Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: September 18, 2017 Guest: Matt Apuzzo, Jim Rutenberg, Mazie Hirono
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
I am -- I am beginning to resent the word bombshell, but it is great-upon metaphor for which we do not have easy substitutions on nights like this.
And tonight, in fact, two new bombshells have just dropped. One is from CNN and one is from "The New York Times".
"The New York Times" reports tonight, just within the last couple hours, that the president`s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has been informed by federal prosecutors they intend to indict him. Again, the president`s campaign manager being told by prosecutors that he will be indicted. We`ll have more on that in a second, including a live interview with one of the "New York Times" reporters that broke that story this evening.
But that story broke within minutes of this report at CNN.com, from lead reporter Evan Perez. According to this new report, the same man, Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has been extensively wiretapped by law enforcement officials both before and after last year`s presidential election. Now, of course, both of these stories broke at like 7:00 tonight, which is -- we have had a joke on our show staff for awhile now, that once you get into like 7:00-ish, it becomes Russia-o`clock once it`s a weeknight. But Russia-o`clock hit with a bunch of bells in toning in the distance.
I`ll tell you, what we had been planning to report as the big news in the Russia investigation tonight before this stuff blew it up, what we thought was going to be the big Russia story tonight was about something called the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which was started by Attorney General Eric Holder during the Obama administration.
Last week, President Trump hosted the prime minister of Malaysia at the White House, given everything else going on, in the news last week. It wasn`t the highest profile story in the world. But that visit by the Malaysia prime minister was notable in terms of corruption and law enforcement and high public officials finding themselves in the crosshairs of U.S. law enforcement, because that Malaysian prime minister is at the center of a gigantic Department of Justice corruption prosecution.
The Department of Justice is trying to recover well over $1 billion in assets, everything from movie rights to private jets, to apartments, to hotels, all things that were purchased with money that was allegedly stolen from the people of Malaysia, from the government of that country. That money was stolen from Malaysia, but it was laundered in the United States by buying stuff in the United States and the Justice Department has been heavily and aggressively involved in this gigantic corruption case to try to get that stuff back.
So, President Trump bringing that prime minister of Malaysia to the White House while that prime minister is in the middle of the gigantic corruption investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. That, of course, was the White House and this president spitting in the eye of the FBI and Justice Department.
But that ends up being important beyond just that insult to American law enforcement because aside from Malaysia, the other known major target of the FBI`s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, the target other than Malaysia is Ukraine, and specifically this guy who is also believed to have looted his country`s treasury for his own benefit and who the FBI has been chasing ever since. Trying to figure out where Victor Yanukovych stashed all of Ukraine`s money and where and how he laundered it and how the stolen money and those assets it`s converted to can be recovered and repatriated and given back to the people of Ukraine, that is a major FBI effort under this kleptocracy initiative started by Eric Holder.
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump`s campaign chairman was, of course, the senior political advisor to that Ukrainian prime minister during his kleptocratic period which the FBI has been investigating for years now. And until about 7:00 tonight, what seemed like the big news in the Russia investigation is that one of the senior prosecutors who had been working on that kleptocracy initiative at the Justice Department, on trying to chase all that money stolen from that government, to chase away it was laundered, to chase the assets that laundered money was used to buy and investment, one of the prosecutors from that kleptocracy initiative is now reported to have left that job at the Justice Department to instead start working for Robert Mueller`s team, the special counsel investigating Trump and Russia.
And if you`re Paul Manafort learning that somebody left the Ukraine kleptocracy job to start working on the Trump Russia job, if you`re Paul Manafort, that`s the kind of news that makes you like bump into walls and accidently tie your shoe laces to each other instead of just tying your shoes.
So, that was a big deal anyway in terms of learn thing about the character of the Mueller investigation, that they picked up that prosecutor from that part of the Justice Department`s work with the particular history looking at the Ukraine stuff that Manafort was all up in.
Well, now, this new reporting from CNN not only underscores the importance of that, it takes it a whole new level of concern both for Paul Manafort and for the White House. According to the CNN report tonight, Paul Manafort was the subject of a FISA warrant, which is a secret national security court warrant, that allowed the FBI to start listening in on Manafort as of 2014. That surveillance, that FISA order that supported that surveillance, those were based on the Ukraine thing, based on the work that Manafort did in Ukraine for that kleptocratic dictator who he ran campaigns for. So, the FBI had him under surveillance starting in 2014 reportedly because of the stolen assets in Ukraine, and the fact that the FBI is working on that story.
This kleptocracy money laundering probe, like the one they`ve got against the Malaysian prime minister, they also had against the deposed Ukrainian dictator that Manafort worked for. That`s why they were listening in on him. That also tells you something about how much they already knew about Paul Manafort before Manafort became Trump`s campaign chairman. How much they knew about him, his previous work in the former Soviet Union and his money right? They were already deep into Paul Manafort before the campaign started. And that surveillance on him starting in 2014 was obviously totally unrelated to his work on the Trump campaign.
Now, according to CNN, at some point last year, that surveillance on the Ukraine stuff stopped, petered out. FBI no longer had the evidence to be able to convince a court that they ought to be able to continue to listen in on Paul Manafort talking about matters involving money looted out of Ukraine.
So, the surveillance some point in 2016 stopped. But then we also know last year, the FBI started a new investigation that you have that heard of, related to the Russian attack on last year`s presidential election, to try to influence the election in Donald Trump`s favor and also the FBI`s investigation, which started last summer into whether or not the Trump campaign or Trump associates might have somehow been in cahoots with that Russian attack.
Remember, the origin story for how that investigation started. Former CIA Director John Brennan testified in Congress this year that last summer, when he was running the CIA, he and the CIA saw something in the course of their spying, in the course of their intelligence collection that gave them reason to worry that people associated with the Trump campaign might be in league with the Russian government as the Russians were attacking our election.
So, the CIA last summer saw something that concerned them. That CIA concern led to the creation of an inner agency working group and that is what ultimately led to the FBI counterintelligence investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. That is the counter intelligence investigation and to whether or not the Trump colluded with Russia. That is the counterintelligence investigation and now criminal investigation that has today become the Robert Mueller special inquiry. That`s how we got here, but it all started last summer.
And according to this new report from CNN tonight, sometime after June of last year, so, roughly in the same time frame of when the CIA was convening this task force that led to the Russia investigation, sometime after June last year, even though the FBI by that point had stopped surveilling Paul Manafort about the Ukraine stuff, sometime after June last year, the FBI went back to the FISA court again and got a new FISA court order to once again start surveilling Paul Manafort.
And this time, it wasn`t about Ukraine, necessarily. This time it was about Russia and their attack on the presidential election. And this was the part that`s going to turn everything upside down in Washington tonight.
The surveillance on Paul Manafort under the second FISA court order, quote, continued into early this year including a period when Paul Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump. According to three sources familiar with the investigation, some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among the investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign.
Now, the sourcing here is important. Again, CNN is describing three sources familiar with the investigation as saying when the FBI was listening in on Manafort, what they heard were communications that sparked concerns that Manafort was encouraging the Russians to help with the campaign.
But CNN then goes on to qualify it. So, they say they got three sources but then go on to say that two of the three sources who say these communications included the possibility that Manafort encouraged the Russians, two of the three sources then cautioned that the evidence on that was not conclusive.
OK. So, one source says it was, two sources say it wasn`t, but they all agreed there was something about cooperating with the Russians, encouraging the Russians.
This period of surveillance on Manafort does include time, we`re told, when Manafort was known to be in communication with President Trump once President Trump was president. According to CNN, quote, it is unclear whether Trump himself was picked up on surveillance.
So, we have known already that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was under intense pressure from prosecutors. If this new reporting tonight is correct, we now know quite a bit more about why he was under such intense pressure and how that is being made manifest. It now seems clear from multiple sources, though, including this new reporting tonight, that a lot of what they got to work with against Paul Manafort, specifically on the Russia issue isn`t stuff that they need somebody to confess to, necessarily.
It`s not stuff they need witnesses to describe or corroborate. It now sounds like a lot of what they have got about Paul Manafort on the Russia thing is on tape. It`s stuff that they captured on intelligence intercepts.
Remember, CIA Director John Brennan, if he was correct when he testified to Congress that it was CIA interest that sparked the initial criminal and counterintelligence inquiry into what was going on with Russia in the election and Russia in the Trump campaign, well, the CIA doesn`t monitor Americans. They spy on foreigners. So, that means that the CIA first picked up on these concerns because they were seeing something in their international surveillance and spying that made them worry about the Trump campaign.
Now, since then, we`ve seen other reporting that allied foreign intelligence agencies like the British and the Dutch also heard things on their foreign surveillance, meaning their spies also picked stuff up that was conveyed to U.S. intelligence agencies, because they saw something that concerned them about potential contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Well, now, if this new reporting about FISA court warrants against Manafort is true as well, this would mean that the intelligence and law enforcement monitoring of these concerning contacts between Trump associates and the Russian government, these -- this intelligence surveillance of these communications and contacts and conversations, this would mean that those intercepts were not things that just happened abroad between foreigners. It included surveillance that happened here in the United States because they got a FISA court warrant, because the government was able to convince a federal judge that in this instance, it was legit and constitutional to surveil a U.S. person, Paul Manafort, because of the possibility that he was involved in some kind of crime.
Which brings us back to the "New York Times" scoop tonight. We had known before now that the FBI mounted a surprise raid on Paul Manafort`s house in Alexandria, Virginia, after midnight on July 26th this summer. Now, there have been a few strange aspects of that raid that we`ve been puzzling over for a few weeks now since we first learned about the raid on Manafort`s house. The biggest and, for me, most perplexing question about that raid is whether it was really necessary.
People close to Paul Manafort have raised the prospect that the raid was overreach or at least was unnecessary and bullying because before the FBI got that search warrant and stormed into his house, Mueller`s team and the FBI didn`t make any demands to Manafort for what they wanted him to hand over. I mean, law enforcement and FBI have a lot of tools and a lot of power to extract stuff from people who don`t want to give them information, but there`s a logical chain of escalation that goes along with that.
If you want something from a potential witness, you can ask for it. If they say no, you can subpoena it. Eventually, you can get a search warrant. Once you have a search warrant, you can execute that search warrant by knocking on the door or you can execute that search warrant by knocking down the door. I mean, there`s a chain of escalation here.
With the Manafort raid, it seems like they went right to 11. In the case of the raid on Manafort`s house on July 26th, people on the Manafort side of things say that Manafort was never even asked for the documents that the FBI came in and seized by force from his home.
He had never been asked for them before they barged into his house and took them? Why is that?
Well, now, we know a little bit more about why that may be. ABC News was first to report back in August that when the FBI executed this raid on Manafort`s house, Manafort only learned that it was underway when armed FBI agents started knocking on his door. And I don`t mean his front door. He first learned the FBI raid was underway when agents knocked on his bedroom door. ABC was first to report that back in the first week of August.
Here is the question. How did the FBI agents get all the way into his bedroom door?
Well, according to "The New York Times" tonight -- we`ve got an answer. According to "The New York Times" tonight, FBI agents were given permission to pick the lock on his front door in order to get into his house without knocking.
This is lead from "The Times" story that just broke tonight. Quote, Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home. They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Manafort had set up secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet.
Later in the story, here is more detail on that. Quote: It is unusual for a prosecutor to seek a search warrant against someone who like Paul Manafort had already put his lawyer in contact with the Justice Department. To get the warrant, Robert Mueller`s team had to show probable cause to a judge that Manafort`s home contained evidence of a crime. Quote: To be allowed to pick the lock and enter the home unannounced, prosecutors further had to persuade a federal judge that Manafort was likely to destroy evidence.
If "The Times" is right in this reporting tonight, why did prosecutors believe -- why were prosecutors able to convince a federal judge that Paul Manafort was going to destroy evidence if they knocked on the door, that they couldn`t afford to knock on the door. What evidence was Manafort likely to destroy and how could he destroy it that quickly?
In terms of what we know was going on around then, Manafort had testified the previous morning to the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was due to testify the following day to the Judiciary Committee, although that testimony never happened. Why did that FBI raid, including them picking the lock on his front door and showing up in the middle of the night and seizing the stuff he presumably didn`t know they were looking for, why did that happen between the two planned visits to those two Senate committees? Does it affect our understanding of why the Mueller raid was conducted with such urgency to know -- at least to have reported tonight that Paul Manafort sometime this year was under surveillance by the FBI thanks to a FISA court order?
Did he know he was under surveillance? Was the Mueller inquiry worried Manafort was find out based on how he would get questioned in the Senate committee hearings? We still don`t know.
But apparently, once the raid on Paul Manafort`s house was over, any remaining subtlety about what was going on here was foreclosed. Quote, special counsel Robert Mueller then followed the house search with a warning. His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they plan to indict him.
There is a lot going on right now. Lots of different kinds of news and on a night like tonight, a lot of it feels very important.
Most urgently, there is another category 5 hurricane that is slamming into the Caribbean tonight. In the immediate path are Martinique, and Dominica, and Guadeloupe and Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis, and incredibly again, the Virgin Islands. And as you can see on the map, thereafter, for the first time in more than 80 years, Puerto Rico may take a direct hit from a category four or category five storm. That`s expected to get to Puerto Rico probably the day after tomorrow.
So, this is another huge potentially fatal and very dangerous storm, and again, right now it`s a category five, and it`s about to hit parts of the Caribbean that are already hurting so badly from what just happened with Hurricane Irma. So, that is a huge deal and very urgent.
Speaking of huge deals and very urgent but of a totally different kind, in Washington tonight, there is a serious political -- a serious political matter about to sort of come up as a surprise that could be very, very serious in terms of U.S. policy. It looks like Republicans are making another concerted effort once again to try to kill Obamacare.
Everybody sort of thought these efforts were dead but they are making a last press for it and there is reason to believe that they may be able to get there. We`re going to be talking tonight with the Democratic senator who has undergone personal hardship to try to stop that from happening. She`s been speaking on the ACA tonight on the Senate floor. We`ll be speaking with her momentarily.
Tomorrow, the president`s personal lawyer and a long-time Trump Organization executive and incidentally someone with a lot of ties to a lot of money from the former Soviet Union, Michael Cohen, he`s going to be testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee tomorrow.
Hillary Clinton`s former campaign chair, John Podesta, testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee today. He`s the one whose e-mails were hacked and stolen and released back into the U.S. by WikiLeaks, an operation that the intelligence community believes was organized as part of the Russian attack.
So, all of these stories are a big deal. There is a lot going on and we`re going to get to a lot of that tonight.
But again, at Russia-o`clock tonight, this huge news that the president`s campaign manager has been informed that he will be indicted. And concurrently, this news breaking that the president`s campaign manager was the subject of two rounds of intensive law enforcement surveillance, but times ordered by the secretive national security FISA court and that surveillance continued into this year. It may or may not have included Manafort`s conversations with the president personally.
Crucially, this latest report from CNN tonight makes the point some of what was overheard on the surveillance raised the prospect Manafort encouraged Russians to try to help with the presidential campaign. Again, the sourcing on that is disputed but the suggestion is clearly there.
It`s a big news night. We got more on these stories next, including a live interview with one of "The New York Times" reporters who broke this news.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: "New York Times" has just broken the news tonight that prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller who told the Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort that they intend to indict him. "The Times" also reporting that the FBI`s raid on Paul Manafort`s house in July was conducted in accordance with a search warrant that allowed FBI agents to get into Manafort`s house without knocking, by picking the lock on his front door, that was presumably to keep Manafort from being able to destroy evidence once he heard agents knocking. At least that`s why we think judges tend to approve that sort of tactic with a search warrant.
We`ve known that the Mueller inquiry was aggressively focus on part of an part of an before tonight. But before tonight, before this new reporting from Sharon LaFraniere, Matt Apuzzo and Ann Goldman at "The New York Times", before tonight, we didn`t know all of this stuff.
Quoting from their report tonight in "The Times": Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller`s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry. One former prosecutor telling "The Times" tonight, quote: This is more consistent with how you`d go after an organized crime syndicate.
Joining us now is Matt Apuzzo. He`s a law enforcement and national security reporter for "The New York Times" who shares a byline on this story tonight.
Mr. Apuzzo, thank you very much for your time.
MATT APUZZO, LAW ENFORCEMENT AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Hey. Great to be here. Thanks again.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about that quote and that sort of -- that take from that person that you spoke to for the article and it`s also reflected in the headline of tonight`s piece, which is with a picked lock and a threatened indictment, Mueller`s inquiry sets the tone. I don`t know enough about what would be typical in an investigation like this.
MADDOW: To know how outside the normal course of events these tactics are. But you guys seem to be reporting this is an unusual level of tactical aggression.
APUZZO: Yes, it absolutely is. In a normal situation, let`s put it in context, Pat Fitzgerald, who is the special counsel during the Bush era, and Ken Starr in the Clinton era, neither of them used search warrants. So that in of itself is unusual. Certainly, when you have a target of an investigation, who has a lawyer and there is some sort of back and forth dialogue with that lawyer, using a search warrant is unusual.
Using a search warrant, no knock search warrant where you, you know, you come in in the predawn hours and you pick the lock and you`re in the house, speaks to certainly a level of distrust between Bob Mueller and Paul Manafort and you can -- you can gather that that sends a ripple throughout this investigation and certainly sends a message, that this is not going to be your typical slow and steady white collar investigation.
MADDOW: When you report tonight in "The Times", his prosecutors, Mueller`s prosecutors told Manafort that they planned to indict him --
MADDOW: -- does that -- are they informing him that they are going to indict him or are they letting him know that that`s -- is that essentially I guess is that threat or is that a promise?
APUZZO: Well, I mean, it`s that rat-a-tat-tat, right? We storm your house and take a punch of your stuff and then we tell you plan on being indicted and then they come back over the top and they subpoena his lawyer. They subpoena his spokesman.
So, it was a real 1, 12, 3, boom, boom, boom, from Bob Mueller and company. And I think, look, that`s not set in stone if Bob Mueller is persuaded that there is no crime here. You know, maybe he won`t be indicted but it certainly sends a message that we`re here to do business, and the fact that you have a lawyer is not a barrier -- literally a barrier to entry for us.
MADDOW: Matt, do you have any insight into the timing here? This is -- you raised the relationship of two different timelines sort of coming into conflict here in the piece tonight. Obviously, there`s these congressional inquiries that are proceeding that have shown a lot of interest in Mr. Manafort as well --
MADDOW: -- alongside the Bob Mueller inquiry, and the timing around this FBI raid more dramatic than we thought fits very tightly with what was going on with Manafort in Congress, the morning that his house was raided, he spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The following day, he was due to speak to the Judiciary Committee.
Is it something about his congressional testimony that sparked the timing or this urgency or this aggression from Mueller?
APUZZO: Sure. And to be totally honest, we just don`t know. You know, there are not a lot of coincidences in this world, but to be totally honest with you, I don`t know if that was something that Mueller`s team saw in the initial back-and-forth between Manafort and the Hill, if he was trying to head off having testimony. I`ve heard speculation he wants to try to head off Manafort giving a a more fulsome statement to the Hill, so that, you know, Manafort`s statement is given to Mueller and not to the Hill.
But honestly, we don`t have reporting to say what the connection, if any, is.
MADDOW: Matt Apuzzo, reporter for "The New York Times", help break this scoop tonight -- thanks for helping us understand it, Matt. It`s nice to see you. Thank you.
APUZZO: Hey, thanks a lot.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more to come tonight. Busy night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, a couple of big breaking news stories we`re following tonight, one that the president`s campaign chairman has been told he should expect to be indicted by prosecutors. The second big breaking news story tonight is that the same campaign chair, Paul Manafort, was under court-ordered surveillance for part of last year and this year. Surveillance which may have raised concerns about his possibly encouraging Russia to interfere in the election and surveillance which may have included his conversations this year with President Trump personally.
Buried in that second report is this new detail, that in addition to the FBI raid in July on the Paul Manafort`s home, sometime earlier this year, the FBI also conducted a search of a storage facility belonging to Paul Manafort. So, the FBI reportedly obtained a search warrant or search warrants that allowed them to search a storage facility owned by Paul Manafort and also his home. The warrant for his home allowed the FBI to pick the lock and enter his home without knocking, presumably convinced if they knocked, that might give Manafort enough time to destroy evidence, which is just incredibly dramatic stuff for what is supposed to be a kind of gentile, white collar political inquiry.
So, we now know a lot more about how aggressive prosecutors are being toward the president`s campaign manager. Those Manafort raids were the first known use of a search warrant in the Russia investigation. And as we just heard from Matt Apuzzo, other investigations of this type, the Valerie Plame investigation, the Kenneth Star investigations, they never used a search warrant once. We know they used one against Paul Manafort and now, we know they have used a second one.
"The Wall Street Journal" was first to report late Friday night that the tech company Facebook has handed over details on Russian ad buys to the special counsel, detailed information about those ads, that Facebook had actually declined to give to Congress. Facebook reportedly turned over to Robert Mueller`s inquiry details about the accounts that brought them and crucially the targeting criteria that they used.
Well, that was the "Wall Street Journal" late Friday night. CNN has now confirmed about "The Journal" strongly alluded to in that report, which is that that information was turned over by Facebook to the Mueller inquiry, not because Mueller is charming and he asked nicely, but because Mueller`s team took it, because they got a search warrant. So, search warrant against Manafort, dramatic. Search warrant against Facebook --
Details about the search warrant come about a week after Facebook acknowledged for the first time after denying it for months that yes, in fact, Russians posing as Americans had used Facebook to target U.S. voters with election-related ads. Now, this is all a big deal, in part because it shows that Robert Mueller was able to convince a judge that there`s probable cause that evidence can be found in Facebook`s records of a crime being committed in this instance involving Facebook. It`s also important in terms of what happens next because if any Americans were aware of the criminal overweight or helped it succeed, then they presumably could be held criminally liable.
So, a big step in the investigation aside from all the other big breaking news tonight and this one is very intriguing in terms of its possibilities.
Joining us now is Jim Rutenberg. He`s a media columnist for a paper called "The New York Times." Jim has been doing great reporting on Russia`s use of social media platforms to meddle in the election and the role of the Russian media in the disinformation campaign to try to help Trump.
Thank you for being here.
JIM RUTENBERG, MEDIA COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you about this tonight is I feel like you`ve been very good at zeroing in on what Facebook could do to cooperate with this investigation versus what they haven`t done or have had to be forced to do through a search warrant. Looking at what we know about them as a company and their involvement here, how forthcoming have they been?
RUTENBERG: Well, you talked about the search warrant yourself that`s been reported by "The Journal" and CNN. There is a Silicon Valley ethos that says we`re not going to give anything to law enforcement unless you provide a search warrant and they do this in the name of privacy. But it also happens to comport with what seemed to me to be obvious public relations prerogatives to not get too embroiled in this scandal, but they are in the scandal now.
MADDOW: Does the Facebook business model and the way they manage the information of their users give them omissions in terms of understanding who paid for what targeted how and what impact it had?
RUTENBERG: I mean, they have created this world. They own this world. What we`re hearing, though, is very complicated. That, you know, anyone can go and use their ad tools. So, they are not using Facebook sales representatives as go-betweens per se, so it could be a needle in a haystack. There are complications. But this is their universe. They created this world.
MADDOW: The thing that -- we talked about this a little bit on Friday night after Senator Mark Warner tweeted about this in a provocative way. Facebook had denied for months that there was any evidence of any Russian activity on Facebook targeting U.S. voters around the election, repeatedly and insistently denied for months. Once they finally admitted it, one of the pieces of information they gave to Congress was some of those ads paid for by Russian interest were paid for in rubles.
MADDOW: Once you`re paying in rubles, it seems like it makes it hard to believe Facebook was actually looking to see if there was any Russian interest.
RUTENBERG: Yes, for sure. It`s always kind of grudging a little bit. I mean -- and, by the way, my interest in this as the media columnist isn`t just the investigation on the Hill. It`s not just the Mueller investigation. It`s the public investigation.
This was scam ads that were injected into our political system. You had Americans potentially interacting with Russian agents through that platform, right, if they were posing under these false accounts. That`s a huge deal. Any time we see shadowing political ads on TV that we didn`t do the providence, we as political journalism would be all over it and this is a much bigger deal and we know very little.
MADDOW: One of the ways we`re supposed to be protected from that is that there are legal prohibitions against foreign money being spent to influence the outcome of U.S. elections. That`s clear in terms of -- this is one of the things you`ve been writing about. It`s clear in terms of for example spending foreign money to buy TV ads. Is it clear those laws also apply to online targeting of information?
RUTENBERG: Well, I think in terms of -- you cannot spend money as a -- no foreigner can spend money in an American election. I don`t think it matters what the media is, what the venue is, no. What this points up that Senator Warner has mentioned and others is that we do need something that kind of monitors social media advertising the same way television advertises --
MADDOW: So, it`s clearly illegal, but we don`t know who polices it?
RUTENBERG: Well, I think we`re about to find out. I mean, Mueller is very involved in that and will be part of that.
Jim Rutenberg, you`ve been doing really clarifying interesting work on this. Thanks for helping us.
RUTENBERG: Thanks so much.
MADDOW: I really appreciate it.
All right. More to come. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This past May, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii went to her doctor`s office for a routine physical exam. She emerged with a diagnosis of stage four kidney cancer.
The day after she announced her diagnosis, doctors removed her right kidney. Shortly thereafter, Senator Hirono was back on the Senate floor speaking against the looming Republican plan to kill the Affordable Care Act, which would have taken away health insurance coverage from tens of millions of Americans. A few days after those remarks on the Senate floor, Senator Hirono was having surgery again, this time to remove a rib where a second tumor had been found. Doctors replaced most of her rib with a seven-inch long titanium plate that was screwed into the remaining ends of the rib.
And then I kid you not, a month after the removal of her rib and the seven- inch long titanium plate put in its place, she was back on the Senate floor during the middle of the night vote on the Obamacare repeal bill. She spoke on the Senate floor yet again to take her colleagues to task for what they were trying to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: When I was diagnosed with kidney cancer and facing my first surgery, I heard from so many of my colleagues, including so many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who wrote me wonderful notes sharing with me their own experience with major illness in their families or with their loved ones. You showed me your care. You showed me your compassion. Where is that tonight?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Well, Republicans announced tonight that they will hold a hearing on yet another one, a new last-ditch effort to kill Obamacare. They`re going to hold that hearing a week from today in a Senate Finance Committee. It`s unclear whether they`re going to have enough votes to pass this latest effort to repeal Obamacare. They only have 12 more days to do it. September 30th deadline is imposed by the Senate parliamentarian in this case. If they blow past that deadline, Obama repeal becomes a lot more unlikely, but they`re racing toward that finish line trying to ram it through.
Joining us now is Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii who was on the Senate floor earlier tonight, with the Democratic senators speaking against this latest effort to kill the ACA.
Senator Hirono, really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you for being here.
HIRONO: Aloha, Rachel.
HIRONO: Good to be with you.
MADDOW: I feel a little rude talking about your personal health situation and introducing here, but I did feel like I wanted to let people know the personal hardship that you have gone through to try to participate in and lead this fight. I`m sorry if that was rude and --
HIRONO: Not at all, Rachel.
MADDOW: Well, how are you feeling right now? And how is your health?
HIRONO: I`m feeling fine, but I`m not out of the woods. The good thing is that I have health care coverage, which millions of people in our country do not have and which, by the way, the Republicans are hell-bent on getting rid of health care for even more millions of people in our country.
So, there is a difference between you Republicans and Democrats. Democrats believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, only for those who can afford it. Obviously, Republicans consider health care a commodity. They think we should go out and buy health care the way we buy a car or TV, it`s not like that at all. So, this obsession that they have to eliminate health care for millions of people in our country, knowing the harm that they`re doing is something I find really inexplicable, except they consider it a commodity, and not a right.
MADDOW: In terms of their prospects of doing this -- obviously, we had a ton of drama that ended in the middle of the night with Senator McCain voting no in the last effort falling apart. What do you make of their chances of actually getting this done? We know the timeline has to be incredibly compressed if they need to get this done by the end of the month, which is what the Senate parliamentarian says they need?
HIRONO: I don`t think that Mitch McConnell will bring this bill to the floor and have health care -- getting rid of the Affordable Care Act fail once again. I don`t think that`s what he wants to do. So, what he`s going to do is twist as many arms as he can to convince the Republicans mainly to go along with him, though Democrats will stick together. We have to. We have done so and my hope is that Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins will continue to hold fast and not hurt the people in their district who are -- in their states who are relying upon them.
MADDOW: Senator Hirono, I know one of the other things that you bring to this fight is your own family`s story.
MADDOW: In terms of your own personal health care history as a child, your family`s -- your upbringing. Can you talk a little bit about what motivates you on this subject and what you think might be at risk?
HIRONO: I am an immigrant. So, I came to this country with a single parent. My mother who left an abusive marriage to create a better life for us in this country.
And so, growing up, she had really low-paying jobs. No health care coverage and literally, I was really scared that she, the breadwinner of our family would get sick and if she got sick, there would be no money because she wouldn`t be able to go to work.
That is very real to me and, of course, as I mentioned, my sister in Japan died because I believe because she did not have access to adequate health care. So, this is real to me. And I happen to know that these are concerns or challenges that people in our country face every single day and, you know, Rachel, that evening speech which I wasn`t intending to speak because I had already spoken many times on the floor, at rallies, at press conferences about the danger of eliminating health care.
But that -- I mean, those remarks of mine have been viewed more than 3 million times in this country and that said so many people connected to what I was going through and what they are going through and so, people come up to me now and tell me that they have cancer. They are cancer survivors, and so, I think it`s really important for people in our country to know that there are those of us who are just fighting for them every single day.
MADDOW: Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, thank you very much, Senator, for being with us.
HIRONO: Thank you. Aloha.
MADDOW: Aloha. I appreciate it.
I will say what Senator Hirono was saying about how much people care about this issue now, we don`t really know yet at this point the prospects for whether or not the Republicans are going to be able to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Under these parliamentary rulings, they have to do it fast if they`re going to do it. The vote count right now in the Republican side is absolutely not clear. Once again, if they lose three Republican senators, it will be over.
But I think if this thing starts to be seen as a real prospect, you`re going to see people out in the streets demonstrating and up in arms to try to save the ACA again, just as quickly as you saw at the last time it was at risk in this country. Nothing motivates people more than the prospect of losing their health care.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: It`s almost not believable, but we are keeping a dangerous developing story in mind tonight as yet another huge hurricane thunders into the Caribbean. This is another category five storm on a collusion course with the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria, now has 160-mile-an-hour winds and the National Hurricane Center is calling Maria extremely dangerous, warning that its winds are strong enough to bring catastrophic damage. What`s particularly worrying about the storm is not just the strength of Maria, is its path.
The storm is on track to hit some of the same islands that have just been devastated by Hurricane Irma. Maria has now made landfall on Dominica. Dominica is an island nation, population about 75,000.
The prime minister of Dominica just posted to Facebook half an hour ago, look at this. My roof is gone. I`m at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.
Then just a few minutes later, he posted this: I have been rescued.
Again, this is the prime minister of the country. So, clearly, a very dire situation in Dominica tonight.
We`re looking down the path of the storm toward Puerto Rico. Latest forecast has Puerto Rico taking a direct hit, possibly by the day after tomorrow, by Wednesday. Puerto Rico hasn`t seen a storm give it a direct hit, a storm of this size, a category four or five since 1932. Officials in Puerto Rico tonight are rationing provisions including water and baby formula.
And remember, thousands of people from other islands in the Caribbean took refuge in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose. And now, those people are bracing for Maria, too, which, again, may give Puerto Rico a direct hit.
This is also, of course, particularly cruel for the Virgin Islands which were nearly decimated by Irma. National Hurricane Center is warning that hurricane Maria to hit U.S. Virgin Islands as early as tomorrow night. Hurricane warning in effect for St. Thomas, St. Croix, also Water Island.
Officials in the Virgin Islands took the dramatic step of putting all recovery efforts from Irma on hold today so they can focus on what`s about to hit them next.
We`ll stay on the story. It is a big deal tonight. It`s going to be an even bigger tomorrow and Wednesday. Prayers for anybody in its path.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here I thought it was just another Monday. Instead, we got new blockbuster breaking news, details from the Trump Russia investigation tonight.
First, we learned that prosecutors in the investigation have told Trump`s campaign manager Paul Manafort that he should expect to be indicted. In addition, there`s reporting tonight that the FBI had Manafort under surveillance from 2014 up through sometime last year, and then again through the early part of this year. This is reporting tonight from CNN. The surveillance up through this year was reportedly because of his unusual contacts with suspected Russia operatives in during the Russian attack on the election.
Investigators wiretapped Manafort, including during a time when he was known to be talking to President Donald Trump earlier this year. If this reporting holds up, that means there could be tape of whatever Paul Manafort and Donald Trump talked about, while again Manafort was again reportedly under surveillance because of his contacts with suspected Russian operatives. Just Monday night.
We have also learned tonight that Donald Trump Jr. and Kellyanne Conway have now turned down the Secret Service protection they`ve been enjoying for months. What does that mean? I have no idea. None at all.
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.
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