trump that is due to start
They say in their joint statement tonight, quote, since the House voted to
impeach President Trump, we have continued our investigation so the House
managers can present to the Senate the most complete factual record
possible before the trial on the articles of impeachment. Today, additional
new evidence will be provided to the House Judiciary Committee for its
transmittal to the Senate along with the articles of impeachment.
Quote: We will continue our investigative work and will make available to
the Senate and the American people any additional evidence of the
president`s misconduct as it is revealed.
So there`s a lot more to get to here tonight in terms of what was just
released by the Intelligence Committee tonight. Again, so it can be
conveyed to the Senate tomorrow along with the articles of impeachment.
We`re going to talk tonight about some of this new material, including Lev
Parnas` handwritten notes about the core allegations in the impeachment
scheme in which he says bluntly, get Zelensky to announce that the Biden
case will be investigated.
I mean, there`s a lot more here. There`s intriguing stuff about the
president`s personal involvement with Lev and Igor case. But in order to
help us with this unbelievably explosive information about what appears to
have been some sort of plot, some sort of physical plot against the U.S.
ambassador, I want to bring into the conversation now a reporter from “The
Hartford Courant” who has covered the somewhat strange political saga of
Robert F. Hyde, this Republican congressional candidate who has been
excoriated by “The Courant`s” editorial page for other things, his crude
comments about Senator Kamala Harris.
It is his text messages with Lev Parnas tonight released by the
Intelligence Committee which appeared to show a potential physical threat
to this ambassador as part of the intimidation and smear campaign that
forced her out of office and ultimately led, in part, to the scandal for
which President Trump is currently being impeached.
Joining us now is Daniela Altimari. She is a statehouse reporter at “The
Hartford Courant”. She is in the middle of reporting this herself.
So, Daniela, I appreciate you making time to be with us on short notice.
DANIELA ALTIMARI, REORTER, HARTFORD COURANT (via telephone): Sure. Thank
MADDOW: Let me just ask you about Robert Hyde. Twenty-four hours ago, he
certainly was not a national figure. I know that you have covered him in
his congressional campaign in the fifth district in Connecticut. I just
want to get your reaction to the top line of his surfacing in this dramatic
way in this material just released tonight by Congress.
ALTIMARI: Yes, I mean, it was interesting you read these messages that
were released in the House Intelligence Committee documents and the
language is certainly very on point of what we`ve heard from him in the
past on his own Twitter feed and just comments that he`s made to various
reporters about various public figures. He`s using sort of the same tone,
especially as it relates to women in, you know, positions of power.
MADDOW: In terms of the implications of his exchanges with Mr. Parnas
here, I found myself reading this feeling that I wanted to know more about
Mr. Hyde`s credibility. Is it possible that he is a fabulist, and he is
imagining or fantasizing that he`s got resources or contacts of people who
could be surveilling a U.S. ambassador in a foreign country?
Is he somebody who – forgive me for asking it this way, but is he nutty
enough that this might have all been in his hid and might not have actually
been happening in real life?
ALTIMARI: I don`t have enough information to know that specifically. I do
know that he is not a sort of – what we would call a mainstream figure in
Connecticut politics. He`s somebody who really hasn`t held elective office
before. He wasn`t very well known.
He`s one of several Republicans who are running for the seat. He doesn`t
appear to have a lot of support. In fact, most of the establishment
Republicans have actually called on him to step aside certainly after those
tweets about Senator Harris were publicized.
MADDOW: We`re showing a picture on the screen right now of Mr. Hyde with
president Trump. He`s obviously got that picture front and center on his
campaign page and has made claims to be connected to the Trump inner
I – in sort of looking up his background, trying to understand more about
him today, I noticed that there was an incident last may where he was
actually arrested at the Trump Doral in Florida and told police that he
believed a hit man was out to get him?
ALTIMARI: Yes, he was escorted offer the property. As far as we could tell
from the redacted report, it wasn`t clear that he was arrested. There was
no mention of an arrest in this incident report. He was removed from the
property. They did identify him as trespassing at the Trump resort.
So he was asked to leave by police. That`s as much as we could glean from
this redacted report, incident report.
MADDOW: Daniela Altimari, hard at work on this right now as we speak.
Thank you for taking time to talk with us tonight. I appreciate it.
ALTIMARI: Thank you. Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. Appreciate it.
We have much more to get to on the story and believe it or not, some big
legal news that has broken within the last hour. It`s going to be a busy
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What conversations have you had with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know those
gentlemen. Now, it`s possible I have a picture with them because I have a
picture with everybody. I have a picture with everybody here.
But somebody said there may be a picture, something, at a fund-raiser or
somewhere, so – but I have pictures with everybody.
REPORTER: Have you talked with them?
TRUMP: I don`t know there`s anybody I don`t have pictures with.
I don`t know them. I don`t know about them. I don`t know what they do. But
I don`t know. Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You`d have to ask Rudy. I
just don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s possible I have a picture with them. I have no idea. Oh, Mr.
President, would that it`s only one picture.
Let`s call these one through eight. There may be more. At first glance,
these are eight of the photos I know of featuring Lev Parnas currently
under indictment, currently featuring in the darkest, most salacious turns
of the impeachment scandal and President Donald Trump. Eight different
photos of Mr. Parnas with Mr. Trump in all sorts of different
Also, here`s a bonus one, number 9, which shows neither Mr. Parnas nor Mr.
Trump, but it does show their name cards at some sort of arranged seating
event and they are right next to each other, which is cute.
Given that Mr. Parnas is under indictment for allegedly funneling illegal
foreign donations to Republican candidates and campaigns, and given the
information we have about Mr. Parnas` involvement in the scheme for which
Mr. President Trump was impeached, you could understand why Mr. Trump would
pretend he`s never met Lev Parnas. To say he`s never heard of the guy,
maybe there`s one picture somewhere, definitely not two or three, certainly
But now in these new documents released tonight by the Intelligence
Committee, here`s a new kind of direct connection we didn`t know about
before. It appears to be an email sent from the president`s counsel Jay
Sekulow. It`s dated Wednesday, October 2nd, which is just after Lev and
Igor got contacted by the impeachment inquiry to ask for their testimony.
The letter from Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president, to another reporter
John Dowd, says, quote: John, I have discussed the issue of representation
with the president. The president consents to allowing your representation
of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Furman. It`s Fruman, not Furman, but you see the
point he`s making. And it is signed Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president.
If Mr. Sekulow can be taken at his word and there`s no reason not to, this
would imply that the president personally gave his consent for Lev and Igor
to have the lawyer of their choosing, John Dowd, representing them as they
were fighting a request for testimony from congressional investigators
looking at the impeachment scandal. The day after that email was apparently
sent from Mr. Sekulow to John Dowd, that`s when Dowd told congressional
investigators on his client`s behalf that they wouldn`t be cooperating with
the impeachment investigation.
Now, Lev Parnas eventually changed his lawyer, dropped John Dowd and also
changed his mind and started cooperating with the impeachment
investigation. That`s how we got all these new documents tonight. But in
these documents released tonight, we also get another surprise about the
president`s legal representation and his involvement with Lev and Igor. In
text messages between Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas in which Mr. Parnas is
complaining they haven`t been able to secure a U.S. visa for Ukrainian
official they want to bring to the U.S. to help them as part of their smear
Joe Biden campaign, Rudy Giuliani tells Lev Parnas at one point, quote, I
gave Jay your number.
They`re talking about how they can get a visa for this guy who has been
turned down for a visa to visit the United States because he is viewed as a
corrupt foreign official. Rudy Giuliani says, I`m working on it, though. I
got number one, presumably the president working on it.
He says, I`ve given Jay your number, and we know who he`s talking about. We
know it`s Jay Sekulow because he then sends Lev Parnas Jay Sekulow`s
contact information, presumably so Lev Parnas currently under indictment
can speak directly with the president`s legal counsel in the White House
about trying to get a U.S. visa for a corrupt Ukrainian official who the
U.S. government is otherwise not letting travel here. Only the best people.
I mean, the president`s legal representation is turning out to be a very
weird factor in this impeachment. Jay Sekulow is due to be the president`s
defense counsel in his Senate impeachment trial which is due to start
Mr. Sekulow, is there anything that you would like to disclose about your
involvement with any of the characters in this drama? Mr. Sekulow, we know
as of tonight was put in direct contact with one of the indicted people who
was part of this Ukraine scheme. Mr. Sekulow was also involved in getting
the president`s personal approval for the defense counsel for that guy who
is now under federal criminal indictment.
Also among all the many glamorous photos that Mr. Parnas has made public
about his interaction was various Trump world officials, not only are there
a gazillion pictures of him with the president`s personal lawyer Rudy
Giuliani, we also know of at least a handful of photos that show Mr. Parnas
with another of the president`s defense counsels in the impeachment
This is Pam Bondi, former attorney general of the state of Florida. She
worked at the lobbying firm in Florida that has been subpoenaed by SDNY as
part of their criminal investigation into this murky part of this Trump
scandal. She apparently has more than a passing relationship with Mr.
Parnas, again, who is under indictment. Again, she is part of the
president`s legal team representing him in this impeachment.
I know that everybody gets to pick their own lawyers up to and including
the president, but it`s really odd in any criminal case, in any major
criminal proceeding to have the lawyers themselves play cameo or
potentially starring roles in the scandal for which their candidate – for
which their client is being tried. And there`s more here.
And Mike Flynn just filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea tonight, on
top of everything. There`s a lot going on.
We`ve got a member of the Intelligence Committee joining us next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, again, we`re covering breaking news tonight about this
remarkable pile of evidence and information that the Intelligence Committee
has just released to the public tonight in advance of the president`s
Senate impeachment trial starting tomorrow. The chairs of the various
impeachment committees say tonight that this information is being released
this evening because they want this evidence conveyed to the Senate
alongside the articles of impeachment against President Trump which are
formally going to be conveyed to the Senate tomorrow afternoon.
Among the most disturbing material released tonight is a long series of
encrypted text messages from last spring. They involve Lev Parnas who is
currently under indictment in the Southern District of New York. He
reportedly handed this material over to the Intelligence Committee. The
texts are between him and Robert F. Hyde, a Republican congressional
candidate from Connecticut.
And in these text messages, Mr. Hyde appears to be basically reporting to
Mr. Lev Parnas about the physical movements and the security situation
around Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in Kiev. The initial parts of their
text exchanges are about – or negative information about Mr. Yovanovitch.
Mr. Hyde at one point, explaining, exclaiming, using expletives, talking
how terrible she is and Trump should fire her. It moves on quickly to what
appears to be surveillance reports from somebody who`s watching her.
A sample of those messages, quote: She is under heavy protection outside
Kiev. Quote: They are moving her tomorrow. The guys over there asked me
what I would like to do and what`s in it for them.
She`s talked to three people. Her phone is off, computer is off. She`s next
to the embassy, not in the embassy. Private security. Been there since
Quote: They`re willing to help if we/you would like a price. Guess you can
do anything in the Ukraine with money. What I was told. If you want her
out, they need to make contact with security forces.
And then after that, quote, it`s confirmed. We have a person inside.
Tonight, in response to this information, Ambassador Yovanovitch`s lawyer
has just released this statement saying, quote, needless to say the notion
that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch`s
movements for unknown purposes is disturbing. We trust that the appropriate
authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened.
Joining us now is Congressman Jim Himes. He`s a member of the Intelligence
Committee. He also represents Connecticut`s 4th district which is right
next door to the district in Connecticut where Mr. Hyde is currently
standing as a Republican candidate for Congress.
Mr. Himes, Congressman, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: I know this isn`t the right way to ask this question, but what the
heck – what – what is this? Please tell me this is a fabulist who has
concocted some sort of fantasy plot in his mind and this wasn`t a real
HIMES: Yes, I`m not the governor of Connecticut, Rachel, but I do on behalf
of the people of Connecticut apologize for Mr. Hyde.
And, look, I guess there are two ways to look at this. As you said earlier
in the show, this is not Mr. Hyde`s first brush with fame. He, of course,
got some attention by putting up a truly disgusting tweet about Senator
Kamala Harris when she withdrew from the presidential race.
So, look, this guy is a malignant clown. It is quite possible that he was
just making all this stuff up. That would be consistent with this guy.
But, of course, we don`t assume that. It is also possible, and we don`t
know this, true or false, that he actually did talk to people on the ground
who were surveilling and conceivably threatening the United States
ambassador. This is a kind of thing we take seriously despite the clown-
like behavior of Mr. Hyde.
MADDOW: Obviously, the question that I think immediately arose in people`s
minds when we first started absorbing the impacts, or the implication of
these text messages is whether or not this is what Ambassador Yovanovitch
was being warned about when she got that middle of the night 1:00 a.m. call
from the State Department, telling her to get on the next plane. There were
concerns about her safety.
That was about a month after these exchanges between Mr. Parnas and Mr.
Hyde were happening via encrypted text.
Is there any indication of what the White House or the State Department
might have known about this and whether that is, in fact, what led to that
urgent security alert to the ambassador that got her out of that country?
HIMES: Yes, I mean, I chuckle, Rachel, because we don`t know. We don`t
And amidst all of this talk of, you know, almost cartoon-like characters –
I mean, this is the stuff if you made it up and put it in a comic book
nobody would believe. And the reason we don`t know, of course, is the
headline of everything here that is getting lost in this story, we don`t
know the answer to your question because the president of the United States
in an absolutely unprecedented move has refused to make a single person, a
single email, a single phone call available to congressional investigators.
Why is that? Because every fact, every email, every trove of Lev Parnas,
you know, Lev Parnas, who had ever heard of this guy? Not exactly Mike
Pompeo. But every single email, document, phone call that comes out is
deeply incriminating to the president.
So, you know, not only would we like to have the kind of evidence presented
that Nixon was required to present, that Bill Clinton presented including
testifying and giving a deposition himself, because it would be important
to understanding the behavior of this president, and presumably important
to senators actually making an impartial and informed decision about the
behavior of that president. But there`s any number of subplots like this
surveillance of an American ambassador or possible surveillance of an
American ambassador we need to know a lot more about.
MADDOW: The release from your committee, from the intelligence committee
tonight made clear this wasn`t all of it. There`s about 60 pages of
material, 59 pages of material that were released tonight. But apparently,
there was a second trove of material that was described by the Chairman
Adam Schiff as sensitive material. Call records that included personal
sensitive information that, therefore, shouldn`t be made public.
Should we expect that`s the kind of information that will be of public
interest that may eventually be released to the public after it`s been
redacted to – so we don`t have access to any personal and sensitive?
HIMES: Yes, you are correct about that. There is another batch of
information. It was described in the letter. It is phone records, and phone
records by their nature, of course, have specific phone numbers. Sometimes
names attached to those.
And so, because time was of the essence here, and really this has been a
little bit of a race against the clock. That, of course, points us to the
question whether Nancy Pelosi was smart or not in delaying the conveyance
of the articles to the Senate. It`s no small matter actually taking a
phone, as was done in this case, and extracting the data from that phone
and ultimately understanding it and, you know, understanding what the
So, yes, of course, there`s a lot more information here. Let me go back to
the point I made. Lev Parnas is a fringy character attached to Rudy
Giuliani. Could you imagine – and I think senators need to ask this
question. The American people need to ask this question of their senators.
Could you imagine what we might learn if we weren`t dealing with clowns and
fringy characters, but actually seeing the emails that exist at state, that
exist at the White House, that would give us a full picture of, you know,
not just the president`s misbehavior, but who knew? Did the State
Department know that Ambassador Yovanovitch was being surveilled?
This is the headline that`s getting lost here, Rachel, which is the
unprecedented refusal of this president, literally unprecedented.
When you hear the Republicans saying we`re following exactly the rules that
Clinton followed, baloney. Clinton was deposed. Clinton made every single
individual and documents emails available. This president has not made a
document, an email or phone call, or an individual available to this
MADDOW: And that`s why we`re getting this stuff by other means, including
this remarkable release tonight.
Congressman Jim Himes, member of the Intelligence Committee, it`s a big
week and a big night. Thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.
HIMES: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. More breaking news still ahead. Doesn`t stop tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: As the House releases bombshell and disturbing new material
tonight in the impeachment investigation, in further breaking news tonight,
Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn has just made a dramatic move
of his own. General Flynn has been heading for sentencing later this month
for lying to investigators about his contacts with the Russian government
during the presidential transition. He pled guilty to that charge, and he
agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for lenience in his own
That cooperation however went sour in the end. And prosecutors recently
recommended to the judge that he receive up to six months in jail.
Well, now, as of tonight, he has just filed a motion to withdraw his guilty
plea. The motion says, in part, quote: Michael T. Flynn hereby moves to
withdraw his plea because of the government`s bad faith, vindictiveness and
breach of the plea agreement.
Among other matters, Flynn`s legal team cites the inspector general report
from last month in the origins of the Russia investigation and lots of
crazy stuff, too.
This filing tonight be comes a week after prosecutors said that Flynn
should get up to six months in jail. In terms of what`s going to happen
here, it is hard to know. He`s essentially he is essentially trying to
change his plea meaning he wants to go on trial for his charges.
We`ll talk about how likely that is and what this means for case when we
come back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the many breaking stories we are following tonight is a
curve ball from Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn. Just as we
got on the air tonight, General Flynn moved in court to withdraw his guilty
plea. He pled guilty already, two years ago, and agreed to cooperate with
prosecutors in exchange for lenience. But now, tonight, he says he wants to
undo that plea, changer his plea to not guilty, and I guess go on trial?
Joining us is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney.
Barb, thanks joining us on short notice.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, you bet. Glad to be with you,
MADDOW: So, how does this work? Flynn has confessed to multiple crimes
already, in sworn, you know, signed statements as part of his earlier
guilty plea. Is he saying he wants to go on trial for those crimes?
MCQUADE: Yes, strangely enough, despite the fact that he was sworn in in
open court, agreed and admitted in detail what he did to make him guilty of
these offenses, submitted a written statement of the offense, his lawyer
says in this pleading that he is innocent. And so the remedy for
withdrawing a plea is to go to trial.
MADDOW: Will the judge have to do this? Is it a foregone conclusion that
the judge will grant a trial? Or how much leeway does the judge have here
facing this kind of a motion?
MCQUADE: The rules of criminal procedure say that to withdraw a guilty
plea, the judge has to find that there is a fair and just reason to do so.
I don`t know that he will be convinced based on this pleading alone. He may
want to have a hearing.
But, you know, last week, as you mentioned, we had that filing from the
government that said it was Michael Flynn who breached the plea agreement,
and so, the government was no longer recommending substantial assistance,
no longer recommending a reduction in his sentence because he changed his
story when they were preparing for the trial of Bijan Rafiekian, and, in
fact, perhaps even seemed to sabotage that trial. And, therefore, because
he breached the plea agreement, they were not going to recommend leniency.
And now, his lawyer is saying, we didn`t breach the plea agreement, you
breached the plea agreement.
I don`t know how much weight that`s going to carry with the judge. I think
he will hear from the parties. But he has to find that there`s a fair and
just reason before he allows Michael Flynn out of his guilty plea.
MADDOW: So, the judge isn`t required to accept that Flynn is changing his
plea. The judge could say, no, you said your piece on this and we`re going
to leave it there?
MCQUADE: Yes. You know, it`s not enough that it`s buyer`s remorse. You
have to find there is a fair and just reason it is against – it would be a
miscarriage of justice to allow this plea to go forward because either
something has changed or new facts have emerged.
The only that they allege here is that he didn`t really make a false
statement in his FARA application. Yes, it was false, but he didn`t know it
was false at the time. That really seems to contradict, if not the
technical language of his statement of offense, certainly the gist and
spirit of what he signed, what he agreed to and what he admitted in open
It has the feel of a clever lawyer looking for language after the fact to
find some way to wiggle out of it.
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney, Thanks for jumping in on
short notice on this, Barb. I appreciate it.
MCQUADE: You bet. My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Obviously, this attempt to withdraw Flynn`s plea looks like a plea
for pardon from President Trump. But heads up, everybody.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: At 5:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
and the newly named, newly minted impeachment managers will walk the
articles of impeachment from the House over to the Senate.
It`s called an engrossment ceremony. No, I don`t know why.
But Speaker Pelosi and the impeachment managers are literally going to
physically carry the articles over. It will be a procession led by the
House clerk and House sergeant at arms. They`ll go to statuary hall, the
Capitol rotunda, all the way over to the Senate.
It was dramatic. The last time a president was impeached when we saw this
happen in 1999. It is expected to be no less dramatic this time around, not
least because new impeachment evidence is being released as late as
At 5:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, the engrossment ceremony will begin in
Donald Trump`s impeachment. See you there.
I`ll see you again then.
It`s now time for “THE LAST WORD” where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence
Good evening, Ali.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the