Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 10, 2017 Guest: Eric Swalwell
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Three years ago this week, a comedian named Hannibal Buress did a late night set at a theater in Philadelphia called the Trocadero, and he did something in that standup set that he had been doing on and off in his stand up routine for a long while. But for some reason, when he said it that specific night three years ago in October 2014, for some reason when he said it that night, it set something off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNIBAL BURESS, COMEDIAN: Public Teflon image. I`ve done this bit onstage and people don`t believe me; people think I`m making it up. I`m like, `Bill Cosby has a lot of rape allegations,` and they go, `No, you devil!`
Oh, then call me "Captain Kick-`Em-Out." That (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is upsetting. If you didn`t know about it, trust me.
When you leave here, Google "Bill Cosby rape." That`s not funny. That (EXPLETIVE DELETED) has more results than "Hannibal Buress."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So that`s a clip from a comedy set from Hannibal Buress three years ago this week in Philadelphia. And that joke that he`s making there at the end about all the online search results you will find, more than even you`ll get from Googling Hannibal Buress`s name, all those online search results you`ll get if you Google Bill Cosby and rape, he was right about that. There were lots of allegations about Bill Cosby circulating more or less informally for years. And you can Google that stuff.
I mean, so much so at the time that Buress had been regularly referencing those allegations about Bill Cosby in his stand up act, and it was just sort of obscure enough that some of the laughter would be incredulous and wild, that`s a crazy thing to say, but some of it would be people recognizing it and thinking, oh, yes, I have heard that, right?
He had been doing it for a while, but for some reason when he did it, that specific night, October 26th, 2014 in Philly, it took off. That clip of that portion of his show got picked up by "Philadelphia Magazine". Dan McQuade wrote it up for "Philadelphia Magazine". You see the subhead on this story here, comedian Hannibal Buress called Bill Cosby a rapist in a bit at the Trocadero on Thursday, Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women.
So, it got picked up from that comedy routine by "Philadelphia Magazine". Then that got picked up by multiple other news reports. It became quickly a sustained topic of national conversation. And within just a few weeks, a woman who had previously made a serious sexual assault allegation against Bill Cosby, she wrote about what she says was her experience in the "Washington Post."
Then, Bill Cosby himself got asked about it in an interview in NPR. Then, the day after the NPR interview, another woman came forward to make another, turns out to be very similar allegation against Bill Cosby. Then the day after that, another woman came forward with a similar allegation.
Then the day after that, yet another woman came forward with a very similar allegation. This time it was a famous model, very well-known name Janice Dickinson. And at that point, Bill Cosby`s shows are syndicated re-runs, but also his comedy shows, started getting pulled off TV, started getting pulled off Netflix.
Then, interestingly, news organizations started to come out with their own accounts of Cosby over the years or people who worked for him over the years, trying to stop news organizations or stop reporters from even asking about these allegations let alone from reporting on them in detail. By the end of that next month, by the end of November 2014, nine more women had come forward, all with remarkable similar allegations about their experiences with Bill Cosby.
And these allegations dated back for decades. I mean, some of them were in the 2000s, but some of them dated back all the way to the 1960s. And in terms of the women who were making these allegations, it was women who had met him all over the country. It was women who had met him in all sorts of different circumstances, professional and otherwise.
But the allegations that they made about him were remarkable consistent in their descriptions. They alleged that they were drugged and then that they were assaulted. Ultimately, more than 50 women came forward to accuse Bill Cosby of rape or sexual assault or other kinds of sexual misconduct.
Those allegations really had been around for decades, though. "The Today Show" and "People Magazine" had both reported on a few of the allegations over the years. A civil lawsuit had been filed against Bill Cosby by one of his accusers more than a decade ago.
But despite all that hiding in plain sight public record, despite the fact that there for a very long time had been at least a few women who were willing to speak about what they said happened to them, despite those very Googleable rumors and allegations, it took until the fall of 2014 for some reason for it to catch, for that story to blow open, which ultimately resulted in more than 50 women forward.
And then in the following year, December 2015, Bill Cosby was charged in conjunction with one of his alleged victim`s allegations. He was charged with aggravated indecent assault. In June, Bill Cosby went on trial and the result was a hung jury. The jury was deadlocked.
Bill Cosby may or may not face a retrial on the same charges again this upcoming spring. Cosby is now 80 years old. He`s reportedly getting new lawyers in time for that new trial.
In July of last year, a former anchor at the FOX News Channel named Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by the FOX News founding chairman Roger Ailes. Among other things, Gretchen Carlson`s suit alleged that the reason her career ended at FOX is because she refused sexual advance from Ailes.
Within days of Gretchen Carlson`s lawsuit, "New York Magazine" named two more women and reported anonymous allegations from four other women, all of whom also claimed sexual harassment by Roger Ailes at FOX.
FOX then started an internal review of the allegations. They never made a public account of what the findings were from that internal review, but whatever they found led to Roger Ailes leaving that company. But they also gave him $40 million on his way out the door. Soon thereafter, they paid out another $20 million to Gretchen Carlson to settle her harassment allegations that she had made against Ailes.
But even beyond those very large payouts, this turns out to have been a very expensive time at FOX. We later learned that just as Roger Ailes was being forced out and paid that $40 million on his way out the door, FOX was also very soon thereafter secretly paying out another sexual harassment settlement against their other most high profile employee, the former 8:00 p.m. FOX News host who is named Bill O`Reilly.
And that secret payout to settle a sexual harassment allegation against him, that was followed by another former FOX News host filing another sexual harassment lawsuit against O`Reilly and FOX, and then "The New York Times" broke the news that FOX had paid well over $10 million in more than half a dozen sexual harassment settlements to women who had made accusations against Bill O`Reilly over the course of a decade and a half. And by April of this year, Mr. O`Reilly was gone.
And as remarkable as it has been to see the collapse, the public collapse of these previously untouchable, almost unimaginably powerful men in American politics and media and culture, honestly, it will not make sense to historians who try to look back on this remarkable time in American culture and politics and the collapse of all of these icons while at the same time those historians will find themselves having to refer to this time period in our country as the Trump era.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP: I did try and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) her. She was married.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s huge news.
TRUMP: No, no, Nancy -- no. This was -- and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said I`ll show you where they have some nice furniture.
I took her out -- I moved on her like (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I couldn`t get there. And she was married. And all of a sudden, I see her. She`s now got the big (EXPLETIVE DELETED). She`s totally change her look.
BILLY BUSH: Sheesh, your girl`s hot as (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in the purple.
TRUMP: Whoa. Whoa.
BUSH: Yes, the Donald has scored.
BUSH: Oh, my man. Wait. Wait. You`ve got to look at her when you --
TRUMP: Look at you. You are a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
TRUMP: Maybe it`s a different woman.
BUSH: Better not be the publicist. No, it`s her.
TRUMP: Yes. That`s her with the gold. I`ve got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I`m automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It`s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don`t even wait.
And when you`re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BUSH: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That tape came out a year ago this week, which was one month before the presidential election. And one of the things we`ve talked about in the last few days is how the day that that tape came out a year ago this week, that day was one of the most insane news days in the entire election cycle. It was one of the most insane news days in American politics in a long time.
All in the same day, that was hurricane Matthew hitting Florida. That was the federal government announcing that Russia was trying to interfere in our presidential election. Then it was that "Access Hollywood" tape coming out with the presidential candidate of the Republican Party bragging about groping women without their consent and getting away with it.
And that was followed immediately within the hour by WikiLeaks starting to dump the personal e-mails of the Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, his e-mails which had been hacked by Russian intelligence. That all happened in the same day. That all happened before dinnertime.
And in the days that followed the "Access Hollywood" tape, more than a dozen women came forward to make allegations that Donald Trump, in fact, had done to them in real life what he was bragging about on that bus -- everything from forcibly pinning women down and kissing them without their concept, to sexually groping women without their consent, just as he had described on the bus.
And at one point, candidate Trump said he would sue all those women who are making all those allegations. He never did. He also disparaged some of the women who were making those allegations as essentially too unattractive to be worth him assaulting them. But then, of course, he got elected president.
On Friday of last week to mark the anniversary of that "Access Hollywood" tape becoming public the feminist group Ultraviolet played that tape on a loop on the National Mall for 12 straight hours. They just aired it on a loop from the 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., just to as a country, we`d get a tangible reminder that the man serving as commander-in-chief, the man sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office is that same guy who bragged on tape about being able to get away with sexually assaulting and groping women whenever he wanted to because he`s a star. It`s the Trump era.
And President Trump, like Bill O`Reilly, like Roger Ailes before he died, like Bill Cosby, all of them deny these allegations against them. But this is the era that we are living in.
And now, it`s Hollywood. On Thursday, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at "The New York Times" reported out decades of sexual assaults and serious sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood mega producer Harvey Weinstein.
We`re going to be speaking with "New York Times" reporter Jodi Kantor about breaking that story. She`s going to be here tomorrow night to talk about that "New York Times" reporting here on this show. I`m very happy about that.
But by now, you`ve heard the basics of what Twohey and Kantor reported out at "The New York Times". Nearly 30 years of allegations. At least eight women named in the story, including famous actors like Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.
And again, what these interviews showed from all of these different women over a long period of time is a strikingly consistent pattern of alleged behavior. Harvey Weinstein allegedly isolating young women, getting them alone, women who were in a position of either directly working for him or being professionally dependent on him as a Hollywood producer and then the alleged behaviors just textbook sexual harassment up to and including serious sexual assault. It`s repeatedly described as taking off his clothes, exposing himself, demanding sex, demanding sexual contact of various kinds, refusing to take no for an answer and then allegedly retaliating against young women who managed to escape, managed to escape him, managed to rebuff what he was trying to do.
And what "The Times" broke on Thursday is these stories about what these eight women allegedly say happened to them when Harvey Weinstein got them alone. But it`s also a story of Harvey Weinstein not alone. It`s Harvey Weinstein himself and the Weinstein Company trying to keep the lid on all these allegations, including at least eight reported cash settlements paid out to women who made claims against Harvey Weinstein.
But as in so many other instances like this, this is also the story of an open secret of this alleged behavior being something that was widely known and widely discussed in the industry. And those of us who are outside the industry wouldn`t necessarily have been privy to those rumors, but you know what? Because it`s the show business industry, we can actually see evidence of that. We can see evidence of how widely this was understood and talked about and tacitly accepted in the fact that Harvey Weinstein`s behavior toward actresses and toward young women was joked about repeatedly, openly, like on TV shows and when they were announcing the Oscar nominations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, please. I`m not afraid of anyone in show business. I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions out of five.
I know how former lovers can have a hold over you long after they`re gone. In some ways, I`m still pinned under a passed out Harvey Weinstein and it`s Thanksgiving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was as the Oscar nominations were being announced that year.
And you hear people laughing and laughing and also people groaning. But it`s a joke, right?
And the reason the joke worked was because everybody knew what that was about, right? The premise of the joke there was widely held enough that that was considered to be funny, right? At an industry event for the Oscars and on TV in general for a national audience. What was well-known enough to be a joke that would land, as recently as like this time last week has now because of this reporting exploded. So then now, actually, for the first time in decades, it has costs for Harvey Weinstein who has been fired from the company that bears his name, the company that will likely no longer bear his name.
"The Times" followed up their initial reporting today with absolutely harrowing further similar allegations from actresses including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, and a number of women who left the industry in part because of what they say happened to them when they were caught alone with Harvey Weinstein.
But now, today, Ronan Farrow writing for "The New Yorker" magazine has published his own account of Harvey Weinstein`s alleged behavior and what Ronan Farrow has written for "The New Yorker" pushes the story even further and makes the open secret nature of this alleged behavior all the more unfathomable.
From Ronan Farrow`s story today, quote, I was told by 13 women that between the 1990s and 2015, Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, allegations that corroborate and overlap with the revelations in "The New York Times" and also include far more serious claims. Three women told me that Weinstein raped them, allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex. Quote, four actresses, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette told me they suspected that after they rejected Harvey Weinstein`s advances or complained about them to company representatives, Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them.
And, again, this may be at this point the most unfathomable or at least most jaw-dropping part of it. Quote: Sixteen former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein`s companies told me that they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein`s films and inn the workplace. All 16 said that the behavior was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company.
Sixteen people who worked there or witnessed it or say they knew about it, and they knew that everybody else knew about it too.
Now, I should tell you that Harvey Weinstein, his representatives put out a statement in response to "The New Yorker" reporting. I`ll read the statement.
Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can`t speak to anonymous allegations but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.
Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance. That`s the response that Weinstein and his representatives have made to this new reporting.
But what Ronan Farrow in his piece for "The New Yorker," what he further adds to this story is tape. He has published the audiotape of a woman, frankly, I mean, to a lay observer, it`s a woman actively being sexually harassed and pestered by Harvey Weinstein. A tape in which he admits that the previous day he had grabbed her breast against her will. He explained to her by way of excusing that behavior, quote, I`m used to it.
That tape was apparently made by the NYPD as they investigated sexual assault claims by one woman who says she got out of Harvey Weinstein`s clutches and then went to the nearest police precinct to tell them that she had been assaulted by Weinstein.
So, we`ll have that tape for you in just a minute if you haven`t heard it. But on top of us coming to terms with the fact that these allegations were so widely known and apparently accepted, and as in so many of these cases coming to the terms with the fact that a large corporate conspiracy was involved in covering this all up, in this case with Harvey Weinstein, there is now as of today also the question of why this was never ever prosecuted anywhere, in any of the decades these allegations were made or talked about and at least one instance reported directly to the police.
Ronan Farrow joins us next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m feeling very uncomfortable right now.
HARVEY WEINSTEIN, HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER: Please come in now in one minute and if you want to leave when the guy comes with my jacket --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why yesterday you touch my breast?
WEINSTEIN: Oh, please, I`m sorry, just come on in. I`m used to that. Come on. Please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re used to that?
WEINSTEIN: Yes. Come in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, but I`m not used to that.
WEINSTEIN: I won`t do it again. Come on. Sit here. Sit here for a minute, please?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don`t want to.
WEINSTEIN: If you do this now, you will (INAUDIBLE). Never call me again. OK? I`m sorry. Nice to have -- I promise you I won`t do anything --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, but yesterday was too much for me.
WEINSTEIN: I mean, I will never do another thing for you five minutes. Don`t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s a recording of Hollywood mega producer Harvey Weinstein. That was secretly captured during a New York Police Department sting. That audio was obtained by Ronan Farrow who has written a frankly harrowing account of the harassment and assault and rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein for "The New Yorker" magazine. This follows reporting last week, the end of last week from "The New York Times", Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, breaking that story open. And now, Ronan Farrow pushing it into nuclear Farrow today.
Ronan is a contributing correspondent with NBC News and he joins us live in studio tonight.
Ronan, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here.
RONAN FARROW, NBC NEWS CONTRIBUTING CORRESPONDENT: Good to be here. I`m glad you`re covering this, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you for saying so.
Let me -- I have a lot I want to talk to you about this. But let me start with that tape. Can you tell us the circumstances under which that tape was recorded and what was -- and why it was recorded?
FARROW: There was a young woman, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, an Italian Filipino model who in a pattern that has shown up again and again in woman after woman`s story was spotted by Mr. Weinstein at an event and subsequently, he reached out to set up a meeting. And when that meeting transpired at his office, you know, she said he groped her. He grabbed her breasts, and that is a potential misdemeanor that could carry up to three months in jail. That`s a serious act.
After the incident, as you alluded to, she went straight to the police, to the nearest precinct. You know, we talked to a lot of sources close to this investigation who found her extremely credible. She went in in an act that everyone associated with this investigation said made her frightened, but she thought it could expose and stop something important. She recorded this with the police. There was a wire operation.
MADDOW: So, she went this and reported that he had -- this allegation that she made that he had groped her and in response, they said, will you wear a wire and go back and have further contact with him?
FARROW: Already, he was contacting her again and again. And that is another consistent pattern in these incidents. You know, he is very aggressive in following up with these women, according to source after source. And in this case, he called her while she was with the police, and they used that as an opportunity to set up this sting.
MADDOW: OK. So, she goes back and she has contact with him, and in the excerpt -- it`s a longer tape. You`ve heard even more of it than what we just played.
FARROW: That`s right.
MADDOW: And more than what you published.
But in that piece we just played there, he is obviously being very persistent in terms of trying to get her to go into his room with him. He also -- she asks him about the previous incident and he appears to admit to it.
FARROW: He says I`m used to that, which, you know, for you or I might be a peculiar response to that kind of inquiry. She is point-blank saying, why did you touch my breasts?
FARROW: And, you know, look, he had issued denials of this publicly and this was a recording that, you know, sources close to this investigation said he understood had been destroyed. But people involved in this investigation were angry about the fact that this was suppressed and that recording did survive.
MADDOW: So, in some of the other cases of high profile men who have been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, one of the main things that comes up once the torrent of accusers start coming forward is statute of limitations. In this specific case, we`re talking one day after the alleged assault from when this recording was made. The New York Police Department and the Manhattan D.A.`s office both put out statements today essentially saying it wasn`t our fault that this didn`t get prosecuted.
What`s your assessment of why this didn`t get prosecuted?
FARROW: Look, all I can say is what the sources quoted in this story said. And we quote a source close to this investigation who said this made me as angry as anything in my career and I`ve been on the force for a long time. These were people telling us they had the evidence.
MADDOW: So, Ronan, in terms of your reporting on this, I don`t want you to tell me anything that -- I don`t want to ask you for sources you don`t want to talk about.
FARROW: You know a story like this. There`s a lot in there that`s very sensitive, but also it`s expensive how many people put their names on this too. There`s a lot we can`t (ph) talk about, that`s the bravery of these women.
MADDOW: So, I had -- I had heard that there was a race between "The New Yorker" and the New York City times in terms of getting this story, that obviously this was a long chase for you. You were working at NBC News when you started working on this. You ended up publishing it with "The New Yorker", if you can speak to that, I`d love to hear about that. Also, we know that Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey were working for this, along with their reporting team at "The New York Times."
One question I have about this is, why now? Because these allegations go back more than 20 years, why are people willing to talk now? Why were women willing to talk to you about these allegations they hadn`t previously done so?
FARROW: So, you know, I`ll speak to that last point first.
FARROW: Of these 16 executives and assistants who talked to me, over and over again, I heard from them, we feel a profound sense of guilt about what we saw and our silence about it for years.
MADDOW: People inside the company who knew about it, who heard about it, who witnessed it.
FARROW: You know, a female employee who said she was asked to serve as, she used the term, a honey pot in meetings. I mean, she would be present to reassure some of these young women who were being brought in that this was professional, and then would be asked to leave the hotel room or other room.
And, look, I talked to multiple, multiple employees who said, we saw fear in these women`s eyes and that is something that haunted a lot of these people. None of them quit as a result. I think that haunted them, too. And, you know, even still to this day, some of them spoke only anonymously. So, this is a tough issue.
MADDOW: What happens, though -- what happens, though, when you`ve haunted by something for 10, 12, 15, 17, 20 years and then, all of a sudden, the haunting becomes too much and you all decide to talk? I mean --
FARROW: They also spoke to a changing culture that after the revelations about Ailes and Cosby and these powerful men, they felt that the grip on power of these individuals is slipping and they felt there was an atmosphere in which they could finally speak.
Now, look, that`s not all noble. They also said Harvey Weinstein specifically is less powerful now. We fear retaliation less because he is no longer, in the words of one source, the fourth most powerful person in Hollywood. He is now the, you know, 200th most powerful person.
MADDOW: That`s fascinating.
FARROW: So, there was a pragmatic change here, too. And you see it again and again with these other men, too. These stories come out when they are less powerful.
MADDOW: Ronan, I have a couple more questions for you about this. I was not supposed to keep you for a second segment, but I`m overruling everybody. Do you mind staying?
FARROW: I would be honored. Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back with Ronan Farrow, because I have something important to ask him about this. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Joining us once again is Ronan Farrow. He`s a contributor for "New Yorker Magazine" who broke this explosive story today about further revelations concerning Hollywood mega producer Harvey Weinstein. Again, the allegations against Harvey Weinstein first broken wide open late last week by "The New York Times", Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.
Ronan Farrow is reporting today at "The New Yorker" adds very serious allegations to what have been first reported by "The New York Times," including several allegations of rape. But Mr. Weinstein, he, of course, is denying the charges.
Ronan, thanks for sticking with us.
FARROW: Good to be here.
MADDOW: A couple of just follow-up questions for you on this. In part, I wanted to ask you because of your own family background, because of your own history --
MADDOW: -- I feel like you have some unique insight into kind of the show business part of this and that`s part of it that I have to say I don`t understand at all. You were just talking about the fact that maybe one of the reasons this came out now, that people were willing to basically go public with what they`ve long known about Harvey Weinstein is that he`s not as powerful in the business as he used to be.
How important is that to understanding what`s going to happen next in Hollywood? I mean, this is a Hollywood disgrace that this was a huge open secret for decades --
MADDOW: -- and everybody tacitly allowed it and excused it. What do you think is going to happen within the industry?
FARROW: You know, I actually don`t think that this is a Hollywood phenomenon. You know, I don`t think this is about Harvey Weinstein ultimately. I don`t think this is about the film industry ultimately.
The abuse of power is a phenomenon we see over and over again in industry after industry. This is about a culture of silence around powerful men. It is about a machine described to me by source after source in this story designed to silence accusations like this.
I`m talking about powerful PR teams designed to smear people publicly. I`m talking about a legal team that uses aggressive none disclosure agreements and settlements which you talked about in your A block.
This is a fuselage of attacks that women face when they speak out and that`s why this is so brave what they`ve done here.
MADDOW: Did your sources, the women who spoke to you, run up against that specifically in your reporting for this story and did you run up against that in reporting this story?
FARROW: These sources absolutely ran up against that.
MADDOW: The women who made these allegations faced that while you were reporting on it.
FARROW: Yes, indeed. And there is a woman quoted in this story who went on camera, on the record, and I describe what she said to me, which was the legal angle is coming after me and she withdrew from the piece and she is - - her story is not there, but that is a woman with serious allegation and - -
MADDOW: And just to be clear --
MADDOW: - this woman who told you, detailed her allegation about Weinstein to you, was going to be on the record and withdrew her permission --
FARROW: On camera, on the record in January and withdrew.
MADDOW: Because she says the legal angle is coming after me. Does that mean the Weinstein Companies? Does that mean Weinstein personally?
FARROW: I will tell you that source after source said they were receiving harassing calls. Some of those are also discussed in this story. These women were afraid and based on my reporting, legitimately afraid.
MADDOW: Afraid of Weinstein personally or afraid of other people in his company? Afraid of people hired by the company?
FARROW: Both on a personal level, they talk about the physical fear, borne partly of trauma, you know, after an incident like these alleged rapes. You know, the actress Asia Argento who told a very difficult story of rape said she forevermore was in his thrall a sense, that he had this power to make her feel weak and small.
And then also, yes, fear of the machine, fear for their careers and their livelihoods. These are women who at times were very enmeshed with Mr. Weinstein and his business.
MADDOW: Including -- and not just threats and fear at the time that it happened in terms of intimidation, but threats now while they`re coming out.
FARROW: Ongoing and I talk in the story about sources receiving multiple sources trying to determine who talked to me, when they talked to me, trying to shut them up.
MADDOW: So, Ronan, you just said that one of these women spoke on camera back in January. You -- why did you end up reporting this story for "The New Yorker" and not for NBC News?
FARROW: Look, you would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details of that story. I`m not going to comment on any news organization`s story that they did or didn`t run. I will say that over many years, many news organizations have circled this story and faced a great deal of pressure in doing so.
And there are now reports emerging publicly about the kinds of pressure that news organizations face in this. And that is real. In the course of this reporting, I was threatened with a lawsuit personally by Mr. Weinstein and, you know, we`ve already seen that "The Times" has been publicly threatened with a suit. I don`t want to describe any suits leveled at other organizations that I work with.
But, you know, certainly, this is a considerable amount of pressure that outlets get as well.
MADDOW: And NBC says that, you know, you didn`t -- that the story wasn`t publishable, that it wasn`t ready to go by the time that you brought it to them. But obviously, it was ready to go by the time you got it to "The New Yorker".
FARROW: I walked into the door at "The New Yorker" with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier, and immediately, obviously, "The New Yorker" recognized that, and it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.
MADDOW: Ronan Farrow, contributor to "The New Yorker" who brought this story, also a contributing correspondent to NBC News -- I know parts of this story, in terms of the reporting side of it, is not the easiest stuff to talk about and I know you don`t want to make yourself the center of this story.
FARROW: A small note. That is important.
Look, these women came forward with incredibly brave allegations. They tore their guts out talking about this and re-traumatized themselves because they believed they could protect other women going forward. So, this should not be about me, or the wonderful important work that Jodi Kantor did, important work.
But ultimately, we are there in service of women doing something really tough, and I hope people hear their voices and focus on that.
MADDOW: Ronan Farrow, thank you, my friend. It`s nice to see you.
FARROW: Thank you, Rachel. Great to see you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Tonight, we have some late breaking developments to report regarding the congressional investigation into the Russia attack on our election last year and specifically on the Trump Russia dossier. The top line news tonight is that the firm that commissioned the dossier, Fusion GPS has been subpoenaed. That`s the top line news.
The really interesting news, though, is who they got the subpoena from. Congressman Devin Nunes chairs the House Intelligence Committee. You might remember that he supposedly stepped down from his role overseeing that committee`s Russia investigation several months ago.
But now, he personally, alone, has issued subpoenas in the investigation to Fusion GPS. This news was first reported by CNN tonight. It was subsequently confirmed by NBC News.
But although this wasn`t totally clear in those initial reports, we can confirm that these subpoenas seeking documents and testimony from Fusion GPS, these subpoenas were issued unilaterally by Devin Nunes himself, with nobody else signature on them and without any even notification to any Democrats on the committee that the subpoenas were going out.
Now, that`s weird. Congressman Nunes, of course, was a member of the Trump transition team. He was an early Trump supporter. He was forced to step aside from his role supposedly leading the Russia investigation when he came under pressure in April. He came under pressure in April because he paid that weird secret nighttime visit to the White House and then repeated these false claims that the president had been secretly wiretapped at Trump Tower by the Obama administration.
Devin Nunes stepped aside after the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into whether or not he disclosed classified information when he was pulling off that weird White House stunt. Devin Nunes, though, while he says he stepped aside from the investigation, appears to have defined stepping aside in a way that doesn`t necessarily resonate with anybody else understanding of that definition. In May, it was reported that he was continuing to review intelligence on the Russia investigation. That same month, he unilaterally subpoenaed intelligence agencies in an apparently fruitless effort to turn the Russia investigation into an Obama administration scandal.
Then in August, he again without warning Democrats on the committee sent subpoenas to the Justice Department and the FBI looking for any documents that they had related to the Trump Russia dossier, threatening those agencies if they didn`t comply with his one man subpoenas. As of tonight, we know the Justice Department still hasn`t complied with that request from Devon Nunes.
But now tonight, we learn that he once again is throwing out subpoenas on his own, personally. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are learning about these subpoenas by reading about them in news reports. Not only that, we can report exclusively tonight, according to a source familiar with the matter, that these subpoenas were issued just one day after the staffers on the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic staffers and Republican staffers, met with the legal counsel for Fusion GPS to discuss Fusion voluntarily cooperating with the committee`s investigation.
We`re told that that meeting between Fusion and the committee staffers, that constructive meeting was held on Tuesday last week. Then despite that constructive meeting about cooperating, Devin Nunes sent out his subpoenas to Fusion the very next day on Wednesday. That`s despite what a Democratic source on the committee called a good faith engagement by the witnesses on potential terms for voluntary cooperation.
These subpoenas also come after the Fusion GPS cofounder Glenn Simpson spent 10 hours voluntarily testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee this summer.
Following tonight`s reporting about these latest subpoenas from Devin Nunes, member of the House Intelligence Committee met for a previously scheduled meeting. I would be very interested to know how that went down, and I might have a way to tell you, next.
MADDOW: There is the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation into the Russian attack on our election and whether the Trump campaign colluded in it. Then, there is the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into that. Then, there is the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into that. Then, there is the House Intelligence Committee investigation into that.
But then on top of all those things, there is another one. There is a member of the Trump transition team, a Republican Trump loyalist congressman who we all thought was recused from the real investigation. But he is now issuing his own subpoenas on this matter.
We have confirmed tonight that Congressman Devin Nunes of California has subpoenaed Fusion GPS, the research organization that commissioned the Trump-Russia dossier from former British spy Christopher Steele.
Devin Nunes has sent them his own subpoena. We`re not sure why. But I`m also not sure how he can do that if he is just the one dude.
Joining us now is Congressman Eric Swalwell, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman Swalwell, thank you for being here tonight. I appreciate your time.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Rachel. Thanks for having me back.
MADDOW: Do you appreciate my confusion about how Congressman Nunes who I thought was recused from this matter is himself issuing his own subpoenas in the name of your committee when he supposedly stepped aside from your investigation?
SWALWELL: Yes, just a couple of weeks ago, he actually tried to subpoena Jeff Sessions. So, it was a recused chairman subpoenaing a recused attorney general on the issue of Russia.
So, you know, today when we met, talking to some of my other colleagues, we`re not surprised anymore. And actually, there is a pattern here that as we make progress or the press makes progress on this story, that`s when this nonsense shows itself.
But it`s the act that you would expect from Donald Trump`s legal team. Not from an independent investigation.
But we`re determined. We are, you know, continuing to make progress. And, you know, I would just say, Rachel, if he had the interest in what was behind the dossier, not the progress or the process that lead to the dossier, we could find out a lot more because there is a lot of people mentioned in the dossier who should be subpoenaed, like Donald Jr. or Michael Cohen or Jared Kushner or Carter Page. Those are the individuals who should be hauled in under subpoena.
MADDOW: You described -- you use the word nonsense here to talk about these actions by Chairman Nunes. I have to ask if it`s safe for the targets of the subpoenas to ignore them. We know that the Justice Department subpoena that you mentioned there that he sent out was basically ignored by the Justice Department. We know that some of the other agencies and people who he has tried to subpoena do not appear to have responded to him.
Are these binding documents? Should the targets of these subpoenas feel that they are legally required to respond?
SWALWELL: They should. But it`s a bad precedent that we`re setting up that they don`t take the investigation seriously, because they don`t see a serious lead investigator in our chairman. And so, you know, that poses a real problem.
I also should mention, Rachel, Roger Stone, after we interviewed him in a public press conference told the public that he had refused to answer the key question about his involvement in the Russian hacking, which is who he was talking to with WikiLeaks, and whether it was Julian Assange or not. He said he wasn`t there under subpoena. He was there voluntarily and so, he didn`t have to answer that.
So, we are letting witnesses set their own terms, and we haven`t shown a willingness to actually subpoena Roger Stone and ask us to give us that information. So, we`re going in the wrong direction. And we are at risk of having a flat earth report come out of the House Intelligence Committee as to what happened with Russia.
MADDOW: A flat earth report. That`s -- those are striking terms. I know that you attended a House Intelligence Committee hearing or meeting this evening.
Can I ask about how things are on the committee if you`re trying to sound the alarm here that the ultimate report from this investigation on your committee is something that we out to worry about in terms of its integrity?
SWALWELL: Well, we are all, you know, inspired by ranking member Adam Schiff who is leading a serious investigation and who is dogged in leading us into finding out what happened. But it is frustrating that you see unity on the Senate side with Senators Burr and Warner, and then disunity on our side.
And if we have a report on the Senate side with one set of findings and a bizarro report out of the House Republican side, I think that helps the Russians, you know, perpetuate their narrative that this, you know, was just something that was made up. It`s not true. And actually, in that chaos, they will thrive and be able to come at us again.
MADDOW: Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, House Intelligence Committee -- thanks for helping us understand this. We`re getting into some weird times with this story.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
MADDOW: Thanks for helping us make sense of it.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Before we go tonight, I want to go back for a moment to a story that we talked about at the top of the show with Ronan Farrow, who reported for the "New Yorker" magazine. A follow-up piece on what "The New York Times" wrote last week about mega producer Harvey Weinstein.
This is a story that obviously has been breaking over the course of the last several days. The allegations that Ronan was able to report both in terms of the New York Police Department sting, that audio that he was able to obtain. Also in terms of the rape allegations that he reported out for that piece make the story that started in "The New York Times" just that much more serious.
I want to reiterate that we`re going have Jodi Kantor here, the lead reporter for "The New York Times" reporting on the story here tomorrow night. We will have more on that issue. I expect in terms of when this could be reported out versus when it was going to continue to be an open secret that people knew about but didn`t discuss. I just want to say we`re going to have more on that tomorrow.
Thanks for being with 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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