Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 11, 2018 Guest: Mike Siegel, Jacob Aronowitz, David Kirkpatrick
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us.
Lots of news to cover tonight. As we expected at this time last night, daybreak today brought absolutely terrible images of the destruction left behind by Hurricane Michael, particularly where it made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida, and nearby Panama City.
Today, we have been following the news of that devastation, a hospital evacuations in the panhandle, the scary news about helicopters being used to airlift in pallets of food and water to a large scale secure psychiatric facility that wasn`t evacuated ahead of the storm. So, we`ll have more on the storm damage ahead, including what appears to be pretty significant damage at Tyndall Air Force Base. That air force base was evacuated, but the footage we`re getting in today and tonight indicates that there may be some serious and very expensive damage at Tyndall Air Base, including it looks like to lots of aircraft at that base.
The Dow Jones dropped over 500 points today after it lost over 800 points yesterday. This two-day sell-off may be a fluke. It may be about larger systemic concerns involving the president`s elective trade war or the Fed or whatever. But for whatever reason, dropping 1,400 points in two days is enough to flip anyone`s stomach.
Today, the U.S. Senate made plans to go home and not come back until well after the midterms are over. Wow, must be nice. A third of the seats in the U.S. Senate are up this election. So lots of incumbent senators, of course, want to head home to campaign instead of being stuck in Washington doing all that dumb voting on stuff and all the other boring Senate stuff they don`t really like.
Still, though, the deal they reached to go home now until after the election seems like a really cheap deal for Republicans. As part of this deal, Democrats agreed that they would speed the approval of 15-male Trump appointed federal judges. A new list of 15 in exchange for -- that`s what they`re giving. The Democrats are giving.
All right. We`re going to speed through 15 male judges you want for lifetime appointments? OK. You can get those. We get in response the right to go home now.
That seems to be the whole deal. If something seems off to you about that, you`re right. I mean, obviously, it hurts Democratic incumbents as much as it hurts Republican incumbents to not be able to campaign at home. So, nobody really knows why Democrats agreed to give up any semblance of a fight on 15 federal lifetime judge appointments and just be able to go home, but that`s what they did. Why do you have to make a major unilateral concession to get something the other side wants too, right?
If you said no, we`re not going to give you all those judges, the Republicans might have all said OK, we`ll all stay here and none of us can go home and campaign, or they might have said we want to go home. Either way, Democrats wouldn`t be worse off when it comes to fighting with the Republicans right now.
But hey, it`s Senate Democrats. So it`s not like anybody is disappointed because it`s not like anyone expected anything better. Last night, we had a really big viewer response from a story we did quite towards the end of the show about what appears to be a big voter suppression effort that`s under way in the state of Georgia. Georgia is the state where Democrat Stacey Abrams on the right is running for governor against the Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Now as the sitting secretary of state in Georgia, Brian Kemp is in charge of elections in that state. He has not stepped down from those responsibilities, even though he himself will be at the top of the ticket in November because he that`s Republican Party`s candidate for governor. So he is effectively supervising his own election. As we talked about last night based on new reporting from the "A.P.", Brian Kemp`s office has put on hold -- they basically put in limbo 53,000 applications for voter registrations in his state.
So these are people who have tried to register to vote in this year`s election in Georgia, but the secretary of state`s office is not letting them do it. These people have submitted their voter registration applications. Secretary of state is holding them and not letting them go through.
Of the 53,000 applications that Brian Kemp`s office is currently sitting on, the "A.P." reports that nearly 70 percent of those applications are from African-American voters. The overall population in Georgia is like somewhere between 30 and 35 percent black, 70 percent of the applications he is blocking are from black voters.
Hmm. I wonder what all this is about?
Since the "A.P." first reported on this problem in Georgia, and this is a big problem, tens of thousands of registrations, there has been sort of a growing uproar not just in that state, but around the country about it. Well, tonight, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights has announced that they filed a lawsuit against Brian Kemp over those registrations that he and his office are blocking ahead of his own gubernatorial election.
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights seems very confident in their prospects of beating Brian Kemp in this lawsuit. They say they have beaten him in the past on this same issue, and they expect to do so again. That confidence is interesting and it may be true that they`re going to beat him here, but, you know, tick-tock. The election at this point is 26 days away.
MADDOW: But here`s another jaw-dropping story about the election. This one also just breaking over the last 24 hours, and this one ends with a bizarre arrest. We`re going to hear for a moment the person that was arrested at the end of this story. Here is where the story starts. 1971, voting age in this country changes from 21 to 18. And that meant for one thing that Americans who are getting sent off to go fight in Vietnam, they`d now be old enough to vote for or against the politicians who were sending them to fight, which seems just like a baseline morally correct thing to do.
As a practical matter, though, that voting changed from 21 to 18 meant that 11 million new voters were suddenly created in the United States, all at once. At least 11 million young people were newly eligible to vote. And that`s a very exciting prospect if you had faith in the electoral wisdom of young voters, but those 11 million new voters were also a very scary prospect to people who didn`t like the way they thought young people would vote.
You know, we`re almost -- we`re almost 50 years on from that change in American law, and the dynamic is basically still exactly the same. I mean, this year in 2018, Republicans` best chance for holding on to Congress is if young people don`t get out and vote. The polling data from this year that shows that most young people don`t intend to vote in the elections in November, that literally is Republicans` best hope of holding on to control of Congress, and it`s Democrats` worst fear.
But back in 1971, when they first dropped the voting age from 21 to 18, so 18, 19, 20-year-olds could all vote, back then when they made the change, there was bit of a national freak-out, specifically over the prospect of college students voting as a bloc in the college towns where they live and went to school. From Middlebury, Vermont, to Lexington, Kentucky, from Mississippi to New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, all over the country, in college towns, there were lawsuits all of the sudden to try to stop students from voting in their college towns once the voting age went to 18. It happened everywhere.
And almost everywhere those lawsuits were filed, they failed, because the courts kept finding over and over again that if anybody over age 18 can vote in this country and vote where they live, well, that applies to college students too. Just because college students live where they go to school, that doesn`t change anything about their right to vote where they live. The courts were almost universally consistent on that point, that college student others the age of 18 have a constitutional right to register and vote from where they`re living to go to school.
But still, eventually, even though most of the lower courts all lined up, eventually those legal fights made it up to the Supreme Court, and that`s because of a particularly brutal fight over this subject at a school called Prairie View. Prairie View A&M in Waller County, Texas. Prairie View is just sort of northwest of Houston. It`s between Houston and Austin as the crow flies.
Prairie View A&M is a historically black college in a county, Waller County, Texas, that`s not so black. Right now, Waller County, Texas, the overall population of the county is about 70 percent white, but the student body population at Prairie View A&M is 82 percent black.
And in 1972, the year after the voting age changed from 21 to 18, lots and lots of students at Prairie View decided they wanted to register and vote for the 1972 election. It was a super hot election, right? Nixon is running for reelection, running against a liberal anti-war candidate, George McGovern. Prairie View students 18, 19, 20-year-olds, they`ve newly got the right to vote. They decide like students all around the country that they wanted to register and vote, and they decided that in large numbers.
County officials in Waller County, Texas, though, decide they`d were not going to allow that. They did not want these Prairie View students voting, not in their county. Top elections official in the county dug in personally and decided he would make it his life`s mission to block those students from voting in his county. He had his own ideas about what constituted a real Waller County resident for the purposes of voting.
And students at that black school did not fit that idea that he had. So he invented all sorts of tests that had the effect of not letting students at that local college register to vote in Waller County. That turned into a legal fight that wound its way through the courts.
Ultimately, by 1979, that fight got to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court ruled unequivocally in the students` favor. Just like all those lower courts had said too. You can vote where you live, even if the reason you`re living there is because you`re going college there. It is an unequivocal principle affirmed by the Supreme Court, thanks to those students at Prairie View A&M in Texas who wouldn`t give up.
But Waller County, Texas, it turns out, they wouldn`t give up either. They wouldn`t give up trying to shut down those students from voting, not in their county. Are you kidding? Have you seen those students? All right?
Even after that Supreme Court ruling in 1979, Waller County kept going after those students at that local college, over and over and over again. In 1992 -- so, more than a decade after the Supreme Court had ruled in the students` favor, in 1992, more than a dozen students from Prairie View A&M got indicted, got criminally charged for illegally voting.
Originally, it was reported that 14 students were indicted. Ultimately, it was actually 19 students who got indicted. They`re indicted for illegally voting. They were not illegally voting. They were voting from their residential address, which was the school, the college at which they resided.
But the county just decided you know what? That looks illegal to us. Nineteen students indicted. Clearly, an effort to keep students at that school from voting in the 1992 election. Ultimately, the Department of Justice sent a nasty letter to county officials. Amid that pressure from Washington, amid the uproar over the students being indicted, see that photo there quoting Public Enemy, remember, it was 1992.
Ultimately, after the uproar all those indictments did get dismissed. But Waller County wasn`t done. In 2003, the county D.A. published a letter in the county newspaper declaring that no matter what the law said, no matter what the court said, he still considered it to be illegal for students at Prairie View to vote. He personally pledged in the local paper that he would indict any students who voted for criminal voter fraud. That was 2003.
2006 in the elections that year, hundreds of prairie view students had their votes challenged, again, on the base cities of fact that those students had committed the grievous voting crime of trying to vote while being students at a historically black college in a mostly white county. In 2008, the county decided that despite the thousands of students at the college, despite the thousands of registered voters among the students at the college, the county decided in its wisdom that they would set up a super convenient polling place for those students that was just about 30 miles from campus.
This county in Texas, Waller County in Texas, I mean, Supreme Court or no, they have just absolutely dug in. They will do anything they can to make it as hard as possible for these black students to vote. They`ll do anything they can.
It wasn`t until 2013, almost 40 years after that Supreme Court ruling in the students` favor that the students ever got their first polling location that was actually on campus. And lest you think that means that the fight there is at least now over -- no, it`s not, because now it`s 2018, and so now the county has a new plan. This is from Houston station, local Houston station KHOU.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Nearly 10,000 students attend Prairie View A&M University, so we`re talking a lot of potential votes.
It turns out two addresses Prairie View A&M students were told to use on registration forms are in different precincts, meaning that on election day, a large number of students might not be able to vote on campus, or they`d possibly be turned away.
Trey Duhon is county judge and tells me the Waller County elections office is working with Prairie View A&M to remedy address issues.
TREY DUHON, COUNTY JUDGE, WALLER COUNTY: We understand that Waller County has had a history, but we have worked very hard to make sure the students have their right to vote. I want all the students at Prairie View to know there is nothing, nothing that`s going to be done that is going to deprive them of their ability to vote if they`ve registered for this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If they`ve registered for this election. If, if they`ve registered, but are they registered? Are they properly registered?
You saw the bit in that news footage about the two addresses that Prairie View students were told to use on their voter registration forms. That was at the direction of the county. What the county told students at Prairie View was if they want to register to vote, they should register to vote using two school addresses that the county gave them, the county told them to use those addresses on their registration forms.
Now, the county says actually, no, maybe one of those addresses is wrong. Hope you didn`t register using that one.
The deadline to register to vote for next month`s elections in Texas was this week. It was Tuesday. So, yesterday, Wednesday, the day after the deadline, the campaign for the Democratic congressional candidate in that district, Matt Siegel, a Democrat who is running against incumbent congressman Michael McCaul, he sent his field director to Waller County courthouse to deliver a letter, to deliver this letter.
It`s a letter that`s basically trying to protect the vote of the students at Prairie View. It`s a letter from local Democrats, including the field director`s candidate, Mr. Siegel. And it demands that since these students registered to vote using the address the county gave them and told them to put on their forms, the county now shouldn`t block these kids from voting or try to send them somewhere else or field them out to some other precinct that they don`t know where it is or make them fill out additional documentation like they`ve done something wrong.
What these kids did is follow the county`s directions for how to register. They didn`t do anything wrong. If the county screwed it up, they shouldn`t put it on the kids and make it harder for them to vote or block the kids from voting in order to deal with their own mistake. So, that`s the letter.
Candidate Mike Siegel sent his field director down to the county seat, down to the county courthouse to personally deliver this letter. Time is of the essence, right? The voter registration deadline was on Tuesday. He sends his field director down to the courthouse the day after the voter registration deadline, yesterday.
Field director delivers the letter to a clerk at the courthouse. The field director then apparently snaps a picture of the fact that he has delivered the letter to the clerk at the courthouse to verify that the letter has been delivered. And then they arrested him. They asked him what party the candidate was whose campaign he worked for, and then they arrested him.
And, yes, it`s as weird as it sounds. This is from the "Houston Chronicle`s" write-up of what happened here. Quote, a field director for Democratic congressional candidate Mike Siegel was arrested at the Waller County courthouse yesterday after he delivered a letter demanding the county update the status of students at a nearby college whose registrations were thrown into question the day before. The bailiff stopped the campaign field director as he was trying to exit the building and then apparently called the police. The field director then called the candidate he works for, who is an attorney.
The candidate, Mike Siegel said on the phone with his field director he heard his field director being -- excuse me, repeatedly asking why he was being held by police and whether he was free to go. At one point, the field director told a detaining officer that the lawyer he was on the phone with during this conversation was a candidate who was running for Congress. According to the candidate and his field director, the officer then asked, quote, what party is he from?
Shortly after, the field director told him that his candidate was Democrat. The young field director was arrested. He was told apparently that he was being arrested for a 48-hour investigative detention. There were initial reports that he was arrested for not producing identification to a law enforcement officer. We`ve seen other reports that said he was arrested for suspicious behavior in a courthouse. A sheriff`s captain told that to Josh Marshall, the editor at "Talking Points Memo" today.
But in any case, they arrested him. The guy`s out now, but here`s my -- here`s like the -- sort of like the favorite little grace note for me in this whole story. After they arrested the congressional candidate`s field director, reportedly after confirming with him that he worked for a Democratic campaign specifically, after they arrested him and they held him and then they finally let him out, even after they finally let him out, they kept his phone.
He is the field director for the Democratic congressional candidate in that district, and the election is less than a month away, now local law enforcement has confiscated his phone, for the crime of handing over a letter trying to make sure that local students at the local black college can vote this time. Happy 2018. I know it feels like your TV set should be in black and white, so I`m telling this story. But no, this is us now.
Joining us now is Mike Siegel, Democratic congressional candidate and his field director, Jacob Aronowitz, who was arrested yesterday.
Mr. Siegel, Mr. Aronowitz, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate you both making the time.
MIKE SIEGEL (D), TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much, Rachel. We`re really glad for this opportunity.
JACOB ARONOWITZ, SIEGEL`S FIELD DIRECTOR: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Jacob, I know I`m going to say as a both a thank you and a caveat. I have been advised that you have been awake for well over 24 hours, and that you`re in a little bit of physical distress at this point because of what you have been through. I want to thank you for making time given the circumstances and just ask you what you have been through over the last day or so.
What actually have you been through?
ARONOWITZ: Well, your recounting of events was accurate. I was arrested and held at the Waller County sheriff`s jail, and the phone was taken, was confiscated. And at the time of this confiscation, they said they were going to see a warrant to go through its contests. And that didn`t happen, and I did get the phone back earlier today. But the experience was harrowing and it made me reflect on what people in that county deal with on a day to day, year-to-year basis.
MADDOW: Mr. Siegel, I understand from reporting both in "The Houston Chronicle" and from Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo that you apparently were on the phone with Jacob while he was being detained, and basically up until the point where he was arrested, essentially conferring with him and trying to advice him through this process. What was that like for you?
SIEGEL: At first, I thought it was a joke, you know, that they were just going to ask him a couple questions and let him go. But as it continued further and further and more and more law enforcement officials arrived, I think by the end, Jacob was surrounded by seven or more deputies and police officers, I realized that, you know, we are in a different place, you know?
I`m lucky enough to live in Austin, Texas, and we don`t face this kind of oppression on a day-to-day basis, but the idea that a simple taking of a picture of delivering a letter would end up being kept in custody for two hours and, you know, they put their hands on Jacob. They wouldn`t let him go. They threatened to hold him for multiple days.
I was horrified that they would do this to someone for the simple act of delivering a letter.
MADDOW: And what`s the status of the students who were the subject of that letter? I ran through a little bit of the history of Prairie View A&M. Honestly, I could do a week-long series about that history because it is such an important thing in American civil rights and what those students have been up against, what they fought for, what they continue to have to fight for is a heck of a saga in American voting rights and civil rights.
But, Mike, what`s the status right now in terms of whether or not these potentially thousands of voters at Prairie View A&M are going to be able to cast their votes without any hassle on election day?
SIEGEL: Well, we`re hopeful that through shining a light on this issue, that we can achieve the objective of having all the students` voting status restore and taking away this impediment where they`re being asked to fill out additional papers which will, of course, lengthen the wait for voting and we discourage some students from voting. But I`m just really thankful I`m able to use my campaign to shine light on this issue, this historic issue that you`ve outlined.
I mean, there are so many other women of color, African-American leaders in that community who have been fighting for voting rights for decades. And so, the fact that we can use this campaign to shine a light on what`s happening in Waller County gives me a little bit of encouragement. I think big picture, we`re going to have to continue to negotiate with Waller County, with the county judge to get them to reverse their decision.
One thing you didn`t note, Rachel is that they just announced this decision two weeks before the close of voter registration. So on September 26th is when they announced at a meeting that they were going to change the way they perceived the voting status of the students. And so, really, it`s this very late change to the voting status.
And it`s something that would not be allowed under the previous version of the Voting Rights Act. You know, Texas used to be in preclearance, and this is something that because it`s an impediment to voting wouldn`t have been allowed but for that recent Supreme Court decision that invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act.
MADDOW: All right. Specifically, Waller County used to have to prove to the Justice Department that if they were making in change in their policies or practices around election, they`d have to prove that it wasn`t intended to or have the effect of racial discrimination. Now, since the conservative majority on the Supreme Court killed the Voting Rights Act, gutted that part of it, they no longer have to make that proof.
I`ll ask you this one last question before you go, and this is actually for Jacob.
Jacob, there has been reporting that you -- before you were arrested, you were specifically asked whether the candidate or what party the candidate was whose campaign you were working for. I just want to confirm with you whether or not that actually happened. I think that struck a lot of people around the country as a sort of a shocking part of this, that you were asked what party Mr. Siegel was before you were arrested. Is that true?
ARONOWITZ: Yes, that accurate. And Mr. Siegel, Mike, was on the phone, on speakerphone, and he heard the question asked as well. And honestly, that might have been one of the most chilling parts of the entire encounter, because there`s like -- I mean, it`s pretty clear where someone`s coming from when they ask you a question like that.
MADDOW: Yes, especially when they follow it up by arresting you.
ARONOWITZ: Exactly. Exactly. It was a very, very chilling question. And as I said, Mike heard it too. So I can definitely confirm that.
MADDOW: Democratic congressional candidate Mike Siegel is running against Michael McCaul, Republican incumbent in Texas. Campaign field director Jacob Aronowitz -- Jacob, I hope you get some sleep. Thanks for making time, both of us, to talk us through this. Much appreciate it.
ARONOWITZ: Thanks, Rachel.
SIEGEL: Appreciate it.
MADDOW: Much more ahead tonight. Do stay with us.
MADDOW: In 2015, before he was president, but around the time he started running, Donald Trump registered eight shell companies that all included the word "Jeddah" in the company name. Jeddah spelled with two D`s and an H at the end. Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia.
Trump creating eight shell companies with that city name in the company name based on past Trump organization practices. That would seem to indicate that the president was planning to build a hotel in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. He didn`t build that hotel, at least he hasn`t yet. Those companies were dissolved shortly after he was elected president.
But then three days after Trump`s inauguration, lobbyists working for the Saudi government went out of their way to make sure the American press reported that they were spending almost $300,000 to put up a gigantic Saudi entourage at the Trump Hotel in Washington. The Trump Hotel in Manhattan has sort of been on hard times recently. Its revenues have declined for two straight years.
But in the first few months of this year, that hotel turned its fortunes around, basically got bailed out. For the first time in years, revenue at the Trump Hotel in Manhattan increased thanks specifically to a very, very, very profligate and expensive visit from the Saudi crown prince and his entourage too.
Donald Trump has a business history and a business present with Saudi Arabia, and that`s the kind of thing we never have had to factor in before when considering why president was acting a specific way toward a specific country. Other presidents didn`t keep live business interests while they were in the Oval Office, particularly live business interests open to foreign governments.
But now we`ve got one, and so now we don`t really know what the motivation is for the president`s actions towards a place like Saudi which is also paying him. Since the 1920s, every U.S. president has chosen to take their first foreign trip to a relatively noncontroversial ally, like Mexico or Canada, France, Belgium, Britain, Germany.
Donald Trump`s first trip abroad was to Saudi Arabia. But it`s not just the president, it`s his powerful son-in-law as well, Jared Kushner made three trips to Saudi Arabia last year, at least. I say at least because I`m not sure we always know when he goes. There was that secret unannounced trip to Saudi where he flew commercial.
That trip reportedly included several nights where Jared and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, known by his initials MBS, they reportedly stayed up until 4:00 a.m., quote, swapping stories and planning strategy. Shortly afterward, the crown prince, MBS, rolled out a huge and frankly bizarre crackdown where he rounded up hundreds of members of the royal family and other rich Saudis and basically jailed them, including torturing some of them in Riyadh`s Ritz-Carlton Hotel until lots of them were forced to hand over tons of money to him. And by tons of money, I mean like billions of dollars.
I should also mention that as recently as this May, this year, 2018, Jared Kushner sought a $100,000 investment from the Saudis. Excuse me, $100 million from the Saudis for his family real estate startup.
Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who works in the White House, their relationship with the Saudis is the kind of profound and blunt financial conflict of interest that we are not used to happening out in the open in an American presidential administration. But it`s now something that we have to fit into our understanding of the administration`s response to the disappearance of "Washington post" columnist and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
When the president was asked about Khashoggi today, the president said, oh, it`s a terrible situation and the U.S. is investigating, but he immediately added without being prompted that he definitely doesn`t favor stopping American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, nothing like that. When asked if the United States had a duty to warn this journalist if our intercepts did pick up chatter among Saudi officials that he was in danger, which has been reported, President Trump said that, well, it`s not happening in our country. And oh, by the way he understands that Jamal Khashoggi was only a U.S. resident, not even a U.S. citizen.
Tonight, "The Washington Post" is reporting that the Turkish government has told U.S. officials that there are both audio and video recordings from inside the Saudi consulate proving that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate. There has been reporting previously that there is a recording.
Now, "The Washington Post" is quoting what appears to be Turkish officials who are describing what they say they have seen and heard on these recordings. Quote, you can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic. You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.
If these recordings exist as "The Post" says, it`s unclear if any U.S. officials have seen them. But the evidence here really does appear to be stacking up. Weighing our own government`s response to it is hard enough in these brand-new conflict of interest times that we are living through, but the complexities here also involve who we can trust in terms of the sources on this story, and we`re going to have more with the reporter who has really been digging into this, joining us from overseas, next.
MADDOW: Joining us now live from Ankara, Turkey, where check the time zone map, it is way too late for anybody to be staying up to talk to us at this point of the night is David Kirkpatrick, international correspondent for "The New York Times" who has been covering the Jamal Khashoggi story very closely.
Mr. Kirkpatrick, thank you so much for staying up to late to join us. I really, really appreciate you being here.
DAVID KIRKPATRICK, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s good to talk to you.
MADDOW: So the reporting about the Saudi government potentially having not just ordered the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, but potentially having carried it out on the grounds of this consulate, it is frightening. It`s increasingly detailed. We`ve had reporting tonight from "the Washington Post" that it may include both audio and video recordings of the killing itself.
I just want to ask you, as somebody who is based in Turkey right now, who has been following this closely, what do you make of the weight of the evidence?
KIRKPATRICK: Well, you`ve seen a turn in the voices of the White House and American officials in the last couple of days. It`s clear they`re giving more credibility to what the Turks have been saying. I heard about the video evidence of the first time on Saturday. It was described to me as a video made by the Saudi assassins as proof that the job was done for Riyadh, and I heard about it from a second source tonight, briefed by Turkish officials.
What "The Washington Post" has added is that American officials are now also aware of that evidence. And so, it`s -- you know, it`s been a bit of a he said/he said. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself has denied any knowledge of Mr. Khashoggi`s whereabouts, and at the same time, Turkish officials speaking without attribution have laid out this increasingly detailed account of the killing, a brutal and gory account of the killing.
And so, we`re beginning to see this sort of battle of two narratives flip in the Turkish direction and against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
MADDOW: Obviously, the context here matters. The rivalry between leaders of Turkey and the leaders of Saudi Arabia matters. It`s one of the things you`ve been writing about, one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you in particular about this story as we start to see this evidence get at least described.
And I wonder because of the he said/he said nature of the evidence here, because Turkish officials are telling an increasingly detailed picture of what they say happened here, do you think it`s going to come to the point where they eventually hand over any of that evidence, where they stop describing it to U.S. reporters and instead they make that information, those recordings, anything else they`ve got available to the public?
KIRKPATRICK: Well, I believe that Turkish intelligence officials, or Turkish government officials briefed their American counterparts about this last Saturday. That`s what I`m told, including this evidence.
Now, American intelligence agencies are also very wary of sharing what they`ve obtained through their own special methods with places like the court system, you know? So, it`s clear from the kind of detail we`re hearing that this is material that`s been obtained through either surveillance or intercepted communications, probably more that than human informants, but there could be some that of too. And in all of these cases, I think the Turks are going to be very reluctant to let anybody outside the upper reaches of a friendly government have direct access to this material, which is regrettable from my point of view.
You know, as a journalist who just wants to get to the bottom of this, I would like everything to be known. In this case, though, I think also from what I`m told, the video is not for the squeamish. Now, the Turks have described a scenario where a number of Saudi agents, including a forensics expert, arrive with the intent to kill Mr. Khashoggi, killed him within two hours of entering the consulate, dismembered him, and did so with a bone saw they brought for that purpose. So it`s quite a brutal affair.
MADDOW: Mr. Kirkpatrick have, you seen any sign of an active U.S. investigation into this possible murder?
KIRKPATRICK: On the ground here in Ankara, no. But that would be truly extraordinary.
But as I say, if you take stock of the variety of voices and the growing volume of the voices among senior people on Capitol Hill and even from President Trump himself, you begin to realize that the Turkish account is gaining credibility in Washington. So the public relations battle is turning tonight, and I think -- if I were to predict, I would guess there would be some move by Riyadh, by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to respond in the next few days.
MADDOW: David Kirkpatrick, international correspondent for "The New York Times", the author of "Into the Hands of the Soldiers: Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East," staying up well past O dark 30 for tonight. Sir, thank you very, very much for your time. Much appreciated.
KIRKPATRICK: Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got a lot more to get to tonight. Do stay with us.
MADDOW: Things went a little wobbly for the president campaign chairman and his deputy chairman today. Both of them, of course, have plead guilty to multiple felonies and are now cooperating with prosecutors from the special counsel`s office under Robert Mueller. But that apparently doesn`t guarantee smooth sailing for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. For one, both are still awaiting sentencing, so it has to be weighing on both of them that just yesterday, another dude, who has also plead and cooperated, a guy who was on the hook for much less than either Manafort or Gates, he yesterday got sent to federal prison for six months.
Again, this guy also plead guilty. He also cooperated. Compared to Gates and Manafort, he was an absolute small fry.
So, him heading off to prison for a pretty good sentence, that alone has to sort of focus the man, you might imagine if you are Paul Manafort or Rick Gates. But all of the sudden in the last 24 hours, we`ve also had a bunch of news that indicates there are still live issues in both of their cases, separate and apart for how much jail time they`re going to get.
For Gates, at least, he has the benefit of not being in jail right now. He sat home under relatively strict orders about his ability to move around the country and how frequently he needs to check in with the court. He`s also got an ankle bracelet he keeps on to monitor his whereabouts for the court.
Gates has just filed a request though to loosen those terms of his confinement, including losing the ankle bracelet all together. The good news for Gates is that it looks like he will probably succeed in that request for the ankle bracelet if only because the special counsel`s office isn`t opposing that request from him.
But Rick Gates isn`t negotiating this stuff alone. He of course has a legal team who is working on this kind of stuff for him on his behalf. It`s stuff about his bail conditions, also, you know, issues related to his ongoing cooperation, his ultimate sentencing. For Rick Gates, that itself, his necessity for continuing legal representation, we now realize that itself may be a real problem for him.
We know that because last night in federal court in New York, Rick Gates` old lawyers, his old legal team just sued him for $369,000 in unpaid legal bills, plus interest, plus expenses. Apparently before Gates dropped his old legal team, he only paid these guys about $20,000 of the more than $400,000 that they build him. So, now, they`re suing to get back the rest.
And that, of course, is tough on its own terms if you`re Rick Gates. But imagine what this means for the new lawyers that he`s got work for him now too, right? These lawyers are who are still working for him right now, trying get his ankle bracelet taken off, trying to loosen his bail terms, trying to set him up for the best possible sentencing.
He`s got lawyer now who are still working for him all the time, doing stuff for him on behalf of him in this case. How long is that likely to last now that his previous lawyers are having to sue him for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills? How were the current lawyers going to look upon that?
So like I said, things are a little wobbly right now for Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates. But it`s way worse for Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who honestly would love the luxury right now of fighting to remove his ankle bracelet. That would be a huge step up for him because, of course, he is not at home wearing an ankle bracelet. He still lives in jail.
Paul Manafort`s cooperation with the special counsel`s office, which he has now pledged to do, ever since he plead guilty last month, that cooperation proceeds now while Manafort still sits in federal jail in Virginia awaiting sentencing on the charges for which he has been convicted and to which he has plead guilty. Yesterday, the judge in one of his cases formally ordered the forfeiture of all of these properties, all these fancy condos and town houses and country estates, all once owned by Paul Manafort.
As of last night, all of these properties have been officially seized by the U.S. government, which means that you watching me at home right now, you and me, too, us U.S. taxpayers, we now officially own an apartment in Trump Tower because that`s one of the properties that was seized from the president`s felon campaign chairman as part of his federal sentencing on multiple criminal charges. What a nice American moment for all us, right? Mazel tov.
What are they going to do with the place? Definitely new drinks. Also deep cleaning.
Last night, Manafort was told formally to forfeit all those multimillion dollar properties. But then today, a serious curve ball was thrown over the plate for Manafort one that I, at least, did not see coming.
And that`s next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When the president`s campaign chair plead guilty to multiple felonies, one of the things in his plea agreement was a specific deal with Robert Mueller and the special counsel`s office, that they would wait to decide, they wait to see how much cooperation they got from Manafort and only after that would they decide if Paul Manafort was going to be retried, prosecuted again for the ten felony charges on which the jury in Manafort`s case couldn`t reach a verdict.
That kind of a deal makes sense for the prosecutors, right, you know? Cooperate for real, man, give us everything you`ve got for real, come totally clean. If you don`t, we can always prosecute you again on ten more felonies. Do you want that?
That`s exactly the kind of leverage prosecutors would love to have when dealing with a cooperator, right? That`s the deal. They signed with Paul Manafort.
Well, today, curve ball, because the judge from the Manafort case, the case where there were these ten outstanding charges where the jury couldn`t agree, that judge today decided he`s not going along with that deal in the plea agreement. Surprise. He today told prosecutors in the special counsel`s office basically, hey, you guys got to charge Manafort with those ten felony counts now.
You got to retry him now or cut bait and say you`re not going to recharge him now. You got to do it. Make that decision now. I`m not waiting until you`re done with his cooperation.
Now, there are a bunch of reasons why this might have happened. You might remember this is the kind of cranky judge from the Eastern District of Virginia, the one who seemed like he really had it out for Mueller and the prosecutors and the special counsel`s office during the trial. Maybe it has something to do with that.
We were told by people familiar with this particular federal court, though, that a more likely explanation is that this is the rocket docket of the Eastern District of Virginia where they really like to go fast. So regardless of the specific contours of this case, or any specific crabbiness by this judge, they jut don`t like to wait. They don`t want to wait to sentence someone who has been convicted in that district, even if there`s good reason to wait because that guy is still cooperating with prosecutors.
So, we don`t know exactly why it happened. But the bottom line here is that you need to put this on your calendar for the end of next week. The judge has now ordered a hearing for a week from tomorrow. You are going to care about what happens at that hearing because depending on how exactly this all shakes out, that hearing may give us, the public, an unprecedented window into one of the most intriguing unanswered questions in this whole saga, which is, what does the president`s campaign chairman know? What does Manafort know?
Since Manafort decided to flip, decided to start cooperating with prosecutors, has that given Mueller any new real dirt on anyone else? Like, I don`t know, the president?
This judge now is pushing Paul Manafort`s sentencing decision to happen now. It`s after Manafort started cooperating, but it`s definitely before he is done. In the course of trying to push forward Manafort`s sentencing, this judge may force Robert Mueller and Mueller`s prosecutors to tell the court whether Manafort`s cooperation thus far has helped the special counsel`s office investigate or prosecute anybody else other than Paul Manafort for any other crime.
And that, of course, has been the 62 gazillion dollar all along with the president`s campaign chairman flipping. Who might he flip on? What might he know? What has he told prosecutors? What are they doing with that information?
Unexpectedly because of this surprise order from this Virginia judge today, we might get an answer to that question, very, very soon.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Thank you for being with us 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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