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Strzok, last man standing. TRANSCRIPT: 08/13/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Jim Himes

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: August 13, 2018 Guest: Jim Himes

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us for the next hour.

There has never before been a time in U.S. history when you could start a brief rundown of the day`s news with words anywhere close to the kinds of words we use now to run down the news, right?

Today, on what stands as a fairly normal Monday for this administration, today federal prosecutors, for example, rested their case against the president`s campaign chair. As he nears end of the first of two criminal trials in which he has been charged with multiple felonies.

Today, we were also treated to a tape recording of the president made apparently without his knowledge or consent by a former White House senior adviser who, over the past two days, has revealed that she also made illicit recordings inside the Situation Room at the White House. She now says she also recorded the president`s daughter and son-in-law, who are both senior White House advisers, without their consent, they were recorded.

She said she was offered $15,000 a month after being fired from the White House on a contract that essentially required no work from her but it would include a nondisclosure, non-disparagement agreement that would preclude her from talking about her time in the White House or her colleagues there. She also says the president is mentally unfit for the job. She says he is unaware of most of what happens in the White House now and she says she has heard recordings of him using the "N" word in a work setting at his former job on a TV show.

Every once in awhile, I just have to step back, right? As I said, this registers as a fair to middling day for this administration, because apparently our political seismographs don`t work anymore. And so, when nobody tells us there`s an earthquake underway, and we just keep plodding along through all the shaking and the falling rocks and the cracking buildings, pretending this is just Monday.

Today, a federal judge appointed by the president ruled against a Russian oligarch who was formally accused in another criminal indictment of having financed and orchestrated some of the Russian government`s efforts to interfere in the last election, to try to throw that election for Donald Trump. This particular oligarch has not turned up in federal court since he was charged earlier this year. But he had argued through lawyers that the charges against him should be dismissed because the appointment of the special counsel Robert Mueller was somehow unconstitutional or improper.

Well, today, in a 41-page ruling, this Trump-appointed federal judge in Washington, D.C. dismissed that argument from the oligarch with dispatch. So that case will go on. It will not be dismissed.

Everybody who has challenged the legal proceedings that have derived from the Russia investigation thus far, by challenging the appointment of Robert Mueller to lead the investigation and to bring charges when he discovers crimes, every single one of those challenges has been turned back. Manafort tried that argument in Washington, D.C. federal court. He lost. Manafort tried that argument in federal court in Virginia, he lost. This Russian oligarch and his company have now lost this argument, as well.

There`s also an associate of Trump campaign aide Roger Stone who has been held in contempt of court for refusing to respond to a subpoena from Robert Mueller, because he keeps trying on this same legal argument that somehow there`s something wrong with the existence of Robert Mueller as a special counsel. Again, he has already been held in contempt of court. Today, we learned that that man is now going to appeal that all the way up to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is one level below the U.S. Supreme Court. He is trying again, burning through every possible legal avenue to try to avoid testifying in the special counsel investigation.

Now, what that man might testify about -- we really have no idea. But he is going to the mat and beyond to try to avoid testifying. And it is apparently this utterly unknown Roger Stone adjacent figure, this guy, Andrew Miller, who is going to try to get the constitutionality of the Russia investigation as close as possible to the Supreme Court with this federal appeals court challenge he just filed this afternoon in the D.C. Circuit.

So, again, like I said, not much doing, just Monday. A fairly typical day in the ongoing careening bus crash of this particular iteration of the American presidency into the American rule of law. Ka-boom.

But when the history of this time in U.S. history, when the history of this moment in American citizenship is written, I think here`s what today`s entry is going to be about on the big "Dateline" of 2018. Just over two years ago, an urgent counter-intelligence investigation was begun that related to the presidential election that year. Then-CIA Director John Brennan has testified that foreign intelligence services had informed the CIA about contacts and communications indicating some kind of Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election, and the possibility that people associated with the Trump campaign were being informed about those efforts or they were otherwise in contact with the Russian operation.

Now, the CIA, of course, doesn`t operate on U.S. soil. Counterintelligence efforts involving other countries mounting operations here, that`s part of the FBI`s counterintelligence bailiwick. So, the CIA and the FBI coordinated their efforts to start looking into whatever was going on in the summer of 2016. And it was, again, just over two years ago now that the FBI itself received information that an adviser to the Trump campaign had bragged to a foreign diplomat that the Russian government had hacked Democratic Party e-mails. And that boast to that foreign diplomat happened long before there was actually any public information circulating about the Russian government hacking Democratic e-mails. f So, the FBI realized there was something to go with there. The CIA had been advised by allied intelligence services that there was something else to go on that seemed related. So, it`s just over two years ago, this counter intelligence investigation begins. Are the Russians actually running an intelligence operation to try to influence the choice of the next American president? If so, is that candidate in on it?

That investigation started just over two years ago. Since then, of course, the candidate in question has been elected president. And under him, since he has been president, the director of the FBI leading the investigation has been fired, turned into a political punching bag and removed rom office. His top deputy, the number two official at the FBI, running the day-to-day operations of the FBI and the investigation, he, too, has been fired, turned into a political punching bag and removed from office.

Now, the head of the counterintelligence division at the FBI, the lead agent on that investigation, now, today, he has also been fired. Turned into a political punching bag and removed from office. The president has also threatened all three of them with being prosecuted themselves. Director, deputy director, head of the counterintelligence division, all gone, all blown up, career-wise, right? All being threatened with being prosecuted themselves.

And the Russia investigation continues to unspool, right? We`ve had the national security adviser plead guilty and become a cooperating business. We`ve had the president`s deputy campaign chair plead guilty and becoming a cooperating witness.

We`ve had that Trump foreign policy adviser who piqued the interests of the FBI with his inside info about the Russian hacking operations, right? We`ve had him plead guilty, too, and become a cooperating witness. We`ll actually have a little more on him coming up tonight, there`s been some movement in his case.

We`ve got another Trump foreign policy adviser, formally named as an agent of the Russian government in multiple foreign surveillance wiretap applications. We`ve got the ongoing felony trial against the president`s campaign chair. We`ve got pending felony criminal indictments against multiple alleged Russian agents and Russian military intelligence officers.

We`ve got pitched legal battles now over the potential legal liability for other people associated with the president and for potentially testimony about them. The people like Roger Stone and Michael Cohen, the president`s long-time attorney. But one by one, even as all of that fruit has been borne from this investigation, one-by-one, the law enforcement and counterintelligence leadership actually in charge of the investigation that has led to all this thus far, one by one, they have been peeling them off and destroying them and their careers.

The director, James Comey, the deputy director, Andy McCabe, with Peter Strzok`s firing today, that adds the head of the FBI`s counterintelligence division to the list. And I think there`s a couple different important consequences of that. And the first one is frankly about the president`s personal legal liability in this scandal.

Last June, after he was fired, FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress that President Trump had improperly pressured him about the FBI`s open investigation into Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn. Now, at the time, Comey said he recognized the president`s request to him concerning Flynn to be both improper and highly unusual. And so, according to his FBI training, he knew what to do next.

He immediately wrote down what had happened in that conversation with the president. He wrote in it memo. He wrote it right after that conversation, he then shared the contents of the memo with senior FBI officials.

So, essentially, they could corroborate what he had said at the time about the interaction that he had just had.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Who did you talk with about that? Lifting the cloud, stopping the investigation back at the FBI, and what was their response?

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Well, at the FBI, during one of the two conversations, I`m not remembering exactly, I think the first, my chief of staff was actually sitting in front of me and heard my end of the conversation, because the president`s call was a surprise.

And I discussed the lifting the cloud and the request with the senior leadership team who in -- typically, and I think in all these circumstances, was the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director`s chief counsel and, I think, in a number of circumstances, the number three in the FBI, and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch. So, that group of us that lead the FBI when it comes to national security.


MADDOW: Who else could back me up on what happened there, right? And he gives this big list. The deputy director, the chief of staff, general counsel, deputy directors, chief counsel, head of the national security branch, the FBI`s number three official, that would be the associate deputy director of the FBI, right? If you don`t speak the language of job titles in the FBI, just seems like a lot of similar-sounding adjectives, right? Seems like kind of long and hard to remember list.

But those are very specific people, and Comey knows who he told. And he was very clear about this. When questioned about it repeatedly, he was very clear.

Here`s who I told. Here`s who my corroborating witnesses are.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Who are those senior leaders at the FBI that you shared this conversation with?

COMEY: As I said in response to Senator Feinstein`s question, the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director`s chief counsel, and then more often than not, the number three at the FBI, who is the associate deputy director, and then quite often, the head of the national security branch.


MADDOW: So, to us, again, it just seems like a list of a lot of job titles that don`t sound all that distinct, but when you compare it, it is consistent. This is who he told. He knows exactly who it was, right?

In Comey`s telling, the president tried to interfere with the FBI investigation of national security adviser Mike Flynn. The president denies, he did any such thing. But Comey has backup, right?

Comey, with his FBI training, committed the president`s exact words, he says, to writing, right after that conversation happened, and then he told all these people -- crucially, at the time, so they can corroborate what Comey said, at the time, about what happened, right?

And these are not just job titles. There are specific people who had these jobs at the time, right? Comey and the corroborating witnesses for Comey and his account of what the president did.

Well, it`s taken them a little while to get all the way through this list, but the only one still there is David Bowdich, the one at the bottom there. He had been the number three official at the FBI, he had been the associate FBI director. Now, he`s moved up to be number two, not number three at the FBI.

David Bowdich is apparently the one who personally directed today that counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok be fired, even though the FBI`s Office of Personnel Management had decided that Strzok should be kept on. Bowdich, the FBI deputy director now, he`s the only one left for of all of the corroborating witnesses for James Comey`s testimony -- James Comey`s testimony that the president leaned on him to shut down an open FBI investigation into the national security adviser.

And with all of them, almost all of them all picked off now, who is going to back up James Comey? If the president leaning on the FBI director about that investigation is itself a matter of personal criminal liability for the president when it comes to obstruction of justice, well, who is going to back Comey up now? I mean, once you work your way through, all the corroborating witnesses who might testify otherwise, well, then, of course, you`re free to tell any story you want about what happened between the president and the FBI director.

And if all the corroborating witnesses have been picked off and blown up, who is left to say what happened there at all? Who is left to say otherwise now?


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Flynn. The president says he never told Comey that he should go easy on Flynn.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I just want to be clear exactly what happened in that conversation with Comey about Michael Flynn. What exactly did President Trump say?

GIULIANI: There was no conversation about Michael Flynn.

TAPPER: So, you`re saying that President Trump and James Comey never discussed Michael Flynn?

GIULIANI: That is what he will testify to if he`s asked that --


MADDOW: That`s what he`s going to testify too, sure. I mean, who is going to contradict him? It has taken them awhile to whittle down the list of corroborating witnesses to almost nothing, but they`re getting there.

And so, as one of the last Comey corroborating witnesses is getting publicly destroyed today, the president, this weekend, changed his public stance once again to start saying, yes, that Comey conversation never happened. I never talked to him about Flynn. Who is to say otherwise? Who is left?

When they fired former FBI counterintelligence chief, Peter Strzok, today, supposedly over his private text messages in which he expressed lots of negative political opinions about President Trump and lots of other politicians, too, they did so even though the inspector general noted that there was never any action at the FBI to influence Donald Trump`s electoral prospects or anyone else`s electoral prospects either, even though he was better placed to do that than almost anyone else in the country.


PETER STRZOK, FBI AGENT: In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connection with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential on derail and quite possibly defeat Mr. Trump, but the thought of expressing that or exposing that information never crossed my mind.


MADDOW: In firing Peter Strzok today, they have claimed their latest senior FBI scalp. The latest senior person associated with the origins of the Russia investigation.

Firing Peter Strzok may have consequences for any obstruction of justice case against the president. If he was able to corroborate Comey`s testimony about potential obstruction of justice involving the president trying to lean on the FBI over their open investigation of Mike Flynn while picking off those corroborating witnesses may have legal consequences.

At a personal matter, they also destroyed the career of the man who was literally the senior person in the U.S. government in charge of investigating foreign governments mounting intelligence operations against the United States on U.S. soil. When it came to this Russian intelligence operation, to mess with us in our own country, Peter Strzok was there from the beginning. He was one of the only people on earth who has ever been in a position to give testimony like this, and now he`s literally having to set up a GoFundMe page to help with his own defense.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: During your June 2016 -- excuse me, June 2018 interview, I noticed some concern in your voice when recalling the 2016 campaign season, specifically October 2016 and specifically as it relates to the state of the Trump/Russia investigation. Why were you so concerned about what was happening at that time?

STRZOK: Well, I think, trying to keep this at a level not talking about open investigations --

LEE: Only your --

STRZOK: Yes, ma`am. So, the predicating information, the information we had, which was alleging a Russian offer of assistance to a member of the Trump campaign, it was of extraordinary significance. It was credible. It was from a sensitive and credible source.

And as we looked at what that represented, the key time was obviously coming into the election. And so for us, there was absolutely a need to, one, this was a serious allegation, two, of extraordinary gravity, and three, given the fact that the election was upon us and that, if, in fact, then-candidate Trump were elected, this whether he or certainly more likely members of his campaign were actively working with Russia, we need the get to the bottom of it.

It could be that none of them were. It could be that some, or it could be on a far worse scale. But the urgency to understand what was going on in advance of the election and certainly in advance of any inauguration, I can`t overstate the importance of that.


MADDOW: At the time of those happenings, that he was describing right there, Peter Strzok was the number one official at the FBI in charge of counterintelligence. Today, he was fired.

Joining us now is Congressman Jim Himes. He`s a Democrat from Connecticut. He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks very much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Good evening, Rachel.

MADDOW: Good evening.

Peter Strzok has been a political punching bag for a year now, for a long time. What do you make of his firing today? Was this an inevitability once he became a political punching bag? His lawyer today is suggesting that the reason he was removed was not because of FBI procedure but because of politics.

HIMES: Yes, no question about it, Rachel. I mean, look at the fact pattern here. The internal disciplinary unit at the FBI recommended that Peter Strzok be demoted and suspended for 60 days. That was set aside to fire the man.

Remember back to the firing of Andrew McCabe, the night before he was to qualify for his first pension, is fired. Remember that the president admitted that he fired Jim Comey because of the Russia pressure, as he put it. It is very clear that this president is engineering a fear campaign within the FBI, saying anybody who is going to stand up against me, anybody who might testify against me, their career will suffer.

And it`s a little hard to know exactly what`s happening, right? I don`t know if this is Director Wray who is coordinating this, or the attorney general, and it`s even possible to imagine that they are trying to appease the president in order to keep them from firing Bob Mueller, or in order to keep him in firing the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But whatever is happening, it is pretty clear that this is a performance that has an audience of one, and that one individual sits in the Oval Office.

MADDOW: Now that we have seen the firing of Director Comey, the firing of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the firing of the chief of the counterintelligence division, Mr. Strzok, I mean, three usually makes a pattern in the news. In terms of oversight of the Justice Department and the FBI and the question of whether or not this pattern of dismissals and pattern of sort of persecuting these FBI officials publicly, in addition to taking these disciplinary actions towards them, is that the sort of thing that you`d expect Congress to be looking into?

HIMES: Well, you would expect it, but, of course, the Congress, the place that I work, is actually in league with the president in trying to damage the credibility of the Department of Justice and trying to damage the credibility of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, the FBI. You know, we`ve now spent a year, as Democrats in the minority, trying to stand up for these institutions that people like Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan and remember, those two guys wanted to impeach the deputy attorney general because he refuses to provide information on an ongoing investigation.

This is all part of a campaign pointed at doing two things. Number one, and most importantly, trying to pre-but the Mueller investigation conclusions, you know? And I must say, if you look at the polling, they`ve sort of succeeded. Whatever Mueller comes out with, the president will follow that up with a tweet saying, I told you so, it`s the 19 or whatever the number is now, Democrats and angry Bob Mueller, in order to damage the credibility of this investigation.

And, of course, to instill fear in the ranks of the FBI. That`s the only way you can explain the override of the recommended punishment for Peter Strzok, the only way you can explain McCabe being fired literally the evening that he was about to get his full pension. It is -- it is a campaign of delegitimizing the organization and of trying to send a signal to senior people that you better get onboard with this president.

MADDOW: What`s the cure? What`s the cure of that? If that is what`s happening here, if it`s an effort to, as you say, pre-but the findings of the Mueller investigation, ultimately, to delegitimize the FBI, to delegitimize the rule of law and the justice process, particularly, when it comes to this issue of counterintelligence and criminal liability, what`s the -- what`s the cure for that for us as a country?

HIMES: You know, in any -- in any normal world, the cure would actually be, as you sort of implied, the cure would be the Congress. The cure would be Republicans in the Congress standing up and saying, hey, I get this president is of my party, but I also know that the FBI and the Department of Justice and the CIA and you name it is comprised of people who are enormously talented and enormously patriotic, and I`m going to stand up and say, no, Mr. President, you are not going to use, in order to sort of defend your fantasies and your witch hunt beliefs, you are not going to damage these institutions, which are so important to the safety and national security of this country. That, of course, is not going to happen.

And so, sadly, I think the answer, that it`s going to take us a long time. You know, maybe we start next year, if the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, we will have the power of subpoena, we will be able to look into these kinds of things. But it`s going to take some time to re-establish the credibility of these institutions that was very deliberately damaged by a president who -- let`s just be blunt about it -- who is you know, here, we`re having this long conversation about, did Comey tell the truth, the president is a serial liar. I know that sounds partisan and political, but, look, you just need to look at half his tweets to know that that is true, or half the statements he makes.

He does not care for the truth and he has thrown mud on an awful lot of people who may have had, you know, poor judgment. Look, Strzok did some things that deserve punishment. Jim Comey, I completely disagree with his decision to talk about the Clinton investigation during the presidential election. But not one of those individuals has ever been accused of being dishonest.

MADDOW: Congressman Jim Himes, on the Intelligence Committee in the House -- sir, thank you for your time tonight. I appreciate you being here.

HIMES: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We got a lot more to get to, busy Monday night. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Every summer, hackers from across the world descend upon Las Vegas for a couple of big name hacking conventions. And every year, Las Vegas braces for the mischief they`ve come to expect with these hackers who, among other things, love to one up each other. So, when the hacking convention is in town, the hotels will find their billing systems have been hacked into, definitely the Wi-Fi networks have been hacked into.

During convention events, if anybody is negligently logged onto an insecure network, their private log-in information will get hacked and then will get posted on a big wall of sheep, splashed along one wall of the convention center for everybody to see and feel embarrassed about. Prank city. And hacking conventions are designed to make suckers into fools.

This past weekend in Las Vegas, at one of these hacker conventions, one conventioneer successfully hacked into an exact replica of the Florida secretary of state`s election Website. This hacker went in and changed the vote totals for the 2016 election, giving himself over 1 billion votes in the process, which is very hilarious, right? Also kind of scary, because this was actually an exact replica of the secretary of state`s real official election page that this guy hacked. Scary.

Even more scary when you learn the hacker who gave himself over a billion votes in Florida, that hacker is 11 years old. Eleven-year-old Emmett Brewer (ph) successfully hacked into this replica of the Florida secretary of state`s Website and did change the vote totals for a recent election. I should also tell you that he did it in under ten minutes.

This 11-year-old changed the names and the vote numbers that appeared publicly on the secretary of state`s Website. He was not able to change the actual voting total records maintained by the secretary of state`s office, but honestly, if a real-life hacker were to do this, were to do what this 11-year-old did this past weekend, again, in less than ten minutes, on real election day, on the actual secretary of state election result website while people are watching the results come in, that kind of stunt in real life would certainly be enough to spur wide-ranging doubt when it comes to trusting the outcome of an election. And that is something Florida is already very much at risk of.

Last week, we covered this on the show last week, we`re going to stay on this story. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida basically tried to pull the fire alarm on this issue a little bit, he told reporters in his home state of Florida that Russian hackers have already penetrated some Florida voting registration systems, ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Senator Nelson said he and his fellow Florida senator, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, had been asked by the top Republican and the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, they had been asked to alert local officials in Florida to this fact. Although he said he couldn`t elaborate on exactly what the threat was.

The response was swift. The Department of Homeland Security said they had seen no new compromise by Russian actors. The Florida secretary of state said he too had zero information to support those claims. Governor Rick Scott of Florida is running against Bill Nelson for Senate. He quickly came out and suggested that Senator Nelson was just making stuff up.

But the two Republicans who Nelson claimed also had knowledge of this, Senator Burr and Senator Marco Rubio, neither one of them is denying what Bill Nelson has said. And then, late on Friday night, the Florida secretary of state suddenly started to appear to be taking these allegations a little more seriously. The Florida secretary of state initially responded by basically scoffing at the senator. But then late on Friday, the secretary of state wrote a letter to the Homeland Security Department and the FBI, asking to reaffirm their commitment to working with Florida officials to share any knowledge of potential lets threats to Florida`s voting systems.

Then, over the weekend, Senator Mark Warner, top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, he put out a statement basically backing Senator Bill Nelson up directly, saying Senator Nelson was right to warn election officials in his state about this, quote, very serious and ongoing threat to our democracy. Quote: I urge officials at all levels of government to heed the warning and work with DHS and the FBI to address the threat.

So, we don`t know yet how this gets worked out or if partisans in Florida will stop treating this as something that is just going to be something they fight about in terms of Bill Nelson`s in terms of Bill Nelson`s re- election and they start treating it as something that needs to be protected in terms of people turning out to vote. But, apparently, the Florida`s secretary of state`s Website can be hacked by an 11-year-old in less than ten minutes and Senator Nelson is standing by this very provocative claim now underscored by other senators of both parties that, right now, ahead of the midterms, Russian hackers are already inside Florida`s voting registration systems with freedom to move about at will.

As I said, the story keeps evolving a little bit every day. The most remarkable part of all of it to me is that there still appears to be a tacit expectation that Florida counties need to really get on this. That literally county election officials in Florida need to figure out whether or not this is a credible threat and start working on it themselves, in terms of how to defend against this hostile foreign power targeting local counties in Florida to try to disrupt American democracy.


MADDOW: Exhibit 452. I have been waiting for it and waiting for it and waiting for it. Ever since the prosecutors in the Paul Manafort trial announced mid-trial that they were going to add to the list of evidence they planned to present in their case, this 452 thing has been keeping me up at night. The description of Exhibit 452 has made me think it might have something to do with the allegation that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sold the promise of a job in the Trump administration essentially for cash, in the form of $16 million in loans from a little bank in Chicago.

Now, prosecutors allege that Paul Manafort promised the CEO of that bank, a man named Steve Calk, promised him a job in the Trump administration in exchange for those $16 million in loans. So, we thought that exhibit 452 might have something to do with spelling that out.

Well, now we have exhibit 452, as of tonight. It does not disappoint.

All right. It`s an e-mail -- look -- to Paul Manafort from Steven Calk. Date, November 15, 2016, so right after the election. Subject: Stephen M. Calk, candidate for secretary of the Army.

Hello, Paul. Will you please review the attached document prepared at your request and advise what changes and improvements I should make? My goal is to ensure you or my designated prosper -- huh -- has all of the information they need to have me successfully chosen by the president-elect. My designated prosper? I look forward to your response, Steve.

He then attaches to that e-mail what he says are his qualifications to be the next secretary of the Army, including his passion, also his loyalty to Donald Trump. He then attaches his resume and a nice professional head shot. But then here, look at the last page, prospective roles in the Trump administration, in rank order.

Number one, secretary of the army. Number two, deputy secretary of the treasury. Number three, secretary of commerce.

Number four, secretary of HUD. Number five, deputy secretary of defense. Number six, undersecretary of the treasury for housing.

Number seven, under secretary of the treasury for international affairs. Number eight, deputy secretary of commerce. Do not call the man inflexible.

He also took liberty of listing out his preferred ambassadorships if none of those cabinet jobs would work out. First, he would like to be ambassador to the United Kingdom, followed by France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Ireland, Australia, China, United Nations, European Union, Portugal, the Holy See, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Singapore.

This guy runs a teeny, tiny little bank in Chicago, but he wants to be the next ambassador to the U.N. -- well, that`s his tenth choice. Also, can we just look at the header on this page again? Just the top -- the very top. Yes.

Perspective -- perspective roles. Not prospective -- rolls. This is like a form of brioche. It is should be noted secretary of education is not on his wish list. Nor was ambassador to spelling.

Steve Calk did not become the secretary of the army or the ambassador to the U.K., nor did he get in any other top role if the government. He did, however, feature rather prominently and surprisingly in the prosecution`s final day of arguments in the Paul Manafort trial. That story is next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Ten days and 27 witnesses later, the prosecution today rested its case against the president`s former campaign chair in his felony trial in Virginia. We`ve presumably heard everything there is to here from the prosecution side of the case. But there`s still a lot of mystery.

As soon as the prosecution rested this afternoon, the judge held a sealed hearing on a sealed motion from the defense, and on a sealed response to that motion filed by the prosecutors. We have no idea what that is about at all. It`s all under seal.

Also, as the prosecution rests, on the eve of the defense picking up the baton in this trial tomorrow, we still have no clue if the defense plans to call any witnesses at all on behalf of Paul Manafort. Nobody seems to think that Manafort himself is going to end up in the witness chair, but will the defense really not call a single person to defend Paul Manafort in this trial? As of this point, we have no idea.

Tonight, the defense did issue a last ditch motion, asking the judge to dismiss all the charges against Manafort. All 18 of them. We`re told this is actually fairly routine. It`s the defense`s last chance to try to get the judge to end the trial and throw out the case before the jurors get a chance to decide on a verdict. The judge will rule on that in the morning.

And then presuming he lets the case go ahead, depending on whether or not the defense decides to put anyone on the stand, we will move onto closing arguments. If the closing arguments happen tomorrow, it is conceivable. It`s not at all likely, but it is theoretically conceivable we could have a verdict by the end of the day tomorrow. I doubt it, but technically maybe.

Just in case, don`t make any plans. I plan to stay bolted to this stool until further notice. For my money, though, there is -- there`s one last thing that stands out, as an intriguing mystery in this trial. Why did the prosecution choose as the big finale of their case, the bank fraud that Paul Manafort allegedly committed with this little bank in Chicago called the Federal Savings Bank?

That`s where Manafort apparently offered the CEO of the bank a job to run the U.S. Army or maybe a cabinet secretary job. Manafort allegedly made offers like that to the bank CEO right around the time that that same CEO was intervening to make sure that Manafort got really big loans from that little bank.

And on that front, we learned a few things today. We got testimony that the bank`s CEO did personally intervene to green light those loans, even after the bank`s president said no. So, Manafort`s guy came in and overruled the objections against the Manafort loans from the other senior leadership at the bank, to make sure the loans would go forward.

We also learned through testimony today that the $16 million that bank loaned to Paul Manafort -- those were the two largest loans if the history of that bank. And we learned today that they were not great loans. The bank has lost $11.8 million on those loans already. And technically we learned today the loans are still outstanding, because the rest hasn`t been paid back.

On Friday afternoon, prosecutors told the judge that they viewed that bank CEO as a co-conspirator with Paul Manafort in a scheme to defraud his own bank. Prosecutors also told the judge that the bank`s CEO has, quote, other criminal liability, although they didn`t understand what they -- didn`t explain what they meant by that. But thus far, throughout the trial, that bank CEO is nowhere to be found. Paul Manafort is not charged with selling cabinet secretary job offers in exchange for cash.

The two employees that did testify, including one today, only did so after they were granted immunity so they wouldn`t themselves be prosecuted. So, how does this all fit together? How does this thing about Trump administration jobs fit into the larger case concerning the president`s campaign chairman?

Are there more criminal charges related to this thing somewhere that we don`t know about? And why did prosecutors finish their case with this? What are jurors likely to make of this? Why is this the big finale?

Joining us now is Daniel Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. He`s our eyes and ears at the Manafort trial today.

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


MADDOW: Do you -- big picture, do you have a sense of why this is the sort of prosecutor`s finale? Why they have ended with this?

GOLDMAN: I think two reasons.

One is a simple chronological reason, which is that this charge comes last in time of all the charges in case. So, as the prosecutors are sort of painting the picture of Paul Manafort`s finances, he makes a boat-load of money when he`s working for Ukraine up until 2014, that cash cow dries up, but he still needs more money to satisfy his lifestyle. And so, he then starts to lie to obtain loans based on using his homes as collateral, in the 2016 time period.

The other reason is just simply that this is a little bit messier. It`s a little bit murkier. You have immunized witnesses from the bank, and you have, as you pointed out, this whole Stephen Calk morass, which really can cut both ways here.

So, it seems more that they want to paint a picture early on of Paul Manafort as a straight-up liar, which he did on his tax returns, he did on the financial bank account records, and that now at the end, as the jury understands him and his lies, it puts everything in context for this complicated bank fraud.

MADDOW: Should we expect, or is it even important, relative to the Manafort trial, should we expect that there might be other criminal charges that are brought in conjunction with this sort of offer of Trump administration jobs in exchange for cash? As you mentioned, we`ve got two of these witnesses testifying with an agreement to provide them immunity in exchange for their testimony. We`ve got prosecutors telling the judge in a bench conference on Friday that the CEO, the bank CEO in this case, does have criminal liability and they consider him to be a co-conspirator.

Do you think there will be an offshoot criminal case that relates to this matter?

GOLDMAN: I think there could be, but I -- my view, and this is all speculation since we don`t note a lot about what the evidence is, my view is probably not. The prosecutor after mentioning that he could be an indicted co-conspirator, in this case, kind of walked back from that assertion and ultimately didn`t try to introduce the evidence that would rely on him being an unindicted co-conspirator. And we don`t know what even the other investigation unrelated to bank fraud is.

But the pay to play issue, as you point out, is something that I think we`ve discussed with Michael Cohen, as well, which is the law is just very difficult on that, and a quid pro quo for someone who is not a government official and does not have an official role and can do an official act just makes it very difficult to charge criminally.

MADDOW: One last question for you, Dan, just briefly, if you were betting, would you bet that the defense was going to put any witnesses on the stand or do you think they weren`t -- going to put zero witnesses up there?

GOLDMAN: I`m betting they will not.

MADDOW: I`m starting to, as well.

Daniel Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney in southern district of New York, I really appreciate you being here, thank you.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

MADDOW: Al right, more ahead here tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: I`m going to give you one more mystery, which is sort of an invitation for somebody who knows the answer to this to leak it to me,

All right. Here`s the mystery. With the dust starting to settle on the first felony trial of the president`s campaign chairman, the president`s deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, will definitely be remembered as the star witness, right? Rick Gates is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. He was the most interesting part of the Manafort trial thus far.

How long Rick Gates ultimately spending behind bars himself will be directly contingent on how helpful he is to prosecutors, both in the Manafort case and in other matters. We don`t know how long Gates will ultimately spend behind bars, if a judge does send him to prison. Frankly, at this point, we don`t even know when Rick Gates will be sentenced. It doesn`t have a date yet.

It`s not the case for George Papadopoulos. George Papadopoulos was announced as a Donald Trump foreign policy adviser during the campaign. Like Rick Gates, Papadopoulos is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. Last October, as part of a plea deal, Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to the FBI.

But unlike Rick Gates, Papadopoulos does have a sentencing date. He is due to be sentenced on September 7th, which is the Friday after Labor Day. Special counsel`s office has until this Friday, the end of this week, to file with the court their recommendation for punishment. Basically, to tell the judge in Papadopoulos` case, how long they think he should spend behind bars.

But a funny thing happened today. Today, special counsel Robert Mueller requested, and was granted, a protective order, quote, restricting the use, dissemination and disposition of discovery materials, meaning evidence, which the defendant has requested in advance of his sentencing. Protective order today?

I mean, here`s what I want to know. Why, five days before Mueller`s prosecutors make their recommendation for punishment for George Papadopoulos, why today was a giant legal cone of silence dropped on top of all the evidence in his case?

Why did that happen and why now?

If you know, tell me, If I find out by hook or by crook, I will tell you next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Programming note: tomorrow, there are a whole bunch of primaries, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut, Vermont.

In Wisconsin, there are eight Democrats running for the chance to try to oust Wisconsin`s Republican Governor Scott Walker.

In Vermont, Christine Hallquist, former CEO of Vermont electric co-op, looks like she may be poised to become the first openly transgender person nominated for governor by a major party.

In Minnesota, Democratic Congressman Tim Walz is hoping to become the Democratic nominee for governor against Republican front runner and former governor, Tim Pawlenty. There is a whole bunch of super juicy primaries tomorrow, which you should definitely plan to participate in as a voter if you live in those states and you should plan to watch with us here as the votes come in tomorrow night.

That does it for us tonight. See you again then.


Good evening, Lawrence.


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