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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/14/2017

Guests: Adam Schiff, Tim Weiner

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: February 14, 2017 Guest: Adam Schiff, Tim Weiner

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST:  THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Chris, you know that I`m your biggest fan in general? 

HAYES:  My mom and/or wife or father might have something to say about that but appreciate that. 

MADDOW:  I am your biggest fan not related to you and I think your show is good every night but I think you`re great at this.  But I think your show tonight was freaking spectacular, man, from the very beginning to those last couple segments.  Really well done.

HAYES:  I tweeted it to one of those how to eat the elephant days in the newsroom, one bite at a time. 

MADDOW:  You chose good bites, well done. 

HAYES:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Thanks my friend. 

And thanks at home for joining us this hour. 

I will try to live up to Chris`s excellent example tonight.  I will do my damnedest.  I want to start by telling you about a man who is the head of the Ethics Committee in the Russian parliament.  He was a member of Vladimir Putin`s political party.  As a member of parliament, he declared publicly what his income was. 

He said his only income was his government salary.  He was making about $72,000 a year.  He reported also that his wife contributed to the family income.  She made an additional, about $5,000 a year or so, thereby bringing their total family income to about $77,000 a year, give or take, before taxes. 

But you know, you`d be amazed how far that goes.  It turns out that one member of the Russian parliament, head of the ethics committee, Putin`s party, he and his family owned their home in Russia.  They also owned a second home in Russia.  They also owned a large apartment.  They also owned another large apartment. 

They also on top of the that scrounged up spare cash enough to do a lot of what appears to be long-term real estate investing.  He owned not one, not two, not three, not four but six large plots of land and a jet ski, and a snowmobile and a Land Cruiser and a Porsche Cayenne and a Mercedes and another Mercedes and also another Mercedes, which means he must have been miraculously efficient with that government salary. 

But then there was the really embarrassing part for him.  As the head of the ethics committee, as a prominent member of Vladimir Putin`s party in parliament, he was also involved with a lot of the really aggressive anti- American stuff that Putin has done in Russian politics over the last few years.  For example, you might remember he`s got a lot of press here, it was one of the ways Putin decided to retaliate against American families and Russian orphans as part of his response to U.S. sanctions a few years back. 

Do you remember this story?  Putin and his party in parliament decided to block American families from being allowed to adopt Russian kids.  They interrupted individual kids` adoptions to punish America. 

This guy was involved in that.  He was one of the real anti-American hard- liners in Putin`s party.  And that`s why the rest of his real estate portfolio was particularly hard for him to explain when it became public knowledge, because in addition to all that property and all those vehicles that he was somehow able to afford on his $75,000 a year salary in Russia, in addition to the four homes, the six large parcels of land, the three Mercedes and all the rest of it, he also owned a fabulous waterfront ocean view apartment in billionaire Mark Cuban`s building in Miami Beach.  Wow! 

And he owned a second Miami Beach waterfront condo as well.  Lovely ocean views, look, really nice fitness room.  In addition to his two big Miami waterfront condos, he also owned a really nice big house with a pool on a large piece of land up the Florida coast, in Ormond Beach. 

Did I mention that his reported income was 75 grand or so before taxes?  And he has kids. 

Somehow this friend of Vladimir Putin, the head of the ethics committee in the Russian parliament, this prominent politician in Putin`s political party somehow, he was able to put together a pretty nice real estate portfolio and nice life-style for himself and his family, either by being a miraculous saver and bargain hunter or by some other undisclosed means. 

Rather than face pressure to disclose what those means might be, that lawmaker, the head of the ethics committee in the Russian parliament, he actually decided to resign a couple years ago when pictures of his properties and property records and documentation of all his vast holdings got posted publicly on a Russian blog and he had no explanation for how he was able to afford all that stuff. 

Over the last few years, that blog made quite a lot of news in Russia, exposing the inexplicable fabulous wealth of Vladimir Putin`s cronies and apparently corrupt politicians in Russia.  And they were good at it.  They posted their original source materials so it couldn`t be debunked by the Russian government.  They used public records, particularly from other countries so the stuff couldn`t be disappeared offline by the Russian government.  They made funny little memes and pictures to go along with their scandals to make them stick more. 

This guy -- see, they have the ethics committee chairman, his head?  They photoshopped it on to a guy in sandals on a beach chair enjoying the Miami sun. 

So, the ethics committee guy in the Russian parliament resigned over that scandal once all of his international real estate holdings were made public and he couldn`t explain how he got the money to do that.  Other Putin cronies and politicians also got embarrassed and were also forced to resign by the same tactic, the same exposure of their corruption. 

And the guy who ran that blog, who had these good instincts and performative skills for how to make stories like this stick, he decided to do something very brave after exposing all these Russian politicians.  He decided he would not an anonymous source doing this stuff in Russian politics.  He blogged under his own name, he stood by what he was doing. 

He became an activist.  He became a really effective opposition figure in Russian politics.  Those protests that so freaked out Vladimir Putin starting in 2011, the ones that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained about internationally which so drove Putin into a frothing rage against Hillary Clinton, well, this guy, Alexei Navalny, he was a key figure in those anti-Putin protest that made such a big impact and that upset Putin so much.

  Alexei Navalny eventually ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013.  He did surprisingly well, freaked out Putin even more.  This past year, Alexei Navalny announced he would run for president of Russia against Vladimir Putin next year when Putin`s term is up. 

And you can see where this is going, right? 

"The New York Times" Moscow bureau described him a couple of days ago as the only opposition candidate with a broad, enthusiastic, popular following in Russia.  Last one left. 

And at one level, that makes us all surprised to learn that he`s still alive.  That Vladimir Putin allowed him to exist for this long.  But it means you will not be surprised to learn why the "New York Times" Moscow bureau was writing about him for an American audience just last week is because last week, Putin figured out a way to disqualify Alexei Navalny from being an opposition figure, from running against Putin for president. 

They found a remote regional court hundreds of miles from Moscow and they got that court to convict Alexei Navalny in some obscure scheme involving timber futures.  I should tell you -- this is the most recent in a series of things they have tried to convict him of or set him up for. 

At one point, they went after him for alleged elk coaching.  Elk poaching?  They reportedly tried to convict him of stealing some street art.  There was a fraud allegation from the government involving perfume. 

They`ve come up with weird stuff to arrest Alexei Navalny for.  But this embezzlement conviction that they just finagled in this remote court last week, that`s now the important one because arguably Russian law says if you are convicted of a crime like that, if you are convicted and sentenced for embezzlement, which he just was, that legally disqualifies you from running for office. 

So, yes, timber futures.  OK.  That`s what we`ll get him for. 

And now, the most viable opposition politician in Russia, this 40-year-old handsome, telegenic, clever, accomplished, well-known, corruption-exposing provocateur just won`t be allowed to put his name on the ballot if he tries to run against Putin next year.  He says he will appeal, he insists he will figure out a way to still run for president. 

But you know what?  Under Vladimir Putin the state has its ways and because of what appears to be this absolutely, totally ginned up embezzlement conviction that they were able to pull off last week, they`ve already used that as an excuse to shut down his means of raising money towards running for president next year.  That`s already gone. 

Russia has a justice system.  Russia has a court system.  That doesn`t necessarily mean that Russia has the rule of law.  In the same way Putin has taken over almost all sources of news in his country, in the same way that he`s taken over big business, it`s not possible to operate an independent business of any significant scale in Putin`s Russia without Putin being cut in and being involved. 

In the same way that he`s technically presided over a democracy for 17 straight years while opposition leaders consistently find themselves arrested or dead and opposition parties find themselves outlawed or otherwise structurally sidelined, so, too, the Russian just system.  On paper, it looks great, right?  But in real life, everybody up to and including punk bands and billionaires find themselves in inside literal cages in Russian courtrooms at the pleasure of the president.  And his political opponents get prosecuted and convicted when he wants them prosecuted and convicted, and that`s how the justice system worked. 

The rule of law cannot just exist on paper, it`s only real, it only really works when it operates with independence, with independence from the political system, when the judicial system operates at its own discretion governed by law and not directed or constrained by any political agenda.  Not directed or constrained by any political agenda.  Not directed or constrained.  Right?

In our system of government, we count on both the judiciary and the legislative branch of government to be separate from the executive branch of government.  Right?  We count on them to constrain the executive branch and act as a check on the executive branch when the executive branch overreaches. 

We not only to expect them to resist being used as political tools by the president, we expect them to independently investigate the executive branch when there are serious questions about the behavior of that branch of government.  That`s how our rule of law works, right? 

Late last night, in the middle of the night, the national security advisor to the president resigned, was fired?  Resigned?  Resigned?  Was fired?  We don`t know.  But he`s out.  National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. 

Being national security advisor is a hard job.  There have been a bunch of scandals surrounding the national security advisor position or the person holding that position over the decades.  It`s thought of one of those jobs that`s very hard to hold on to for a long time, a lot of turnover in that job. 

Previous record for the shortest term ever as national security advisor, though, was something like two and a half years.  That was the previous shortest term ever.  Michael Flynn only lasted 24 days. 

And there are a number of things about the national security adviser sudden departure last night which still make no sense. 

We`ve got Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee here tonight to help us sort this out. 

We`ve got also Tim Weiner here tonight.  He`s the foremost modern historian of the FBI and the CIA.  Tim Weiner will be here to help us sort this out. 

But there are just some baseline fundamental questions we don`t have an answer for.  Or that we have answers for that make no sense.

First, there`s just the direct simple question of Mike Flynn and how he got to be national security advisor.  How he lasted 24 days at that job.  I mean, it`s now widely reported that General Flynn was under investigation by counterintelligence community at the FBI and by counterintelligence investigators at the CIA.  He`s also reportedly under investigation by the U.S. army for having taken allegedly undisclosed payments from the Russian government during the presidential campaign at the end of 2015.  Those investigations didn`t just start now. 

How did he get named national security advisor?  The president is cleared to receive all classified information, including information about the investigations that are currently under way.  With what the president must have known about the multiple investigations, including counterintelligence investigations of Michael Flynn, why would you ask Michael Flynn to be your national security advisor?  We don`t have an explanation of that one yet. 

Here`s another one.  The "New York Times" reports late this afternoon that that general Flynn as part of these investigations was interviewed personally by the FBI soon after the new administration came into office.  That was at a time General Flynn insisted he hadn`t had conversations with the Russian government about these sanctions that the U.S. imposed on Russia, for them interfering in our presidential election.  No, he didn`t talk to them. 

We now know despite those protests to the contrary that Michael Flynn absolutely did have those conversations and the Justice Department knew he had those conversations because they taped him.  They overheard him having those conversations with the Russian government because they were wiretapping Russian government officials. 

So, he did an interview with the FBI about their investigation into his contacts with the Russian government.  He did an interview with them soon after the administration started?  Did the national security advisor lie to the FBI about the content of those conversations when they questioned him about it?  If so that would, of course, be a felony and he would be expecting to go to jail now. 

Has the FBI investigation of General Flynn proceeded along those lines? 

And that gets me to my next point.  Since, Jeff Sessions became attorney general of the United States, has he interfered with the FBI investigation of General Flynn or the investigation of the Trump campaign and its contacts with Russia in any way?  Has Attorney General Jeff Sessions changed the focus of those investigations or changed their direction at all?  Has Attorney General Jeff Sessions been briefed on the FBI investigation of General Flynn and his contacts with the Russian government? 

Because that`s getting us to the really, really important point here, right?  We now know that the Justice Department, including the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, she went to the White House at the end of January.  And they informed -- she and another senior career justice official informed the White House counsel that Michael Flynn had had contacts with the Russian government that were not only undermining U.S. government sanctions against Russia, these were also contacts that he lied about and they told the White House that he`d done it. 

And they told him that because he`d been lying about it he could conceivably be blackmailed by Russia which is a very bad thing, right?  For somebody with that much access to the president and that much access to classified information that Russia might be very interested to have.  I mean, General Flynn is national security advisor. 

Remember, he was rewriting the president`s daily intelligence briefing so the president wouldn`t get straight information from the intelligence community, he`d just get what Michael Flynn told him.  That was a weird arrangement.  Why was that set up?  No information to the president other than one what Michael Flynn tells him? 

General Flynn was also not working with the fully staffed National Security Council.  He never bothered to staff the place up.  He alone had incredible control of the information flow to the president and incredible access to the president. 

And if the Russians were in a position to be able to say to him, hey, do what we want you to do, tell us what we want you to tell us or we will expose you, if the Russians were in a position to say to him, hey, we know you lied about this and we can prove it, you wouldn`t want us to expose that about you, would you?  You better do what we want. 

If they were in a position to blackmail him that way because they knew him he lied and they had him dead to rights and they could expose him on that, that`s a serious security problem at the highest levels of the U.S. government.  And we now know that the White House knew about that for weeks and they took no action.  Why did they that I can no action?  Why did they continue to let Michael Flynn have the access to the president and the access to classified information he enjoyed up until the night he was fired? 

"The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" have both reported citing multiple sources that his contacts with the Russian government didn`t start once he was national security advisor.  They didn`t start once Trump was elected, when they were in the transition period.  Both papers report that Mike Flynn was in contact with the Russian government during the campaign, before the election, while Russia was interfering in the U.S. election in multiple ways to tip the balance of the election to Donald Trump. 

Did Mike Flynn help them with that?  Did Mike Flynn or anybody else from the Trump campaign collude with the Russian government and their efforts to undermine the U.S. election?  It`s a very, very, very serious charge.  Right now, it`s an absolutely unanswered one at this point. 

Will that charge be investigated?  If it turns out to be true, will it be prosecuted? 

The head of the House Oversight Committee today was asked whether he might open an investigation into Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russia.  Jason Chaffetz answered, quote, "I think the situation has taken care of itself."  So, no then. 

The top Republican in the House and the top Republican in the Senate have both insisted there` no reason for any sort of independent or special investigation into these allegations because the intelligence committees can handle it. 

Well, OK, this contact with the Russian government that Mike Flynn lied about, that has led to him being fired from this administration, that contact with the Russian government, that happened during the presidential transition. 

The head of the House Intelligence Committee was a member of the Trump presidential transition.  Congressman Nunes was asked yesterday about his reaction to the Flynn allegations, he described them as, quote, "a lot of nothing."  Well, yeah, if he was going to be investigating them, he`d been investigating the Trump transition, which he was part of. 

Well, if it`s the FBI investigation you`re hanging your hat on here, can we talk about Director James Comey and his role in this year`s politics?  We can talk about that at length some other time.  I`ll buy you a beer, you buy snacks, we`ll talk about it, it`s a long conversation. 

But even putting that aside, putting him aside, the new attorney general, the head of the Justice Department of which the FBI is a part, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was just sworn into office after explicitly refusing in his confirmation process to recuse himself from investigations involving the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia.  The attorney general -- the new attorney general who has now sworn in insisted during the confirmation process that he will not recuse himself.  He will stay involved in any investigations of Russia and the Trump campaign. 

The attorney general was part of the Trump campaign.  He was the chairman of Donald Trump`s national security advisory committee.  So, he`s going to oversee this national security information into the Trump campaign?  And its contact with Russia during the campaign? 

I mean, asking him to fairly and impartially oversee those investigations would have him in effect investigating himself.  So, rule of law.  We`ve just gone through something that`s a very big deal.  The national security advisor is out.  No national security advisor has ever been forced out in 24 days.  No national security advisor has ever been forced out in circumstances this scandalous and I`m including the ones who were convicted or pled guilty to felonies. 

The White House`s behavior and the president`s behavior around this ouster is bizarre and unexplained and in some cases, it`s inexplicable.  The allegations here about national security risks and the undermining of the U.S. government by a foreign power, these are as serious as anything that has ever been alleged against any president not just in modern times but ever.

And the question tonight is: where`s the rule of law?  What`s the remedy for that, right?  Where are we thinking the investigation is going to come from here?  Where are we thinking the prosecution is going to come from here if the investigation warrants it? 

I mean, we have the rule of law in this country.  I believe it, I`ve read all about it.  But who`s going to make it a reality with these kinds of allegations against this administration?  That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Hi.  So, we`ve got the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff.  He`s going to be joining us live in just a moment.  I have actually pushed that back for a second just because I want to bring you some breaking news that the "New York Times" just posted. 

This has just gone up since we`ve gone on the air.  I`ve just been marking it up with my trusty highlighter.  We haven`t prepared graphics or anything, but let me just tell you what they`ve just reported directly relevant to what we need to talk to Congressman Schiff about and what we are discussing. 

"Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence" is the headline.  The operative word there being "campaign."  This is during the campaign.  This is during the election. 

I`ll read you the lead.  "Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald Trump`s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election."  "The Times" is citing four current and four American officials, four officials, current and former. 

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time that they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee. 

The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.  And this is very carefully couched.  "The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation."

But they are documenting repeated contacts at the same time that the Russian intelligence agencies were influencing the election.  One of the advisers picked up on the calls was Paul Manafort, who was Trump`s campaign chairman for several months last year.  The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the FBI is sifting through as it investigates the link between Trump`s associates and the Russian government, as well as the DNC hack. 

But again, the headline here "Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence" reportedly at the time that Russia was trying to influence our election.  This has just been posted by "The New York Times".  Byline on this is Michael Smith, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo. 

We`ve got the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, joining us next and none too soon. 

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER:  General Flynn`s resignation is not the end of the story, it is merely the beginning.  There needs to be an independent and transparent investigation.  The White House counsel cannot lead this investigation and the new attorney general cannot be -- Jeff Sessions -- cannot be the person to lead that investigation. 

I expect Jeff Sessions to recuse himself and, B, I expect what`s put in its place to be independent, transparent and impartial. 

We`ll wait and see what they propose. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer today calling for an independent investigation of Michael Flynn who has now resigned as national security adviser, saying the White House counsel can`t lead the investigation, the new attorney general cannot be the person to lead that investigation.  There needs to be an independent investigation. 

Since last year, the FBI and CIA have both been reportedly investigating General Flynn`s contacts with the Russian government.  The U.S. Army is reportedly also investigating whether he illegally received money in the form of speaking fees from the Russian government during his trip to Russia in December, 2015, that`s the trip where General Flynn went to a gala dinner and sat next to Vladimir Putin.  That was less than two months before the Iowa caucuses.  That was December, 2015.

When the "Washington Post" interviewed Mike Flynn about that trip last year and asked him what he talked to Putin about, General Flynn told "The Post" that their questioning on that topic was boring.  That was his quote, "boring."  That`s how seriously he`s taking these worries. 

According to U.S. intelligence agencies, the Russian campaign to influence the U.S. presidential election consisted of hacking, stealing data, selective leaks.  Also, the direct propaganda side of it.  These prolific efforts by the Russian government to inject false news stories into the campaign to undercut damaging news that might hurt Donald Trump, to disrupt social media interaction among Clinton supporters, to overwhelm authoritative sources of news with nonsense and noise. 

And some of those tactics are one size fits all for the Russians, right?  The Russians have experience using those tactics in other countries where they`ve interfered like Sweden and Estonia and other countries. 

But to the extent they could be further enhanced by tailoring them to the U.S. environment, did they get any U.S. help?  Did they get any U.S. advice on the best ways to weaponize their tactics against our election, against our system of government? 

I mean, it`s worth asking now, did Michael Flynn help them?  I mean, when he was in contact with the Russian government during the campaign, before the election, during the campaign, did General Flynn help them in their efforts to interfere in our election?  Did anybody else in the Trump campaign help them? 

I mean, as U.S. intelligence agencies and Congress are investigating Russian interference in the election designed to benefit Donald Trump, there is this record of General Flynn, leading Trump supporter, hobnobbing with the Russian president during the campaign.  I mean, we know that his communication with the Russian ambassador in December was only one in a series of contacts between Flynn and that Russian official, contacts that began before the election. 

I mean, the reporting here is that Russia actively meddled in our election and that General Flynn was talking to the Russian government while that operation was under way.  What was going on in those conversations? 

Further to that point, the "New York Times" just moments ago has reported, citing four current and former American officials, the "New York Times" has just reported that multi -- wasn`t just Flynn, it was multiple Trump campaign aides and associates who had contacts with Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, during the campaign, at a time when Russian intelligence officials were interfering in our election to help Donald Trump. 

What was the substance of those comments?  What was the substance of those communications?  Did Michael Flynn and these other Trump campaign staffers, did they know about Russian efforts to interfere in our election which, according to the "New York Times," were happening contemporaneously with their contact with those Russian officials?  At the same time Russian officials were talking to Trump campaign people, Russian officials were trying to influence our election.  Did those Trump campaign people know the Russians were doing it when they were talking to them? 

If they knew about it, did they try to stop them from doing it?  Did they encourage them?  Did they help them?  We don`t know and I don`t know if or how we`re ever going to find out?  I mean, is this just 100 percent a journalistic enterprise now or will our government get to the bottom of it?  Will our government even try to get to the bottom of it? 

Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff of California.  He`s the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. 

Congressman Schiff, thank you very much for being here.  It`s nice to have you back. 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA:  Thank you.  Good to be with you. 

MADDOW:  Let me ask your response to this new reporting from the "New York Times." I don`t know if you had a chance to review it.  The headline is "Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence".  "The New York Times" citing multiple American sources saying that phone records and intercepted calls show members of Trump`s presidential campaign had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign and the year before the election.

I just wanted to get your response to that. 

SCHIFF:  Well, this is really, I think, the heart of the investigation and that is was there some form of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin?  The Kremlin was engaged in illegal activities in the United States designed to influence the outcome of the election.  Obviously, their intent was to help Donald Trump and hurt Secretary Clinton, and were Trump campaign surrogates or aides or others affirmatively working with the Russians towards that illegal object? 

That`s really one of the central and most important allegations to be investigated.  And we have agreement on a bipartisan basis to do that investigation, but there are a lot of big questions about whether we can get that done, and one of them, frankly, is personified by one of the photos you just showed and this is Director Comey, because we`re going to need his cooperation if we`re going to do this investigation. 

We`re going to need to know what the FBI has looked at, who they have talked to, what leads they have run down, what they haven`t run down, what yet must be investigated.  And there`s a big question about whether we will get that cooperation.  So, that I think is one of the most serious sets of allegations. 

The other set involves that conversation in December between Flynn and the Russian ambassador.  Was this done at the direction of the president?  With the knowledge of the president?  With the knowledge of others in the administration? 

It seems odd to imagine Flynn was acting as some kind of a rogue agent and it`s, I think, entirely plausible that rather what he was doing was conveying to the ambassador and perhaps to others, we ought to explore anyone he had contact with the idea, "don`t react to the Obama sanctions, we`ve got your back."  That would be directly undermining the U.S. national security interests and that is also another very serious issue we have to investigate. 

MADDOW:  Congressman, it was reported today that you told Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting to expect more information to surface on this subject and specifically about General Flynn in coming days.  Can you tell us what you`re expecting and why you advised your fellow Democrats of that? 

SCHIFF:  You know, actually, I`m not sure where that came from, because I did talk to the caucus but not about that.  I don`t have any understanding that some other shoe is about to drop.  I`m sure we will, you know, during the course of our investigation.  Again, a lot of information on these very issues, but I don`t have any foreknowledge that something is about to break. 

MADDOW:  When you mentioned that Director Comey at the FBI a key factor here in figuring out whether or not our government is going to investigate and if need be prosecute these matters, for me, it`s -- I`m trying to look at this from a big picture and I feel like what we know about this thus far is because people inside the government and inside the intelligence community have been willing to leak stuff to reporters.  Clearly, it seems now clear from the facts in terms of the White House admission that when the Justice Department went to the White House weeks ago and told them what they knew about General Flynn that they were worried he was potentially susceptible blackmail, and so, he was in a very scary position in terms of national security operating in the White House, the level that he was at. 

We know the White House had no real reaction to that for weeks until somebody leaked it to a reporter, it became public, they had a hard time answering questions and now Flynn is gone.  Similarly with this "New York Times" reporting, somebody has leaked to the "New York Times" that phone records and intercepted calls shows that members of the Trump campaign were talking to Russian intelligence officials.  That`s the only way we know it. 

I`m happy to have the information.  I don`t know if I should have confidence that any of the investigations inside the government -- the FBI, any legislative investigation, any other form of investigation here -- will be above board and impartial and will get further to the truth here. 

SCHIFF:  Well, you know, I can tell you a couple things.  I`m going to be pushing my hardest to make sure we have a credible and thorough investigation.  And if I run into a roadblock in any direction, whether that comes from the House leadership or comes from the FBI, I`m going to be public about it, I`m not going to be part of an investigation unless it is real and credible. 

But I`m going to push the get the work done.  I think it`s a fundamental responsibility of the Congress to investigate and oversee this. 

The other point I want to underscore is the one you just mentioned, which is the president learned weeks ago that his national security advisor, not some low-level federal employee, his national security advisor, had lied and that lie was conveyed to the American people and, you know what?  They were OK with that.  For weeks they were OK with that and likely Flynn would still be there today if "The Washington Post" hadn`t broken than story. 

Now, what does that say about this administration that they were willing to allow the public to be misled even when they learned the truth? 

And the final point I want to make and you began your program with this tonight, and I`m so glad you did focusing on Putin`s, you know, attempt to discredit and eliminate his political rival or potential political rival, what the stakes are here because, you know, people ask and Sean Spicer wants to suggest what`s the big deal about Flynn talking to the Russian ambassador?  Isn`t that sort of ordinary course of events? 

The big deal is this.  We`re in a global struggle with Russia right now.  They are trying to propagate their authoritarian model around the world.