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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 9/20/17 Puerto Rico without power

Guests: Carol Leonnig, Luis Rivera Marin, Ken Vogel

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: September 20, 2017 Guest: Carol Leonnig, Luis Rivera Marin, Ken Vogel

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Appreciate it.

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

We`re going to have a live report from Puerto Rico in just a moment. The secretary of state in Puerto Rico is sounding the alarm about some very dangerous conditions there tonight, where 3-1/2 million American citizens are without power and they`re struggling with some -- some really severe damage and some real worries about what is going to happen tomorrow and into the next day. We`ve got that live report with the secretary of state from Puerto Rico coming up in just a moment this hour. That is a very serious situation.

Before we get there though, I think this is one of those days when the power of American journalism deserves appreciation. It`s one of those days when the power of American journalism is like a like a klieg light in a dark sky.

Look at what we have just learned. If you were able to follow each of these paving stones as they were laid down one by one by great American journalists and then published by a free American press, if you were able to follow this one story all along from the beginning, today was a day when righteously you should just take a second and look back at where that path has led us to today and behold what good journalism can do and how valuable it is to us as a country.

Well, we have just learned tonight in new reporting from "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times", it`s stunning enough in terms of its bottom line but it`s -- I think it`s all the more stunning and it`s all the more - - he`s going to have all the more civic appreciation for it when you see where it came from, because where this started was in July, was last July 2016, during the Republican National Convention. They were doing something that usually the national press doesn`t care all that much about.

Beat reporters cover it, political activists tend to cover it. But usually when at the convention, they`re doing the boring work of hammering out the various planks in the party platform that year, it`s usually a very, very low profile thing. Covering that is not a glamour job.

But every once in a while reporting on something that is not a glamorous reporting gig, reporting on something that is that run-of-the-mill, that predictable, that ordinary, that boring, dogged reporting on some unsexy topic like that can sometimes start to uncover the small edge of something that eventually crescendos into the biggest political scandal in a generation. In our case, the biggest political scandal in more than a generation.

In July of last year, it started really boring. Josh Rogin at "The Washington Post" was the first person in the national press to report out and write up the fact that the Trump campaign had let almost everything else slide during the fights over the party platform for 2016, but they did insist on one thing and one thing only. We could see it in Rogin`s headline. Trump campaign guts GOP`s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine.

The Trump campaign had not given one whit about anything else in the Republican Party platform, but mysteriously, they showed up in force and without warning to insist that some anti-Russia language get weakened in part of the party platform that had to do with Ukraine. Now, that was really early on. It was last July, July 2016, and on the surface, it was an inconsequential story because who even knows what`s in a party platform anyway, let alone abides by it. It`s a very non-binding document. It`s of arcane interest at most.

But at "The Washington Post", Josh Rogin found out that that weird thing had happened. He reported it out. He described what was known about how the Trump campaign had intervened to get that strange change. He interviewed subject matter experts from inside normal Republican politics who were bewildered by this change that the Trump folks had made and on July 18th, "The Post" published his story, and it got picked up here and there.

We did a little segment on it here on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. I remember that because my dad called after I got off the air that night and said, whoa, that little story was scary. What do you think that was all about?

Hi, dad.

So, that was mid-July last year. Again, Josh Rogin at "The Washington Post", and he noted in explaining that strange thing that had happened with the party platform, he noted that Donald Trump`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort had in fact worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former president of Ukraine for more than a decade. Just kind of stuck out there is this strange thing.

Less than a month later, it was "The New York Times", August 14th, a story byline from Kiev and Ukraine. The lead reporter was a longtime Moscow correspondent for "The Times". On August 14th, "The Times" published this scoop which said that pro-Putin former dictator who Paul Manafort had worked for, his political party in Ukraine had maintained what appeared to be secret ledgers of off-the-books payments that were never legally accounted for inside Ukrainian politics.

And one of the people earmarked in those ledgers to get millions of apparently illicit dollars out of Ukraine, one of the people who turned up in that black ledger was Paul Manafort. "The Times" reported in August 14th last year that Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman, was apparently due to be paid $12.7 million based on listings in this secret ledger.

Four days later, four days after that report in "The New York Times", it was with a story from reporter Ken Vogel, a story that has aged remarkably well in the year since it was published and since Ken Vogel has moved over to "The New York Times". But on August 18th, Vogel at "Politico" published what was basically a profile of as you see in the headline there Paul Manafort`s man in Kiev. He profiled the guy who ran Paul Manafort`s operations in Ukraine, who ended up brokering deals for Paul Manafort with Putin-linked Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska.

Oleg Deripaska is one of the richest men in Russia. He hasn`t been able to get a visa to visit the U.S. because of our government`s concerns about his alleged ties to organized crime. Deripaska is so close to Putin that that private matter of whether or not this one guy can get a visa to the United States, that matter is regularly brought up by Russian government officials as something that the Putin government would like addressed by the United States, please.

Paul Manafort was doing deals with Oleg Deripaska, along with his man in Kiev. Ken Vogel`s profile last August of Paul Manafort`s dealings with pro-Putin oligarchs like Deripaska, it explained that stuff in detail. It explained in detail Manafort`s close working relationship with his main guy in Ukraine, this guy named Kilimnik, Konstantin Kilimnik. People called him Kostya which is short for Konstantin.

Konstantin Kilimnik had worked closely with Paul Manafort for more than a decade. He`d done these deals with him with the Russian oligarchs he was known by lots of people in the region, including by lots of Americans who had worked on and off in Moscow, Konstantin Kilimnik was known as somebody who openly bragged about the fact that he was Russian military intelligence. He used to tell people that`s how he learned such good English. He learned it at the GRU.

From Ken Vogel`s piece last August, about him, this is my favorite line, he quotes this guy who worked in Manafort. Sorry, worked in Moscow with Manafort`s guy, saying, quote, It was like Kostya, the guy from the GRU, that`s how we talked about him.

So, it`s unsubtle, right? That guy Kostya from the GRU, that guy Konstantin from Russian military intelligence is Paul Manafort`s man in Kiev. That`s who he works with in Ukraine. That comes out August 18th. August 19th, Paul Manafort resigns from the Trump campaign very next day.

And a lot of things happened thereafter. Trump won the election for one thing, and the intelligence community released its findings about Russian interference on his behalf in the election. And a lot of stuff happened and it`s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day accretion of additional damning and flabbergasting stories.

But just focus on this one path. Just follow this one narrow path that started with that report from the RNC changing that plank in their platform. If you keep following that path, the next stone in that path got planted in March, March 8th, because Ken Vogel at was still reporting on Paul Manafort`s man in Kiev, all those months after Manafort quit the campaign. Vogel stayed on that story about this Russian military intelligence guy who Manafort was involved with and he had done business with and business for all of those years, including all their business with Russia`s Putin linked oligarchs.

So, in March 8th of this year, Ken Vogel still on the story of that guy and he reports based on multiple sources that Manafort was still dealing with this Russian military intelligence guy throughout his time on the Trump presidential campaign. This wasn`t just something from Manafort`s past, this lasted through the presidential election.

And in fact, Kostya from the GRU, he had -- he had taken at least two trips to the United States to visit with Paul Manafort while Paul Manafort was working on the Trump campaign.

Upon returning home from one of those trips to the United States, Kostya, the guy from the GRU, reportedly started bragging around Kiev that he had been the one who got that plank changed in the Republican Party platform. Quote: After a late summer trip to the United States, Kilimnik suggested that he had played a role in getting a proposed amendment to the Republican Party platform that would have staked out a more adversarial stance toward Russia.

Ah, so that`s who did it. A Russian military intelligence guy is bragging about him writing part of the Republican Party platform in 2016. That`s who did it, or at least that`s who`s bragging about doing it.

Then two weeks later, it was the "Associated Press" pounding another stone into this path, in the direction they took it suddenly made the same all very serious. "The Associated Press" reported in late March that Paul Manafort and his Russian military intelligence sidekick Kostya from the GRU, they didn`t just do business deals with Putin linked oligarchs like Deripaska.

"The A.P." reports that Manafort signed a contract, an annual $10 million dollar contract with Oleg Deripaska that committed Paul Manafort to work around the world to promote the interests of Vladimir Putin`s government in Russia.

According to "The A.P.", that work to promote the Putin government internationally, it started in 2006. The contracts said it was to pay $10 million annually. Incidentally, that reporting from "The A.P." said that 2006 is when that contract started. It didn`t say when it ended.

So, that was March from "The Associated Press" that was Jeff Horowitz and Chad Day were the reporters on that piece. In the following month, in June, it was "The Washington Post" again fleshing out that reporting that Paul Manafort had kept meeting during the campaign, he`d met at least twice during the campaign with his Russian military intelligence friend.

And "The Washington Post" in June breaking the news that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, now investigating Trump Russia connections had issued subpoenas through a grand jury in Virginia, demanding correspondence, communication and contracts for work between Paul Manafort and Kostya from the GRU, his Russian military intelligence colleague. All those paving stones pounded in to this path, and now today, having followed this path step by step with all that good, subtle, dogged reporting over the past year plus, now we see where that path leads because today, "The Washington Post" breaks the news of where this ended up.

Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman, Carol Leonnig, Adam Entous are on the byline today at "The Post". The basis for their reporting appears to be what turned up in those subpoenaed documents from Paul Manafort about his relationship with the Russian military intelligence guy.

It turns out, you followed this investigation all the way down the path and what is at the end of it -- well, here`s that headline: Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire private briefings on the 2016 campaign.

Quote: Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. "The Post" noting correctly that this means even before Trump accepted the nomination to be the Republican candidate for president, his campaign was in direct communication with Russians closely linked to Vladimir Putin, offering them private secret access to the Trump presidential campaign at the highest level.

"The Post" reporting tonight also raising the prospect that that access may have been provided from money or in lieu of money. It`s not exactly clear which. According to "The Post", amid what we now know were months of exchanges between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik that took place during the campaign, they several times discussed, quote, money that Manafort believed he was owned by Eastern European clients.

Quote, in one April exchange, days after Trump named Manafort as a campaign strategist, Manafort referred to his positive press and his growing reputation and asked, quote, how do we use it to get whole?

Now, one way to interpret that is, how do we use my newfound fame and political power in this presidential campaign to get me my money that those bastards owe me. That said, since Oleg Deripaska has also brought legal action in American courts against Paul Manafort, claiming that Manafort owes him money, it`s not inconceivable that what Paul Manafort meant there was, how can I use my newfound fame in my political power in this presidential campaign to pay off my debt, that I owe to my Eastern European contacts, what could I do for them with this presidential campaign that might make them forgive my debt?

This all started with what looked like a small ball report on a bizarre and out of the blue non-materially consequential political oddity inside a back room at the Republican National Convention. It has ended as of today with news that the Trump campaign at the highest level was making contact with powerful Russian interests close to Vladimir Putin and offering them exclusive private access to the campaign in a way that implied that some sort of exchange might be expected for providing that access.

Oh, the other big story broken first by "The New York Times" and then by "The Washington Post" today is the line item list of documents and information that the Robert Mueller special counsel inquiry has now demanded of the Trump White House. Now, we knew from "The Times" reporting this weekend that the president`s White House lawyer on Russia issues, Ty Cobb, had received so many requests for documents and correspondence from Bob Mueller`s office that he`d actually organized the requests into 13 different categories.

I don`t exactly know what the P-touch labels are on his 13 different files, exactly what he`s called all his different categories. But tonight, "The Washington Post" has listed at least 11 different categories of information that Mueller has asked the White House about and it is -- it`s pretty stunning. I mean, this is the list we can extract from this new reporting, actually, mostly this is just using "The Washington Post" language directly.

According to "The Post" tonight, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has asked for, number one, all internal communications and documents related to the FBI interview of Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn in January which happened just days after the inauguration.

Number two, Mueller has also asked for any White House documents that discuss Flynn`s conversations with the Russian ambassador in December, during the presidential transition.

Number three, Mueller has asked for records about what happened when the Acting Attorney General Sally Yates came to the White House and met with White House counsel Don McGahn to warn him that Mike Flynn was not being honest about his communications with Russia, and in fact, Mike Flynn might be compromised by the government of Russia.

Number four, Mueller has asked for anything related to Flynn subsequently getting fired by the White House although I should mention, technically, Flynn was allowed to resign.

Number five, this is actually from "The New York Times". "New York Times" also reports tonight that Bob Mueller has requested that all communications about the Trump foreign policy team, this controversial and non- conventional foreign policy team that Trump announced during the campaign, Mueller has asked for all communications about them as well, that`s Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, Keith Kellogg, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph Schmitz.

You know, not all those people are famous but just off the top of my head, we`ve had reporting in recent months that George Papadopoulos was involved in trying to set up meetings with Russian government officials, including Vladimir Putin for candidate Donald Trump. We know Carter Page was considered by the FBI to be potentially a knowing Russian agent and those are just two of the names on the list so you can see why the Mueller inquiry might be looking for communications related to them.

Number six, Mueller inquiry is also looking for all documents related to meetings between President Trump and former FBI Director James Comey while Comey still served at the FBI.

Number seven, Mueller also wants records of any discussions in the White House about James Comey getting fired.

Number eight, this one is interesting. Robert Muller has also reportedly asked for any White House documents related to these statements that was issued by the White House the night James Comey was fired. This is "The Washington Post" saying that Mueller wants documents about the statement that Sean Spicer made about the Comey firing on the night Comey was fired.

But now, "The New York Times" adds this, number nine, "New York Times" is reporting that Bob Mueller also wants documents on a different statement Sean Spicer made about the Comey firing that he made a week before Comey was fired on May 3rd. So, Mueller looking for information on two different statements about the Comey firing made by Sean Spicer, a week apart. Sean Spicer, I`ll just interject here, is not yet known to have a personal lawyer on the Russia issue. This would imply that he should get one.

Number 10, Bob Mueller has reportedly demanded any documents related to the meeting Trump held in the Oval Office, with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador on the day after James Comey was fired. "The New York Times" helpfully notes tonight that that`s the meeting where Trump told them firing James Comey, quote, relieved great pressure on him over Russia.

Number 11, Bob Mueller has demanded reportedly all records related to the Trump Tower meeting which involved Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, the president`s eldest son, and a whole clown car full of Putin connected Russians.

Number 12, Robert Mueller has also reportedly demanded all documents related to the White House`s response in their effort to explain that Trump Tower meeting once it was first publicized in "The New York Times". The White House and reportedly the president himself obviously shaped misleading statements about what happened in that meeting. Robert Mueller now reportedly wants to know how those statements came about.

So, it`s quite a list. We had to go down a font size for what we`re usually allowed to put on TV, feel free to pinch and scroll. It`s quite a list. This is what Mueller has reportedly demanded of the White House. This is what we can surmise he`s looking into. And it`s interesting. All these different angles on what they`re asking tell you what they`re investigating in a way.

They want to know how the White House responded to that dire Russia warning about Mike Flynn. They want to know about the lying about the Russia meeting at Trump Tower. They want to know about Trump complaining to the FBI director about the Russia investigation and then firing the FBI director and then saying after he fired him that, yes, maybe it was related to the Russia investigation. All of these demands tell you what they`re looking at, right? It tells you a lot about what the Mueller inquiry is looking for and what potential crimes they may be investigating in the White House.

But I think that`s 11 points there. Twelve, there`s 12. I will tell you there`s one more, which is my favorite one. You get all these -- all the specific information, all these specific requests about all these other things they`re looking for. But according to "The Washington Post" tonight, one other thing that they say Robert Mueller is asking for, in their words, is, quote: Any email or document the White House holds that relates to Paul Manafort.

So, all these other things are about an event or an action or an explanation for some White House behavior, but when it comes to Paul Manafort, they just want anything that has anything to do with Paul Manafort, because thank you American press corps, since last July at least, we have known with increasing specificity and frankly increasing alarm that Donald Trump didn`t go out and find some normal Republican or even a radical Republican to run his presidential campaign last year. For some reason, the guy he picked is the guy working with the Russian military intelligence guy and the Putin linked oligarchs to promote the Putin government, and the unexplained debts and the black ledger payments and the pro-Putin political parties.

We know now that investigators are all over him. We still don`t know why Trump hired him. The only reason we know any of this at all though is because America has great reporters and a great free press. And today of all days, if you do not subscribe to your local paper, you should fix that.

I`m going -- I`m going to play a commercial now. During the commercial, please get online, get your credit card, pay to get behind that pay wall at your local paper. Seriously. Your country needs you.


MADDOW: So, today, we got a whole lot of new reporting about the Trump campaign`s dealings with Russia and the Trump-Russia investigation. If you stop for a dinner tonight, you missed whole new chapters in this story. Two of the biggest scoops tonight came less than a couple hours apart from "The Washington Post" reporting tonight specific details on what kinds of records the special counsel Robert Mueller has requested from the White House, and the Russian meddling in the U.S. election and that Donald Trump`s campaign manager Paul Manafort offered to give a Kremlin linked Russian billionaire private briefings on the election.

Joining us now is Carol Leonnig. She`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at "The Washington Post" and she is byline on both of these gigantic stories tonight.

Carol, I don`t know why you have time to talk to me tonight, but congratulations on both these scoops.

CAROL LEONNIG, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don`t know how you have time, Rachel, to master knowledge of every reporting piece that`s a deep dive going back to July 2016, but we could talk about that in a minute.

MADDOW: I have hyperlinks tattooed on my stomach upside-down, so I just peek and then just -- they`re all memorized. It`s terrible.

So, you are reporting tonight a very detailed list of what Robert Mueller has asked for from the White House. One of those things appears to be basically just give us anything you`ve got related to Paul Manafort, and I want to ask you kind of a big question about where all this reporting is going on Manafort.

There`s been so much reporting on his -- on Manafort`s potential legal jeopardy. To your mind, is it becoming clear yet if that legal jeopardy is just his own or are Paul Manafort`s legal problems also problems for the White House?

LEONNIG: I don`t want to prejudge what Bob Mueller knows. I like to say when I`m asked these questions, Bob Mueller knows a lot more than I do. And his team, they`ve got subpoena power. So, I don`t want to prejudge any of that.

But I think what we are seeing in our own reporting and in interviewing witnesses who`ve gone before the grand jury or have gotten requests for -- you know, documents what we`re seeing is that Manafort is in a lot of jeopardy, personally, because of his own financial -- byzantine financial records, what he disclosed, what he didn`t share about his consulting contracts with companies that appeared to be interested in things that would benefit foreign governments and that he did not report.

There`s also issues about his own personal finances and whether or not he reported some of this material and that could run afoul of federal law. But in this story that we broke today, my colleagues -- most of all, Tom Hamburger, Ros Helderman, and Adam Entous -- we are seeing now a part of the answer to the question, is there a connection between the Russian government and people who are tied to the Kremlin? Is there a connection between that and the campaign?

And here you have the campaign chairman days weeks before Donald Trump is the GOP nominee saying, you know, I would really like to find a way to get paid and fix my debt problems that relate to this billionaire in Russia who has a connection to the Kremlin and to Vladimir Putin, the president. And that`s a vulnerable place to be if you are the head of a presidential campaign in the U.S. that you`re talking about how you can trade on that prominent role and do it with a essentially a foreign official who`s got a connection to a foreign government.

MADDOW: And when he talks about how can we essentially use my new status to make us -- to make us hold? There`s this dramatic phrase, or a fragment of a phrase that we`ve got from that email, is it clear that he`s talking about trying to recover money that he believes he is owed versus trying to have his own debts relieved somehow? It`s hard for, it`s -- if he`s -- if he has something to offer in terms of the behavior of the Trump campaign, you think that he could trade that for money, not you know what I`m saying?

I`m trying to figure out which it which direction the leverage goes here.

LEONNIG: So, clearly, we don`t know for sure.

I`ll tell you that Manafort`s spokesperson, Paul Manafort spokesperson, told our reporters today I believe -- very close to deadline -- that, you know, it`s no secret that Paul Manafort had a lot of outstanding debts that he wanted paid by foreign clients and Deripaska was one.

It`s complicated though. I mean you could interpret the other way as well. We just don`t know. Deripaska had sued Manafort over some tens of millions of dollars that he was supposed to invest for Deripaska, the Russian billionaire and there was a dispute between them.

So, we don`t know for sure. What we do know is that Paul Manafort was with somebody that he trusted, privately saying, let`s see how I can use this campaign role and let`s see if I can give Deripaska something that he wants. And that`s a -- that`s a strange place to be.

MADDOW: It`s a strange place to be and it is -- it`s remarkable to have that level of clarity in terms of what was going on here, that level of specificity in terms of us seeing that exchange and now knowing it`s in the hands of the special counsel.

Carol Leonnig, congratulations again for being bylined on both of these really important stories, thanks for helping us understand it.

LEONNIG: You bet. Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We got much more ahead tonight, including a live report as I mentioned earlier from Puerto Rico, which took an incredible direct hit from Hurricane Maria today. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Puerto Rico is big. Three and a half million people live there. There are more people in Puerto Rico than there are in Iowa or in Arkansas. There are more American citizens in Puerto Rico than in both Dakotas, Alaska and Montana combined.

And tonight, all three and a half million American citizens on Puerto Rico are in total darkness. One hundred percent of the island`s power was knocked out when Hurricane Maria made landfall as a category four storm. This morning, Puerto Rico`s power grid is 44 years old. As power grids go, it is -- not just old, it`s also frail. Officials have been making some dire estimates saying it could be up to six months to get power back on.

Puerto Rico hasn`t been hit by storm this big since the 1932. The island has lots of wood frame homes, especially inland in the center of the country that are quite vulnerable to a storm this fast, this big. Maria hit this morning with hundred and fifty five mile an hour winds, and we are lucky we know that. The winds were so strong today, they broke two National Weather Service radar arrays.

The storm also brought down cell phone towers on Puerto Rico. The winds were so strong, first responders themselves couldn`t even get out. People who called for emergency help were told they`d have to wait until the wind died down so first responders could start to move out without ultimately needing rescuing themselves.

To give you a sense of how tenuous things are, Puerto Rico`s emergency management director is urging residents to stay inside until at least Thursday, because flash floods and mudslides could be even more dangerous than the hurricane itself. For people who do go out during the day, they have to be in by nightfall. The island is under curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Hurricane Maria killed at least nine people on its way across the Caribbean toward Puerto Rico. The island of Dominica appears to have just been leveled in the same way that Hurricane Irma leveled the island of Barbuda two weeks ago.

U.S. Virgin Islands got hit very hard as well. You`ll remember that St. John and St. Thomas took the worst of Hurricane Irma. But this one, Hurricane Maria hit the big island of St. Croix with 175 mile an hour winds.

So, Maria, as you can see there, continues across Puerto Rico right now. The eye has passed but it`s still hitting them. It`s a weekend. It`s fluctuating between a category two and three, it`s now headed toward the Dominican Republic tonight into tomorrow morning, then on to Turks and Caicos Thursday night into Friday. But in Puerto Rico tonight, it is dark. There`s considerable damage and there are thousands of people in shelters and more than 3 million Americans in the dark.

Luis Rivera Marin is Puerto Rico`s secretary of state. He is in San Juan tonight and he joins us by phone.

Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for joining us. I`m really sorry for what you`re going through tonight.

LUIS RIVERA MARIN, PUERTO RICO SECRETARY OF STATE (via telephone): It`s tough times. The winds gone, but now, we`re dealing as two very well summarized, with the rainy weather that still with us, and because of Irma, we had -- our soils were saturated. So, I`m currently dealing with a -- with a situation where we have around 40 families on the rooftops in a long line town of Tuavaja (ph).

So, currently trying to get the natural guard there. I did get a call from one of the residents that knows me and this is happening around the island as you well said, the communications -- it`s becoming a challenge and we are all the wireless carriers in the -- now we only have one that is luckily having this conversation, but it`s very fragile and the rain, it`s going to be an issue for the next coming days, and then it`s probably good it will then be more dangerous than even a -- the wind itself.

MADDOW: Mr. Secretary, you`re saying that tonight as the rain continues to fall as we just been hit with this tremendous amount of water, that families are on their rooftops tonight still calling for rescue because of because of flooding and some smaller cities and towns.

MARIN: Yes, correct. It`s not only the rain. We had to open some of the floodgates or for some of the dams and one metropolitan area which combined with the rainfall, some of the tributaries are overflowing, and now, the flood zones are becoming an issue. So, as we are speaking, I am pairing to this part of town, and I just spoke to the major of the town so to get some equipment there, and in the dark, with all the debris in the road, it`s hard to get through but.

But luckily, because Governor Ricardo Rossello made a very, very, very specific warnings regarding going all those living in these areas, to move to safe haven to our shelters, with that -- no casualties. Because people were wandering around and making first responders jobs a little more difficult, the governor and I signed a curfew order whereby from 6:00 today to 6:00 tomorrow morning, no one allowed outside and this will keep going until the emergency is under control.

MADDOW: Mr. Secretary, talking about people in shelters, it`s remarkable and a blessing that nobody has been killed. I know you have thousands of people in shelters now. Do you think that you`ve got adequate shelter capacity? Do you think there is gonna need to be -- do you think there is going to be a need to evacuate people?

MARIN: I don`t think so. We have -- being an island, we have some challenges regarding the logistic in terms of the food chain and having proper amounts and supply of water -- bottle water and food. But that`s been taking care of for. We have some shipments coming down, specifically, FEMA has had the part that was diverted because of the weather.

The Coast Guard didn`t allow it to talk but it`s coming in tomorrow. We clear the dock and it`s coming with 1.6 million liters of bottled water together with some generators and as well as cots for our shelters. So, you know, being here can ally. we get this -- there`s a process going every year, but nothing like this.

This year, it`s been a combination of wind and rain and the worst is -- this is a -- when the governor said this is the storm of the century, it really was. It was -- last night, it`s been spending time in our shelter, it was like a jetliner. We had like a jet engine that whistle and the force, a concrete building, a shelter shaking.

So, it`s something that it`s hard to describe and like -- we have communities that -- that I went to a community this morning, they -- their buildings are wood shacks, with tin roofs, and 80 percent of those house where we`re flattened, completely lost.

So, it`s going to take a while for it to restore, to come back to normality. But up we really trust in God and trust and all our friends. We`re getting calls from all over and support. And certainly, the governor has requested that President Trump signs an emergency disaster for Puerto Rico and that you will allow some of federal assets. We have an aircraft carrier that was in Guantanamo with 30 search-and-rescue helicopters on the way. So, we were getting great support from the federal government.

MADDOW: Luis Rivera Marin, secretary of state for Puerto Rico in San Juan tonight, under very difficult circumstances -- thank you, Mr. Secretary, for talking to us. Good luck tonight. Please keep us apprised.

MARIN: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you.

All right. Much more to come tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: There`s so much news tonight. Weirdly, we`re still kind of just getting started. This sounds crazy to say, but I`m not kidding when I tell you, we have yet another breaking news scoop tonight on President Trump`s campaign manager. You won`t believe what he`s found for work.

We just found out tonight about the job, the employment he picked up right around the time the FBI was raiding his house. Who would hire him in those circumstances?

Stay right there.


MADDOW: One of those days. Just a few minutes ago, I was shouting out the excellent, prescient, undistracted, dogged reporting that Ken Vogel did last year at Specifically on Paul Manafort`s man in Kiev, all about the Trump campaign chairman`s Russian military intelligence connected fixer in Ukraine.

This guy was involved with Manafort while Manafort was working for the pro- Putin dictator in Ukraine. He was involved in Manafort`s dealings with pro-Putin oligarchs there, including one who we now know got offered private briefings on the presidential campaign while Manafort was still running that campaign.

Reporter Ken Vogel doesn`t work for "Politico" anymore. He now is at "The New York Times" and tonight, this hour, he has dropped a new scoop about Paul Manafort and it`s not about these sketchy, not exactly in America`s interests, international dealings that Manafort was involved in in the past. It`s about sketchy not exactly in America`s interests international dealings that he`s involved with right now.

Do you know anybody who served in the Iraq war? You know anybody who has an Iraq war veteran in their family?

After our government finally admitted that war was not to go get weapons of mass destruction that didn`t exist, our military`s mission in Iraq became shoring up and standing up and defending the Iraqi government, right? Keeping Iraq an intact country, governed by a national government which we supported.

Well, here`s the headline in "The New York Times" right now about the new job Paul Manafort took right around the time the FBI raided his house in the Russia investigation. Manafort working on Kurdish referendum opposed by the United States. This is a referendum for the Kurds to break off northern Iraq from the rest of Iraq, to break up the national Iraqi government. That referendum is scheduled for Monday. The United States and other nations oppose it strongly because they fear it will break apart and further destabilize Iraq, where incidentally the United States has more than 5,000 troops serving right now.

Joining us now is Ken Vogel, "New York Times" reporter working out of their D.C. bureau who co-authored this scoop.

Mr. Vogel, I`m sorry, I`m talking about you so much tonight. I hope it hasn`t made you feel weird.

KEN VOGEL, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: No, I`m thrilled to be here, right, yes.


I want to make sure we spell out this timeline. The Kurdish independence referendum is next week, it`s on Monday. You write that Paul Manafort has been engaged in this work since this summer. So, he started working for this at a time when he was really at the center of this, the Russia investigation.

VOGEL: Yes, he was at the center of the investigation. He was starting to accrue these huge legal bills, and he was realizing that it was gonna become increasingly difficult for him to leverage what otherwise would have been this golden ticket that he had. He was a -- the lobbyists who had international experience who was closest to the president-elect of the -- the president of the United States and that could have been a very lucrative opportunity for him. He could have continued this type of foreign lobbying that he`d done for so many decades without really attracting much notice and incidentally without filing, well, we now know to have been required Foreign Agents Registration Act reports, he could have made even more money but instead, he was becoming toxic.

And so, he was looking for opportunity to sign that one big last deal to potentially be able to pay off some of these legal fees that he was beginning to accrue. This is one that arose and I should point out, to tie some of this stuff together that you`ve been talking about, the guy who was working with, his guy on the ground right now in Erbil is a guy by the name of Phil Griffin who worked with him and Konstantin Kilimnik in Ukraine for Viktor Yanukovych and also, by the way, was at the Republican National Convention, shepherding around foreign ambassadors, including Sergey Kislyak, the then ambassador to Russia at the time when he met Jeff Sessions and one of these undisclosed meetings that that Mueller is so interested in.

So, you have a full circle of sort of the life and associations of Paul Manafort in this one story.

MADDOW: So, all the stuff that we`ve been trying to extricate and figure out and sort of tear apart and figure -- and understand about the way Paul Manafort did business in the lead-up to Trump hiring him to run his campaign, but one of the ways, we can look at that is to look at what he`s doing right now, because he`s still operating that way.

Ken, you mentioned that the sort of toxicity factor here in terms of taking on this kind of a job -- forgive my ignorance, but the United States government is against this Kurdish independence referendum . The United States government doesn`t want the Kurds to hold this referendum. They don`t want the Kurds to break off. They`re advising Kurdish leaders that they should not go ahead with this.

Is it legal for U.S. private citizens to undermine U.S. stated foreign policy, including by operating in foreign countries on something like this?

VOGEL: Well, I think what he would argue, as he did with Viktor Yanukovych, by the way, is that he was trying to bridge the gap between this position that was sort of outside of what was acceptable under U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. and the West obviously with Viktor Yanukovych, that didn`t work out.

He tilted more towards Moscow in the end and ended up fleeing and is now under the protection of Vladimir Putin. We`ll see what happens with the Kurds.

MADDOW: Ken Vogel, "New York Times" reporter -- thank you for the reporting. Thank you for doing such good work for so long that I get to talk about you in all different phases of this story. Really appreciate it, Ken. Thank you.

VOGEL: Well, it`s fun talking with you about that.

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


MADDOW: It`s now been nearly 33 hours since the 7.1 earthquake hit central Mexico, collapsing or severely damaging dozens of buildings. For people who may be trapped in the wreckage, the clock is ticking. And a disaster like this, responders talk about a window for rescues that might be five days, but it`s common to switch over from rescue efforts to recovery efforts after 48 hours. And again, right now, we are in hour 33.

So far, at least 52 people have been dug out of collapsed buildings in Mexico City alone. Thousands of soldiers have been deployed to help in the search for survivors, and also regular people jumping in to help, digging through the rubble, people directing traffic, people opening up their homes to strangers. It`s been incredibly heartening to see the civilian efforts but even still, none of that stops the clock.

It`s remarkable time watching the American disaster in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands tonight, and this disaster with our closest neighbor to the south, as well. Just incredible time for this all to be happening.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.



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