Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: July 14, 2017 Guest: Michael Carpenter
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: Yes, they want health care. Yes, they want tax reform. But are they willing to go against what they claim, you know, is the backbone of U.S. democracy and all of these institutions that they claim that they revere?
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: Spoiler alert: no. Sabrina Siddiqui and Michael Steele, thank you. That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Happy Friday, my friend. Hope you have a great weekend.
HAYES: Thank you. You too.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday to you as well.
Also, I`m sorry. You may have been expecting to see Richard Engel right now. If so, I am sorry that I am not him. I am nowhere near as accomplished nor as compelling nor as handsome as he is.
But the good news is even though I`m not Richard Engel, Richard Engel is on MSNBC tonight. I am taking over his hour but I am not taking over for him altogether. "RICHARD ENGEL ON ASSIGNMENT" is going to be here on MSNBC live at the end of this hour, starting at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
I know a little bit about what Richard is going to be reporting on tonight. It is freaking compelling stuff. So, you should definitely plan to stick around for that. That`s going to be right after my hour. I`m here 9:00 Eastern tonight. Richard Engel is at 10:00 Eastern tonight. Then after Richard Engel, Brian Williams is going to be here live tonight at 11:00 Eastern.
So settle in. We`ve got a big night ahead.
I also want to tell you that tonight, this hour, we`ve got somebody here for the interview that I am very, very happy to have landed. He was the deputy director of the Russia office at the State Department for years. He was the senior director for Russia at the National Security Council for years. He was the senior person at the Pentagon on Russia for years.
He has stuff to tell us, and he is going to be here tonight for the interview. I`m really looking forward to that.
But there`s a bunch going on tonight. A lot of news has broken in the last 24 hours, so let`s get right to it.
The 2014 winter Olympics were held in Sochi in Russia. That was controversial, of course, because of all the things that are controversial about Russia under Vladimir Putin. You might remember that right before the Sochi Olympics, just a few weeks before the opening ceremonies, Vladimir Putin made what was widely seen as basically a concession to his international critics and his human rights critics, trying to take some of the heat off of Russia for hosting these Olympics. People were very upset about their human rights record, their domestic oppression, their international aggression, tried to take some of the heat off that.
Just a few weeks before the Olympics started, Putin released some of the political prisoners who he was holding in Russian prisons. And among the most high-profile prisoners who Putin released right before the Sochi Olympics was a feminist punk bad called Pussy Riot.
And I am such a prude. I still find it embarrassing to say the name. But that is the name of the band. The thing they were focus famous for when they were released right before the Sochi Olympics and also ostensibly the thing they went to prison for was what they called punk prayer.
It was basically a performance art piece. It happened in a church. It was very provocative in Russia. It was directly critical of Vladimir Putin. And so, the leaders of the band Pussy Riot were held in prison for 21 months before Putin released them ahead of the Sochi Olympics, right before the Olympics.
So last year in February, February 2016, not all the members of the band, but some of the members of the band created a song and a music video that is the performance they are second most known for after the punk prayer that got them thrown in prison. This is the video they released last year, February. It`s very well done. I don`t speak Russian, so I`m not sure I totally get all of the lyrics, but I have to say I kind of like the song as well.
This is the video for a song from Pussy Riot called "Chaika". And one of the things that happens in the video, the singer who is sort of the hero of the music video, one of the things she does repeatedly through the video is she makes this symbol of crossing her hands over her chest. A lot of the other people in the video do that.
Now, as I understand it, what that symbol means in context is that it`s supposed to be wings, bird wings. It`s actually supposed to signify a seagull because that`s what the word chaika, which is the title of the song -- chaika in Russian means -- is seagull.
That physical gesture of crossing your hands over your chest like that, that has come to be seen as a symbol for top-level corruption in Vladimir Putin`s government because the word chaika means seagull, and the word chaika is also the last name of Uri Chaika, who is this guy, the top federal prosecutor in all of Russia, who was handpicked for that job by Vladimir Putin. Yuri Chaika.
And you`re probably getting the idea from the Pussy Riot video, which again it`s for a song called "Chaika", that one of the things the criminal justice system under Yuri Chaika is known for in Russia is arresting and prosecuting enemies of Vladimir Putin and torturing people and killing people and disappearing people in Russian prisons. So, that`s part of what this is about, part of the criminal justice system and how Putin has used it in Russia and this artistic criticism of that.
The reason that Yuri Chaika is not just a symbol of brutality, though, the reason he is also a symbol of corruption, the reason that crossed hands wings thing has become a symbol of corruption is largely because of an expose done by Alexei Navalny. We`ve talked about him numerous times on this show.
He`s the most visible opposition figure in Russia. He plans to run for president next year against Vladimir Putin although Putin`s government says they`re going to ban him from the ballot and not let him return. Alexei Navalny himself is just getting out of prison now ensuing from the last round of major protests in his movement organized against Putin in cities across Russia last month.
Navalny`s anti-corruption group produced a long video, basically a documentary about Yuri Chaika, about the federal prosecutor in Russia last year. An English language version of it came out in January last year. They produced a Russian language version of it before that.
And the accusations in that documentary were that Yuri Chaika, in addition to being the top prosecutor in Putin`s brutal government, the main allegation of this video about Chaika was that in addition to that, he and his family and he and his cronies have somehow also managed to amass massive wealth and a huge business empire, including a luxury spa hotel in Greece and gigantic salt mines in Russia and all these other things that you wouldn`t think he`d be able to afford on his prosecutor`s salary.
Yuri Chaika, one of the most high-profile, hated, and feared members of the Putin government, hand-picked for the prosecutor position by Putin himself. Yuri Chaika is also now, I think, the most pronounceable Russian name in this week`s torrent of astonishing news about the Trump campaign and the Trump family. Tuesday morning this week is when President Trump`s eldest son released an e-mail chain that led up to a previously undisclosed meeting in Trump Tower during the campaign, a meeting that has now blown up into a major problem for the Trump White House.
Remember the initial e-mail in that chain referenced a prosecutor, right? This is an e-mail from a British guy, Rob Goldstone, to Donald Trump Jr. on June 3rd of last year. They are acquaintances. Rob Goldstone has done a lot of work in Russia although he is a British guy. Rob Goldstone sends this first e-mail to Donald J. Trump Jr. to start that chain of correspondence that leads to the meeting.
His e-mail says: Good morning. Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting. The crown prosecutor of Russia -- that`s what it says in the e-mail.
Now, everybody believes that to be a mistake in title. Maybe he`s getting confused because he`s British, Russia doesn`t have a crown, so they don`t have a crown prosecutor. Instead, they`ve got a prosecutor general, who is Yuri Chaika.
But the e-mail says the crown prosecutor in Russia met with Emin`s father this morning and in their meeting, the prosecutor offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary. This is obviously very high-level and sensitive information, but it`s part of Russia, and its government support for Mr. Trump. What do you think is the best way to handle this information?
And that is the e-mail that led to this meeting at Trump Tower during the campaign that has been the subject of so much focus this week and so much freak-out at the White House.
Part of the reason that meeting is attracting so much attention and has continued to over the course of this whole week is that nobody is coming right out and saying what happened. For some reason, they won`t just explain what happened and who was there, right? Initial reports were that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower last year. Then the next reports were that he met with a Russian lawyer to get information that he was told explicitly originated with the Russian government.
Then, we got a statement from Donald Trump Jr. saying, yes, he did take a meeting at Trump tower last year with this lawyer, but it was actually a meeting about adoptions mostly. Then, we got a subsequent statement from Donald Trump Jr. saying, OK, actually it was to get derogatory information about Hillary Clinton.
Then, we got the e-mail chain which clarified that it was definitely a meeting wither they tried to get derogatory information from Hillary Clinton that was not only explicitly identified as coming from the Russian government, but it was going to be delivered to Trump Tower by what was described in the e-mails as a Russian government attorney.
And then we learned that it wasn`t just Donald Trump Jr. Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were at that meeting too, and they too had been notified this was a Russian government attorney coming to meet with them, bringing derogatory information that came from the Russian government. And then we learned it was not just all of them and the Russian government attorney.
Today, we learned the group also included this guy, who NBC News first identified as a former soviet counterintelligence officer suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence. He was there too.
Despite all of these days of reporting and statements and admissions about this meeting, the presence of this guy, this former Russian military intelligence guy, the presence of this guy at the meeting was somehow left out of all of the earlier disclosures and we only found out about that today, thanks to NBC.
In addition to him, there was also reportedly a translator there, who is a relatively well known person himself. I expect you`ll see a bunch of reporting about him and his potential role in this in the days ahead, over the course of the weekend. That would bring the total number of people in the meeting to, let`s see -- Junior, Manafort, Kushner, the lawyer, the ex- counterintelligence guy, the translator. Oh, also on the lower right hand side there, that`s the British guy who wrote the e-mails to Don Jr. in the first place. That brings the total number of people we now know in the meeting to seven.
But CNN is also reporting that actually maybe it was eight, and maybe it was more than eight. CNN is reporting that there was somebody else in the meeting in addition who was there as a representative of the family of this Putin-linked Russian oligarch who initially took the meeting with Yuri Chaika, with the federal prosecutor in the first place that led to this whole thing.
So, we`re now basically waiting to find out if there were any Russians who were in New York that day who were not in that meeting. And if so, is that just because they wouldn`t fit in the elevator. Honestly, like anything else to declare on this?
But despite the way that story has already evolved, almost comic levels of denial and lack of transparency over the course of the week, tonight, "The Wall Street Journal" has reported on something very important about the origins of that meeting. Despite that Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, despite her disputing that she had ever have been described as a Russian government lawyer, despite her insisting and the Trump White House insisting she had no links whatsoever to the Russian government, that she just happened to be a Russian person, those denials I should mention coming from not just her but coming from the White House up to and including the president himself giving that denial.
Can we play that clip for a second?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer but a Russian lawyer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tonight, "The Wall Street Journal" reports that despite those denials coming from everybody up to and including the president himself, this lawyer who went to Trump Tower and met with Trump`s son and Trump`s son-in-law and Trump`s campaign chair last summer along with all those other Russians that she brought with her, despite all of these denials including from the president that she had anything to do with the Russian government, the lawyer herself, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has now conceded to "The Wall Street Journal" that, in fact, she was working with Russian prosecutor general Yuri Chaika on this.
According to "The Wall Street Journal" tonight, Veselnitskaya, quote, said in an interview that she was meeting with Russian authorities regularly, and she shared information with the Russian prosecutor general`s office, including with prosecutor general Yuri Chaika, a top official appointed by the Kremlin. Ms. Veselnitskaya told "The Journal", quote, I personally know the general prosecutor. In the course of my investigation, I shared information with him.
So that meeting with the upper echelons of the Trump campaign in June of last year, today we learned that it also included a former Russian counterintelligence officer who nobody thought to mention before. He also tells "The Associated Press" that he and Natalia Veselnitskaya left documents about Hillary Clinton behind at that meeting for the Trump campaign to continue to review. We didn`t know that before.
We also now know that the Russian lawyer who was sent from Moscow as the emissary to deliver this derogatory information on Hillary Clinton, she now admits that she was working with one of the top officials in Vladimir Putin`s government, the seagull guy, Yuri Chaika, one of the highest ranking officials and most recognizable officials in Putin`s government.
So, one of the things we have learned just over the course of this week, if we didn`t know it before, is don`t listen to what they say. Don`t listen to what they say about their own behavior.
I mean it is interesting to listen to the Trump White House say things because then you can accurately describe the things that they have said. You can quote them. That`s data of a form, right? But it is a mistake to take statements from this White House as an accurate representation of what has happened in the world, of what they did, of who was in a meeting, what a meeting was about or what was said or who was involved or even the number of people in the room.
You can hear them talking. It`s OK to pay attention to the words that they say so you know what they have said. But don`t take it as a representation of what happened in the world. I don`t take pleasure in noting that is true about them, but just -- they freaking earned it now.
Luckily for us as American citizens, as people trying to know what`s going on in our government and trying to figure out what happened to us as a country last year, luckily for us we do have other ways of obtaining information beyond just having to listen to our government, which isn`t proving particularly trustworthy on these matters. Even if you are just, you know, treating the administration like a silent movie and not hearing what they say, there are other ways to look at this and to understand what has been going on, what has happened to our country. Things that don`t get clouded out or occluded by whatever noise they`re making at the White House at the moment.
For example, one of the things we`re going to be talking about tonight is the stack of intelligence reports that have been reported on since the beginning of this scandal. Quietly over the course of this week, we actually got a bunch of new reporting about what our intelligence agencies knew and when they knew it as the Russia attack was unfolding. And, this is not an exhaustive list but just for, for example, we learned this week from "The Wall Street Journal" that intelligence agencies as early as the spring of 2015, so months before Trump ever announced he was running, in the spring of 2015, U.S. intelligence agencies were observing and reporting on a surprisingly large number of meetings between people associated with Donald Trump and Russian government officials.
By one year later, in the spring of 2016, we know also from "The Wall Street Journal" this week that there were reports from European intelligence agencies who alerted their intelligence colleagues in the U.S. that significant amounts of money of Russian origin for some reason appeared to be flooding into the U.S. presidential election. Again, those intelligence reports were from European agencies notifying their U.S. intelligence counterparts that Russian money was coming into our election. Expect to hear a lot more about that particular intelligence in the future. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
In May of 2016, U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly overheard Russian military intelligence officials talking about their plans to disseminate disparaging info about Hillary Clinton in the United States with an eye toward influencing the election.
By July of 2016, former CIA Director John Brennan has said that the CIA had observed enough contacts and interactions between Russian officials and persons involved in the Trump campaign that there were significant CIA concerns about whether those Trump campaign individuals might be wittingly or unwittingly cooperating with the Russians. That was last summer. That is when the CIA formed a working group to assess that information, and they ended up handing it over to the FBI, which was what started the FBI counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
We have also now learned that by sometime around the end of the summer last year, sometime around Labor Day, intelligence reports that had been examined by U.S. investigators showed Russian hackers discussing amongst themselves how to obtain Hillary Clinton`s e-mails with an eye to delivering them to Trump senior adviser Michael Flynn via an intermediary. That last one also from "The Wall Street Journal."
Those are all just intelligence reports that we have now learned about through the press, regardless of what the White House says about them. As those intelligence reports were coming in during the attack, we`re going to be talking tonight about what people who knew what they were looking at, what professionals in this field believed they were seeing as those reports were coming in in real-time.
And so, we`ve sort of said this from the beginning -- silent movie. Do not listen to what they say. There`s plenty to keep up with just in terms of what we can see happening. I mean, just today, Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo, who has had a long business history in Russia, he testified behind closed doors at the House Intelligence Committee. Today, that same committee delayed its planned testimony from another Trump adviser after that adviser went on a talk radio show with Michael Caputo in Upstate New York.
On that talk radio show, he issued a threat to Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, who`s a member of House Intel. The Trump campaign adviser said on the radio about Congressman Swalwell, quote, I think he is a yellow bellied coward. I do not think he`ll show up for the hearing but if he does show, he will regret it for the rest of his life.
After that threat to the congressman, the planned testimony from that Trump campaign adviser was delayed, although we do not know if it was delayed because of the threat to the congressman or if that`s just a coincidence.
On top of all that, Jared Kushner lost his top lawyer today. Jamie Gorelick, who is a very well regarded Democratic lawyer in Washington, she dropped out today of representing Jared Kushner when it comes to matters related to Russia, although she will continue to represent him on other matters.
Also today, "Bloomberg" reported that the president himself may be replacing at the top of his legal team his somewhat troubled personal lead counsel on Russia matters, New York lawyer Marc Kasowitz, who we talked a lot about on this show last night and the night before. Apparently Trump may be considering a new lawyer named Ty Cobb, who will now head up the president`s Russia defense both in the media and on legal issues.
So, there`s a lot happening. There`s a lot going on. There`s also a lot being said, but trust me, it`s all nonsense. What`s going on is moving fast enough that it`s worth focusing on that and not getting distracted by the noise honestly, now more than ever.
We got a lot ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last night, we reported on a new avenue of investigation on the Trump-Russia affair. A new lawsuit filed by a high powered group, a former Obama administration lawyers. They`re suing the Trump campaign for what they allege was the Trump campaign`s participation in the Russian hack of e-mails from the DNC and their subsequent publication online.
Quoting from the lawsuit: on information and belief, defendants, meaning the Trump campaign, entered into an agreement with other parties including agents of Russia to have information that was stolen from the DNC publicly disseminated in a strategic way that would benefit the campaign to elect Mr. Trump as president.
Now, the main reason I think this lawsuit is so important nationally is because if this lawsuit goes ahead, and I think it has a reasonable chance, the discovery process in this lawsuit will allow the lawyers who are arguing this to obtain Trump campaign documents, to depose Trump campaign witnesses under oath. This will become a whole new source of what will eventually be publicly available information about that part of the Russian attack that the lawsuit alleges had Trump campaign cooperation around those DNC documents, totally new avenue of information in this scandal if this thing goes ahead. Super interesting.
Also I should tell you the complaint itself is like a spy novel. It`s like the best cliff notes version ever of the whole scandal from beginning to end. You should read it. It`s like 40 pages double-spaced. You could knock it out over a couple of beers Saturday night. I`m just saying.
But reading this, it has also raised for me one big question. As part of the case that they`re making in this lawsuit, they make one claim that I`m not sure I`ve ever heard before, and it`s very interesting to me. This is what it is.
Quote: on information and belief, Russia`s practice when it engages in cyber attacks related to an election in another country, meaning a country other than Russia, is to partner with aligned parties who are on the ground in that other country. Russia does have extensive experience entering into and extracting information from computer networks, but its modus operandi, its M.O. for interfering in other country`s elections like the 2016 U.S. presidential election is to seek out domestic political operatives who can provide political expertise.
Now, that seems very interesting to me. It`s a claim that I don`t know much about. But "McClatchy" reports this week that that possibility -- the possibility is now under investigation, including by the special counsel, that the Trump campaign digital operation was Russia`s aligned party in this attack, that the Trump campaign digital operation helped Russia in the part of its attack that was targeting the American people with disparaging information and disinformation about Hillary Clinton and the campaign.
I get that that is under investigation, at least according to "McClatchy`s" reporting. I do not get whether or not that feasibly is how this went down, whether that feasibly is how this happened, whether that really is the M.O. of how Russia operates when it does this stuff, that they use domestic confederates. They use aligned forces inside the countries they`re attacking to complete their attack. Is that really what they do?
I want to ask somebody who would know.
Joining us tonight for "The Interview" is Michael Carpenter. He`s now at the Penn Biden Center, but before that, for more than two years, he was deputy director for Russia at the State Department. He also served as the senior director for Russia at the National Security Council and served until January of this year as the deputy assistant security of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
If you recognize him from this show, it`s because Mr. Carpenter was here last night. He was kind enough to agree to come back because I put him on the spot and asked him live on national television with no warning if he would do so.
Mr. Carpenter, I apologize for putting you on the spot last night. Thank you for coming back.
MICHAEL CARPENTER, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE AND EURASIA: Oh, it`s a pleasure to be here. Thanks.
MADDOW: Good. Thank you.
First of all, let me ask you a big question. Part of the reason I wanted you to come back tonight is because I wanted you to be able to spread out a little bit and explain some of what you saw in terms of what you think is most important about it. You were the top Pentagon official on Russia while the Russian attack was happening during the election last year.
Are there things that you saw from that perspective, from that inside perspective that, A, you can talk about in public, but, B, that you think it`s important for Americans to really understand about that attack?
CARPENTER: Yes. So there are things that I saw obviously classified matters that I can`t talk about in public. But what I will say is what I said last night as well. That, you know, I have watched Russian both cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns in a number of other countries from up close and seen all their various details and manifestations -- Ukraine being a prime example.
So, I have seen how the Russians do this, what their M.O. is, as I said yesterday, and you cited the lawsuit. And the lawsuit is absolutely right. I mean, Russia uses local proxies to be able to both target disinformation.
By the way, it also uses people when it can in foreign countries to actually perpetrate the cyber attack. Sometimes that involves using a thumb drive and sticking it into a computer in order to penetrate that system, especially if it`s a closed system. But Russia always tries to use a multi-faceted approach that relies not just on hacking from afar or what is sometimes also called sigent (ph) but also human intelligence, or what`s called humant (ph), in order to corroborate, in order to glean better information, in order to do what it seeks to do.
By the way, you know, one of the things that we failed to mention I think last night but that`s worth saying today is that one of the prime goals of Russia`s intelligence services is to penetrate into foreign political circles. That is the holy grail of Russian foreign intelligence, to be able to get into those networks which aspire to power and then eventually come to power so that they have the influence ultimately to be able to affect policy. That is what they seek.
In the case of the United States, it`s quite obvious what sort of policy changes they seek -- lifting of sanctions being one. But that is their ultimate goal.
So the notion that they would target disinformation from GRU headquarters outside of Moscow and not use assets on the ground, that`s not how they do things.
MADDOW: On that last point in terms of penetrating political networks, this is something that you mentioned last night that I have had a hard time getting my head around sort of until now. I feel like I`m finally starting to get it. There has been this reporting that the Russian cyber attack and Russian sort of in-person -- I don`t know -- contacts have targeted not just things like U.S. elections systems but also think tanks.
And we`ve had information that has been sort of hard to classify about there being Russian interest and sort of Russian penetration in conservative non-government organizations, particularly those that might be influential on the Republican Party. There`s been a lot of reporting about how there`s sort of a new Russian auxiliary in the NRA, for example, where there`s people who have close Russian government ties, who appear to be trying to become part of the U.S. gun rights movement and to mirror one in Russia.
Would you describe that as basically their efforts to -- to seek Russian advantage by pulling the American Republican party in Russia`s direction?
CARPENTER: Absolutely. And there is no doubt -- you know, the case you mentioned is actually a very interesting one. The Russians formed this NGO in Moscow called the Right to Bear Arms. Well, let me tell you for both President Putin and for his inner circle, who all hail from the KGB and its successor agencies, there is nothing that is more anathema to them than the notion that Russian citizens would be armed and that guns would be floating around on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
This was what you might call a honey pot NGO that was designed specifically to lure in conservatives primarily in the United States from the NRA and other organizations that are like-minded, in order to forge relationships that could then be used in the future.
MADDOW: Michael Carpenter is former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, can you stick around for a moment more sir, please?
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back with Michael Carpenter right after this. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re back for more of tonight`s interview with Mike Carpenter, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia. The top Pentagon guy on Russia matters during the 2016 election.
Mr. Carpenter, thank you for staying with us. Appreciate it.
I`m going to read you a list of names and, I`m going to butcher the pronunciation. So I`m sorry in advance. I hope you can still follow the people that I`m talking about.
First name is Konstantin Kilimnik, former Russian military intelligence officer. He was let go from his job working for an American nonprofit in Moscow because of their concerns about his links to Russian intelligence.
Sergey Gorkov, who is a graduate of the Russians` military intelligence school. Gorkov was handpicked by Vladimir Putin to lead one of Russia`s largest state-run banks, VEB, which itself has been linked to a Russian spy ring that operated in the United States. VEB is sanctioned, faces sanctions from the U.S. government.
Also, Viktor Medvedchuk. He`s an oligarch, very personally close to Vladimir Putin. He`s also personally sanctioned by the U.S. government.
And now this week, we`ve got a couple new names to add to the list. Natalia Veselnitskaya, former Russian prosecutor, now says she is working with the Russian prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika. Also, Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Russian military intelligence, now a Russian-American operative and lobbyist who has been lobbying against Russian sanctions, which, of course, is a top priority of the Putin government.
Even before you get to the Russian ambassador who met with all of those people in the Trump campaign, all of those other people that I just listed are known now to have met with or communicated with senior people on the Trump campaign during the campaign or in the case of Sergey Gorkov of VEB, during the transition.
Mr. Carpenter, having worked where you have worked and seen what you have seen, is that list normal? Is that amount of contact by that list of those types of folks -- is that the kind of thing that you would see typically in a U.S. political campaign, or is that very far out of the norm?
CARPENTER: Well, I would say it`s very far out of the norm in the United States. I would say it`s very typical in, say, Ukraine or Georgia or Moldova. You know, I got to say when you read that list of names, the one thing that I kind of laughed about is when I hear former military intelligence officer, I mentally scratch out the former. I mean, you know, that goes without saying.
So, a lot of these individuals are tied to the intelligence services in one way, shape, or form or tied to very powerful people, as you mentioned, the prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika.
MADDOW: Why would -- from your perspective having observed Russia for all of these years in your professional capacity at the State Department, at the NSC, at the Pentagon, why -- why would all of those people be meeting with one -- with one political campaign?
CARPENTER: Well, they`re trying to establish relationships so that they can then influence members of that campaign. Sometimes it`s through the accumulation of kompromat, or compromising material that can then later be used for blackmail. In other cases, it`s through a series of business ties so that some of these individuals will then be sympathetic to the cause that`s being espoused by these Russians. And there`s a whole variety of other tactics that are employed.
By the way, Viktor Medvedchuk is the primary intermediary that Putin uses in Ukraine, on the Ukrainian crisis. I mean, his daughter -- Putin is godfather to his daughter. So, these are people who are all linked, some of them to the inner circle, to Putin himself, and some of them to some of the outer concentric rings around Putin.
MADDOW: One last question for you, Mr. Carpenter, and I thank you for coming back and doing this longer interview with us tonight. I know that you can`t talk about any of the classified material that you`ve ever seen. I listed some of what`s been reported in the press in terms of intelligence reports that have been described to reporters that came out starting as early as early 2015 and that carried on right through the election.
From what you saw in your time in government, on a scale of one to ten, how would you describe how alarmed you are about the scale of the Russian attack and the possibility of American confederacy in that attack?
CARPENTER: Well, I don`t know on the scale of one to ten, but I was alarmed as hell when I first saw it, and I remain incredibly alarmed. And I remain alarmed because of reports that Russians are still probing into U.S. networks. They`re probing into, in fact, networks associated with nuclear power plants, not the actual supervisory control and data acquisition networks but administrative and business networks. They are looking at voter databases.
So, they are gathering the ability to influence not just potentially future elections but also other aspects of our critical infrastructure. And so far, they haven`t really suffered any consequences for what they`ve done. And, you know, if you know anything about Putin, it`s that if there is no cost or consequence to his course of action, he will keep going.
And so, I think we can expect to see more of this action. We`ll obviously see more interference in elections in Germany in the fall and in other countries. But we`ll see more here in the United States as well.
MADDOW: Mike Carpenter, former top Pentagon official on Russia, also former top National Security Council official on Russia and the deputy director on the Russia desk at the State Department -- Mr. Carpenter, thank you very much for coming back tonight. I really appreciate all this time. Thank you.
CARPENTER: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Do you remember Flat Stanley? Flat Stanley is a character in a kids book. He morphed into sort of a pen pal project where you print out Flat Stanley and you color him in, stick him in an envelope and mail him around the world, see where he ends up. So like here`s Flat Stanley at Wrigley Field. Here`s Flat Stanley, yes, with George W. Bush.
I do believe Flat Stanley has also gone to space. You remember Flat Stanley.
This is 3D Rob Portman. He is a Republican senator from Ohio. He`s a real live grown man. You cannot fold Rob Portman and put him in an envelope and stick him through the mail.
I have to tell you, though, we learned tonight that Flat Rob also exists. Flat Rob Portman, and he`s here next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flat Rob has nothing to say. So we are here to make sure that Flat Rob sees this video and takes it to the real Rob Portman because the real Rob Portman needs to answer to all of us. Isn`t that right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right.
What do we want? Health care. When do we want it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flat Rob will not come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Flat Rob.
Since their real life senator refused to meet with them, some of Ohio Senator Rob Portman`s constituents printed out a life-size Flat Rob, ala Flat Stanley. They propped him up outside his downtown office in Toledo, Ohio, and they lied up and told the Kinko`s version of their senator that they want him to vote no on the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare.
Protesters have been hounding their senators at home this week in opposition to the Republican bill.
In Missouri today, about 25 of Senator Roy Blunt`s constituents stood outside his Kansas City office with megaphones. Eventually, one of Senator Blunt`s staffers got dispatched down to meet them. Protesters handed him a stack of mocked up release forms freeing up their senator from his campaign promise to vote to repeal Obamacare.
At Senator James Lankford`s office in Oklahoma City, disability rights activists from Oklahoma staged a protest in Lankford`s lobby. Staffers blocked the protesters from going past the front desk and from recording video. So, they took pictures instead. They told the senator`s staff as far as they were concerned, they were not going to sit around and let the Republican health care plan kill them.
Over in Texas, Congressman Lamar Smith got a visit in his district office from a group of his constituents, including this young woman speaking in the foreground here, who is a cancer survivor. Watch her explain her situation to Lamar Smith`s staffers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I lose this insurance, I don`t have insurance. I will be pre-existing again. That`s terrifying.
One of my best friends two years ago, her life was prolonged because of the health care that was given to her from the Affordable Care Act. She died a horrible death because that`s what cancer does. I held her hand as she took her last breath in hospice, the hospice that was available to her because -- because of the insurance. She would not have died as peaceful as she did or had that extra time with her family and friends if it wasn`t for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s what it`s like in congressional offices around the country right now.
Republicans on the Hill came out with their new and improved version of their Obamacare repeal bill yesterday. It did make some minor tweaks but the bottom line is the same. It takes a blowtorch to Medicaid. Medicaid provides more people with health insurance than any other health insurance provider in this country.
The Republican bill is expected to cause millions of Americans who currently have health insurance to lose not just whatever insurance coverage they`ve got now, but to lose all health insurance altogether.
So far, two Republican senators have come out against the Republican bill, Rand Paul and Susan Collins. They can`t afford any more detections, otherwise, the bill will die. Senator Mitch McConnell is making the senators of his caucus and all of the caucuses skip the beginning of their August recess. He`s keeping all the Republicans in D.C. for basically multi-ball bonus time, so he can have more access to them for back room dealing and arm twisting.
The problem for him, though is there`s a giant boulder rolling toward him on Monday, a new CBO score. A new estimate of exactly how many people will lose all health insurance because of what they`re trying to do. That new CBO score is due on Monday. If as expected it is terrible news, that will presumably only make it harder for him to hold on to his zero-vote margin of error.
Meanwhile, there really is a nationwide ground swell of voters who are expressing their feelings about this bill. And that is only getting louder and bigger, finding new pressure points the longer this fight drags on.
New CBO score expected Monday, maybe Tuesday. Tick tock.
MADDOW: File this under proving the point.
We have been following a very controversial request from Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, who wants your voter information. Kris Kobach, as part of the president a new voter fraud task force thingy, he`s asked every state in the nation to hand over voters` full names, home addresses, dates of birth, political parties, personal Social Security numbers, the works including your voting activity for the past few elections.
He wants that on every voter in the country, which is a little unnerving, right? Everybody in the country who votes gets all that data about themselves handed over to the Trump administration.
Don`t worry, though. Right now, they say they plan to keep all of this voter data, quote, on White House computers, under the direction of a member of Vice President Mike Pence`s staff. Oh, so it will be fine then.
Today, we got a glimpse of how the White House is handling people`s information on this subject. Today, the White House posted a trove of angry e-mails from over the past two weeks about this election commission. It was public comments.
And in posting this trove of e-mails, they did not bother to redact any of the personal information contained in them, including email addresses, work addresses, home addresses, even phone numbers of these people who had the temerity to make public comment.
We asked the White House about that today. They said they warned people that their comments, including any personal information in them might be made public. Thy said they made that warning notice posted in the federal register on July 5th. So, you should have seen it.
But, you know, sorry if you missed that notice in the federal register. Too bad. Now, we`re publishing your phone number.
And don`t worry. All the rest of your personal information that gets sent to the White House, it will be nice and safe and tucked away for you on Mike Pence`s staff lap-a-top (ph). That should be fine, right?
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday, but do not go anywhere because right now it is time for "ON ASSIGNMENT WITH RICHARD ENGEL". Richard is reporting from Erbil, Iraq, tonight.
Richard, I am so glad that we were able to make this happen. Good evening, my friend. It`s good to have you here.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END