The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/17/2017

Guests: Glen Caplin, Robby Mook

Show: The Rachel Maddow Show Date: March 17, 2017 Guest: Glen Caplin, Robby Mook

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: And that is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Congratulations on your book launch, Chris. I`m super psyche for you.

HAYES: Thank you.

MADDOW: I am looking forward to talking about your book on my show on Monday.

HAYES: On Monday.

MADDOW: Thank you for starting with me on that. I appreciate it.

HAYES: Awesome, let`s do it.

MADDOW: All right. Thanks, man.

And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour. Happy Friday.

If you have an image in your head for General Douglas MacArthur, it`s probably this one, right? The iconic hat, the awesome sunglasses, you know, before Biden, right? Douglas MacArthur`s sunglasses, obviously the giant corn cob pipe.

When Douglas MacArthur was the commanding general for U.S. troops in the Korean War, China sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops over the border into North Korea to help the communist side in the Korean fight and General Douglas MacArthur went to President Truman when that happened and he told President Truman that he wanted the United States to wage war on China in response. He wanted to start bombing China and quite famously President Truman fired him for that. Fired him. Removed him.

And that was a really big hairy political deal at the time because General MacArthur was really, really popular. He was so popular that they threw parades in his honor when he came home from being fired. You`ve seen this footage before in all likelihood. Some of the most iconic footage of gigantic ticker tape parades in the Canyon of Heroes in New York City is from the enormous parade that New York threw for Douglas MacArthur after he got fired by the president. Literally, millions of people turned out in tribute to him after he got fired.

MacArthur was really, really, really popular, even though he maybe wanted to start World War III.

All the legends about Douglas MacArthur were larger than life. In World War II when he was ordered to leave the Philippines during the fight there against the Japanese, Douglas MacArthur famously said when he was leaving "I shall return." And then, two years later, he did come back. He waded assure on Leyte island and he said "I have returned."

Quite a bit of the legend of General Douglas MacArthur is associated specifically with the Philippines. He lived in the Philippines for years before World War II. He lived there while he was running the training of the Philippine army.

And because he was larger than life, when he was living in the Philippines training the Philippine army, where he lived while he was doing that was in the fanciest room in the fanciest hotel in the whole country. While he was training the Philippine army, Douglas MacArthur lived in the penthouse suite of the manila hotel. Other than the presidential palace, it was basically the ritziest place to live in the entire country.

And his suite at the Manila Hotel is still there, upgraded and partly preserved. You can, if you`ve got enough money, you can still rent the General Douglas MacArthur suite at the Manila Hotel in Manila in the Philippines. You can soap up history along with your Jacuzzi bath and the other amenities of your luxury stay.

Today`s news someday becomes tomorrow`s history. And that dynamic still holds. And I`m sorry to say that the General Douglas MacArthur suite at the Manila Hotel now features in a new footnote in history -- or at least it will someday, because right now, in today`s news, it`s part of a lurid international military bribery case which everybody calls the Fat Leonard scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Three Navy officials have been arrested and it`s cost the U.S. Navy millions. At the center of the scandal is Leonard Francis, owner of a Singapore-based company that provides dockside service to Navy warships. Federal indictments accused Francis of bribing Navy officials with large sums of cash, prostitutes and even tickets to Lady Gaga, to steer the Navy`s business his way.

A second commander, Jose Sanchez, is accused of accepting $100,000 and after provided with prostitutes, allegedly sent Francis a Facebook message, "Yummy, daddy like."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Ugh. Leonard Francis, the guy at the center of this, is Fat Leonard. He doesn`t mind if you call him that, everybody does. Fat Leonard.

And in 2015, Fat Leonard pled guilty to bribing U.S. military officers with everything from Spanish suckling pigs to luxury hotel rooms to expensive watches to expensive booze and so on. But, you know, you can`t have a briber without a bribe, and it turns out in this criminal case, there are a lot of bribees.

Before this week, 20 former or current Navy officers were charged in this case, 20. Thirteen of the 20 pled guilty. That was before this week. Then this week this happened this week, federal prosecutors announced charges against another nine Navy and Marine officers, including an admiral and the details in the charging document, I have to admit, they start out as kind of a fun read but then they take a sudden turn into oh, my god.

You get a lot of detail on their dinners, foie gras, duck confit, cognac they were drinking at $2,000 a bottle, $2,000 a bottle cognac. Cigars that were smoking that were $2,000 a box.

"The Washington Post" reported the menu on a different meal that was also allegedly part of the bribes, an $18,000 dinner that started with black truffle soup before moving on to pan-seared duck liver. This is how the defense contractor, Fat Leonard, bribed officers of the U.S. Navy`s Seventh Fleet. And in exchange, those officers would allegedly give him classified information about the movement of U.S. Navy ships and confidential investigation about other contractors that Fat Leonard would use to undercut them so he got the contracts.

They even reportedly fed him information on criminal investigations into the bribery by his company so he could keep beating the rap, so he could stay ahead of those criminal investigations. Fat Leonard built himself a $200 million business, supplying U.S. Navy ships in ports abroad and he built himself that business by stuffing U.S. Navy officers full of foie gras and cognac and other stuff.

For example, there was in May 2008, what the indictment describes as a, quote, "raging multiday party with a rotating carousel of prostitutes in attendance, during which conspirators drank all of the dom perignon available at the Shangri-La Hotel in Manila. Room and alcohol charges born by Fat Leonard for this escapade exceeded $50,000."

Days later, the commander of the USS Millius wrote Fat Leonard a thank you note, to say, quote, "I finally detoxed myself from Manila, that was a crazy couple days, it`s been a while since I`ve done 36 hours of straight drinking." Straight drinking all the dom perignon in the hotel, no less.

Here`s the part that crosses over where it fits into the news cycle. I mean, for context here, there are 30 different admirals who have been investigated in conjunction with this bribery scandal, 30. Prosecutors say more than 200 people have come under scrutiny in this scandal. It`s really big. It`s the biggest corruption case in the history of the United States Navy.

But even given that scope of it which itself is striking it`s the particulars that stick with you on this one. I mean, a lot of the alleged bribes, the dinners and the booze and the watches and jewelry and the prostitutes, a lot of those stories circle in Manila around this hotel, around the Shangri-La hotel. But not all of them.

On page 24 of this indictment, we get to the part that allegedly takes place in the historic Manila Hotel and actually in one specific room of the Manila Hotel. Quoting from the indictment, "On or about February 8th through 10th, 2007, Fat Leonard hosted and paid for a lavish party and the services of prostitutes in the MacArthur suite of the Manila Hotel." The indictment then lists the U.S. Navy officers who were allegedly there at this particular sex party. And then it says this, quote, "During the party, historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts."

Thankfully, the indictment does not spell out which memorabilia was involved or which acts. What exactly do they have of MacArthur`s in the suite? I will say pictures of at least one hat and one corn cob pipe have been put on the Internet over the years who say they have been to the Douglas MacArthur suite at that particular hotel. So, there`s that to go on.

But I feel like this story, the Fat Leonard story, is amazing in its own right, but because it`s so amazing, it`s a really specific piece of evidence as to where we`re at as a country right now, because, honestly, it seems impossible that a scandal this lurid with details like this hasn`t taken over your local newspaper by now, right?

I mean, it`s impossible that something this big and over the top and this ridiculous is not a scandal of national fixation. But it`s really not. It`s really not because, honestly, where we`re at as a country, as scandals go, this thing can barely compete. I mean, there`s no room in the scandal- absorbing part of our brains anymore because so many things are cooking all at once right now.

For example, there`s the case of the Health Secretary Tom Price who bought and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock in health care companies while he was writing and sponsoring and voting on legislation that would affect the price of those stocks. In some cases, he was buying stock in multiple companies, and then days later taking action as a Congress that would have the affect of inflating the value of that stock he just bought. I mean, aspects of his stock trading while he was chairing an important health committee in Congress were reported by the "Wall Street Journal," by CNN, by "ProPublica", by "Time" magazine, tons of places.

But Republicans still confirmed him as secretary of health and human service services. Well, you know what, sometimes that stuff comes due, news becomes history and now, tonight, "ProPublica" has a hair-raising report that when Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, when he was fired last weekend, unexpectedly and suddenly by the White House, one of the cases Preet Bharara was overseeing at the time, according to ProPublica was a criminal investigation into Tom Price and his stock trades while he was in Congress.

"ProPublica" is citing one source in their report. We tried all day to get further comment from anybody involved. The White House told us they weren`t aware of any federal criminal investigation into Health Secretary Tom Price.

Despite our repeated efforts to reach Tom Price himself and ask him if he has been notified that he is the subject of a federal criminal investigation, we got no comment from Tom Price or from his department, from HHS about it.

And, actually, in fact, we didn`t even get -- we didn`t even get a no comment. We literately got no comment. We get dial tone. Nobody home. Nobody even there to tell us no. Nobody even, you know, usually what you get is "I`ll call you right back" and then they never call, we got nobody.

If anybody out there knows how to reach the Department of Health and Human Services, let us know. We could not get a singing freaking person to answer the phone all afternoon long today. www.sendittorachel.com.

I mean, this Tom Price thing, this is the kind of thing that will hopefully result in Congress making some inquiries, right? It`s no small thing for a cabinet secretary to be under federal criminal investigation, just as it`s no small thing for a U.S. attorney to be fired in the middle of overseeing such an investigation, if that is what happened here. So, that`s a big potential scandal and we can`t get anything out of the administration on it. Maybe Congress can.

That said, Congress is busy right now. On Monday morning, in a normal universe, the biggest thing going on in the country would be the start of the confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch, the nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice. That is obviously a big deal. Those hearings are expected to go on for four days starting Monday.

Democrats will likely oppose him in large numbers if not unanimously. Democrats may also act procedurally to slow down this thing, to slow roll his nomination as long as possible. Substantively, Democrats appear to be focusing on his work defending torture and his enthusiasm for Guantanamo during the George W. Bush administration, but lines of inquiry of potential scandals can be hard to predict before these things get started. So, we will see starting Monday morning.

That said, I have to tell you, even the confirmations for a Supreme Court nominee starting Monday morning, even those hearings are likely to be overshadowed by the other hearings that are starting on Capitol Hill at the same time on Monday morning. Monday morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, we get the first public congressional hearing into the links between the new administration and Russia.

Former Intelligence Director James Clapper and FBI Director James Comey are due to testify Monday morning in the first open session testimony that we`ve got about the Russian intervention into the election to help Donald Trump and any ties that may exist between Russia and the Trump campaign. We have been reporting our hearts out on this all day and I can tell you that there are a lot of rumors circulating right now as to what Director Comey will testify about on Monday, what he will or won`t describe in terms of ongoing investigations into links between Trump and Russia.

But despite our best efforts, it`s rumors only at this point. It`s nothing we can report with confidence as to what Comey is going to say. I mean, in this case, we`re going to learn it anyway. We`re going to learn what he has to say by waiting. He`s going to be testifying Monday morning. That`s House Intelligence.

Also today, the other inquiry, the one in the Senate, they made their first announcement about what`s going to be their first public hearing into the Russian attack on our election. Senator Richard Burr on the left of your screen, Senator Mark Warner on the right of your screen, they together announced today about a week and a half after we get Comey and Clapper testifying on Russia on Monday, but a week and a half later on Thursday, March 30th, we`re going to get the Senate starting their public inquiry into Russia as well.

And the Senate hearing, I`ve got to tell you, something I would definitely sign up for if it was a college class and I was still a surly college student. Look at the title. I have to say, this sounds awesome, "Disinformation, a primer in Russian active measures and influence campaigns." Really?

And it`s in two parts. The first part in the morning is going to be the history and characteristics of Russian disinformation campaigns and the second part is going to be the role and capability of cyber operations in support of those activities. Yes, please, and can I sign up for office hours now with the T.A. and the professor. That sounds great.

What`s the title again? "Disinformation, a primer in Russian active measures and influence campaigns." I would read that -- I would read that if that was a novel. But that was just announced today. That`s going to be on Thursday, March 30th.

And we also got a related big piece of news today in the form of something that basically in the form of something that wasn`t announced. You might remember earlier this week, the NSA, FBI and CIA all got a letter from the top Republican and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. That letter asked about this guy, Mike Flynn.

You know, it is a scandal in itself. It is a scandal surpassing and even eclipsing the alleged use of Douglas MacArthur memorabilia in a U.S. Navy sex and bribery ring in Manila. It is a scandal already of immense proportions that the national security adviser had to get fired 24 days into his tenure because of the content of his communications with a foreign government, with Russia. That is an enormous scandal in its own right, one that has a lot of unanswered questions around it.

And one of the important things that remains unexplained about Mike Flynn`s firing as national security adviser is how anybody knew what he was talking to the Russian government about. Michael Flynn`s calls with the Russians were apparently listened into by U.S. agencies who were surveilling those calls. It`s one thing to listen in on Russian government officials but Americans are not supposed to be surveilled by U.S. agencies, unless there`s a court-ordered warrant that says it`s OK to do so.

Michael Flynn was surveilled. Why? Was Michael Flynn the subject of a warrant? If so, was it a warrant for a criminal investigation? Was it a warrant for a counterintelligence investigation?

And in either instance, if he was on the warrant, if there was a court- ordered warrant to surveil him because of one of those types of investigations, how on earth did the White House end up appointing him to be national security adviser under those circumstances?

So, the CIA, the FBI and the NSA all got a letter demanding that information about Michael Flynn by today. Why was Mike Flynn surveilled? Why was Mike Flynn -- why were his contacts with the Russians surveilled by U.S. agencies? Tell us by Friday, March 17. Tell us by today.

That letter sent to the NSA, FBI, CIA, by -- it was sent to them by one of the committees that oversees those agencies. FBI, CIA, NSA, they really can`t refuse to hand over this information to the intelligence committee. But apparently, they`re not doing it.

I almost -- I almost can`t believe it. This is really, really not normal. The intelligence chair put out a statement today sort of cryptically worded, but what it says is that of these three agencies who were sent this letter, who were told to explain this Michael Flynn thing, told to respond by today.

Of those three agencies, only the NSA, quote, "partially responded." The NSA apparently promised the committee that they will fully respond by the end of next week. But the CIA and FBI - apparently, they haven`t responded at all. They haven`t said beep, at least not by 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, they hadn`t. That`s nuts. I mean, that`s impossible.

That`s at least not normal. That is at least a really big national security deal. I know it seems like an arcane thing about who you communicate with and who you have to answer to, but you know what? If agencies like the FBI and CIA won`t hand over information like this to the committees that oversee them, that`s a really big national security deal. That`s not the way things work.

I mean, those agencies may not want to hand it over, but they have to. They may not want to release that information publicly but they have to release it confidentially to the committee.

These agencies, FBI, CIA, NSA, right, these agencies are overseen by Congress. They cannot say no to a request like this from Congress, but apparently, they`re not answering that`s really strange. What`s going on with that?

I mean, one possibility is that mike Flynn ended up on that surveillance in error. That it was done improperly or illegally. They shouldn`t have had him on that surveillance, and in that case, the FBI and/or CIA may be trying to get its ducks in a row because it may be people who work for those agencies are about to get in big trouble for mishandling this. That`s a possibility.

Another darker possibility is that there is some damming information about Michael Flynn here, about him being the subject of a warrant of some kind, and maybe the administration folks who now head up the CIA and Department of Justice, maybe they are somehow impeding the release of this information to Congress because it will look bad for Mike Flynn and it will look bad for the administration. I don`t know -- we don`t know.

But the FBI and the CIA not responding to the intelligence committee on this? Uh-uh. That doesn`t fly. Our Constitution doesn`t work that way. They have to respond and their non-answer is a big deal.

The Russian attack on our election last year, the unexplained connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during that time, during the time of the attack, the strangeness, particularly, the strangeness of the FBI in its treatment of this matter, it`s unsettling. It`s unsettling not just because this is one scandal among so many scandals for this young administration. So many scandals that some are being ignored because they`re not big enough to warrant attention amid other scandals, right?

This is unsettling not just because it`s one scandal among many. This is unsettling because if the worst is true, if the presidency is effectively a Russian op, right, if the American presidency right now is the product of collusion between the Russian intelligence services and an American campaign -- I mean, that is so profoundly big. We not only need to stay focused on figuring it out, we need to start preparing for what the consequences are going to be if it proves to be true. We need to start thinking about how we`re going to deal with the worst revelations if they do come to light, if they are proved true.

And so, tonight, we`re doing a special report. Tonight, what we`re going to do with most of the rest of the show is we`re going to start to try to do that thinking. Tonight, we are going to talk to some of the people who were the first victims of what happened to us as a country when the Russians launched the attack. Real people who got hit first, who saw it up close and got hit in real-time.

They haven`t told their story of how they experienced it and what damage it did at the time before the country figured out what was going on, but they`re going to do that starting tonight, starting here. They`re going to start telling that story. That`s our special report, it starts next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Last year, 2016, June 1st, as part of staffing up for the California primary, the Clinton campaign added somebody new to their communications team. Normal hire, normal expectations.

But then a couple weeks after that new staffer got there, his job got suddenly very weird, because something weird started happening in the campaign and it became his beat, his unexpected responsibility to try to make sense of it, to try to explain it, this thing nobody planned for which is that Russian government hackers had broken into the Democratic Party`s computer servers, helped themselves to anything they wanted. Those lifted documents and e-mail stolen from the Democratic Party and ultimately from the chairman of the Clinton campaign, they ended up becoming ammunition in an attack, a foreign attack on the U.S. election, an attack designed to weaken the Democratic candidate, weaken the Democratic Party, disrupt their strategy, disrupt their communications and ultimately help the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, win the election.

It`s easy enough to say that now but in the moment, in the chaos of the campaign, it was hard to persuade the public to pay attention to that bigger picture, right, that the election was being disrupted, it was being tilted. It was being externally operated on by a foreign government in favor of the candidate that that foreign government preferred. But for that new Clinton staffer whose job it was to deal with this, this was his life. He was living this everyday.

As that campaign nightmare was playing out it became this new staffer`s job to learn everything there was to know about this hacking so he could explain it to the world and answer everybody`s questions about it. He watched this hijacking of our election, this attack on our election in real time, he saw clues about what was happening early on, he had to figure it out fast, firsthand, live. And now as the country is woken up to the magnitude of what happened to us last year, that staffer is ready to talk about it and I think his perspective on what happened is really valuable in terms of us really understanding what happened and starting to unravel it.

Joining us now for this special report is Glen Caplin. He`s former senior national spokesperson for the Clinton campaign. His responsibilities included handling questions about WikiLeaks and hacking and Russia.

Glen Caplin, thank you for getting a babysitter and coming back.

GLEN CAPLIN, SENIOR NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON OF THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Thank you for having me back.

MADDOW: Yes, I really -- I just -- I want to get this right. I really want to hear this, so I`m glad you were able to come back. So, you started to tell us the story last night. I want to basically back up and start again at the beginning.

From your perspective, what happened first? What was the first thing that got weird?

CAPLIN: Well, the first thing that got weird was the "Washington Post" broke the story in mid-June that the DNC had been hacked and that was the first that it started to get weird that --

MADDOW: You didn`t have any indication before that report that that had happened to the DNC?

CAPLIN: No, we had indication once the report was happening, you know? They reached out to us for comment and we were aware of the story a day or two before it broke. But that contact was the first we were aware of the DNC hack, that was the first time it got weird.

Where it got disturbing was when a couple days later, Guccifer 2.O through D.C. Leaks started dumping that information.

MADDOW: And Guccifer is -- Guccifer 2.0 is like a hacking nom de guerre, right? It`s a persona?

CAPLIN: It`s a persona that is believed to be Russian intelligence by the cyber experts.

MADDOW: OK. And those -- the Guccifer 2 leaks ended up on D.C. Leaks web site which is something that didn`t exist prior to the campaign. Nobody ever heard of.

CAPLIN: Correct. And that dump was a massive amount of data, of documents that was not user friendly and was very hard to get your arms around what was there. And therefore, it did not get an enormous amount of coverage and an enormous amount of attention.

MADDOW: What kind of documents was it? It was all stuff internal to the Democratic Party. Was it donor lists?

CAPLIN: It`s like donor lists. It`s, you know, research, books, which a compilation of clips of vulnerabilities of yourself and your opponent. I believe a Donald Trump research book.

MADDOW: So Democratic oppo research on Donald Trump.

CAPLIN: Right, but remember at that time Donald Trump wasn`t paying for self-research.

MADDOW: Right.

CAPLIN: So the fact that that research book was in there was quite interesting to us and we believed very, very -- from the first dump that this was intended to help Donald Trump and undermine Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. This wasn`t about her -- trying to hurt both sides or just undermine the election itself.

MADDOW: Well, certainly, in the case -- I remember reporting at the time that in the case of the oppo sort of dossier -- the Democrats oppo dossier on Donald Trump there is -- that being published in June meant that any ammunition the Democratic Party politically had against Trump was then spent, was then out there --

CAPLIN: It felt like a gift to Donald Trump. That research book being out was not hurtful to Donald Trump, that was a gift to Donald Trump.

MADDOW: OK.

CAPLIN: That was one of the tells that very early on, this was about hurting us.

MADDOW: And that happened in-- so--

CAPLIN: That`s mid-June.

MADDOW: Mid-June. OK, then what happened next?

CAPLIN: Well, what happened next was the WikiLeaks dump on the eve of the Democratic Convention. So, if you think about it, this is sort of three shifts, the first is a dump of information in the first place.

The Russians have done espionage for decades. That`s not new. Every campaign for going back for years has probably been surveilled and there`s been espionage. It was the information actually being weaponized and put into the public arena that was new.

MADDOW: What do you mean by that, weaponized?

CAPLIN: Meaning, actually, put in the public arena as opposed to collecting information for a foreign government`s information and knowing what campaigns are thinking and things like that, which is the normal --

MADDOW: Rather than them stealing it to use for themselves as the Russian government, they were redeploying it into the American bloodstream to have an effect on the way we were dealing with each other as Americans.

CAPLIN: Correct.

MADDOW: All right. You talked about how there was a big shift, an operational shift that you saw between that Guccifer -- the first leak and the WikiLeaks one, that it was more sophisticated in terms of how it could be weaponized, how it could be used here.

CAPLIN: Correct.

MADDOW: I want to get into more detail with you on that in just a second. We`re going to take a quick break.

CAPLIN: Sure.

MADDOW: Glen Caplin is our guest tonight, former senior national spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton campaign, specifically on the issue of the Russian attack at the time.

We`ll be right back with more in just a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Continuing our discussion now with Glen Caplin, who`s a former senior national spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, who spent his part of the 2016 election studying the Russian interference in the campaign and trying to craft some kind of response in the moment.

Glen, when we left off at the break, you were saying that after this had been this initial leak with Guccifer that was posted on D.C. Leaks, the second thing that happened was seemingly more sophisticated leak that came through WikiLeaks.

CAPLIN: Much more. The first one was sloppy, had Russian metadata on it was not user friendly.

MADDOW: Russian metadata meaning?

CAPLIN: Meaning traces on the actual documents. You could tell there was Russian language on it.

MADDOW: So, you could tell it was Russian hackers?

CAPLIN: Correct.

MADDOW: OK.

CAPLIN: Now, we`re going to WikiLeaks timed on the eve of the convention, highly searchable user friendly search function, we could very easily cull the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, in terms of the e-mails and reporters were able to very quickly search for the Bernie e-mails or the DWS e-mails. That got metastasized very, very quickly.

MADDOW: And you said in the earlier leak, you had talked to somebody who was an expert in these things who told you that the Russians were very good at obtaining stuff but bad at deploying it for propaganda purposes. The second round, the second level of the attack cured that for them.

CAPLIN: Correct, and the Guccifer 2 persona claimed publicly to have given that information to WikiLeaks at the time.

MADDOW: What was the affect on the campaign? The timing was insane, right? This was -- this all happened the day after the end of the Republican convention, the weekend -- literally on the eve of the Democrats` convention. What was the effect?

CAPLIN: It created a lot of stress on the campaign at the convention. There`s no question about that. But it was also -- it`s hard to overstate how disturbing it is to have this unprecedented intrusion in our democracy. And we tried very hard to tell that story from the candidate herself, she spoke about it in all three debates.

Our campaign chairman John Podesta spoke about it aggressively. Our campaign manager Robby Mook, our communications director, all down the line, and we tried to tell the story of the much -- of this unprecedented disturbing intrusion in our democracy and unfortunately --

MADDOW: Didn`t stick.

CAPLIN: The coverage tended -- was more about what was in the e-mails as opposed to why these e-mails existed, who is responsible for putting the e- mails into the public discourse and why and that was -- that was frustrating.

MADDOW: And that was -- effectively your job was to try to explain this to people in a way that would make them get it.

CAPLIN: Yes.

MADDOW: It was just a completely unreceptive media environment.

CAPLIN: Yes. Look, I think there are a couple lessons that need to be learned I think from this experience. I think political campaigns have a lesson to learn because this is not a theoretical threat. This is a real and present danger for every campaign going forward. This is something they have to deal with. So, political campaigns have to learn the lesson of how they protect their information going forward.

I think the media needs to learn the lesson of how do you cover something like this when an adversarial foreign government is -- wants you reporting on the details of this information.

MADDOW: Yes.

CAPLIN: In the end, none of the e-mails themselves were particularly damaging but for the last 35 days of the election, it was a headwind that was constantly in the news.

And third, government -- what does government do? And that`s why it`s disturbing to see a president who rather than taking this issue on doesn`t believe the intelligence on --

MADDOW: Did you feel like you had support from the administration in dealing with this as a national security concern or a crime?

CAPLIN: Remember, the administration on October 7th attributed this hack to the Russian government.

MADDOW: Yes.

CAPLIN: But what happened on October 7th was after the announcement, you had the "Access Hollywood" tape, and then an hour later, you had the first dump of Podesta e-mails.

MADDOW: From WikiLeaks.

CAPLIN: And so, one wonders if that`s a coincidence or not.

MADDOW: There`s one -- on that point of whether it was a coincidence, there`s obviously a very -- these signs point in a worrying direction. It`s been addressed specifically by Jen Palmieri, who was one of your colleagues on the campaign. I want you to comment on that and I`m actually going to bring your campaign manager, Robby Mook --

CAPLIN: Sure.

MADDOW: -- into the conversation right after this break.

We`ll be back with Glen Caplin and Robby Mook right after this.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: We`re back now with more on our special report on Russian interference in the presidential election as it happened. We`ve been talking with Glen Caplin, who is a senior spokesperson for the Clinton campaign. He got a very early, very close look at the Russian attack on Democratic information.

And now, also, I want to bring into the conversation his boss from the campaign, Robby Mook, who ran the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Mr. Mook, thank you for joining us tonight. I`m really happy to have you here.

ROBBY MOOK, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: My pleasure. Thanks.

MADDOW: I know you`ve listened in on my conversation thus far with Glen, let me ask you about this point that Glen was making about how frustrating it was to feel like you guys were describing this accurately, you were putting appropriate emphasis on what was going on here, about the outrageousness and the unique nature of the fact that Russia had interfered in the campaign, but it just couldn`t be heard.

I know you well enough to know from our considerations on the air to know that you were frustrated. Looking back with a few months in hindsight do you feel like there`s anything different you could have done? Is there any -- is there something you wish you could have changed about the way you handled it to make people understand better?

MOOK: Yes, it`s a really good question. I think we were frustrated because as Glen said, when the story first came out in the "Washington Post", it was a one and done. I know when that first leak through WikiLeaks happened at the DNC, I was on TV Sunday morning trying to point to the fact this was the Russians and part of a strategy. And I think most people just treated it like spin, and I think part of that is just because it was so unprecedented. It seemed like something out of a spy novel or something.

In retrospect, I wish we could have tried to muster more national security officials to work with reporters and background them, to really understand how it wasn`t just that this was very possible, but it had to be true based on, as Glen said, there were Russian -- there was Russian language in the metadata, the hackers that went into the DNC, they were observed for a little while before they pulled up the drawbridges and they were working Russian hours. They weren`t working on Russian holidays.

It was totally clear that this is what`s happening and I wish we could have done more to try to provide that baseline of information so it didn`t seem so fictional really.

MADDOW: And it`s partly that maybe people didn`t believe it, they weren`t prepared to believe it, but also, even if they did believe it, I`m not sure people understood just how unusual and radical a departure this is from the way things go. We all hear about, you know, there being data breaches in private companies or even government agencies all the time and we`ve sort of -- it`s become background noise.

This was an international attack by a foreign power to try to change our politics.

MOOK: That`s right and to be honest with you, I think to this day it`s not being taken as seriously as I think it should in some circumstances, and I don`t know that the urgency is there to try to root it out, because it`s not just the fact that they steal information and selectively leak it out, there`s also a network in place through social media to disseminate disinformation -- as you said Russian active measures to create confusion or spread things that aren`t true.

If we allow these sorts of behaviors to remain and become entrenched in our political process, it could have enormous impact on the legislative process. That`s what I`m particularly worried about actually. You know, we complain about super PACs and how they overtime through punishing legislators who don`t vote the way, you know, a corporation or wealthy people like, that legislators start to fall in line and they make a decision on how to vote with the idea that punishment could come.

And I`m concerned a legislator could now say, well, I`m not going to take that vote against Russia because, gosh, you know, they could hack into my personal e-mail, the e-mails in my family, into my campaign.

We cannot allow that to happen. That`s why we have to take action to prevent this in the future.

MADDOW: There`s -- the prospect that this wasn`t just a Russian attack, but that it was a Russian attack in which the Trump campaign was complicit, is obviously yet further level of concern.

I have one last question for each of you on that point. I`m going to ask you that after the break.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: We`re back now with our special report on Russian interference in the presidential election as it happened.

Glen Caplin was a senior spokesperson for the campaign. Robby Mook is also joining us from Washington. He, of course, ran the campaign.

Glen, Jen Palmieri is one of your senior colleagues on the campaign. She said a couple of weeks ago here on MSNBC. She said about the Trump campaign and the Russians, "I believe that there was collusion. I believe that the Trump staff, Trump associates in some form, were at a minimum coordinating with WikiLeaks. And the timing of the leaks, they were just way too prepared."

She said, "When WikiLeaks came out with their leak du jure in the morning, the Trump campaign was ready to go with their statement about that." That she`s saying it was her impression.

What is your view on that point, and what did you observe in that regard?

CAPLIN: I -- there is a lot of connections to the Trump campaign and Russia that we need to fully understand. So, yes, what Jen is saying, I agree with.

But I think every American, whether they`re a Trump voter or a Hillary voter, deserves the answer to this very, very important question and we need to get to the bottom of it.

MADDOW: But when you were seeing stuff happen in real time, did you feel the WikiLeaks stuff that was happening and the Trump campaign stuff, did it seem coordinated? Did you see evidence of anything that --

CAPLIN: We were seeing RT tweet, the WikiLeaks dump of the day before WikiLeaks did.

MADDOW: That`s collusion between Russian government and WikiLeaks.

CAPLIN: And, you know, Roger Stone admitted -- during the campaign said that he was back-channeling with Julian Assange. He seemed to predict the Podesta e-mails. He recently came out that he was direct messaging with Guccifer 2 over Twitter.

MADDOW: And so, not a -- not a formal campaign adviser but a long-time associate of Mr. Trump?

CAPLIN: A long-time confidant and associate who, by the way, has publicly taken credit for Paul Manafort getting the job as campaign manager. There`s a lot of connections here. You need to follow the dots and the puzzle`s coming together. We need to understand the full picture.

But every single American deserves an answer to this question.

MADDOW: Robby, same question. Obviously, collusion is the big scary possibility here. And we`d -- you know, nobody said that they have direct evidence of collusion. In your experience of it, did you see evidence for that?

MOOK: Well, as Glen said, I think we`ve got to answer this question. It can be pretty simply done. Congress can get to the bottom of this and they seem to be beginning that process, that`s good.

You know, as Glen mentioned, Roger Stone admitted that there were some communications there. I would also just say, you know, let`s step back for a second. The whole reason we`re having the discussion about Michael Flynn and this wiretapping is because the NSA was tapping Russian agents. And in the course of tapping those agents, those agents were speaking to Trump aides.

And so, we know that there were conversations. We just -- we`re waiting to find out what they were about. And as I said, Congress can solve this pretty quickly.

The last thing I`d say about it, though, is it`s so important that this not be seen as re-litigating the election or a partisan witch hunt. We`ve got to get to the bottom of this to make sure it doesn`t happen again. And I`ve been encourage at least very much on the Senate side, and we`re starting to see on the House side, bipartisanship to do this together.

MADDOW: Robby Mook and Glen Caplin, both formerly of the Clinton campaign -- thank you very much for helping us with this tonight. I have a feeling we may ask you back on the same topic as we learn more. Thanks, gentlemen.

We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So, as you know, alongside the first public Trump/Russia hearings in the House Monday morning, in the Senate Monday morning will be the first Supreme Court nomination hearings for Neil Gorsuch. To get ready for those Gorsuch hearings, Sunday night 5:00 p.m. Eastern, MSNBC is going to be a special look at Gorsuch and those hearings. It`s going to be hosted by the one and only Ari Melber. You should watch that Sunday night.

Ari is also sitting in for Lawrence tonight because he works too much.

Good morning, Ari.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END

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