Mueller unveils first charges in Trump-Russia probe Transcript 10/30/17 The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Greg Farrell, Paul Fishman

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 30, 2017 Guest: Greg Farrell, Paul Fishman

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: That`s great point. Neil Katyal, thanks for joining us.

That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Monday.

So, Paul Manafort`s neighbors are very, very considerate people. It is also possible they`re just very, very heavy sleepers. I don`t know. But we now know that armed FBI agents carried out a large, intrusive, surprise pre-dawn raid at Paul Manafort`s home on July 26, and that itself is a dramatic thing which turned out to have dramatic consequence which is an important point in the investigation. It must have been an incredible moment for Paul Manafort and his family and his defense team and probably for everybody involved in the Trump campaign when that raid happened.

But what remains the most perplexing thing to me about the July 26th FBI raid on Paul Manafort`s house is that none of his neighbors said anything about it for two weeks, and maybe not even then. The first report that that FBI raid had happened at Manafort`s house was a full two weeks after it happened. When the "Washington Post" broke that scoop, it wasn`t like they were turning up a document or they found that someone had said a thing to somebody else. No, they were reporting on a large predawn physical thing that the FBI did in a public place with other people around.

Nobody peeps, and it`s not like he lived a mile and a half down some driveway and he was down a hall, nobody could see what was happening. It was right there. Nobody said anything for two weeks.

And now we know that the very next day, the day after the FBI raid, also in public at the airport at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., the day after that FBI raid, we now found out the FBI arrested a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor who was kind of a high-profile person in this national scandal. We`ve all been simmering through for months.

George Papadopoulos got named in August, again by "The Washington Post", for having authored a number of proposals on the Trump campaign that Donald Trump should visit Moscow, that he, George Papadopoulos could totally make that happen. I mean, he was a named person in relation to this Russia scandal that`s been the biggest story in politics for months now.

But we now know that back in July he got arrested in conjunction with this probe at Dulles Airport, and that arrest didn`t leak for three months. They somehow arrested him and kept the arrest secret. And then after that arrest, through August, through September, into the start of October, Papadopoulos was -- how did they describe it? -- proactively cooperating with the Mueller investigation. And nobody had any idea. Not a single feather of that peeped all this time.

On October 5th, Papadopoulos was criminally charged. He pled guilty in person at the federal district court in Washington, D.C. Nobody had any idea. I mean, it`s Washington fashionable now to complain about how terribly leaky everything is, and I will admit it has been fun to have people leak to us the anti-leaking trainings they`ve been forced to do at one or another government agencies.

But when it comes to the Mueller investigation, it`s really not leaky, not given all that they`ve been doing. I mean, CNN does turn out to have been right in their initial report on Friday night that a sealed indictment had been filed that day. You can see by the date and the signature at the bottom of the Paul Manafort, Rick Gates indictment today. It was unsealed today. You can see at the bottom of that document that it was, in fact, signed and sealed on Friday.

But even with the existence of an indictment leaking out on Friday night, nobody had any reporting about George Papadopoulos being secretly arrested or cooperating or being charged or pleading guilty, all of which has happened over the last few months. Nobody had any idea. And it wasn`t until this morning when people saw Paul Manafort and Rick Gates physically on the move toward an FBI office in Washington. Nobody knew until then that it was Paul Manafort and Rick Gates who were named in the indictment that was unsealed today.

And that is particularly interesting given that we learned in court today that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates had to hand over their passports yesterday. Even so, we didn`t know until today that it was them. So, it is, it is easy to cynically complain about how many leaks there are around this investigation, but in this case on the contrary, au contraire, this was really explosive stuff. That was an absolute total surprise today when it all got unsealed.

And so, that`s the first question, right? Why did this all get unsealed today?

The indictment against Rick Gates and Paul Manafort was sealed since Friday. It was unsealed today. The criminal charge and guilty plea for George Papadopoulos were sealed since October 5th, but unsealed today. The arrest and the criminal complaint against Papadopoulos, those were sealed from late July, but they were unsealed today.

The judge`s order compelling Paul Manafort`s lawyer to testify to the grand jury, that was signed and sealed on October 2nd, but it, too, was partially unsealed today. I say partially because I can show you on screen there right now some of the redactions from that judge`s order requiring Paul Manafort`s lawyer to testify.

So, the government, in this case the special counsel, they`re forced by the judicial process to articulate and defend their reasons when they want to do things under seal, when they want to do things in a way that`s kept secret from the public. Because of that, we have explanations from the special counsel`s office in all of these unsealed documents today as to why the special counsel argued that these -- that matters couldn`t be unsealed before. Why they had to be secret, at least for a time.

But we have no explanation on any of these documents today as to why today was a good day to stop sealing them. Why -- I get the arguments why they had to be secret before. Why did it stop being secret today?

Now, that`s a question I`m not sure we`re going to be able to get an answer to at this point in the special counsel`s investigation. I think that`s part of their larger strategy. But there are a bunch of outstanding questions we can answer with reporting and with expert help tonight. And so, that`s part of what we`re going to try to do tonight.

First, I`ll just say a couple of things I think are important things that we learned today from the unsealing of all these documents, from the charges that have been filed against gates and Manafort and Papadopoulos. I`ll say a few things that we learned, but then most of what I have is a list of questions. OK, first, though, things we learned.

From the George Papadopoulos statement of the offense, which lays out the government`s involvement with George Papadopoulos so far. It explains the charges against him, et cetera.

From that document, we learn, first of all, that months before the American public ever heard anything about it, the Trump campaign was told and apparently believed that, in fact, the Russian government had hacked thousands of Democratic e-mails. I mean, the first time that we the public ever had any idea that there was any Russian involvement whatsoever in the election, that Russia had been involved in hacking into and stealing Democratic Party documents, first time we all knew about that was June 14th last year in "The Washington Post". But the Trump campaign knew way before then.

Soon after George Papadopoulos was named one of Donald Trump`s five foreign policy advisors last spring, he was informed in April that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, that they had thousands of e-mails. So, the Trump campaign was told about the Russian effort to interfere in our election and to hurt Hillary Clinton`s chances in the election. The Trump campaign heard about that months before any of the rest of us heard about it from anybody. That`s new.

MADDOW: Second thing that we learned from the Papadopoulos statement of events is that there wasn`t just one instance where the Trump campaign had its officials meet with Russian operatives to try to get dirt on Hillary Clinton that had been obtained by Russia. It turns out there were two of those instances, not one. There was the Trump tower meeting in June of last year with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, right, and all those Russians. But now we know before then there was another. In April, this Trump foreign policy advisor did the same thing. And the statement of the offense related to him is opaque as to whether or not George Papadopoulos actually received anything from the Russians that was of value to the campaign about Hillary Clinton or Democrats.

But after being advised that the Russians had thousands of Democratic documents and the dirt on Hillary Clinton, Papadopoulos from the Trump campaign kept meeting with those Russian sources and sought additional high-level meetings for other people from the Trump campaign to meet with his Russian sources, including one person he hilariously believed was Vladimir Putin`s niece. She was not Vladimir Putin`s niece. He thought she was.

So, those are a couple very new things that we learned today from this newly unsealed guilty plea from George Papadopoulos.

MADDOW: Now, it`s important to note that when it comes to the Papadopoulos stuff, these are not just allegations by the government. Those things, including the information that Russia had hacked Democratic documents and that they had dirt on Hillary Clinton and the Trump campaign taking a meeting to try to get that stuff from the Russians, those aren`t just allegations from the government. In the Papadopoulos statement of the offense, he very carefully attests to all of that stuff as fact.

This young man, this Trump foreign policy advisor, attests that, in fact, all of these statements by the government are true. So, I mean, we learned some interesting stuff there. There are still a lot of questions about him, for example, what did the government have him do between the time when they secretly arrested him on July 27th at Dulles Airport and the time they finally charged him in early October?

So, the end of July, all the way through August, all the way through September, all the way through the beginning of October, the government describes him as proactively cooperating. What was he doing for them? Did he tell anybody that he had been arrested, that he was secretly proactively cooperating with the Mueller investigation? Did he take meetings or engage with anybody from the Trump campaign or the Trump administration during that time? Does the treatment of George Papadopoulos by the court and by the special counsel`s office after they secured that cooperation from him, does that tell us anything about how valuable he was to them as a cooperator?

And what`s the connection between Papadopoulos and this guilty plea that he`s made for lying to the FBI, right? What`s the connection between Papadopoulos` case, this guilty plea, and Paul Manafort and Rick Gates getting indicted, right? Obviously that guilty plea, that information of what Papadopoulos has been doing with the special counsel`s office, that was unsealed at the same time as the charges were unsealed against Manafort and Gates. What`s the connection there? There`s nothing in the Manafort and Gates indictment that directly mentions George Papadopoulos. There`s nothing about Russia at all in the Manafort/Gates indictment.

There`s plenty about Russia in the Papadopoulos documents, but there`s no direct mention of Manafort or Gates. Now, it`s possible to sort of triangulate from some early reporting and some e-mails obtained by "The Washington Post" in August that basically show you that some of the people who were involved in e-mail communications around Papadopoulos` Russia proposals so those people may have been Manafort and Gates in an instance or two. But their names don`t turn up in any of his paperwork.

Why is that? Is there a connection between this kid pleading guilty and these guys getting indicted? Why are they both getting unsealed the same day? Why was Papadopoulos arrested a day after Paul Manafort`s house was raided by the FBI?

And does the fact they were unsealed the same day tell us about one of them being used against the other or is it a coincidence?

MADDOW: Here`s one last point on Papadopoulos. When "The Washington Post" obtained those e-mails back in August, when the "Washington Post" reported back in August that George Papadopoulos, this foreign policy adviser to the campaign, had made proposals to the campaign about Russia, that Trump should visit Moscow and should meet with Putin among other brilliant ideas, whoever shared those e-mails from him with "The Washington Post", Manafort -- excuse me, a tickle in my throat that sounds like Paul Manafort. Whoever shared those e-mails from George Papadopoulos with "The Washington Post" back in August took care to excerpt those e-mails very artistically.

So, what it looks like in "The Washington Post" back in August was it looked like this kid, Papadopoulos, proposed all these Russia contacts, but he was roundly shut down by the sober, not at all Russia compromised senior officials on the Trump campaign to whom he had written.

These tidy little excerpts were fed to "The Washington Post" in August. They left out things that do turn up from those e-mails now in the indictment. A campaign official, for example, telling George Papadopoulos that his efforts to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership, those efforts were, quote, great work, according to his campaign supervisor.

When George Papadopoulos proposed that he himself or other representatives from the campaign should travel to Moscow and take meetings with Russian officials during the campaign, was conveniently left out of those e-mails when they were leaked to "The Washington Post". That the response from his supervisor on the Trump campaign was, quote, I would encourage you to make the trip if it`s feasible. Go to Russia. Go to Russia.

Papadopoulos also wrote to the Russians in mid-July proposing a meeting for August or September between the Trump campaign and the Russians in the U.K. He said that such a meeting should involve himself and, quote, my national chairman who at that point would have been Paul Manafort and maybe one other foreign policy advisor. Papadopoulos suggested in this e-mail to his Russian contact that the meetings should involve you, his Russian contact, also members of the Russian ministry of foreign affairs and it should also involve members of President Putin`s office. This meeting he was trying to set up last summer according to Papadopoulos, quote, has been approved from our side -- whether or not George Papadopoulos was lying to the Russians about that proposed meeting being approved from our side, from the Trump campaign side.

Now, the other document cited in these unsealed filings in his case today aren`t just Papadopoulos describing things. The other stuff that turned up in the statement of offense today, in his guilty plea, those documents are other members of the Trump campaign OK-ing and encouraging his work with the Russians.

Are those other people from the Trump campaign potentially in trouble? And is that why none of their names appear in the documents about Papadopoulos today, even though we can kind of figure out who they all are?

Then there`s the Manafort and the Gates indictment. Now, unlike the George Papadopoulos documents, what we`ve gotten in terms of this indictment about Gates and Manafort, this is not a case where both sides, both prosecution and the defense attest to the veracity of these facts. So, you have to see the Manafort/Gates indictment with more skepticism, right?

George Papadopoulos agreed in front of a judge with everything the government put in those filings when he pled guilty. He attested it was all true. In contrast, Manafort and Gates today pled not guilty. So, what we read today in their indictment is really just the government`s side of the case. And you have to keep that in mind, right?

But keeping that in mind, what the government alleges in that indictment, at least sheds a lot of light on how the government is approaching the Trump campaign and specifically the chairman of that campaign. For one thing, it tells us why Paul Manafort`s house got raided in the middle of the night on July 26, which none of his neighbors conveniently noticed, and that`s next.


MADDOW: In the indictment unsealed today against Trump campaign Paul Manafort and Trump campaign official Rick Gates, parts of the government`s case that they illegally worked as agents of a foreign power without registering as such, and then lied about that fact to the government. Part of the government`s case there is based on lobbying records that the government says they found at Paul Manafort`s house when they raided it in July.

According to the indictment, Manafort`s company told the special counsel`s office that they had a hard and fast policy of not retaining records for anything older than 30 days ago. That`s why they didn`t have anything to offer them on these contested lobbying matters.

Imagine how peaceful your life could be if you could just wire your own brain that way. It was more than 30 days ago? Sorry.

Must be nice, right? You`d be constantly living in the moment. No trauma too big as long as it`s old.

The government says, though, that in their raid of Paul Manafort`s home in Virginia, they turned up records older than 30 days that showed lobbying work that Manafort and Gates had denied participating in. So, that gives us one clear view on what the government thinks they got, what they earned in that pre-dawn raid on Manafort`s house in Alexandria back in the summer.

Now, in terms of what we learned from the Manafort and Gates indictment, we also got a list from the government of overseas corporations that Manafort and Gates allegedly used not only to get paid from foreign sources, but to pay for stuff here in the U.S. The government uses that list of companies and extensive list of alleged wire transfers from those companies to basically make two allegations. They say that Manafort laundered money by purchasing real estate. He would use overseas shell corporations and buy real estate in the U.S., then he would use that real estate in the U.S. as collateral for taking out a loan for cash. And that was a way to get liquidity, cash money that appeared to be from a legal source even though the money originated overseas in what the government describes as an illicit manner.

So, money laundering is part of what the government alleges. The other thing they are alleging, though, is tax evasion. And it`s possible, I am not creative enough about these things, but this part I have a little bit of a hard time getting my head around, allegations from the government on tax evasion is that Paul Manafort was paid millions of dollars for his work in Ukraine. That money went from Ukraine into these overseas corporations that he controlled.

The indictment then alleges or at least what I think they`re alleging is that when Manafort wanted to buy, like, a shirt or a rug or an antique or the services of a guy to mow his lawn, instead of paying for that like you or I would with cash or check or credit card, he would instead arrange for a wire transfer from one of these strangely named overseas shell corporations that he controlled and that had absorbed money from Ukraine.

The reason I`m saying I`m having a hard time getting my head around that is because I can imagine large-scale wire transfers being used to purchase million dollars properties or something or as the government appears to allege, to buy what looks like a $500,000 life insurance policy, sure. But you`d use this method to pay the guy who mows your lawn?

Imagine that, like, hey, thanks, Joe`s landscaping. Thanks, vendor F landscaper in Hamptons, New York. It`s July 23rd, 2010. I realize it`s time for me to pay the landscaping bill for you having watered the box woods and trim the tope area or whatever. The way I`ll pay for that is through a $19,000 Cypriot wire transfer from a company called Leviathan Advisors Limited.

You`re handling the books yourself, lawn mower Joe, or can I put the Cypriot Leviathan Advisors Limited wire transfer payment through to your cousin in the office? Is he still doing the books for you? I mean, that`s what the indictment spells out.

It`s one thing to think about buying real estate that way, but they`re saying that`s how Paul Manafort bought, like, shirts. He goes into some clothier and says I would like to buy $3,000 worth of ties. And then he pays for his ties with a wire transfer from Cyprus? I mean, how do they work that out at the register? I just -- maybe he gets his ties on pallets, I don`t know.

The government indictment suggests Paul Manafort used payments from overseas companies that he controlled to purchase more than $12 million in consumer goods and services, including literally clothes and rugs. They say that`s how he avoided paying income tax on that money. He got to use it without ever recording it as income. The money technically never passed through him. It was Lucical (ph) Consulting that need to buy cuff links, not Paul Manafort.

Is that really what money laundering looks like? Is that what tax evasion looks like? That process that the government described here in the indictment, the people who look at indictments like this and who follow white collar crime like this, is that a familiar-looking process? Here`s one more big question that`s raised by the Manafort and Gates indictment, again, keeping in mind that this is an indictment, these are just government allegations. Manafort and Gates have both pled not guilty.

But there is something that doesn`t make sense in the indictment in terms of money. Page 3 of the indictment says the government -- on page 3 of the indictment the government says, quote, in total, more than $75 million flowed through offshore accounts. Manafort laundered more than $18 million used by him to buy property, goods and services in the U.S., income he concealed from the Treasury and the Department of Justice and others. Gates transferred more than $3 million from offshore accounts to other accounts that he controlled.

They say that in the indictment. Government then goes into great line by line detail to explain what it was that Paul Manafort spent money on using this weird overseas wire transfer process, right? But the math here has a really big hole in it. They`re saying more than $75 million moves through these accounts, but then they only account for $20 million of it. The government makes no account of more than $50 million of that money. The government gives no accounting basically at all for the way money came to Gates and Manafort.

Where did that money come from? The only thing the indictment says is they worked as agents of Ukraine and its political parties and leaders and as such they generated tens of millions of dollars in income. But that`s all they say. We hear nothing else about those sources of income.

And the reason I`m asking is because there`s no crime in being a rich guy. There`s no crime in making a lot of money overseas. The question is whether or not the income that Manafort and Gates made can be legitimately worked -- be legitimately linked to their work as political consultants and lobbyists on behalf of Ukrainian interests. Is that where all their money came from? Their work in Ukraine on behalf of those political parties and stuff?

Because on October 13th, NBC News reported that there had been more than $60 million in payments made to Paul Manafort, made to overseas entities controlled by Paul Manafort from a Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska was a backer of the Party of Regions, which is the Ukrainian political party Manafort worked for.

Manafort also worked for Deripaska supporting projects in other countries like Georgia and Montenegro. In March, "The A.P." reported Deripaska signed Manafort up to a multi-million dollar annual contract under which Manafort would agree to promote the interests of Vladimir Putin around the world. Deripaska is the same Russian oligarch to whom Manafort offered private campaign briefings when he was Trump campaign chair. During the campaign, Manafort also reportedly met with his own business associate who came to New York to meet with Manafort to convey to him important messages from Oleg Deripaska regarding his country, which is Russia.

E-mails reported by "The Washington Post" and "The Atlantic" magazine showed during the campaign Manafort was very concerned that Deripaska had seen and reviewed and found favor in press reports about Manafort`s own role on the campaign.

So, if Manafort took more than $60 million, not just for his work as a consultant in Ukraine, but if he took more than $60 million specifically from a Putin-connected Russian oligarch, and he`s on record seeming very keen to use the Trump campaign as a way to keep that oligarch happy -- well, you know what? There`s no sign of that $60 million from Oleg Deripaska washing through this indictment.

The government describes $75 million as moving around in there. They only name what happened to about $20 million of it. Where is the rest of the money? And is there anything in this indictment that proves to us that the government definitively knows where that money is, where it came from, and what it was for?

Joining us now is Greg Farrell. He`s an investigative reporter for "Bloomberg News." He`s been doing a lot of reporting on Paul Manafort and specifically on money.

Greg, it`s really nice for you to be here. Thanks.


MADDOW: Big day.

FARRELL: Yes, a very big day.

MADDOW: You`re an excellent follow the money reporter. What is your -- what are your biggest takeaways from the Gates/Manafort indictment?

FARRELL: The money they identified here is partly money laundering. And you cannot have money laundering unless you have an underlying crime. And the underlying crime they allege as you mentioned is not registering as a foreign agent representing a government. Therefore, once you establish that that is the crime, the alleged crime, and then all the money that flowed from those activities can be considered money laundering. So --

MADDOW: That`s a strange way to charge money laundering, isn`t it? I mean, FARA, FARA violations, usually the way the government deals with that is they go to somebody, hey, you didn`t register, go back and register. And then like Manafort and like Flynn both did, you retroactively register and that kind of cleans that up.


MADDOW: Describing all of the money that came out of Ukraine lobbying as essentially, you know, black ledger money, it`s money that would be illegal because of its origins feels like -- feels like they`re pushing it there.

FARRELL: Yes. Well, they wanted to build an air tight case on this specific element without getting into other subjects. And that`s what they`ve done. If you look at the voluminous documents and lists of wire transfers that were made, it`s very, you know, this would be very difficult if the underlying premise -- and they`ve got lawyers, you know, like Michael Dreben backing this up. The underlying premise is that this is prosecutable, the FARA violation.

MADDOW: And does it make sense to you, the government`s case here depends on Manafort and Gates bending over backwards to avoid FARA registering, to avoid seeming like foreign agents, to avoid actually getting on the right side of the law with that work for Ukraine. Why would they go to such an incredible extent to avoid doing that? That`s a part of it that doesn`t ring for me.

FARRELL: Yes, partly in their defense, this is not prosecuted like -- it`s very rarely prosecuted.


FARRELL: So, it`s one of these things -- well, everybody passes through this red light. So, you`re suddenly going to pull me over for passing through the red light? And the answer is, yes.

MADDOW: On the tax evasion part of this, I am puzzled, as I just explained, by the idea that Manafort, according to the indictment, appears to have been paying, like, for suits and shirts and stuff using overseas wire transfers from these companies that he had based in places like the Grenadines and Cyprus. How do you read that?

FARRELL: Well, that`s to show that this is not just hastily, but it`s a very thoroughly, you know, researched and constructed indictment. In addition to that, look at the big purchases of real estate in New York. You know, five, $6 million transferred to buy a couple of properties here. So, those are significant, yes.

There`s the antique rug store and there`s like the guy who cuts the lawn in the Hamptons. But there are some big ticket items there as well including real estate.

MADDOW: And when you have covered tax evasion and other kinds of -- when you`ve seen things like that prosecuted in the past, is that sort of a pattern of payment and the use of overseas entities like that, is that something you`ve ever seen before?

FARRELL: Not to this scale. This is -- this is pretty significant.

MADDOW: Greg Farrell, investigative reporter for "Bloomberg News" -- thank you very much for helping us understand this. I have a feeling it`s going to take a long time to unpack it. Thank you, Greg. Thanks a lot.

FARRELL: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. Still have lots more questions. One of the U.S. attorneys that President Trump fired will be join being us here tonight in just a moment. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Behold the first public comment on behalf of the Trump campaign chairman on the day that the Trump campaign chairman was hit with a 12- count felony indictment. Behold.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think you all saw it today that President Donald Trump was correct.



MADDOW: Of course, he was, of course that`s what the indictment says to all of us.

Fishing for a presidential pardon was not the worst way for Paul Manafort`s lawyer to start his first public remarks today. But whether or not Paul Manafort ends up getting one may hinge on whether the president looks at Paul Manafort`s legal trouble and sees liability for himself. Either in what Paul Manafort is alleged to have done or in what the president might know Paul Manafort has in his head about his own experiences on the campaign.

Joining us now is Paul Fishman. He was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, for 7 1/2 years, overseeing multiple criminal investigations and prosecutions involving political corruption. He was fired by Mr. Trump earlier this year.

Mr. Fishman, thank you very much for being here.

PAUL FISHMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It`s nice to be back.

MADDOW: When you read the indictment and the documents are released about George Papadopoulos today, you sort of -- you`re seeing them from a prosecutor`s point of view. What seems most surprising or most important to you?

FISHMAN: Well, I think one of the things that`s clear is Bob Mueller and his staff don`t like the fact that they were lied to in the middle of an investigation involving national security. And they interviewed this fellow in January, on January 27th. Coincidentally, the night that Jim Comey went to the White House to have dinner with the president, I think.

They interviewed with him --

MADDOW: Papadopoulos?

FISHMAN: Papadopoulos.


FISHMAN: They interviewed Papadopoulos at great length. He obviously didn`t tell them the truth. They interviewed him again with his lawyer in February. He promised he would cooperate, said he would cooperate. Didn`t correct any of the statements, misstatements he made in January.

And obviously they did a lot of research and a lot of digging because they got access to his e-mails, his old Facebook account. If you look at the -- if you look at the plea, I was interviewed the second tie by the FBI on February 16th, I think. And on February 17th, he deleted his entire Facebook account and put up a new one that had no content related to the Russians.

FBI and Bob Mueller`s office obviously got that archived Facebook account and they were able to figure out exactly what he did. In the middle of an investigation like this, that is a huge mistake for somebody who actually they can prove did something like that.

MADDOW: And then once they charge him --


MADDOW: -- there is a long distance -- there is a long period of time that elapses between when they charge him, when they arrest him and charge him, and when he finally pleads. They describe him as proactively cooperating during that time. What does that mean?

FISHMAN: So, two things are generally happening in that time period. If that happens, one is somebody is being as law enforcement calls it completely debriefed. They want to ask him once he agrees to cooperate, everything he knows, everything he did himself, everything that he knows about every person he`s talked to, any information he can provide to the FBI and the prosecutors that relates either to the jeopardy in which he finds himself and the stuff he`s done or anything else he might know about.

And then they have to make a decision, the prosecutors and the agents, is there an opportunity to use somebody like him proactively. Typically, what that might mean is that he wears a wire and may have gone to talk to people. So, it is possible, I don`t know, but it is possible that since the end of July until the beginning of October, he may have had conversations with some of the people mentioned in his charges running back at them to say, hey, how about that time I asked you to meet with the Russians and you said, OK, something like that?

MADDOW: And so people on the campaign or people who may have been involved in Trump world some way who had conversations with him since July 27th will know that that`s a possibility.

FISHMAN: And there is a good chance those conversations took place if they were recorded by the FBI.

MADDOW: If -- is there anything that we should read into the fact that the Papadopoulos information was unsealed today on the same day that the Manafort and Gates indictment was unsealed? They don`t appear to have very much to do with one another other than the fact they are both Trump related. Is -- could that be a coincidence, would they otherwise do these things in the same day if they weren`t connected?

FISHMAN: No, I think -- maybe simply that Mueller and his team want to send a message they are serious and they are making progress. And they also -- there is a common thread between the two, is it Manafort and Gates and Papadopoulos had -- were guilty of deceptive conduct. And I think that matters.

One of the things I took away from both documents, I don`t know if you noticed this when you read them is that the Manafort indictment talks about the fact that FBI had access to lots of e-mails through a judicially approved search warrant. Papadopoulos` plea also talked about the e-mails that the Mueller team had access to.

So, it`s pretty clear that they are very aggressively using judicially authorized search warrants to get to the e-mails of people who may have been involved in these and other episodes. And so, that`s an important investigative technique. It`s one the prosecutors and agents like to use and I wouldn`t be surprised to see that surface again.

MADDOW: One last question on those emails, and the Papadopoulos documents. There aren`t names of other campaign officials. They are supervisor and another sort of generic terms like that. We can figure out who some of those people are because of other reporting about other pieces of those e- mails. Is there a reason why those people`s names would be left out of those documents?

FISHMAN: Yes, typically, the Justice Department`s policy if somebody hasn`t been implicated in documents in court, either through evidentiary filings or through a guilty plea, it`s the policy not to name those people in those kinds --

MADDOW: Even if you can suss out who they are?

FISHMAN: Even if people can suss out, sometimes it is more obvious in other cases in different cases. But that`s president reason for it. But if you read the motion to seal the plea of Papadopoulos which took place -- the plea agreement which took place on October 5th, that motion talks about the reason they were -- the documents were sealed for the last three weeks. And that`s because the FBI was trying to interview people involved in that case, may well be those people were people who were interviewed or that the FBI took a run at them.

MADDOW: Paul Fishman, former U.S. attorney from the great state of New Jersey, thank you very much.

FISHMAN: Thanks again. Nice to see you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more questions. I feel like the more I understand about this the more fired up I get. I could figure this out.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: On big days in American politics, two things happen in my mind whether I want them to or not. First is I start imagining this music wherever I go, whatever I do. And second, I get an urge to talk to my friend Chris Matthews.

Before we learned that today would be -- turn off the election. Thank you. Thank you.

Before we learn that today would be the first day of indictments and guilty pleas to criminal charges in the new administration, I had asked Mr. Matthews to come in tonight to talk about his new book on Bobby Kennedy, which is called "A Raging Spirit." It comes out tomorrow. It`s great. It is beautifully written and I learned lots of stuff, including stuff I felt guilty I didn`t know before reading it.

Now, I have the world`s greatest excuse to pin Chris down on this huge day in the news as well as his new book.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, "HARDBALL": Thank you. Aren`t you nice? Thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you for being here.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a big night and I think it is an historic night. And I think that if I were the president, I`d be very disturbed because Mr. Mueller is a very organized man. I think his iconic carrying of that attache case around would scare the hell out of Trump. Trump doesn`t mind commentary. He sort of enjoys, he basks in it.

But facts hurt him. And I think today, you saw Mueller`s very systematic approach. We`re going to take a guy you never heard of before named George Papadopoulos, and he was the first guy to sort of receive the Russian overture. He was the one to hurt for it, before Jared. He heard in April, as you pointed out. And he knows he`s going to proceed very systematically like a steam roller and he brings in, why did he bring in Manafort today? To remind him that his life is in jeopardy.

That he`s 70-year-old man, he`s going to face 30 or 40 years in prison if he doesn`t play ball. So, anything Manafort has done or overheard or has reason to know about, he`s going to produce it. I think that`s what`s coming.

MADDOW: Thinking about the president at a personal level, him reacting to this --


MADDOW: -- in his business life, he ran a small business. I mean, it had a lot of money, and did a lot of stuff, but there weren`t a lot of people who worked in the Trump Organization. And the great preponderance of them were his children. He`s not used to having people who are working on his behalf whose own behavior can get him in trouble --


MADDOW: -- and reflect on him.

And I was -- I mean, and when we talk about the president bringing family members into the administration, having Ivanka working there, having Jared working there and what that means, the great precedent for that, of course, is Bobby Kennedy. Coming in and being the attorney general for his brother. That decision-making process that they went through about having him there because Jack Kennedy trusted him more than anybody else in the world.

I mean, I feel like it`s the hall of mirrors version of what we`re seeing here with this kind of nepotism now.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a mirror image in the sense as the opposite because Bobby took care of Jack. Now, Trump has to take care of his family. Bobby was the one who was the chief counsel on the Rackets Committee. He was the prosecutor.

Bobby was the one who got him elected senator, got him elected president. Bobby was the one he called when the Bay of Pigs crashed down and he got -- the whole thing was going the wrong way, come back, Bobby, I need you.

During the Cuban missile crisis, Bobby was the one that said, let me get my guy Bolshakoff (ph). Maybe we`ll trade for the Turkish missiles. He came up with that idea. He also said we`ll answer the first letter not the second letter from Khrushchev. We`ll work it out.

And the crisis hit in Birmingham, when all those African-American kids were being hit by those jet streams, by those police and the police dogs were biting them on television, Bobby was the one that got together and raised the money to get them out of jail. Bobby was the one that met with James Baldwin and his people, figured out we have to do something. It clicked on Bobby.

It was a great scene in Robert Drew`s documentary were Jack and Bobby were in the same room, with Kennedy, O`Donnell and all the others, Ted Sorensen, and Bobby says, Jack, you got to go on television. You got to come out for civil rights. You have to do it.

And Jack is demurring -- I don`t know if this is the right time. Bobby said this is the time.

Bobby was -- he was amazingly good. How is that for a word? He was good. He had a moral authority.

Imagine being a white person, I hate talking like this, but let`s face it. We`re a racially divided country in many ways. He went into Indianapolis the night Martin Luther King was killed.

He had to go in and tell an African-American crowd in a tough neighborhood, the police wouldn`t go in with him. He said, I`m going in. I have to go. And he stood in front of that crowd on the top of a truck and he said, Martin Luther King has just been killed.

You know how you could hear from the old NBC tape. He said, do they know yet? The guy says, they don`t know yet. He had to tell them.

Who has the moral authority today to say, to a group that has reason to be rebellious literally over what happened? He said we have to live together. We have to love each other.

He said things like, my brother was killed by a white man. I understand, it sounded a little hokey at the time. But my God, it was his way of saying, you know what, I`ve been a victim, too. My family has been a victim.

And I think when you see the train pictures on the book of the white families saluting him and the families singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", what leader today has the moral authority to bring both communities together and say, maybe you don`t hang out with each other but you can have the same goals as a country and a patriotic spirit about it?

What I wanted to do writing this book before I knew I was writing it to say Trump isn`t the American reality, there is a spirit to this country about hope and getting together and empathy for people in trouble that survives the `60s. And he is the spirit of it, Bobby.

MADDOW: "Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit" is Chris Matthews` new book. Historic day today.


MADDOW: I feel like history kind of hits you hard on a day like today. It`s really hard to get away from, I mean, this is -- today`s the anniversary of the day that Cap Weinberger was indicted. Today is the anniversary of the day the House Judiciary Committee first voted to start proceedings against Nixon and this stuff comes and you can never on -- the bigger the news day, the further, the harder to get away from history.

MATTHEWS: If I were Trump, I remember one thing about Watergate and I`d keep in my head, it wasn`t a political argument. It wasn`t what Jimmy Breslin said it was good, the guys who finally shot strange or whatever, the good guys finally won. It was about fact.

And in the end, the courts produced the 23rd June tape about Nixon covering up and all the talk Nixon said, I didn`t do it, I didn`t do it countered by the fact and Trump has to deal with is, his factual argument was, there was no Russian effort to influence our election.

MADDOW: Wrong, wrong.

MATTHEWS: And he said there was no participation. Now, we`ve got a guy named Papadopoulos. We`ve got a guy named Jared Kushner. I`m sorry. They were flirting with a collusion and now, we have to go to the next step and see if they really did collude. But he`s been wrong all along. He`s been denying everything and there`s a thing there.

MADDOW: Yes. And when that thing is adjudicated through the judicial process, facts win.

MATTHEWS: Right. Well said.

MADDOW: Chris Matthews.

MATTHEWS: Your show tonight has been as always stellar.

MADDOW: Very nice to me.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

MADDOW: More ahead. Stay with us.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.


MADDOW: It`s one thing for me to say that the first criminal charges and the first guilty plea in this administration, those things feels historic. It`s one thing for me to assert that. That is an assertion that can be checked.

Joining us now is NBC presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

Michael, thank you for being with us tonight.


MADDOW: So, looking back at Watergate, looking back at Iran-Contra, looking back at other presidential scandals that resulted in criminal charges, how do you see this news today fitting on that number line?

BESCHLOSS: This has the potential to go way beyond because those were not really scandals that primarily involved a hostile power. You know, what we saw today was the beginning of an escalating chain that might lead to evidence, that people around the president or possibly even the president himself were machinating to collude with a foreign power that is hostile to us. That`s something that we haven`t seen before.

But, you know, Rachel, what we saw today I think was sort of like Watergate before John Dean testified and before we knew that there were tapes. This is really the first inning. Whether this leads to something grave like, you know, impeachment and conviction, we don`t know tonight.

MADDOW: It was an interesting pair of stories today. Obviously, the Trump campaign chairman, there`s no further up in the campaign that you could go than the chair.

BESCHLOSS: Right. Can`t go higher.

MADDOW: And also, this relatively anonymous figure, this foreign policy adviser, young man who had inflated his own resume famously during the campaign who most people couldn`t have named him let alone picked him out of the lineup before today. The obscurity of Papadopoulos, how does that factor? Are there historical echoes there?

BESCHLOSS: That`s the way an investigation begins. You know, the first witness in the Senate Watergate hearings was a guy no one remembers named Robert Odle, who was sort of mid level official in Nixon reelection committee, and they began with him and they worked upwards and the circle expanded.

The irony with Papadopoulos is that one of the things that Nixon was accused of was taking foreign money from the Greek junta in the 1968 campaign and that junta of all things total coincidence was led by a man named, of all things, George Papadopoulos.

MADDOW: You`re serious?

BESCHLOSS: I`m serious.


BESCHLOSS: History does rhyme.

MADDOW: There`s a Watergate George Papadopoulos too, and one now. Wow.

Michael Beschloss, NBC presidential historian, thank you for being here. Appreciate it.

BESCHLOSS: Circle turns. Thank you, Rachel. Be well.

MADDOW: See, we have to sort out the George Papadopouloses. We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: That does it for us this evening. I`ll see you again tomorrow.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL", where I have a feeling I have some vague sense of what Lawrence will be discussing this evening.

Good evening, Lawrence.



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