Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 5, 2018
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciate it.
Thanks to you at home for joining thus hour.
It`s election night -- yay! -- in states around the country. We`ve already had some interesting results starting to come in as the first polls start to close.
The big kahuna, of course, in terms of national implications is California where polls close in a couple of hours. Polls close at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, which is 8:00 p.m. local time in California. We`re going to have coverage throughout the night tonight and into the wee hours here on MSNBC. I hope you will be here for the duration. It should be an interesting night.
I will be honest with you, though. This is not the way I thought today`s news was going to go. It`s a big election night. It`s a big complicated election night in lots of ways.
There`s a whole bunch of high stakes primaries. There`s a whole bunch of interesting storylines you have to understand particularly about California, lots of important results we`re expecting tonight in terms of who is likely to control Congress as of next year, which is a very important thing.
In the midst of that, I did not expect that at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on this night of all nights I would be reporting on the attempted murder arrest just outside the White House. But this news broke this evening. We still, frankly, only got quite skeletal details as to what happened here.
But I will tell what you we know thus far. Outside the White House today, a man was arrested because there was a warrant out for his arrest in Maryland, in Prince George`s County, Maryland. The man who was arrested is 29 years old. He is from Maryland.
The reason the story is breaking as national news tonight is because -- well, for one when this man was arrested, it was for a very serious crime. A federal official tells NBC News the warrant was for attempted first- degree murder.
More specifically, though, the reason this is national news is because that guy was arrested while he was trying to go to work. And where that guy works is at the Trump White House. We don`t know exactly what his job is. NBC News has learned that he did have a White House pass. He was a contractor working at the White House. NBC News has learned that he worked for the National Security Council in some capacity.
The National Security Council is the large interagency body that oversees - - is overseen by the national security adviser who right now is John Bolton. There has been a lot of turnover at the national security adviser job, of course. The first one was Mike Flynn who is now awaiting sentencing on felony charges. Then it was H.R. McMaster. Now, it is John Bolton.
With each of those new national security advisers, we`ve had tons of turnover in the National Security Council staff. In terms of this guy who was arrested today at the White House we do not know in what capacity he worked at the National Security Council.
Again, he is described as a contractor. But we don`t know what his job was nor do we know why the National Security Council would have been employing someone as a contractor who was actively wanted on an attempted murder warrant.
We called the National Security Council tonight to try to get further information about what this man`s job was. We wanted to ask in what capacity he worked for the National Security Council and what the circumstances were of how he obtained his White House pass so he could enter the White House grounds. The National Security Council referred all of our questions to the U.S. Secret Service. The U.S. Secret Service are not answering their phone.
So, again, we are still looking for more information here, but this is a strange story. As of right now the bottom line is that a 29-year-old man with a White House pass who was apparently working with the National Security Council in some capacity, he was arrested on an outstanding warrant for attempted first-degree murder when he showed up for work at the White House today and attempted to enter the White House grounds.
Now, so far, there is no explanation as to what his White House job might have been, but presumably he would still be working at the White House job today had police not decided to act on this outstanding warrant. That`s all we know at this point. We will give you more on that story as we learn it.
Also today, the White House did finally decide to oust a senior staffer from the White House communications department. This is a communications staffer at the White House who became famous a couple weeks ago when somebody leaked from the White House that during a White House meeting that was called to discuss John McCain`s opposition to Trump`s new nominee to run the CIA. This communications department official at the White House, name is Kelly Sadler, reportedly said at that White House meeting about John McCain, quote, it doesn`t matter. He`s dying anyway.
That was reported weeks ago. It was never denied. There was never an apology either from the White House official or from the White House itself. And Kelly Sadler has stayed on working at the communications office in the White House in a very senior job all of this time ever since it was reported and not denied that that`s how she talked about John McCain.
I say this is a senior job because this is a senior job. Technically, we`re told she is a special assistant to the president which means she`s a high-ranking White House staffer. Well, today with no further explanation, the deputy press secretary e-mailed out a statement that said simply, quote, Kelly Sadler is no longer employed within the executive office of the president.
No explanation, no lead-up to it, no warning it was going to happen, no elaboration. She is no longer employed within the executive office of the president. Now, of course, that leaves open the possibility that Kelly Sadler left the executive office of the president to instead go work somewhere else in the White House or somewhere else in the administration, as with the guy arrested on attempted murder charges when he turned up at the White House. The White House is making no explanatory comments as to this personnel change, why it happened or what happens next.
Presumably we will find out more about both of these dramatic developments, but it seems like we`re probably not going to get any more information on these from the White House tonight. I will let you know if that changes.
And then when it comes to the Trump cabinet, there is a new scandal tonight that I find almost impossible to believe. Maybe I`m naive. Maybe I should expect everything and nothing at the same time now. But I viscerally feel like this is jaw dropping.
It was first reported by "The Washington Post" this afternoon -- but it`s interesting, the underlying evidence here, the documents that gave rise to the story in "The Washington Post," were obtained a few weeks ago by the environmental group, the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club obtained a whole bunch of internal documents from the EPA since Scott Pruitt has been the EPA administrator. And as you know there have been a million cajillion different scandals surrounding Scott Pruitt since he`s been EPA administrator.
But set that aside for a second. Pretend you have never heard about any of those other scandals. Pretend you don`t even really know Scott Pruitt`s name. Pretend this is the first you have ever heard there might be any negative reporting whatsoever concerning Scott Pruitt and his time as a cabinet official.
Even if this was it, even if this was the only negative news story that had ever broken about him, ask yourself if you think it seems feasible that he still has this job tonight after this was reported this afternoon. So, it`s a simple story. Scott Pruitt got sworn in to be head of the EPA in February last year, February 2017. Then March, April, May -- three months later, May 2017, an official working for Scott Pruitt at the EPA sent this e-mail.
From email@example.com to Dan Cathy at Chick-fil-A, which is the fast food chicken place. He`s an executive at Chick-fil-A. Subject: meeting with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Good afternoon, Mr. Cathy. Hopefully, this e-mail finds you well. Administrator Pruitt asked me to reach out to you and see if you might be willing to get a time set up for the two of you to have a meeting. If there is something I can work with to help get that -- if there`s someone I can work with to get that facilitated, I would greatly appreciate it.
So, this is an executive at an American fast food company getting notice from somebody who works at the EPA sending an e-mail from their dot-gov email address, sending an official note that the head of the EPA wants a meeting.
So, this guy responds within an hour. Yes, yes, I`ll take the meeting. He assigns a staffer to set it up.
The staffer responds. Sidney, thank you for reaching out to schedule a meeting between Dan and Administrator Pruitt. Please let me know of any background or advance information on the visit in case Dan would like to invite another member of our team to join. Look forward to coordinating with you further. That was sent from the Chick-fil-A offices in Atlanta.
And this EPA official writes back. Hi, Evan. The administrator didn`t mention the specific time, but I`ll touch base to see if there is one. What are good times in the coming weeks that look good for Mr. Cathy?
Now, all of these e-mails are going back and forth in the middle of the day on weekdays. This is workday work. This is an EPA official trying to set up meetings as part of her official duties as somebody who works at the Environmental Protection Agency having her salary paid by you and I.
Chick-fil-A writes back to her. Sydney, thank you again for coordinating further with Administrator Pruitt. I will engage further. Our director for regulatory and government affairs has rescheduled time. Thank you for your assistance.
So, at this point, they`re bringing in further executives from the company now to be involved with the head of the EPA who has requested this meeting with their company. So, now, all these executives from the Chick-fil-A company are involved trying to organize this meeting, to figure out what the head of this cabinet agency wants to talk about, figuring out who needs to be there from their company in order to take this important meeting with this high-ranking government official.
And it`s at this point after a few more back and forth e-mails that this official at the EPA who`s trying to set up this meeting for Scott Pruitt -- she finally clarifies, at least a little bit as to what exactly this is all about. Quote: Apologies for missing your call yesterday. The administrator would like to talk about a potential business opportunity with Mr. Cathy. And that`s what this has all been about.
Why is the head of the EPA on official business summoning executives from this fast food company because he says he wants to talk about a potential business opportunity?
Well, we`ll let "The Washington Post" pick up the story from there. Quote: The call with Chick-fil-A was arranged, then canceled, then Pruitt eventually did speak with someone from the company`s legal department. Only then did he reveal the potential business opportunity that was on his mind. The potential business opportunity his staffer had referred to was a job for Scott Pruitt`s wife.
A representative for the Chick-fil-A company tells "The Washington Post" via e-mail, quote, the subject of that phone call was an expression of interest in his wife becoming a Chick-fil-A franchisee.
Even if you had never heard of any of the other scandals afflicting Scott Pruitt, any of the other ethics disasters and conflicts of interest and corruption scandals around Scott Pruitt since he has been in Trump`s cabinet, even if the only thing you know was that he had EPA staff set up a meeting for him with officials from Chick-fil-A so he could try to get his wife a Chick-fil-A store, you would assume that he would be fired by now, right? You would assume that he would be fired by the time the story was in print this afternoon because as soon as somebody had to ask the White House for comment about this, you would expect that member of the cabinet would be gone, especially because in this case this is not even contested information.
These e-mails, these multiple e-mails, at least a dozen of them back and forth where EPA staff are trying to arrange meetings and calls using their epa.gov addresses on weekdays, during the day, directly on behalf of Scott Pruitt, we`ve got the actual e-mails. There`s been no suggestion from Scott Pruitt that these e-mails are not real.
The EPA handed them over as part of a request. They`re not denying the veracity of these e-mails. On the other side of it, Chick-fil-A, the company that was shaken down here, I mean, approached by this cabinet official in this way, the company is confirming that, yeah, this federal employee called on behalf of this cabinet officer trying to get his wife a job.
It is against the law for a public official to use his or her job or the staff that support that job for the private gain of that public official.
Use of public office for private gain Section 2635.702. An employee shall nod use his public office for private gain or gain of friends, relatives -- relatives -- or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.
That`s illegal. You can`t -- I mean, even if this was -- this is Scott Pruitt trying to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise, right? Even if this had been Scott Pruitt sending this EPA staffer out to get his wife a Chick- fil-A sandwich, that itself would be illegal under federal law because in addition to not being allowed to use your public office for private gain, you also cannot have federal employees do personal favors for a public official and his or her family. It`s bluntly illegal.
There have been very large public scandals about much lower profile public officials and other presidencies for behavior that was not nearly this blatant or this unassailably proven. And it`s ridiculous at one level. On the other hand, a Chick-fil-A franchise is a valuable thing. The company says something like 40,000 people approach the company every year inquiring about becoming a Chick-fil-A franchise owner.
Of the 40,000 people who ask about that the company only chooses about 100 people to get a franchise per year. People who want to become a Chick-fil- A franchise owner know that it is a very, very competitive thing. There`s an online application.
You`re not supposed to have a federal cabinet official have federal government employees call to get you to the front of the line. You`re supposed to fill out the online application and beg and plead and make your best case to Chick-fil-A, 40,000 people apply, 100 get it.
But in this case, Scott Pruitt just had his staff call. And apparently, he didn`t follow through. Back to "The Washington Post." Quote, Marlyn Pruitt, who is Scott Pruitt`s wife never ended up opening a Chick-fil-A restaurant.
According to a representative of the company, quote, Administrator Pruitt`s wife started but did not complete the Chick-fil-A franchisee application. I bet it was hard. Much easier to just have one of Scott Pruitt`s staffers call and get your meeting down at headquarters. Did I mention it is a cabinet official calling who is requesting this meeting officially?
Whatever you think of chick-fil-a, whatever you think of everything else you have heard about Scott Pruitt on the basis of this reporting alone, how is it possible that he is still in office? Between the company`s statement acknowledging that this is what he was asking for and the e-mails that are now published showing that he was having EPA staff ask for this on his behalf, this just seems like very blunt textbook evidence of overt criminal behavior on behalf of the administrator, on the behalf of this member of the cabinet.
I mean, what`s the defense here? I was kidding?
Setting aside the issue of whether or not Scott Pruitt will ever be prosecuted for this, how is it possible that Congress has not lit up like a fireworks show over this blatant abuse of office? The obvious answer, of course, is that Congress is Republican controlled and so when it comes to behavior like this by Trump administration officials they just don`t want to know.
Even so, it does seem like Scott Pruitt might even be pushing it with Republicans. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is one of a number of farm state Republicans who are upset with Scott Pruitt anyway because she says Scott Pruitt lied to her about the renewable fuel standard, which is an important thing for Iowa farmers. Beyond that, though, she sounded today like she was starting to get a little fed up with the ostentatious part of what Scott Pruitt is doing at that agency as well. .
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: I will remain highly critical of Administrator Pruitt, because not only do we disagree on the RFS, but there are a number of other transgressions that we have seen coming out of that office directly tied to Administrator Pruitt and the way he spends money, the way he misuses basically his office.
My words, nobody else`s, but he is about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C., and if the president wants to drain the swamp, he needs to take a look at his own cabinet.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: He is about as swampy as you get, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, Republican senator calling on President Trump essentially to fire EPA administrator Scott Pruitt today. She said part of her remarks today that it`s up to the president but that essentially she hopes he fires him.
And in part that is about farm state senators being mad about what Scott Pruitt is doing concerning renewable fuel standards. But in part, it`s also about every new scandal including today`s absolutely unbelievable Chick-fil-A grift. Watch about this on the same guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: I`m going to ask you about your fellow Oklahoman Scott Pruitt. I know a lot of the ethanol state Republicans are upset about these renewable fuel standards. Are you satisfied at the way he`s doing his job from your perspective?
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: I thought you were going to ask about the most recent accusations.
REPORTER: We can do that first. So, we talk about that? Yes, absolutely.
INHOFE: I don`t know that`s true.
REPORTER: Let`s be specific in what we`re talking about. This is e-mails that he was trying to help his wife get a franchise with Chick-fil-A.
INHOFE: If that is true, that is not going to be served to his advantage and it would not be a good thing. The problem is, I`ve known him for so long, and I just can`t see him doing something like that. So I`m going to assume it`s not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m going to assume that it`s not true.
You know, it looks like it`s true. These are the real e-mails where EPA staff really is working at the EPA on government time to try to get Scott Pruitt hooked up with Chick-fil-A and we do have an on the record statement from Chick-fil-A saying what that was about was him trying to get a franchise for his wife. So it`s true.
Senator Inhofe again saying he`s deciding to assume that it is not true. It`s true. And it`s illegal. Bluntly illegal.
And it is, therefore, awkward for Republicans in Congress to not want to do anything about it. The only way that it`s likely to change if it is no longer a Republican-controlled Congress.
As I mentioned at the top, it is election night tonight. There are primaries tonight in eight states which means tonight we`re going to be learning who will be running in the final general election contest for governor, for Senate, and for Congress in Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, Iowa, new Mexico, New Jersey, South Dakota, and California.
There`s Interesting races in all of those states. A lot of the attention tonight in terms of national news and controls of the national levers of power focused on California. Democrats in total nationwide need to flip about 25 seats from Republican control to Democratic control in order to take the majority in Congress.
If they take the majority in the House of Representatives, that would make Adam Schiff the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. That would make Jerrold Nadler the head of the Judiciary Committee. It would presumably make Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House. It would change everything in terms of power dynamics on Capitol Hill, and it is within Democrats` reach.
They need about 25 seats. Democrats nationwide are counting on a whole bunch of those 25 seats coming from California. There are seven congressional districts that Hillary Clinton won in November 2016 but where a Republican member of Congress nevertheless holds the seat in that district.
Now, there are a whole bunch of interesting dynamics in California that will determine whether or not Democrats will be able to get good candidates into the general election to contest to those seats. We will know the answers to a lot of that tonight when polls close in California at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time, which is 8:00 p.m. local time in California. When that happens, we will get a first window into not just what will happen in California but our first big window into Democrats` chances of taking the House overall in November and changing the power dynamic in Washington.
So, polls are still open right now in California. That`s really the most important thing to be watching tonight in terms of national implications. In the meantime, we have got polls closed in some states and we`ve already got some interesting results starting to come in. So far, overall, this whole primary season only one sitting member of Congress who has been unseated in a primary. That`s North Carolina Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger. So far, he`s the only one.
Well, tonight, already, we are watching to see if he`s going to be joined by any others. Right now, these are the results that we`ve got in in the second congressional district in deep red Alabama. As you can see, the incumbent there, Republican Congressman Martha Roby, she`s in a relatively tight battle to try to keep her seat. This is the Republican primary, Republicans running against her.
Her challengers have been going after her for having temporarily abandoned her support for Donald Trump for a time in 2016 after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape. Well, tonight, Martha Roby doesn`t just need to win. She needs to clear 50 percent in order to avoid a run-off after tonight.
We are also watching a race in New Jersey where it is the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. The incumbent there is Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. He emerged from federal bribery charges with a hung jury, and that was only in November. Tonight, he finds himself in a tougher than expected primary against a relatively unknown opponent in New Jersey, Lisa McCormick. We`ve got 59 percent to 41 percent. That`s with just a little bit over a third of the vote in. We`re going to have a lot more to go tonight plus more election results plus more news.
This is going to be a big night. It`s also going to be a long night. So, pace yourself. Get the popcorn.
MADDOW: OK. Imagine you`re in this guy`s shoes. First, at the end of October, special counsel unseals a 12-count indictment against Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his deputy campaign chair Rick Gates. Charges of money laundering and conspiracy. That`s the end of October.
Then in February, Robert Mueller`s team adds on a whole bunch of new felony charges, bank fraud, tax fraud, they charge Manafort and Gates in a second jurisdiction on top of the charges they were already facing in D.C.
Then the very next day, Rick Gates, the guy with whom Manafort is charged with having carried out this scheme, including the ill-gotten gains and hiding them offshore and evading taxes and money laundering and illegal lobbying, all of it, the guy who was alleged to have done all of this, part and parcel with Paul Manafort, he flips. Rick Gates pleads guilty to just two counts and has all of his other troubles dry up and fly away because he agrees he will stop cooperating with prosecutors.
Then last month, Manafort`s son-in-law also flips. His son in law was being investigated over real estate that he invested in with Manafort. He too agrees to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Imagine what that must feel like if you`re Paul Manafort. It`s been a rough ride these past few months, right? But now, it is getting significantly rougher for him.
Between now and September, he`s looking at two federal trials on felony -- on 23 felony charges, and his primary alleged co-conspiracy is potentially giving evidence against him as is his ex-son-in-law with whom he invested in real estate deals. How has your year been so far? His has sucked.
And now it is getting worse. In the filing that we covered on this show that was filed late last night, the special counsel presents new allegations and evidence to the federal judge hearing Manafort`s case in Washington, D.C., new allegations and evidence that Manafort has been trying to tamper with witnesses in his case. The day after Rick Gates pled guilty in February and agreed to start cooperating with prosecutors, prosecutors now say Paul Manafort began trying to contact two witnesses to the scheme that was outlined in that month`s indictment.
Those witnesses have told the special counsel that they think Paul Manafort was trying to, quote, suborn perjury, that he was trying to coach them to give false testimony in his case. And because of that alleged witness tampering, Robert Mueller and his prosecutors are asking the judge in the case to consider putting Paul Manafort in jail now while he awaits trial. Tampering with witnesses is a crime even if you`re not already out on bail like Manafort is, it`s a crime.
And so, this new, serious criminal allegations against Paul Manafort create a whole new series of problems and pressures for him, right, as he considers his circumstances, as he considers whether he really wants to do this alone or whether he like everybody else involved in this case thus far who has been charged in the United States whether maybe he, too, might want to start cooperating with prosecutors in their broader investigation.
As he considers that right now, on top of all of the other pressure he was otherwise facing, now there`s all this new leverage on him. Number one is what prosecutors are asking for immediately. They`re saying these allegations of witness tampering, the extent of evidence they`ve offered to the court that Manafort, in fact, engaged in witness tampering, prosecutors say that is reason enough for the judge to summarily order Manafort to go to jail now.
He has thus far been out on bail with an ankle bracelet or two, awaiting the start of these federal criminal trials. Well, now, next week, there`s going to be a new hearing in his case and at that hearing, Manafort could be going to jail to await trial, rather than enjoying being out on House arrest as he has been since last year.
On top of that new pressure, prosecutors may decide whether or not the judge concludes that these new allegations are enough to revoke bail and lock Manafort up immediately. Prosecutors may also decide they want to add this witness tampering charge in a superseding indictment. Tampering with a witness is not just a violation of your bail terms, it is also a separate serious crime. And so, these allegations, this evidence against him on witness tampering, this could be the basis for yet a third round of federal felony charges against Manafort. This could bring about a third indictment against him.
And in addition to that, this may further create problems for Paul Manafort in terms of his existing legal representation and that`s already a source of stress. We know or at least we think we know because of this super sketchy website that went live last week begging for money for Paul Manafort to pay his legal expenses, that at least seems to be an indication Manafort is feeling some strain in terms of the cost of mounting his defense.
Look at the time line of what prosecutors are now alleging about Manafort. They`re saying that they, the prosecutors, got this evidence about the witness tampering very recently. They say they got evidence that Manafort was trying to tamper with these witnesses. They got that evidence in May. Which means they could have received it last week, right?
But the alleged tampering didn`t happen last week. That`s just when they got news that it had happened. That`s just when they got the evidence. According to what prosecutors filed in court last night, the alleged witness tampering actually started in February and it extended on for weeks into March and April. Could that now be a problem in terms of Paul Manafort`s lawyers?
If Paul Manafort`s lawyers knew that he was contacting witnesses about their potential testimony, if his lawyers knew that their client was witness tampering and they didn`t tell the court about it, the lawyers could potentially be in trouble themselves. If they were aware their client was committing that crime and they kept it covered up, they, themselves, could be in trouble.
Now, if more likely they didn`t know that Paul Manafort was doing that, if he was trying to tamper with witnesses and suborn perjury as alleged in these new filing, that he was contacting witnesses related to his case but he was doing so without telling his lawyers and they were in the dark, well, in that case, of course, his lawyers wouldn`t be in trouble themselves for trying to cover it up and not notifying the court. But even if this was happening and they didn`t know about it, that also is a problem, because then they would arise the possibility that they couldn`t actually stay on as his lawyers anymore.
We may have already seen this play out months earlier with Rick Gates. Rick Gates pled not guilty ultimately. He had stood alongside Paul Manafort for a long time, right, before he finally decided he was going to flip and plead guilty.
In that time, Rick Gates went through a number of different legal teams. One of his legal teams petitioned the court to withdraw from representing him for reasons that are still publicly unknown. The lawyer cited irreconcilable differences with their client, Rick Gates.
But they said that revealing more than that could be prejudicial and embarrassing to Rick Gates. In that incident, it appeared his legal team had to withdraw. They petitioned the court to withdraw from being his lawyers because they found out that Gates was doing stuff they didn`t know about. And so, they said, okay, we can`t be your lawyers anymore.
Is there a possibility that Paul Manafort is going to be up against that as well? If he was tampering with witnesses and his lawyers knew, big problem for them. If he was tampering with witnesses and his lawyers didn`t know, might that be a problem in terms of them continuing to represent him?
And whether or not you care about Paul Manafort, whether or not you lie awake at night worrying about Paul Manafort`s stress levels, the thing that prosecutors want from him clearly is for him to cooperate with them, right? There is a mountain of charges against him in multiple jurisdictions. He`s now standing alone as everybody else has decided to cooperate including against him.
There is the new threat that he will be in jail starting next week even before he goes to trial. And now, there`s this huge new criminal allegation against him that is making all of those prospects worse. The only way he could alleviate all of that pressure is to either ride it out and win this fight, or he can cooperate. Help them with their case as they continue to investigate the Trump campaigns and its ties with Russia.
What are his options? How is he going to choose?
Hold that thought.
MADDOW: Post Office boxes come in five different sizes. We think the one we made a field trip to see, the one right there in the middle -- do you have that? -- is a size two. It`s a size small, with room, according to the Post Office for 10 to 15 letters or up to five magazines as long as the magazines are rolled.
This is a size two small P.O. box. Specifically the one we were there to see was P.O. box number 2402 in the Clifton, New Jersey, post office. And that exact P.O. box, 2402, is where potential donors have been encouraged to send their checks or money orders to the Paul Manafort Legal Defense Fund.
As we reported last week, this mysterious fund was set up anonymously by self-proclaimed longtime friends of the Trump campaign chairman but it does seem to be just Paul Manafort`s wife and family who are associated with this size two small P.O. box in Clifton.
Whoever is collecting the checks and money orders on however many rolled magazines can fit inside, it would appear Paul Manafort might increasingly need help. Before last night, he was already facing 23 felony charges and two separate federal jurisdictions. That was before prosecutors last night unveiled new accusations of him attempting to tamper with witnesses in his case.
Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney in the great state of Michigan.
Barb, it`s great to have you with us tonight. Thank you for being here.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Thanks, Rachel. Always my pleasure.
MADDOW: So, witness tampering is -- it just something prosecutors complain about for somebody who is out on bail? Witness tampering is a crime. Can you explain just in layman`s terms what witness tampering is and why it`s a crime?
MCQUADE: Yes, and it`s considered a very serious crime. It`s punishable by up to 20 years in prison, that`s because it goes to the very integrity of the court system. It means that someone has tried to induce or threaten or persuade a witness to change their story, to tell a story that`s not truthful.
So, it`s a serious crime that prosecutors have a lot of discretion to charge which crimes they will and won`t charge. Sometimes they let things go. Witness tampering is one they almost always charge because it goes to the very heart of what the criminal justice system is all about.
MADDOW: And that goes directly to my next question which is why isn`t this brought in the form of a superseding indictment, a new set of criminal charges against Paul Manafort or is this, in effect, a new set of charges against Manafort?
The way the prosecutors brought this to the court`s attention was in a filing in which they asked the judge in the case to essentially revoke his bail, to not let him be out on supervised release anymore, to put him in jail while he`s awaiting trial because of these new allegations and the evidence they gave to the court to support it.
Should we effectively see that as them charging him with witness tampering, or is this a different way of handling it?
MCQUADE: It is a different way of handling it, but it`s not exclusive. It doesn`t mean they won`t charge a superseding indictment. But strategically, they might not here.
My only concern with charging a superseding indictment at this stage is, it could lead to a delay in the trial. You know, the Manafort team might say we need additional time to prepare for these new charges. And my guess is one of the things this prosecution team wants to do is to keep the heat on Paul Manafort to know that trial date is getting ever closer so that he is forced to make that decision as to whether to go to trial or to work out a cooperation deal.
So, we still might see a superseding indictment down the road. As I said, it`s a very serious charge that prosecutors usually don`t let go, but maybe they consider this a different way to deal with it, bringing it to the court`s attention because one of the things you definitely want to do is get this in front of a jury at some point because it is evidence of what`s known as consciousness of guilt.
That is I only needed to interfere with these witnesses because I was afraid that if they told the truth I would be convicted. I think the prosecutors want this to be part of their case in one way or another.
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from Michigan, clear as a bell as always. Thank you, Barb. Very helpful. I really appreciate it.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to come. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last night, we had a senior ACLU lawyer here on the show talking about this new policy of the Trump administration where the federal government is now forcibly taking babies and kids away from their parents and locking them up if the family is caught crossing the border without papers.
One of the ways we`ve been grappling with the implications of this new policy is that we`ve been trying to figure out what our government is doing with the babies and the kids once they take them away. On Sunday, Senator Merkley went to Brownsville, Texas, where he said a disused Walmart super center is now being used to house, he thinks, about 1,000 kids. He doesn`t know for sure because they wouldn`t let him in to see the facility and they called the cops on him who told him to leave.
That big facility was in Brownsville, Texas. That was the old Walmart, 1,000 kids. The same senator, Senator Jeff Merkley, says that on that same trip, he also saw kids being kept in cages at a border processing facility in McAllen, Texas, which is about an hour west of Brownsville also right on the border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Well, he first room had a series of cages that look like dog kennels in which people had recently arrived and been put in them, very crowded. So, they had space blankets so you had all these silver space blankets, no mattresses. And people looking distressed and upset. A number of women holding children in their arms.
And then adjacent to that is a very, very large warehouse with much larger cases. And in those, the children had already been separated away from the parents. There`s one cage had young boys being lined up for food, and they started with the smallest in front. So you had a little toddler, I don`t know, he must have been 4 or 5 years old, up through youth that are 16 or 17.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So here is what we think is happening. Kids and babies have never been ripped away from their moms and dads at the border. And this is a new policy put in place by the Trump administration. In the past, obviously, there have been kids who have crossed the border illegally alone and so the U.S. has had facilities to handle those young people, mostly teenagers.
But babies and toddlers were with their parents until the government stepped in to take them out of their mother`s arms? That is new.
Now, the first place we think they are taking them is to these border stations where nobody is supposed to be kept more than 72 hours. That`s the kind of place where Senator Merkley says he saw them in cages with just little foil space blankets and that`s it.
After 72 hours at the most, people are supposed to be moved out of places like that at the border to these shelters, like the one he went to at the old Walmart. The shelters that are theoretically supposed to be able to hold people for longer periods of time. But those facilities were never supposed to be taking in unaccompanied babies and toddlers.
Well, now, NBC News has a new exclusive report that gives us two important new pieces of information when it comes to finding these kids. Number one, NBC reports that hundreds of kids are being kept at those facilities on the border, the ones with the cages for longer than 72 hours -- supposed to be 72 hours max. Kids are staying there longer than that and we`re talking about hundreds of kids younger than 12.
Second thing that NBC is reporting is that these kids are not being moved out of the cages and into the bigger shelters because they don`t have any more room. There are over 11,000 kids being held alone in those bigger shelters, and now, the backlog is apparently resulting in kids being kept locked up at the cages at the border waiting for a place.
NBC also reports today that the Trump administration`s plan to solve this is at least for now to have officials start touring Goodfellow Air Force Base, Dyess Air Force Base and Fort Bliss, to see if the babies and little kids can be put there. So that`s your tax dollars at work now, on orders from the president.
It`s now the job of some federal government employees to forcibly take babies away from their mothers where they are first locked up in cages at the border with space blankets for comfort. If they`re lucky, they might eventually get moved to a giant disused Walmart with a thousand other kids. And since that system is breaking down, maybe military bases next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERKLEY: When I was at the center at the McAllen border station, this is a processing center earlier, and I was admitted there, and I did see people, hundreds of children locked up in cages there at that facility.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You recently saw children being kept in cages?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When?
MERKLEY: Yesterday morning at the McAllen border station at the processing center. They have big cages made out of fencing, and wire and nets stretched across the top of them so people can`t climb out of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Cages first, then shelters like at old Walmart, but those are filling up. More than 11,000 kids so far. Now, NBC news reports that the Trump administration next wants to put the kids in military facilities.
Joining us now is NBC News national security reporter Courtney Kube.
Courtney, thank you for joining us. This is a disturbing scoop you guys had today.
COURTNEY KUBE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, the president seems to be pursuing this military base option simply because they need space and they need it fast?
KUBE: Yes. I mean, they need federal facility, and there are a couple of military bases that they`re doing site surveys on because they just may have the space. We don`t exactly know what it would look like. Would it be some large auditorium, would it be barracks that aren`t being used, would it be fields where they would set up tents? We don`t really know. But they just need the space, you know?
And, of course, this comes as you mention because there has been a backlog of children. More than 11,000 because of this new Trump administration policy which is called zero tolerance. And basically, that says that anyone who comes across the border illegally will be referred for prosecution to the Department of Justice.
Well, many of the people are coming across the border with children. The kids can`t go to jail. So the Department of Health and Human Services takes custody of them, of their care and feeding, there has been a big influx, thousands of them. And now, the border facilities where they`re temporarily held, everything is filling up. They`re at or near capacity.
So, now, the federal government has to find a new place to take care of all these kids.
MADDOW: If they are going to put these kids in military bases, what kind of time frame for how long they can keep kids at military sites?
KUBE: So, it would be while they`re being held and the government is figuring out where they can send them next, whether it`s foster care, whether they have relatives here in the United States. The average time is about 45 days. But it will really depend on what exactly the facility is like.
They`re looking at places mainly within a couple hundred miles of the border with Mexico. So, down in Texas with the idea that it`s -- there is proximity. If they do have to send them back across the border, they don`t have far to transport them.
But because there is such a backlog, you know, the timeline for how long these kids are going to be held is only likely to be extended as more and more kids are sent into this processing system.
MADDOW: NBC News national security reporter Courtney Kube, as I say, a disturbing scoop. Congratulations on getting it. Good to see you, Courtney.
KUBE: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Eight states are holding primaries tonight with a lot of the national focus on California, where Democrats are hope to get Democratic challengers in place to try to flip a whole bunch of congressional seats in that state from red to blue. Californians are still voting right now. Polls close at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 p.m. local in California.
And here is a pickle already. Almost 119,000 voters were, quote, accidentally left off L.A. County polling place rosters. Los Angeles County, more than 5 million voters there the county registrar says 100,000 plus names were left off the roster due to a printing error.
This mistake in L.A. County has reportedly affected about 35 percent of precincts in the county. Voters whose names are inexplicably missing from the voting rolls when people turn up to vote. They are being told not to worry. They`re being told to file a provisional ballot which officials say will be counted.
But that is obviously setting some nerves on edge in California as we continue to watch results roll in around the country.
That does it for now, but lots of primary coverage to come tonight.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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