Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: May 23, 2017 Guest: Julie Zebrak, Jackie Speier
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We are following several different stories that continue to develop into the late evening tonight. In terms of the time difference, it is five hours ahead of American East Coast Time in England. So, it`s after 2:00 in the morning now in England.
That country is now not only dealing with the aftermath of that horrific bombing of that pop concert in Manchester, England, last night which claimed 22 lives. They are also now officially at what they`re calling a critical alert level in Britain. We used to have that color-coded alert system in our country after 9/11. We no longer have that. We now have something called the National Terrorism Advisory System, which sends out targeted alerts for specific incidents and specific places.
But in Britain, they`ve still got a nationwide alert system, and tonight, British Prime Minister Theresa May raised their nationwide alert level to critical which in the prime minister`s words means that another attack may be imminent in Great Britain.
Now, this critical alert level means that they are deploying troops in the streets. They are putting the British military in the street alongside British police. There have been raids today in Britain. There has been at least one arrest reportedly in conjunction with last night`s bombing.
There has been a lot of controversy about U.S. officials and U.S. news sources publishing the name of the man who`s believed to have been the bomber, the suicide bomber. We`re going to have more on that story. We`re going to have the latest from London and from Manchester coming up just in just a few minutes this hour.
Here at home, today, new developments in the scandal plaguing our new presidential administration continue to overshadow more current events continue to overshadow the footage and the pool reports from the president`s first overseas trip. We don`t know why, but two of the president`s very top advisors, his senior strategist Steve Bannon and his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, they appear to have been sent home early from the foreign trip. We know that each of them made it as far as Saudi Arabia, which was the first stop on the trip and the White House insists that the plan all along was for them to just go to Saudi Arabia and then fly right back, but honestly there is no contemporaneous record of any such plan for Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon.
And although we do not know why they have now been sent home early while the rest of the administration is still abroad with Trump, it would not be strange given the circumstances if the administration felt like they needed to get some of their top people home right quick, even in the middle of that trip, to try to keep a lid on what`s going on here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: We issued two subpoenas to the two Michael Flynn businesses that we`re aware of, Flynn Intel LLC and Flynn Intel Inc., both located in Alexandria, Virginia, with this specific list of documents because while we disagree with General Flynn`s lawyers interpretation of taking the Fifth, the clearer it is -- even more clear that a business does not have a right to take a Fifth if it`s a corporation.
So, those subpoenas, one has been served, one is in the process of being served and we keep all options on the table, but we think the committees move forward aggressively.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One has been served, one is in the process of being served. Today, that was the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr on the left side of your screen and the top Democrat and Senate Intel, Mark Warner, on the right side of your screen. The two of them jointly announcing a new round of subpoenas that they sent out today in the Trump- Russia investigation.
These ones target the Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn, specifically his businesses. Now, we know that Mike Flynn is currently fighting the committee subpoena for him to testify and for him to hand over documents. He`s trying to take the Fifth. The committee is now hashing it out with Flynn`s lawyers in terms of what he`s able to take the Fifth on.
But meanwhile, as of late this afternoon, they`re sending subpoenas to his businesses and businesses that Senator Warner said they can`t take the Fifth. Businesses are not people, my friend.
And if you needed any further assurance that the Trump-Russia investigation is now all about following the money is now very much about businesses and business ties and banking records and finances also consider the late- breaking news today reported first by Fox Business and now confirmed by NBC News that the president has now chosen his private counsel who he will use to try to save his presidency to the extent that his presidency has to be saved by legal maneuvering.
In 2005, a "New York Times" reporter named Timothy O`Brien went on to be the business section editor of "The New York Times". Reporter Timothy O`Brien published this book about Donald Trump, and one of the things Timothy O`Brien claimed in this book, "Trump Nation", was that Donald Trump wasn`t a billionaire. Timothy O`Brien`s book said Trump was worth not multiple billions of dollars not even on billion dollars, he was close to closer to $250 million in terms of his net worth.
And, you know, like who would be mad about that, right? I mean, once you`re a 250 millionaire, I think we can all agree you`re spectacularly rich and who cares if you`re just that rich or even richer than that, right? Who cares?
But Donald Trump -really cared a lot about that he cared so much that he sued that New York Times reporter Timothy O`Brien for that book, specifically for saying in that book that Trump wasn`t a billionaire. And, you know, it was clever. In the event that Trump actually wasn`t a billionaire, he came up with a way to solve that problem, tool, with this lawsuit, because he sued Timothy O`Brien over that book for $5 billion in damages, which is hilarious.
And what resulted was a ridiculous lawsuit that was basically a suit in which Trump tried to prove his net worth, tried to prove that he was a multibillionaire and that gave rise to the famous deposition where Trump claimed that his net worth rose and fell according to his feelings on any given day, that`s how he tried to prove he was a billionaire. And so, no, he did not prove he was a billionaire.
He brought the lawsuit insisting that he could show in court, he could prove in court how much he was worth and in that lawsuit, it turns out he could that show in court that his net worth was somehow magically larger than what he could prove.
He didn`t win the case. He didn`t -- he didn`t -- he didn`t get his five billion dollars in damages from the "New York Times" reporter. The Trump lawsuit about that book was dismissed and then Trump appealed that court ruling and then his appeal was dismissed.
But now, it`s interesting, the lawyer who brought that case for Trump the man who masterminded the idea of suing a "New York Times" reporter for five billion dollars to prove truck was a billionaire and then not being able to prove Trump was a billionaire once they got it into court so that reporter won that, the lawyer who masterminded that case is now the lawyer who our new president is expected to retain to be his private counsel, quote, on matters related to the Russia investigation. Sure, why not him?
Lawyer Mark Kasowitz also has played a role in the litigation concerning Trump University for which Trump ultimately had to pay $25 million to settle fraud charges. He`s represented Trump in a number of other business matters, some successful, some not. He was involved in the restructuring of the massive and controversial debt in Trump`s Atlantic City casinos.
His most recent high-profile gig since Trump has been president though has been on another matter, and you might have heard about this. You might have heard about this.
A few weeks ago, maybe a month or two ago, we actually reported this on the show, the first high-profile thing that Trump`s lawyer has been involved in since Trump`s been president is that he was taken on as the counsel to represent a Russian state-controlled bank, of course, he was. Sberbank which is a funny sounding name if you don`t speak Russian and you only speak English because it sounds like something else.
Sberbank is the largest state-run bank in Russia. In the southern district of Manhattan, there was a massive federal civil lawsuit against Sberbank, basically accusing them of destroying the granite mining industry in Russia and a state-sponsored act of corporate raiding. And when the biggest Russian state-controlled bank needed counsel in New York to defend them on that this year, they picked a man who`s otherwise famous for being Donald Trump`s lawyer. The lawyer he uses in particular for stuff like suing "The New York Times".
And now, if these reports tonight are accurate, that is who will be leading Trump`s legal team for the various investigations related to the Russian attack on the U.S. election last year and the question of whether or not the Trump campaign cooperated in that attack in any way.
And to that point, the man who was the director of the CIA when the Russian attack on our election was happening last year, the man who was the director of the CIA at the time any such cooperation or collusion would have happened if it happened, today, he testified as to what he saw last year as CIA director. He testified as to what he saw, what he believed it might have meant and why he believed it was serious enough at the time that his agency took what it had found out through foreign spying and they handed that to the FBI last summer, which is what started the FBI`s counterintelligence investigation of Trump and Russia last summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I was convinced in the summer that the Russians were trying to interfere an election and they were very aggressive. They had -- it was a multi-faceted effort and I wanted to make sure that we were able to expose as much of that as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But was there intelligence that said that the Trump campaign was colluding with Moscow during their campaign?
BRENNAN: It was intelligence that the Russian intelligence services were actively involved in this effort. And having been involved in many counterintelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians try to do. They try to suborn individuals and they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.
And I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons. And so, therefore, by the time I left office on January 20th, I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf again either in a witting or unwitting fashion. And so, therefore, I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues.
But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Did you see evidence of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between Donald Trump and Russian state actors?
BRENNAN: I saw information intelligence that was worthy of investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not such cooperation of conclusion was taking place,
GOWDY: That doesn`t help us a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That doesn`t help us a lot? What are you looking for help with? Because if you`re -- if what you`re looking for is the CIA`s -- CIA director`s assessment of whether there was sufficient cause, whether there was a well-grounded basis to start the FBI`s counterintelligence investigation into the sitting president and his campaign and the question of whether they colluded with Russia, a counterintelligence investigation which continues to this day and is unprecedented in American history, if that`s where you`re looking for, it definitely helps a lot with that, because he apparently is the one, CIA Director John Brennan is the one who`s is basically saying that the information that the CIA was able to observe, what he was able to see a CIA director last year was worrying enough that it was handed to the bureau and that`s what started that investigation.
I think that`s very helpful to understanding what happened.
Former CIA Director Brennan also helped everyone understand today, maybe for the first time in open session, how this kind of thing might have worked, how the -- if this was a Russian op, if our election was in part a foreign intelligence operation, how might the Russians conceivably have pulled this off. If there was any American cooperation or collusion with what they did, how did the Russians do that? I mean, if they did succeed in getting American collusion, if they succeeded in getting the Trump campaign to collude with them, how might that have worked even if the Trump folks didn`t start off intending to side with another country against our own, how could the Russians have done it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: I have studied Russian intelligence activities over the years and have seen it again manifest in many different of our counterintelligence cases and how they have been able to get people, including inside of CIA to become treasonous and frequently individuals who go along that treasonous path do not even realize they`re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late. And that`s why again my -- my radar goes up early when I see certain things that I know what the Russians are trying to do and I don`t know whether or not the targets of their efforts are as mindful of the Russian intentions as they need to be.
It is traditional intelligence collection tradecraft in terms of humans, which is to identify individuals that you think are either very influential or rising stars and you will try to develop relationship with them and the Russians frequently will do that through cutouts or through false flag operations. They won`t identify themselves as Russians or as members of Russian government. They will try to develop that person relationship and then over time, they will try to get individuals to do things on their behalf.
And that`s why, again, having been involved in a lot of counterintelligence cases over the years and seeing this pattern over and over again, my radar goes up when I see that the Russians are actively involved in a particular intelligence operation or campaign and that U.S. persons are being contacted by Russian officials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: See in some ways all of us who are watching this unfold every day in this remarkable news, right, in some ways we`re all a little stumped by the Trump Russia story, right? Because as Americans, we all know American politics. We know like the range of things that can happen in American politics, or at least we thought we did.
But things like this Trump Russia thing, they don`t happen in American politics. So, they`re foreign to us and everything about it is unexpected. But you know what? Things like this do happen in Russian espionage efforts. This is foreign to us as politics. This is not foreign to John Brennan as a long time, lifelong observer of Russian espionage efforts.
So, ask the people who understand how the Russian work, right? Ask the people who understand how the Russian foreign intelligence operations, ask the people who know how Russian active measures against foreign enemies, how those things work, and to them, it sort of makes sense when they look at it through Russian eyes.
So, hearing about how the Russians approach an op like this, how they approach Americans, how they try to persuade unwitting Americans to ultimately betray our country, that is helpful for figuring out what the Russians might have been hoping for and trying for here even though we don`t know if the Trump associates they contacted went along with it. And there`s one last thing that came up today. This is the last thing and this is this isn`t even an uglier prospect that was also raised today in this questioning with a former CIA director.
I want you to watch how CIA Director John Brennan reacts here. So, they`ve been talking at this hearing over the course of this remarkable testimony from Brennan and it ultimately gets to the point where they`re talking almost protectively or at least empathetically about how some Americans might accidentally get dragged into this, how some Americans might have been unwittingly duped into colluding with the Russians in this attack, they might have been led into it without really even knowing what they were getting into. It`s almost a sympathetic portrayal of what it might have been like for any Americans to have colluded with the Russians in this attack last year.
But then Eric Swalwell on the committee gets to a very uncomfortable alternate point. He basically says, yes, bumbling into or accidentally or otherwise innocently helping the Russians, that`s an interesting scenario here. But what about people who get caught concealing what they were doing with the Russians? Isn`t that a different ball of wax?
Watch Brennan`s response here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Director, there is what is referred to as consciousness of guilt evidence. That`s when somebody lies about a material fact and that fact -- the fact of them lying can be used against that person because it would be in essence an effort to cover up what happened, meaning if -- you know, you`re telling the truth you wouldn`t have anything to cover up.
With respect to some of the contacts that you`ve referred to between Russia and Trump campaign officials, are you aware of any of those U.S. persons who have contacts with Russia, either making false statements about those contacts or failing to disclose those contacts?
BRENNAN: I think that`s something you can -- we can pursue in close session.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not an open session. We`ll talk about that in a classified setting.
So, the Russians may be really good at drafting Americans into their schemes against the United States. But once Americans are involved in those schemes, and they start lying about that fact, concealing that fact, well then, that concealment, you know, takes it into a closed session situation.
So, remarkable testimony today for the former CIA director. And, you know, new subpoenas have just gone out tonight some Mike Flynn`s businesses in Virginia. Business associates of Mike Flynn`s have already received subpoenas from a federal grand jury convened by a U.S. attorney in the eastern district of Virginia.
It has been reported that the prosecutor leading that inquiry centering on Flynn out of that U.S. attorney`s office is a veteran espionage prosecutor who was brought in for that purpose from the national security division of the Justice Department. The Department of Defense inspector general is investigating documented claims from the Pentagon that Flynn concealed evidence of his foreign payments from the Army.
The Oversight Committee in the House just released documents that appear to show that Flynn concealed evidence of his foreign payments last year on his security clearance application as well. I mean, just on that matter of Mike Flynn and his foreign payments, the White House generally, the vice president in particular, continue to deny knowledge of those foreign payments to Flynn even after they were notified about them emphatically and over a period of weeks and months multiple times, to the point where the Mike Pence led transition sent to thank you for your letter receipt to the House Oversight Committee when the House Oversight Committee had put in writing to the transition their concerns about Mike Flynn`s foreign payments.
So, even if you just take that slice of it, just on the issue of Mike Flynn and his foreign payments, we talked about concealment being a complicated fact -- complicating factor here, there would seem to be a lot of reported evidence of him appearing to try to conceal those foreign ties and the White House trying to conceal them for him. The financial trail is lit up like broad daylight on Mike Flynn, right, and multiple investigations are now thundering down that path like a convoy a semis.
But we have learned tonight that there may actually be a problem with the financial side of all of these Trump-Russia investigations, and we`ve got that ahead tonight and a lot more besides. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Part of how we learned about the new financial focus of the investigations of the new administration and the president`s campaign was when the Senate Intelligence Committee asked for help in its investigation from the Treasury Department, from the Treasury Department`s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
It was reported at the time that not only had Senate intel asked them for help with their investigation but the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the Treasury Department had said, yes, they would turn over financial records for which their repository agency if it turned out they had any records that would be relevant to the Trump-Russia investigation. That request by Senate Intel is part of how we knew that around the time the White House started freaking out and doing stuff like firing the FBI director, there was also this shift in the Trump-Russia investigations at that same time toward checking out financial ties and business ties.
It`s part of how we sort of observed that shift happening. But now we can observe that something appears to have gone wrong there. You first got an inkling of this last week. Senator Mark Warner, top Democrat on the intelligence committee, let it be known that even though the Treasury Department was reportedly cooperating and handing over these records, in reality, they weren`t handing anything over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARNER: We request a documentation from FinCEN that will be absolutely critical to the Russia investigation. Our ask include things like the FinCEN flash notices and the 314A requests. I know that we`ve received a preliminary response from treasury that they`re, quote-unquote, working on it. Well, I got to tell you, that`s not good enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was last week, Tuesday of last week. Hey, we`re not actually getting this stuff that we requested. Since then, it does not appear that things have improved and now, the Democrats are starting to raise a flag about this. Today, the Democrats on the Banking Committee which also includes Mark Warner, they all voted against an otherwise non-controversial Treasury Department nominee, saying that honestly they have nothing against her, but they`re all voting against her to try to shake loose information from the Treasury, that Treasury said they`d hand over for the Trump Russian investigation, but they haven`t handed it over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARNER: We`re seeing the Treasury is start to come -- starting to comply. We`re trying to hone our questions a little bit with more specificity. This is a large database, but there really does need to be a sense of urgency. I mean I had told Ms. Mandelker that I was going to oppose her nomination I`d otherwise supported. I think she is well-qualified, I`ll agree with all her positions, but I think she is well qualified.
So I just would like to see a little more sense of urgency from the FinCEN department on responding to our requests.
They have responded in part in part and they -- what we can`t -- I can`t ascertain yet, is this is this truly just slow walking or is this just trying to fully understand the nature of our requests?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Are they slow walking?
Senator Mark Warner, that was him earlier today calling on the Treasury Department to step up, start handing over these financial records they said they would provide for the Trump-Russia investigation.
And this has been an interesting part of this investigation. Obviously, we have seen what appears to be a sort of rising political stress in the White House, paralleling a rising or an increased focus on financial matters and business matters in the investigations. A key part of that is this interesting part of the Treasury, FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network which has access to these key documents that everybody says will be absolutely critical to figuring out if there was any monetary aspect of the collusion that`s being investigated by the FBI and by these committees.
If this is, in fact, a follow the money investigation, right, or the committee`s now being impeded in their ability to follow the money, as long as they don`t get these documents or at least they don`t get them at the pace they think they ought to. The Treasury Department is led by former Trump fundraiser now Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Is the Treasury Department conceivably gumming up the works on this part of the investigation? Could they even do that? Is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network within Treasury independent enough so that that couldn`t be a factor? Is this just the normal course of business? Is FinCEN something that we should essentially keep eyes on here, or is this something that we shouldn`t worry about because they`re going to be professionals here no matter how difficult it is to work out with these committees?
I don`t know the answer to questions and I want to ask somebody who has close, upfront information about how this agency works.
Joining us now is Julie Zebrak. She`s a career attorney at the Justice Department and she`s a former senior advisor at FinCEN, at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the Treasury Department.
I should tell you, full disclosure, she was also a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the campaign.
Ms. Zebrak, thank you for your years of service in government and thanks for being with us tonight.
JULIE ZEBRAK, FORMER FINCEN OFFICIAL: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, I know most of your career service was at the Justice Department. You spent a shorter amount of time at FinCEN.
But let me just ask you about that. I`m trying to sort of understand what FinCEN does and how important they are to these investigations. It seems to me like there are a lot of agencies the kind of second their employees send over their employees to work hand in glove, to work on-site with FinCEN so that lots of different agencies can get access to their financial records. Is that a fair assessment?
ZEBRAK: Rachel, I wouldn`t necessarily say that lots of agencies send their folks over to FinCEN on what we usually call in the government on a detail. But it definitely happens, yes.
MADDOW: And in your work there, can you describe the -- can you describe what you did, but also what the relationship was between an agency like the Justice Department and FinCEN, if the Justice Department wanted to use records that FinCEN might have, how would that process work?
ZEBRAK: Sure. So, I served as a senior advisor to the deputy director of FinCEN. The deputy director is now serving as the acting director of FinCEN, and I served as a senior advisor. I went over there as a career employee. It was not on a detail, Justice did not send me but I went over and was hired by Treasury to serve in that role.
With respect to your question about could other agencies get information from FinCEN -- absolutely. FinCEN has the authority to share information they collect, which they collect under the Bank Secrecy Act and under the Patriot Act from financial institutions, and they have the ability to with that data to analyze it, to sort of connect the dots and to the extent that they are seeing trends or issues that they think may be tied to terrorism financing or be tied to money laundering activities or other illicit financial activities, they have the authority to share that with an agency such as the Justice Department through the FBI, or possibly with the law -- oh sorry excuse me with the U.S. attorneys offices or with the Criminal Division at Justice.
MADDOW: That is very helpful. I didn`t -- I feel like I`ve been -- I`ve been sort of working around the edges of trying to understand this agency. It`s not that old. FinCEN has it doesn`t exist as it existed in this form --
MADDOW: -- for all that many years, so there aren`t, you know, a lot of -- there isn`t a lot written about in terms of understanding it. But let me ask you, we played a clip there from Senator Warner talking about what he had requested from FinCEN and what he was expecting to get as part of the Trump Russia investigation.
And he mentioned two things: flash notices and 314A requests, and I keep seeing those two things described over and over again as the relevant records here. What are those two things mean?
ZEBRAK: Right. So, with 314A, basically, that`s the FinCEN gets its authority to collect information under the statute and 314 refers back to the U.S. Patriot Act.
ZEBRAK: So, under 314A, FinCEN, uses its authorities to regulate banks and what our financial institutions, not just banks, it could be -- it could be like a Western Union type organization. But they have the authority to regulate them and what that means is basically, they can require financial institutions to provide information with respect to what are called suspicious activity reports or what our currency transaction reports.
So, for example, everybody`s heard of that rule where if you -- at a bank, if you go in and you try and deposit over $10,000, that sort of sets off a red flag, and so, that would be reported in something called the currency transaction report.
So, the currency transaction report data -- the suspicious activity report data gets collected and then FinCEN houses that information and has the ability to analyze it.
MADDOW: Aha, OK.
ZEBRAK: So, what`s interesting about what FinCEN does as opposed to say the FBI is that they are already collecting that information. It`s housed there, and so then, it`s just a matter of combing through it as you do with other types of intelligence, to figure out what kinds of information you can piece together and connect the dots.
MADDOW: I get it. I`m starting -- I am starting to finally get it.
Julie Zebrak, former senior advisor in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, thank you for helping us understand this. It`s been an impenetrable part of this investigative process and you have made it much more clear for us tonight. Thank you.
ZEBRAK: Great. Thank you.
MADDOW: So, that is fascinating. So, that Senate Intelligence Committees and presumably the FBI and all the other places, they want those suspicious activity reports. They want those flash notices about things that might be related to money laundering or terrorist financing or whatever, and they want to know if any of them might be relevant to this Trump-Russia investigation.
They`re not -- that doesn`t mean the Treasury Department is out there as financial cops looking for this stuff. They collect all this stuff all the time. It`s just a matter somebody going through the records to see if there`s a match for what these guys are looking for.
I think (ph) they should be going faster. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We`re now a little more than 24 hours past the suicide bombing close of a big pop concert, a big arena in Manchester, England, last night. The initial reporting last night was 19 people killed. Officials have now increased that toll to 22 people killed, including children as young as 8 among the victims.
In terms of what we know about the investigation so far, Scotland Yard reports that it is, quote, large scale, fast moving, and making good progress. A top terrorism official at Scotland Yard said tonight that, quote, multiple searches are still ongoing. He said they cannot be certain yet, quote, if there was a wider group involved in the attack.
This morning, police in Manchester arrested the 23-year-old brother of the suspected suicide bomber. It`s not clear that the brother was involved, but British security officers have been questioning him.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for last night`s attack, though there`s no real evidence for whether or not ISIS`s claim of responsibility is legitimate. They don`t seem to have any specific knowledge of how the attack was carried out that would prove that it was them.
I can also tell you that the unfolding of this story, the getting and giving of information on this story, has become as -- it`s always fraught after a terrorist attack honestly. But now, in this case, it`s a matter of some international controversy.
Earlier today, a number of American media outlets named the bombing suspect, a 22-year-old Manchester native whose parents had fled the Gadhafi regime in Libya and that news first broke in the American press, sourcing U.S. intelligence officials who said they had been briefed on the investigation, but that news, that name broke over here even as British officials were saying they might not release that name at all today while the investigation was still unfolding.
"The Guardian" newspaper tonight reporting, quote, the Trump administration`s apparent indiscretion related to the name seems likely to cause consternation in London and could raise questions about future cooperation in the long term. We needed another reminder that America`s international relationships, particularly around intelligence, things are having a very fragile moment right now, we perhaps didn`t need it right now in the immediate aftermath of a large terrorist attack against our closest ally, but that`s what we`ve got.
I keep you posted as we learn more about this investigation in Manchester.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: I`d like to spend some time talking about the outsized role that the Russian oligarchy plays in terms of supporting the Russian government. It`s been said that there -- when the Russians want to cultivate a U.S. person, they will do it over a long period of time. Is that your experience?
BRENNAN: Oh, yes, I guess a lot depends on the U.S. person and their willingness to work with the Russians.
SPEIER: Were you aware that they were attempting to cultivate then real estate developer Donald Trump for almost eight years?
BRENNAN: I`m not going to talk about any individuals.
SPEIER: Are Russian oligarchs encouraged to invest in the United States? Is there an expectation that they`re going to provide information to president Putin about what`s going on in the United States.
BRENNAN: I would fully anticipate that some of the key Russian oligarchs and their business interests are tapped on a regular basis by Russian intelligence for information. Yes.
SPEIER: So, were any of the oligarchs investing in U.S. properties owned by then real estate developer Trump?
BRENNAN: I don`t know the answer to that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s California Congresswoman Jackie Speier today, questioning former CIA Director John Brennan about how exactly Russia uses Russians with money for the Russian government`s intelligence purposes.
Today, we learned that the businesses of Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn are the next subpoena targets for the Senate Intelligence Committee, even as Mike Flynn himself tries to avoid testifying by taking the Fifth.
Today, we also learned that one of Trumps business lawyers is who he`s expected to bring on as his outside counsel to try to preserve his presidency in the face of these ongoing Russia investigations.
And this, of all comes in the wake of "The Washington Post" reporting on Friday that FBI investigation`s are increasingly focused on whether financial crimes were committed by people close to the president. And now, tonight, we have been talking about these new unsettling questions about the Treasury Department, about whether the Trump administration, the Treasury Department under Trump is actually handing over the banking and financial information that it has, that may be relevant to this investigation, that has been requested and is supposedly being handed over to the investigatory bodies.
As all of these signs start to point toward money, toward business ties, for finances, the one House Democrat who is on both the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee keeps bringing the focus back to money, back to finances back to business ties if money is the center of the investigations, now if money is the key to figuring out the Trump brushes story and whether all these contacts between the Kremlin and Trump world were all coincidences or not, do we really believe that the money is followable? Are these committees, these investigators, actually able to access the information that they need and follow these trails?
Joining us now is Congressman Jackie Speier, member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committee.
Congresswoman Speier, I really appreciate you being here tonight. Thank you. Thank you for your time.
SPEIER: Great to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, you have been -- part of the reason I wanted to talk to you about this is that I feel like you have been, obviously, doing all your own work and all your own reading on this and you`ve been pushing on some issues before your colleagues seem to be raising them.
And I wanted to ask you how you feel about the financial side of this investigation and that question about whether or not your committee the other investigatory bodies are really capable of following the money here.
SPEIER: You know, it`s a very good question because you really need forensic accountants. You need FinCEN operatives who would be stationed in our committees to kind of do that work. Now, certainly, the FBI has the ability to do that but our committee staff really needs to be buttress with many more experts that can help us follow the money. And the money is really what`s going to give us the answers. I believe.
Can you get that? What would it take to staff up the committee with more experts, more full-time staffers than you`ve got right now? Would that need to be a congressional appropriation passed and signed by the president?
SPEIER: Well, there has been an appropriation offered to the committee and the staffing up is taking place I believe there is one person from FinCEN who has been out posted to the committee. So, there`s the potential to have that kind of expertise with us as we delve into these issues. You know, the other area that I`m concerned about is this EB-5 visa, that`s made available to individuals in foreign countries who for $500,000 or a million dollars of an investment can actually get a green card in the United States. And once you have that green card, you can move backwards and forwards and around with a great deal of alacrity.
So, I wonder to what extent many of these oligarchs that have purchased units in Trump Towers in Florida and in New York have gained them through those EB-5 visas and again we know that the Kushner family had attempted to use that in China very recently.
MADDOW: Is there any line that you can draw or any reporting that you can direct us to that suggests what any connection might be between Trump business ties and Russia -- Trump you know Russian financing or having Russian buyers for his properties and what that has to do with the Russian attack on the election? I feel like I`m starting to learn a lot about each of those two things, I`m not sure how they connect though.
SPEIER: Well, it probably has more to do with whether or not the president is going to be willing to take on President Putin if in fact he is tied to him or the Russian oligarchs for financial reasons within his real estate development empire and there are a number of Russian oligarchs and most of this is open source information that have close ties with the Trump organization and who have done deals with the Trump organization.
So, you couple that with the fact that so many of the campaign operatives had relationships with Russia, with President Putin, had provide services to him or with some of the Russian oligarchs, and it begins to look like a web that is so intertwined that it`s no doubt that we`re finding concern among so many of us that we don`t have a president who`s independent of the Putin regime.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee -- really appreciate your time tonight, ma`am. Thank you very much for being with us.
SPEIER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Watch this. Little piece of tape here. I hereby submit this very long pause as the most uncomfortable moment in American national news today. Just count -- count it out, count how long this goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Have you talked about this issue with Admiral Rogers?
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: That is -- that is something that I would like to withhold that question at this particular point in time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I believe that was a full nine seconds. I think that was a nine- second pause translate in Congress time into a nine months pregnant pause for the Director of National Intelligence. What he gave birth to at the end of that pause is next.
MADDOW: Citing current and former officials, "Washington Post" reported last night that President Trump contacted the Director of National Intelligence and the head of the NSA, and asked them both in March to please publicly deny any collusion in the Russia investigation. Those intelligence chiefs refused to the president`s request.
NBC News subsequently reported that after each of those officials got those separate sort of disturbing phone calls from the president, the two of them talked about it amongst themselves. Quote: The two men exchanged notes about their conversations with the president. The Director of National Intelligence was asked about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLUMENTHAL: Have you talked about this issue with Admiral Rogers?
COATS: That is -- that is something that I would like to withhold that question at this particular point in time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I would like to withhold at this particular point in time. If those two officials did talk to each other about their communications with the president, if that reporting holds up, it means that Coats and Rogers, head of the Office of National Intelligence and the head of the NSA, they`re now both contemporaneous witnesses to each other`s account of what the president did when he very inappropriately contacted them and asked them to publicly weigh in on an ongoing FBI investigation.
If there does end up being an obstruction of justice probe involving this White House, you can expect Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, and Mike Rogers, the head of the NSA, to be very, very important witnesses, not just in their own right, not just for what they experienced, but as corroborating witnesses for each other. Oops.
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