The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/24/17 Ben Jacobs attacked

Guests: Greg Farrell

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: May 24, 2017 Guest: Greg Farrell

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

There`s a lot going on tonight. We are looking ahead to a big election tomorrow, congressional election that really on paper ought to be a shoo- in. But, you know, in this day and age in our country right now, who knows?

That congressional race tomorrow was already a big political question mark before the news broke tonight that the Republican candidate in the race appears to have attacked, physically attacked, a reporter tonight on the eve of the election.

The reporter in question here is Ben Jacobs who writes for "The Guardian" newspaper. Ben Jacobs is an experienced, well-known reporter. I`ll tell you just in terms of this building, lots of people who work here at MSNBC and at NBC know him, particularly because he did a lot of campaign coverage over the past campaign cycle.

In case, you haven`t heard this audio yet, I just want to play you the audio recording that Ben Jacobs says he was rolling on his own recorder when this incident happened tonight in mo Montana. This is pretty incredible. Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BEN JACOBS, THE GUARDIAN: -- the CBO score. Because, you know, you`ve been waiting to make your decision about health care until you saw the bill, and it just came out --

GREG GIANFORTE (R), MONTANA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We`ll talk to you about that later.

JACOBS: Yeah, but there`s not going to be time. I`m just curious --

GIANFORTE: OK, speak with Shane, please.

JACOBS: But, you got to --

GIANFORTE: I`m sick and tired of you guys! The last guy that came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here!

JACOBS: Jesus!

GIANFORTE: get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing. You with "The Guardian"?

JACOBS: Yes, and you just broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: The last guy did the same damn thing.

JACOBS: You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here.

JACOBS: You`d like me to get the hell out of here? I`d also like to call the police. Can I get you guys` names?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you got to leave.

JACOBS: He just body-slammed me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to leave.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: You`d like me to get the hell out of here, I`d also like to call the police.

Again, it`s clear who the voices are, right, but that was Ben Jacobs of "The Guardian" newspaper. This happened just tonight. He was apparently physically attacked by the Republican candidate who is running in the Montana congressional election tomorrow.

The candidate`s name is Greg Gianforte. After this incident happened, police were called to the scene. Mr. Gianforte was not arrested at the scene but the reporter, Ben Jacobs, did get taken away by ambulance to a nearby medical center to get checked out.

We believe we are about to have a live interview from the hospital with that reporter, with Ben Jacobs, in just a couple of minutes. You will definitely want to be here for that.

We`ve also got a few more pieces of how this fit together including what appears to be the 911 call, the call to police immediately after it happened. Plus we have a response now from the Gianforte campaign, their version of events. We will get to that and, again, I think we are going to get Ben Jacobs himself live with us in just a moment.

So, that`s all ahead. You will want to be here for that.

Before we can get to that, though, before we get to Ben, let me tell you about some other news we are tracking tonight. For one, we are following that story that Ben Jacobs was trying to ask Greg Gianforte about, for which he was rewarded with broken glasses and a trip to the emergency room. It`s the big policy story in Washington today that he was asking Gianforte about -- the Republican plan to get rid of Obamacare, to kill the Affordable Care Act. That plan got its price tag today from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

You might remember that the assessment, the CBO assessment of the last version of the Republicans` health care bill said that version of the bill would throw 24 million Americans off their health insurance. Well, now, we`ve got the estimate on the newer version of the Republican bill, the one House Republicans already passed a couple weeks ago, and the new estimate says that their new bill will not throw 24 million Americans off their health insurance. It will throw 23 million Americans off -- 23 million Americans off their health insurance instead. So, there`s that.

This is, again, the bill House Republicans already passed before they even got this estimate of how much it would cost the country. The Senate still has not acted on the bill. Now at least they know what it will do to the country if they act on it.

So, we`re looking that, watching the implications and particularly the prospects of whether that means health reform might pass.

Also getting some news from the president and his continued contacts with foreign leaders, although in this case it`s not necessarily the ones he`s visiting on his high-profile overseas trip. The new news about the president and foreign leaders is that the government of the Philippines has now released a transcript of their president talking to President Trump.

Now, we had heard about this conversation before but now some new details. In addition to Trump praising Philippine President Duterte for drug policies, thought to be responsible for the killings of thousands of people, in addition to praising him for a great job on his drug policies, the Filipino transcript, the Philippine government transcript of that conversation also indicates that our president, president of the United States, appears to have decided of had his own accord, once again, to blurt out some fairly highly classified information to a foreign leader.

In this case, he appears to have given Duterte, President Duterte of the Philippines, the location of two U.S. nuclear submarines.

Now, it`s one thing to tell other governments or to make public statements about where our ships are. I mean, oftentimes, that`s not classified and besides, especially a ship as big as an aircraft carrier, you can see them, right? You can -- if you look. But submarines, submarines are sub-marine for a reason. The location of U.S. nuclear subs is classified information that does not get publicized by the Pentagon, except in highly specific and deliberate instances.

In this case, it was disclosed to the president of the Philippines apparently just because the president was on the phone with him. So there`s that.

Also tonight, CNN is reporting on the latest Russia trouble for the attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Jeff Sessions, of course, was a key member of the Donald Trump for president campaign. He was the earliest and for a long time the only endorser of Donald Trump for president in the United States Senate. We now know thanks to reporting from "The Washington Post" that while Jeff Sessions was working on the Trump campaign, he took at least two meetings with the Russian government. He took at least two meetings with the Russian ambassador.

Now, at Jeff Sessions` confirmation hearing, he was asked directly if he had contact with Russian officials during the campaign. Jeff Sessions said, no, he hadn`t. Only after "The Washington Post" reported on Sessions having those multiple Russian meetings did Sessions go back and retroactively change the answers he had given to the Senate.

But now, after that, CNN reports that when Jeff Sessions applied for his security clearance, once again he didn`t disclose his Russian meetings.

Now, the Department of Justice spokesperson is basically saying this is all just a big misunderstanding. But if CNN`s reporting bears out here, that would mean we have their national security adviser Mike Flynn on his security clearance application not disclosing his multiple meetings with Russian officials. It would mean we`ve also got senior presidential adviser and favored son-in-law Jared Kushner also on his security clearance application, also not disclosing is multiple meetings with Russian officials.

And now, in addition to that, we`ve got the sitting attorney general of the United States on his security clearance application not disclosing his multiple meetings with Russian officials. Why this pattern?

Also, "The New York Times" reports tonight that U.S. intelligence agencies last summer received information about, quote, senior Russian intelligence and political officials discussing top Trump aides Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort. These top Russian officials essentially bragging about their links to Flynn and Manafort in talking about exerting influence over then presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Now, this report on the front page of "The New York Times" tonight, it follows CNN reporting from a few days ago about Russian officials being heard on intercepted phone calls bragging about their ties to Mike Flynn specifically. Now, "The Times" report tonight expands that to include both Flynn and Manafort although they don`t say if these Russian communications that the U.S. intelligence community got access to were intercepted phone calls or something else. In fact, "The Times", if you read it closely, isn`t even saying directly that U.S. agencies did this surveillance directly themselves.

There`s also another piece of this that came into focus in a strange way. A week after the inauguration, and we now know it was the day before Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, went up to the White House to warn the White House that the Justice Department believed the new national security adviser was compromised by the Russians, the day before Sally Yates went up with that blockbuster warning about Mike Flynn, which the White House had no reaction to for 18 days, the day before she went up to the White House , this strange and sort of low-profile story appeared on the inside pages of the "New York Times."

Top Russian cyber crimes agent arrested on charge of treason. Now, we had also picked this up it at the time from some Russian news sources, but "The Times" when they did their reporting, they added a lot to our understanding of it, and it was just a fascinating thing. This was reported, again, in late January, but the thing that happened they`re reporting on happened the month before in December and it was quite dramatic. In December, there had been a high-level meeting at the FSB, the Russian spy service that used to be the KGB.

It was an FSB meeting of basically their cyber unit, what they called their information security department. And at that meeting, at the FSB, apparently, officers burst into the room, grabbed the deputy chief of the information security department at the FSB. They threw a bag over his head and they dragged him out of the room in front of everybody else.

This is a very senior FSB officer in the cyber unit getting bagged and dragged out of a meeting at the FSB and there was no reporting about it at all in Russia or here for a few weeks. But then the following month we did find out about it when we found out he was being charged with treason.

"The New York Times" called it one of the highest profile detentions for treason within the FSB since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Intriguing story, weird story when it happened. It was reported and discussed here in the United States first because it`s like a big John Le Carre deal, right, when a senior FSB officer gets his head bagged and gets dragged out of a room at the FSB, right? That`s just a big deal.

But it also got traction and got discussed here specifically because that unit of the FSB whose deputy chief was arrested in that way his FSB unit was implicated by U.S. intelligence agencies in the attack on the U.S. presidential election last year. His unit is one of the Russian government entities that was named by the U.S. intelligence community as having carried out the attack on our election. And then he gets arrested for treason, for helping or providing information to a foreign power against Russia`s interests.

And that arrest also came as U.S. intelligence agencies started collecting information on that Russian attack that his unit was part of. That arrest also happened as that unconfirmed dossier of supposed dirt that the Russians had on Donald Trump started to circulate. We`re still describing it as an unconfirmed dossier although some things have been borne out by subsequent reporting, which means that Christopher Steele, the MI-6 agent in the U.K. who put that together had sources inside Russia or connected to Russia who were feeding him true information about what Russia was doing to attack our election.

So when people get arrested and charged with treason in Russia, not surprisingly, they tend to disappear. So, we don`t know much more about the case even now since that first report surfaced in January.

But today, another piece of that story suddenly got lit up because there was another person who was arrested in Russia at the same time as that top FSB official, the guy who got the bag over his head and dragged out of the meeting and charged with treason. There was another person arrested at the same time. According to "The New York Times", it was, quote, one of Russia`s leading private sector cyber security experts, the head of computer incident response investigations at a company called Kaspersky Labs.

Kaspersky Labs, you`ve heard that name before. They are well known computer that sells tons of consumer friendly antivirus software in the United States. Millions of Americans used it.

But Kaspersky Labs is a company that is based in Moscow. They have faced persistent questions about their links to the Russian government and Russian intelligence. The head of Kaspersky Labs says he has nothing to do with the Russian government and nothing to do with Russian intelligence, but those questions have persisted and U.S. intelligence officials have been outspoken about their suspicions about Kaspersky Labs and their links to the Russian government.

Back in January, we learned that a top guy from Kaspersky Labs was arrested in Russia, alongside the deputy chief of the FSB unit that was implicated in the attack on our election.

Then in March, Congressman Elijah Cummings in the House Oversight Committee released information that Mike Flynn, Trump`s national security adviser, had not just been paid by RT, by Russian state-run television. Mike Flynn had also been paid by speaking gigs by a Russian cargo plane company and also by Kaspersky Labs.

And now tonight, ABC News reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee met behind closed doors today in classified session for a briefing from top FBI and Homeland Security officials on Kaspersky Labs.

So, we`re following these threads. The Senate Intelligence Committee got a closed door briefing today on a Russian firm that is linked to Mike Flynn that is also linked to that mysterious treason arrest at the FSB right after our election.

That`s -- those are the dots. I do not know what the connections are between the dots or if there are any, but this is one of those nights things are sort of moving fast. We are following a bunch of different news stories tonight.

I`m going to take a break right now because we are hoping to check in with Ben Jacobs, with "The Guardian" newspaper reporter who says he was physically attacked by the Republican candidate for that Montana congressional seat tonight where the election is tomorrow. Ben Jacobs was taken from the scene of the alleged attack by ambulance to a nearby medical center, and we`re going to have more on that story next, including what we hope will be an interview with Ben Jacobs.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: I have covered a lot of weird things in politics particularly in state-level politics. This is one of the strangest election eves I`ve ever been part of covering, though.

We are following the special election in Montana for that state`s lone congressional seat. Montana voters tomorrow will choose a replacement for former Congressman Ryan Zinke, who got named secretary of the interior under the new administration.

Now, Montana is a big state but there aren`t that many people in it. So, the whole state is one big congressional district. This is a race for a seat in the House of Representatives where the whole state gets to vote in this election.

And this race to replace Ryan Zinke is between the Republican candidate on the left side of your screen, Greg Gianforte, and the Democratic candidate on the right side of your screen, Rob Quist.

And before tonight, you might have said both candidates have issues of different kinds. They`ve each had their share of some embarrassing headlines. The campaign has been interesting to watch. Both parties have thrown considerable amount of money into this race, and we were sort of planning on covering those elements of the race tonight. But what`s just happened tonight on Montana on the eve of the special election is at a whole other level.

Earlier this evening, but not that long ago, a reporter for "The Guardian" newspaper, Ben Jacobs, just after 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, he posted this, quote: Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses.

And then a little while later, "The Guardian" newspaper which Ben Jacobs works for, they posted audio of what happened. Here it is.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JACOBS: -- the CBO score. Because, you know, you`ve been waiting to make your decision about health care until you saw the bill, and it just came out --

GIANFORTE: We`ll talk to you about that later.

JACOBS: Yeah, but there`s not going to be time. I`m just curious --

GIANFORTE: OK, speak with Shane, please.

JACOBS: But, you got to --

GIANFORTE: I`m sick and tired of you guys! The last guy that came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here!

JACOBS: Jesus!

GIANFORTE: get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing. You with "The Guardian"?

JACOBS: Yes, and you just broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: The last guy did the same damn thing.

JACOBS: You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here.

JACOBS: You`d like me to get the hell out of here? I`d also like to call the police. Can I get you guys` names?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you got to leave.

JACOBS: He just body-slammed me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to leave.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: The reporter`s instinct there, turning to the other people in the room who just presumably saw what happened, can I get your names? And they forced him out of the room.

I also like him saying you`d like me to get the hell out of here, I would like to call the police. Well, after the incident, the police were called. Reporter Ben Jacobs apparently went to a local hospital where we are told he is getting x-rays on his elbow.

We do know an ambulance arrived at the scene. We do know that medics examined Ben Jacobs there.

We`ve also just gotten in the dispatch audio from the county sheriff.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DISPATCHER: -- assault --

DISPATCHER: It`s right in the area of 228 Discovery Drive. RP states that he was just assaulted by Greg Gianforte. States Greg body slammed him and kicked his arm. RP has the recording it. Break.

We`re sending medical to the RP. His name is Ben Jacobs.

DISPATCHER: Stage for law enforcement for an assault.

Stage for law enforcement for an assault.

FIRST RESPONDER: I`m on scene for staged law enforcement at 212 Discovery.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: We`re sending medical to the RP. The RP in the case is the reporting party, meaning this is the person who called it in.

This is -- this is -- dispatch audio for the local police being called to the scene and trying to get the interview with the person who`s been x- rayed at the local -- this is not the way we usually spend the eve of an election in this country. I mean, allegations of a politician assaulting a reporter are not how we do politics anywhere in America.

Within the past few minutes the Greg Gianforte campaign has released a statement with their version of what happened. I`m just going to read it to you in full.

Quote: Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, "The Guardian`s" Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg`s face and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg`s wrist and spun away from Greg pushing them both to the ground.

It is unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer barbecue.

That is the statement tonight from the campaign for Greg Gianforte, Republican for Congress in Montana, apparently from the statement alleging that he was assaulted by Ben Jacobs, by the reporter.

As I said we are trying to get Ben Jacobs on the line from the hospital. We believe that he is being x-rayed right now or that he has just been x- rayed and I`m not going to bring him on the air with us.

But he did call my dear colleague Chris Hayes from the hospital at a time not that long ago and explained in his words what happened from his perspective. We have that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. Right now, we have Ben Jacobs. That`s "The Guardian" reporter in Bozeman, Montana, who has been covering the congressional race that is set to have an election tomorrow, who says he was body slammed tonight by the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte.

Ben, are you there?

BEN JACOBS, REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN (via telephone): I`m here. Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Are you OK?

JACOBS: I`m going to get my elbow checked out. I landed on my elbow, and it`s not -- it`s less than comfortable. I`m making sure that it`s OK because I`m one-handed typing right now.

HAYES: Can you -- so you were at this event. It was at a campaign stop with volunteers. And there was a room that the candidate was in. He was going to do a TV interview. Take us through what happened.

JACOBS: So that he was doing a TV interview, and I`d been pressing the campaign for a few days to sort of grab Gianforte one-on-one. And they told me that they decided in the past they weren`t. And I just want to -- I figured he was standing around there and just to reach out and get his response to the CBO score that he had been talking about that he`d been holding off his opinion on health care, we understand, until he saw the CBO score.

But went up and asked him about it and sort of said -- you know, tried to - - he said, talk to my communications person, I just followed up and said, you know, you`ve been talking about this. Just wanted to get your response.

And then he sort of said, no, I`ve had enough. And next thing I know, I`m being body slammed. And he -- you know, he`s on top of me for a second. My glasses are broken. It`s the strangest -- the strangest moment in my entire life reporting.

HAYES: Does he scream and raise his voice while he does it, or he just body slams you?

JACOBS: I mean, the audio said that he sort of, talk to my communications person. I said (ph), just a follow-up, and he grabs my recorder, and the audio should be up right now on "The Guardian".

And, yes, throws me down. My glasses break. He sort of, I think -- I`m pretty sure he`s on top of me wailing for a second, and then screams at me to get the hell out. And then his staffer comes in and it`s just very strange and mortifying because, you know, I`m used to -- I don`t mind being blown off by politicians, and I also am always terribly uncomfortable being part of a story. And now, it seems like I became the story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Ben Jacobs, reporter for "The Guardian," speaking with colleague Chris Hayes not long ago this evening after he says he was body slammed by the Republican candidate who is running for Congress in Montana.

I will tell you, in terms of figuring what happened here, obviously, the Gianforte campaign has released a statement here essentially saying that Ben Jacobs was the assaulter here and that he -- what was the phrase they used? That he grabbed Greg by the wrist. He grabbed Greg`s wrist and spun away from Greg pushing them both to the ground. Essentially counter- accusing the reporter of having assaulted the candidate.

The one public witness statement that we have here is from Alexis Levinson, who is a reporter for "BuzzFeed News", who was also covering this event that Ben Jacobs was covering and what she described on Twitter, she says this happened behind a half closed door so I did not see it all. But here is what it looked like. Ben walked no a room where a local it TV room was set up for Gianforte. All of a sudden, I heard a joined crash and saw Ben`s feet fly in the air as he hit the floor, heard very angry yelling, as did all the volunteers in the room, sounded like Gianforte.

So, we`re expecting that the sheriff`s department may make further statements about this tonight. We expect the people of Montana will probably make a statement about it tomorrow. I mean, up until now, the Montana special election for this congressional seat had been considered kind of a tossup which is remarkable.

Montana hasn`t sent a Democrat to Congress since the late `90s. Montana is notoriously difficult to poll. Donald Trump winning the state by 20 points. What does that mean for a congressional election that comes thereafter? We don`t know.

Coming into this election eve, the outcome had already been anybody`s guess. But what happens now with police involved, with an ambulance ride involved, with a reporter being x-rayed for injuries with broken glasses, with witness statements about what happened -- I mean, how this plays with the voters, who knows? And what this does to our politics, we`ll see.

Polls start opening in Montana tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. local time. We will keep you posted.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So we`re still keeping our eyes on this remarkable turn of events in Montana tonight where they`re prepping for a congressional election tomorrow, and a reporter for "The Guardian" newspaper tonight apparently made an audio recording while the Republican candidate and he got into some sort of physical altercation -- a physical altercation after which the reporter had to go to the hospital for x-rays. He says he was body slammed by the Republican candidate in the race. The Republican candidate has put out a statement saying it went exactly the opposite way.

We will let you know more about that tonight as we learn more, including the physical status of the reporter and whether charges are going to be filed. But if you`re thinking about what might happen in that Montana race tomorrow in terms of its results, that was expected to be that very close race tomorrow, which is interesting enough, there were also two surprise election results just yesterday that you might want to factor into your thinking in terms of the electoral politics part of this.

In the great state of New Hampshire, in Carroll County, which includes the Republican leaning town of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, yesterday, a Democrat defeated the Republican for a seat in the New Hampshire House. The vote was 811-755 which shows you what small scale politics this is.

But according to the town clerk, this was the first time a Democrat was elected to the state house from the town of Wolfeboro since 1913, over a century. So, that was an upset last night in that one special election in New Hampshire.

The same kind of thing happened in Long Island in New York. In the 9th assembly district of New York, a state lawmaker seat. In that special election, a progressive union-backed Democrat beat the conservative candidate, and this is notable because, again, it happened in what is considered to be another heavily Republican seat.

But a Democrat was able to pull off that win. She won that New York assembly seat by 16 points, 58 percent to 42 percent. Yes, these are little races. These are local legislative seats. They are not the most consequential elections in the world except for people who live in those districts.

But you can see Democrats getting super excited about even little elections like that and what the small scale results might portend for bigger elections coming up like, say, the congressional race, which is a statewide race, in Montana tomorrow which has just been turned upside-down.

We are living in weird times in more ways and at more levels than one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: The value of the ruble is low against the U.S. dollar. One ruble is a little less than two pennies which causes problems if you`re Russian and you`re trying to buy things made in another country. It also poses particular challenges, though, if you need to turn a lot of rubles into a lot of dollars. For example, if you wanted to end up with, like, $10 billion, you`d need to start with 563 billion rubles. That would get you $10 billion U.S. dollars.

And I single out that amount because that`s how much money a group of super rich Russians snuck out of Russia using a major internationally known bank, at least according to U.S. prosecutors. It`s part of a money-laundering scheme 2011 or so, involving Deutsche Bank, a major bank. American federal and state regulators say that what Deutsche Bank did was basically take in money that the Russian clients had obtained through insalubrious means. They took in those ill-gotten rubles and basically helped the Russians wash those rubles through the stock market so what they got on the other side of it were clean U.S. dollars.

Prosecutors say this big bank, Deutsche Bank, helped these Russians move a ton of their dirty money out of Russia, $10 billion worth of money. Now, the bank has already coughed up fines, big fines to the state of New York and to the U.K. because the transactions also went through London. Altogether, Deutsche Bank has paid finds of $630 million for its part in the Russian money laundering scheme.

Today, we learned another shoe may drop for them. "Bloomberg" reports today that Deutsche Bank, in addition to that previous liability, they may be close to settling with the U.S. Federal Reserve, with the Feds, for their role in the Deutsche Bank money laundering scheme. They`re about to make another payout for letting billions of dollars move out of Russia through their bank.

How big a problem is that for Deutsche Bank? And the reason I ask is not because of the fullness of my heart for Deutsche Bank, it`s because of the other brand-new problem that Deutsche Bank just got today. Today, the Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee sent a letter to the head of Deutsche Bank and asked him to fork over to Congress any documents from the bank`s own review of this whole Russian money laundering mess, and they also want information about Deutsche Bank`s dealing with the president of the United States, specifically the $300 million in loans the sitting president still apparently owes back to that bank.

Quote, from their letter: Congress remains in the dark on whether loans Deutsche Bank made to President Trump were guaranteed by the Russian government or were in any way connected to Russia.

I`ve always thought of these things as two different stories, Deutsche Bank having this Russian money laundering problem and Deutsche Bank being the largest known lender to Donald Trump. I`ve never thought about the two stories being the same story.

Are they? How would we know?

I mean, House Democrats alone can`t force Deutsche Bank to turn over anything. They need the Republican colleagues to help them because they`re in the minority.

But why are they asking? Is there any reason to believe those two stories are connected? And are they likely to learn anything this way? How is Deutsche Bank going to respond?

Joining us now is Greg Farrell. He`s the investigative reporter on the legal enforcement team at "Bloomberg News".

Mr. Farrell, I appreciate your reporting tonight.

GREG FARRELL, BLOOMBERG NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Thanks for having me here.

MADDOW: You know this stuff infinitely better. I can barely spell bank.

But am I right to say that the Deutsche Bank Russian money-laundering liability and them being an outstanding lender of considerable size to Donald Trump, those have been seen as very separate issues, haven`t they?

FARRELL: Yes, that`s correct.

MADDOW: The House Democrats seem to be connecting them in their letter. Is that fishing or is there any reason to ask the questions they`re asking?

FARRELL: They`re suggesting it but there`s no evidence right now. The problem for the White House with all of the noise around Russia is that it leads to questions like this being asked, since a number of questions have not been asked thoroughly in other areas of Russia, it sort of opens up the possibility, well, maybe there`s some connection here.

But we don`t have any evidence that there`s any connection between the mirror trading in Russia and the loans made by Deutsche Bank`s private bank a few years ago to then Donald Trump private citizen.

MADDOW: And the mirror trading -- this money laundering scheme, obviously, we`ve seen them settle with the U.K. We`ve seen them settle with New York state authorities.

FARRELL: Yes.

MADDOW: Now it appears they`re settling with --

FARRELL: The Federal Reserve.

MADDOW: Yes. There had been questions, I think -- not so much questions as to more like worries that maybe the federal government under President Donald Trump with his personal debt being held by Deutsche Bank, that maybe there`d be some question as to whether or not they`d continue to be as aggressive with Deutsche Bank as they were before.

Was there any sign any of that changed in the time Trump has been president?

FARRELL: Well, so, this will be a signal case to answer that question, because this is a serious matter. We have serious prosecutors here in Manhattan at the U.S. attorney`s office, as well the main Justice Department has spent a lot of time and energy on this. So, I think after whatever decision they come to will tell a lot about how serious they`re taking this.

MADDOW: How big is this -- the mirror trading, the Russian money laundering, liability for Deutsche Bank? Is this an existential challenge for the bank? Is this something they`re looking at potentially crippling penalties?

FARRELL: About a year ago, a year and a half ago one might have thought that. But I don`t think so now. I have no idea because the Feds have been very tightlipped about how they`re doing this but some signals we have are the fines that have arrived already. It`s not as though the New York state regulator asked for $2 billion signaling the Fed -- that the Justice Department might go much higher.

The bank, as we reported today, has had a number of other run-ins with the U.S. regulatory system and at least one deferred prosecution. And it`s within the power of the Justice Department to say, OK, we might tear that up and force you to make a plea in this previous case because of your conduct here. But I don`t see it as existential.

MADDOW: And we`ll know. I guess we`ll know when we know.

FARRELL: Yes, exactly.

MADDOW: We can guess about it before it happens but we`ll know when we know.

Greg Farrell, investigative reporter on the legal enforcement team at "Bloomberg" -- very clarifying. Thank you for being here.

FARRELL: Thank you so much.

MADDOW: Good to have you here, sir.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: There is an increasingly widespread expectation that this new administration for all its problems and concerns, they may be about to send lots more American troops into battle. This administration interestingly early on just stopped announcing their new deployments into Iraq and Syria. Then they announced the White House would basically stop deciding about deployments and just let the Pentagon do what it wants.

The war in Afghanistan may be getting thousands more American troops anytime soon. Already, we are seeing new deployments back to parts of Afghanistan that Americans fought in years ago but they haven`t fought in since. As the marines went back into Helmand Province a couple weeks ago, this was the headline in "The Guardian," quote: It feels like Groundhog Day.

I think the American people have a lot of bandwidth right now for paying attention to this administration and particularly where this administration is going wrong. At the point they`re not just going wrong in Washington, I think it remains an open question whether we have the bandwidth as a country to stay up on, to focus on, to even fight amongst ourselves about when they`re going wrong involving the military, when they are going wrong involving national security, when they are going wrong about sending young men and women into harm`s way.

One pressing question about that right now is, can the movies maybe help with that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, listen up. This is going to be tough. I`m not going to mince words about this. This will be tough.

This will probably be the toughest mission that any of you will all experience. This is the real deal. Marjah is Taliban ground zero.

This is going to be IEDs everywhere. This is going to be their best guys, and they`re going to be prepared.

They know we`re coming, gentlemen. They`ve known we`re coming for weeks. So, don`t be under any illusion. This will get ugly.

We`re going to lose, guys. I am not going to lie to you about that. There will be casualties.

But if you keep your wits about you, if you have faith in your ability, if you have faith in the ability of the men next to you, you will come out the tail end of this.

I have faith in you. I know who you are. You are proud members of the toughest (EXPLETIVE DELETED) fighting force this world has ever known.

Carry that knowledge with you. Carry it with pride. Do you understand me?

SOLDIERS: Hoorah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand me?

SOLDIERS: Hoorah!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. And any of you so inclined, I`m going to ask this chaplain to say a prayer for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, captain.

Let us pray. Almighty God, as these Marines prepare for battle, we pray that your holy spirit will guide them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That is from a new movie that comes out this week. It`s called "War Machine." You might have heard that Brad Pitt is the lead.

The actor Scoot McNairy plays Michael Hastings. In 2010, journalist Michael Hastings published a profile in "Rolling Stone" magazine of General Stanley McChrystal, who was then the commanding U.S. general in Afghanistan, and famously, Michael`s profile of General McChrystal ended McChrystal`s military career.

That profile eventually became a book. That book became this new movie, which launches on Netflix on Friday. And Michael Hastings did not live to see it. He died in 2013.

But Michael was a friend of mine. He was a transient critic of the counterinsurgency doctrine that kept the war in Afghanistan going for so long. And now, maybe his work and Brad freaking Pitt is the one thing that can get the country talking and fighting about the Afghanistan war again as this truly unimaginable new commander-in-chief apparently is trying to start it back up again with gusto.

Joining us now is a woman who was married to the late Michael Hastings, my friend Elise Jordan.

Elise, it`s great to see you.

ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: I picked that clip because I found it riveting, but also I think one of the things that has been lost as people started to hear about the film is that it`s very pro-soldier. It`s very pro-people fighting this war, to the point where it really dwells on difficult conversations and confrontations between troops on the ground and military leaders, and difficult conversations between military leaders and civilian leaders.

Reading Michael`s book, knowing how he approached this, seeing the movie, it makes me feel like we are so far from being able to do that as a country, to have those hard conversations. Do you feel that way?

JORDAN: Well, what I am just so shocked about is that it`s 2017, and this book came out in 2012. The original story was published in 2010. And we literally are having the exact same debate over again that more troops in Afghanistan will bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

The Taliban didn`t come to the negotiating table when there were 100,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan. I don`t think another five or six are going to change the tide. That was what this book and the film is about, just the hubris that goes into a lot of these wars in thinking that we can control something militarily without -- in incomplete absence of a broader strategy.

Right now, I think that`s what we`re seeing with President Trump`s strategy. It`s just the continued militarization of American foreign policy, without an ambassador in Afghanistan these days. Yet we might add more troops.

MADDOW: And the movie ends obviously Michael`s book and his reporting was about very much making all of the different personalities, at all these different levels the decision tree, making them leap off the page and make you learn something about this you never thought you would know.

But there is the overall structural thing here, which is that this is the longest war in American this. There has been Americans killing and dying in Afghanistan since 2001, and this debate about whether marginal new numbers are going to somehow turn things around. It feels to me like a specialist debate. It`s like for people who are involved in high level foreign policy discussions rather than anybody for Congress feeling like they didn`t need to compete on those grounds.

That`s the part of it that`s getting worse, not better over time.

JORDAN: Well, just the common sense element of, hey, let`s look at what we`re doing here. Maybe if we`re reinventing the wheel every year, and literally a new group of people comes in every year, the, you know, transfer, deployments. And if results stay the same, maybe we should reevaluate what we`re doing.

And why with the original profile, Michael was interested in how everyone in this rarefied world of media and national security, they knew the ambassador and the general couldn`t stand each other. They knew there was so much dysfunction at the high levels of the war. And yet, we expect these men and women go out to Helmand and practice counterinsurgency and to do the absolute impossible.

And so, he wanted to write about it. There`s such a disconnect between the upper echelons that are supposed to be navigating this war that how can we expect to have a result that is worth sending young American men and women to die for.

MADDOW: Yes.

JORDAN: And I think that`s the thing that the movie hits so -- it hits it very well, and also Michael`s humor comes out, too. Just because you can`t look at what has happened and not notice just the complete absurdity that surrounds these war zones and how we go about creating mini Americas over there.

MADDOW: Elise Jordan, thank you for shepherding this through so that it gets to happen. I mean, when Michael died, one of the things that happened you inherited his legacy and how we would all continue to live it and continue to learn from him, which I know has not been the easiest thing in your life. So thank you for doing that.

JORDAN: Thank you for having me, Rachel. Thanks for being a supporter.

MADDOW: All right.

Elise Jordan is my guest. The movie is called "War Machine." It launches on Netflix on Friday. Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Tilda Swinton, Ben Kingsley, who is astonishing. You should watch it. "War Machine."

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So we are awaiting a live press conference. It`s scheduled for the next hour from the county sheriff in Montana, the Gallatin County sheriff is expected to provide more details on this bizarre incident tonight in Montana between a reporter and the Republican candidate for Montana`s lone congressional seat, a candidate in a election that`s due to be held tomorrow.

The reporter for "The Guardian" newspaper, Ben Jacobs, tonight, made an audio recording of his interactions with Republican candidate Greg Gianforte while clearly some physical altercation took place between them.

Now the reporter said consistently that he was body slammed by the Republican candidate. An account from another reporter who partially witnessed the incident would seem at least to back him up on that. But the candidate put out a statement tonight saying no, basically that he was assaulted by the reporter.

So this is a bizarre turn for the night before that big election. The county sheriff there is going to be holding a press conference in that incident very soon. MSNBC will keep you updated tonight as we learn more.

But that does it for us. We`ll see you again tomorrow.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD."

Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening, Ari.

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