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Democrats put hold on Treasury nominee. TRANSCRIPT: 06/07/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Ron Wyden

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 7, 2018 Guest: Ron Wyden

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You`ll pry the Ritz-Carlton lotion scandal --

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Ritz-Carlton lotion. He`s driving around because he went to a Ritz-Carlton once, he likes the lotion and so he`s got his government employee trying to get that just -- the moment -- the nostalgic moment he`s seeking to recreate of the smell of the Ritz- Carlton lotion.

Very human.

MADDOW: Here`s the thing I don`t understand about it, honestly. If you got the lotion at the Ritz-Carlton, presumably it means it`s like the Ritz- Carlton lotion.


MADDOW: Why do you have to drive around looking for it? Don`t you just drive to the Ritz-Carlton?

HAYES: He`s like going to the W. Hotel and he`s like they don`t have it. No, they don`t have it. It`s the Ritz-Carlton lotion.

MADDOW: Exactly. The one thing we know about Ritz-Carlton lotion is where to get it, right?

HAYES: It`s true. I hope he`s watching. OK.

MADDOW: Much appreciated.

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Super happy to have you here.

When you ask questions, it turns out, when things that previously have been done in the dark are forced into the light, that makes stuff happen. There`s something about the effect of sunlight. There`s something about the public disclosure of previously secret maneuverings that makes stuff happen. That sets things in motion.

You know, you turn on the light. You ever live in an apartment or a house that like had bugs? I was like -- I had once was renting an apartment in San Francisco and I had signed the contract. I was ready to move in. And I brought in a friend of mine because I was so excited about this new apartment, I brought my friend over.

And I was like, let`s get? You know, get some burritos. Go over and we haven`t moved in yet, but I signed the contract we`re going to move in in the next few days. I showed the place. We walked in. It was nighttime. Flip on the light. Roaches. And they ran for the corners.

And I got out of that contract and I did not move into that apartment. But my friend never wanted to go anywhere to eat dinner with me again. And I learned about that old anecdote that, you know, you flip on the lights and stuff scatters. That works in the news too.

And we keep seeing that dynamic again and again of people flipping on the switch and the bugs scattering. And in today`s news it has really become one of the most interesting things that has happened yet in this whole scandal.

I`ll tell you about how the whole dynamic`s been working. Just two or three weeks ago, we had the startling revelation in the "New York Times" that related to one of the people who is a cooperating witness in the special counsel`s investigation. He`s actually the only person we know of who`s been granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation with Robert Mueller and the special counsel`s office.

His name is George Nader. He has multiple criminal convictions in multiple countries including for child pornography and child molestation. But he has nevertheless turned up multiple times in the Trump White House. He`s turned up in this photo with Donald Trump. And he turns up again and again and again in Trump Tower and interacting with Trump campaign officials in meetings that would later come under scrutiny by the special counsel`s office as the special counsel looks at links between the Trump campaign and Russia`s attack on the 2016 election.

So, a couple of weeks ago, we learned in the "New York Times" that that guy, George Nader, was in attendance at a previously unreported meeting that happened at Trump Tower in New York three months before the 2016 election. At that meeting, according to "The Times`" reporting, a foreign company pitched the Trump campaign on what would be a foreign-funded social media manipulation campaign, which they were offering to mount in the United States in order to help Trump win the election.

So that was a fascinating, obviously very troubling revelation. Any effort like that, of course, would be illegal on a whole bunch of different grounds. It would be a foreign expenditure, using foreign workers to manipulate the American electorate somehow in ways to benefit a U.S. presidential candidate, with the knowledge of the U.S. presidential candidate since that was his campaign being pitched on this proposal.

So, it was amazing reporting by "The Times," very disturbing revelation. The name of the company that reportedly pitched that seemingly illegal plan to the Trump campaign three months before the election was a company called Psy Group. P-S-Y. Psy Group.

But it`s interesting. By the time we read the name of that company in the "New York Times," by the time we learned about that scheme in the "New York Times" just a couple of weeks ago, the Psy Group was long gone.

Apparently, agents working for the special counsel`s office in February had stopped the founder of that firm, the guy who`d been at that meeting supposedly pitching that plan to the Trump campaign, they stopped him at an airport in Washington, D.C. They questioned him and, quote, briefly seized his electronic devices. They later brought him before the grand jury.

And that attention, those questions to that businessman about whatever he was doing with that firm, those questions had consequences. He got stopped in February. They checked his electronic devices. They brought him before the grand jury.

Simultaneously, FBI agents working with Mueller`s team turned up at the Psy Group, turned up at the firm and started talking to employees. Mueller also reportedly subpoenaed bank records for the firm. And you push that stuff out into the light, you start asking those questions, it makes stuff happen.

What did the firm do right after those approaches from the special counsel`s office? They decided that they would disappear. February 25th, the firm`s CEO informs its employees that the company is disappearing. It will be shutting down.

So, by the time that whole new part of the Mueller investigation that we didn`t know about before, by the time it made it into "The New York Times" a couple of weeks ago, "The Times" was only able to report that that company is, quote, in liquidation. Mueller started asking around. They decided to disappear. You start asking questions, stuff happens, right? Things get forced into the light, stuff happens.

This week, we learned that it had happened again, in a very similar fashion but with a different foreign firm. This time, it was Cambridge Analytica, which is the data firm that was hired by the Trump campaign. They`ve since gotten themselves into a million different kinds of trouble.

Last year, we learned that Mueller`s investigators had started looking at Cambridge Analytica. They asked the firm to hand over communications, hand over e-mails from their employees. The "Wall Street Journal" reported that Cambridge Analytica had been in touch with WikiLeaks, offering help in distributing Democratic documents during the campaign that had been stolen by Russia.

Well, in March of this year, reporters started tracking down yet another scandal about the firm. The story of the firm using its own stolen data, tens of millions of private profiles that they stole off Facebook without consent and used to build basically the spine of their operation as a company.

Reporters started asking around about that in March. Well, this week, "The Financial Times" in Britain reports that those questions that reporters were asking about that scandal, those questions caused two things to happen at that firm. Number one, according to "The Financial Times," those questions from reporters about that data scandal caused the Cambridge Analytica CEO to withdraw $8 million in cash from the company and take it home. And number two, that started the process of the company starting to disappear.

The company does still appear to be in trouble. The CEO appears to be still in trouble. The questions of what exactly that company did for the Trump campaign and whether it was part of a foreign influence operation, those remain open questions in terms of the Mueller investigation. But reporters pressing that firm on those questions appear to have caused that firm to disappear. Cambridge Analytica shut itself down. They technically no longer exist.

We see this dynamic again and again with all these mysterious entities that have been operating in the dark. Somebody walks into the room, flips on the light switch, things change. When they get pushed into the light, when people start asking questions, stuff happens.

Today, we obtained the transcript of a court hearing that took place yesterday in federal court in New York City. It`s a court case involving Elliott Broidy, deputy finance chair of the RNC. Until recently when he resigned in a sketchy hush money scandal that supposedly involved him paying off a mistress who got pregnant. But oddly, for that transaction, Mr. Broidy chose to use Donald Trump`s hush money to the mistress lawyer as well as Donald Trump`s other hush money to the mistress lawyer.

And he also used Donald Trump`s pseudonym. Donald Trump`s own pseudonym from his other hush money to the mistress cases. Why was Elliott Broidy using all Donald Trump`s stuff for his own mistress case?

Then, as soon as anybody inquired about this unusual, very Donald Trump- like mistress hush money deal, Mr. Broidy issued an over-the-top mea culpa. He came clean about everything, and he instantly resigned from the RNC. Someday, we will finally figure out what actually happened there and it`s going to be an amazing story.

I will tell you, it is not -- that particular one is not an amazing story that I`m looking forward to seeing the movie of. That`s one I would prefer to read in print. But someday we will get that full story.

And Elliott Broidy`s troubles extend well beyond that literally unbelievable mistress controversy, which supposedly is what ended his time as the deputy finance chairman of the National Republican Party. Mr. Broidy was also the business partner of George Nader, who is that cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation, the one who`s cooperating in exchange for immunity.

Mr. Broidy is also caught up in a number of different scandals involving alleged influence peddling on behalf of foreign interests, including clients in Malaysia and in United Arab Emirates and in other countries. As part of that drama, in federal court yesterday, a judge ordered effectively the disclosure to the court of who the nation of Qatar secretly had working for them in this country.

And that ruling yesterday in federal court in New York led to this dramatic headline today at "Politico": Key figures sever ties with Qatar.

It`s also led at least one American who`s caught up in the scandal about unregistered foreign agents involving Elliott Broidy, it`s caused at least one American to announce today that whatever work he might have done with Qatar before, he`s not doing it anymore. And by the way, on Friday, he`s going to retroactively register as a foreign agent.

So, what`s the overall story with these other flows of foreign money involving these Gulf States? And the Mueller investigation looking into that, what`s the relationship between this cascade of Elliott Broidy scandals and the cooperation of Elliott Broidy`s business partner with the Mueller investigation? And we don`t know yet. We don`t have the answers to those questions yet.

But asking questions about it, forcing the stuff into the light, is making stuff happen. We got this amazing statement tonight from Joey Allaham, who`s the guy being forced out into the open by the court in terms of his relationship with Qatar. Thanks to this Elliott Broidy lawsuit, Mr. Allaham told us tonight: So I don`t know if I ever was a so-called legal agent of Qatar but I do know that as of Friday, I`m not anything with them.

As of Friday, he will retroactively have had nothing to do with them. He will also register as their foreign agent.

Now, Mr. Allaham also tells us tonight that his sudden abandonment of Qatar has nothing to do at all with that court hearing yesterday. But the judge yesterday did order him to respond to a subpoena in this case. And when you ask questions, stuff happens. When stuff is forced into the light stuff happens. When courts force the disclosure of previously secret dynamics, stuff happens.

And we have seen this over and over and over again in Trump administration scandals. I mean, talk about hush money. It randomly was the Stormy Daniels hush money lawsuit that brought about the exposure of all those mysterious payments that had been made to President Trump`s lawyer Michael Cohen -- those mysterious payments to Michael Cohen from all sorts of unexpected sources.

It was the Stormy Daniels lawsuit that showed us how we -- how the pharmaceutical firm Novartis and how the giant telecom firm AT&T had apparently put Michael Cohen on their corporate payrolls to the tunes of tens of thousands of dollars a month. And they were very apparently quite happy to have him on the payroll, right up until the moment that those payments got exposed because of the Stormy Daniels lawsuit.

That exposure to the light suddenly made Novartis Pharmaceuticals and AT&T both decides that those payments to Michael Cohen had been a mistake. The public exposure of those payments led AT&T to fire their chief lobbyist, led Novartis to fire their general counsel. None of that would have happened had that not been pushed out into the light.

They had Michael Cohen on the payroll. It wasn`t a secret to them. It`s only when it stopped being a secret to us that, all of a sudden, they decided it was a bad idea and that people had to go.

We see this dynamic at work over and over again. On almost every element of the scandals that swirl around this administration and this president. But now tonight it is maybe my most favorite one yet.

I mean, we`ve seen all along, reporters start asking questions, FBI agents start asking questions. When it starts to look like things are going to get exposed in court, all of a sudden, people change. People realize they need to register as a foreign agent. People separate themselves from countries they used to work for.

Whole companies disappear into thin air. Corporation that`s can`t really disappear into thin air suddenly decide to become much more critical of their own behavior, behavior they didn`t previously see as a problem. They start firing their executives to try to make the problem go away, to try to make themselves look like they recognize their mistake.

Well, this -- the latest iteration of this dynamic in the era of Trump administration scandals, the latest one that just happened today may be like the apex example of that dynamic at work. This is courtesy of reporter Christina Wilkie at CNBC. Quote: As Robert Mueller looks ever more closely at President Donald Trump`s foreign business ties, one former associate has remained outside the spotlight despite playing a key role in Trump`s quest for real estate deals in the former Soviet Union.

Architect John Fotiadis designed some of Trump`s most ambitious luxury developments there. Fotiadis` work offers a window into Trump`s dealings in the complex, opaque world of Eurasian real estate. Today, several of these projects are reportedly under scrutiny by the special counsel, who`s investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any means by which Moscow might have exerted influence over Trump or his campaign, including through business deals.

After "McClatchy" reported in April that Mueller`s probe was looking more closely at people involved in Trump`s business dealings in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Russia, and after CNBC received a tip that architect Fotiadis had worked on several Trump projects in Eurasia, CNBC reached out to Mr. Fotiadis on April 11th for comment about his work.

This is the amazing part. Are you ready? They reach out to him on April 11th.

Quote: Fotiadis did not respond to a call or to an e-mail. But eight hours later, he announced on twitter that he was closing his architecture firm after ten years in business. A few days later, he closed down the Twitter account that he had used to announce that he was closing down his architecture firm. By the end of the week, all the content from his professional Website, including his entire international architecture portfolio had been removed from the Web. Also gone was any reference to the two overseas branches of his architectural firm that he had opened in Georgia and in Ukraine.

Mr. Fotiadis has still not answered repeated phone calls, e-mails or text messages from CNBC with questions about his work in Eurasia or about why he so suddenly shuttered his company. He`s also declined comment on whether he has been contacted by anyone from Robert Mueller`s office.

Investigators asking questions, judges demanding disclosure, reporters poking around, looking at stuff, looking stuff up, being nosy, following leads, making calls. That`s what makes the world go round. That`s what makes my world go round at least.

I mean, those things can cause amazing stuff to happen in the world. But to make an entire architectural firm disappear with one phone call, that is an amazing trick. CNBC just disappeared Donald Trump`s long-time architect and his entire international architecture firm with a single phone call. That`s a trick.

That reporter joins us here next.


MADDOW: Batumi is by all accounts a lovely place. It`s the second largest city in Georgia. The country, not the state, sits right on the coast of the Black Sea. Batumi has a fairly famous botanical garden, has a few historic churches and mosques, has miles of beaches.

Also history. Stalin lived in Batumi. Stalin both lived in Batumi and briefly went to prison there, at the turn of the 20th century. Hey, how about that?

Once upon a time more recently, there was going to be a big luxury development there, more than a half million square feet of developed space, including a marina, a park, a yacht club, a hotel, more than a dozen other buildings, and at the center of all of it, a big poky 44-story residential tower -- a Trump Tower, Trump Tower Batumi, which never happened. President-elect Trump pulled out of the Trump Tower Batumi deal just days before the inauguration.

Former partners in that deal told "Forbes" magazine last year that to try to keep the deal alive, they might try to put up what amounts to a fake Trump Tower at the center of that site, kind of an ersatz Trump Tower. Maybe instead of a Trump Tower, it could be a Tromp Tower or Frump Tower. See if anyone notices.

That is a funny thing to imagine, even funnier if they pulled it off. But the special counsel`s office has reportedly been issued in Trump Organization deals in that part of the world, in Eastern Europe, in the former Soviet Union. That was first reported this spring by McClatchy.

And now, tonight, there`s a whole new wrinkle because the president`s favorite architect, the president`s favorite architect who among other things designed the quarter of a billion-dollar wood beam metropolis on that Black Sea coast, the architect is for all intents and purposes gone off the grid. A CNBC reporter tried to inquire with this architect about his work on Trump deals in Eastern Europe, and upon being contacted by a reporter for CNBC, the architect disappeared in a poof of smoke.

Mr. Fotiadis his name is. Fotiadis, quote, did not respond to a call or e- mail. But eight hours later, he announced on Twitter that he was closing his firm, John Fotiadis Architect, or JFA, after ten years in business. A few days later, Mr. Fotiadis closed the Twitter account he had used to announce he was closing down his firm. By the end of the week all the contents from his professional website including his international architecture portfolio had been removed.

Also gone was reference to the two overseas branches of his firm that he had opened in Georgia and in Ukraine. Mr. Fotiadis has not answered repeated calls, e-mails or text messages from CNBC with questions about his work in Eurasia or why he shuttered his company. He`s also declining to comment on whether he has been approached by anybody from Robert Mueller`s office.

What was that about? You get a call from CNBC and you immediately shut down your architecture firm, disappear off Twitter, remove all vestiges of your professional career from the web and stop answering your phone? Why the rush? What`s going on?

Joining us now is Christina Wilkie, White House reporter for She`s the one who spooked the architect.

Christina, thank you for being here.


MADDOW: Do you have this effect on people more broadly?

WILKIE: I do not. People love to call me back.


MADDOW: So let me just ask, if -- if this is very unusual, obviously, when you call -- we all know. You call somebody, ask them pointed questions, sometimes they make themselves scarce. This seems like he`s going to great extremes.

WILKIE: Yes. And architects I spoke to said they`ve never seen a firm shut down so quickly. People change jobs. But the idea that over -- that immediately, a firm would announce it was closing after ten years. Also, an architect lives by their portfolio. So, the idea that he would have removed more than 30 projects from his public portfolio is -- they just said they`d never seen anything like it.

MADDOW: Now, there`s no suggestion that he is in trouble. We don`t have any indication. Your reporting suggested there`s no reason that he`s come under suspicion for any wrongdoing.


MADDOW: Has there been any other reporting as to his involvement potentially with the investigation or potentially involvement in overseas investigations? We know that in Ukraine, for example, prosecutors have looked into possible money laundering and other misdealings around corruption and real estate deals. Has he been caught up in any of that?

WILKIE: Not that we know of.


WILKIE: He basically over the past two years, as we have looked all over the world for pieces of this Trump story, he`s remained a figure in the shadows, perhaps partly of his own choosing. But certainly now he`s a guy who doesn`t want to be found, but what I have reported out is that he was present in a ton of very interesting moments in Trump`s career, especially in Eastern Europe.

MADDOW: Now, Mr. Fotiadis is an architect. He`s an American. He did open offices both in Ukraine and in Georgia.

WILKIE: Yes, he did.

MADDOW: Did his work over time shift to become basically a former Soviet states-based firm?

WILKIE: His firm remained in New York, but he opened these two branches. The majority of his work during this period from about 2007 to 2013, 2014 was mostly in Eastern Europe. He had clients in Ukraine, in Azerbaijan, in Turkey, in Georgia. He had big clients. The richest man in Ukraine was one of his big patrons. The same man who brought Paul Manafort, actually, to Ukraine.

MADDOW: That`s one of the unusual overlaps.

WILKIE: Yes, it is.

MADDOW: There`s been a lot of questions as to how Donald Trump and Paul Manafort ever ended up getting together, why their circles overlap.


MADDOW: One of the ways in which they overlap is this guy who was doing all these buildings for Trump ended up also doing buildings for the guy who was funding Paul Manafort`s work in Ukraine.

WILKIE: Yes. This is a way that they overlap. We have no indication that Fotiadis and Paul Manafort would have overlapped. Often, these oligarchs, they keep their worlds very compartmentalized. So the idea your architect would interact with your political consultant, experts said that was unlikely.

But this architect, then he shows up, then he`s doing Trump`s projects in Batumi. He did a Trump project in Florida that was never built. He designed Trump Astana`s Kazakhstan Tower.

And what we found was there was this three-legged stool. When Trump would go into these eastern European licensing deals, it would be Trump the salesman, it would be Michael Cohen the lawyer, and it would be Fotiadis the architect. And in order to get these licensing deals and to seal it, Trump needed to bring an architect with him so there was something to sell and a lawyer so that they could sign the deal right there. But so, this was part of Trump`s power play.

MADDOW: That`s fascinating. So, to the extent Trump`s business deals, particularly in the former Soviet Union, are of interest in terms of the Russia investigation, he`s the third part of it.

Michael Cohen under criminal investigation. President Trump obviously the subject of this inquiry by the special counsel`s office. The other guy who was in the room for all those discussions disappeared when you called him.

WILKIE: He did.



MADDOW: Well, good luck finding him.

WILKIE: Thank you.

MADDOW: If he calls you back, please call me after.

WILKIE: I will.

MADDOW: Christina Wilkie, White House reporter for, thank you. Congratulations.

WILKIE: Thanks.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Lots to come tonight.


MADDOW: We just got a breaking news story that has just posted at "The New York Times" that I want to share with you and get some expert advice on because I`m not sure that I get the full -- that I get the full picture of this. But this is just breaking. And the one thing I do get about this is that this is a big deal.

Late last night, you might have seen the news that the Senate had passed a unanimous resolution that was very mysterious, raised lots of eyebrows. Nobody knew what it was about. It was a resolution that would allow the intelligence committee in the Senate to hand over information from the Senate to the Justice Department. And we had no idea what that was about and why they passed this unanimous resolution, but it said that it was -- what they need to hand over was documents that were in connection with some sort of pending investigation arising out of the unauthorized disclosure of information.

OK. So there`s been an unauthorized disclosure of information. The Senate has information about it. The Justice Department wants that information. The Senate is now approving handing that information over so the Justice Department can act on it. What is all that about?

Then later on tonight we started to get reporting from multiple sources that the unauthorized disclosure of information was from somebody who had been a long-time staffer on the intelligence committee in the Senate. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees obviously handle incredibly sensitive material, under incredibly rigorous secrecy protocols. And being a long-time staffer, according to "The Wall Street Journal", it was a 31- year staffer who had served in a non-partisan capacity under multiple administrations and under different majorities.

This Senate Intelligence Committee staffer was reportedly being investigated by the Justice Department for unauthorized disclosure of information. That`s what we had as of last night in the reporting that was bubbling up through the day.

Well, now, we`ve got a very unexpected turn in this from "The New York Times." I think we got the headline here. Yes, here it is.

Justice Department seizes "New York Times" reporter`s e-mail and phone records in leak investigation." Quoting from "The Times," federal law enforcement officials secretly seized years` worth of a "New York Times" reporter`s phone and e-mail records this year in an investigation of classified information leaks.

Now, this reporter having records seized, this is the same story apparently on that news that we got last night and into today about something being leaked by a staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

This reporter, who had her phone and e-mail records seized unbeknownst to her, a reporter named Ali Watkins who now works for "The Times," she previously worked for "BuzzFeed", she previously worked for "Politico". Again, now she works for "The Times." And she did not know I guess until recently that the Justice Department had seized her records, her phone and e-mail records.

That`s a big deal for anybody. It`s a really big deal, and it has really big first amendment implications if they do this to a reporter.

Continuing from "The Times," quote: Shortly before she began working at "The Times," FBI agents approached the reporter, Ali Watkins, seeking information about a previous three-year romantic relationship she had had with James A. Wolfe, the Senate Intelligence Committee`s former director of security. The FBI agents said they were investigating unauthorized leaks. Ms. Watkins did not answer the agents` questions. Mr. Wolfe stopped performing committee work in December. He retired from the committee in May, meaning last month.

Mr. Wolfe was not a source of information for Ms. Watkins during their relationship, she said. She says she told editors at "BuzzFeed News" and "Politico" about it and continued to cover national security, including the committee`s work. Ms. Watkins also told editors at "The Times" about the previous relationship when she was hired to cover federal law enforcement.

So, again, the full scope of this is unclear. This is just breaking in "The New York Times." We`ve got two big deals here. We`ve got the Senate with this unanimous resolution saying, yes, the intelligence committee can give information to law enforcement as law enforcement investigates potential leaks by a staffer on the intelligence committee, a long-time senior staffer on intelligence.

We now have the name of that staffer and the news that he is now retired. But apparently, at least according to this reporting in "The Times," there is a suggestion that his previous three-year-long relationship with a reporter, a national security reporter, led to the Justice Department surveilling a reporter`s e-mail and phone records unbeknownst to her for years while she was reporting on serious national security matters for a number of U.S. publications.

Reporters do not expect that to happen to them in this country.

Joining us now is Matt Miller, former Justice Department spokesman under Eric Holder. Mr. Miller, thank you for joining us on short notice. We called you when we saw this. And I know you`ve only had as much time to digest it as I have. Thanks very much for being with us.


MADDOW: "The Times" notes in the second paragraph of the story that under President Barack Obama, there had been aggressive tactics to crack down on leaks including tactics that made some reporters uncomfortable and some news organizations unhappy with the way that reporters were pursued essentially in order to track down leaks.

Is this a continuation of that or is this a departure?

MILLER: It is a continuation of what happened early in the Obama administration. Basically exactly what the Justice Department has done here it did to one of the reporters who wrote this story, Adam Goldman, and also Matt Apuzzo, then with the "A.P.", now, of course, with "The New York Times."

But something important happened after the Justice Department did that under Eric Holder, who was then the attorney general. The department recognized that basically they had gone too far and put in place a series of regulations that are supposed to prevent this from happening without the Justice Department going to the media organization and trying to negotiate some sort of accommodation in advance. And it is obvious that that didn`t happen in this case.

What`s supposed to happen under these new regulations is the Justice Department, before it subpoenas a reporter`s information, because this is important, this is different from subpoenaing a reporter`s testimony. The reporter doesn`t know if you`ve gone and gotten their e-mails or gone and gotten their phone records. They have no ability to go to court to try to block it.

The Justice Department under Holder put in place new regulations that would allow for some kind of negotiation between the media outlet and the Justice Department and give the media outlet the opportunity to go to court to try to seek -- to try to block the Justice Department from seizing these records. It appeared that in this case, DOJ did not do that, they did not follow those regulations.

MADDOW: Now, Matt, the other entity that is implicated in this story and involved in what is still obviously a developing story is the intelligence committee. This long-time staffer from the intelligence committee who`s reportedly under investigation for unauthorized disclosure of information, he`s the security director at the intelligence committee. And as far as I understand it, that means that he would have been responsible on the intelligence committee for making sure that classified information and secret information was closely and appropriately held.

Under that circumstance, if he was involved in any unauthorized disclosure of information, particularly from that very important perch, is that the sort of thing that Congress would police itself or would you expect that the Justice Department would get involved in that as a potentially criminal matter?

MILLER: This raises really important kind of constitutional questions between the two branches. You`ve seen before where the Justice Department has tried to investigate leaks from Congress and Congress has been very resistant about turning over information to the Justice Department.

I think one of things we don`t know here is what leaks the Justice Department is investigating. And this really is important, because there are leaks, I would argue, that are important -- leaks that do compromise national security that should be investigated and at times people should be prosecuted for those leaks. But then there are other leaks that just embarrass the administration. They`re not leaks that actually compromise national security but they embarrass the president.

And we now President Trump has been outraged by some of those leaks. He`s been outraged by leaks of conversations he`s had with foreign leaders. And he`s wanted the Justice Department to go after the people responsible for those leaks and hold them accountable.

So I think we still need to know what this leak was before we`re able to answer, you know, is this an appropriate investigation? I`m leaving aside whether some of these tactics are appropriate or not. But whether the investigation itself is appropriate or whether it looks like retaliation.

MADDOW: One last question for you, Matt. If as you say under Attorney General Eric Holder there were new regulations put in place so that reporters would be protected from intrusive searches like, this basically as a way of protecting the freedom of the press, there would be as you described, there would have to be some sort of accommodation, there would have to be some sort of negotiation with a media outlet or a reporter before a reporter was surveilled in this way as part of a leak investigation.

I`ve got -- my control room needs to stop talking in my ear for a second. Thank you very much.

Sorry, Matt. I had two people talking to me at the same time I was trying to talk to you. At the same time as Holder -- if Holder put in those rules, obviously we have a different attorney general now. If this was done in violation of DOJ policies, if this "New York Times" reporter was surveilled inappropriately, how was that policed within the Justice Department?

MILLER: It would have to be policed by the inspector general. There is a loophole the attorney general can use if they determine that -- I think the regulations say that, you know, if negotiations with the media outlet would pose a substantial threat to the investigation, if it would harm national security.

The attorney general can essentially suspend that negotiation or not negotiate with the media outlet. It`s hard to see how in this case, just looking from the outside, that would be applicable here. It`s something that would be policed by the inspector general. But, you know, ultimately these are regulations that are put in place by the attorney general. They can be rescinded by the attorney general.

Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein announced early on that they were going to look at these regulations and decide whether they ought to be withdrawn. They haven`t officially withdrawn them. So they are still in place. But we know they`ve been skeptical of them. And we know they`ve talked about cracking down more on leaks in the past.

So, we don`t know exactly how they decided to make this decision to subpoena reporters or whether they suspended these -- or whether they essentially invoked this kind of loophole in the regulation to justify the subpoena. I think that`s a very important question.

MADDOW: Matt Miller, former Justice Department spokesperson, joining us on short notice tonight -- much appreciated, Matt. Thank you.

MILLER: Thank you.

MADDOW: Again, we`re absorbing this new information just reported from the "New York Times." We had seen some intrigue coming in the Senate around a potential investigation that involved the Senate handing over information to the Justice Department about some unauthorized disclosure of information by a staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee. That was intriguing enough heading into this night`s broadcast.

Then as soon as we got on the air, "The New York Times" posted this report that the Justice Department has been secretly seizing and surveilling records, phone records and e-mail records from one of their national security reporters. It is reportedly related to this investigation, but this is a big deal in terms of freedom of the press.

We`ll have more to come tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: So, last night, we got the news that the full U.S. Senate had passed a mysterious resolution unanimously. A resolution announcing the Senate Intelligence Committee to provide the Justice Department with documents, quote, in connection with a pending investigation arising out of the unauthorized disclosure of information.

We did not know what that was about. Senate Republicans and Democrats, though, agreeing unanimously that their Intelligence Committee should give documents, documents in the possession of its Intelligence Committee, to the Justice Department as part of a pending investigation. So, all through late last night and through most of the day today, details were in short supply and speculation was in rich supply.

Now, tonight, we are starting to get another part of this story. Just within the last few minutes, "The New York Times" has reported that a reporter, a "New York Times" national security reporter, has had her phone and e-mail records seized unbeknownst to her. Previously -- she knows now, but she didn`t know when they were seized, seized as part of that investigation into a leak from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator Ron Wyden is the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. He`s also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I am assuming that he will not be able to talk to us about this matter, but I am going to ask him anyway.

Senator Wyden, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate your time, sir.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Rachel, you are quite good at making correct assumptions. And under the Senate rules it`s just not possible for me to get into it.

MADDOW: Let me just -- I want to push around the edges of that with great respect for your fidelity to your responsibilities as a member of the Intelligence Committee, sir. "The Times" is reporting tonight that there is a connection between the Justice Department surveilling their reporter, looking at a reporter`s e-mails and looking at her phone records while she was a reporter going back years.

"The Times" is reporting a connection between that treatment of their reporter which obviously raises a lot of First Amendment concerns and this investigation into whether or not there were unauthorized leaks from a staffer on your committee. Is "The Times" right to draw those two things together? Are these connected matters?

WYDEN: Rachel, I heard about the content of "The Times" story as you were reading it on the air. And again, without being particularly obstreperous, I just can`t get into this because of the committee rule.

MADDOW: OK. And I`ll ask you one last question. Obviously, the resolution that allowed the Senate Intelligence Committee, the chair and vice chair, to hand over these documents to the DOJ, that was a unanimous resolution that passed the Senate without objection last night.

Should we see -- is that just a formality? Is that just the way these things come up? Or should we see that as a sign that there aren`t significant partisan differences, that this isn`t the site of a big fight among members of the committee or members of the Senate in terms of whether or not the Senate is properly cooperating with DOJ on this?

WYDEN: At this point, Rachel, and again, you are a persistent soul, and that`s why your viewers appreciate it. I just can`t go there.

MADDOW: OK. I understand, sir.

Let me ask you about what I had initially asked you to be on the show to talk about here tonight, which is a decision that you have made that you were actually going to stop the appointment of at least one senior staffer to the U.S. Treasury Department because you say that you haven`t received information that you`ve requested from Treasury that`s related to the Russia investigation. What can you tell us about that, sir?

WYDEN: Well, we are looking at two separate matters. I`m looking at Russia and I`m also looking at this Novartis deal because I`ve been concerned that as the reports came out, it looked more like a corporate shake down than a traditional business deal involving Michael Cohen.

Now, with respect to the Russia investigation, I have put a hold on an intelligence nominee, and the president told something of a fairly tale just in the last couple of days about this person shouldn`t be held, even though we were trying to get documents because she had moved. That was his assertion. And then we found out that she had been in Washington, D.C. all along.

I think what`s going on here, both with respect to Russia and with respect to the Novartis matter, the president and his allies are awfully afraid of what is in these documents. And -- for example, on the Novartis deal in particular, what I can tell you is our finance investigators are very good. They understand financial crimes, tax crimes, and treasury secretary Mr. Mnuchin know this because they disclosed he failed to disclose $100 million in assets before his confirmation hearing.

MADDOW: In terms of the likelihood of success here, obviously you have leverage as an individual senator putting a hold on nominees until you get this information that you want. Typically the way this works is that that starts a negotiation. That starts a discussion that at least makes the department think about whether they want to loosen up in terms of this information?

Do you have any support from committee members? Do you have any indication from treasury about whether or not they`re willing to give you what you want?

WYDEN: I have talked to Mr. Mnuchin about access to documents. But what we`re going to do, particularly on the Novartis matter is isolate this administration and the treasury secretary as the outlier. We`ve been able to get information that the company is willing to cooperate. Mr. Cohen`s counsel says he`s willing to cooperate.

And there are a lot of questions to be determined here. What exactly was Novartis trying to get for that $1.2 million. Mr. Cohen didn`t have any expertise in health care. Novartis was trying to get governmental approval of a $475,000 drug. They get billions of dollars in reimbursement from the government.

We want to know what it is Novartis was trying to buy from those payments to Mr. Cohen which were bigger than the ones they were giving their lobbyists.

MADDOW: To be clear, you feel you had responses from both Novartis and Cohen, that they`d be willing to talk about this and treasury is the odd man out here. Treasury is the one that won`t cooperate?

WYDEN: Treasury is clearly the one stonewalling. In particular, as we go on this issue, we`re going to show how this relates to questions of health care. We learned from the Medicare trustees this week, Rachel, that the Trump policies with respect to tax breaks for the wealthy and not containing health costs yank Medicare three years closer to insolvency.

So what the American people and your seniors want to see, is they want to see some efforts to contain cost and yet what we see are all these deals where insiders look like they`re getting money and people who know nothing about health care seem to be much more interested in protecting the administration than protecting seniors and taxpayers.

MADDOW: Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a member of the intelligence committee, on a big night for the intelligence committee, thank you for your time, sir. I appreciate you being willing to talk to me even about stuff you can`t talk to me about.

WYDEN: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you. All right. One of these days we`ll get a normal night in the news. I won`t know what to do with myself.

We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: I want to recap this breaking news story that has just broken in the last hour from the "New York Times." As you know, there`s been a lot of wrangling between the Justice Department and Congress over access to information. Most of that has happened from House Republicans and it`s been related to the Russia investigation.

House Republicans, particularly the strongest partisans in support of President Trump, have been pushing the Justice Department to hand over more and more and more sensitive documents related to the Russia investigation, in part because they want to know what`s going on in the Russia investigation, there`s some pretty well-articulated theory about the idea that they may also theory they`ve been pushing the Justice Department to hand over increasingly sensitive documents about an ongoing investigation because they want the Justice Department to ultimately have to say no. And once the Justice Department says no, that will create a pretense for the president to come in and start firing people at the Justice Department as a way to make that investigation go away.

That`s been most of the wrangling between Congress and the Justice Department that`s been unusual for the typical division of labor between those two branches of government. There is a new thing, a whole new thing going on now between the Senate and the Justice Department. It broke last night, we got late confusing word, that the Senate had passed a resolution to authorize its intelligence committee giving information over to the Justice Department for an ongoing investigation into some sort of undisclosed -- some sort of disclosure of classified information, some sort of unauthorized disclosure of information. That was the investigation happening at the Justice Department. They needed materials from the Senate. The Senate voted unanimously to hand that material over.

Now, tonight, "The New York Times" has reported that apparently as part of that discussion, and as part of that -- excuse me, as part of that investigation, the Justice Department secretly seized years worth of a "New York Times" reporter`s phones and e-mails records this year.

Unbeknownst to her, the reporter is Ali Watkins. She previously worked for outlets including "Politico" and "BuzzFeed". She`s now at "The New York Times," her editors were aware she had had a previous personal relationship with a staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee. Ms. Watkins says that the staffer was never a source of information for her during their relationship.

And again her editors knew about it but unbeknownst to her, federal law enforcement officials secretly seized her phone and e-mail records as part of this investigation. Senator Ron Wyden is a Democratic member of the Intelligence Committee. He just told me live that in terms of this surveillance of a national security reporter, he told me that he was learning that for the first time as I was reading it here on the air from the "New York Times."

This story was likely to blow up in lots of different directions anyway. It is going to blow up in lots of different directions largely and all at once.

That does it for us tonight. I`m going to hand over now to "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".

Good evening, Lawrence.



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