Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: September 26, 2017 Guest: Adam Schiff, Carmen Yulin Cruz, Sam Stein
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: My first thought today is who is the Roy Moore of Tennessee?
Jennifer Rubin and Joy Stans (ph), thanks so much.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: The good news for you, Chris, is that Tennessee has no shortage.
HAYES: No, I don`t think they do, although I will say there truly is only one Roy Moore in American politics.
HAYES: He is a singular figure.
MADDOW: Oh, yes. But you never know when he`s going to get started after he wins the Senate tonight.
HAYES: You never know.
MADDOW: Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it, man.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
A senior official in the Trump administration has just resigned. And the resignation is apparently in protest against in president. His name is Chuck Rosenberg.
He`s a life-long law enforcement veteran and former prosecutor. He was a U.S. attorney under President George W. Bush, both in southern Texas and eastern Virginia. He was chief of staff to the FBI director and to a senior Justice Department official. And since 2015, he has been the acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA.
Well, today, he resigned effective almost immediately. He will reportedly be out by the end of the week. Michael Schmidt of "The New York Times" was first to report the news by way of explaining Rosenberg`s decision to quit. "The Times" described Chuck Rosenberg as having, quote, become convinced that President Trump has little respect for the law.
Now, "The Washington Post" followed up with their own story confirming this news. Veteran justice reporter Carol Leonnig summed up the reporting and her reaction to it on Twitter by saying, quote, this is a big deal. Chuck Rosenberg, known a smart manager and a devoted law enforcer, leaves, said he concludes Trump does not respect the law.
So, this is an important story in its own right and would be in any administration, right? Top law enforcement official concluding that the president doesn`t respect the rule of law, and then resigning on the grounds, letting it be known that`s why he is leaving -- which is remarkable on its terms under any president. But, of course, under this president and this particular case, there is also a personal dimension because I mentioned that Chuck Rosenberg once worked as a chief of staff for an FBI director. That FBI director was James Comey. Chuck Rosenberg also served as James Comey`s chief of staff when Comey was the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department.
So, that`s another twist on the story. The DEA director that just submitted resignation today in protest of President Trump not respecting the rule of law, that DEA director and the FBI director who President Trump both fired, who President Trump fired, these two guys have a long history of working together and they are said to be personally close. And this resignation of the DEA director came today within hours of the first reporting that the special counsel`s office is about to start interviewing current and former White House officials about, among other things, the president firing James Comey.
Now, we know from "Washington Post` and "New York Times" reporting last week that Robert Mueller special counsel investigation has sought information from the Trump White House on a long, long list of actions by this administration related to the Russia investigation and related to potentially obstructing justice by trying to impede the Russia investigation.
We know that the main lawyer in the White House handling the Russia investigation divided Robert Mueller`s requests into 13 different categories. We think we know what those 13 categories of requests are now, again, based mostly on reporting from "The Washington Post", but also "The New York Times".
And according to the reporting from those papers, the request from the special counsel, the stuff they are asking the White House about, it ranges from anything related to Paul Manafort, which is the last one there, to any White House discussions about James Comey`s fire to any White House documents about Mike Flynn talking to the Russians about the presidential transition. It`s a big long list, 13 different categories of information about which the White House has reportedly fielded requests from the special counsel`s office.
But CNN reports tonight that Robert Mueller`s investigators may be about to start interviewing current and former White House staff right away, as soon as this week. And the sheer breadth of topics and incidents that Robert Mueller is asking about ensures that there are a lot of Trump White House staffers who are about to get questioned by the prosecutors and, of course, if you`ve done nothing wrong, you have to be very cognizant of the fact that it is a crime to lie to federal investigators, and anybody interviewed in this kind of a process could surely benefit from expert legal advice.
Well, today, "The Daily Beast" was the first to report that former White House spokesman Sean Spicer is the latest Trump administration official to have to hire a high-powered criminal defense attorney on the Russia issue. On that long list of requests for documents and information that the Mueller inquiry has reportedly given to the White House, two of the 13 items we believe Robert Mueller asked the White House about, two of the 13 are specifically statements by Sean Spicer. Mueller said to have asked about Sean Spicer`s public statement about the firing of James Comey, a statement he made the night Comey was fired.
Mueller was said to have asked about another public statement by Sean Spicer concerning James Comey that was issued by the White House about a week before Comey was fired. And then right after we learned that Sean Spicer`s statements, those two public statements by him are in the cross hairs of the special counsel when it comes to the firing of James Comey and whether or not that was obstruction of justice.
Right after we learned those two statements by Spicer were being focused on by Mueller, "Axios" was the first to report that in addition to those statements he made as White House spokesman, in addition to his known public statements about all of these controversial things that happened during his months in the Trump administration Sean Spicer was reportedly also widely known to keep copious, very detailed, long-hand notes of everything that transpired throughout his time in the campaign and in the transition and even into the White House. He kept a detailed diary.
Learning that, it seemed impossible -- I mean, as of just a few days ago, it seemed impossible Sean Spicer didn`t yet have himself a criminal defense lawyer in the Russia investigation, given the fact that his statements as White House spokesman are under the microscope and he kept a diary. How does he not have a lawyer? Now, he has a lawyer.
As of today, "Daily Beast" is reporting that he has got himself a highfalutin lawyer. Now, as to how he will pay for that lawyer? Stay tuned. So far, the Trump reelection campaign and the RNC appear to be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars of Russia-related legal bills only for President Trump and his eldest son, who is also named Donald Trump. They only pay for legal fees related to the Russia matter if your name is Donald Trump.
Now, one might imagine if you were Sean Spicer or Mike Pence or Hope Hicks or Don McGahn or Reince Priebus or even Jared Kushner or any of the other Trump White House staffers who had to hire their own high-powered criminal defense lawyers on the Russia matter, one might imagine that that might be a sticking point, right? Possibly a point of resentment that you`re stuck paying what are likely to be millions of dollars for your own legal fees while the billionaire president and his son and heir Donald Trump Jr. get their legal bills covered by OPM, by which I do not mean the Office of Personnel Management, I mean, other people`s money.
How does that sit with you if you`re looking at bankrupting your family to pay your legal fees for a scandal involving Donald Trump while Donald Trump doesn`t have to pay a thing?
As I say, there is always a personal dimension to these things and I say, stay tuned. We`ve actually got a little bit of news on that front and that seemingly unsustainable dynamic within Trump world coming on later on this hour.
But here is another part of this that appeared to hit a breaking point in today`s news. One of the other things we know that special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House for information about is the meeting that was held onboard Air Force One while the president was flying home from the G20 summit. During that flight, the president himself reportedly drafted a statement that was put out in the name of his son Don Jr. The statement tried to explain away a meeting that happened at Trump Tower last summer between Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, the president`s eldest son and a whole bunch of Russians, all of whom turned out to have ties to the Putin government and at least one of whom has ties to Russia military intelligence.
And although Donald Trump Jr. soon released e-mails that made clear the purpose of that meeting was for the Trump campaign to receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton that they were told would be provided to them from the Russian government as part of the Russian government support for Donald Trump in the election, despite that explanation for that meeting being laid clear in the Don Jr. e-mails that led to the meeting, that initial explanation about the meeting put out by the White House, that initial statement that was drafted on Air Force One said nothing about Hillary Clinton at all. That statement reportedly written by the president personally tried to explain away that Trump Tower meeting as having just been some stupid thing about Russian adoptions.
We now know that that deeply misleading, lying statement is of interest to the Mueller investigation and that is particularly salient and presumably particularly concerning for this White House because it involves the president personally. Part of the president`s personal defense about that bizarre meeting in Trump Tower is that he says he didn`t know about it at the time. Donald Trump Jr. has insisted publicly that he never told his dad about the meeting despite the fact that his dad was there at Trump Tower that day while the meeting took place and while his son-in-law, his eldest son and campaign chairman attended in person.
When the news of the meeting first broke in July, the president publicly said on his own behalf that that was the first he learned that that meeting happened. He told "Reuters", quote, no, that I didn`t know until a couple days ago when I first heard about this.
That assertion from the president that he never heard anything about that Trump Tower meeting with all those Russians, that may also turn out to be a problem for the president because of the timeline of what happened around that meeting. June 3rd, 2016, that`s when Don Jr. got the first e-mail promising that the Russian government had incriminating information about Hillary Clinton that these -- this Russian lawyer from the Russian government wanted to hand over in person at this meeting in Trump Tower in order to help Trump win the election. That e-mail was sent to Don Jr. on June 3rd last year. It took him less than 20 minutes to respond, if it`s what you say, I love it.
Then, over the following four days, Don Jr. now admits that he had three separate phone calls with one of the Russians who was supposedly supplying this information about Hillary Clinton. We know nothing about the content of those calls, but he says there were three of them. Then by four days into this, June 7th, the communication chain, as much as we know about it, came to a close because on June 7th, they confirmed the meeting would happen -- 6:14 p.m. Eastern Time on June 7th, Donald Trump Jr. sent an e- mail confirming the details for that meeting.
At that point, we know from the communication chain that Don Jr. believe in a couple days, he`d be meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian government attorney who was flying over from Moscow to meet him, to hand him incriminating information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government that the Russian government believed would help the Trump campaign win.
Confirmed. Yes. Hit send. I love it. Planning on that meeting. That was June 7th.
Three hours later on June 7th, after he hit send confirming that meeting, three hours later, that same night, Donald Trump Sr. won a whole bunch of Republican primaries, clinched the nomination and gave his victory speech, which turned out to be different than usual, turned out to have one key diversion from the typical victory speech, stump speech script.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we`re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you`re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.
I wonder if the press will want to attend. Who knows?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, that was a Tuesday. That was Super Tuesday. June 7th.
The meeting with the Russians had been confirmed three hours earlier. The meeting with all the Russians happened two days later on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
And then the following Monday, June 13th, when Trump was probably going to give that new speech, detailing all this new information about the Clinton campaign, the Clinton campaign we now know was braced for whenever this new Trump speech would be where he promised new dirt on Hillary Clinton. Instead, that Monday, it`s nothing. Trump just gave one of his normal speeches. Nothing new in it at all.
But then you know what? Two days later, sensitive internal documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee started to leak online. First, it was Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks. Then it was WikiLeaks.
And, of course, the person that did more than anybody else to promote and draw attention to those leaked documents was Donald Trump himself.
But other people associated with his campaign did more than just hype those documents and promote them. At least one of the persons associated with his campaign appeared to be in communication with the Russian operatives and cutouts who were leaking these stolen documents from the DNC.
At least one person associated with the Trump campaign actually bragged publicly that he had advanced knowledge of when those leaks were going to come out and that`s something that ends up being hard to explain away later on when he tried to make the case that your campaign had nothing to do with this Russian attack and anybody who says it isn`t is nuts.
In August 2016, Paul Manafort`s long time business partner and long-time political advisor to Donald Trump, a man named Roger Stone, he bragged publicly he was in touch with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. Then, "The Smoking Gun" published screen shots of Robert Stone`s direct messages with the Russian hacker or hackers who are going by that online Twitter handle Guccifer 2.0.
In late August, well before anybody knew it wasn`t just the DNC, that Clinton campaign chair John Podesta had also been hacked, Trump campaign`s Roger Stone tweeted advanced notice that actually John Podesta personally would be the next target. Nobody knew what he was talking about when he sent this tweet. Quote: Trust me, it will soon be Podesta`s time in the barrel.
But then sure enough, weeks later, on the day of the "Access Hollywood" tape, Sean Podesta is in the barrel. John Podesta`s stolen e-mails start getting pumped back into the American political blood stream and selective leaks from WikiLeaks.
So, that operative from the Trump campaign appeared today before the House Intelligence Committee. The top Democrat on that committee is Adam Schiff. He`s going to be joining us live in just a moment.
But there is one other part that appears to be breaking open at the same time. It is a related matter. And that story is next.
MADDOW: "The Washington Post" was first to report on Sunday night that twice during the campaign last year and that key time, the height of last summer, twice, Facebook security researchers called the FBI because of suspected Russian military intelligence activity that they saw happening online related to our election.
First time Facebook contacted the FBI was last June. They reportedly told the FBI they come across evidence of what appeared to be a Russian spying operation and espionage op. The Russians appeared to be basically breaking in and stealing stuff from U.S. political entities.
We know, of course, that that`s true. Russia in fact did that.
Well, after that initial notification of the FBI, Facebook then reportedly notified the FBI a second time when they say they found evidence that the Russians had not just stolen information, which would be typically spying, they were now turning it around and projecting that information back into the United States through Russian cutouts like D.C. Leaks and Guccifer.
If that reporting from "The Washington Post" is right and Facebook saw that stuff happening in real-time and they recognized it explicitly at the time as a Russian military intelligence operation, well, that makes it all the more infuriating -- I mean, fascinating -- that Facebook CEO initially maintained that it was crazy. That was his word, crazy, for anybody to think that online misinformation might have affected the presidential election last year, right? Hey, Facebook, if you didn`t think it was a big deal, why did you call the FBI about it, twice?
That new reporting, honestly, makes it not just infuriating but bizarre that Facebook for months denied overtly that there was any evidence of Russian operatives placing paid ads on Facebook to try to affect the election. They denied it for months and after those months of denials, Facebook now admits that, yes, Russian operatives placed ads, thousands of paid ads on Facebook to try to affect the election. They are explaining their earlier denials but saying they just hadn`t noticed the Russian ad buys before, even though some of them we now know were paid for in rubles, which means it wasn`t hard to figure out.
And even we now know Facebook itself had reported to the FBI their own evidence of a Russian military intelligence operation that was manifest both as espionage, hacking and stealing related to our election, but also active measures to try to affect U.S. voters during the election. They saw that stuff and reported it, and it never occurred to them that maybe they`d look around to see if it was happening with ads too?
Well, now, despite initially telling Congress they couldn`t see the ads, Facebook has handed over to congressional investigators about 3,000 of the ads that were bought by Russian operatives. The ads themselves haven`t leaked since they have been handed to Congress, but a few vague descriptors have.
Question now is now that congressional investigators have pried that information out of Facebook, do they actually have what they need to figure out if Trump and his campaign didn`t just hype and promote the results of the Russian attack on our election system, they didn`t just apparently have advanced notice of some of the elements of the Russian attack, do congressional investigators now have what they need to figure out if in addition to that, the Trump campaign also worked with these Russian operatives to carry out this portion of the attack that happened online? Do they have what they need to figure that out?
Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, it`s really nice to have you here. Thank you for your time tonight.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thank you. Great to be with you.
MADDOW: I know you will not discuss information that hasn`t been publicly released and what goes through the intelligence committee doesn`t ever get publicly released. But is there an answer to that question I just posed as to whether or not you have what you need in the investigative committees in Congress to figure out if some of this online activity by the Russians was coordinated with the campaign?
SCHIFF: Not yet, Rachel. We have a lot more work to do. There`s, frankly, a lot more information we need to gather not only from Facebook but from other social media platforms like Twitter, as well.
All we have at this point is a snapshot of some of the Russian activity in social media and as you pointed out, Facebook wasn`t aware as of recently as July that there was paid advertising on the platform. But the paid advertising, they have identified they are providing to our committee is only paid advertising that came from money out of Russia that they have been able to trace to Russia and they have acknowledged that if the Russians bought ads through a third country, if they funneled their money through Eastern Europe or through the Caucasus, that still remains to be analyzed.
So, all we have right now is one subset potentially of Russian advertising and, of course, in addition to the advertising, you had the Russians creating fake web pages like Heart of Texas that look just like an organic Texas, don`t mess with Texas kind of Website organizing protests or rallies for one candidate or against the other, and you have the Russians pushing negative stories about Hillary Clinton or other news they wanted to reach the top of your social media feed.
So, we only have really one segment pinned down and that`s only one platform. We don`t know a lot about the use of Twitter and how the Russians may have in fact created trends on Twitter in an effort to influence our election. So, there is a lot more work even before we get to the question of, did they coordinate this in any way? Was the targeting so specific that it couldn`t have happened without the benefit of the data analytics generated by the campaign?
MADDOW: I know your committee today spoke with Trump campaign associate who bragged publicly about being in touch with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. He bragged and it was shown at "The Smoking Gun" that he was in direct communication with whoever it was identifying themselves as Guccifer.
D.C. Leaks, Guccifer, WikiLeaks, these were all identified publicly by the intelligence community as having been tools of this Russian operation to target our election. Stone brags about having been in touch with all of them and having gotten advanced notice about their activity from all of them.
Does his testimony shed any further light on this crucial question?
SCHIFF: Well, it certainly sheds some light but among the most significant questions, he refused to answer and I think the ranking Republican leading the investigation, Mr. Conaway, the chair of the investigation and myself are in agreement that his refusal to answer in terms of his contacts with WikiLeaks just will not be permitted to stand. We gave him the opportunity to come in voluntarily. He said he was going to answer every question but didn`t, and it would be necessary to subpoena him if he doesn`t cooperate, because just confining myself to what he`s admitted publicly. At times, he`s bragged about directly communicating with Julian Assange. And at other times, he said he did it through an intermediary.
We obviously have a deep interest to know if there was an intermediary who that is and bring them before the committee and find out what conversations they had with Julian Assange where Julian Assange was getting the material, what Julian Assange was saying in terms of the timing of the dumping of this and design of influencing our election and who was behind that, and most importantly, whether they had contacts with the Trump campaign in terms of the coordination or timing of those dumps. So, key information he wasn`t willing to share today and we`re going to have to subpoena him if he doesn`t provide it voluntarily.
MADDOW: I sort of hate to ask you, sir, but he has singled you out and a couple other members of the committee as well, but you in particular as sort of his personal enemy in all this, and he wants this to be a fight between you and him. Obviously, Mr. Stone is performative and sort of proudly duplicitous in all his public actions.
I have to ask you do you find that distracting or offensive or -- how do you react to him trying to make this a fight between him and you personally?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, honestly, I consider some of these a badge of honor when you`re attacked by the president or attacked by Mr. Stone or Steve Bannon. I just view it as -- well, I must be doing my job right.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee -- thank you for your time tonight, sir. Appreciate it.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. There`s a lot going on tonight. Very pleased to tell you, it was hard to set this up, but we are going to be talking live with the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, in just a moment. Please do stay with us for that.
MADDOW: Some breaking news out of Alabama right now where "The Associated Press" has just called the Senate primary there. Alabama`s former Chief Justice Roy Moore who has twice been thrown off the bench for ethics issues, he has defeated serving U.S. Senator Luther Strange in the Republican Senate primary.
Now, this is a race to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Donald Trump`s attorney general. Luther Strange has held that seat since February when he was appointed by Alabama`s then governor who has since resigned in scandal.
Everybody initially kind of expected that whatever Republican was appointed to the seat would coast to a special election win in this heavily Republican state. But that hasn`t happened. And it`s been as weird a campaign as you might expect.
President Trump threw his support behind Luther Strange but at the rally held for strange on Friday, he told the crowd, quote, I might have made a mistake.
God forbid if that man loves you.
Vice President Mike Pence held his own rally for Luther Strange last night, but even as that rally was going on, high-profile Trump allies, even ex- White House employees were rallying elsewhere in Alabama for the other guy running against Trump`s candidate.
Roy Moore then added one last dollop of bonkers to the campaign by literally pulling out a handgun at the rally last night.
But now, Luther Strange has lost a seat and Roy Moore will run against Democrat Doug Jones in the special election for that seat, which will be held on December 12th.
Again, the breaking news tonight in Alabama, "The Associated Press" has called this Republican primary for the guy who Donald Trump did not endorse. For Roy Moore.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: One of the largest trauma facilities in the United States is a ship. It`s the USNS Comfort, 900 feet long. It`s got 12 operating rooms and it`s got 1,000 beds. It was built to handle large-scale disasters.
Over the weekend, you might have seen the name of the USNS Comfort when Hillary Clinton tweeted some advice to the U.S. government about the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico. She said quote, President Trump, Secretary Mattis and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens.
Tonight, almost a full week after disaster struck, that is precisely what is happening. The Comfort is now being deployed from Norfolk, Virginia, to Puerto Rico, where 3.5 million Americans are on the brink or in some cases in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that does not seem to be getting better.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico a week ago tomorrow. The Navy says the Comfort will set sail sometime in the next four days, takes five days to get there. So, that means in nine days or so, the Comfort will reach Puerto Rico where they have already been living in the darkness for nearly a week, which means 3.5 million Americans are going to have a new form of help when that gets there but in the meantime, wait.
And some -- that is something they have been doing a lot of lately. Puerto Ricans have been waiting for food and for water. According to the Defense Department, nearly half of the population of Puerto Rico still does not have drinking water. And again, this is six days in. People have been waiting at the airport lining up, waiting hours, hoping to get out on a few commercial flights out.
And in another cruel twist, we`re told today that a lot of planes have been leaving with empty seats on them because the airport computers that control things like baggage and issue boarding passes, those computers are still out because the hurricane crippled the power grid. And so, people haven`t been able to get on to the planes that are leaving the airport, even though they are stacked up in the airport trying desperately to get out.
On the island, people are waiting for fuel. Specifically waiting for fuel to keep their generators running, because that`s the only power. But if -- what if those powers are the only power source in a hospital, right?
In a hospital, keeping the diesel generators running quickly becomes a question of life and death. And that`s happening on the ground not just in remote areas in Puerto Rico but also in the capital city of San Juan, which is a cosmopolitan, densely populated place.
According to FEMA, of the 69 hospitals on the island, 58 of them lack sufficient power and fuel to keep operating. At one hospital fuel deliveries are being made by armed guards because fuel is so precious, they are worried about the risk of looting.
On Monday, the generator at one San Juan hospital did run out of fuel. When it did, two patients in the intensive care unit died. Those deaths are being attributed to the generator running out of fuel so life support stopped running. That`s according to San Juan`s mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, who we have seen the last few days going from house to house in waders and by boat trying to do her best to help her city survive this catastrophe.
I should mention, they are a competing news organization, but hats off to CBS, which had a remarkably moving interview with her earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Two people died yesterday because there was no diesel in the place they were at.
REPORTER: Where did this happen?
CRUZ: In San Juan.
REPORTER: But where was it?
REPORTER: They died in a hospital because there wasn`t diesel?
CRUZ: There`s no diesel. There`s no life support system.
And I don`t know how else to scream and shout and, you know, say it. This is the time for action. Let`s not talk about the debt, the freaking debt. Let`s talk about the deaths that will not happen if things do not get into people`s hands now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now from San Juan is the mayor of that city, Carmen Yulin Cruz.
Mayor Cruz, thank you so much for joining us. I know you have the world on your shoulders tonight. Thank you for being here.
CRUZ: Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to put a voice to thousands of people out there that may think that we are in the brink as you mentioned, that we are in the midst of a terrifying humanitarian crisis that is taking lives, and if things are difficult in San Juan, the conditions are horrific outside of the metropolitan San Juan area. There are SOS mayday calls.
I`m getting texts every day saying if anyone can read this, if anyone can here me, cries for help, but when we get to -- today, Ms. Maddow, we visited three retirement homes and as you walked in, people would jump and shout from the windows asking for help. These are people that had been left alone. They cannot walk. The elevator isn`t working. The water isn`t pumping because there`s no energy. They cannot cook, so they have no water.
Since yesterday, we have had to transport 20 different people from different retirement home centers and you ask yourself, there are boots on the ground. I see the FEMA people work very hard in meetings and getting the logistics together, but those boots need to start walking and we need to start getting the supplies, and the food and water, just something as simple as drinking water.
Electricity will not be here for another six months and it is true. The power grid was very weakened before that, but we have no power grid at this point. So, we are running from one place to another canvassing and making sure that we find people alive before it is too late and that is not a hyperbole. It is a fact of life in San Juan and the rest of Puerto Rico.
MADDOW: Mayor Cruz, you raised the alarm today about what`s the condition in the hospitals. Obviously, there are several dozen hospitals on Puerto Rico and FEMA saying that dozens of them, most of them do not have sufficient power or fuel to power generators. Obviously, the worry, even with the overall humanitarian concern is that that could become -- those could become mass casualty situations if people who are in hospital, confined in the hospital aren`t able to -- aren`t able to rely on the machines and the need for power that`s keeping them alive.
Is there any sort of crisis plan about at least fueling the hospitals?
CRUZ: Well, I was told today by some FEMA employees that came to visit San Juan, which I really appreciate all they are doing and we have a group of 25 logistics and firemen from New York city that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Melissa Mark-Viverito. And we got some aid from Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Congressman Luis Gutierrez.
What is happening and I was told by one of the children`s hospital that deals basically with cancer patients, small children`s hospitals which are cancer patients, that the Army informed them while we were on a way to put fuel on their tanks that they were taking over the process of putting fuel in every hospital tank. So, that is really good.
Ourselves, we energize with four generators today and another hospital just to make sure -- you know, the lines get really blurred here. The red tape has to be riffed off as if it was a band aid.
People keep asking for memos. Write me a memo. For heaven`s sake, write me a memo? Ask me for what do you need?
Well, I`m going to tell you what we need. We need diesel. We need gas. We need running water. We need some sort of way for people to find their way around and we need our hospitals not to become death traps.
So, this is a big SOS for anybody out there and I thank you so much, Ms. Maddow, that you`re giving me this opportunity. We need to be less preoccupied and become more occupied. Let`s just do what we need to do to get these boots on the ground, doing what they love to do and supporting the people the way they want to support the people.
You can see it in their faces. Their frustration as they want to move ahead and do what they have to do. But somehow that isn`t happening.
MADDOW: Mayor Cruz, let me just make sure I understand where you`re saying the problem is in terms of that federal response and those responders that have turned up. You`re saying essentially, you`ve got good people on the ground who are trying to do this work, but the chain of command is kind of clogged. That there is something happening in terms of people getting deployed, people getting orders to get out there and do the work?
CRUZ: Absolutely. They are here. They want to do -- I had 800 HHS, Health and Human Services doctors and nurses and medics, and then the next day, another 80 at the coliseum and they stood there for two days waiting for their marching orders. They are great people.
CRUZ: Their commanding officers were experienced people, professional people, committed people. They are just waiting for those orders to start moving, and we need -- this isn`t an issue of being poetic, or trying to paint a picture of something horrific. This is a call to action, a plea for this help that is right here to get moving and get to where it supposed to be.
MADDOW: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, I really, really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us tonight. We will do whatever we can to echo and enlarge what you`re saying. But please keep us apprised what we can let people know and how we can help.
CRUZ: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Wow. More ahead here tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: You know, we still don`t know what the Trump Inauguration Committee plans to do with the enormous slush pile of money we believe they have left over from the inauguration. We know they raised way, way, way more money than they needed for the Trump inaugural.
By our estimate, they raised a minimum of $50 million over and above what they actually spent. And we know that from comparing it to the Obama 2009 inaugural, which also over-raised.
But you know what? That Obama inauguration in `09 set a record, both in terms of the size and the expense of that inauguration, but also in terms of how much money they raised to pull it off. They raised $50 million. And that ended up being even more than they could spend on the biggest inaugural event in U.S. history.
But then the Trump inaugural more than doubled the Obama record in terms of fundraising. They raised so much more money than they needed for a much smaller inauguration, likely tens of millions of dollars extra. So what happened to the leftover money?
The Trump inaugural committee has said that the money would all go the charity. Nothing has gone to charity. They also said the money has been audited, though no one has been able to find any record of the audit.
The only thing they will admit to doing with the money so far is some redecorating at the White House and at the vice president`s house, which I`m sure is very nice.
In terms of what we`ve been able to figure out about this fund, we do have one direct statement from Vice President Mike Pence`s lawyer telling us in no uncertain terms that the inaugural money is not being used to pay Mike Pence`s Russia legal fees. So we know that.
As to whether or not that money is funding anybody else`s Russia legal fees, so far, all we`ve got is still that no comment from the Presidential Inaugural Committee. We call every day to try to get a fresh new comment, but they just left us with the first one.
It is genuinely difficult to find out anything at all about what we believe is a giant slush fund sloshing around within arm`s reach of the president with very little legal restriction on what he can spend it on. Why did they raise so much extra money than they needed? Why did they raise twice as much as anybody ever raised before for an inauguration?
And if they were so far over what they really needed to raise, why do they appear to have still been so desperate to raise even more money that they apparently ended up offering some sketchy incentives to get further donations?
We previously reported months ago on what appeared to be at least one instance of pay-for-play for a donor to the inaugural fund. A donor gave a lot of money to the inauguration. And then that donor very quickly got high level White House meetings. I mean, like really high level staff, including senior advisers to the president and members of the National Security Council.
We learned about that apparent pay-for-play situation months ago. But as far as we knew, that seemed like a one off.
Well, now, reporter Sam Stein at "The Daily Beast" has reported that it was not apparently a one-off. He has found another one.
Joining us now is Sam Stein, politics editor for "The Daily Beast".
Sam, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Hey, Rachel. Great being here.
MADDOW: Can you walk us through what you found, please?
STEIN: All right. So, this is a peculiar case because it wasn`t the greatest feat of investigative journalism. This guy, Julio Gonzalez, who is the CEO of Engineered Tax Services, it`s a specialty tax firm that bill itself as the largest specialty tax firm in America, boasted in a public press release put on PR Web that he had hosted a White House summit on tax reform. And that White House summit featured top administration officials, as well as a top economic adviser to the vice president, as well as a top RNC official, as well as the U.S. treasurer where they talked about interests that are directly impacting his own business.
Now, this was odd because he posted this himself. He was boasting about hosting this meeting. What was even odder, though, it wasn`t paid for by the White House apparently. What he said was that his own family trust, his own family enterprise, a private business that`s designed to help his own private business was the one who hosted the event, which is highly irregular. Usually, you don`t have a family trust, a family office in this case host these events. But in this public press release, Julio Gonzalez said that was the case.
MADDOW: And Julio Gonzalez was a significant donor to the inaugural fund?
STEIN: Well, if you look at in the grand scheme of thing, $100-plus million raise, he was a modest donor. He gave $25,000 to the inauguration. But that`s a significant enough donation to get yourself some access.
He also conspicuously has started giving to Chairman Kevin Brady, who runs the committee that is tasked with, drum roll, please, tax reform. So, he is clearly in the game of trying to make sure that he at least has the ear of the very people who are responsible for tax reform, probably because Engineered Tax Services has a stake in the tax reform debate.
MADDOW: Sam, do you have any sense from reporting out this story -- and again, I take your point that they put out a press release about it which was a good breadcrumb.
MADDOW: Do you have any sense, in terms of trying to figure out this inaugural fund, and sort of taking care of donors who may have contributed to it -- do you have any sense that there is a point person on that, or that there is any continuing attention to that donor`s list or to this fund within the White House?
STEIN: Oh, sure. We`ve been sifting through the list of donors. And we`ve seen similar cases before. And I don`t want to get into them because we`re reporting them out.
But this doesn`t make necessarily the Trump administration all that unique from prior administrations. There is a long history of previous administrations taking care of the people who live them big checks.
I remember back when I was with "The Huffington Post" reporting on the Obama White House trying to make sure that a CEO of a private college felt like he had access in the White House. That CEO had given to the inaugural committee.
What makes this situation different is twofold. One is that Trump ran on a pledge that his own personal wealth essentially immunized him from conflicts of interest. You didn`t have to play this insider Washington game because he was so wealthy.
And two is, absent a PR Web news press release, we don`t really know who is going in and out of the White House. The White House has famously or infamously declined to release their visitor logs, whereas the Obama administration released those logs. Those logs were somewhat difficult to follow, but at least they did it.
The Trump White House has not taken that step towards transparency.
MADDOW: Right. And the other difference, of course, is we have no idea what the Trump inaugural fund doing with the money.
Sam Stein, politics editor for "The Daily Beast", great to see you, Sam.
STEIN: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: As we wrap up tonight, I just want to underscore what we heard moments ago from the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. She told us that even in San Juan, which has more resources and aid than anywhere else on the island, she told tonight that nursing homes are at a point of crisis. Local officials finding elderly people living in nursing homes not just without electricity, but without running water and without the means to prepare any food.
The mayor told us they had to transport 20 people out of different nurse homes in the last 24 hours. But this is clearly a situation that is going to get worse with each passing hour, let alone each passing day.
She told us tonight that as far as she can tell, the first responders on the ground, the resources on the ground are well-meaning but are very much hampered by bureaucracy. She says the chain of command is clogged. She said people keep asking her to write them a memo.
And she said what her people need right now is diesel and gas and running water and food. And they need it now. She basically pleaded on our air to free up the relief effort to get people actually working on relieving the human needs of the people in Puerto Rico rather than continuing to prepare and stage and not act.
A very dramatic SOS tonight from the mayor of the largest city in the Caribbean, mayor in the largest American city in the Caribbean. I just want to underscore what she said. We`re going to post that interview with her tonight at MaddowBlog.com.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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