Show: The Rachel Maddow Show Date: March 13, 2017 Guest: Erik Mouthaan
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Happy Monday. Thanks for being with us here tonight.
There`s a lot going on in the news today and into this evening. The big news that broke in Washington late this afternoon was word from the Congressional Budget Office that the Republican plan to get rid of Obamacare, the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act would throw 24 million Americans off their health insurance, which is absolutely astonishing.
If you`re trying to get your head around 24 million Americans, how many people that is, it is roughly -- this is slightly understating the case, but it is roughly the population of all of these states combined. Twenty- four million people is the entire population of Vermont, Alabama, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Idaho, West Virginia, Nebraska, New Mexico, Kansas and Wyoming combined, and then some. That`s the number of Americans who would get thrown off their health insurance if this Republican thing passes to get rid of Obamacare.
So, that is obviously big and alarming policy news. It`s big enough that it is also very big political news. We`ll have more about the policy side of it and political side of that coming up tonight. That was the news that sort of struck Washington like a thunderbolt late this afternoon.
We`re actually going to start the show tonight on the subject of money, lots and lots and lots and lots of money. Money obtained by means you would rather not have to explain. If you have ill-gotten gains, if you have money where you cannot account for its origin, not if you don`t want to go to jail and it`s not a little money that we`re talking about, it`s billions and billions of dollars, at that scale, at that size, it`s very hard to turn that much illegal or shady money into something that you can use, something you can access without getting arrested, right? If you`re talking about billions of dollars in dirty money, billions of dollars where you cannot explain where it came from, unless you got an industrial-sized scheme from making your shady billions of dollars look legit, you may not be able to use them.
Well, just a few weeks ago, at the end of January of this year, we learned about one such industrial-sized scheme to make dirty money look legit. It ran for about four or five years, from 2011 to 2015. It happened at a bank, a big bank called Deutsche Bank. And this scheme that Deutsche Bank got involved with was basically a fantastic, enormous washing machine for illegal Russian money.
Deutsche Bank facilitated the laundering of about $10 billion worth of dirty money out of Russia. That`s way bigger than your average money laundering scheme. The way they were able to do it and get away with it before they finally got caught, is that they moved the money through the stock market, right? Stock markets are one of the only places on earth where you can hide a few billion dollars here and there and maybe it just gets lost in the sauce and nobody notices something went wrong with the way that money was moving.
Basically, the scheme -- again, from 2011 to 2015, it involved real stock in real companies but fake deals. Both the buyer and the seller were in on the deal, or in some cases, it was the same person. And it didn`t really matter what the stock was. It didn`t really matter whether it was economically smart or economically dumb to be buying that particular stock on a particular day.
What they were doing with these stock trades was getting rid of their dirty Russian money. I know it sounds gross when I say it that way, but that`s what I mean. They used rubles, ill-gotten gains, right, they couldn`t really explain where they came from. They used rubles to buy stock in Russia and then outside of Russia, they would sell that same stock and get paid in dollars.
So, it was a way to turn rubles into dollars. It was all the coordinated thing. It was the same people doing the selling and the buying. It was just a very big, very efficient system for moving, you know, $10 billion, ultimately, in dirty Russian money out of Russia converted into dollars in what looked like a legitimate transaction. At least it looked like a sort of legitimate transaction, Deutsche Bank.
Notice what`s going on here? Eventually, Deutsche Bank got nailed and at the end of January, they just got pinned to the wall for this scheme. They let their offices be the vehicle for this illegal fake stock trading scheme. And they had to pay a huge fine.
You know, and I never thought that I would have to learn this much about Russian money laundering in order to follow the American presidency. But these are the times we live in and so, we all have to learn new things. I`m an old dog. I`m learning a new trick.
But it is kind of amazing when you start following Russian money laundering schemes all around the world. It`s some exotic stuff and it happens all over the world and there is a ton of it.
I mean, Russia`s a big country. Russia`s got 140-something million people. But their economy, their GDP is like half of France. They`ve got more -- just turn the flag on its side.
Russia has more than doubled the population of France. They`ve gotten an economy half the size of France. Why is that?
Part of that is because Russia is a kleptocracy. It is governed by thieves. I mean, you keep hearing about Russia oligarchs. You know, sociologically, it`s fascinating to see this brand new class of like oil sheikh level wealth among this tiny group of shady Russian guys with broken noses, right?
But it tells you something about what has happened to the economy in that country and why Russia is still limping so badly in economic terms, nearly 30 years after the wall came down. It`s because this corrupt -- remember, it was supposed to be two super powers in the world?
Think about the economy of the United States and the economy of Russia, right? In Russia, there`s this corrupt, elite class of connected thieves at the top who have been siphoning money out of that country like they are sticking a Shop-Vac into an ant farm. I know we`ve got a billionaire class here and corruption here and we`ve got levels of wealth inequality in this country we haven`t seen since the Gilded Age, I get it.
In Russia, it is on a different magnitude. The class, the politically connected class at the top that is stealing is much smaller, is much more connected to the country`s president and is much more traceable now in the short amount of time in terms of the way they have yanked money out of that country and the way they have spread it all over the world to hide it and to disguise its origins.
Russian money laundering, you should look into it. It`s interesting.
But you know, a funny thing happened about that Deutsche Bank Russian money laundering scheme when it got uncovered. As I said, just a few weeks ago, end of January, Deutsche Bank had to pay $630 million in fines because it got caught in that scheme.
But you know what happened on the day that fine was announced? Deutsche Bank got fined $630 million. And their stock price went up. Up. Investors were psyched. Whoo! Only $630 million.
Sounds like a big fine, but to those guys it was a relief. Oh. Easily survivable. No problem.
Here`s the thing, though -- there`s still reason for them to worry about their Russian money laundering problem, because that $630 million fine that they had to pay that was such a relief because it wasn`t too big, that was a settlement that Deutsche Bank reached with New York state. That`s interesting, with the state.
International banks have headquarters in New York City. New York state regulates banks that are headquartered in New York through their Department of Financial Services. The Department of Financial Services is who nailed Deutsche Bank for the Russian money laundering thing. Made them pay that $630 million fine. And that`s a good fine, that`s a lot of money and that settled the matter as far as New York state was concerned.
But you know what? It`s not over because there`s also the feds. That was the state level settlement. There`s also the fed, the federal government. They`re going after Deutsche Bank on this, too.
And when the feds get you, that`s when things can really start to add up. For example, Deutsche Bank got nailed just in December for a totally different thing. Deutsche Bank got nailed in December by the feds for their shady, illegal mortgage practices that led up to the financial collapse in this country. And the fine there, the deal with the feds was not some millions of dollars or even hundreds of millions of dollars. The fine there was a $7 billion fine, billion with a "B." That was for their mortgage scheme.
On that Russian money laundering scheme that Deutsche Bank already got caught for, the state part of it might be settled for $630 million, but the federal case is still opened, still being pursued by the feds. And you know who has been pursing the federal case against Deutsche Bank?
Preet Bharara, who was just fired as the federal prosecutor in New York when the Trump Justice Department moved suddenly and without warning to remove all the U.S. attorneys around the country on Friday, including Preet Bharara, even though both President Trump himself and Attorney General Jeff Sessions himself had previously told Preet Bharara he could stay on the job.
And we reported on Friday night, you know, that other presidents have replaced other U.S. attorneys or all of the U.S. attorneys before, but nobody has ever fired all the U.S. attorneys the way the Trump folks did on Friday night. Called them in the afternoon on Friday, told all the U.S. attorneys, all without warning that they were all fired immediately. They needed their desks cleaned and they need their keys turned in by midnight, get out.
It`s never happened like that before. Why the rush? And why Preet Bharara? Why is he included after you had given him personal assurance that he was staying on?
That federal investigation into Russian money laundering by Deutsche Bank, that`s one of many number of open investigations in the Justice Department that has just had a wrench thrown in the works by those sudden firing of the U.S. attorneys on Friday.
But looking at the Preet Bharara firing, looking at this shock to the justice system that the Trump administration just levied, Deutsche Bank is a particularly sensitive subject. Deutsche Bank is a particularly sensitive subject of investigation for this president for a couple of reasons.
First of all, the former chairman of Deutsche Bank, he left in the middle of all scandal of his bank. He ended up landing very softly, though, at the Bank of Cyprus. Bank of Cyprus is itself a bank that has been in lots of hot water for Russian money laundering accusations. The Deutsche Bank chairman was installed as the chairman of the Bank of Cyprus by the major shareholders of the Bank of Cyprus.
Major shareholders of the Bank of Cyprus include this Russian oligarch. They called him the "King of Fertilizer". He`s now becoming famous in this country for having inexplicably paid Donald Trump $95 million for a single house. It`s the single largest prize paid for a house in the United States. He paid Donald Trump $95 million for that property even though Trump himself had only paid $41 million for it a few years earlier.
Why did a Russian oligarch pay Donald Trump $50 million over what Donald Trump paid for that property? We still don`t know. The King of Fertilizer never stepped foot in the property. He`s certainly never lived there. He has since torn it down. But Donald Trump pocketed more than $50 million in that one sale, with that Russian oligarch, who is a major shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus, which has been done and held up on Russian money laundering allegations over the years and now.
In terms of the Bank of Cyprus, there is one American who is involved in that bank. The one American who is a major shareholder of the Bank of Cyprus and until recently was its vice chairman is our new commerce secretary, longtime Donald Trump friend, Wilbur Ross.
So, the Deutsche Bank chairman landing there with the guy who inexplicably gave Donald Trump $50 million and Donald Trump`s commerce secretary, that makes Deutsche Bank a little bit of a sensitive subject.
The other reason Deutsche Bank is a sensitive subject for federal investigations at this point is because the president himself owes more money to Deutsche Bank than any other single lender in the world. President Trump is in hock to Deutsche Bank to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Deutsche Bank is the largest known lender to Trump`s businesses.
So, summarily removing the prosecutor, going after Deutsche Bank, that has personal implications for this president. But that`s not all because it`s not just him. It`s his family.
This is the Waldorf Astoria. It`s a big, fancy stately hotel in New York City -- emphasis on stately. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations always has a living suite at the Waldorf Astoria. Heads of state from all over the world when they come to New York to do business at the U.N., they stay at the Waldorf Astoria when they`re here.
The president of the United States stays at the Waldorf Astoria when he comes to New York for the U.N. or for any other business, or at least that used to be the case. That stopped in 2015 after a Chinese company bought the Waldorf. The company called Anbang. Anbang has murky ownership but nobody can ascertain.
There are widespread suspensions that Anbang is a tool of the Chinese government and when Anbang bought the Waldorf Astoria and started rewiring it, U.S. national security agencies deduced that they would no longer be confident that the American president could stay there without being bugged. And so, the U.S. president no longer stays at the Waldorf Astoria, even before we got a U.S. president who has his own place in New York.
Anbang started off as a car insurance company in China but they have somehow become a global behemoth and started buying property all over, particularly in the United States. During the Obama administration, some of the Anbang`s purchases were reviewed on national security grounds, again, because this company appears to be a front for the Chinese government and you can`t have foreign governments owning just anything in the United States.
For example, this is the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, which is lovely. Lovely sport, historic hotel, it`s right on San Diego bay. But look at the Hotel Del Coronado on a map.
There`s the Hotel Del Coronado. On one side is Coronado Beach Dog Park, which looks lovely. I was looking at it on satellite view today. Right on the other side of it, our Navy base. It`s right next to a Navy base.
And so, when Anbang, this country linked to the Chinese government wanted to buy that hotel, really, right next to the naval base? The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States blocked that purchase on national security grounds. Well, now the Obama administration is gone and the Trump administration is in effect, and now, Anbang, this Chinese company, wants to do a huge new deal.
They want to buy a member of the beast, forgive me, 666 5th Avenue. When 666 5th Avenue was sold in 2007 for $1.8 billion, it was the most expensive sale of a single building ever in the United States. Anbang just started shopping around a deal to buy it now for more than a billion dollars over that price from 2007. They`re valuing it at $2.85 billion for a single building. I believe that would make it the most expensive building in North America.
That huge inflation in price, over a billion dollars more than the last time it was bought, that would result in a huge payout for the people who bought it back in 2007. If this deal goes through, the people who bought it back in 2007. If this deal goes through, the people who bought it back in 2007 are now going to sell it to this Chinese company, they`re going to make off like bandits.
And the people who bought it in 2007 are -- hey, remember Jared? The Kushner family, the Kushner real estate empire. And this new offer just unveiled by Anbang, which is believed to be tied to the Chinese government, the Kushners are looking at walking away with $400 million, including some really inexplicable super nice sweeteners to the deal, like a $250 million loan that the Kushners have outstanding on the property from their last re- fi effort.
Part of this deal with Anbang would the make Kushers, they`ve got $250 million, they only have to pay back $50 million of it. It`s an 80 percent off sale. Everything must go.
This would be a massive purchase, though, way bigger than the Hotel Del Coronado. But like the Hotel Del Coronado or any other major purchase by a company like this, this would have to be approved by a Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States isn`t an obscure committee. Its members are basically the whole cabinet. Secretary of defense, secretary of treasury, secretary of homeland security, secretary of commerce, et cetera.
Yes. Sorry, actually. This would be the old committee on foreign investment in the United States. That`s who was on it during the Obama administration. Now, it`s the Trump administration in effect.
So, now, this is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that will be evaluating whether or not Jared`s family gets $400 million. Hey, look, it`s Wilbur Ross from the Bank of Cyprus with the guy who paid Donald Trump $50 million extra for the --
Two days before the Trump administration decided to surprise, fire, all of the U.S. attorneys with no notice, get your things and clean out your desk by midnight, turn in your keys, two days before that, on Wednesday of last week, a group of watchdog organizations wrote to Preet Bharara as the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, and they asked him based on his jurisdiction to please look into whether or not the president was illegally receiving payments from foreign governments through his continuing ownership stake in the Trump Organization.
John Conyers, top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, he`s now written to the Justice Department to ask for a list of all pending Justice Department investigations that involve members of the Trump administration, members of the Trump transition, members of the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization. He says he wants that list of investigation so we can understand the full implications of this weekend`s firings of the federal prosecutors.
Were any of those prosecutors fired because of the ongoing investigations into the Trump campaign, or the Trump Organization, or the Trump administration?
We don`t know why the Trump administration decided to fire all the U.S. attorneys in the way they did on Friday, with no warning, with apparently no preparation, with no replacements lined up to nominate for those positions. We particularly don`t know why the president did a 180, did an about-face and decided to throw out the U.S. attorney who has jurisdiction over things like, hmm, Russian money laundering and the Trump business empire.
But just one last point to chew on here. The Trump administration demanded, surprise, demanded the resignation of all U.S. attorneys on Friday afternoon. Preet Bharara didn`t do it. They asked for the resignations from all of the U.S. attorneys, Preet Bharara did not do it. He knew at the time, we all knew, that the president had the power to remove him and that by standing up and saying, "I`m not going to resign, you`re going to have to fire me," ultimately, the president would fire him. He knew that`s how it would work out.
But because Preet Bharara didn`t resign, because he took that stand and did not submit his resignation when he was asked for on Friday, because he said, you`re going to have to fire me and then they had to go through the process of firing him, I mean, there was no suspense as to what the outcome was going to be. There`s no suspense as to whether or not he`d be allowed to keep his job, he knew he would have to go.
But because of the way he did it, because he didn`t resign, because he made them fire him, he delayed the process. He didn`t get fired. He didn`t get removed from office until Saturday afternoon.
By insisting he would not resign and they`d have to fire him, Preet Bharara bought himself, as best as I can tell, about 24 hours and 29 minutes, 24.5 extra hours in office once he knew they were coming for him. So, as you think about what pending investigations might have been rooted through that office in New York, Trump campaign, Trump transition, Trump administration, Trump organization, oh, and all of the banks in the world, what do you think Preet Bharara did with that last 24 hours once he knew they were coming for him?
Stay with us.
MADDOW: If he wasn`t the most famous U.S. attorney in the country before, he certainly is now. That`s Preet Bharara, a U.S. attorney from the southern district of New York.
Look at the scene today. This is him outside his office. These are all of the people who work in the U.S. attorney`s office of the southern district of New York, them giving him a long-standing ovation out in the cold today as he leaves office.
He was asked for his resignation along with all of the other federal prosecutors on Friday. He did not offer his resignation. On Saturday, he tweeted, "I did not resign. Moments ago, I was fired."
By waiting, by saying "No, he wouldn`t resign," it`s one of the curious things about the Preet Bharara`s tenure at the U.S. attorney`s office is that he now leaves office having had this interesting interregnum, about 24 1/2 hours after he knew they were going to fire him but before he actually left office.
Thinking about what he might have done with that time, with that little bit of time that he earned himself by not quitting is one of the ongoing mysteries about what the Justice Department just did here.
Joining us now is Michael Beschloss, NBC presidential historian.
Michael, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, I have characterized them firing all of the U.S. attorneys as something that is unprecedented in some ways and not in others. Certainly previous presidents have replaced all of the prosecutors, have gotten rid of all of the U.S. attorneys. Sometimes they`ve announced it in one fell swoop.
MADDOW: But we haven`t had this instance where they`ve told them, you`re all gone, no warning, nobody nominated to replace you, and you need to be out by midnight. That`s new, right?
BESCHLOSS: No, they served said it by sun down. Reagan did it over the course of his first two years. Bill Clinton announced it in March but gave some of the U.S. attorneys some time to go out.
George W. Bush staged it. He said, it`s too much of a disruption to fire everyone at once so it was done a little more gradually.
MADDOW: Michael, one of the things that we`re seeing in terms of what`s happening in Washington right now and I think there`s a renewed focus on Preet Bharara and some of the other U.S. attorneys in terms of they might have been pursing Justice Department investigations into some of the scandals of this administration, potential ties with Russia, we are starting to see Democrats raising the prospect that they might peel off from these congressional investigations, congressional intelligence committees, both in the House and the Senate are supposed to be leading these congressional investigations.
This weekend, Democrats started to say, we`re not sure that those are going to be free and fair and independent investigations. Maybe we shouldn`t be part of them.
Is that kind of negotiation, that kind of worry on the part of one party or another, that is the sort of thing that has precedent in previous years?
BESCHLOSS: It is. And we would think of Devin Nunes and the house committee investigating the ties between Donald Trump and Russia, plus, the Russian attack on our election last year and interfering with democracy.
And Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat, saying, we might not stay involved with this, you know, if the chairman does not pursue a vigorous investigation.
And, you know, the classic of investigations that really work would be the Senate Watergate committee, 1973. Senate said by 77-0, let`s have this committee. There was great cooperation.
Howard Baker, the Republican vice chairman was very much of a straight shooter. He was trying to pursue truth. Same was true with the joint committee that investigated Iran-Contra in 1987. Those are examples of investigations where the committee saw great harmony between the two parties, and most of all, the chairman and ranking member, they had not said at the beginning we think the president is innocent or guilt.
The problem -- the difference here is with Chairman Nunes, as we know, he has said he doesn`t think there`s much to the ties between Donald Trump and Russia. He was a member of the Trump transition team. He has said that Michael Flynn was a victim and was doing great things for his country. He rejected the intelligence report in January saying that the Russians did try to help Donald Trump, so there`s no a sign that there`s that same kind of a partisanship that you saw in those earlier hearings.
MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC presidential historian -- Michael, great to see you. Thank you for being with us tonight.
BESCHLOSS: Pleasure. We will know soon.
MADDOW: Yes, we will.
All right. Much more to come, including a lesson that several members of Congress learned this weekend which now has national implications for all of us.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Welcome home, Congressman Darrell Issa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Do your job! Do your job! Do your job!
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: There is no change -- if your child before Obamacare was -- hey. Hey. It`s not affordable and, by the way, Obama liked calling it Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: More than a thousand of Congressman Darrell Issa`s constituents made their voices known inside back to back town halls he held in Oceanside, California, this weekend. And that`s not counting the folks who couldn`t get in and were waving signs and chanting outside.
Congressman Issa was re-elected in November by the teeny, tiniest of margins. Since then, the spotlight on him has been intense in his own district. Starting in January, constituents of his have been holding weekly protests outside his California offices. Among other things, they`ve been demanding that he hold a town hall so they can converse with him. They have visited and left letters outside his office.
Last month, they crowd funded $6,000 to take out a full page ad in the local "San Diego Tribune", inviting him to an emergency town hall on health care. They held that town hall on health care, but Darrell Issa did not show up, which made for its own fun. Where is Darrell?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Where is Darrell? Where is Darrell? Where is Darrell?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That kind of sustained pressure at home, week after week after week after week, is now maybe showing some results. This weekend, Congressman Issa did finally hold those two town halls. And after facing his constituents at home, now, he is clarifying where he stands on the Republican plan to get rid of Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: Are you going to vote for the Speaker Ryan plan as it looks right now?
ISSA: You know, I`m not prepared to vote for it as it is right now and I think that`s not because of a specific, you know, this is unacceptable, but because I think we can do better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the Republican plan to kill Obamacare will cause 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance. That`s 24 million people who have insurance now losing their insurance. That`s part of why the Republican plan to kill Obamacare is not likely to survive.
Another reason why it`s not likely to survive is what members of Congress are facing in their home districts. The only Republican senator who is going to be running for re-election next year from a state that Hillary Clinton won is Nevada Senator Dean Heller. And his constituents have found their voice this year. They`ve been asking him for a town hall, among other things.
Last month, they bought tickets to a private event in order to see him because he wouldn`t do a public event with them. But at that private event, the senator made them a promise. He said he would hold a town hall if everybody going to the town hall agreed that they wouldn`t boo him.
No deal. Senator Heller has yet to hold a public in the flesh town hall. He did hold a private event with constituents this weekend. According to leaked audio of that event, Dean Heller told the crowd, quote, "Not everything in the Affordable Care Act is bad. As we move forward and look at what some of these changes and what`s occurring, I think we ought to embrace what`s good in the Affordable Care Act."
He also said, quote, "Do I believe all Americans should have access to health care? Absolutely, I do." That was on Saturday.
Again, today, the CBO projected that 24 million Americans would eventually lose their health insurance under the new Republican plan to get rid of Obamacare. But you know what? The first 14 million of those 24 million, the first 14 million would lose coverage by 2018. Just in time for the midterm elections, when Dean Heller and Darrell Issa will both be up for re-election in what are likely to be the fights of their lives. You can believe it`s on their calendars already.
MADDOW: This is Pauline Hanson. You can see her getting her champagne glass filled outside of parliament in Australia. She`s an Australian senator.
She`s also the head of a super conservative right wing populist party in Australia called the One Nation Party. What she`s toasting there outside of the Australian parliament is the election of Donald Trump drink up, the day after the day after the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULINE HANSON, AUSTRALIAN SENATOR: I`m so excited that Donald Trump looks like he`s just over the line, and I`m so happy about it because this is putting out a clear message to everyone round the world that the people power is now happening and now America, good on you guys. You`ve got it right. I`m so happy that Donald Trump is there.
To Donald Trump, cheers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Pauline Hanson was very excited that day. She called it a clear message to everyone around the world that the people power is now happening.
Well, that -- the people power did not happen for her this weekend. They voted this weekend in a state election in Western Australia. Senator Hanson`s party was projected to get a healthy 13 percent of the vote. They did not get 13 percent. Her right-wing anti-immigrant party actually got less than 5 percent of the vote. They bottomed out.
Rough weekend for the Trump loving nationalist party in Australia. No champagne toasts this time.
We`re still just figuring out how our new president ate the Republican Party, and became president in this country. But other countries around the world can see us not making sense of it, but a lot of them are also contending with their own version of this kind of politics within their own national traditions. The Dutch have their elections coming up the day after tomorrow.
And this is the Netherlands` right wing nationalist candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEERT WILDERS, DUTCH POLITICIAN: I always tell my American friends, if you let Islam be seated on your soil, don`t be surprise that you will harvest Sharia law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are more than a billion Muslims in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you keep them out of North America or indeed in Western Europe?
WILDERS: I think we have to. If I would become the prime minister of the Netherlands next year, after I would win the elections, close the Dutch borders for immigrants from other countries immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s Geert Wilders, speaking last year at the Republican convention in this country. He`s anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim. I don`t say that in an ad hominem way. He`s literally been founded guilty of inciting hatred against Muslims in the Netherlands.
But he`s giving the incumbent Dutch prime minister a run for his money. The polls are close. It`s unclear exactly how it`s going to go on Wednesday and some people in the Netherlands, I think it`s fair to say, are rather freaked out about what might happen in their elections in two days.
They`ve been watching us tangle knee-deep in dealing with Russian interference in our election wondering how that may have tipped the scales one way or another in our experience. Well, the Dutch are trying to ensure that there are no similar shenanigans in their election. They decided to forego the use of electronic vote counting for this election this week. They`re using paper ballots. Quote, "Voters will use red pencils to mark paper ballots, which will be hand counted in each voting precincts, and then tallied across the nations 20 voting districts."
That`s how the 17 million citizens of the Netherlands will be voting this Wednesday. Amid worries about Russian interference in their election with this very provocative right-wing anti-immigrant candidate standing, they are taking extra precautions to ensure the integrity of their elections.
Joining us now is Erik Mouthaan. He`s a North American correspondent for Dutch RTL TV.
Mr. Mouthaan, thank you very much for being here. It`s really nice to see you again.
ERIK MOUTHAAN, DUTCH RTL. NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Nice to see you.
MADDOW: So, every American likes to draw parallels from our experience to explain every other country in the world and I know that`s a little bit unfair. Can you give us the bottom line in terms of the prospects for Geert Wilders and how the Dutch are approaching this election on Wednesday?
MOUTHAAN: Well, here they call him the Dutch Trump. He`s been in office as a parliamentarian way longer than Donald Trump has been politically active. He`s been --he`s actually one of the longest members in parliament.
And, yes, he could win. Right now, it looks like it`s going to be a tie between four major parties but, you know, seeing the elections in the U.S., no one trusts the polls anymore. So, even the prime minister said, you know, it could go either way. It looks like the prime minister may become the biggest, but yes, it`s still possible.
MADDOW: What gives -- what`s the basis for the concerns about potential Russian interference?
MOUTHAAN: Well, everyone saw what happened, of course, in the U.S. with the FBI and CIA is saying about the Russians meddling in these elections and they are worried it`s going to happen in Holland. We noticed that there had been sort of like PR battles staged from Russia, just as you saw here. There`s worries about hacking. There`s worries about leaks.
So, people are just very worried and skeptical and they just want to make sure that everything is just on the up and up.
MADDOW: What are the Russian interests in this election?
MOUTHAAN: They just want -- the sense that we`re hearing from our parliamentarians and our, you know, secret service, is that they want to sort of meddle. They want to sort of push a more pro-Russian or maybe a less anti-Russian politics in Europe. Of course, we`ve seen with what`s happening in the Ukraine and we had this horrendous moment when the plane was shot down from Ukraine with 193 Dutch people on board and the Dutch authorities suspect that Russians were somehow involved in that, maybe not the Russian government but Russians on the ground.
So, there`s a lot of worry about what are the Russians trying to do and people just want to make sure that democracy is working this time.
MADDOW: If Wilders does get the largest portion of the vote, is it a foregone conclusion that he`ll be able to assemble a government? Obviously with four parties neck in neck in the running, nobody is going to end up with a majority.
MOUTHAAN: Right. And you need a coalition in my country, always in the other parties have said, even the present prime minister said, "I will not govern with this man." Because you have to remember, this is someone who is way to the right of Donald Trump when it comes to immigration. He wants to close all mosques. He wants to ban the Koran, which is constitutionally impossible in the Netherlands, of course.
But this is his moment and he says, "This is where it`s going to happen, I`m going to be the largest party in Holland," well, the polls are saying it`s going to be really tight.
MADDOW: One of the other things we`ve been watching here with both interest and I think it`s been viewed with concern from the point of view of the Dutch is that there have been a lot of American conservatives far right particularly anti-Islam American conservatives who have shoveled a lot of money to Wilders and his party.
MOUTHAAN: Hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years and we`ve only now seen that -- that`s actually becoming a little less over this last year. "The New York Times" is reporting that.
But, yes, there`s a large group of people in the U.S. who want to support his anti-Islam message and they are very actively helping him buy, you know, commercial time on TV, for instance.
MADDOW: Erik Mouthaan, North America correspondent for Dutch TRL -- thank you. Appreciate it.
MOUTHAAN: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: Let us know how it goes.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`ve reported in recent days about some of the unexplained, unanswered questions concerning the firing of National Security Adviser Mike Flynn after only 24 days on the job. We`ve also been reporting a little bit on what`s happened to him since he was fired.
Since he was fired, last week, General Flynn was apparently persuaded to retroactively file papers to declare himself a foreign agent. He was a paid lobbyist, lobbying for the interests of the government of Turkey while he was also helping to elect Donald Trump and serving in the Trump transition, also, incidentally, while he was sitting in on ton secret national security briefings.
But it turns out to be super important that he has filed those papers now. The filings specifically end up being important, because we`re now learning something from his "I am a foreign agent" papers that have finally made a very mysterious episode from the campaign last year all of a sudden make sense. Oh, that`s why that happened.
What we`re learning, what it means, and more still unexplained questions about Michael Flynn next.
MADDOW: If you need a nominee for the sexiest word in politics you could do worse than "cover-up." And three weeks out from the election, conservative media found one. Headline, "An Attempted Hillary e-mail Coverup?"
"Weekly Standard" reporting on October 15th, quote, "A senior State Department official repeatedly pressed the FBI to change the classification of e-mails stored on Hillary Clinton`s private server, according to FBI interview summaries set to be released in coming days. The under secretary of state for management discussed providing additional overseas slots for the FBI in exchange for revisions to classifications of the sensitive e- mails."
And then comes the runner-up sexiest words in politics. Quote, "The FBI records official says that his colleague pressured him to declassify an e- mail, quote, `in exchange for a quid pro quo.`" You`re not using that phrase right. But, you know, coverup!
The Clinton State Department trying to cover up something about her e-mails in a quid pro quo. Cue the avalanche.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got a FOX alert right now, the FBI releasing a set of documents related to the Clinton e-mail investigation believed to be connected to the allegations of this quid pro quo at the State Department.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Quote, "This is a flashing red light of potential criminality."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A quid pro quo arrangement during the investigation into Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The documents contain allegations of quid pro quo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kennedy held a closed-door meeting with redacted and redacted where Kennedy pointedly asked redacted to change the FBI`s classification determination regarding one of Clinton`s e-mails.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: FOX News and conservative media took that coverup, quid pro quo, flashing light of criminality, redacted, redacted, redacted. They took that story, they grabbed that mystery bait and went straight for the bottom of the pond. They played it three days straight. Coverup, quid pro quo!
A top staffer at the Clinton State Department accused of trying to trade the FBI something they wanted if they helped disappear a Clinton e-mail message.
2016, heading into the election, FOX News stayed on that story long enough that real news started to follow it up. When that happened, it started to get walked back. First off, the redacted, redacted, redacted, now former FBI official, who wasn`t named in those reports, he came forward and he said that he was the one who suggested any kind of deal. Quote, "I`m the one who threw that out there," he told the "New York Times."
And second, it was no big deal, this former FBI agent disputed he had ever characterized his conversations with the State Department official as a quid pro quo. Quote, "That`s a reach, I said hey, what`s this about, listen, there was no collusion, there was absolutely no collusion", he said. "No story, nothing to see here, no collusion, that`s a reach."
But the damage was done. Three straight days of quid pro quo, flashing red light of criminality, coverup. Damage was done, well done. And apparently, now, we know it was well paid, because now we have a new revelation about this story.
Last week, the former national security adviser to the president filed some new federal paperwork, Mike Flynn registered retroactively as a foreign agent, finally admitting that he took paid work as a lobbyist for the interests of the Turkish government during the presidential campaign where when he was advising Donald Trump. General Flynn was, of course, pushed out of the White House for his contacts during the transition for the Russian government and for lying about them. But his work involving Turkey is proving to be its own clingy scandal.
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has looked into General Flynn`s new foreign agent filing and look what he found, the former FBI official at the heart of that quid pro quo story? The one who walked it back after it had spent three days on constant rotation at FOX News and the conservative media? That former FBI official apparently was on Mike Flynn`s payroll during the campaign. He`s started getting paid by Flynn about two weeks before that scandal. He got $5,000 from General Flynn on October 4th, he got $3,000 from Flynn on October 13th. That so happens to be two days before the coverup quid pro quo story broke. Then he got another $20,000 from General Flynn down the line.
When he did walk back the story, he said he considers General Flynn a friend. I`m sure that was so, quite sure. But it helps to know now his friend the general was also his boss. He was on the general`s payroll. Just as it helps to know his boss was a foreign agent -- when he was breaking that story all about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.
It does make you wonder what else there is to learn about that particular side of the story. Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.