Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: July 11, 2018 Guest: Lee Gelernt
AURA BOGADO, REVEAL REPORTER: -- he was there for six months. He was nine years old when he started staying there. He was separated from his mom through a different process.
She was already here. He claimed asylum at the border. He went into a sort of more regular shelter, the ones that we're more familiar with, and then sent to this place, Shilo, after he tried to run away as children who want to be reunited with their parents tend to do.
He was then administered drugs, heavy psychotropic drugs for six months. His mom pleaded, was angry, tried everything she could for six months to get her child back. She finally did. He's ten years old now. He seems well adjusted.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": There's a -- I'm sorry that I have to cut you off there but we're at the bottom of the hour. But there's a lawsuit on that and people should read your reporting over that. Thank you.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Much, much appreciated, my friend. Thank you very much.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
So they were trained spies. They were highly trained in terms of espionage, but also in terms of language and accent and mannerisms, they were supposed to be able to blend right in.
And sometime in the 1980s, they arrived in Canada. They arrived as a couple. They had false identities. They had false identities that had been stolen from real Canadians.
Apparently, there had been a little boy in the Montreal area in the 1960s whose name had been Donald Heathfield and sometime in the 1960s, that little child had died in infancy. There had also been a little girl named Tracy Lee Ann Foley who had also died in the Montreal area in the 1960s in childhood.
Decades later in the 1980s, these two Russian adults, these two spies stole those identities from those deceased kids from the 1960s and under those identities, they started a fake life in Toronto. The couple lived in Toronto through the '80s and into the '90s. In the '90s, as Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley, these fake identities, they had two sons. Their sons were born four years apart.
After their sons were born in Canada in the '90s, the family moved sometime in the mid to late '90s to France where the father, Donald Heathfield, went to grad school. He was fluent in French as well as English, as was his wife. The family apparently spoke both French and English at home with their boys.
They didn't speak Russian at home with their boys even though they were from Russia and were native Russian speakers. Their sons apparently had no idea that their parents were Russian at all. When the story of their very unusual family was ultimately told, the boys would ultimately say they had no inkling their parents were Russian, they never heard their parents speak Russian. They never heard their parents speak about Russia. They certainly had no idea their parents were Russian spies.
Although their spy life started in Canada though, ultimately the goal of this spy operation, the reason they were deployed by Russian intelligence in the first place was not to spy on Canada but, instead, to spy ultimately on the United States. All that time in Canada was like training wheels for Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley. That was their time where they got to acclimate to the West, build up their skills at blending in in the West, build up their plausible background as a worldly but normal Canadian family.
And after Donald Heathfield's stint at grad school in France in the late '90s, they started in Canada, they went to France for him to go to grad school, then they finally did it. They moved to the United States. And Donald Heathfield enrolled in another prestigious grad school program. He enrolled at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
And, look, we have a terrible photo of Donald Heathfield at his Harvard graduation from the Kennedy School in the year 2000. The reason that we have this not great photo, this grainy photo taken from very far away in the year of 2000 is because this photo was taken by the FBI. Because the FBI apparently knew as soon as Donald Heathfield and his purportedly Canadian family got to the United States, the FBI apparently knew that they weren't Canadians at all, they were in fact Russian spies living under deep cover.
Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley had been living for two decades in Canada and then in Europe before they ever set foot in the United States to start spying for Russia here. We now know that the FBI was on to them as spies as soon as they got here. So, this is the FBI photo of Donald Heathfield at his Harvard graduation in 2000. There are also FBI photos of his wife, Tracy Lee Ann Foley at that graduation, as well.
Ultimately, a decade later, in 2010, when a federal indictment against these spies was unsealed, we would get tons of detail on what this spy couple was assigned to do here in the U.S. by their handlers in Russia. We learn the goals of were they were sent, we learned their specific assignment, we learned how well they did at carrying out those spec assignments for Moscow, we learned how they communicated with their handlers back in mot cow. We learned their codes, their spy technology. We got all of it in the indictment.
This is from the indictment in 2010, quote: From in or about the 1990s, up to and including the present, the defendants and others known and unknown, unlawfully willfully and knowingly would and did act in the United States as agents of a foreign government, specifically the Russian Federation without prior notification to the attorney general as required by law. The FBI has conducted a multi-year investigation of a network of United States based agents of the foreign intelligence organ of the Russian Federation, the SVR.
The targets of the FBI's investigation include covert SVR agents who assumed false identities and who are living in the U.S. on long term deep cover assignments. These Russian secret agents worked to hide all connections between themselves and Russia even as they act at the direction and under the control of the SVR. These secret agents are typically called illegals.
The FBI's investigation has revealed that a network of illegals is now living and operating in the U.S. in the service of one primary long-term goal, to become sufficiently Americanized such that they can gather information about the U.S. for Russia and can successfully recruit sources who are in or are able to infiltrate U.S. policy making circles.
In this indictment, Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley were called the Boston conspirators. It says in the indictment the Boston conspirators have received info tackles, directives that Moscow center wanted them to focus on obtaining, including, among other things, U.S. foreign policy. For example, a Boston conspirator's Internet message from in or about April 2006 set forth the info task for May and June, which was that they should gather information regarding U.S. policy with regard to the use of the Internet by terrorists, U.S. policies in Central Asia, problems with U.S. military policy and the Western estimation of Russian foreign policy.
Quote, a Boston conspirator's electronic message to Moscow Center from in or about May 2006 focused on turnover at the head of the CIA and the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
So, the FBI unsealed this indictment in 2010. We got all of this very specific directly quoted information about what these spies had been told by Moscow to do here, and what they told Moscow, what they, in fact, carried out here under Moscow's orders. We also learned all this technical spy movie stuff about their secret communications.
This is from the indictments. To further the aims of the conspiracy, Moscow Center has arranged for the defendants clandestinely to communicate with the Russian Federation. In particular, the conspirators have used the secret communication methods described below, radiograms and steganography.
At that point reading the indictment, as a total idiot, I'm -- steganography. That must be a dinosaur related code. You go to the museum of natural history. There's this Stegosaurus, like under, you know, the hoof. As it turns out, steganography has nothing to do with dinosaurs. It is an actual spy thing.
According to the FBI, quote, steganography is the process of secreting data in an image. Moscow Center uses steganographic software that is not commercially available. The software package permits the SVR to clandestinely insert encrypted data in the images that are posted on publicly available websites without the data being visible. The encrypted data can then be removed from the picture and decrypted also using software provided by the SVR.
Similarly, SVR software can be used to encrypt data and then to clandestinely embed that date in images on publicly available Websites. The FBI helpfully later released this photo of online images of flowers to show some of the actual images that the Russian illegals used to pass messages back and forth with Moscow Center. Messages encrypted in individual pixels in these images of flowers. Crazy, right?
In an FBI search of Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley's house in Boston in 2006, quote, law enforcement agents observed and forensically copied a set of computer disks. These password protected disks contained a stenography program employed by the SVR and by the illegals.
So, they're using the super spy movie technique of dead dropping encrypted messages for their handlers back in Moscow. The messages are inside the pixels of pictures of flowers online. And they used this spy software that encrypts those messages and can also uncrypt those messages so the messages can be read. That's how that he passing information back and forth to Moscow.
And we know all of this because the FBI is onto it. The FBI knows what they are doing and watched them do it for years. I mean, look at that timeline here. That house search of the Boston town house where the FBI grabbed an image, the disks with the stenography code stuff on it, that was July 2006. That was a full six years after they were lurking at Harvard secretly taking pictures of Donald Heathfield at his graduation ceremony that year.
The FBI was watching them and surveilling them and collecting intel on their operations for that whole six-year period. The FBI during that time had also put microphones inside the spy's house.
Quote, on or about October 3rd, 2004, law enforcement agents intercepted oral communications taking place inside the Boston town house. Tracy Lee Ann Foley, defendant, was heard saying to Donald Heathfield, defendant, quote, can we attach two files containing messages or not? Let's say four pictures?
They're talking about this steganography code, right? They're talking about transmitting secret messages home to Moscow Center using the picture encryption trick with the Russian software they've got on those password protected disks and they apparently had no idea they shouldn't talk about out loud about that in their house because the FBI had bugged their house. They had no clue how much the FBI was on to them.
And the FBI was apparently on to them for years down to the smallest detail. Completely unbeknownst to these trained spies. The FBI was on to them for the entire time that they were in the United States. So, Donald Heathfield comes to this country from France to go to Harvard. He graduates from Harvard in the year 2000. The FBI is there at his graduation.
January 23rd, 2001, the FBI gets into a safe deposit box that Heathfield and Foley had opened up in Cambridge, Mass. Quote: inside the Cambridge safe deposit box, officials observed and photographed a series of photographic negatives. The negatives appear to be of Tracy Lee Ann Foley when she was in her 20s. On all of the negatives of the younger Foley save one, the name of the company that produced the film on which the negatives were printed had been excised, meaning it had been cut off, the negative sheet, but on one negative, quote, the name of the film company remained visible. They missed one.
The FBI later published pictures of these negatives that they had photographed inside the safety deposit box. You can see where the red arrow is? On just one of the negatives there's this is blurry little tiny reference.
Looks like tacma. If you Google tacma, even now, that means absolutely nothing. If that is what looks like tacma but it's actually in Cyrillic, if it's in the alphabet in which the Russian language is written, then the c in tacma is actually what we would think of as an "S". So that single blurry mark that looks like tacmac in English and therefore means nothing. In Cyrillic, it's tasma, and Tasma is in fact a manufacturer of Russian film, which means those negatives were printed on Russian film, which means, hey, I think these guys are Russian.
That is probably why they cut that identifying Tasma reference almost all but one off of all but one of those negatives showing pictures of a younger Tracy Lee Ann Foley. They forgot to cut the reference off one of the negatives and with that one reference there, the FBI caught it.
And here's the best part. The FBI got into that safe deposit box, and they found that out, they found that one tiny marginal missed reference on one negative. They found that January 2001. They photographed it. They took that evidence. Photographic evidence, right?
They put all the negatives back, put everything back as it was and they left the safe deposit box there and then they just kept surveilling Heathfield and Foley for years. A full decade later in 2010, the FBI apparently had reason to go back into that same safe deposit box again and those negatives including the incriminating one with the Cyrillic script on it, those negatives were still there a decade later because Heathfield and Foley had no idea their safe deposit box had been spied on by the FBI for a decade. They had no idea the FBI had been on them for ten years. For all of those years, going through their safe deposit box, photographing them, miking their house.
The FBI had secretly gone inside their house on multiple occasions. They had photographed their notes and letters. They, in fact, had photographed this page from this notebook from Donald Heathfield which apparently includes his handwritten notes on the 27-digit password he need to log into that software that allowed him to encrypt his messages in online pictures. They had the picture of the password code.
The FBI was that up in their business for that many years and these trained spies had no clue. By the time of their indictment in 2010, the FBI not only had detailed descriptions of their trade craft and verbatim instructions that they received from Moscow, not only did they have all the means by which they communicated with their handlers. They also had detailed information critically, including the names of all of the people who Donald Heathfield had approached in the United States as part of his spying for Moscow.
He was supposedly a guy with a Harvard degree and good language skills who was working at a consultancy in Cambridge but he was using that as cover to spy for Russia. And it turns out he wasn't just reporting back publicly available information like there's a new CIA director and there's an election under way. He was getting information out of individual that he was reporting back to Moscow, individuals like a person who had worked in Congress as a legislative counsel, an economics professor who had live contacts in Congress and with Washington policymakers. He reported to Moscow that he had established contact with a former high ranking U.S. government national security official.
The FBI knows who that was. They didn't put their name in the indictment but they watch that contact happen and they watched reported up the chain by this spy. Heathfield also appears to have made contact with a U.S. official working on nuclear weapons at a U.S. government research facility. Quote, had conversations with him about research programs on small yield high penetration nuclear warheads authorized by U.S. Congress, i.e. nuclear bunker buster warheads.
It's not comforting that an active Russian spy was making contact with and communicating with U.S. officials who were actively involved in nuclear weapons research in the United States, right? That's alarming. It is slightly less alarming when you learn that the FBI was watching them do it every step of the way for years while the spies have no idea the FBI was on to them.
This is the counter intelligence part of the FBI at work. Their job is to counter foreign intelligence operations inside the United States. In the Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley case, you see that work unfolding completely undetected, with this incredible level of intrusive surveillance on these spies over the course of a decade.
I mean, this must be hard to do without being found out, right? It's also unbelievably cinematic. This case of the Russian illegals, this spy ring which was uncovered in 2010, it really is what led to the TV series "The Americans".
In real life in this case, there was a side plot to Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley specifically because their son who's were born in Toronto in the '90s, those sons apparently had no idea before their parents were arrested in 2010 that their parents had been spies or that they were Russian that became there dramatic battle in Canada when the boys sued the Canadian government to try to get their Canadian citizenship back.
Canada was like, we don't care that you were born here. You're Russian. And the boys were like, maybe but we don't speak Russian, and we've never have been there. So, please can we be Canadians again?
This is the kind of stuff for obvious reasons ends up making good movies and good TV series but those movies and those TV series are based on real life. I mean, this is a way that governments fight each other. This is a way government steal information from each other and sabotage each other. This potentially is a way that governments can fall.
If you can use clandestine operations like this to get people loyal to a different government into positions of power in your targeted country, you can essentially bring down that country's government, right? That country can fall before your intelligence operation. That's the worst case scenario if operations like this are ever so successful that they reach their highest objectives.
The FBI now has a public facing website about the illegals, about that Russian spy ring. They headline it operation "ghost stories" because that was the FBI code name for that investigation. They called it ghost stories because the spies used the identities of dead people to start building their legends in North America.
The FBI says, quote, these deep cover Russian spies may not have an cleaned their objective but they were not idle. They collected information and transmitted it back to Russia. They were actively engaged in what is known in the spy business as spotting and assessing. They identified colleagues, friends and other who might be vulnerable targets. They were trying to co- opt people they encountered in the academic environment who might one day hold positions of power and influence.
The most famous example of this tactic took place in Great Britain in the 1930s when Soviet intelligence talent spotters were able to recruit Cambridge University students who would late ser rise to power in the British government and become Soviet operatives during World War II and into the 1950s.
Quote, we believe the SVR illegals operating in this country may well have hoped to do the same thing here. The SVR was in it for the long haul. The illegals were content to wait decades to obtain their objective.
Counterintelligence division at the FBI pulled the plug on these Russian illegals including Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley in 2010. Under that indictment unsealed in 2010, all in one day all across the country they and all the other illegals were arrested and sent home in a big highly publicized spy swap.
The lead case agent for Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley at the FBI, the FBI agent who led this covert FBI operation that monitored those two Russian spies for years, all the surveillance these trained spies were unable to detect, all the intelligence collection from right under their noses breaking their codes and miking their house and photographing their notes and all the rest of it, that lead agent who ran that intrepid FBI operation against Donald Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley was an FBI agent named Peter Strzok.
Being the lead agent on Heathfield and Foley was just one of the high profile, high stakes espionage cases that Peter Strzok has worked on or led at the FBI. He actually won a medal for his work on that one. But he also worked on other Russian spy rings in the U.S. and Chinese spy rings in the United States.
Over more than 20 years at the FBI, he rose to become the senior agent on all espionage cases at the Washington field office at the FBI. Ultimately, he rose from there to become the head of the counterintelligence division for the whole FBI. In that capacity, he ended up involved in the investigation of Hillary Clinton using a personal e-mail address when she was secretary of state. In that capacity as head of counterintelligence division, head of the counterintelligence division at the FBI, Peter Strzok was also assigned at the very earliest stages to the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Russian interest in the Donald Trump presidential campaign.
You'll recall that in the spring and early summer of 2016, foreign intelligence agencies and governments started coming across information and intelligence intercepts about unexplained Russian involvement in and support for Trump's presidential campaign. Those foreign intelligence agencies and governments notified the CIA, the CIA, of course, doesn't do work to counter foreign intelligence operations inside the United States.
That's the job of the FBI. That's the job that FBI agent Peter Strzok was in charge of for the FBI.
FBI started an investigation into that matter in the summer of 2016. That meant Peter Strzok was in charge of that because of his career. He was very well-placed to do that work, right? Intimately, intimately familiar with Russian intelligence operations and Russian intelligence efforts inside the United States.
In his role as head of the counterintelligence division at the FBI, he was literally the lead person in the entire U.S. government in charge of stopping Russian operations inside the United States. And he had decades of experience in that and awards and indictments and dramatic international spy swaps to show for it. That work also apparently gave him some feelings about Russia. And we know something about how he felt about Russia and its government and its intelligence operations in part because reporters and the public have been given access to Strzok's personal texts, texts that he wrote to a woman at the FBI with whom he was having an affair.
As the FBI investigation into Russian interference started up, it was just starting in the summer of 2016 and Peter Strzok was working on that investigation, he exchanged texts with Lisa Page at the FBI, apparently while the two of them were each watching TV footage of the Republican National Convention.
Now, I'm going to read you one of those texts from Peter Strzok. I'm not going to swear when I read that text, but I want you to know I'm going to make an obvious allusion to a swear word just in case you're watching with your kid and you don't want your kid to hear it. Ready?
One, two, three. Quote, F the cheating mother F-ing Russians. Bastards. I hate them. I think they're the worse. F-ing, conniving, cheating savages as the state craft, athletics you name it. I'm glad I'm on team USA.
Yes, Peter Strzok's damning text messages. President Trump and the Republicans who support him and Congress have decided Peter Strzok's personal texts make him rightfully an object of outrage and apoplectic distraction on the right. Some of his personal texts, which have been public are in fact very critical of then presidential candidate Donald Trump. His texts are also critical and profane and snarky toward Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder and lots of other people besides, not to mention his swearing tirades against the cheating mother F-ing Russians.
The only active political figure he expresses positive feelings about appears to be John Kasich? OK.
But Strzok was involved in the initial stages of the investigation because he was the lead counterintelligence agent at the entire FBI. When that investigation came under the purview of the special counsel Robert Mueller very quickly removed Strzok from the special counsel investigation staff, as soon as he found out Strzok expressed personal opinions in his personal texts. That happened a year ago, last July, long before any indictments were handed down by the special counsel's office.
But Republicans have seized on Peter Strzok has some sort of easy mark, as the way they're going to beat Mueller investigation politically. They think they're going to use him to make the whole Russia investigation look so terrible that maybe they can get account whole thing shut down all together or something.
A couple of problems with that strategy which we are going to see in living color over the next 24 hours, including starting tomorrow morning, one problem they've got is what his actual job was at the FBI. He ran counterintelligence in this country at the FBI. Destroying him says something about congressional Republicans view of the value of counterintelligence at a time when there as active concern about that for a lot of Americans for a lot of obvious reasons.
That, of course, won't stop them. But that brings us to the other big problem they've got with trying to make Peter Strzok their get out of jail free card on the Russia scandal. Turns out he's not the world's greatest door mat. His lawyer's public statements about Peter Strzok's eagerness to clear his name are evidence of that.
Strzok's lawyer telling "The Washington Post", quote, Peter Strzok's political conviction that a Trump presidency would be disastrous for American national security is not based on his bias, it was based on information that was available to him.
After the office of inspector general report was published which referenced Strzok's personal texts, Strzok came out guns blazing at Republicans trying to downplay the importance of the Russia investigation and to still play up Hillary Clinton's e-mails instead.
Lawyers saying, quote: Not every FBI investigation is of equal importance to U.S. national security. There's simply no equivalence between an investigation of the possible mishandling of classified information a relatively commonplace occurrence in the FBI's Washington field office and credible evidence suggesting that the presidential campaign of a major party candidate was actively colluding with a hostile foreign power in a way that could undermine the integrity of an American presidential election. To require senior national security officials to profess fealty to this false equivalence is short sighted and dangerous.
Tomorrow, there's going to be an all-day spectacle that is going to unfold on your TV screen starting at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, when Republicans in the House have demanded an open-ended day of testimony from Peter Strzok. They already had him 11 hours behind closed doors. Now, they want to do it on TV all day long tomorrow because they think they can make Peter Strzok some sort of national villain.
I'm not sure they know exactly what they're in for with this guy though. Given his history, given his career, given the way he responded to the way they have come after him thus far, it is clear that Peter Strzok whose career the Republicans have now destroyed, Peter Strzok who was the lead national security official in this country in charge of countering Russian intelligence operations on our soil, this guy is going to having hours and hours and hours of public testimony tomorrow starting at 10:00 a.m., and the Republicans think that will work out great for them. But it's clear that he has tales to tell and he very much wants to tell them. And so, this is going to be worth watching.
We'll be right back.
MADDOW: Update, an update. I did not expect to have to bring you tonight but here it is.
Last night, we reported on the latest twist in the jailed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's case -- his attempts specifically to have his forthcoming trial postponed for a long time. The first of his two trials on multiple felony counts is currently scheduled to start in two weeks. Manafort, as we reported last night, is seeking to have it pushed back until November.
Manafort's lawyers told the judge in his case that he was unable to adequately prepare for his trial starting in two weeks because the jail cell he's being held in is too remote, too far away, too hard for his lawyers to get to.
Well, last night as we reported, the judge in Manafort's case said basically, oh, the problem is that you're too far away from your lawyers, we can actually fix that. There's no reason to delay your case, we'll fix that problem. The judge ordered Manafort to be transferred to a jail closer to the courthouse, to a jail in Alexandria, Virginia.
Once the judge issued that order to move Manafort closer to order to address his concerns that he wasn't getting enough lawyer time, Paul Manafort responded by saying actually, never mind. Forget that.
Manafort submitted a new filing to the judge saying, never mind those complaints about my jail cell being too far away, I don't actually want to be moved anywhere else despite what we might have said before in our earlier requests.
Well, now, today, there's a new filing from the prosecutors, from the special counsel's office that suddenly made much greater sense why Paul Manafort might desire to stay in the remote jail where he has been for the past several weeks. Quote, among the unique privileges Paul Manafort enjoys at the jail are a private self-contained living unit which is larger than other inmates units, his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone and his own work space to prepare for trial. Manafort is also not required to wear a prison uniform. On his monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has mentioned that he is being treated like a, quote, VIP.
Manafort also possesses a personal laptop computer that he is permitted to use in his unit to review materials and prepare for trial. The jail has made extra accommodations for Manafort's use of the laptop, including providing him an extension cord to ensure the laptop can be use it his unit and not just in the separate work room.
Quote: Although the jail doesn't allow prisoners to send or receive e- mails, Manafort appears to have developed a workaround. Manafort has revealed on the monitored phone calls that in order to exchange e-mails, he reads and composes e-mails on a second laptop that is shuttled in and out of the facility by his legal team. When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the Internet and Manafort's e-mails are transmitted.
The reason Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in jail right now is for alleged witness tampering because he violated the terms of his house arrest by allegedly trying to contact potential witnesses in his case and according to him, he tried to suborn them to commit perjury. Now, apparently, he's secretly sending e-mails from jail on his laptop, the second laptop. Not the personal laptop he uses in his VIP living unit and work space with private telephone where he doesn't have to wear a prison uniform.
You can see why when the judge ordered him transferred to a place that would supposedly be more conducive to preparing for his trial it, he might say thanks, actually, where I am it just fine. I have an extension cord and everything.
Here's the thing though, the judge in this case in Virginia, we've noted before that he's a little bit cantankerous. Manafort filed his motion last night saying thanks, but no thanks. Actually, I'd rather stay where I am. You don't need to move me.
Well, now, this is how the judge has responded. Quote, on July 6th defendant Paul Manafort filed a motion to continue, meaning a motion to postpone his trial by detailed the trials and travails of his detention at the Northern Neck Regional Jail. However, defense counsel then filed a motion opposing defendant's transfer from Northern Neck to Alexandria despite having just complained about defendant being housed at Northern Neck.
Quote: it's surprising and confusing when counsel identifies a problem and then opposes the most logical solution to the problem. The dissonance between defendant's motion to continue and motion opposing transfer to the Alexandria detention center cannot be easily explained or resolved.
In response to Manafort's lawyer saying that they were concerned for his safety if he was moved to the Alexandria jail the judge had this to say, quote: the professionals at the Alexandria detention center are very familiar with housing high profile defendants, including foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors, both kinds. Accordingly and for all of these reasons, it is here by ordered that defendant's motion opposing his transfer to the detention center is denied. It is further ordered that the U.S. Marshals shall comply with the court's previous order directing that defendant be transported from Northern Neck Regional Jail to be housed at the Alexandria detention center pending trial.
So, the president's campaign center will now be apparently moved to a jail in Alexandria, Virginia, to await his trial whether he likes it or not. I wonder if he'll be able to surreptitiously send e-mails from that lockup, too.
Something has made Paul Manafort suddenly want a long time before his trial starts. He wants many more months to prepare for his trial. But whatever it is, it doesn't actually appear to be the location of his jail, which is what he had started off complaining about. He will now apparently be transferred with or without his laptop extension cord and I don't know whether or not the White House is worried about what tales Paul Manafort might tell or not, but it's clear with this wrangling over the conditions of his confinement that prosecutor's vice grip on him just continues to get tighter and tighter and tighter every day.
MADDOW: Probably a lot like you, we all read a ton of news around here all day long. Everybody who works on this show races each other every day to read to the end of the Internet. We read news articles, we read wire reports, we read pool reports, we read blog posts on the news, we read tons and tons and tons of court documents these days. We read everything we can find out about what's going on in today's news.
And a lot of the time, most days, the trick is just synthesis, right? It's just reading all of that news and then keeping it all straight in your head as to what happened, what's new, what's important.
Sometimes though, every so often, it's not about keeping all the news straight. Sometimes it's about reading all that news and keeping yourself, keeping your own head on straight, because sometimes reading something in the news makes your head explode.
Today, I read one thing that I absolutely positively could not believe was real. I think you may also end up staring in amazement. We'll see.
But that story is next.
MADDOW: I'm about to show you something that you will think is satire but it is not. Quote, how the new face of the migrant crisis got stuck with the job.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has reluctantly taken on a new role, public explainer and punching bag for the migrant crisis created by Donald Trump's zero tolerance border policy. He didn't want the job but no one did, said an unnamed HHS official.
And Alex is doing his best. He stepped into the middle of a blank storm. It's a tough situation.
Meaning it's a tough situation for him, for Alex Azar. He's doing his best but poor him.
The article continues, quote, the policy of family separation began in the White House and the Department of Homeland Security. It's not clear Alex Azar, the HHS secretary, even agreed with it his supporters say, but, quote, Azar took ownership in good soldier fashion, reuniting all those families has, quote, zapped Azar's time and pulled his agency away from other priorities. Azar has pulled long hours personally reviewing case files of migrant children, paging through documents after midnight.
Quote, he works hard and is here early and late. He's working round the clock on this. Alex Azar barely had time to go to his college reunion for two days in the middle of the crisis, while his agency was taking kids away from their parents with no idea of how they'd ever return them with no plan for what to do with the kids they were holding, he was at his college reunion for a weekend.
And yes, given the human misery that continues to unfold for these babies and toddlers and kids who have been taken away from their parents and given the government's lack of plan to fix that, despite promises that they've had a plan, it's a little hard to take the selling of Alex Azar as a good soldier who just happened to be caught up in the middle of this amazing mess that he maybe, maybe doesn't agree with doesn't want to say he doesn't agree with it because that might make Trump mad. He might not agree with this policy we've heard.
But somebody has started sell an amazing PR story about the guy who is holding the kids taken away from their parents being the real victim here.
It is -- sometimes I read the news and I like get frustrated. Sometimes I read the news and I think I might be dead and I've gone to hell and this is what the news is like in hell. This is particularly hard to take today, the day after Alex Azar and his Department of Health and Human Services blew through a court imposed deadline to give back more than 100 kids under the age of 5 that they're keeping from their parents.
As of yesterday afternoon, precisely four of those kids had been reunited with their parents thanks to Alex Azar's hard work. Maybe some more will be reunited by midnight last night by the deadline. Maybe they'd try. We don't know. No idea yet.
Apparently, part of what they've been working so hard on before meeting that deadline was making sure that Alex Azar's public image would be a little more shiny than it is.
Let's put unnamed HHS officials out to talk to politico.com to let everybody know how hard Alex Azar is working and how this totally isn't his fault, he might not even agree with it, but don't say he doesn't.
I mean, sorry here isn't going to cut it. In Congress today, House Republicans joined with House Democrats in calling for steep penalties against a Azar's office if he fails to explain how he plans to reunite these kids with their parents. Lawmakers say they'll strip $100,000 a day from Azar's budget.
A federal judge who set these deadlines has asked the ACLU to submit a proposal for possible punishments against the Trump administration for failing to meet the deadline. The judge could rule on those possible punishments at the next court hearing, which is later this week.
Joining us now is an ACLU lawyer who is arguing this class action case against the government, which has resulted in this deadline.
Mr. Gelernt, thank you for being here tonight. I know that you are in the middle of an incredible amount of work right now.
LEE GELERNT, ACLU MIGRANT RIGHTS PROJECT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: As far as we can tell from the outside, the government seems to have missed the deadline to comply with the judge's order in your case. Can you give us an update as to what's happened and what the government has or hasn't done?
GELERNT: Right. So, we do not think that all the eligible children were reunited yesterday. We have not gotten an update from the government about whether there are still children who haven't been reunited. I have just heard a few minutes ago someone was reporting that HHS is saying they reunited all eligible children. I have no idea whether those where before the deadline. I suspect not and I still don't know how many they mean because they're saying all eligible children. I don't know whether their count is the same as ours. We'll have to wait and see.
But I -- you know, I don't think they met yesterday's deadline. If they have reunited all the children, we're thrilled. You know, that's what we're doing this lawsuit for obviously.
And we now have to turn to the children 5 and above that are 3,000. But until I get confirmation for counsel from the government specifically saying all the children under 5 who are eligible to reunite, have been reunited, you know, we'll wait and see.
But I do want to add one other point. When the government says all those who are eligible, it's not counting the parents who were deported without their children previously, children under 5. The government tried to say, well, those shouldn't be included in the lawsuit. The judge said, of course, they're included in the lawsuit. You know, they're the most acute situations.
So, we still have those and we're waiting to see even if the parents in the U.S. have been reunited.
MADDOW: So, just to be clear on that last point, you're telling me that the government's position here is that these parents with their kids came to the border, the government took the kids away and then deported the parents to another country and now, the government is saying that not only are going to continue to hold the kids, but they had have no ultimate responsibility to ever give the kids back because the parents have been sent to a different country by the same government?
GELERNT: That seemed to be the government's position or at least that this ruling by the judge didn't cover them, which would make no sense. You know, they are the most extreme case. And so, of course, the court rejected the government's position.
What the government thought they were going to do with these kids, who knows? Whether they were going to look for the parents, whether they were just going to give the children up to foster homes or adoption, it's far from clear.
MADDOW: If the government did not meet the deadline or indeed if they do not meet the next deadline for the kids over the age of 5, as you mentioned, that's thousands of kids, the judge had already signaled that he may come to you, may come to you at the ACLU to help figure out what the appropriate punishment would be for the government in order to respond to them missing the deadline.
Is that unusual? Do you know what that sort of punishment should be?
GELERNT: Well, the judge has a range of options. I think, you know, he is asking us for our recommendation. He'll make the ultimate decision.
I think for us, the touchstone is going to be what's the most constructive remedy that will move the reunification process along? You know, we're obviously hearing a lot of people say you should ask for the most punitive thing, the most punishment against the Trump administration.
You know, ultimately, what we're looking to do is find the remedy that will move them to reunite all the kids. So, we will consider all options. Right now, I want to find out how many children have been reunited. How many have made the deadline and if they didn't make the deadline, then we are going to have to propose remedies by tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Pacific. And then there's obviously the big deadline coming up July 26th where 2,000 to 3,000 additional kids need to be reunited.
I mean, this is a mess. The government not only took these children deliberately and caused this kind of trauma to them, but didn't even bother to keep track of where they were sending the children.
MADDOW: Yes, and that's alarming and upsetting when you're talking about 100 kids or several dozen kids, right? When you're talking about potentially thousands of kids with this problem, it's mind boggling.
Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project, right on the frontline of this battle -- thank you for giving us an update tonight, sir. Good luck.
GELERNT: Thank you, Rachel.
All right. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Tomorrow is day two of the two-day NATO summit in Brussels. On day one, today, the White House issued a statement explaining why the president's top stop appeared to be so uncomfortable at the breakfast table. They say it had nothing to do with the way the president was haranguing U.S. allies at that table. Rather, the press secretary told "The Washington Post" today that Chief of Staff John Kelly looked so displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.
Today's number one best Trump administration silent movie caption, I thought they said breakfast. This is just pastries and cheese. Egad.
Tomorrow they'll try it again though. Second day of the NATO summit where it appears to be a live question as to whether or not the president will try to blow up the NATO summit the way he blew up the G-7 summit on his way out the door last month.
Then, after leaving the NATO summit, the president will go to the U.K. where maybe the staff can get a proper breakfast, but where there will be a lot of protesters greeting him. Britain right now is embroiled in a political crisis that may ultimately take down the British government.
It's driven in large part by the catastrophic issue of Brexit. It's driven in small part by the question of whether Russia may have actually been behind the Brexit referendum vote. Even without the burgeoning evidence that suggests Russia was involved, the Brexit vote really might be about to bring down the U.K. government and Prime Minister Theresa May.
After visiting the U.K. already embroiled in political crisis over a vote that was a big surprise that may have been tied to Russia, then the president will move on to his one-on-one summit with Vladimir Putin.
I should tell you, "The Financial Times" has just tonight broken the news that yet another Trump property appears to have been financed by the Russian government. This time, it's the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto. For anybody looking into the president's business dealings, this Toronto deal has a lot to offer, including, quote, evidence that Trump's billionaire partner in the Toronto project authorizes a secret $100 million payment to a Moscow-based fixer representing Kremlin-backed investors.
We will put a link to there brand new blockbuster report at maddowblog.com tonight. Meanwhile, stay buckled in. This is going to continue to be a big week. Eat your Wheaties. But maybe you'd rather have pastries and cheese. You know, free country. Your call.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it's time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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