The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/22/2017

Guests: Charlie Savage, Jeff Horwitz

Show: The Rachel Maddow Show Date: March 22, 2017 Guest: Charlie Savage, Jeff Horwitz

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: The last conversation I had with my dad, Chris Hayes, it was him calling me so excited he could barely speak because he got tickets to see you in California. He could -- I know, he could have pulled a string.

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: He could have probably pulled some strings. Please let me know if there`s anyone else in the family I can get seats for.

MADDOW: I will do. I will tell you the reason he was so psyched is because he could not get into his first-choice venue and he had to go to a farther away venue in order to see you. But he got in on his second choice.

HAYES: All right. Anyone you need. I`ll hook him up, OK?

MADDOW: Thank you, Chris. Well done, my friend. Congratulations.

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

Boy, this has been a heck of a day in the news, right?

We`re going to start with a mineral called bauxite. You mine bauxite. Basically, it looks like a combination of spumoni and dirt. But it`s a mineral and you grind up bauxite. You process it with lime and caustic soda and the super hot solution.

And what happens when you do that to bauxite is that separates out from the bauxite something called alumina. And if you dry alumina out and take it to your metal processing plant, your smelters, you process that dry alumina powder into liquid aluminum.

And the process by which you get that powdered alumina into liquid aluminum is the smelting process and in big aluminum smelters it`s one of the things, we humans have created to most closely approximate the pits of hell on earth. Right? The pictures from aluminum smelters, especially big, big aluminum smelters, it`s basically sci-fi, right? It`s hard to believe that this is on the surface of the planet.

When the Soviet Union collapsed and its state-owned giant aluminum smelters were becoming private property, private businesses, that heavy Russian industry, like a lot of other Russian industries at the time, turned into full scale murderous gang warfare. As various thugs and connected gangsters fought it out, in many cases literally, for control of what they knew would be a multibillion dollar private industry, the Soviet, the former Soviet now Russian aluminum industry.

In Siberia at the time in the 1990s, one of the contenders in that fight, one of the guys who is trying to get control of this mammoth Russian industry, famously, he started sleeping at his smelters. He would sleep at these hell mouths, right, so he could be there 24 hours a day. He could -- he would sleep in the middle of those pits, so that he would be there to be able to stop sabotage in his smelters.

So, he`d be the first one to arms if the wolves he was competing against in that industry came to his door, came to his smelter, came to his factories to try to take off from him what he was trying to build. It was a very brutal start sleeping in the smelters.

But you know what? He won. By the following decade, he was the aluminum king of Russia. He cornered the market. He was a multibillionaire. The U.S. State Department was describing him in cables as, quote, "enjoying a favorable relationship with President Putin." He was a more or less permanent fixture on Putin`s trips abroad and he`s widely acknowledged by our contacts to be among the two or three oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis.

That`s from a State Department cable in 2006. 2006 is also when the same Russian billionaire, the aluminum king, the buy who was basically Putin`s right hand man, never left his side, took all his trips abroad with him, 2006, the year that State Department cable is also the year that that same billionaire started paying Donald Trump`s presidential campaign chairman $10 million a year.

It`s a contract that reportedly started paying Paul Manafort $10 million a year starting in 2006. We don`t know how long those payments continued. We don`t know when they ended or if they ended, but "The Associated Press" broke this story this morning based on documents obtained from Manafort`s businesses and records of international wire transfers that the "A.P." reviewed. And if it feels like everything went nuts today in the news, this story may very well be why.

According to "The Associated Press", Manafort proposed in 2005 and started getting paid in 2006 in a contract arrangement with this Russian zillionaire where he agreed, quote, "to influence politics, business dealings and news coverage in the United States to benefit the Putin government." For that contract, he signed a deal that would pay him $10 million annually beginning in 2006.

According to a memo written by Paul Manafort proposing this arrangement to the Russian billionaire, quote, "We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success." Paul Manafort in this document then explained that where he would exert his influence on behalf of the Putin government was at, quote, "The highest levels of the U.S. government, at the White House, at Capitol Hill, at the State Department."

Again, "The Associated Press" obtained these documents today from Manafort`s consulting business. They say they saw records of wire transfers of millions and millions and tens of millions of dollars to Paul Manafort, $10 million a year starting in 2006, ending we don`t know when.

I should note that it`s also a matter of public record that when Paul Manafort was hired to run the Trump campaign last year, he worked for free. It`s kind of a sweet gesture when you think about it.

Trying to follow the news today was like if you wanted to read a book, you intended to read a book, but instead what you were offered by the universe was a shower of thousands of pieces of shredded book. Like, which would make for an excellent ticker tape parade but it was made it hard to follow the narrative.

Today was just a blizzard of news and it seems like the news got more and more serious as the day went by. And not just because of deliberate distraction. I mean, there are a lot of substantive things going on.

The terror attack in London today, it was a very big deal. One police officer and three civilians dead in addition to the attacker himself. We`re going to have more on that attack coming up, including the latest from the Metropolitan Police.

Today in Washington, there was another day of Supreme Court confirmation hearings for nominee Neil Gorsuch. The substance of these hearings is increasingly getting overshadowed, at least on one side of the aisle, but what are basically now louder and louder calls for the Democrats to stop participating in these hearings, to try to just stop the process instead if for no other reason than that fact that this president`s campaign is the subject of a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI to see if they colluded with a foreign power in an attack on the United States last year. Maybe in the immediate aftermath of the FBI confirming that investigation, maybe that`s not the time to be acting on a far-reaching and irreversible action by that president.

And to that point, tomorrow, Congress is set to vote on the president`s Obamacare repeal which will throw 24 million Americans off their health insurance if they get it through. It`s all happening at the same time. It`s all happening right now.

And into that confetti maelstrom today, we also got the political equivalent of a flash bang grenade, to mix my metaphors, right? We got this huge showy confusing break in the news this afternoon when the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a man who is supposed to be leading one of the two bipartisan congressional investigations into the Russian attack last year and the possible Trump campaign collusion with that attack, today that congressman, Devin Nunes, held not one but two fairly breathless press conferences alleging something.

He couldn`t quite say what, about the intelligence community and the Trump transition of which he was an executive member, things he had seen but he could not describe that made him feel alarm, that made him feel concern, that ought to make us all feel alarm and concern, and they certainly would make us feel concerned if we knew what they were but he would not tell us, in fact, he did not have these things in his possession, and he had not shown them to the rest of the committee who were participating in this investigation he`s supposedly leading.

And we`re going to have more on what he did today in just a moment with a reporter who really understands these matters than almost anybody else in American journalism. But for the moment suffice to say the only new information, the only advance in our understanding that came out of what Congressman Devin Nunes did today, the only granular thing he gave us, that means anything other than the big distraction this all cost today, the only thing knew to come out of what he did today is new uncertainty as to whether or not there really is going continue to be an investigation in the House of Representatives under his leadership, about what happened to our country last year and what the Trump campaign`s role was it in it if any.

The only concrete outcome of what House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes did today was raise the question of whether or not he just blew up his own investigation. And, you know, maybe that`s not the most important thing in the world, right? In the Senate, they`re also doing an intelligence committee investigation.

And we know the FBI is doing their own counterintelligence investigation and how you feel about the competence and the independence of that FBI investigation will depend on where your personal James Comey tea leaves are today, you know? Whether you think he is trustworthy or not, whether you think he is running a trustworthy FBI or not, whether you think the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions is going to allow for an untrammeled FBI investigation to go wherever the facts lead it up to and including potential criminal prosecutions if necessary.

But regardless of how many investigations there are, regardless of who does the investigation, today, there is new reason to be convinced that a real investigation is necessary. That this is -- this stuff is a big deal and part of that is this absolute bombshell dropped by the "Associated Press" today about the Trump campaign chairman reportedly being paid tens of millions of dollars annually to covertly advance the interest of Putin`s government inside the United States in an effort that started ten years ago and we don`t know when it ended or if it ended. That`s part of it.

Another part is what we learned from the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, what we learned from him on the central question, the existential question, the question that will end the Trump presidency on if it turns on to be true, on the central question of whether or not the Trump campaign helped Russia. Whether they knew about and cooperated with Russia`s attack while Russia was attacking the United States.

Congressman Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the Intel Committee, on Sunday morning, he claimed on "Meet the Press" that there is in fact evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians last year, but he said that evidence was circumstantial. He said that on "Meet the Press," on Sunday morning. There`s circumstantial evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

This evening on the daily version of "Meet the Press" with Chuck Todd, in the middle of Chuck trying to sort out all this mishegoss what happened with this Devin Nunes today and whether chairman Nunes was saying anything substantive or whether there was just a distraction and whether there were any verifiable claims there and whether there is still going to be an intelligence committee investigation after Nunes did that today -- in the middle of sorting that out today on his 5:00 show this afternoon, Congressman Adam Schiff joined Chuck Todd for part of that discussion at the end of the hour and listen to what he said tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: But you admit, it`s a circum -- all you have right now is a circumstantial case?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Actually no, Chuck. I can tell you the case is more than that and I can`t go into the particulars but there is more than circumstantial evidence now. So, again I think Director Clapper --

TODD: You have seen direct evidence of collusion?

SCHIFF: I don`t want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of investigation. So, that is what we ought to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That is a serious and specific new allegation. Like just -- I know there`s a lot of noise around this subject today and around lots of subjects today. But just be clear on this one point. Just to be very clear, on Sunday morning, Congressman Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the Intel Committee, said there was circumstantial evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with the Russians last year during their attack.

The following day, on Monday morning, that`s when the FBI confirmed there is an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. That night, Monday night, I asked Congressman Schiff on this show if he could elaborate a little bit. Tell me what he meant on "Meet the Press" when he said there was circumstantial evidence. Tell me what he meant by the phrase "circumstantial evidence" when he said that`s what we`ve got on the issue of collusion.

And when I asked him about that Monday night, here`s how he answered that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Congressman, on NBC yesterday, you said that you see there being an accumulation of what you described as circumstantial evidence that there was collusion between this Russian operation and associates of Donald Trump during the campaign. Can you just expand on that a little bit, what you meant by circumstantial evidence and both the limits of that, but also the extent of it?

SCHIFF: Well, I know when you use that term, a lot of people think that circumstantial evidence isn`t very telling, it isn`t very powerful, but it all depends on what kind of circumstantial evidence. I can`t go into a lot of specifics here, but probably the best example for your viewers is if you go outside in the afternoon and there`s no snow on the ground and you wake up the next morning and there is snow on the ground, you can pretty conclude that it snowed overnight. That`s circumstantial. If you see the snow coming down then you can say, I have direct evidence that it snowed.

So, circumstantial evidence can be very, very powerful and indicative of something that`s happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: So, that`s as much as he was willing to say on Monday night. Congressman Schiff, again, he has access to everything the intelligence committee is seeing and on Monday morning, he said there`s circumstantial evidence of collusion, Monday night, he`s giving more descriptive elaboration about what he means that by their being circumstantial evidence of collusion.

Now, tonight, he has moved on from that. He is now saying something new. He`s now saying it`s not just circumstantial evidence anymore. It`s more than that.

Again, just play that piece of that real quick. Do we have that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: I can`t go into the particulars but there is more than circumstantial evidence now. So, again, I think Director Clapper --

TODD: You have seen direct evidence of collusion?

SCHIFF: I don`t want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That`s new. We reached out to Congressman Schiff`s office tonight to find out what this means, to make sure that the congressman did not misspeak, that he`s intending to move the ball forward like this with what he is asserting, his office told us that the congressman meant what he said, he did not misspeak. His office also told us that the congressman not only intended to say what he intended to say but that he wouldn`t give us further elaboration on it tonight.

We asked further if this new evidence that he`s seen, this non- circumstantial evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, we asked if that had anything to do with what Chairman Devin Nunes was talking about today. His office told us, no, has nothing to do with that at all, it`s a separate matter.

So, whatever Congressman Schiff is describing here has nothing to do with this sideshow from Devin Nunes today on Capitol Hill and at the White House. So, whether or not the Intelligence Committees continue their investigations, the top Democrat who is part of that investigation in the House says there is something new and big that has just arisen since Monday that is evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russians during the Russian attack. That`s a big deal.

And so, whoever is going to carry on with this investigation, it seems more important than ever that this investigation carry on. And there`s just one last point here, in terms of the importance of there being at least one credible real investigation of what has happened here and the Trump campaign`s involvement with it, if there was any.

Yesterday in Moscow, this man either fell or was thrown out of a fourth of floor window in a Moscow apartment building. Miraculously, he survived. He has serious head injuries. He`s in intensive care in a hospital in Moscow.

That was yesterday. Today, he was due to testify in a case about Russian money laundering. He`s also due to testify in May in New York in a Russian money laundering case brought in federal court by Preet Bharara`s office. Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney who was controversially fired by the Trump administration two weeks ago even though he had previously been asked to stay on.

Both of those cases, both the New York federal court case and the case in Russia, both of those cases in which this man was due to testify are about a very famous quarter billion dollar fraud scheme in Russia. It involved a Western capital management firm that was operating in Moscow and basically what happened is they got squeezed by Russian authorities and ultimately, it was a tax fraud scheme that resulted in Russian government officials apparently using this Western company to rip off $230 million from Russian taxpayers.

And the firm was aware of what was going on while Russian officials were doing this at their expense and the firm tried to blow the whistle when that happened and the auditor for that firm was a guy called Sergei Magnitsky. And the Russian authorities and the Putin government they grabbed him and threw him in prison and you can hold somebody in Russia for a year in prison before you bring charges against them. They held him in prison for almost a year and then one week before that year was due to be up, he mysteriously died in prison.

He was 37 years old. His name was Sergei Magnitsky. After he was dead, Russian officials blamed the whole fraud scheme on him posthumously.

There was a Magnitsky Act in U.S. law that prohibits all sorts of Russian officials who were implicated in that guy`s death and implicated in that fraud, there`s a U.S. law that prohibits Russians who were implicated in that scandal from coming into the United States. It`s essentially targeted sanctions on people who are involved in that fraud and what appears to have been that murder.

We reported last month on this show on a Russian activist, a former journalist who had lobbied in this country to expand the Magnitsky Act, to expand it beyond just people involved in that one crime. It would be expanded to impose sanctions and penalties on all sorts of different Russian officials who were involved in wide scale corruption and crime and murder.

And we reported on that Russian activist last month here on this show, because for the second time in two years, he narrowly survived being poisoned. His name is Vladimir Kara-Murza. He`s now out of a coma. He may yet survive the second attempt to kill him with poison.

Sergei Magnitsky`s lawyer is in intensive care today with sever head injuries. He may yet survive whatever it was that saw him fling off a fourth floor window ledge yesterday in Moscow head first. He may yet survive but he certainly wasn`t able to testify today.

Sergei Magnitsky, though, he did not survive. He was dead at 37. They raided that Western company where he was working in 2007. They threw him in prison in 2008. They killed him in prison in 2009.

And in 2006, 2007, 2008 and at least through 2009, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump`s campaign chairman, that`s when he was being paid $10 million a year to promote the interests of Vladimir Putin`s government secretly in the United States without registering as a foreign agent, without declaring who he was working for, and without ever before now having to defend publicly his real intentions and his real paymasters while he was doing what otherwise appeared to be American political work.

There`s a lot going on. Some of it is deadly, deadly, deadly serious.

We have got Charlie Savage here tonight, one of the best national security and justice correspondents in the country. We have one of the "A.P." reporters here tonight who broke this story on Paul Manafort`s contract to promote Putin`s government secretly in this country. We`ve got the latest on what happened today in London.

Lots ahead tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So, this afternoon, Congressman Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he rushed to the microphones to tell the press about what he called "significant developments" in his committee`s investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election. What he told the assembled reporters on Capitol Hill was that the American intelligence community, while engaged in surveillance of foreign targets, they had incidentally collected information about American citizens who were involved in the Trump transition. Hmm.

He said details about these people in the Trump transition were, quote, "widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting", to which the inevitable response is, ooh, what do you mean? Also, is this bad?

Are you saying something illegal has happened? Are you saying that U.S. intelligence agencies have improperly surveilled someone? What do you mean?

Reporters started by asking the very juicy obvious low-hanging fruit question which is, "Are you saying, Mr. Chairman, that U.S. intelligence agencies surveilled the president-elect? They looked at his communications and then shared those around? You mean they listened in on Trump?" Simple question -- you`d think.

Here`s the first time he got asked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Was the president also part of that incidental collection, his communications?

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), INTELLIGENECE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Was the president part of that collection? Yes. Yes.

Are you sure?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Excuse me, let me just clarify. The president of the United States` personal communications were intercepted as an incidental part of --

NUNES: Yes, I think what we have to -- it`s very -- when we talk about intelligence products here, we have to be very careful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: No, whoa, whoa, whoa, where would you get that idea?

So, the first answer is: yes, the president`s communications were intercepted here. Second answer: no, no, no, no, the president`s communications were not captured here. Let`s try again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: The president of the United States` personal communications were collected in incidental collection, not in specific targeted collections?

NUNES: It`s possible. We won`t know until we get the information on Friday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Until Friday. That`s strange, because we all thought he had the information and that`s why he convened this press conference, to talk about the information that he had. But on that one direct question, the president had his communications intercepted here? The answers were yes, it includes the president, no, it doesn`t include the president and then, "it`s possible it includes the president", and then, "we`ll know on Friday."

And then literally 10 seconds later, he was back to the first answer again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Mr. Chairman, was the president`s conversations or anything about the president appearing in intelligence reports? Is that what you`re saying?

NUNES: I have seen -- I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were -- I guess at least monitored and disseminated out in intelligence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: So, yes and then no, and then, it`s possible, I don`t know, I`ll let you know on Friday and then back to yes, yes, I have seen reports that clearly show the president elect was monitored. I guess, at least, all in a space of two minutes.

And then it was off to the White House to go brief the president on these definitive new findings.

At a second press conference after his meeting with the president, Congressman Nunes was asked why it was appropriate for him to brief the White House given that his committee is supposed to be investigating the president`s campaign right now. Mr. Nunes said it was appropriate to do that because these findings that he was discussing today have, in his words, quote, "nothing to do with the Russia investigation."

A reporter then asked, well, if he`s going to open a new investigation into this stuff since he said this material isn`t related to existing investigation, would he open a new investigation on this stuff? His reply to that was that this stuff is part of the existing investigation, you guys. Quote, "We`re already investigating."

So, it`s OK for me to take this to the White House because this isn`t part of our investigation and, of course, we`re investigating this because it`s part of our investigation. What are you talking about?

Congressman Nunes finished off his afternoon with an interview on CNN in which he was still unable to give any coherent answer about whether or not Donald Trump`s communications were picked up in this surveillance he is allegedly describing from the time when he was president-elect.

But after all that, after two press conferences and a briefing for the president and a TV interview, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I have to tell you, still has not shared any of this new information that he says he has with his own committee where he is supposedly leading a robust investigation. He still hasn`t actually shown the information to anyone, including the other people he`s supposed to be investigating with.

Top Democrat on that committee gave his own press conference tonight in which he said that the chairman`s actions may have made it impossible for the committee to do its work with any credibility from here on out.

This was a big weird distracting story in the news today but the bottom line news here, I mean, really the takeaway here is that Congressman Devin Nunes is behaving very strangely for a man who is supposed to be leading a bipartisan of a very serious national security matter. That`s -- that`s really the bottom line.

That was weird. You`re running this investigation and that`s how you`re behaving?

Don`t -- headlines aside, he did not release any information today. He has not shown any information to anyone else. He is not even claiming that he actually is in possession of any information. He is not claiming that any laws were broken.

And while saying that he is alarmed and concerned and everybody should be alarmed and concerned and the president should be alarmed and concerned, he`s not actually making any sort of coherent case as to what anybody should be concerned about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NUNES: I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. None of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.

SCHIFF: I can say this, the chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both. And unfortunately I think the actions of today throw great doubt into the ability of both the chairman and the committee to conduct the investigation the way it ought to be conducted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the top Democrat on that same committee holding dueling press conferences today, which is not a great sign for that committee`s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election last year and the question of whether or not the Trump campaign cooperated, collaborated in that Russian attack.

Joining us now is Charlie Savage. He`s the national security reporter for the "New York Times". He`s the author of "Power Wars: Inside Obama`s Post- 9/11 Presidency."

Mr. Savidge, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here, Charlie.

CHARLIE SAVAGE, THE NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Thanks for having me back.

MADDOW: So, can I ask you to just sort me through? Explain a little bit of how this wiretapping stuff works. We heard a lot of people talking today about the idea of routine surveillance of foreign targets. What does that mean, routine surveillance?

SAVAGE: So, the FBI here at home and the NSA abroad are engaged in foreign intelligence collection using surveillance all the time, everyday, especially abroad. The NSA is targeting foreign government leaders, businessmen who were involved in major deals that have geopolitical implications, terrorism suspects, all kinds -- you know, the definition of what counts as foreign intelligence is extraordinarily broad. It`s almost anything.

And so, if they are specifically targeting a person they think might have that intelligence because they`re a prominent person in whatever world they`re looking at or if they`re vacuuming up stuff abroad in hopes of gathering that stuff, they are going to inevitably suck in conversations in which at the other end of the line or receiving and sending e-mails to and from that target is an American. And the rules allow the government to use that collected information even though it involves an American if it involves foreign intelligence. Something they think is relevant. They can even identify the American in their reports to each other if the identity of the American is necessary to understand that foreign intelligence.

This incidental collection and the rules surrounding what the government can do with it has been a major dispute about surveillance in the post-9/11 world. It surrounds the Bush administration`s warrantless wiretapping program and what the FISA Amendments Act that grew out of it. It`s been a huge conversation in the courts and in Congress for years, but it`s been an issue that has been like the hippy issue, right?

The civil libertarians, the ACLUs and the Rand Pauls like, hey, wait a minute, what about the rules? Is this going to intrude on Americans` privacy? And the sort of standard conservative line has been, eh, whatever, this is about getting terrorists.

And it`s one of the most interesting developments of all of this chaotic mess that you`ve been trying to explain tonight has been the sudden awakening that incidental collection and the rules surrounding what can happen to it when the government finds itself in possession of private information about Americans without having set out to get that information but came anyway because they were talking to targets is suddenly of great salience to an entirely different set of the political factions. And it`s happening in a year in which the FISA Amendment Acts, the warrantless surveillance program, is up for renewal and it`s going to be fascinating to see how this plays out.

MADDOW: Charlie, one of the ways, one of the reasons we`ve sort of been anticipating some sort of disclosure along these lines if not exactly what we heard today from chairman Nunes. One of the reasons that frankly I didn`t join the big pile on in calling President Trump crazy when he tweeted he believed he had been wiretapped in Trump Tower, even though he sort of worded in the a crazy way, is because we`ve been watching very closely the question about why Mike Flynn was fired. General Flynn as the national security adviser had to leave supposedly because he was untruthful about the content of his communications with the Russian ambassador. We learned that through a "Washington Post" story which described him being picked up on surveillance of the ambassador which included people knowing it was him on the phone and knowing what was discussed.

We saw the intelligence community, right to the FBI, the CIA and the NSA on March 15, basically demanding to be known how come we all found out that Michael Flynn was on that call? The FBI and the CIA apparently still haven`t responded to the House Intelligence Committee on that and it still remains an outstanding question, doesn`t it, as to whether or not Michael Flynn was properly unmasked as a U.S. person on that warrant? Whether he might have been the subject of a warrant himself or where whether there might have been misconduct in the -- his name becoming known, associated with that content?

SAVAGE: Well, I have to say, as someone paying close attention to surveillance debates and rules and all this stuff for years, I think that is a red herring. Just this morning, the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page had this editorial that went viral because it talked about Trump being a fake president who is clinging to this crazy claim like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, a very strong anti-Trump editorial from a conservative outlet, but embedded in that was this -- and he has a legitimate question about why was the government listening to Michael Flynn?

And that`s kind of crazy to me. If you pay any attention to this, you should understand that the Russian ambassador of all people walking around the streets of the United States is going to be the target of a wiretap by the FBI for counterintelligence purposes and if the national security advisor to the rising president is -- talks to the Russian ambassador, that conversation will be intercepted, they`re listening to the Russian ambassador, he`s talking to someone else, they get both sides of that conversation.

And, obviously, what that -- what Michael Flynn of all people says to the Russian ambassador and vice versa is foreign intelligence and you need to know who Michael Flynn is to understand it. I do not see based on what the rules are and just a sort of basic understanding of how this works what is alarming about that or maybe alarming is the wrong word. What is mysterious about that, what is hard to understand about that.

We think this was a targeting of the Russian ambassador and that`s not remarkable at all in the world.

MADDOW: Charlie Savage, national security reporter for the "New York Times," that`s exactly why I wanted to talk to you about this. Thank you for helping us through this tonight, Charlie. Good to see you.

SAVAGE: Good to see you, too.

MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight, including the reporter who wrote the bombshell, a piece story about Paul Manafort and his work to promote the Putin government secretly in the United States.

Plus, you got the latest from London.

Stay with us tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: It was almost 40 years ago. That was the last time the British parliament was attacked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: It was mid-afternoon at Big Ben when Airey Neave drove out of the underground car park at the House of Commons. He never made it to the top. The blast tore open the right door, the driver`s door in Britain. One of Neave`s shoes was blown behind the car. He was dead on arrival at Westminster hospital.

Parliament suspended debate while Scotland Yard looked for more bombs. None was found.

The Irish Republican Army had warned their renewed bombing campaign in Northern Ireland would be taken to the British mainland during the election campaign which began yesterday. And Airey Neave was apparently at the top of the IRA`s hit list.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was March 30th, 1979, British Member of Parliament killed, bomb planted in his car in the parking garage at the House of Commons. All through the `70s, right through the turn of the century, Britain was, of course, embroiled in the murderous conflict in Northern Ireland and at times, that war bled into the U.K. mainland. It made British politicians and Britain itself targets for attack by Irish paramilitary groups.

But, still, parliament is a serious target and a hard target. The last attack on parliament was 1979. There hadn`t been an attack at the British House of Commons since then. Until today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: The value our parliament remits -- democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law, command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere. That is why it is a target for those who reject those values.

But let me make it clear today as I have had calls to do before, any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure. Tomorrow morning, parliament will meet as normal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: British Prime Minister Theresa May this afternoon. Parliament will be meeting as normal.

This all started today when police got called around 2:40 p.m. local time, a man driving a gray Hyundai 4x4 was driving across the Westminster Bridge, apparently steering deliberately into pedestrians. Three people died as a result of that, part of the attack on the bridge. Many more were injured, including three police officers.

The attacker then sped up and drove directly toward the Houses of Parliament. He crashed into a railing, proceeded to get out of his car. He attacked a police officer inside the gates with a knife. That police officer died from his injuries, he was 48 years old.

The attacker then reportedly lunged toward another officer before he was shot and killed by police. Four people were killed total, plus the attacker makes five, at least 40 people were wounded.

The police are treating this as a terrorist incident. Police said this evening that the attacker is thought to be, quote, "inspired by international terrorism." That said, so far, nobody`s taken responsibility and so far, we do not know the name of the attacker. Police say they believe they know the identity of the attacker, but they have declined to give further details and some names that circulated earlier today have been proven to be false.

It`s the middle of the night in London right now. It`s after 1:45 in the morning. This story continues to unfold. We`ll bring you more as we learn more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So, at the top of tonight`s show, we reported on an exclusive "Associated Press" story today concerning former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. According to the "A.P.`s" reporting, prior to joining the campaign, Paul Manafort reportedly entered into a $10 million a year contract to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States, secretly. I say secretly, because although the "A.P." has obtained documentation about this business arrangement, including proof of millions of dollars in payments to Paul Manafort, Manafort never registered his work on behalf of a foreign government with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act says you have to disclose paid work like that. As the "A.P." noted in its story today, quote, "willfully failing to register is a felony and can result up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000."

I should mention, this is also not the first time that Paul Manafort has been accused of failing to legally disclose work he did on behalf of a foreign power.

Last August, in the middle of the presidential campaign, the same "A.P." reporter from today`s scoop, Jeff Horwitz, also reported that Paul Manafort had failed to disclose his foreign lobbying efforts for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

Joining us is now Jeff Horwitz. He`s the "A.P." reporter who broke the story earlier today.

Mr. Horwitz, I really appreciate your time tonight. I know it`s been a big day explaining this work to everybody. Thanks for being with us tonight.

JEFF HORWITZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: So, I know you don`t want to talk about your sources or your reporting process too much, but what can you explain to us about how this came about, about how you knew to look, for example, for this company that Manafort operated, how you figured out that he might have this kind of a relationship.

HORWITZ: So, I have some very talented colleagues who are working in Moscow, Kiev, Cyprus, all over the place on this stuff. But without getting into sort of the details of reporting and some of the sourcing is confidential, what I can say is that we obtained from a number of different places memos that Manafort wrote to Oleg Deripaska, who is a Russian oligarch very close to Putin. He`s one of the guys that -- I mean, according to U.S. diplomatic cables for a number of years back is sort of one of Putin`s top business lieutenants, top allies in the business community.

And in these memos, which were sort of associated with this $10 million a year contract that you referenced, Paul Manafort is talking about representing Oleg Deripaska`s personal and business interests abroad and that`s eastern and former Soviet countries, and also in Europe and in the United States, and basically trying to -- while the focus was on the post- Soviet countries, trying to make sure that his message was sort of channeled well and through a number of different means to Washington as well.

MADDOW: And in the documentation that you found, Manafort explicitly makes the case that this would be a promotion of Putin`s government, that this would be good for Putin`s government specifically.

HORWITZ: Right. And that is -- the language was extremely clear on that. That one of the appeals -- you know, sort of -- and it kind of was a sales pitch from Manafort`s firm to Deripaska. One of the appeals of subsidizing his work or underwriting are the work was that Deripaska would be advancing the interest of the Putin government and thereby ingratiating himself to the Putin government.

So, it was very, very straight forward in terms of the pitch. I mean, a big part of it was sort of undercutting political movements that the Putin government would not like in countries neighboring Russia and supporting those that it would.

MADDOW: Jeff Horwitz, a reporter at "The Associated Press". Remarkable scoop today. A long story, very easy to understand, very clearly sourced. Thanks for helping us understand it tonight. Appreciate it.

HORWITZ: Certainly.

MADDOW: Thank you.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: They are apparently going to do it. They`re going to hold the vote. House majority leader tells NBC News tonight that by 7:00 p.m. tomorrow, Republicans, in his words, will have passed their bill to repeal Obamacare and throw 24 million Americans off their health insurance.

It still does not look at all like the Republicans for sure have the votes they need. They can`t get nor do they appear to want any Democrats` votes. That means their magic number in terms of no votes from Republicans is 21. If 22 Republicans vote no, the bill is dead.

NBC has been doing a whip count of no votes. And the list of Republicans who say they`ll vote no tomorrow or are that leaning strongly against the bill tomorrow, right now, is well above 22. It`s 28 say they are no or leaning no.

Again, 22 no votes and it`s dead. You have to wonder if that self-imposed 7:00 p.m. deadline is really realistic. But they tell us tonight they`re still going to try for it. Tomorrow is going to be another big day.

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

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