Barr Picks Replacement TRANSCRIPT: 7/10/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests:
Adam Schiff
Transcript:

 

BENJAMIN WITTES, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Instead, there`s just a kind of

nudge, nudge, wink, wink, in that direction in public. And, you know, who

knows what happened in private.

 

And then, Roger Stone says, you know, I – I stayed loyal. So, here I am.

Commute me. And he gets it.

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: Yeah. Ben Wittes, who has been following

this so closely, for so long. Thank you for joining us on short notice

tonight. I really, really appreciate it.

 

That is “ALL IN” on this Friday night.

 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now and I am going to go watch THE

RACHEL MADDOW SHOW on a night like tonight.

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

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

 

You are free to go about your business, and not watch if need be. But I am

almost literally on fire as we speak. So I know what you`re talking about.

Thanks, my friend.

 

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. If it is, you know,

late on a Friday night in the late stages of the Donald Trump

administration, then, yes, you guessed it. We`ve just had a new adventure

in the decline and fall of the rule of law.

 

One of the things that has happened tonight, which actually has been out of

the headlines a little bit because of all the dramatic things in the last

few hours, is that the president`s attorney general has just ousted another

federal prosecutor, whose office was handling sensitive criminal cases

related to the president. This time, tonight, it`s the U.S. attorney in the

Eastern District of New York.

 

Now, if you are the president and you and your campaign and your inaugural

committee and your donors and your lawyers and your campaign staff and your

longtime friends and associates keep finding themselves accused of felonies

or at least targeted or involved in serious criminal investigations, then,

if you are the president, the federal prosecutors you probably most have to

worry about are three.

 

Number one, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. where the nation`s

capital is, where lots of national security stuff gets handled.

 

Second, New York. Even if you are not a president from New York, whose

business is headquartered in New York, like this one, if you and your

marching order as president often find yourselves adjacent to criminal,

financial matters – well, the famously independent federal prosecutor`s

office in New York tends to take advantage of the fact that New York is the

financial capital of the world. And so, most crimes that involve mine, AKA,

most crimes, sometimes, can, somehow, find their way into New York`s

federal jurisdiction.

 

And that applies, in the first instance, to the prosecutors` office in the

Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, but the Eastern District of

New York gets its beak wet on cases like that, too.

 

So, those would be three federal prosecutors` office. If you are a

criminally adjacent president, those are the three federal prosecutors`

offices you most have to worry about.

 

Well, over just the last few months, the president`s attorney general,

William Barr, has system systematically decapitated all three of those

federal prosecutors` offices, starting first with the prosecutor`s office

in Washington, D.C. He offered the U.S. attorney there a sort of lateral

move, pseudo promotion elsewhere in the Trump administration. Then, while

that was pending, he went ahead and installed all his own guys in her

office to take over and big foot all the sensitive cases and investigations

there that touched on the president`s interest.

 

Once he had installed those puppies in that office to do his work, he then

yanked the offered new job to that U.S. attorney. Yanked the job for which

she had been sort of – that had been sort of dangled to her to entice her

to leave that post. They yanked that job offer, got her out of there

anyway, and formally installed Barr`s own guys. Thereby, the U.S.

attorney`s office in Washington, D.C. was effectively neutralized.

 

The premiere public prosecution experts in the United States effectively

neutered, tamed, put under the thumb of Attorney General William Barr who

has not been shy at all about bending the enforcement of American law to

benefit the president and punish his enemies.

 

Any – any threat to the president or his interests from the U.S.

attorney`s office and the District of Columbia has been over for months

now. And, you know, even in the cases that already had gone through there,

like the Mike Flynn case, for example. Well, once Barr had his guys

inserted into that office, they tried to retroactively drop the Flynn case,

even after his guilty pleas. That`s still winding its way through the legal

system.

 

So that was first. D.C. U.S. attorney`s office. Then, it was SDNY, which is

reportedly investigating things like the slush fund, super sketchy Trump

inaugural committee, which is also about to put Rudy Giuliani`s guys, Lev

and Igor, on trial, and which was busy not long ago sending out subpoenas

by the boatload about Giuliani`s own financial trail.

 

Well, late on a Friday night, several weeks ago, Attorney General William

Barr ham-handedly tried to force the U.S. attorney in SDNY to resign. Barr

announced to the public that he was stuffing one of his own guys into that

office.

 

Instead, the U.S. attorney there, Geoffrey Berman, pushed back. He said,

no, I`m not resigning. You are going to have to force me out if you want me

out. And by the way, you`re lying to the public about what is going on here

and I`m not letting you get away with it.

 

That hard shove back from Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in the

Southern District in New York, it didn`t succeed in keeping Berman in his

job. They still forced him out. But it did succeed in keeping Bill Barr

from installing his own puppy dog there, the way he did in D.C. What Geoff

Berman`s bravery and pushback did in SDNY is that it, at least, ensured

that Berman`s own deputy got to take over at that office to ensure some

continuity.

 

Still, though, Geoff Berman`s out. So D.C. U.S. attorney`s office – gone.

Geoff Berman and SNDY – gone.

 

Now, tonight, it`s the other one, it`s the last one, the other U.S.

attorney in the Eastern District of New York.

 

Now, with this guy, Attorney General Bill Barr tried the same trick that he

tried with the other two. In all three of these cases, he`s offered these

U.S. attorneys some sort of dubious maybe, possible promotion/lateral move.

At least, he`s offered some other job in the Trump administration as a sort

of enticement if they would just give up the U.S. attorney`s office and let

Barr take over those offices, for himself.

 

Well, in the Eastern District of New York, the U.S. attorney there, Rich

Donoghue, decided he would accept the dubious job offer from the attorney

general. The not-quite promotion, rather than stand up for himself and the

independence of his office.

 

Bill Barr initially put out word that it would be – you know, this is no

big deal, no cause for concern here, like there was so much concern

expressed over the other U.S. attorney`s offices. Bill Barr initially

announced that in EDNY, while Donoghue would be leaving, his deputy would

be taking over as you are supposed to do in the course of events.

 

But surprise, instead, tonight, late on Friday night, the attorney general

has announced that he is installing his own guy up in EDNY, just like he

did in D.C., just like he tried to do in SDNY. His own handpicked footman

will be taking over the Eastern District of New York`s federal prosecutor`s

office, just months before the election, in the middle of, among other

things, a reported investigation into the president`s inaugural committee

and its alleged shenanigans.

 

So, yeah, if it`s Friday night, the attorney general is advancing, in what

really does appear to be a quite systematic plan, to end the independence

of federal prosecutors` offices, all over the country, at least the offices

known to be investigating things related to the president and his

interests. I mean, if – if you are this president, there are really three

prosecutors offices you had to worry about. D.C., SDNY, EDNY. Now, in short

order, Bill Barr has decapitated them all.

 

We hope you have enjoyed this experiment in being a rule-of-law country.

But we`ve, apparently, decided that the experiment is over. It`s not for

us. So, now, we`ll try what ever this is, instead, that we`re living

through.

 

I`ll, also, just say, keep in mind that this is the same attorney general

who has ordered the opening of federal criminal investigations into the

Obama administration officials and law enforcement officials and

intelligence officials, who were involved in investigating Russia helping

President Trump in the last election. It sort of slipped our mind because

the way our country has fallen into catastrophe since he did it, but Bill

Barr has ordered probes into Obama administration officials, law

enforcement and intelligence officials, who were involved in investigations

of the president. He has ordered criminal investigations of those people.

 

When do you think he`s going to want to bring those charges? And which

prosecutors` offices do you think he`ll use to do it?

 

So that is tonight. On top of the breaking news we have tonight, that feels

like we have been waiting for it all day, if not all year. This has been

the talk, the chatter, the gossip, the prediction, in some circles, the

source of great anxiety for a long time. But now, it`s come to past.

 

The president has commuted the sentence of his longtime advisor Roger

Stone. This is just days ahead of Mr. Stone`s scheduled reporting date at a

medium-security federal prison in Georgia. Before the president issued this

commutation, Roger Stone was due on Tuesday to start serving a sentence of

40 months. Three years and four months in a case that grew out of the

Mueller investigation.

 

Mr. Stone was convicted in federal court in November on seven counts. He

was charged with seven felonies. The jury found him, unanimously, guilty on

all seven counts. He was found guilty of obstructing a congressional

investigation into his 2016 effort to learn when WikiLeaks would be

releasing more of the e-mails that Russian intelligence had hacked from the

Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

 

Charges ranged from making false statements to Congress and obstruction, to

witness tampering. The case against Mr. Stone included lurid, sort of mob-

movie allegations that he tried to bully a man named Randy Credico, a

friend of his, into lying in his own testimony to Congress. Mr. Stone told

him to make like the mobster character in the “Godfather” who lies to

Congress because he`s too afraid not to. Mr. Stone threatened to take away

his friend`s dog. Told him to prepare to die, and then called him a thing I

can`t say on TV.

 

That`s what Trump advisor Roger Stone was on the verge of going to prison

for, before the president took this action tonight. Those pleasantries on

the part of Mr. Stone, and the seriousness with which witness intimidation

is treated in the federal criminal justice system may be part of why

Republicans were anxious about the effect that a presidential pardon or

commutation might have on the president`s, say, re-election bid. The Trump

Justice Department had already kicked up a considerable scandal by popping

into the U.S. attorney`s office that was handling the Stone matter, and

undermining the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone from the D.C.

U.S. attorney`s office.

 

Last month, the lead prosecutor on the case, Aaron Zelinsky, came forward

as a current Justice Department employee and told Congress as a whistle-

blower, quote, in the many cases I have been privileged to work on in my

career, I have never seen political influence play any role in

prosecutorial decision-making, with one exception.

 

United States versus Roger Stone, Aaron Zelinsky, the career prosecutor,

told Congress that pressure from higher ups in the Justice Department

resulted in the virtually unprecedented decision to override the original

sentencing recommendation in Stone`s case, and file a new sentencing memo

that included statements and assertions at odds with the record and

contrary to Department of Justice policy.

 

Zelinsky testified, quote, what I heard, repeatedly, was that Roger Stone

was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his

relationship to the president. I was told that the acting U.S. attorney for

the District of Columbia, Timothy Shea, who Bill Barr installed in that

office as his personal footman, after he ousted the real U.S. attorney.

 

Timothy Shea was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the

justice department to cut stone a break, and that the U.S. attorney`s

sentencing instructions to us were based on political considerations. He

said, quote, I was also told that the acting U.S. attorney was giving Roger

Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was afraid of the

president.

 

Truly remarkable. Detailed, quite direct testimony, from prosecutor Aaron

Zelinsky, career prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, testifying as a whistleblower,

gave that testimony to Congress, despite still being employed by the

Justice Department.

 

The other part of Aaron Zelinsky`s testimony that day had to do with what

the Trump campaign and, crucially, President Trump, himself, knew about the

Russian effort to help him get elected in 2016. Specifically, about this

plan for dumping all the hacked Democratic e-mails that Russian military

intelligence had stolen, dumping those materials into public view.

 

Quote: In the summer of 2016, Stone was considered by the Trump`s – by the

Trump campaign to be the campaign`s access point to WikiLeaks. Throughout

the summer and fall, Stone was in regular contact with the highest levels

of the Trump campaign, which was relying on him for information about

WikiLeaks` activities.

 

He continued, quote, beginning in spring 2016, Stone told Trump campaign

officials that he had inside knowledge regarding WikiLeaks` plans and that

he communicated with Julian Assange. Stone made these claims throughout the

summer to Rick Gates, campaign chair Paul Manafort and campaign CEO Steve

Bannon. These men believed his claims, and they sought information from

Stone about what WikiLeaks would do to help the Trump campaign.

 

Moreover, as the summer wore on, the senior leadership found Stone`s

predictions to be reliable. And that summer, Stone wasn`t just talking to

the CEO, the chairman, deputy chairman of the campaign. He was, also, then

talking to then-candidate Trump, himself.

 

Aaron Zelinsky described the interactions like this. Quote: On June 14th,

2016, the Democratic National Committee announced that it had been hacked

earlier that spring by the Russian government. That night, Stone called

Trump and they spoke on Trump`s personal line. We don`t know what they

said.

 

On July 31st, Stone, again, called then-candidate Trump and the two spoke

for approximately ten minutes. Again, we don`t know what was said. But less

than an hour after speaking with Trump, Stone e-mailed an associate of his.

A man named Jerome Corsi, to have someone else living in London go see

Julian Assange.

 

Deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates was present for a phone call between

Stone and Trump. While Gates couldn`t hear the contents of the call, he

could hear Stone`s voice on the phone and see his name on the caller ID.

Thirty seconds after hanging up the phone with Roger Stone, then-candidate

Donald Trump told Rick Gates that there would be more information coming.

 

Trump`s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, also stated that he was present for

a phone call between Donald Trump and Roger Stone, where Stone told Trump

he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange. And in a couple of

days, WikiLeaks would release more information and Trump responded, oh,

good, all right.

 

Paul Manafort also stated that he spoke with Trump about Stone`s

predictions and his claimed access to WikiLeaks. And that Trump instructed

Manafort to stay in touch with Stone.

 

He was their inside line to the material that the Russian government had

stolen to help him in the campaign. The way they were going to help him in

the campaign, with that information, was to release it, publicly, in ways

that were designed to cause maximum damage to the Clinton campaign and

maximum benefit to the Trump campaign. Roger Stone was their inside line on

those forthcoming dumps of information, which increased the ability of the

campaign to leverage those information dumps, to hype them, to tell people

they were coming, and to make the most of them, once they arrived. He was

their force multiplier for what Russia did to help put Donald Trump in the

White House.

 

Notably, three of the Trump associates who were all involved in the Roger

Stone intermediary gig, were later sentenced to prison time. Rick Gates,

Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, all got sentenced to prison. Tonight,

actually only Michael Cohen is physically in prison. He was sent back

yesterday. We`ll have more on that, later in the show tonight.

 

But consider what this prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky, said about the

president`s own recounting of the events that summer, right? The same

president who, just this week, was crowing about how solid his mind is and

how he aced a test that`s designed to detect dementia.

 

Aaron Zelinsky telling Congress, quote, in his written answers to the

special counsel`s office, President Trump denied remembering anything about

his conversations with Roger Stone during the summer of 2016. He denied

being aware that Roger Stone had discussed WikiLeaks with anyone associated

with the campaign.

 

One week after submitting his written answers, President Trump criticized

flipping witnesses, and stated that Stone was very brave in indicating he

wouldn`t cooperate with prosecutors. The special counsel`s report stated

that president`s statements complimenting Roger Stone support the inference

that the president intended to communicate a message that witnesses could

be rewarded for refusing to provide testimony, adverse to the president.

 

The president will reward you, if you refuse to rat, if you refuse to

provide testimony, adverse to the president. Again, that`s witness

tampering, and that`s the backdrop, in terms of Roger Stone getting close

to his report date to federal prison. That testimony about the Roger Stone

case and the president`s role in it happened just last month in Congress.

 

Now, tonight, maybe a full presidential pardon for Roger Stone was too far

to go. Maybe, it was too politically risky? Even for an old friend who was

convicted of trying to throw Congress off the scent of what Trump and the

Trump campaign did.

 

But the president does think it`s worth it. Or, at least, not going too far

to commute that old friend`s sentence, and keep him out of prison.

 

The experiment in America as a rule-of-law country has been a bumpy ride.

It has been hard. It`s, also, not one that goes on, indefinitely, on its

own. Not without the right people in power, making sure that we stay that

kind of country.

 

Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff. He is chairman of the House

Intelligence Committee.

 

Sir, thank you for joining us on short notice tonight. Thanks. I really

appreciate it.

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It`s good

to be with you.

 

MADDOW: Let me just start by getting your reaction to this news. There had

been a lot of chatter and a lot of threats from the president that he might

do something like this. So I know it doesn`t come as a complete surprise.

 

But now that it`s happened, what`s your reaction?

 

SCHIFF: Well, another, you know, appalling (ph) attack on the rule of law.

There are two systems of justice now in America – one for criminal friends

of the president, like Michael Flynn and now Roger Stone, and one for

everybody else.

 

It wasn`t enough when president intervened and Bill Barr intervened to

recommend a shorter sentence for Donald Trump. They now had to take action

– the president had to take action to make that sentence go away

completely. And, you know, of course, this is part of the broad pattern of

the president rewarding his friends and potentially, the more serious shoe

to fall, punishing his enemies.

 

I think you were exactly right, Rachel, earlier in the show when you talked

about how, you know, essentially, the president is using, through Bill

Barr, a shield right now to protect those who are lying for him and

covering up for him. But what may be more dangerous is what`s to come and

that is Bill Barr using the sword (ph) to investigate and prosecute the

president`s enemies. That`s another, even more serious attack on the rule

of law.

 

And so, what`s to come may be worse than what we`re seeing today. But what

we`re seeing today is an appalling overture to people, essentially from the

president saying, if you lie for me, you cover up for me, I will reward

you. On the other hand, if you`re a rat and you cooperate, then, like a

mafia boss, I will come after you.

 

And it`s a sad day in America when our democracy is reduced to this.

 

MADDOW: Some of this involves you, directly, and your committee. One of the

felonies that Roger Stone was charged with was lying to your committee.

 

He was convicted on all counts. Now that his sentence is commuted, despite

that conviction, is there anything that your committee can do or would want

to do with regard to Stone and his case given – given what he did to the

function of Congress and its investigating role?

 

SCHIFF: I don`t know that there`s anything more that the Congress can do

vis-a-vis Roger Stone. Now, Roger Stone may have state law problems. He

won`t have them arising I think from his direct testimony to Congress.

 

But, you know, what we can do, I think, when this president is gone, is we

can enact a whole series of, what I`m calling, are post-Watergate reforms

where we try to attack these abuses of the pardon power or the power to

commute sentence. I introduced a bill, for example, that would require, in

a case like this, where the president is a witness, subject, or target of

an investigation, and takes action to pardon or commute someone. That the

complete investigative files are turned over to Congress so that Congress

can determine whether this is yet another act of obstruction of justice.

 

So there are remedies. But it`s hard to see what remedy we can use now,

beyond the ultimate remedy in November when we get to vote these bums out

of office.

 

MADDOW: Let me just ask you about what we started with this hour. And you

mentioned it a moment ago. The continuing and, apparently, sort of

systematically designed actions of William Barr, to undermine or, in fact,

end, the independence of important federal prosecutors` offices around the

country, to directly intervene and take over criminal investigations and

criminal prosecutions involving people and interests related to the

president.

 

And, in fact, to command that there`d be criminal investigations of the

president`s political enemies, including people who had the temerity to

investigate potential foreign interference in trying to get him elected.

 

I know that the Judiciary Committee, for example, has had a heck of a time

of getting William Barr to agree to come sit down in a chair in Congress

and answer questions. But as Barr gets more and more aggressive with this,

he`s now taken out the U.S. attorney in D.C., in SDNY, in EDNY. He`s

installed his own people in all of those offices. There is incredibly

detailed reporting and whistle-blower testimony about the way that he has

undone things, to benefit the president within the criminal law.

 

Does that just end at the election? Or is there some remedy? Is there some

accountability, even in the long run, in terms of what Barr is doing here?

 

Because his actions are, you know – I`m not going to say they`re

existentially challenging to the republic that we are, but they`re close.

 

SCHIFF: Well, they are doing grave and long-term damage, certainly, to our

democracy, our rule of law, the reputation and the reality of the

independence of the Justice Department. You know, I think what we can do

now until November is shed light on these malevolent actions, these

destructive actions, by holding hearings, by bringing these witnesses in,

and by shedding light.

 

And, you know, and frankly, there are, in addition to all these nightmare

stories, there are some heroes. Like those that are coming before Congress

to expose, in whistle-blower fashion, these acts of attack on the rule of

law.

 

You know, I`ll also – and this is, also, something within the last 24 to

48 hours, but Judge Sullivan, taking the action to ask for a full-panel

review of the decision by the Court of Appeals to dismiss the case against

Michael Flynn. You know, that`s an act of real bravery by that district

court judge, Berman`s act of defiance, the fact that Strauss is now acting

in the capacity of acting U.S. attorney in New York. There are some stories

of great heroism right now and that is what is I think keeping the wheels

on the cart.

 

But, you know, exposure, now, in terms of repercussions later, you know, we

need to pass reforms too make it much more difficult for a future craven

president and craven attorney general to get away with this. But there may

be, you know, criminal law accountability. You know, for example, the

president as individual-1 in that celebrated case in the Southern District

of New York, where he was directing and coordinating this campaign-fraud

scheme. There is no shield to protect Donald Trump when he leaves office.

 

You know, what Barr is doing may not be criminal. It may just be a deeply

damaging to our democracy. And I don`t know whether there`s a remedy for

Bill Barr, after this administration is over, except the stigma of history.

And that will be a severe judgment.

 

MADDOW: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you again for

joining us on such short notice, sir, and for making that point actually

about the other side of this, about the heroism that you see of people

pushing back and not going silently, in the face of these – in the face of

these actions by the administration. I think it`s really, really important.

 

Thank you, sir. It`s good to have you here.

 

SCHIFF: Good to see you.

 

MADDOW: All right. I`m going to bring now into the conversation, our dear

friend, Barb McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the great state of Michigan.

 

Barb, I`m always happy to talk to you. But particularly grateful you could

be here tonight. Thank you so much.

 

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY OF MICHIGAN: Yeah. Thanks for

inviting me to the Friday night horror show.

 

MADDOW: Yeah, it really is.

 

Actually, let me just start right there. And ask you if you want to talk me

down a little bit, in terms of how dark I have portrayed this. I recognize

that I have laid this out, in pretty horrific terms.

 

Is there any way in which I`m wrong about this? Or that you can tell me

that this isn`t as bad as it looks?

 

MCQUADE: No, I`m sorry, Rachel. It`s as bad as it looks. You know, there

are times when I try to be the voice of reason and point out other sides of

an issue. But this is as bad as it looks.

 

Number one, we`ve got William Barr who is greasing the wheels in the key

U.S. attorney`s offices that have jurisdiction over the activities of

president Trump. But even though, you know, maybe we should have seen this

coming and there have been all kinds of hints that it`s coming. I feel no

more disgusted than I, otherwise, would be that Roger Stone has been –

seen his sentenced commuted.

 

This is a man who obstructed justice, lied to Congress, threatened a

witness. And the purpose of that was to protect President Trump. You know,

this isn`t President Trump rewarding Stone for being a loyal friend. This

is President Trump protecting President Trump.

 

And I think it is a terrible attack on the rule of law. So, if anything,

you have not painted a bleak enough picture.

 

MADDOW: Well, on that point, I mean, I recognize that the power to pardon

is a constitutional power, an ordinal power of the president. It`s not

something that is subject to any form of scrutiny.

 

But, in this case, Roger Stone appealed for a commutation. Specifically, on

the grounds that he didn`t testify adverse to the president. He did an

interview today. I mean, he hasn`t been shy about this in the past. But he

did an interview today, the day of the commutation, in which he made a

public plea saying that the reason he deserved a commutation is because he

resisted pressure to testify as to what he knew about the president.

 

The president responded, almost immediately, in fact, with commuting his

sentence. When it is transparently corrupt, when the president is, you

know, pardoning someone or commuting a sentence, specifically as an overt

reward for that person having protected the president from potential

liability. Is – I mean, I guess – I guess what you`re supposed to do is

impeach a president for that. I guess there`s – I guess there`s no other

way that this is supposed to boomerang on him.

 

MCQUADE: Well, as we have learned through the Mueller investigation, the

Department of Justice will not indict a sitting president. Whether the law,

ultimately, permits it or not, that is the policy of the Department of

Justice.

 

So he`s not going to be charged with a crime. Though, I think one could

make an argument that this is bribery, pure and simple, a quid pro quo, an

exchange of a thing of value, in exchange for an official act. I think you

could frame it that way.

 

So, perhaps, Donald Trump could be charged with a crime after he leaves

office. The statute of limitations for bribery is five years. The other

remedy, as you mentioned, is impeachment. And as we have seen, even if the

House were to impeach, I don`t think that the Senate has demonstrated an

appetite for conviction.

 

Although, Rachel – here is a theory – even if Trump should lose re-

election in November, there could be value in impeaching him because the

remedy for impeachment is not simply removal from office. But it is to bar

someone from seeking office in the future. And if President Trump were to

decide to run for president in 2024, if he were impeached, he could also be

barred from holding office in the future.

 

So there is a little bit of ray of sunshine in your otherwise dark day.

 

MADDOW: Wow. That is a dim, dusty, little ray of sunshine, barb. But wow. I

am impressed that you were able to conjure that.

 

MCQUADE: I do what I can.

 

MADDOW: You are – you – that is a very, very, very tiny glass half full.

 

Barb McQuade, former U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan –

Barb, thank you again. I really appreciate you being here.

 

MCQUADE: You bet, Rachel. Thanks.

 

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight, this very busy Friday

night. When we got word, actually, of the EDNY, of – of Barr completing

his trifecta of trying to decapitate all of the U.S. attorneys offices that

were known to be investigating or pursuing cases that touched on the

president`s interest, when he finished the trifecta with that tonight. And

then moments later, we learned about the Roger Stone commutation.

 

The person I wanted to call and talk to about it immediately is a woman

named Nicolle Wallace, who you might know if you watch MSNBC. I thought it

would be better perhaps if I made that call on TV, instead of doing it in

my office, privately.

 

So I am going to have that call to Nicolle when we come back with you guys,

if that`s all right. We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: Welcome back to our ongoing coverage of the latest Friday-night

news dump from the Trump administration. The president tonight, commuting

the sentence of his longtime friend Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying

to obstruct the Russia investigation and threatening a witness and, and,

and, seven felonies in all. He was charged with seven felonies. A jury,

unanimously, convicted him on all seven counts.

 

Mr. Stone had been due to report to federal prison for a 40-month sentence

starting on Tuesday. That now will not happen.

 

Joining us now is my dear friend Nicolle Wallace, the host of “DEADLINE:

WHITE HOUSE”, a veteran of the George W. Bush White House and somebody who

I missed seeing frequently.

 

Nicolle, I miss you. I`m sorry for talking to you on a dark night under

dark circumstances. But thanks for making time to be here.

 

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST, “DEADLINE: WHITE HOUSE”: I feel your pain. And

you`ve gone deep and you`ve gone wide, and you`ve gone back. And let me –

let me just go forward.

 

I mean, there is no discernable difference between William Barr and a

bouncer. He has been intellectually overestimated from day one. He is not a

mastermind of anything. He is Donald Trump`s body man.

 

There`s some well-sourced spin coming out of the White House tonight. I

spoke to someone who was enlisted to try to talk Trump out of this. No one

talks Trump out of anything, and no one ever resigns. So, there will be

rumors, in the coming days, that William Barr almost resigned over this.

That Pat Cipollone was deeply troubled by this. They may be true, but no

one will leave.

 

They are all – and we should remember their names forever. They are

accomplices in corruption of one of the most sacred powers. I spoke to two

former Justice Department officials who said Trump pardons people because

he can and William Barr goes along with it because he is complicit in the

erasure, just erasing Robert Mueller`s probe. And it – we should be asking

really serious questions. We should all be looking to November, and try to

understand why.

 

Why does Robert Mueller need to be erased before November? And why is Bill

Barr working around the clock to do it? And why is the criminal

investigation being run by Mr. Durham, why is that still open? What are

they still looking at?

 

What do they want to normalize? What do they want to make okay? What

prosecutions, by career prosecutors who spent decades at DOJ and there are

some – there are some Bush-era DOJ officials, who went along with some of

the Trump-era DOJ officials who are now throwing their hands up with

disgust at Barr`s role in seeking to erase the work of career prosecutors.

 

So remember their names. Pat Cipollone and Bill Barr, they will not resign,

and if they do, I will come on and apologize to both of them. But I bet my

last dollar, that no one will resign. They will all look the other way.

 

And as you said, it is – we are watching something that makes headlines in

this country, when it happens in other countries, when it happens in third-

world countries – the obliteration of the rule of law.

 

MADDOW: Nicolle, there is, in the specifics of Roger Stone`s conviction,

and the specifics of what we learned about him in the course of his trial

and spelled out about him in the Mueller report, especially when bits about

Stone unredacted after his trial came to conclude. We did get some really

specific stuff about the president, including a portrait of his conviction

and a portrait of the crimes he committed in obstructing that

investigation. Which really made it seem like what he was doing was trying

to protect the president from investigators knowing what the president`s

personal role was in trying to interact with the – this foreign effort to

– to – to influence the election on his behalf.

 

Roger Stone says, openly, that what he was doing was trying to protect the

president when investigators were trying to get at what Donald Trump,

himself, was doing. If it`s that blatant, if he is willing to say, listen,

commute my sentence because I was protecting you, what`s the – if – I

mean, if Republicans don`t mind that, what`s the correction to that? What

door doesn`t that open?

 

WALLACE: There is no correction. And Republicans – who? Who? The

Republican governors, who have thrown up in their states to surging

coronavirus cases, the zombies in the Senate who acquitted Donald Trump

after refusing to hear from John Bolton?

 

I mean, here is the problem. You pull the fire alarm. Who`s coming? There`s

nobody coming.

 

And I am also heartened that Adam Schiff sees some heroes. But they`re

ostracized, they`re unemployed, and they are on an island. I mean, I –

where is everybody else? I mean, there are a whole lot of people who know

just how bad this is.

 

You know, the Mueller report, and we`ll never know the answer to this until

and unless Robert Mueller does an interview or Rod Rosenstein does an

interview. It doesn`t explain why they didn`t push for an interview with

Donald Trump to ask him those questions. I mean, what was – we only know

half of the conversation.

 

There`s also some corroboration in the e-mails in the Mueller report that

are included, I think, in some of the footnotes between Roger Stone and

Bannon. But this was an on-book operation for the Trump campaign. This

isn`t some off-book Stone escapade. The whole Trump campaign was basically

off book.

 

So this was the campaign knowingly benefitting from Russian assistance or -

- or – or information. And the fact that this is where we are that, that

guy, who was prosecuted by Donald Trump`s own Justice Department, has been

commuted. With Bill Barr, at least, as – as – as exasperated as he`s

described to me tonight, as against this move as I`m told he was, he won`t

be gone tomorrow, and someone with a compass, someone who cares about that

department, someone who cares about that building, someone who cares about

their legacy will be gone in the morning. Pat Cipollone won`t be gone in

the morning, either.

 

So, there`s a lot of sort of sort of selectively – I`m told that Sean

Hannity was one of the champions of this. And just think about that. Think

about how profoundly weak the people running the Justice Department are if

they can`t win an argument against Sean Hannity. That`s where we are.

 

MADDOW: I`m not going to comment on that at all. But, boy, is that seared

into my brain like a hot brand.

 

Nicolle Wallace, the host of “DEADLINE: WHITE HOUSE”, veteran of the George

W. Bush White House, my dear friend. Nicolle, I – I miss you a lot. Thank

you for being here tonight.

 

WALLACE: I miss you a lot.

 

MADDOW: All right. Up here, next, a new record today, more than – more

cases – more new cases of coronavirus diagnosed today in America, than

ever before. And some details about it that you haven`t heard anywhere

else, that we`re going to bring you tonight, exclusively. That story`s

ahead. Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: Today, the United States of America hit a new record high in terms

of new coronavirus infections in one day.

 

Back at the beginning of this week, when we had just surpassed the mark of

50,000 new cases in a single day. The top infectious disease doctor at Mass

General, Massachusetts General Hospital, said it appeared the coronavirus

epidemic was in, quote, free fall. Talking about last weekend, in the July

4th holiday weekend, she said, quote, we know of the 50,000 cases this past

day, a single day of this holiday weekend. If they`re young people, it

could be 500 people who die from that. If they`re older people, it could be

7,500 people who die from that. Just from one single day of infection.

 

It`s the infectious disease chief at Mass General, saying we`re in free

fall. That was at the beginning of this week. Well, now, it`s the end of

that same week and our daily new infections have risen from 50,000 in a

day, to over 70,000 in a day, per NBC News calculations this evening.

Again, this is breaking news.

 

NBC News is reporting, as of right now, that the United States has crossed

70,000 new coronavirus infections, in one day. We had 50,000 a week ago,

70,000, as of tonight.

 

In the last 24 hours, we just got in this footage I`m about to show you

from NBC reporter Ellison Barber. He and his crew were allowed into one of

South Carolina`s largest medical units, Lexington Medical Center. She and

her crew, excuse me.

 

The CEO of the medical center has been pleading with local officials to,

please, require masks in the area. The hospital has actually been running

ads, begging people in the local community to wear masks. But things just

keep getting worse. Watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DR. BRENT POWERS, LEXINGTON MEDICAL CENTER CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: What

we`ve seen, over the past couple weeks, is increasing rates of infection

among younger persons, as well as hospitalizations. Just a month ago, our

census was 22 patients on the hospital side that were COVID positive that

needed our care. And this morning, we were at 64.

 

So we`ve seen a tripling, over the past 30 days. I mean, it is not an

unlimited resource, that we can keep tapping into. We have only a certain

number of beds, certain number of staff, and a certain number of resources

to meet our healthcare needs.

 

LONDON KINARD, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: Had to wait until the results come

back. It would have really helped if I could have got some attention before

the five days, you know. By the time I got the attention, I couldn`t

breathe. I was weak. I couldn`t – couldn`t walk from here to the restroom.

 

I thought that – that I wasn`t going to make it. So I called – I called

all my family, and pretty much told them I love them. But I was actually

telling them good-bye. You feel helpless when you can`t breathe.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s now going on two weeks. And it – it – it`s bad.

I want everybody to realize this is not something that goes away real easy.

It`s been rough. It`s a painful and you`re scared. You hear all these

especially at my age, you are scared that something really bad is going to

happen. And I want everybody to take it for what it`s worth. Anybody can

get it, any age. Follow all the rules that you can.

 

DR. CAROL CHOE, LEXINGTON MEDICAL CENTER: Hello. I talked to your daughter

and to your grandson, okay, and I kind of told them what`s going on with

you, that I`m worried about your breathing and your oxygen levels because

you are on 100 percent of oxygen and your oxygen levels are still really,

really low, OK?

 

So what we decided, if you are OK with it, is to give you the best chance

possible and put that breathing tube in you so that hopefully the machine

can do all the work. You are not doing as much work. You are not breathing

as hard and then hopefully we can get you off the machines as quickly as

possible. OK? OK.

 

But we want to at least give you that chance. I know we want to make sure

that you are, you know, get the best chance possible to recover as quickly

as possible, OK? All right, now.

 

So we`ll give you some medicines to make you nice and comfy, all right? And

then while you are on the ventilator, we`re going to lighten the sedation a

little bit so you can actually communicate with us. If you can, you know,

write or nod your heads and let us know how you are doing, that would be

ideal. But if you`re not able to tolerate it, we will give you some

sedation so that you are comfortable, OK? OK.

 

You`re doing OK otherwise? OK. All right. So there is going to be a lot of

people in here, all right? But we`re all in here just to make sure that you

are taken care of and that you`re safe, OK? All right.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to take this away, OK?

 

CHOE: I`m going to move your bed forward a bit. OK? All right?

 

This is my third intubation of the day, and that`s not typical for us. We

have been trying to avoid using the ventilator, doing all these other

therapies to try to get them better and unfortunately that hasn`t worked

for us as of right now. And so, we`ve had to put the patients on the

ventilator.

 

One of our patients that was the sickest for the longest period of time and

had gone through so much and, you know, I think, you know, he was an

otherwise healthy person, young, and still didn`t survive this. The only

thing at this point that we as a community can do is really wear a mask.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW: Reporter Alison Barber and her crew with medical staff at the

Lexington Medical Center in South Carolina.

 

You never want to hear a nurse or a doctor talk to you the way that doctor

was talking to that patient about getting that ventilator tube put in,

right? I mean, it`s just happening by the dozens, by the hundreds, by the

thousands in America all over now, 70,000 new cases today, 70,000.

 

South Carolina is now calling in the National Guard to bolster hospital

staffing in the state because it cannot piece it together in that state

with the existing hospital staff. In Charleston, South Carolina, at the

Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, “The New York Times”

reports today that waiting times in the emergency room are up to four hours

now before people can see a doctor.

 

They set up tents outside that hospital to try to keep people in a safe

place to wait for those four hours before they can have an initial visit

with a doctor. A lot of people are leaving rather than stay out there in

those tents for four hours.

 

In Mississippi today, they are finally doing a mask ordinance in multiple

counties. This after a week in which there is finally a considerable freak

out in the state government in Mississippi over the extent and rapid growth

of the virus in that state.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GOV. TATE REEVES (R), MISSISSIPPI: To my fellow Mississippians, please take

this as an alarm. Our numbers are getting worse. We need your cooperation.

 

I know that no orders will be effective if we do not have the participation

of our people. It is up to all of us if you live in any corner of our

state, please follow the rules. We are in the middle of a spike. It is

putting a strain on our hospital system. Mississippi is in a fight for our

lives.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW: That`s the Republican Tate Reeves, governor of the state of

Mississippi.

 

The state health officer, Thomas Dobbs, is even perhaps even more stark

about how far Mississippi is already off the cliff.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DR. THOMAS DOBBS, MISSISSIPPI STATE HEALTH OFFICER: We have been talking

about this, saying it`s coming and here it is. And not only is it here,

it`s going to get worse.

 

Yesterday, five of our biggest hospitals in the state had zero ICU beds,

zero. An additional four had 5 percent or less, an additional three had

less than 10 percent.

 

Our biggest medical institutions who take care of our sickest patients have

no room to take care of additional folks. When I talked to my ER

colleagues, I`m understanding they can`t get them anywhere because there is

nowhere to send them. We`re sending people out of state all the time

because Mississippi hospitals cannot take care of Mississippi patients.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW: Mississippi hospitals cannot take care of Mississippi patients.

That`s Mississippi state health officer Thomas Dobbs.

 

When I said there is a considerable freak-out in the Mississippi state

government about what`s happening in that state, I would be remiss to not

mention part of that is undoubtedly the fact that there are also now at

least 26 members of the state legislature who all just tested positive

after a long in person legislative session in the Mississippi capital where

many legislatures did not wear masks. That led, as we reported last night,

to the governor of the state warning specifically any Mississippi resident

who has had any contact with someone connected to the state legislature –

they are being warned now to please get tested because the state government

in Mississippi is itself in outbreak.

 

In Texas tonight, as that state passes 10,000 patients hospitalized, this

is the headline right now at “The Texas Tribune”. Texas surpasses 10,000

coronavirus hospitalizations. Houston hospitals increasingly turning away

new patients as coronavirus overwhelms emergency rooms. The busiest

hospitals in Houston increasingly telling emergency responders they can`t

safely accept new patients as hundreds of COVID patients crowd emergency

rooms and hospitals scramble to open more intensive care space.

 

In Corpus Christi, Texas, a dire and gruesome situation there. The county

morgue, the county where Corpus Christi is, they have now been overwhelmed.

They`re now asking for FEMA morgue trailers to help process the dead there.

 

In Maricopa County, Arizona, they`re also now trying to bring in new

refrigerated morgue trucks to handle the dead. That large county, Phoenix

is the fifth largest city in the country, that large county is now

approaching the point where they are unable to cope with the numbers of

bodies they are trying to process. So they are bringing in what they`re

calling cooler space, refrigerator trucks to store bodies.

 

In Florida, that state has just started releasing data about the numbers of

COVID patients specifically in the state`s hospitals. They have resisted

this for weeks and months, but now it is out. And according to this brand

new state data, the number of COVID patients in Florida hospitals is nearly

7,000.

 

But that will rise. Today was the highest number of people yet newly

hospitalized in Florida, and Florida is one of these places that doesn`t

have just one or two problem areas in the state they`re worried about.

Increasingly it is all over Florida. There are over 40 hospitals in Florida

that have no more capacity in their ICU units, 40 completely full ICUs, 40

different hospitals in 21 different counties.

 

In California, we have been covering a story this week in the Bay Area. The

situation in the southern part of the state is much worse than the northern

part of the state. But in Bay Area, there is a huge outbreak.

 

One of the top ten largest outbreaks in the country at the San Quentin

state prison. This was caused by transferring prisoners into San Quentin

from the other facility where the virus was rampant. There is now more than

1,600 cases among prisoners at San Quentin, at least 7 prisoners have died

in quick succession.

 

Today, the state announced new rules to make more space in their crowded

and highly infected prisons. This remarkable – look at how this is

entitled, letter to all incarcerated people. This was published by the

state corrections chief in California this afternoon. It explains the state

is adding 12 weeks of credit to almost everyone`s time served, which will

put basically a booster rocket on people moving up toward their release

dates in California. Statistically, it is expected to release about 8,000

prisoners across various California prisons, including probably a few

hundred from San Quentin.

 

We have turned a corner with this thing. This week was a terrible week. We

thought hitting 50,000 cases a day was the new apex, right? Tonight, as NBC

News`s numbers were over 70,000 cases in one day.

 

In Atlanta they said today they`re going to reactivate the field hospital

that they built at city convention center. In California, as I said,

they`re freeing large numbers of prisoners as a last resort, in hospitals

from South Carolina and all over the country have now started begging the

public directly. Hospitals and doctors are inviting the press in now to see

what`s going on so they can communicate to the public directly to please

wear masks, please socially distance, even when the politicians in that

state won`t do it.

 

It would just be amazing to have some national leadership right now to

organize, you know, a smart, science-driven integrated, all hands on deck,

national fight against this thing as it goes so bad so fast. That would be

– that would be great. We don`t have that. We`ve got what we`ve got, and

God forgive us for that. And God bless us through this.

 

That is going to do it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday.

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

                                                                                                               

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