Trump criticized over response to McCain death. TRANSCRIPT: 8/27/2018. The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Lee Gelernt

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: August 27, 2018 Guest: Lee Gelernt

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Monday. Happy to have you with us.

There has been a bunch of breaking news late this afternoon and into this evening, including the surprise ruling tonight from a panel of three federal judges that could have a really big impact on the Democrats` chances of winning control of Congress. Winning control of the House of Representatives this fall.

As you know, the midterm elections coming up very fast. They are ten weeks away. But there has been ongoing litigation in multiple states about whether or not the maps that define congressional districts in certain states have been drawn fairly. Well, tonight these three-judge panel of federal judges concluded not only that the congressional districts in the state of North Carolina were drawn unfairly, to help Republicans, basically, to guarantee that Republicans will win more seats in Congress from North Carolina than Democrats will.

But these federal judges tonight appear to be indicating that not only should North Carolina redraw its districts and fix this problem, they should do so right now, right away, before people vote in the midterms in 10 weeks. This is from tonight`s "Washington Post" report of this breaking news story. Quote: The judges acknowledge that primary elections have already produced candidates for the 2018 elections. But the judges said they were reluctant to let elections take place in congressional districts that the court has twice found violate constitutional standards. Quote: North Carolina legislators are likely to ask the Supreme Court to step in.

Now, adding to the drama here is, of course, the fact that the Supreme Court has an even number of members. There are not nine members of the Supreme Court right now. There`s eight because Anthony Kennedy has retired. But if this North Carolina case about Congress is going to the Supreme Court, and again, this might have national implications for who controls Congress overall.

I mean, if this is going to the Supreme Court, this is something the Supreme Court will have to decide very, very quickly. If they`re getting new congressional districts in time for November, any ruling on this has to happen like, now. So that is a very, very dramatic development with big national implications. Tonight, we do not know exactly how this is going to shake out but you should expect fast-moving litigation and a little bit of a party politics freak-out on both sides about that North Carolina ruling tonight.

Everybody knew this was within the realm of possibility in terms of this ruling, but the idea that the congressional districts have to be redrawn now, two and a half months before voting, I`m not sure anybody knew that was on the table.

It has also been a remarkable day in the news today watching the White House and the president specifically absolutely bungle their response to the death of Arizona Senator John McCain this weekend. The range of potential responses to the death of a singular American political figure like John McCain, you think -- you think the range wouldn`t be that wide, right?

But this White House has taken something that ought to have been simple and straightforward and they instead have found a way to repeatedly screw it up. First, lowering the flag at the White House to honor Senator McCain, then raising it back up to full staff, then lowering it again after the president initially had refused to make any sort of statement about honoring McCain`s legacy. And the White House then instead started trotting out lots of other officials, including the president`s daughter to say nice things, but pointedly, the president himself was not making any supportive statements. That eventually crumbled as well. And then the president did put out a begrudging positive statement and then the flag went back down to half-staff.

The country is essentially unified in mourning the death of this singular figure in American history in politics, right? Respecting the sacrifices that he made for this country. He was held as a prisoner of war and tortured for five and a half years. Even people who disagree with him vehemently on specific policy matters, or on aspects of his record in politics, even people who dislike a lot of what John McCain did as a public figure, as a politician, have found a very easy path to recognizing his extraordinary, extraordinary service.

Except for the White House,. which has turned itself into a side show of, forgive me, but just self-interested, incompetence, petulant grandstanding, caving, reversals and ultimately shame on this. I mean, I`m sorry to use such strong language. I try not to do that in general about anything in the news. But I think it`s unavoidable here given the debacle they made out of what ought to be the simplest governing task when confronted with a sad moment like this, right?

All you have to do with a genuine fully minted American hero, all you have to do, if you can do nothing else, is just be decent and don`t make it about yourself. That`s all you have to do.

If you can do nothing else, if you can accomplish nothing constructive, be decent and don`t make it about yourself. But in this White House, just spectacular failure on both of those counts. So, I imagine the failure will continue on this front because it`s not like they have a real history of getting their ducks in a row when they fail like this, in such spectacular fashion, especially with the condemnation they`re having from across the spectrum. But we will continue on watch them screw this up.

We`ll have more on both these stories tonight. We`re also in our usual groove of expecting more breaking and developing news over the course of the evening. That`s in part because of a big story that was broken late tonight by the "Wall Street Journal." And this story, here`s the headline, this story that "The Wall Street Journal" has broken tonight is something the legal experts are now telling us we should have probably expected. Maybe that`s true. Maybe we should have guessed that this was coming or that this had been happening behind the scenes. But it doesn`t feel like it.

For those of us who have been watching this presidency of late, and who`ve been watching the scandal that envelops this presidency, more and more on a daily basis. This news tonight broken by the "Wall Street Journal," it does feel like a surprise. You see the headline there, goes right to the heart of the matter.

Manafort sought deal in next trial. That means Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort sought a deal with Robert Mueller, with the prosecutors at the special counsel`s office who are about to put how many trial for another round of felony charges in federal court. But, quote, talks broke down.

To understand why, at least to the non-lawyers among us, this is such a jarring headline. Just stand back and look at the big picture in terms of the legal trouble and the legal investigations that are circling this president and his business and his business and his charity and his campaign right now, right?

All right. The biggest news of the past week was, of course, the president`s long time lawyer pleading guilty on eight felony federal charges. And his plea out loud in court and in the criminal information that was filed by prosecutors in conjunction with his guilty plea, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen not only admitted himself to committing eight felonies, he implicated the president himself in two of those felonies, saying the president had directed him to commit those crimes. Cohen`s plea deal also implicated the president`s business, the Trump Organization, including two specified employees, executive one and executive two at the president`s business.

Cohen also implicated another business called American Media which is the publisher of the "National Enquirer" or tabloid, among other publications. Cohen`s plea also implicated people from the president`s campaign. Cohen`s court appearance last week and documents prosecutors filed in conjunction with that plea therefore appeared to be a sort of road map indicating other potential indictments in the future, or at least pointing to other co- conspirators in these felonies to which Michael Cohen pled guilty, right, which related to him using illicit payments to illegally influence the presidential election.

Now, are there going to be further prosecutions of the people who are implicated in Cohen`s plea deal? We don`t know. Will these allegations of other conspirators participating with him in his crimes, will that lead to further investigation which may lead to other criminal cases? We don`t know.

But late last week, we did get word the district attorney in New York is, quote, considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization, which is the president`s business. And two senior company officials in connection with the criminal acts to which Cohen pled in federal court last week. The news also simultaneously broke that the New York state attorney general has already sought a criminal referral under state law for New York state tax charges, in addition to the federal tax charges that Michael Cohen has already pled to. That same New York state attorney general has already brought a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation, the president`s charity, the president`s foundation, the president himself and the president`s three eldest children, Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka are all named as defendants in that case from New York state.

New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood has already referred that case against the Trump Foundation to the public integrity division at the U.S. Justice Department, to the Federal Election Commission and to the IRS for possible federal prosecution. The federal prosecutors also recently brought a huge civil tax case against Ivanka Trump`s business partner, from what used to be her luxury jewelry brand. Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg appears to have worked with prosecutors in the federal case that relates to Michael Cohen and on that New York state case that relates to the Trump Foundation.

Reports of Allen Weisselberg`s cooperation and possible immunity deal with prosecutors, at this point, those reports are intriguing and a little bit hard to sort out. It`s fair I think to say that we don`t yet know how much Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg might be talking to prosecutors, how much he`s cooperating, whether his immunity deal frees him up to talk with prosecutors without fear of being prosecuted himself, just specifically about stuff related to Michael Cohen or whether Weisselberg`s deal also gives him immunity from prosecution on other things related to the president`s business interests.

I mean, that`s all happening simultaneously right now, right? All of those things all at once. That`s not even getting into like the emolument cases which could result in production of Trump`s tax returns and all his business documents.

I mean, if the president, his family, his business interest, his campaign have anything to worry about in terms of past criminal behavior, particularly when it comes to financial crimes, right? Potential campaign finance violence, tax fraud, illicit interactions with Russia that relate ultimately to Russia`s interference in the election to benefit Trump. If they`ve got anything to worry about in any of those fronts, you might imagine that all of these related ongoing investigations might start to feel a little constraining to the president. They might start to seem a little worrying.

There`s no shortage of legal jeopardy right now for the president, for his family, for the people and entities that are important to him. And honestly, I mean, I don`t say it lightly, it is hard to know where the limits of legal jeopardy here might be, not just for the president and his family but for the entities closest to him. I would single out one line here, because I don`t think this has had a lot of attention but it stuck with me over the weekend. And the more I talk to people about it, the more -- especially the more I talk to people in the legal system about it, the more this sticks out for me.

There is literally a line in the Michael Cohen plea agreement from last week where federal prosecutors spell out that Michael Cohen pleading guilty in federal court last week means that federal prosecutors agree to not further prosecute him for the crimes that he admitted in court last week. But prosecutors explicitly spell out in the plea agreement with him that they are reserving the right to cite those same felonies as predicate crimes in case they ever want to bring a RICO case in the future on this matter. RICO, that`s 18, US Code section 1961, right? That`s racketeering. That`s RICO as in organized crime.

Federal prosecutors are reserving the right to charge something here as an organized criminal entity under the RICO statutes and that relates to Michael Cohen. What? That alone is probably enough to light a little bit of a fire under anybody who believes they might personally end up in the crosshairs of one or more of these investigations.

But amid all of these different cases and all these different potential avenues for legal jeopardy for the president and his family and his business and even his charity, even amid all of that, the Paul Manafort case really does stand out. It really does stand alone, right?

Michael Flynn, the president`s national security adviser, pled guilty. Rick Gates, the president`s deputy campaign chair, organizer of Trump`s inauguration, he`s pled guilty. George Papadopoulos, campaign foreign policy advisor, has pled guilty. Even freaking Alex Van der Zwaan, random foreign lawyer, pled guilty, right?

Paul Manafort has not pled guilty. He stands alone here. And things are now happening to him fast. Of course, the same day that Michael Cohen pled guilty in federal court, almost exactly simultaneously to Michael Cohen standing up and pleading guilty to those eight felonies, Paul Manafort was convicted of those eight felonies by a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia. The day after tomorrow, Wednesday of this week, the prosecutors who convicted Manafort on those eight felonies, they`re going to have to tell the court whether they are going to bring Manafort back to court to retry him on the 10 felony charges for which the jury was not able to reach a verdict.

Remember, it was eight felonies, conviction, eight felonies, hung jury, couldn`t come to consensus. The foreperson of the jury went out of his or her way to make it publicly known on the verdict sheet that on those ten charges where they couldn`t come the a verdict, 11 of the 12 jurors wanted to convict Manafort on all of them, only one holdout for the ten charges on which they didn`t get guilty verdicts. Prosecutors know that and they have the right to put Paul Manafort on trial again for the ten charges where they got a mistrial. They were just one juror away from a conviction. We`re going to find out the day after tomorrow whether they are going to try Manafort again on those on those 10 charges.

At the same time, prosecutors in the special counsel`s office are considering that. They are also steaming toward the start of the next federal felony trial for Manafort. It`s interesting.

Just a few days ago, the federal court in D.C., that`s about to start the second trial for Manafort, they unsealed some of the earlier proceedings that we the public hadn`t previously had access to in Manafort`s D.C. case. That let us see for the first time that even the judge who is overseeing the next Paul Manafort trial, the one in D.C., that judge appears to be mystified by the fact that Manafort didn`t consent to all the charges against him just being consolidated in one jurisdiction so he could go on trial once.

The reason, the Trump campaign chair, the reason he had a trial that ended last week and he`s now about to have a new trial that`s starting within the next few weeks is simply because he decided he wanted two trials. The government gave him the choice to consolidate them and only go on trial once. He chose to go on trial twice in these two neighboring jurisdictions.

Why did he make that choice? We don`t know and neither does the judge in his case. This is from the newly unsealed court transcript in Manafort`s case from February 14th in Washington, D.C. This is the judge in Manafort`s D.C. case talking to Manafort`s defense lawyers. And before this was just unsealed, this had been a sealed proceeding at the base. Now we know what happened.

The judge says in this newly unsealed discussion, quote, I understand you`re hamstrung. Is there any change in Manafort`s point of view about the Eastern District versus the District of Columbia? I think the only thing I can imagine that`s more unusual than the government offering you that choice is the choice you`re making. But is there any further discussion about that?

Manafort`s defense lawyer, Mr. Downing, says, no. And then the judge says, OK, all right.

The judge is saying, are you sure you want your client to go on trial twice? You want two federal felony trials? The judge is saying to the defense lawyers, listen, prosecutors never give anybody the option to drop one of their trials. They`re giving you the option to drop one of the trials and only go on trial once. Are you sure you`re not willing to take them up on it?

The defense lawyer is yep, your honor, we`re sticking with the plan. Two trials. The judge is like, OK, it`s your funeral. Here we go.

And so, this second trial is about to start, and it`s weird. And it`s going to happen before this judge who finds it remarkable. In the judge`s words, unusual, that Manafort has decided to have a second trial. Incidentally, this judge who`s going to be presiding in the D.C. trial is the same judge who ordered Paul Manafort held in jail instead of house arrest because of the allegations that he was tampering with witnesses in his case while he was out on bail.

So, this next case for Manafort is not promising for a lot of reasons. But it will also be significantly different from the case in Virginia where he just got convicted on eight felonies. We know about in part from the list of 1,500 pieces of evidence that the prosecution has filed for the D.C. case against Manafort.

Now, one of the things that`s different about this next case for Manafort, compared to the last one, is that at least some of the evidence in this case that they`re going to be citing is apparently in Russian. Look, at least the subject lines of all of these e-mails that appear in the prosecution`s evidence list are written in Cyrillic.

There`s also -- this is also the trial where Manafort has a co-defendant on some of the charges. His co-defendant is Konstantin Kilimnik, longtime business associate of Manafort who is Russian, who the special counsel`s office has said in open court is believed to be associated with Russian intelligence.

Kilimnik is also believed to be hiding in Russia right now rather than face these charges alongside Paul Manafort. In addition to being listed as Manafort`s co-defendant in the D.C. case, Kilimnik also appears here we believe in the evidence list, evidence item number 1194. KK we believe is the nickname for Konstantin Kilimnik, and that`s the way Manafort referred to him in his consulting business.

In the evidence list against Manafort for the D.C. trial, there are also these couple of references who we believe may be to a Russian oligarch who is known to be very close to Vladimir Putin and who`s known to have had extensive business dealings with Manafort. His name is Oleg Deripaska. He appears in that list. We think this is references to him in these emails where they`re describing the evidence list that prosecutors have submitted.

We`re going to have more on Deripaska`s role in the next Manafort trial coming up in just a moment tonight. But, you know, this next Manafort trial was always going to be a difficult prospect for him, right? You don`t have the wind at your back if you`re coming off eight convictions. Eight felony federal convictions right before you start a new trial on seven more federal felony counts.

In terms of the president`s legal jeopardy, though, this second Manafort trial has got a lot of Russian stuff in it. It`s a lot closer to the original concerns related to Russia that started the special counsel`s investigation in the first place. After initial reports last week stoked in part by the president himself that he might be considering a pardon for Paul Manafort, following his conviction in Virginia, tonight, Gabriel Sherman reports at vanityfair.com that the president is so committed to the idea of pardoning Paul Manafort now that he is willing to do it even over the objections of his White House counsel Don McGahn.

Quote: Trump has told people he`s considering bringing in a new lawyer to draft a Manafort pardon if McGahn won`t do it. Well, in that context, tonight, "Wall Street Journal" breaks the news that Manafort was trying to do a deal. Manafort, the guy who would not flip. Manafort, the guy who`s going all the way to trial, not once but twice, the one guy implicated in the Trump/Russia scandal who absolutely would not do a deal with prosecutors and was praised by the president for that, Manafort has apparently trying to do a deal with prosecutors.

According to (INAUDIBLE) at "The Wall Street Journal" tonight, Manafort`s defense team started conversations with Mueller`s prosecutors about a potential plea deal while the Virginia jury was deliberating over Manafort`s fate in his first trial. Quote: Paul Manafort`s defense team held talks with prosecutors to resolve a second set of charges against the former Trump campaign chair. The plea discussions occurred as a Virginia jury was spending four days deliberating tax and bank fraud charges against Manafort. The talks between the defense team and prosecutors were aimed at forestalling a second trial related for Manafort which is scheduled to begin on September 17th.

But "The Journal" also reports that although Paul Manafort and his defense team started those talks with the prosecutors and the special counsel`s office, the talks did not result ultimately in a deal. And this is where it gets very intriguing. Quote, the plea talks on the second set of charges stalled over issues raised by special counsel Robert Mueller. What issues?

Quote: It isn`t clear what those issues were and the proposed terms of the would-be plea deal could not immediately be determined.

As the president openly mulls the prospect of pardoning Paul Manafort to try to get himself out of this legal corner of this giant legal mess he`s now in, this new reporting at "The Wall Street Journal" tonight does this mean that Paul Manafort was offering to cooperate with prosecutors for the first time ever? Could this mean that he wasn`t offering to cooperate but his defense team was nevertheless, trying to make his second trial go away?

If they weren`t operating, if they weren`t offering his cooperation in exchange for making those charges go away, what else would they have to offer?

There`s ways to figure out the answers to these questions. We`re going to take our best shot at it next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So we`ve been following this breaking news tonight from the "Wall Street Journal." Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sought deal in next trial, but talks broke down. "The Journal" says tonight that Paul Manafort`s defense team held talks with prosecutors from the special counsel`s office to try to resolve a second set of charges, the ones he faces next month, in Washington, D.C.

Manafort`s lawyers reportedly tried to talk this out before he was convicted last week on eight felony counts in Virginia while the jury was deliberating. Talks on the D.C. charges stalled over issues raised by special counsel Robert Mueller, one person tells "The Journal". Quote, it is not clear what those issues were and the proposed terms of the plea deal could not immediately be determined.

Paul Manafort`s lawyers tried to cut a deal for their client with Robert Mueller, the special counsel. They apparently tried to cut that deal for Manafort while the jury was deliberating in his first federal criminal. That effort to make a deal apparently did not work out, but what does it mean for the Mueller investigation that Trump campaign chairman, newly convicted felon Paul Manafort, is now apparently trying to get himself a deal with the prosecutors in Robert Mueller`s office?

Joining us now is Chuck Rosenberg. He`s a former senior Justice Department and FBI official, also a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, which is where the first Manafort trial was held.

Mr. Rosenberg, Chuck, thank you very much for your time tonight.

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: My pleasure, Rachel.

MADDOW: Is it normal practice for a defense team to come to prosecutors to try to cut a deal for their client literally while the jury is out and deliberating on their client`s fate?

ROSENBERG: No, because it`s highly unusual for someone to have two trials that they`re facing, one in Virginia and one in D.C. It`s not unusual, however, Rachel, for defense lawyers to explore with prosecutors the possibility of resolving a case short of trial.

MADDOW: They reportedly, according to the "Wall Street Journal," were trying to lessen or eliminate the felony charges that Manafort was facing in the second trial of seven felony counts. They are similar, too, in some ways but also they depart from the kinds of charges that he faced in Virginia.

Why would they have thought that they had leverage with the special counsel`s office at that point to get prosecutors to drop those charges? What could they have been offering?

ROSENBERG: They don`t really have leverage unless they`re willing to offer full and complete and truthful cooperation. And that doesn`t seem likely to me. So, there really isn`t a lot of leverage.

And I`m not surprised that defense counsel would try this. I`m also not surprised that prosecutors would balk. Look, would prosecutors like to have the finality of the conviction? Absolutely. But they go into the second trial in D.C. with a very strong hand, Rachel.

MADDOW: And, obviously, the prosecutors in this case want conviction of Paul Manafort. Presumably, they would also like any information they could get from Paul Manafort about their ongoing investigations. I mean, the judge himself at the Virginia trial said in open court to some controversy that he believes the prosecutors in this case are interested in what Paul Manafort might be able to contribute to a case that involves the president or other high-ranking federal officials.

Once the prosecutors knew that their case was in the hands of the jury in Virginia, they presumably had some ideas to the strength of their case, what they put forward, the likelihood of getting convictions. Wouldn`t it sort of, then, being, I guess, having their cake and eating it, too, if they could get eight felony convictions against him but then also get his cooperation to make other charges go away?

ROSENBERG: Oh, you bet. And, look, they absolutely want his cooperation. Again, as long as it`s truthful.

Prosecutor -- look, we always think of plea deals, plea agreements where both sides come to some understanding and both sides get something out of it. It`s also the case that Mr. Manafort could simply walk into court in D.C. and plead guilty straight up, as we call it, to all the charges. And the prosecutors would be left with really just the convictions but not the cooperation.

They absolutely want the cooperation and that is the small bit of leverage that Mr. Manafort has. But in order for him to trade that, he`s going to have to give the prosecutors everything about everyone and that may be a painful road for him to walk.

MADDOW: One last question for you on this, Chuck, and I guess this is less a pure legal question and more kind of like a real politic question. The president has publicly praised Mr. Manafort for not being a rat, in the president`s terms, calling him brave and saying he wouldn`t break, he wouldn`t cooperate. The Manafort defense team has publicly thanked the president for his supportive comments about Mr. Manafort.

That`s led to a lot of discussion that both sides may be sort of signaling to each other through the press that Mr. Manafort is angling for a pardon and the president may be signaling to Mr. Manafort that the way he gets that is by not cooperating.

If that dynamic is, in fact, at work here, how do you think this new report tonight from the "Wall Street Journal" that Manafort sought a deal with prosecutors might affect that?

ROSENBERG: Well, I read it the way you do, and I think these are strong signals to Manafort to do what the president said, stay strong and there may be a pardon in your future. If that is, in fact, the case, then the deal might only be something as simple as which counts Manafort pleads guilty to, or how much in forfeiture he would have to sort of give to the government. It may not be about cooperation at all.

And, frankly, as I sit here and think about it, I think cooperation still remains highly unlikely. So you can plead guilty, as we saw with Mr. Cohen, without agreeing to cooperate. And that seems to be the way we`re going here, Rachel.

MADDOW: Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New Jersey, former FBI and Justice Department official, Chuck, thank you very much. Always appreciate having you here.

ROSENBERG: My pleasure.

MADDOW: All right. More to come tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: We are now a full entire month -- actually, one month and one day beyond what is supposed to be a court-ordered deadline for reuniting the parents and kids who were forcibly split up by the Trump administration at the U.S. border. Despite that court-ordered deadline, the administration is nowhere near finished with reuniting those parents and kids. As the latest court filing this past week, there were still over 500 kids who had been separated from their parents by the Trump administration. Twenty- three of those kids are five years old or younger. These are toddlers and babies who have been taken away from their parents.

For most of the kids who are still being held apart from their parents, 343 of them, their parents have been deported, have been sent out of this country while the kids are still being held here by the Trump administration. The Trump administration is essentially admitting now those kids are at risk of never finding their parents again, which means that the Trump administration taking those kids away from their parents will be an irrevocable act. They will never see their parents again because of what the Trump administration did. "The Washington Post" editorial said this will be Trump`s legacy of orphans.

As this policy process slowly grinds along, a group of administration officials have apparently been meeting weekly at the White House to supposedly try to fix what the administration has done, but according to some remarkable new reporting from the "New Yorker`s" Jonathan Blitzer who spoke with one of those officials, White House officials are expressing very little contrition about what`s happened here.

Quote: I asked the current administration official whether the outcry over family separation had caught the government by surprise. It had, the official said. The expectation was that the kids would go to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, that the parents would get deported, and that no one would care.

It`s a currently serving administration official admitting to a reporter that that`s what they were counting on, that they could take kids away from their parents permanently and no one would care. They were surprised anybody did.

Joining us now is Lee Gelernt. He`s deputy director of the ACLU`s Immigrant Rights Project. He`s a lead attorney in a lawsuit against the Trump administration`s family separation policy that led to last month`s court-ordered deadline.

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

LEE GELERNT, ACLU`S IMMIGRANT RIGHTS PROJECT DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Thanks for having me again.

MADDOW: So, when we first reported on this deadline, we thought the government would have to abide by it.

GELERNT: Right.

MADDOW: The government said they are abiding by it, but these kids aren`t eligible for reunification with their parents. That`s still the pattern that we`re in?

GELERNT: Well, the government has taken certain kids and said, well, you`re not eligible because we think your parents have a serious criminal history. We completely dispute that. But that`s only one segment.

There`s 3 -- as you said, there`s 343 parents sitting in other countries waiting for their kids. The government tried to say, well, they`re not part of this lawsuit because they were deported. We said, but they`re the most harmed. They`re sitting in another country. They are worrying about their kids and they are so far away. The judge said, no, they are a part of it. You have to find them.

We are desperately trying to find these parents to reunite them, and every day that goes by, the kids are harmed.

MADDOW: Is the Trump administration working diligently to move this along? I mean, we`re talking about a known universe of people here.

GELERNT: Right.

MADDOW: This is not some amorphous thing. These are known kids, known parents, known at describable deportation policy procedures. Is this an ACLU project at this point, or is the government trying to get the work done?

GELERNT: I think it largely is. I mean, the government said, we`re washing our hands of it. The judge said, no, no, give them information.

But we`re the ones out there looking for the parents. The government said they`ve called them. You know, maybe they called them. We don`t know what kind of conversation they had with the parents.

We are now calling the parents. We are looking for additional parents. And it`s clear when we`re talking to these parents, so many of them were misled or coerced into giving up their own asylum rights, thinking that`s the way to get their children back or being told, you don`t have an asylum claim.

And I think the point you made up front is critical. There is no contrition here. Every single day, we`re fighting with them for little crumbs.

I mean, they should be saying, look, we should have never done this. We traumatized these kids. Let`s at least give them fair asylum proceedings now. Let us as the United States government do everything we can to make these kids whole.

I mean, I don`t think these kids can ever be really whole, but let`s at least now try and remedy this. We are spending every single minute. I just got off the phone talking to our co-counsel. The government came back with something about asylum hearings. They`re not giving meaningful asylum hearings to these families. They should be saying, what do you want to make these families whole? Instead, we`re fighting with them with every turn.

MADDOW: Can the judge do anything else to push the government harder on this? I mean, the deadline coming and going.

GELERNT: Right.

MADDOW: The government making these excuses for kids that don`t fit the class and slow-walking these reunifications, even the ones they`re ordered to do.

GELERNT: Yes.

MADDOW: Is there any other leverage that canning brought to bear on this administration? I just feel like people watching this right now are thinking, what else can be done for these kids?

GELERNT: Right. Well, I think at this point the judge has said to them, you know, let the ACLU and these other groups try and find them. The government is going to try and do some stuff. I think the judge has made clear he doesn`t want to hear from the government about washing their hands.

Whether there are additional steps, we`ll have to wait and see. But I want to make clear, we are not giving up hope. We are not throwing in the towel. We believe we will find these parents.

You know, we have to remain hopeful so we`re out there every day trying to find these parents. We hope the government would do the right thing and give them meaningful asylum hearings. When we find all the families and all the children trying to get meaningful asylum hearings.

But every second we`re fighting with them, you would think they would have learned their lesson and said, let`s remedy this situation. But they`re not. They`re proceeding, we got caught off guard, but we`re still not going to acknowledge that what we did was horrible.

MADDOW: Wow, and still hoping that hopefully people don`t care enough to press them.

GELERNT: Exactly.

MADDOW: Lee Gelernt is the deputy director of the ACLU`s Immigrant Rights Project, thank you for the update.

GELERNT: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lee.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM RUSSERT, FORMER MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: From a personal standpoint, when you saw George W. Bush take that oath of office yesterday, did you wish, gee, I wish I was up there doing that?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Every day.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: On Saturday, the eulogies at John McCain`s memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the eulogies will be delivered by two former presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. John McCain, of course, ran against both of those men for president. Bush in the primaries, and Obama in the general. But now both of those former presidents, both of those political opponents of John McCain, will praise him and remember him and help lay him to rest.

Senator McCain will then be interred on Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis.

Arizona`s Republican Governor Doug Ducey has said that out of respect for Senator McCain, he is not going to name McCain`s successor for McCain`s seat in the Senate until McCain has been laid to rest which again will happen this weekend. Thereafter, Governor Ducey will announce who he has chosen for McCain`s seat. Now, once that person is named by the governor of Arizona, that person will actually serve as an appointed senator for a couple of years until 2020 when the special election will be held for McCain`s seat.

Now, we don`t know who Governor Ducey will pick for McCain`s seat to hold that seat for two years, but we do know that by Arizona law, the governor has to appoint a senator from McCain`s own party. I mean, not that there would be any ambiguity about this anyway, but by law the governor has to appoint a Republican to McCain`s seat.

And I just want to spell that out a little bit because understandably, there has been a little confusion as to what`s happening with Senator McCain`s seat and it is largely because of a big coincidence on the calendar. It is a coincidence that tomorrow, voters in Arizona are going to the polls to pick a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Arizona. But that`s not for John McCain`s seat. Tomorrow`s primary in Arizona is to pick candidates for Arizona`s other U.S. Senate seat. The one that is currently held by Jeff Flake who is retiring.

So, Democrats will pick somebody to run for that seat. As will Republicans. In the Democratic side, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is considered to be the favorite. On the Republican side, it is a three-way race. Current Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally, also, former sheriff and Trump pardon recipient Joe Arpaio, and John McCain`s last primary point, Kelli Ward, who Senator McCain beat easily in 2014.

So, it depends a little on who gets nominated. But that general election contest for U.S. Senate in Arizona, but not the McCain seat, the Jeff Flake seat, that`s expected to turn out to be one of the most competitive races for the country this fall. We know that person will serve alongside a two- year place holder appointed to John McCain`s seat whose name we will learn in the next week after John McCain is laid to rest.

So, disambiguating those two different Senate seats, it is a coincidence in terms of the timing. But we`ll have a name for McCain`s successor next week. We will have candidates for Flake`s seat as of tomorrow night. Watch this space.

We will have primary returns for you tomorrow night from Arizona, also from Florida and Oklahoma, tomorrow night late into the evening.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: This is one of those stick a pin in this stories. Just like heads up on this one. Watch out for this. This might turn out to be something.

In 2012, the career networking website LinkedIn got hacked. Passwords of about 6.5 millions users of LinkedIn were stolen and they were published on a Russian internet forum. Four years later in 2016, the company announced that actually wasn`t 6 million LinkedIn users, it was more like 100 million users, whose private information got stolen in that single attack.

And then late in 2016, actually October 2016, two and a half weeks before our presidential election, we got this announcement from the U.S. Justice Department. The Justice Department announced it was charging a suspect in the LinkedIn hacking case. His name was Yevgeniy Nikulin. He`s in his late 20s, he was from Russia, he was charged with executing that cyberattack on LinkedIn, also charged with hacking the file sharing site Dropbox, also charged with hacking a question and answer forum called Formspring.

And here`s the interesting part. This isn`t one of the cases where the U.S. Justice Department indicts some Russian hacker but nothing ever comes of it because he`s in Russia and they don`t extradite to us, so this guy will never actually see a U.S. courtroom. This guy Nikulin is Russian, but at the time that the Justice Department indicted him, he wasn`t in Russia, he was in the Czech Republic. And police in the Czech Republic arrested him.

And in March of this year, they extradited him to the United States. And he is now in jail in federal custody in the San Francisco Bay Area awaiting trial.

So, I`m sticking a pin in this story for a couple of reasons, because it turns out to be a weird and interesting story. First of all, they are not lumping this hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin with the other big Russia cyberattack prosecutions that we`ve got going on right now, right? We`ve had hacking indictments brought by the special counsel`s investigation being operated out of Washington, D.C.

This has not been lumped into that. They`re keeping this one in the jurisdiction of the U.S. attorney, the federal prosecutor, based in San Francisco. This guy is facing 30 years in prison in the case that`s being brought against him in California.

There are other emerging details about this case that make it worth watching. Bloomberg News now reports based on the suspect -- reports from the suspect`s lawyer, that ever since Nikulin was arrested and extradited to the U.S., Russian officials, Russian government officials have been unusually involved in his case, including, quote, arranging at least once to visit him in jail when his attorneys were not present. That makes sense that Russia would be interested in their citizen being held in a big federal case in the U.S., but talking to him without his lawyers there?

And it`s not just Russia that appears to be very interested. Bloomberg reports that they spoke to an official at the U.S. Justice Department who says this alleged Russian hacker awaiting trial in California is, quote, of great interest in a U.S. probe of election meddling.

Continuing from Bloomberg, quote: Prosecutors are as eager to find out what, if anything, Nikulin knows about election meddling. They`re as eager to know about that as they are eager to get to the bottom of the LinkedIn and Dropbox hacks. Oh, really?

We don`t know exactly what this means, whether Mr. Nikulin has any information that could be helpful in terms of investigating Russian involvement in the U.S. election, or whether he knows nothing about any of it, but there`s something going on here with this case that we don`t yet understand and it is worth remembering this guy`s name.

Here`s the guy`s name again. Put it up on the screen. Do we have it? Yevgeniy Nikulin. Yevgeniy Nikulin. Go ahead and set up that Google alert.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Ali Velshi, sitting in for Lawrence O`Donnell tonight.

Good evening, Ali. And a belated thank you for filling in so ably for me on Friday night. My staff loved working with you.

END

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