Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: November 6, 2017 Guest: Henry Meyer
TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: That`s what Virginia is looking for and, frankly, that`s what America is looking for. They are looking for healers and we`re not going to -- I feel confident that we`re going to be able to pull it off.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: Tom, I hope the voters of Virginia and people in America are looking for healers. Lord, would I love to live in that timeline. I`m not sure that`s the one we`re living in, but we`re going to find out tomorrow if you`re right about that.
Tom Perez, thanks for joining us.
PEREZ: Yes, we will. But -- always a pleasure, Chris.
HAYES: Tomorrow night, I will sit down with former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, whose book has been causing huge waves, Donna Brazile.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Appreciate it.
HAYES: All right.
MADDOW: Thanks to you for joining us this hour. Happy Election Day eve.
For the last couple of hours this evening, law enforcement in Texas have confirmed some new details about the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, yesterday morning, which has now claimed 26 lives. It had previously been reported that the killer had used a long gun, a rifle, semiautomatic rifle to shoot dozens of people inside that small town church. Two handguns, in addition, were later recovered from his vehicle, including one handgun that he may have used to kill himself after he crashed his car while being pursued by bystanders in rural Guadalupe County, Texas.
Tonight, the local sheriff confirms that they recovered 15 ammunition magazines from the scene of the church shooting and he reports that all of them were empty.
Now, it had previously been reported that the gunman used 30-round magazines, so extended magazines. If he went through 15 fully loaded 30- round magazines inside that church, that means, conceivably, he may have fired off more than 400 rounds inside that small building.
In addition to the FBI and local law enforcement involvement in this investigation, the United States Air Force and the inspector general of the Department of Defense are now involved, and that`s because of the nexus between the killer`s disastrous history in the United States Air Force and the question of how he was able to obtain the guns that he used in this massacre. In 2012, he was serving in the Air Force when he was court- martialed for assaulting his wife and for assaulting his infant stepson so severely that he broke the boy`s skull.
He was court-martialed in 2012, convicted. He served a year at a Navy brig in San Diego. The Air Force doesn`t operate its own prisons or jails. So, when you get convicted as an airman, you get sentenced either to an Army jail or a Navy jail. In this case, he did his sting in a Navy brig in San Diego. When he finished that one year term, he was reduced in rank and he was given a bad conduct discharge.
But because of what he had been convicted of, because he was convicted specifically of a domestic violence offense, under federal law, he was not legally allowed to own or possess any kind of gun. But the Air Force is admitting tonight that at the local level, his domestic violence conviction was not entered into the National Crime Information Center, the NCIC system, which licensed firearms dealers are supposed to be checked when you try to buy a gun at a gun store or sporting goods store or any place else where they`re supposed to follow the background check system.
The Air Force has now launched a review into why his domestic violence conviction, which should have prohibited him from buying a gun, it was not entered into the NCIC`s database.
The inspector general of the Pentagon is going to investigate this as well. According to the Pentagon tonight, quote: The DOD inspector general will also review relevant policies and procedures to ensure records from other cases across the Defense Department have been reported correctly.
The shooting in Sutherland Springs was one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. In the past six weeks, we have had two of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, first in Las Vegas, now in Texas.
The president responded to the Texas massacre by saying that this was not a guns issue. He said, quote: I think that mental health is your problem here.
The president does not appear to be speaking from any verifiable public information and anything issuing that layman`s diagnosis of what went wrong here. But if the president did believe that the mental health of the killer was the real issue here, then somebody should probably ask the president why one of the very first things he signed as president, the first meaningful thing that moved through Congress that he signed as president was a change in regulations specifically and only to make it easier for people who have been adjudicated mentally ill to obtain firearms.
I mean, if the president believes that there`s no gun problem here, the only issue here is a mentally ill person obtaining and then misusing a gun, well, this president took overt action as soon as he became president to make it easier for mentally ill people to get guns.
So, in terms of what, if anything, motivated this latest attack, there have been reports that one of the victims in the church was the gunman`s wife`s grandmother. There have been reports that his estranged wife sometimes attended the church as did her mother. There have been reports that he sent threatening texts to the mother. Neither the estranged wife nor her mother was at the church yesterday when the attack happened.
Local authorities are just not commenting on any potential motivation for the attack. So, we don`t know why it happened, to the extent that these things can ever be know. But we do know how it happened. It wasn`t that this guy turned crazy on people. He turned a military grade semiautomatic firearm on these people, in an enclosed space. And then, according to what the sheriff said tonight, he apparently emptied 15 high-capacity ammunition magazines into the people of that church.
We`re told by local authorities tonight, do not expect further police briefings tonight. There will be one tomorrow but we`re not sure of the time. We`ll let you know more as we learn more.
You know, even before news broke yesterday morning of this massive shedding of blood in Sutherland Springs, Texas, we were already in a news environment over the weekend that felt a little overwhelming, didn`t it? I obviously do this show Monday to Friday. On the weekends, I stay up on what`s going on, but I try to tune out a little bit.
This weekend, I feel like I was never able to tune out, because so much stuff happened over the weekend and specifically so many news stories broke over the weekend and over the course of today, too, that have been both big stories and surprising stories but they`ve all had some degree of like opacity or density to them that`s made them hard to absorb. Nothing simple has broken over the last few days. And a lot of what`s broken over the last few days is a really big deal.
Just take this story out of Saudi Arabia, for example. This is potential world changing stuff. It`s certainly Middle East changing stuff. And I`m quite sure we don`t know what`s going to happen next here, but if what continues to happen in Saudi Arabia is anywhere near as momentous as what just happened there, this really could be the start of a whole new era in international politics and in international economics.
Last -- the last Saudi king, King Abdullah, died in 2015. He was 90 years old. When he died, his half-brother took over as king. So, the new king of the Saudi Arabia is King Salman.
Right away though in that transition, it was clear that it may not be a long-term arrangement and I don`t mean that in a rude way. I just mean that King Abdullah was 90 when he died. King Salman who replaced him was 79 already when he took over. That was two years ago. He`s now 81.
In the couple of years that King Salman has been king, he`s maneuvered aggressively to install his favorite son as his formal and obvious and powerful successor. And he picked his favorite son for that role when his favorite son was only 30 years old.
The favorite son, the crown prince, is Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, MBS. MBS is now 32 years old. He`s very young.
He`s already been named the top economic adviser in the kingdom, the chief of the royal court in the kingdom, the defense minister of Saudi Arabia, and officially the guy next in line to be king. He had to jump over a bunch of his cousins in order to get that role.
And we don`t know what happened to set off what happened this weekend, but honestly, Saudi Arabia and the royal court and the line of succession turned into an action movie. It started off bizarrely with the prime minister of a whole different country resigning as prime minister of his country while he was in Saudi Arabia. The prime minister of Lebanon on Saturday announced he was stepping down as the Lebanese prime minister and Lebanon is a whole other country from Saudi Arabia, but mysteriously, the Lebanese prime minister announced in Saudi Arabia that he was stepping down.
Why did that happen? I mean, if President Trump was going to resign from office, that would be momentous enough. If he went to Mexico to announce it, right?
That said, that was really strange on Saturday. Nobody knew what that was about. But nobody had long to wonder about that because hours after that super strange announcement, the crown prince, MBS, announced he was taking over the one part of the security forces in his country that hadn`t yet been brought under his control. Then, the kingdom announced that the crown prince, MBS, was now in charge of a brand-new anti-corruption unit.
And the first act of this new, previously unknown anti-corruption unit was to arrest and lock up 11 other princes, four currently serving ministers of the government and dozens of ex-ministers. They literally emptied out the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh and locked up all of the princes there, indefinitely. All members of the extended royal family in Saudi Arabia, which is a lot of people, all of them have been banned from leaving the country. Private jets are being blocked at the airports and not being allowed out.
And we don`t know if this next part is related -- in the movie version it certainly would be -- but hours after all the princes got arrested, one of the princes, who was apparently not available for immediate arrest, this was another former crown prince, another guy who`d been in line to be the next king at one point, hours after all of those 11 princes got arrested and locked up, this other prince, former crown prince, ended up dead in an unexplained helicopter crash in the middle of the desert, just hours after all his cousins got arrested and locked up in the Ritz-Carlton.
So, we really don`t really know what all of that is about. We do know, however, that our government is totally on board with whatever`s happening.
The crown prince who arrested all of his cousins, locked them up in the Ritz-Carlton, appears to be consolidating power in a way that hasn`t been seen in Saudi Arabia in 50 years at least. He somewhat famously visited President Trump in the Oval Office in March. That`s President Trump and MBS.
Less famously, he apparently hosted Jared Kushner last week. When Jared Kushner took an unannounced under the radar trip to Saudi Arabia that we were not allowed to know he was on until he returned.
David Ignatius at "The Washington Post," who always has the best dirt on Saudi Arabia, today, he reports that during Jared Kushner`s unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia last week, Jared spent several nights staying up until 4:00 in the morning plotting with MBS, with the crown prince. And Jared came home and the crown prince launched his coup.
So, the Lebanese prime minister shocking everybody by announcing his resignation in Saudi Arabia, followed by the arrests of all of the princes, followed by the death of one of the princes. That all happened in very quick succession on Saturday.
President Trump then called the Saudi king the day after on Sunday, and whatever happened in that conversation, the White House gave a readout about what that discussion was about and made no mention that anything unusual at all was under way. No mention of the arrests, no mention that the entire Saudi royal family was being grounded and a large portion of them were now being held against their will. No mention of that. Just a statement of support from Mr. President and an announcement that the call had taken place.
The president followed that up today on Twitter with this pronouncement that he believes the Saudi King and MBS, the crown prince, quote, they know what they are doing. They may know what they are doing, but I wish we knew what they were doing, particularly if this is the start of them going to war with Iran or something, it would be good to know. Maybe the White House knows. Maybe they`ll tell us. Maybe Jared knows.
So, all that`s stuff broke on Saturday, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night and into Sunday. Just previously unimaginable news out of this incredibly important country in the Middle East. And at the same time we`re trying to figure out what`s going on with that story, we get the "Paradise Papers". Huh?
You`ve heard of the "Panama Papers". This is twice as much fun. Now, the "Paradise Papers" thing -- this is something you`re going to hear about in days, weeks and probably months ahead. There are hundreds of news outlets working on the "Paradise Paper" story all over the world.
The reason so many different news organizations are working on it, the reason it`s going to be lots and lots of stories and not just one story is because what the "Paradise Papers" are is a repository of millions of documents that were hacked or stolen or otherwise somehow leaked from a law firm, a law firm in Bermuda that sets up intentionally complex, hard to follow and sometimes secret entities to help very rich people move their money around, make investments, buy stuff and generally avoid ever paying tax on anything.
And as I say, there`s going to be a lot of news that comes out of this trove of millions of documents that has just been spooled out to news organizations around the world. But for the Trump administration, problem numero uno from these papers is Wilbur Ross. Wilbur Ross, the 79-year-old diminutive billionaire who President Trump appointed commerce secretary.
Now, this is not the first time that Wilbur Ross` finances and business dealings have has been source of controversy and intrigue since he joined the cabinet. Remember last week when Paul Manafort and Rick Gates got indicted? There was all these references to their offshore bank accounts in the nation of Cyprus. When that indictment came out and those details came out in their indictment, did that ring any little Wilbur Ross bells for you?
If it did, that`s because it remains a source of great interest and controversy that Wilbur Ross served as the vice chair of the Bank of Cyprus, at a time when banks in Cyprus were like, were like -- you know how, you know how like Frisbee is a brand name, but Frisbee is basically like the brand name generic for flying disk, right?
Or Kleenex, right? Technically, you know, you`d say, please, may I have a facial tissue? But nobody ever says that. The brand name generic is Kleenex, right? You know, so that kind of dynamic.
Wilbur Ross became the vice chair of the Bank of Cyprus at a time when banks in Cyprus were like the branded generic for "I`m laundering money for Russian oligarchs connected to Vladimir Putin and Putin`s family". It`s the Kleenex. It`s the Frisbee of Russian money laundering.
And Wilbur Ross was vice chair of the Bank of Cyprus, and he`s long denied that there was anything shady or money launder-ish about his time at the Bank of Cyprus. He`s dismissed about the simultaneous involvement of numerous Putin connected Russian oligarchs in that same bank, at the same time as him, as just a matter of financial coincidence.
But now, thanks to the "Paradise Papers" reporting, we`ve learned that Wilbur Ross` financial ties to Russian oligarchs aren`t only through Cypriot banks, and they`re not only things in his past. Wilbur Ross was actually praised by some ethics watchdogs when he announced that he would be divesting himself from dozens of business partnerships and investments so as to avoid conflicts of interest in his new role as commerce secretary. Since then, though, it`s emerged that Wilbur Ross maintained billions -- literally billions of dollars in assets that he never disclosed to anybody when he was being confirmed for commerce secretary.
And it`s now been disclosed that among the holdings he chose to retain, even as he dropped all the other ones, among the holdings he chose to retain when he joined the cabinet, was a significant interest in a firm called Navigator. And the way Navigator makes money is because it has exclusive business deals with a Russian oligarch linked to Vladimir Putin, who was one of the first Russian businessman to be sanctioned by the U.S. after Russia invaded Ukraine. Also, another Russian oligarch linked to Putin whop runs Russia`s largest private natural gas company, which has also been sanctioned by the U.S. because of its links to Putin and Putin`s invasion of Ukraine.
And the other notable shareholder in that firm, that right this second as we speak continues to enrich our serving secretary of commerce, the other notable shareholder in that firm is this handsome fellow. His name is Kirill Shamalov. He`s Vladimir Putin`s son-in-law. He`s married to Putin`s daughter, the one who does the rock and roll aerobic dancing thing. That`s her husband.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insists there is nothing illegal or nefarious about this business arrangement with all these Russian oligarchs and members of Vladimir Putin`s family. He insists that he did not really need to disclose this stuff to the Senate when he was confirmed. But he also doesn`t deny that this reporting is true, which means that of all the different links between Russia and major figures in the Trump campaign and the Trump administration, this really is the first time we`ve had confirmation of an ongoing current major business relationship between a serving, high-ranking Trump administration official, and a member of Vladimir Putin`s family.
Not some relationship in the past, not some relationship through a million different intermediaries, but like a pretty direct relationship where a cabinet official in the Trump administration is making money off Putin`s family. And I say it`s the first time we`ve learned that a senior member of the Trump administration is making money off Vladimir Putin`s family right now. I say it`s the first because who among us believes it will be the last time we learn of an arrangement like this in the Trump administration?
In the "Paradise Papers" reporting, we`ve also learned that a Russian American investor, who has held major stakes in Facebook and Twitter, he was able to purchase those stakes with money that was put up by the Kremlin, by the Russian government. That same Russian American investor has also made a significant investment in a firm controlled by Jared Kushner and his brother.
Jared Kushner, of course, told Congress under oath that he`s never relied on Russian financing in any of his business ventures, while we now know that while he may not have relied on it, he certainly received it. Who wants to split those hairs?
So, as I said, there`s a lot going on right now. And a lot of these news stories are dense and complicated and I think it`s worth trying to keep an eye on some of this stuff, even if you can`t absorb all of it as it comes out.
But there are two other stories that we have just learned over the same time period that are both a really big deal and they both broken alongside all of this other important news but they may be determinative in terms of what happens next in the Trump administration specifically, and those two stories are next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: "The Washington Post" last night ran this remarkable headline. Somewhere, someone clipped and saved the print version of this headline today for their Trump administration scandal scrapbook that they`re planning on handing down to their kids and grandkids. Just remarkable headline, right?
At least nine people in Trump`s orbit had contact with Russians during campaign and transition. At least nine.
"The Washington Post" rounding up a lot of the recent news about all the different contacts with Russians that happened during the Trump campaign and during the Trump transition. But they also drop one new and potentially very important piece of information about the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation that we didn`t have before.
Again, this is new reporting in the Rosalind Haldeman, Tom Hamburger and Carol Leonnig piece at "The Post". They`re reporting that the special counsel`s office, Robert Mueller`s investigation, has recently asked for records related to Trump Tower Moscow -- the recently reported plan to build a new Trump Tower skyscraper in Moscow. A plan that the president`s real estate organization was working on during the campaign.
The president never mentioned that while he was running for president, even though he personally signed a letter of intent to pursue Trump Tower Moscow in October 2015, which was right in the thick of the Republican primary when all of the debates were happening and all of the rest of it. So, I think that it`s important not to lose that piece of it. It`s one thing to know here, particularly given the president`s past on-the-record threat that he would fire Robert Mueller if Mueller started looking into his real estate business.
Well, now, "The Washington Post" is reporting that Mueller is definitely looking into the president`s real estate business. At least the part of it that happened during the presidential campaign and that secretly involved Russia.
So, I know a lot of stuff has been going on right now, but given the president`s threat to fire Bob Mueller if Bob Mueller does X, it`s worth reporting that "The Washington Post" is now reporting that Bob Mueller is doing X.
The other thing I want to stick a pin in here is from NBC News` reporting over the weekend. NBC News reported this weekend that the Mueller investigation has sufficient evidence to indict Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and also his son, Mike Flynn Jr., who worked with him on the campaign and who worked in his consulting business.
Now, nobody knows if Robert Mueller actually will indict Mike Flynn or his son. It`s also possible that he has indicted one or both of them and that indictment is sealed and we don`t know about it. But NBC`s reporting this weekend is specifically that there exists enough information to issue an arrest warrant in conjunction with the Flynn investigation. All right. And we will have to see what that means as the story gets ripe.
But again, in that reporting, there`s something buried in there that I think is potentially a very big deal. In that reporting, MSNBC also described something we previously didn`t know about Mueller and about Flynn.
Tomorrow`s Election Day, right? Today, we learned that Trump campaign official Rick Gates will have his ankle bracelet deactivated tomorrow sometime so he can go vote in the Virginia governor`s race, which I think is a heartwarming way to mark one year since Trump was elected.
But one of the truly unusual things that happened last year on election day is that on that day, Mike Flynn published a bizarre over-the-top op-ed in "The Hill" newspaper that called for the United States to extradite a Turkish guy who the Turkish government blames for everything that`s ever gone wrong in that country. He`s a legal permanent resident of the United States. Turkey definitely wants him back so they can prosecute him. The United States has made a decision thus far not to send him back to Turkey.
But Mike Flynn on Election Day published this op-ed saying the United States should. That`s a strange thing to have done, especially on Election Day. That op-ed from Mike Flynn led to a ton of reporting about the fact that, hmm, the reason that weird op-ed came out on Election Day, the reason Mike Flynn put his name to that is because he`s on the Turkish government`s payroll and he was being paid by the Turkish government while he was simultaneously serving as Trump`s national security adviser on the campaign.
Now, that resulted in notifications by Congress to the Trump transition that Flynn appeared to be on the Turkish government payroll. That`s notifications the Trump transition pretended they`d never heard off.
That relationship with the Turkish government also ultimately led Mike Flynn to retroactively register as a foreign agent, after he`d been forced out as national security adviser. Well, now, get this, now, NBC News reports, quote: in the weeks following Trump`s inauguration, a request was made to the FBI that the FBI should reconsider whether or not they were going to extradite that guy to Turkey.
Now, we don`t know whether or not Mike Flynn, national security adviser, who was secretly on the Turkish government`s payroll, we don`t know if he`s the one who put in that request earlier on in the Trump administration to reconsider extraditing that Turkish guy. But we do now know, thanks to NBC News, that Robert Mueller is investigating that.
Quote, "Mueller`s team is also examining whether Flynn`s excuse me, whether Flynn attempted to orchestrate the removal of this Turkish cleric from the United States to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars. Oh. Headline from that NBC story is they`ve got enough evidence to indict somebody in the Flynn investigation. But this detail about what Mueller`s looking at is potentially a very big deal, right? I mean, it`s one thing to secretly be a foreign agent on the payroll of a foreign government while you`re serving as the national security adviser to a president-elect, right? It`s another thing to promise that an exchange for that foreign government paying you, you will take official acts in your position as an employee of the U.S. government to benefit that foreign power. That`s a really big deal.
And if Robert Mueller is on to that with regard to Flynn, if Robert Mueller is investigating that possibility with regard to Mike Flynn, that he took or tried to take official acts to benefit a foreign government in exchange for money, if that`s what he`s after Mike Flynn for, if that`s what he nails Mike Flynn for, then anybody who tried to obstruct or slow down or divert or pressure the FBI investigation into that matter, they`d be on the hook, not just for some technical process violation but for a disastrous national security compromise.
If that`s what Mueller is going after Flynn for, that`s a very serious deal and anybody who tried to stop that Flynn investigation, anybody at all, would be on the hook in a very serious way.
As I said, there`s a lot is going on right now, but there`s a lot going on right now that`s really important. No time to tune out.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If there was any kind of quid pro quo, one of the messages that this Russian advocate may have taken back to Moscow is the Trump administration will be very amenable to repealing the Magnitsky Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Adam Schiff, top Democrat in the Intelligence Committee, back in July was asked whether any sort of quid pro quo was on the table when the president`s son and his campaign chairman and his son-in-law Jared Kushner all met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer and a whole bunch of other Russians in Trump Tower last June.
We know that Donald Trump Jr. thought that he would get dirt from the Russians on Hillary Clinton. But was there a tradeoff? Was there something offered not just from the Russian side but also from the Trump side in that meeting?
What Congressman Schiff was pointing to there this past summer a reasonable working theory, that if Russia wanted anything from a future American White House, what they`d probably want would be sanctions relief. They`d want relief from the Magnitsky Act. The Magnitsky Act is a sanctions bill that targets Russia. President Obama signed it in 2012.
Putin was so angry about the Magnitsky Act sanctions that he retaliated against the imposition of those sanctions by blocking Americans from adopting Russian orphans. I mean, if you`re looking for something the Russians would have wanted in exchange for helping elect somebody, in the United States, an end to that sanctions law would be a pretty good first guess.
Well, what we`ve heard so far from Donald Trump Jr. is that as soon as the Magnitsky Act came up in that meeting, his side shut down the idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: The pretext of the meeting was, hey, we have information and there was -- I don`t even remember what it was. It was sort of nonsensical and garbled, and quickly went on to, you know, a story about Russian adoption and how we could possibly help and, really, that`s when we shut it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s when we shut it down. Really, that`s when we shut down.
Donald Jr. telling his favorite cable news host in the summer that they shut down that meeting as soon as the discussion of Russian sanctions came up. Donald Jr. would later tell congressional investigators the same thing.
He told them, quote: Until that day, I had never heard of the Magnitsky Act, had no familiarity with this issue. It was clear to me that her real purpose in asking for the meeting all along was to discuss Russian adoptions and the Magnitsky Act. At this point, Jared excused himself from the meeting to take a phone call. I proceeded to quickly and politely end the meeting by telling Ms. Veselnitskaya that because my father was a private citizen, and that it didn`t seem to be any point to having this discussion. She thanked us for our time and everyone left the conference room.
My father is a private citizen. No point in further discussion. I`m not interested in this. End of story, end of meeting, or not?
Today, in an interview with Bloomberg in Moscow, the Kremlin-linked lawyer from that Trump Tower meeting says that`s not how it happened at all. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, she tells "Bloomberg News" today that what Donald Jr. told her at the meeting was quote, looking head, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think about what to do about it.
In other words, hey, you give us whatever dirt you got on Hillary Clinton now that we can use it in the election and then if we come to power, we can return to this sanctions issue for you.
A lawyer for Don Jr. today said they have no comment about this interview with Bloomberg News. Veselnitskaya made this comment in an interview with two Bloomberg reporters. She said she would also tell the same story under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She said she`s ready, if asked, to tell the same story to Robert Mueller.
Joining us how is Henry Meyer. He`s a senior government reporter for "Bloomberg News" based in Moscow. He joins us from Paris now this evening.
Mr. Meyer, I know that you stayed up to the dead of night to be with us tonight. Thank you so much for joining us.
HENRY MEYER, SENIOR GOVERNEMNT REPORTER BASED IN MOSCOW, BLOOMBERG NEWS: You`re welcome, Rachel.
MADDOW: I don`t know whether or not to believe Ms. Veselnitskaya in her accounts about what happened at this meeting. I feel like she`s told a lot of different stories about her interest in taking the meeting, her affiliations with the Russian government.
How credible do you find this claim about the president`s son?
MEYER: Actually, I don`t have any reason to disbelieve what you were saying. I mean, ultimately, is it in the Russian`s interests to show mud at the Trump administration?
I think she came to us because she`s under a lot of scrutiny right now. She`s received a summons from the Senate Judicial Committee. They want evidence from her and she felt this was an opportunity to come forward and put her version of what happened on that fateful day June the 9th, 2016.
MADDOW: The thing that is very striking and potentially very legally dangerous about your reporting for Donald Trump Jr., if this account proves out, is that it does appear to have been -- you`re describing something that really sounds like an exchange. You`re describing Donald Trump Jr. pressing her for financial information that might be damaging to Hillary Clinton`s campaign and essentially in exchange, promising, if they come to power, if they win the election, to do something about her concerns.
Did she describe this as something she understood to be a potential exchange, being offered by Donald Trump Jr.?
MEYER: Yes. I mean, she said that he intimated that the Trump administration, if president Trump came to power, that they would reconsider the law and that was right after she discussed in detail her objections to this law. And then he went on, Trump Jr. went on to talk about the financial documents that he wanted to see because Veselnitskaya came to that meeting with what the Russians call Kompromat, dirt on major donors, Democratic donors, called the Ziff brothers, who had allegedly evaded U.S. taxes, on about a billion dollars of money which investments in Russia which they repatriated to the U.S.
And when this was brought up, the response from Donald Trump Jr. was OK, but show us the documents. Do you have proof that some of this billion dollars actually went to Hillary Clinton? And then when Veselnitskaya said, no, we don`t, that`s when the meeting was shut down.
MADDOW: Remarkable reporting. Henry Meyer, senior government reporter for "Bloomberg News" based in Moscow, joining us tonight in the dead of night from Paris -- thank you, sir. I really appreciate your time. Thank you.
Anybody who stays up until 4:00 in the morning in Paris just to talk to us rather than to do something more fun than you can do at that hour in Paris gets extra thanks.
I will say on this point of Veselnitskaya and whether she`s credible here, I want to underscore that she`s offering to tell this story to the United States Senate, to the Judiciary Committee also offering to tell the story to the special counsel`s office, if that comes to pass. I have no idea whether to expect whether that might come to pass.
All right. Lots more to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: On the last day of March 1968, President Lyndon Johnson gave a speech about Vietnam. War was creeping in to its 13th year. It was wildly unpopular.
And while he was in the middle of waging that war, LBJ was also running for re-election as president. His campaign was not going well.
And on March 31st, 1968, he gave the address to the nation about Vietnam and he tacked something unexpected on to the very end of that speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. Thank you this for listening. Good night and God bless all of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That revelation in the middle of the Democratic primary and the speech about the war had "The New York Times" the next day breaking out one but two giant semicolons. Look.
Johnson says he won`t run; halts North Vietnam raid; bids Hanoi join peace moves. I think they ran out of steam by the end of that headline, right?
Which thing to look at first though? The American disaster in Vietnam, the shock of a president not seeking a second term, potential path to peace. In any other election, the sitting president dropping out of the race would have been the only thing in the headline, no semicolons, right? I mean, whole books would have been written about that one sentence at the end of that speech.
Instead, that becomes this interesting footnote, a thing that happened one day in what was an absolutely wild election in 1968. Four days after LBJ dropped out, Martin Luther King was assassinated, while it`s happened all over the country, from Kansas City to Chicago to Baltimore to D.C.
Two months after that, the guy who was supposed to win the Democratic primary, Bobby Kennedy, was assassinated in California, when the Democratic Convention rolled around that summer, the guy who ended up clinching the nomination had never been on the ballot during any of the state primaries. And while Hubert Humphrey was twisting arms at the convention to lock up the nomination, Chicago police and the National Guard were outside using tear gas and batons against the protesters in the street.
1968 was madness, particularly on the Democratic side. And 1968 was also the guy that we got this guy on the Republican side. And thanks in part to the chaos and the implosion of the Democrats, Richard Nixon won the presidency that year. Not easily, but he won, and we all know what happened next.
We are a year out from the last presidential election as of tomorrow -- an election that is still testing the stitching in our democracy right now.
At times like this, I find it helpful, I find it illuminating even to remember that even if we`ve never been quite through this before, we have been through a lot. We have been through way more than you might think.
And I have a really good way for you to marinate yourself in that because joining us right now is my colleague and host of "THE LAST WORD," Lawrence O`Donnell, who is very well-versed in that rich history, because he just wrote the book on it. It`s called "Playing With Fire: The 1968 Election, and The Transformation of American Politics."
And I`ve read it and it`s riveting.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, THE LAST WORD: Thank you, Rachel. And thank you for giving some nice words in the back of it.
You know, I was at a high school eyewitness to these things. I shall not seek and will not accept -- we had those words memorized instantly, everyone in the country, when LBJ said that. No one knew he was going to say it. Almost no one in the White House knew.
The one person who did know was Lady Bird and he had a hand signal with her. He told her he wasn`t decided whether he was -- because it was right at the end of the speech after he gave a speech about Vietnam policy and how he was going to try to change things and try to depoliticize, as he put it, Vietnam policy, he`s not going to run.
And he had a hand signal that he gave to Lady Bird warning her, I`m going to do it. I`m going to drop out. And the fascinating thing that I discovered only in working on the book is, yes, he dropped out. It was over. LBJ had been dumped, in effect, by the dump Johnson movement.
But as the convention was approaching, it wasn`t over in his head. He was still thinking after the Bobby Kennedy assassination, maybe I can go into Chicago. He was actually making plans to travel to Chicago.
O`DONNELL: The riots broke out. It was very clear to him there was no way to pull this off but he started to think maybe I`m the solution, and I`m the surprise nominee in Chicago.
MADDOW: The thing that I found reading your book is that it`s the only thing that I have read in the past year that made me feel the same way that I felt about the overwhelming nature of the news in the past year and a half.
MADDOW: The past year and a half in our politics, it`s not like we`re not all aware that something big has happened, that a series of large things have happened, but so many things have happened that were previously unimaginable in quick succession that we keep feeling like we got to the end, that we got to the big point, we`ve got to the most scandalous thing, and then it`s just immediately subsumed by something else that`s bigger and also unimaginable.
Your book about 1968, particularly on the other side, is the only other thing that has made me feel like, oh, right, we`ve done this before as a country. We`ve been this overwhelmed.
O`DONNELL: And we`ve been in a worse place because as difficult as this is for people who didn`t want to see a Trump presidency and we now have a very significant majority of the country disapproving of the Trump presidency.
MADDOW: Most ever.
O`DONNELL: And this movement that we call the resistance. We had a resistance this big before and it was in 1968, and it was against both the Johnson presidency and then following, it was against the Nixon presidency and it was an anti-war resistance. And what was at stake was nothing other than life and death. Everyone, everyone over 18, every male had to have his draft card in his pocket. It was a crime to even be without it and it, and a federal crime to not have it on your person.
Kids suddenly started burning these things publicly in 1964. They have to pass a federal law to make destroying it a crime because they hadn`t made it a crime yet. People sentenced two years, six years for burning their draft cards.
I told you, Nadia from Pussy Riot was on my show on Friday night. She told us Friday night on the show that 1968 in America was one of her great inspirations. She -- she didn`t know I had written a book about it. But she said the things we saw here in 1968 gave them the energy and a lot of the spirit they bring to it now. And a lot of it was very kind of -- had elements of anarchy in it with the Yippies and Jerry Ruben and a lot of the fun that Pussy Rot throws into the very serious demonstrations and protests now.
And so, much of what we`re going through today we`ve been through before and just as a reminder, 1968, 16,000 American soldiers killed in 1968 alone.
O`DONNELL: Over 500 in one month of 1968. There`s something like 2,600 total right now in Afghanistan in the 16 years of that. And without a draft, very, very, very small percentage of the country actually feels that risk of life in Afghanistan and Iraq. And so, the tensions that this country was feeling every single day in 1968 were way more powerful than what we`re feeling now.
MADDOW: Lawrence O`Donnell has just written a new book. It comes out tomorrow. It`s called "Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics."
Lawrence, again, congratulations. Really, it`s really good. I`m very proud of you. I`m always happy you`re my colleague but I really enjoyed it.
And I will say this to our viewers. I will just say this -- you have heard way too many Watergate discussions in the past year because we have gotten a very scandal-ridden administration, and heard too much discussion of Watergate. You can learn about Watergate by learning about what Richard Nixon did, but that if you really want to learn about Watergate, learn what the country was like and what was going on in the country at the time Watergate happened which allowed Watergate to end the way it did and to understand that is to understand `68.
O`DONNELL: Oh, and there`s a little bit of collusion in the victory in the end that is worth -- it`s actually Richard Nixon used collusion with a foreign government, the South Vietnamese, in order to win in the end.
MADDOW: See? And that makes it homework.
MADDOW: Well done, Lawrence.
All right. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Minutes before we got on the air tonight, Congress released 243 pages of documents and transcript of testimony from an appearance before the House Intelligence Committee last week by Carter Page. Carter Page was a foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign. Famously, he traveled to Moscow during the campaign, with the campaign`s blessing. We`ve since learned that he says he met with Russian government officials on the trip.
Now, the Trump campaign at the highest levels has denied knowing of anybody on the campaign having contact with Russian officials while Trump was running for president. Well, now with this transcript just released tonight, we know who on the Trump campaign Carter Page says he informed about his trip to Moscow in July 2016. We have now got a name. That`s next.
MADDOW: I`m just going to read this from page 53 of the transcript tonight. This is the part of the transcript where Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page is questioned by Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy.
I`m just going to read it direct from the transcript. Gowdy says, quote: Was the Trump campaign aware of your visit to Moscow in July of 2016?
Page replies, quote: I had asked if, you know, I had mentioned it a few times to J.D. Gordon and I had, you know, again it was a standing invitation. I sent a note around to a few of the other members of our team.
And Gowdy says: why? Page responds, quote: just to make sure that -- again, I wanted to be very careful because there was starting to be some -- there was some starting to allegations about or concerns about Russia in general.
A little later on, Trey Gowdy continues with his questioning. Quote, right now, I`m trying to understand who you e-mailed and the content of those emails were. If you were going to Moscow in July of 2016, who did you tell? Why did you tell them and what did you tell them?
Page responds, quote: I just mentioned that -- I forget the specifics but I had mentioned to them it was Corey Lewandowski, and I believe Hope Hicks, and JD, meaning J.D. Gordon, just that I received this invitation, you know, just wanted to let you know.
I`m just going to Moscow, just wanted to let you know. He says he notified, J.D. Gordon, Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks. The Trump campaign at the highest levels has denied knowing that anybody in the Trump campaign was in contact with Russian government officials.
Again, those transcripts just released as we are going on the air tonight. We will have more tomorrow, as we continue to plow through them.
That does it for us tonight. Thank you very much for being with us. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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