Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: August 14, 2018
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Did you say the wrath of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW?
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: I started to, but I didn`t.
MADDOW: In general, I have very little wrath, but whenever it is expressed, it is always towards fishing equipment, never towards my beloved colleagues.
VELSHI: You have a great show, Rachel.
MADDOW: As long as you need to. Thank you, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour.
All right. Well, the federal criminal trial of the president`s campaign chair is going to go to the jury tomorrow. The defense and the prosecution have rested their respective sides of the case, closing arguments will be tomorrow.
The judge in this case likes to keep the closing arguments from both sighs sides to one single day in the court room. And so, because of that, we have every reason to believe the prosecution will start their closing arguments on time. It will go an hour and a half to two hours depending on how long the prosecutor is able to convince the judge that he should be allowed to go on.
And then after the prosecution, there will be the closing argument from the defense and then the jury will get it. And, of course, there is absolutely no way to tell how long the jury will deliberate on Paul Manafort`s fate. If the president`s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is convicted, we should keep in mind that that would probably mean that this particular criminal case against Manafort would keep going. Paul Manafort of course would have the right to appeal if he is convicted.
Also, and I think it`s now increasingly important to start keeping this in mind just as a national matter the rule of law because of the nature of this case, because of who Paul Manafort is, because of who he was on the Trump campaign, it is also possible that at any point in the process from here on out, the process from here on out, the president himself could decide to intervene in this case, could decide he is going to issue Paul Manafort a pardon. If that happens, that`s actually the only eventuality that might happen next in this case that could affect the next federal criminal trial against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. I mean, if he`s pardoned by the president which, of course, could happen at any moment, all bets are off in terms of what happens.
But provided he is not pardoned, whether Paul Manafort is acquitted or convicted by the jury that will deliberate his fate tomorrow, he is due to start a second criminal felony trial in Washington, D.C. in just a few weeks. That`s next month. That next trial will be before a different judge in a different courthouse in a different place with a different jury. It may even have some different lawyers arguing on one or both sides.
But now, we are coming to the end of the first trial. We are looking ahead towards that second trial. It is striking that prosecutors from Robert Mueller`s office, the special counsel`s office, they have steered this first Manafort case to be much more about the Trump campaign than we thought it was going to be at the outset. That may affect the president`s thinking about whether or not he wants to try to intervene in these cases, to spring Paul Manafort by pardoning him.
This first federal criminal trial of Paul Manafort in the Eastern District of Virginia had its last witnesses on the stand related to something having to do with the Trump campaign. They had their last motions argued in court today related to something having to do with the Trump campaign, and the last batch of physical evidence the prosecution introduced in court was again about this one part of the Manafort case in Virginia that is related to the Trump for president campaign. And we knew at the outset of Manafort`s trial that there might be some mention of this stuff during the Manafort trial. We definitely didn`t know that this was where the whole Manafort trial was going to end up at the end.
Remember, the first little piece of it we got to see is when Trump deputy campaign chair Rick Gates was on the stand as a witness for the prosecution against Paul Manafort. Prosecutors introduced this e-mail from Paul Manafort to Rick Gates. It`s from November 24, 2016, right after the election.
In that e-mail, Manafort says to Rick Gates, quote: Rick, we need to discuss Steve Calk for secretary of the Army. I hear the list is being considered this weekend, Paul.
Steve Calk, of course, was the bank CEO whose little bank in Chicago gave inexplicably giant loans to Paul Manafort between Election Day and inauguration day. We learned during the course of Manafort`s trial that those loans were actually the biggest loans ever made by this little bank and the bank has apparently lost nearly $12 million on those loans thus far.
Steve Calk reportedly overruled overt objections from other people who worked at the bank who were opposed to giving Paul Manafort these loans, but Calk was the bank CEO and major shareholder and he intervened personally to make sure that Manafort would get account money. So, that came up a little bit while Gates was on the stand. Paul Manafort writing to Rick Gates saying, hey, we`ve got to consider this guy for secretary of the army.
But now, we`ve got this. This is also from the trial. More evidence introduced by the prosecution. This is another e-mail exchange involving Paul Manafort. It`s also right after the election. A few days after the e-mail to Rick Gates. This is November 30th, 2016.
And this piece of evidence shows that Manafort sent on to Jared Kushner during the presidential transition his recommendation that Steve Calk, this little bank CEO from Chicago, should be considered for secretary of the army or for any one of several other high profile or cabinet level jobs in the new administration.
So, Manafort sends over to Kushner that recommendation about this bank CEO at 3:00 in the afternoon on Wednesday, November 30th. That night by dinnertime, Jared Kushner sends back his response. And Jared Kushner`s response to Paul Manafort is two words: on it!
So, it`s not every day you get, you know, concrete black and white evidence that a successful presidential campaign was doling out senior job prospects for the new administration to people who literally gave millions of dollars in cash to the campaign chairman. This is kind of a historic moment for us as Americans, right? It`s nice to be here with you for this moment. Remember where you were when you learned?
But there`s a few consequences from this evidence that prosecutors introduced and that we expect they may walk the jury through in their closing argues tomorrow. First of all, there is the question of whether there is going to be any criminal liability specifically associated with this scheme. There was a bench conference between the lawyers and the judge on Friday in which prosecutors describe this bank CEO as a, quote, co-conspirator. That`s the word they used with the judge.
Prosecutors also described the bank CEO as having some other kind of criminal liability that they didn`t elaborate on. But that bank CEO has been an unusual absence in the courtroom, right? There`s been a lot of detail, a lot of evidence introduced in this case now about the Trump campaign apparently trying to sell off high ranking job offers but Steve Calk himself has not appeared as a witness in the courtroom. We`ve got all these e-mails and discussions related to him but he hasn`t been there.
Among other things, that might imply he hasn`t made a deal with prosecutors that might have resulted in immunity for his own prosecution in exchange for his testimony at least in the Manafort case. So, that`s one big question mark here. It`s one thing that remains to be explained about this part of what was exposed in the Manafort case.
Secondly, there`s also the question as to how you this all relates to the overall criminal charges that Paul Manafort is facing, that the jury is going to start deliberating tomorrow. Today was the day when Paul Manafort`s defense actually team tried to make sort of a virtue out of this scheme for Paul Manafort. Some of this happened in open court today. I will read to you a piece from the court transcript today where the judge basically throws a lightning bolt in the courtroom at that argument.
But basically what Manafort`s lawyers tried to do at the very end of this case was they tried to -- tried to say, tried to argue to the court that this bank CEO Steve Calk, he wanted a Trump administration job so badly, he would have approved any loan from his bank for Paul Manafort no matter how big a loan it was and no matter how ridiculous the paperwork that Manafort submitted to supposedly apply for the loan. No matter what Manafort had offered, no matter what Manafort had asked for, this guy was going to give it to him because he wanted that job.
That`s the argument being made by Manafort`s defense. Basically arguing that the bribery scheme selling high profile job offers in the federal government, that bribery scheme was so effective, it rendered the bank fraud moot, right? So, we`re good.
Yes, Paul Manafort sort of broke into the bank vault but the bank president would have opened the door for him and let him take whatever he wanted. Dude thought he was going to be secretary of the army. Do you realize how cool that is? He would get to run the whole army.
That was the defense argument. So you`ll see how that worked out in court today in a second. I`ve got that bit from the transcript.
But there is I think one last big consequence of this for us just as Americans watching this dramatic trial unfold involving the president`s campaign chair. While that president is still in office, right? And it`s not necessarily about the exact charges that Manafort might face. It`s not about the exact tactics his defense team is trying. It`s this bigger question about us as a country and as citizens in our government. This weird turn in the Manafort trial has now shown this interesting light on what grounds the Trump administration actually considered people for high ranking positions in the federal government when they were setting up the new administration.
This is a live issue for us as a country in a lot of different ways. The president literally today started publicly deriding as a, quote, "dog" and as a crazed low life his former White House senior adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman. And, you know, it`s this interesting tabloidy spectacle for the president to be talking a former White House official those kinds of names for him to be attacking her the way that he is.
But in those attacks, the president implicitly raises some very serious concerns about who gets into the White House, right? About his own ability, his own -- his administration`s own ability to hire people for senior jobs in the federal government including the White House. I mean, when the president calls his former senior White House adviser a crazed low life today, it`s as if he has no idea how that crazed low life got hired into the White House to be his senior White House adviser in the first place.
Yes, who hired her, big guy?
I mean to, that same point, how exactly did this bank CEO from this bank in Chicago get to the point where Jared Kushner was, quote, "on it" to see that he was considered to be secretary of the U.S. Army? I mean, we talked a little bit about the prosecution`s evidence on that point last night.
Prosecutors submitted this item into evidence, document number 452. In which the bank`s CEO Steve Calk gave Manafort what amounted to his job obligation to join the Trump organization. It was his statement of qualifications. It was his full list of all the jobs he wanted to be considered for in the Trump administration.
The list of jobs he wanted to be considered for was titled by Steve Calk, quote, perspective rolls in the Trump administration, not prospective but perspective, not roles, r-o-l-e-s, as in jobs, but rolls r-o-l-l-s like dinner rolls or somersaults. Perspective rolls.
But reading through this again today, marveling at the jobs that Steve Calk really thought he would be up for -- secretary of commerce, deputy secretary of defense, secretary of the army -- these are the jobs he thought he would be up for because, hey, he was the guy who`d given Paul Manafort a lot of money. I mean, what strikes about the fact that -- what strikes about the fact that Manafort the former campaign chair was selling this guy and in fact had installed this guy on a formal economic advisory commission advising Trump and he was telling Rick Gates who was working for the Trump transition and Trump inauguration that this guy needed to be considered for the running the army and he was stove-piping this recommendation to Jared Kushner and Jared Kushner said he was on it, what strikes you when you look at the way this guy represented himself as being interested in all these jobs and qualified for all these jobs is that it`s sort of nuts to think that this guy would have been remotely considered to be qualified for or considered for any of these jobs.
I mean, beyond just the misspellings at the top of the page, you just -- I mean, Mr. Calk`s competence, character, commitment and loyalty mark him as someone who will uniquely serve in the roll, misspelled again, r-o-l-l, the roll, the somersault, of the secretary of the army for the Trump administration to great effect. What? Mr. Calk has developed his expertise in a variety of cutting edge frameworks associated with strategic and innovation planning and implementation. Excuse me?
Mr. Calk possesses a deep reservoir of competence. He has verifiable acumen. His financial acumen -- somebody looked up a new word, financial acumen, academic proficiency and national reputation is without equal in the area of financial management, budgeting analysis, and planning.
Yes, I`m sure there`s nobody equal in national reputation when it comes to budgeting and financial management, nobody equal in terms of their national reputation to this guy who runs this tiny bank in Chicago that gave gigantic cash loans to Paul Manafort between the election and inauguration, loans that didn`t get paid back. He is without peer in terms of his national reputation for budgeting. What?
It`s nuts, right? But something about his interactions with Paul Manafort and Trump team made him think he had this job in the bag. "The Wall Street Journal" has previously reported that after the inauguration, Steve Calk actually called the Pentagon and asked to speak to people at the army about what he needed to know to get up to speed for his new job.
Well, we also now know from this new evidence introduced by prosecutors that apparently he was not only prepared to take up this job himself and looking to the army to start his briefings because he figured he would be secretary of the Army, he was also offering other jobs to other people who he thought he would bring on to work for him.
Quote: Mr. Calk himself says, talking about himself in the third person, quote, he has already identified highly experienced candidates for all key positions reporting to the secretary of the army and can have that team on boarded within 30 days of confirmation. All on boarded. Clearly, this is your guy.
Look at the title of this thing, look at the title. The title is literally: Qualification memorandum on behalf of Steven calk articulating his qualifications. Yes, quality qualifications I`m sure.
So, again, there`s there is list of perspective rolls, all the jobs he wants in rank order in the Trump administration. Elsewhere in the document, he misspells the word roll in the same way again. But look at this, just a few lines down in the next paragraph, after he misspells the role again, he actually gets the word correct. See the first word in the paragraph there.
He misspells the word role everywhere else in the document, but in this one paragraph, he gets it correct. And weirdly, this whole paragraph in his sort of resume qualifications, this whole paragraph is cogent. It`s the only paragraph that is cogent, and that sounds like it wasn`t reverse translated by machine from a couple other languages.
Because this is one paragraph stands out as the only normal paragraph in his Steve Calk`s application to be secretary of the army, or a number of cabinet officials, we actually Googled this paragraph and it turns out this part of Steve Calk`s qualification memorandum was just copied directly word for word from Wikipedia, which is why it makes sense as opposed to everything else he wrote.
Just cut and pasted from the role and responsibilities, r-o-l-e. Role and responsibilities of the secretary of the army. That`s the Wikipedia page from 2016, which we have screen shot on the bottom there, and there`s the paragraph from Steve Calk on top which is exactly the same.
If you want -- we posted them on the screen in case you want to clip and save that and post it on your refrigerator as a reminder of how exactly the Trump administration was on it considering people for jobs like running the U.S. Army during the presidential transition, when the only time they made sense and stopped misspelling even very basic single syllable words was when they were copying and pasting directly from Wikipedia like freshmen.
Actually freshmen are nice. They don`t deserve that, I`m sorry. It`s before you get in trouble and you realize you can`t do that, right, you`ll get caught.
So as the Manafort case goes to the jury, the big question is how the jury will decide Manafort`s fate, right? But there are other mysteries this case opened along the way. There are still elements of this case, for example, that are under seal. The judge held a closed hearing without any spectators is allowed in the courtroom yesterday afternoon and again for two hours this morning. We have no idea what that was about or why that portion of the trial has been sealed.
Informed speculation from people who know how these trials tend to go suggested there might be an issue that the defense raised about something going wrong with the jury. After Manafort`s defense team rested without calling any witnesses the defense team gave a short statement to the press. One of Manafort`s defense lawyers said, quote: Mr. Manafort just rested his case. He did so because he and his legal team believe the government has not met its burden of proof. It`s basically just a short statement from the lawyer saying here`s what you should read into the fact we didn`t call any witnesses up to the stand to stand up for Paul Manafort.
But after he made that statement, reporters kind of chased the defense lawyer once he walked away from the microphone to try to ask him follow-up questions, including one from NBC`s Julia Ainsley that pointedly did not get a response. So, this is a reporter`s audio recording of that exchange. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you say to those who say this makes your client look guilty?
DOWNING: Well, we live in the United States of America. You`re presumed innocent until proven guilty. And we believe the government cannot meet that burden.
REPORTER: Is there a problem with the jury in this case?
REPORTER: Are you confident going into closing arguments tomorrow?
DOWNING: We are very confident. Thank you.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: So three clear questions there. He answered the first one, skips the second one and answers the third one. The one he skipped is from Julia Ainsley. Mr. Downing, is there a problem with the jury in this case?
Paul Manafort`s defense lawyer Kevin Downing paused, looked right at Julia Ainsley when she asked that question, kept looking at her and said nothing in response.
So, whether there`s something going on with the jury, whether that`s the defense`s contention that there`s something wrong with the jury, whether that`s the cause of all the sealed motions and sealed hearings we`ve had at the very end of Manafort`s trial, we don`t yet know. We will apparently find out sooner rather than later, though. The judge said in open court all of those motions and all of those transcripts of these closed hearings will be unsealed when the trial ends.
So, we will eventually find out. As I mentioned though, Manafort`s defense lawyer basically tried to explain to reporters it today why no witnesses were called to stand up for Paul Manafort on the defense side of the case. In court today, that included a certain lengthy, at least a fulsome description of why Paul Manafort wasn`t standing up on his own behalf to testify as a witness in his own defense. And here`s how that went in court today.
The judge: Now, we turn to the fact that the government has rested and now it is my obligation to ask the defendant, Mr. Downing, does the defendant wish to offer any evidence? Mr. Downing, the defense lawyer, the defendant rests, Your Honor. The judge: All right. Now, the defendant is not required to present any evidence. All of this is being done out of the hearing of the jury.
But I do -- I do have to question voir dire the defendant to ensure it is his decision that he does not wish to testify. Does he wish to testify? Mr. Downing: He does not.
The judge: Mr. Manafort would you come to the podium, please, sir? I need to confirm, Mr. Manafort, that you understand that you have an absolute right to testify before this jury.
You also have an absolute right to remain silent before this jury. If you remain silent, then the court will instruct the jury they may draw no inference from your silence. Indeed, if you elect to remain silent, I will instruct the jury that when the jury retires to deliberate on its verdict, the jury cannot even discuss the fact that you have not testified because your right to remain silent is absolute under the Constitution and you may not be penalized for exercising that right.
Now, I`ll end by saying again, you do have the right to testify. Have you discussed this matter with your counsel? Paul Manafort: I have, Your Honor.
The judge: And are you fully satisfied with the advice and counsel you have received from your lawyers? Paul Manafort: I am, Your Honor.
The judge: And have you decided whether you wish to testify? Paul Manafort: I have decided.
The judge: Do you wish to testify? Paul Manafort: No, sir.
The Judge: You may be seated. Paul Manafort: Thank you.
The judge says: All right. That brings us end of the evidence in this case.
That`s the end of the evidence. All the evidence is in. There`s not going to be any more witnesses, none for the prosecution, none for the defense, including the defendant himself.
I mentioned, though, that the defense made one last effort today related to the Trump campaign to this guy who wanted to be secretary of the army and apparently thought he would be and was hiring up to get ready to take the job. Last night, Paul Manafort`s defense team filed last minute motion to acquit, basically a last ditch move to try to get the judge to throw out the whole case and acquit Paul Manafort on all charges, instead of letting jury decide his fate. Now, in particular, in this motion to acquit, they singled out all this stuff with this bank CEO from the little bank in Chicago as part of the strongest part of their argument that Manafort should be acquitted and it shouldn`t even go to the jury.
Well, here`s how that went today in open court. The Judge: All right, I`ll hear argument now on the rule 29 motion on which I`ve received briefs from both sides. You should have that this mind in your argument. Go ahead. You may proceed.
Manafort`s defense lawyer: Your Honor, we obviously have made a motion to dismiss, well, rule 29 motion as to all the counts in the indictment, but specifically briefed the counts in the indictment that relates to the lending arrangements entered into with the Federal Savings Bank. We`ve highlighted that, Your Honor, because we think the evidence at this point has not demonstrated that any statements made to the bank were material to its decision to lend. And that is an element of the offense that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
So, this is the defense saying, yes, Paul Manafort may have given fraudulent or fake or bad information to the bank as part of the application process to get those loans, but that didn`t matter. He was going to get those loans anyway. He was offering this dude amazing jobs in the Trump administration in exchange for the money. So, it doesn`t matter what fraudulent information he tried to pass off on the bank.
So, the defense offers that in court today. They argued it back and forth for some time.
Then the judge says this, the judge says, quote: All right. I have reviewed that. In the end, I think the defendant makes a significant argument about materiality, but in the end I think materiality is an issue for the jury. They`re going to decide whether it was material. That`s the way it should be.
It`s a jury issue. And that`s true for all the other counts, not just the counts we`re discussing which is the Federal Savings Bank but the other counts beyond. The tax counts and everything else, those are all jury issues. They the jury will be instructed and they will have to make a determination.
So, the motion for judgment of acquittal pursuant to rule 29 is denied.
Now at this point, I think probably what happened is reporters got up and ran out of the courtroom to go file their stories. He`s not going to be acquitted. It`s going to go to the jury, because the next line in the transcript is the judge saying, we have this bit? Yes.
The judge says, next line: Now, let me confirm that the -- then there`s an em dash. Then he says: Anyone else needs to leave the courtroom? And the response in the room according to court transcription is laughter.
So, last ditch effort to acquit Paul Manafort on all charges before the whole thing went to the jury, that failed, rejected in total. The effort to make it a good thing that Paul Manafort was bribing the bank CEO with Trump administration job offers, that appears to have not gone over with the judge either. At least he thinks the jury should hear about that themselves.
But as of tomorrow, we will have closing arguments and then we`ll be waiting on a verdict. And that alongside that verdict, we`ll be looking to, you know, clean up all the other stuff that came up over the course of this trial. What was sealed that may or may not have had something to do with the jury? What was sealed that may or may not have to do with Rick Gates and his involvement in other active ongoing cases being investigated by Robert Mueller?
Any potential criminal liability or other repercussions related to the evidence that the Trump campaign tried to sell cabinet seats and Pentagon positions in the new administration in exchange for cash? I mean, Jared Kushner says he was on it. Did he know what it really was?
And there are more loose ends here in terms of stuff that was opened up during this trial, including a big one exposed today by the "Associated Press." We will have more on that coming up tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, here`s the big fight and then the awkward moment at the end. What they`re fighting about is the instructions to the jury and this particular fight is about things that the judge has said in the courtroom during the course of the trial, stuff he said about comments about the case that he made in front of the jury, or questions that the judge made himself to various witnesses. They are fighting about that.
The judge: You want it eliminated? Mr. Asonye, the prosecutor: Well, we want it revise revised, Your Honor. And we`re handing up --
The judge: You are giving me a brief now? Mr. Asonye: I am. But, Your Honor, it`s actually attached to it, to the brief at the back of it. It should be the proposed instruction.
The Judge: Did you submit this brief prior to today? Mr. Asonye: No, we have not, Your Honor. But we think that as the brief actually suggests that this proposed instruction is actually a more accurate statement of fourth circuit law on the court`s comments of questioning of witnesses.
The judge: well, it leaves out the fact that the law of the United States permits a federal judge to comment to the jury on the evidence in the case. That`s still the law of the land. But in any event, I don`t need to say that. I don`t care that much.
And what`s your objection to this one. The only thing it leaves out is that I have the right as the judge to comment on the evidence.
And then the judge says, well, I`ll tell you another reason I don`t like it, Mr. Asonye. The diction is wrong. You are expressly to understand -- well, at least it didn`t split the infinitive. That`s not the way I speak or anyone speaks. Mr. Asonye: And I`m sure Your Honor will say it however Your Honor feels.
The judge said: All right. Suppose I change number 11 to say that such comments, let`s see, permits a federal judge to comment to the jury on the evidence in the case. Do you think I made any such comments? And then the transcript reflects laughter. The judge said: Do you think I made any such comments?
Mr. Asonye, the prosecutor, is having a back and forth with here, doesn`t respond. He just stands there. And there is awkward laughter in the courtroom.
Then from another part of the courtroom, from the prosecutor`s table, the other prosecutor then waits a bit and stands up and speaks from the back of the courtroom. It`s Greg Andres. And he says to the judge: Yes, Your Honor, yes, you did. Which prompts more laughter in the courtroom.
The judge says: Do you remember one? Mr. Andres says: Yes, I can remember several. I know that when Mr. Gates was testifying, he testified that Mr. Manafort was very careful about his money and Your Honor said, well, obviously not when you stole money from him. That was one that was particularly noteworthy. But there are others, Your Honor.
To which the judge says: That really hurt the government, didn`t it? Mr. Andres says: Well, I --
And then the judge says: Never mind. Never mind. And then the transcript reflects a pause in the proceedings.
The judge is like, have I ever done that? The one prosecutor goes, gulp. The other one in the back of the room goes, yes, your honor, yes, you did. When? Oh, that really hurt you?
There has been all these wringing of hands and legal fighting over this judge in the Manafort case inserting himself in dramatic fashion into the trial. That devolved today in the final day of wrangling before the case goes to the jury tomorrow, devolved into the judge I think having a sort of sarcastic outburst. This never mind, never mind outburst at the prosecutors today.
At least that`s how it reads. Was it like that exactly in person?
Joining us now is Josh Gerstein, senior reporter at "Politico" who has been in the courtroom for the trial and was there for this today.
Josh, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to see you.
JOSH GERSTEIN, SENIOR REPORTER, POLITICO: Hey, Rachel. Good to see you.
MADDOW: So, that was the way the transcript read in part about this fight with the judge. They are fighting about the instructions that are going to be given to the jury and specifically how the jury should consider things that the judge might have piped up about himself during the trial?
GERSTEIN: Right, and you are quite right to detect it. Sometimes it`s hard in the transcript. There was a lot of sarcasm going back and forth and both sides in this case, I mean, not the prosecution and the defense, but the prosecution and the judge were really laying it out there. It just seemed like they have either lost patience with each other, or at this point, the trial is close enough to being over that there is not much point in censoring yourself at this juncture.
MADDOW: As this is ending with unexpected fireworks like that, which is sort of the way it started as well. I feel like there some dangling mysteries that I think we will ultimately get some answers to, right? There`s been some closed hearings. There`s been some sealed conferences at the bench where lawyers and the judge all talked amongst themselves and the white noise machine playing so spectators couldn`t hear it.
MADDOW: There`s something seems to still be unresolved in terms of sealed motions back and forth. A lot of people are speculating it has to do with the jury. There was definitely a sealed conversation having to do with Rick Gates offering evidence that might be used by the special counsel and other cases.
What do you feel like of all of these things that have been raised, this sort of mysteries that have been raised during the trial, should we have an expectation that these things will get cleared up, that we`ll ultimately know how all these things were?
GERSTEIN: Oh, yes, I think the judge was pretty clear about that, that that information will come out. It`s not clear if he means the moment there`s a verdict or perhaps later in the legal process. The secrecy over the last few days I have to say has been striking and unusual. You know, that court in particular has that reputation as the Rocket Docket and the observers who can only see the public portion of the trial that the rocket sort of went off course or petered out over the last few days because things were not progressing nearly as quickly as they normally do.
And I agree with the other folks that you were quoting earlier referring to, who said it did seem like there`s some issue related to the jury. There was movement to and from the jury room and it seems like the defense had a minimum is trying to preserve objection for appeal, perhaps the judge refused to dismiss a juror who might have potentially shown bias and the defense really wants to be on the record making clear that they are objecting strenuously to this, so that if it is an issue on appeal, they have the record and they can present it to the Fourth Circuit, which would be the appeals court that takes this up.
MADDOW: And, Josh, as someone who is an astute observer of proceedings like this, obviously this is not just anybody on trial. This is the president`s campaign chairman. We know he is about to start another criminal trial once this one is done. There`s been a lot of news, attention and even discussion by the judge in the courthouse as to whether or not Paul Manafort might factor into larger investigations involving the president himself.
As you watched this unfold, what -- have you seen anything that has given you any indication of how we should think of a presidential pardon here or some other effort by the president to intervene some way in Paul Manafort`s fate?
GERSTEIN: Well, I do think there was enough evidence about the Trump campaign and now as of last night about the first family with this reference to Jared Kushner being drawn into the effort to try to get Steve caulk a job in the army secretary position, that any mention of the campaign or the first family or the White House, I think it starts to push buttons over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And even the decision by the defense not to really mount a defense that includes evidence or witnesses and just to go with some general strategy that may be to blame this all on Rick Gates suggests that they don`t want to get down in the weeds here and get dirty and maybe they think somebody is going to swoop in and save them, and there`s only one person I can really think of who can do that.
MADDOW: Josh Gerstein, senior White House reporter for politico.com -- really appreciate your time tonight.
GERSTEIN: Sure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Closing arguments should be exciting tomorrow. Thanks, Josh.
All right. Much more to get to here tonight, including this being election night in four states. Stay with us.
MADDOW: As the jury gets the Paul Manafort case tomorrow and we watch the closing arguments tomorrow and start to wait on the jury to happened in their verdict, I mentioned that there were a few other things that have been raised in the trial, many for the first time, that essentially we are left to wonder if and how they will get tied up now that they`ve been described in open court. One of those is highlighted today by the "Associated Press" in a story that has kind of a remarkable lead. Ready?
From the "A.P." today, Jeff Horowitz. Donald Trump`s inaugural committee pushed back hard last summer on questions about whether the unprecedented $107 million budget for the Trump inauguration was fraught with cost overruns and misspending. A top inauguration official assured the A.P. last summer that spending had been both restrained and monitored. Well, in court last week, that same official, Rick Gates, acknowledged that he personally may have pocketed some of the inaugural committee`s money.
Gates admitted to Manafort`s lawyers in open court that he, quote, possibly wrongfully submitted personal expenses to the inaugural committee for reimbursement, though only a footnote to Gates` disclosures about tax fraud, extramarital affairs and embezzlement, the admission raises questions about how well the Trump inaugural committee tracked its own spending. It`s not clear how much money Gates might have pocketed or whether his testimony will prompt the committee to review its spending.
When Paul Manafort left the Trump campaign, his deputy, Rick Gates, stayed on. Gates stayed through the duration of the campaign for the transition and was a senior official on the Trump inauguration which was wildly mismatched in terms of the amount of money they raised and the amount of money they appear to have spent.
What happened to some of that money? Rick Gates said he might have stolen some of it. Who follows this up? Shouldn`t the inaugural committee itself at least tell us they are being looking into it? Is this potentially another criminal matter here?
Watch this space.
MADDOW: It is primary night tonight, we are watching returns roll in.
But I need to tell you that one of last week`s primaries just ended tonight as well. We finally have a winner in last week`s Republican gubernatorial primary in Kansas. The margin was so thin that nobody was conceding, as we were looking for provisional ballots. But tonight, just in the last hour, the current governor of Kansas, Jeff Colyer, has conceded the race to his challenger, Kris Kobach, who`s the controversial Kansas secretary of state. Kobach had only a couple hundred more votes.
We`re going to talk to Steve Kornacki momentarily about that upset in Kansas, why that happened tonight, why Democrats might actually be psyched that the Republican primary worked out this way.
Aside from that Kansas result, though, polls have just closed this hour in Minnesota. Among the front-runners in the race for governor in Minnesota is Congressman Tim Walz, who`s been a member of the House for six terms. He`s got national visibility as a leader on veteran`s issues. The Republican front runner for governor is also a former Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty.
Other big race getting national attention in Minnesota is the race for the state`s attorney general. Congressman Keith Ellison, who`s got a big national profile. He`s the deputy chairman of the national Democratic Party, he`s running against four Democratic opponents to be state A.G. in Minnesota.
Over the weekend, the congressman was accused of domestic abuse by a former girlfriend. The woman`s son further alleged that there is video evidence of the alleged abuse. The congressman vigorously denies the allegations. He said over the weekend, quote: This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false.
DNC said today that they`re reviewing the allegations made against Congressman Ellison, but he is a very popular politician at home and tonight, his electoral fate is in the hands of Minnesota voters.
Joining us now is the great Steve Kornacki, MSNBC national political correspondent.
Steve, it`s a very exciting night in lots of states.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is.
In Minnesota right now, sort of as you`re setting up here, ground zero. Let`s take you through what we know.
You mentioned the Democratic primary for governor, Tim Walz, Democratic congressman from the southern start of the state, a little more rural. These are relatively early returns, but we are starting to get some numbers in here. A bit of surprise perhaps, Walz is out in front.
You see Erin Murphy, she is the officially endorsed candidate of the State Democratic Farm Labor Party. She is running behind the most encouraging news I think for Walz in these numbers, as a lot of this is coming from sort of around the Twin Cities, not necessarily from his district. He seems to be holding his own close to Minneapolis, St. Paul, the suburban area, without a lot from his district coming in right now.
You know, there were concerns about Walz from an electability standpoint in this Democratic primary just because his voting record in that district, especially on gun issues, may be to the right of the Democratic Party. Also, we`ve seen female candidates doing so well in Democratic primaries.
You add these two together, you`re close to 60 percent, but Walz here sort of on his own. The only male there among these major candidates right now running out in front. We will see how that goes.
The bigger surprise right now when you talk about governor`s races in Minnesota, though, it`s what`s happening early on the Republican side. We all know this name. Tim Pawlenty, former two-term Republican governor, ran for president on the Republican side back in 2012, being challenged by Jeff Johnson.
A comeback attempt for Tim Pawlenty. Jeff Johnson, he was the Republican candidate for governor in 2014. He`s tried to run to Pawlenty`s right.
Early returns -- I`m sorry we don`t have the live numbers but in the early returns Johnson right now running about ten points ahead of Pawlenty. I should tell you it looks like Johnson`s base, Hennepin County, is accounting for a lot of the votes so far. But even outside of that base, he is early on running ahead of Pawlenty.
MADDOW: Wait, wait. Ten points ahead running in the early results?
KORNACKI: In the early results, again, disproportionately, we`re talking about Johnson`s base here, Hennepin County, that`s a part of that. You get outside of that it looks like he`s running about five points ahead. But yes, this would be -- he was the Republican nominee in 2014. It`s been a while since Pawlenty`s been active.
MADDOW: Yes, wow.
KORNACKI: We`ve seen that sort of anti-establishment thing. So we`ll keep an eye on that. And you set it up too as well there.
In the attorney general`s race, these are early numbers. Keith Ellison, a number of opponents. But Keith Ellison you see basically, you know, better than 3-1 over his nearest opponent right now on the Democratic side.
There`s talk here about a quarter of the vote certainly based on 2016, about a quarter of the vote in Minnesota comes in early, maybe a little bit more here. There was talk that maybe that late-breaking news would affect the same-day vote. But even if this is disproportionately early, that is a lot to make up for any of these other Democratic candidates.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, one of the other things we are watching tonight is actually a result from a primary that was last week. The Kansas gubernatorial primary.
Can you hold on for one second and I can ask you some questions about that when we come back?
MADDOW: I`ll be right back with MSNBC`s political genius Steve Kornacki, right after this.
MADDOW: When Kansas is very controversial Republican Governor Sam Brownback left office to take a job in the Trump administration, that elevated his Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer to the governor`s seat. Last week, Colyer had a primary to try to hold on to that seat.
It was too close to call. It`s been a very ugly week of fighting about that too close to call race all week long. But tonight, Jeff Colyer sort of unexpectedly conceded.
MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki`s still with us. I was surprise that this happened tonight. It seemed like it was still too close to call. But this obviously has big implications in Kansas.
KORNACKI: This is the outcome Democrats were hoping for in Kansas. Within the state, they think this gives them a shot at winning the governorship. Nationally, they think hey, if Kobach is the face of the Republican Party nationally, they think that`s something that will help them nationally. There will be a backlash against that potentially.
But let`s look within Kansas. Kobach now as the Republican nominee will square off against Laura Kelly, the Democratic candidate. The theory the Democrats have is there are suburbs right around Kansas City, Johnson County, Kansas, in particular, like a quarter of all votes in the giant state of Kansas will come out of this one county, bedroom communities right outside KC traditional Republican voters. They say those voters would be unnerved by Kobach.
There is some polling evidence to back up that theory. This was a poll that came out just before the primary, and it tested two different Republican nominees here, Colyer and Kobach against Kelly. Check this out. Here`s what it found.
Colyer, the incumbent governor, was running 10 points ahead of Laura Kelly. You see Greg Orman running as an independent. That`s a name you might remember from 2014.
But the bottom line, Republicans with Colyer were up 10 in this poll. Substitute Kobach in for Colyer, and look at that, all of a sudden, Kelly, the Democrat goes up by one. Down ten for the Democrats, up one. Democrats say that`s the difference of having Kobach.
And then they say, hey, look, you get a midterm year in a climate favorable, maybe that would help too.
MADDOW: Amazing. Kind of a Todd Akin situation is what Democrats are looking at there.
Steve Kornacki, thank you very much, my friend.
MADDOW: Much appreciated.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One good thing I`m always happy to be able to tell you on election night, including big primary nights like tonight, which is keep watching. We`ll be covering this stuff as the votes come in over the course of the evening. Polls are closed, but all these races still yet to be decided including a lot with national implications.
Stay with us through the evening tonight.
I will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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