Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 25, 2018 Guest: Josh Gerstein
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Busy news day today. Actually, a lot of the security news that has broken over the course of the day and into tonight, including news this evening that we are up to a total of ten bombs, ten explosive devices that have been sent to high-profile targets of the president`s public criticism around the country, in addition to the bombs we knew about yesterday, which were sent to former President Obama and Hillary Clinton and philanthropist George Soros and former Attorney General Eric Holder and former CIA Director John Brennan and Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
Today, we learned about two additional devices that were apparently targeted at former Vice President Joe Biden, and also a new target, Hollywood superstar Robert de Niro sent an explosive device at a building that houses his production company in downtown New York City.
So, this story, it continues to develop both in terms of the number of devices that were apparently sent, the number of targets, and also the progress of the law enforcement investigation that has ensued since these bombs started turning up. Even as more devices turned up in more places today, we are told that the FBI has started analyzing these things at their lab in Quantico, Virginia. As we talked about on last night`s show, it is the holy grail for investigators to have this much physical evidence to look at, to have all of these unexploded devices is going to give investigators a lot of different leads to pursue in terms of who put these things together and how and what their intentions were.
I will just mention one other thing about this, though. When we got the news confirmed late last night about the two devices targeting Congresswoman Maxine Waters, one sent to her offices in southern California, one sent to her offices in Washington, D.C., and then today we got the confirmation about two devices sent to target Vice President Joe Biden, both of those developments in this story were further confirmation that although initially it seemed like some of these devices might have been dropped off by hand or by courier, now it seems like most, if not all of them, were put through the U.S. mail. And that has led to an interesting new lead tonight where investigators are reportedly zeroing in on the prospect that these things were mailed from Florida.
The U.S. Postal Service apparently takes pictures of all mail, of each individual piece of mail as it goes through the system. So the fact that these were mailed may help investigators zero in using that data on where they were mailed from and maybe who mailed them. At an even more immediate level, though, I want to say that, you think about this for a second. If all these things were put through the mail, yes, that gives a lead in terms of figuring out who did this and catching them.
But that also means that the men and women who work for the U.S. Postal Service, this bomber has already gone through them, right? We`re told these are explosive devices packed with explosive powder, right? Pipe bombs, packed with explosive powder, PVC pipes, these things appear to have been packed with shrapnel.
Every mail carrier in the country, everybody who works at a post office or at a sorting facility for the U.S. Postal Service, everybody who drives a mail truck, the one that pulls up to your house, the big ones you see on the highway, every single one of those people who works for the Postal Service, those are the frontline people who have had their lives already put at risk here. Separate and apart from the famous and powerful people who have had these things intercepted by their security details or by the Secret Service, or by corporate security screenings, right?
So, to the extent that you may be mad about this mad bombing campaign targeting all these high-profile Democrats and other people and institutions who have been targets of the president`s public invective -- honestly, be mad, too, for the regular working people, thousands of them, drivers and letter carriers and all the rest, who this is targeted to, right? It`s just -- it`s just infuriating.
Do something nice for your mailman this week or your mailwoman. At least say thanks, at least tell them that you`re thinking of them. It is absolutely infuriating.
But because of all the physical evidence that has been collected in this investigation, we do expect continuing developments in terms of the law enforcement investigation here. Again, tonight, the newest level of detail seems to be this focus on their origin potentially from Florida, and investigators focusing on a specific site this might have been mailed from. We`ll have more on that coming up as the story continues to develop.
Also tonight, little bit of an update on the jaw-dropping national security story that broke late last night in "The New York Times." This was the news that the president has been knowingly using a private unsecured cell phone to make phone calls as president, even though he has been warned by White House personnel that it`s a serious security risk, and that foreign spy services can listen in on those calls.
In fact, "The New York Times" found in its report -- they were told for their report that China spy service has been not only regularly listening in on the president`s calls. Chinese spies have started a new and active influence operation to use people who are in contact with the president to try to shift U.S. policy in China`s direction. They can do this in a way that nobody has ever been able to do this to a U.S. president before because President Trump is reportedly insisting that he should still speak on his private unsecured cell phone despite the security risks.
And because of that, the Chinese know who he is speaking to. They know what he and his interlocutors are saying in those phone calls. They know what arguments he is making and what he`s hearing, and now, the Chinese are shaping those conversations to benefit the Chinese government. Just an astonishing story, right?
After that story broke last night, a former chief information officer from the George W. Bush administration told "Fast Company", quote: If true, this may be the largest, most significant breach of White House communications in U.S. history. Now, the one still terrible silver lining in "The New York Times`" report from last night was the part where current Trump administration officials tried to sell "The New York Times" on the fact that they were, quote, confident that Trump was not actually spilling secrets in these calls that are monitored by the Chinese government. They`re confident in that, quote, because President Trump rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown, and is not well-versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.
I mean, this is supposed to be the silver lining. You can see why this is still terrible, right? You can see why this might be called comfort. Don`t worry about the president spilling anything in terms of national security or really important secrets. And these calls that the Chinese are listening to, don`t worry about that. You know, he can`t absorb anything all that secret. He doesn`t pay attention to his briefings.
That was the glass half full part of this amazing story in the times last night. Well, the glass is not all that full. NBC News reports today that, in fact, President Trump has been disclosing sensitive information in these calls that he has been making on his unsecure private phone, and that the Chinese have apparently been listening in all this time.
Current U.S. officials tell NBC they have been worried for months about the sensitive information that President Trump has been disclosing when he makes calls on that insecure line including, I kid you not, to people like cable news host at the Fox News Channel. Lock her up, lock her up.
One other national security thing that has broken today that we`ll get to in more detail in just a moment is that there are a couple of intriguing new developments today in the Robert Mueller investigation. First, prosecutors in the Michael Cohen case told the federal court in New York today that materials related to the Michael Cohen case have to stay under seal because those materials pertain to ongoing grand jury proceedings that are targeting not just Michael Cohen himself, but unnamed other persons as well.
Who are these other persons who are the target of ongoing grand jury proceedings along with Michael Cohen? We don`t know, but we know officially today that there are other persons. Prosecutors also said in that same filing that there are multiple people who turn up in materials related to the Cohen case who have not been notified by prosecutors that they are involved in this ongoing matter. Prosecutors say they haven`t told those people that they turn up in the Cohen case materials because notifying those people of that fact would compromise the ongoing investigation.
So that is new today. That is very intriguing in terms of that open-ended ongoing investigation, that the prosecutors in the Cohen case are trying to protect. We`ll have more on that coming up.
And as a separate matter, we`re going to have a live report in just a few moments about some intriguing signs at the federal court house in Washington, D.C. that Mueller and his prosecutors appear to be involved in some new major legal fight that has been taking place out of the public eye, in a series of sealed proceedings before high-level federal judges in Washington, D.C. Now, again, these are sealed proceedings. They`re secret proceedings, so nobody knows enough about them to report on them directly.
But at least one reporter sealed proceedings before high-level federal judges in Washington, D.C. Now, again, these are sealed proceedings. They`re secret proceedings, so nobody knows enough about them to report on them directly. But at least one reporter appears to have stumbled almost by accident upon evidence that this big new fight involving Mueller`s prosecutors is underway.
We don`t know what the fight is. We have informed speculation based on the circumstances under which these proceedings have been sealed and what can be seen in terms of sort of kinetic activity around them. But the reporter who stumbled upon this is going to join us live in just a moment. I am super interested in that story.
But even as all those news stories unfolded today and they keep unfolding tonight, the biggest story in the country, of course, continues to be the election which is now 12 days away. One of the U.S. Senate races where Democrats really hope to pick up a seat is in the great state of Arizona where Republican Senator Jeff Flake is retiring, giving up his seat. One of the interesting things about this race in Arizona, no matter who wins, it will add to the number of women in the U.S. Senate since both the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate, each of them are female members of Congress, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally. So, whoever the senator is, it`s going to be a woman?
Now, who`s the senator going to be? FiveThirtEight.com currently has this as a lean Democratic race. They say it`s leaning in Kyrsten Sinema`s direction. "The Cook Political Report" right now has it as a toss-up.
This is a critical election both for Arizona and for the overall question of which party ultimately controls the Senate. But just take a look right now at what that race is like on the ground. As you know, as we have been covering on the show, the polls right now say the issue Americans care about more than any other when it comes to this election, the issue they are paying more attention to than any other when it comes to deciding who they`re going to vote for, the single most important issue to voters this season, this election, it`s health care.
Well, here`s what that looks like in this crucial Senate race in Arizona.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back, everyone. Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally is now claiming that she is fighting to protect people with preexisting conditions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But does that match up with McSally`s record in Congress?
Our political editor Dennis Welch looked at her record.
REP. MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA: Dennis, can we please talk about the things that matter to most voters instead of repeating the Arizona Democrat Party press releases?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less than two weeks left in this election, and Martha McSally clearly showing her frustration.
MCSALLY: This is ridiculous, honestly. Do have anything to talk about like the caravan?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Can we please talk about the caravan? You want to ask me questions about health care? Can we talk about anything else? Don`t you want -- how about the caravan -- have you heard about the caravan?
The reason reporters were asking Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally about health care in that instance which frustrated her to no end, the reason they were asking her about is that because her latest ad said she`s leading the fight to force insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, which is amazing. And so, of course, Republican -- excuse me, of course reporters are asking her about it.
I want to look at this in Arizona. But this is happening all over the country. Since we have been focusing on this issue in the campaign for the past couple of days, it was crazy a couple days ago. It`s gotten absolutely nuts on the Republican side since then.
Obamacare, you may recall, is what forced insurance companies to guarantee coverage for people who have preexisting conditions, right? Because of Obamacare, that`s why insurance companies now can`t turn you down for coverage because you`ve got a preexisting condition. And they can`t charge you more money if you`ve got a preexisting condition. That`s Obamacare. That`s what Obamacare did. That`s why that exists.
Republicans in Congress have voted at least 70 times to kill that. The top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, says, yes, in the Senate they`ll do it again if Republicans are able to hold onto the Senate. Twenty Republican- led states are suing to kill Obamacare, including specifically that part that makes insurance cover preexisting conditions.
That lawsuit is supported overtly by the Trump administration and to put the icing on all of it, the Trump administration just this week -- just three days ago -- unilaterally changed the rules set by a Obamacare so that now insurance companies will be allowed to turn you down if you have a preexisting condition. Or they`ll be allowed to charge you more because of it.
Literally just this week, the Trump administration took that action so that people with preexisting conditions will no longer be protected. All of which is very, very unpopular with the American people. In an election year where the American people say health care is more important to them than any other thing when it comes to deciding who they`re going to vote for.
So, this is a fundamental political science problem for the Republicans, right? What they are actually doing, and what they have been pounding their chests and bragging about doing for years, on the most political salient issue in the country this year is the exact opposite of what the country wants to happen on that issue. The thing they most wanted to be known for, for years, we will kill Obamacare. We will eradicate Obamacare.
The thing they most campaigned for, most vociferously for years and have bragged about doing since they have been in Congress for years, the thing the Trump administration is not only doing in general, they`re doing it this week. That thing, voters don`t want it. And it`s the thing that is most important to voters this year.
And so what do Republicans do about that this election season?
What they have decided to do is just lie about it. They have decided they`re just going to run as if they`re the Democrats on this issue. The president is doing it with tweets like this. Republicans will totally protect people with preexisting conditions. Democrats will not. What?
He also says stuff like this at his rallies now? Saying this literally in the same week his administration acted unilaterally to take away insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions. He`s campaigning saying, hey, vote Republican if you don`t want that.
It`s happening at the national level. Surprise, the president is lying about that thing. But it`s also happening in individual Republican campaigns around the country, too, like this super hard fought race involving Martha McSally in Arizona.
And in her case, it is making local news anchors basically spit out their coffee because it`s through the looking glass bizarre for a Republican member of Congress like Martha McSally to now be running for Senate as if she is the champion of Obamacare. I mean, her record on this is not a subtle thing. She voted to kill Obamacare and its provision on preexisting conditions dozens of times, like literally more than 50 times.
Not only did she never peel off from her party on this even once, she has been kind of a crusader about killing Obamacare and its protections on preexisting conditions, like she has crusaded on this in a way that stood out memorably, profanely. Do you remember this one from last year? GOP predicts victory on Obamacare repeal vote.
Here`s the lead on this one from "The Hill" newspaper. And again, if Martha McSally is a member of Congress, this is the kind of thing you`d remember. If you`re a local news anchor from Martha McSally`s district, this is the kind of thing you`d remember. This would kind of stick with you.
Quote: Speaker Paul Ryan and his GOP leadership team held what amounted to a pep rally for rank and file members in the Capitol basement Thursday morning as they predicted victory. Leaders played "The Rocky" theme song as lawmakers walked into the meeting. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy put an image of George Patton on the screen and read inspirational quotes from the general.
Congresswoman Martha McSally of Arizona told her colleagues, quote, let`s get this F-ing thing done. Let`s get -- says Martha McSally. And according to other people in the room, and multiple reports, she didn`t say F-ing. She said the whole thing. Let`s get this beep, let`s get this F- ing thing done.
And by this F-ing thing, she means let`s kill Obamacare. Let`s F-ing kill it. That`s Martha McSally. And now she`s running for Senate in Arizona like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCSALLY: We cannot go back to where we were before Obamacare, where people were one diagnosis away from going bankrupt because they could not get access to health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What was the way she put it again? Let`s get this F-ing thing done. Let`s F-ing kill Obamacare. Now running as the Senate candidate that Arizona should trust to protect Obamacare. It`s just like, are you freaking kidding me?
I mean, it would be one thing if this were one issue -- like if Martha McSally had done this on light rail -- I mean, I love light rail. Don`t get me wrong, but postage rates. OK, like, all right, this is the thing that more Americans care about than any other in this issue. She`s like, vote for me, I stand for exactly the opposite of everything I`ve ever done in this issue, including where I use the F-bomb in Congress.
So, with everything else going on in the country, I mean, this is pretty much half the fight right now for these last two weeks, for these last 12 days. Republicans are like, can we talk about the caravan? Or something? And voters are like no, we want to talk about health care.
And so, on the issue more Americans care about than any other in this election, we are in a strange twilight zone where Republicans all over the country, including the president, are pretending that they`ve been the real Democrats on this issue all along. It will be fascinating to see how well Democrats are able to capitalize on that over these next 12 days.
So, that`s half the fight. The other half of the fight, 12 days out now from election day, is the fight to actually get out and vote. Look at what`s playing out on the ground at the polls right now all over the country.
Here`s "The Palm Beach Post". Florida turnout tops 1.1 million. Early voting doubles in Palm Beach County.
Here`s "The Tennessean". Early voting turnout massive as midterm interest approaches presidential level.
Here`s "The Advocate" in Louisiana, early voting turnout after first day, much higher than expected. Same thing in Idaho. Same thing in Minnesota. Same thing in Delaware.
And in the states with big marquee contests this year, like Georgia, and Texas, right, I mean, if you`ve been trying to take the temperature for what voter enthusiasm is like in this election compared to the last time we voted in a congressional election four years ago, look at Georgia and Texas. I mean, Georgia and Texas have been a super interesting thermometer. The number of people turning out to early vote in those states continues to absolutely destroy the past records those states have seen in any previous midterm election.
Well, now, tonight, we can add details to this portrait that`s been developing on the ground in states that have already started early voting. A professor in Florida named Michael McDonald has been tracking the early vote all over the country on his Website, which is electproject.org. And he actually flagged this strange little milestone in the race today which caught our attention.
Quote: Minnesota early vote update. Minnesota is the third state to surpass its 2014 total early vote, joining Delaware and Tennessee. More people have now voted early in those states in 2014 either in person or by mail than the last time we had a midterm election.
We`re still 12 -- there are still 12 days left. They`ve already beaten the last midterm election?
Then this afternoon, professor McDonald added another state to his list. Indiana has exceeded its total early vote for 2014 still with 12 days to go. In all four of these states, Tennessee, Delaware, Minnesota, Indiana, more people have already voted in those states than the total number of people who early voted the last time we had a midterm election, which is nuts.
Now, in Minnesota, there is one asterisk. After the last midterm in 2014, Minnesota did pass a law to make it easier for people to vote earlier, and that could be part of the reason we`re seeing that jump with more people early voting this year compared to 2014. What is still shocking about the Minnesota numbers, though, is that people in Minnesota are early voting this year, not just at a rate exceeding what they did in 2014. They`re early voting this year in Minnesota at the same pace as 2016. After that law passed and when there was a presidential race on the ballot, too.
It`s too early to tell exactly what these numbers mean in terms of who has the best shot of flipping the House or flipping the Senate heading into next Tuesday. Generally, generally speaking, Democrats perform better in elections when turnout is high, when more people turn out to vote.
And so, for Democrats to have a shot at flipping seats to take control of Congress, turnout is everything for the Democratic Party, everything. And Republicans super know it.
I said earlier that we`re watching the fight going on right now to go vote. I said it that way because in some places, it really is a fight. There`s a really good case study on this tonight in North Carolina, and we will have that story for you next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the things we`ve been covering over the last few days as we head into the final stretch before the election, which is 12 days from now, is the huge number of people who are turning out, just record-breaking voter turnout in terms of people voting early this year. We`re not going to know until every last vote is counted, but we are seeing records fall all over the country, in states big and small, red and blue, in terms of people turning out early to vote.
And so, tonight, I want to show you one thing about why the fight to protect this way of voting has been so tooth and nail between the parties. I want to show you one single piece of data that shows you what the stakes are for this kind of voting and how much the two parties know it. Tonight, we`ve got sort of incredible new data that proves this just as clear as day now, and it`s out of North Carolina from this past week.
Sundays have traditionally been a big early voting day in North Carolina, particularly for African-American churches. Churches call it Souls to the Polls. Go to services, go to vote afterwards. In 2012, 61,000 people voted in North Carolina just on Sundays ahead of Election Day, mainly because of the huge get out the vote push by black churches in the state, vote on Sunday, early vote on Sunday ahead of Election Day.
Now, as you probably know, black voters traditionally favor Democratic candidates by an overwhelming majority. And so, everybody can do the math. And Republicans in North Carolina have for years now, they`ve been doing everything they can to try to shut down voting on Sundays in that state, full stop, started in 2013 right after the 2012 presidential election when all of those African-American church goers added all those tens of thousands of votes on Sundays before the election.
In 2013, the Republican governor in North Carolina signed a sweeping new voter law that canceled all Sunday voting across the state of North Carolina. Now, that law was eventually struck down by the courts, so Sunday voting did have to come back in some counties across the state, but not everywhere. The way it worked out is it`s up to every single individual county in North Carolina to decide whether or not they`re going to open up the polls on Sundays.
And so now, this has been a statewide fight. North Carolina Republicans still picking this fight about Sunday voting, except now literally, it`s at the county by county level, trying to put a choke hold on how many people can physically make it to a ballot box on Sundays to cast their votes. Democrats are fighting for Sunday voting, Republicans are fighting against it, and those fights happen in every county in the state.
And the Republicans have been pretty successful at choking it off. Right now, a total of 23 counties in North Carolina offer voting on Sunday, 23 counties out of 100. So they`ve done pretty good at shutting it off. Why have they wanted so badly to shut it off? Want to see how that`s working this year?
We have some new clear data that gives very clear insight into why Republicans have tried so hard to lockdown this particular kind of early voting in North Carolina. Look at this. This is for Michael Bitzer, political science professor in North Carolina. He runs a website called Old North State Politics.
And you can see here the makeup of the in-person early vote in North Carolina so far. Red is Republican, blue is Democratic. Gray is unaffiliated. Our gray looks kind of purple on my monitor here, but you can see what it is.
So, this is -- this is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday last week. Running along, Democrats sort of gently outpacing Republicans Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Now, fill in what happened this weekend. Look at that Sunday vote.
Hey, what happened to all the Republicans? Look at the proportion of the vote on Sunday. Professor Bitzer clocks Sunday`s early vote in North Carolina as 54 percent Democratic, 15 percent Republican. And then once we roll out of the weekend, look what happens. Boink, it goes back down. All of a sudden the makeup of the electorate becomes more red again. More Republicans proportionally start voting again in North Carolina.
You can see why North Carolina Republicans have focused like a laser on this Souls to the Polls thing, right? Well, they have done everything they can to stop voting on Sundays. That voting on Sundays is terrible for them because on Sunday, Democrats vote, particularly black Democrats -- can`t have that. Let`s make that hard, or make that impossible.
It is a fight to vote all over the country this year. We`ve got a doozy of a story coming up in Kansas, too. Curl your hair. But it`s a fight for a reason.
Republicans know why they`re picking the fights they`re picking to shutdown or crimp early voting. The only question this year is whether enough people will vote anyway despite the hurdles put quite deliberately in their way.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Earlier this month, "The New York Times" and a bunch of other news organizations filed a motion in a criminal case involving the president`s long-time personal lawyer and former Trump Organization executive Michael Cohen. The news organizations asked the judge in the Cohen case to please unseal, make available to the public, a whole bunch of material from that case, material from the searches that were conducted on Michael Cohen`s house and his hotel room and his office and his cell phones and his safe deposit box.
Well, today prosecutors told the judge, no, judge, please do not unseal this stuff. It is important that it stays secret.
Sometimes when prosecutors tell you no, they end up revealing a whole lot of fascinating stuff in the course of telling you why they are saying no, and that`s what happened today in this Cohen filing. Here is why they say that the materials from the Michael Cohen case shouldn`t be released to the public. Quote, "The Times" request seeks the unsealing of affidavits, warrants and riders associated with several different searches that were conducted in connection with a grand jury investigation into Michael Cohen and others, an investigation which remains ongoing.
Oh? The grand jury investigation into Michael Cohen is ongoing? Even though he has pled guilty to eight felonies and he has reportedly spent more than 50 hours speaking with prosecutors in the special counsel`s office in the Southern District of New York and more since he pled guilty to those felonies?
Second of all, this filing says it`s a grand jury investigation into Michael Cohen and others. What others? Who are these other people who are the subject of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation in New York? We didn`t know about that.
Then there`s this. Quote: Unsealing of the materials at the present time would interfere with this investigation and would implicate numerous privacy concerns of third parties who are named in the materials. Oh, numerous uncharged third parties who are unnamed, like who?
Well, this is probably the most revealing part of it, this footnote from the prosecutor`s filing today. Quote: The government has not notified the uncharged third parties that they were named in the materials, in part, because disclosure of that fact to certain of the uncharged third parties would itself impair the ongoing investigation.
What`s that about? If you told people who turn up in the Michael Cohen case materials that they`re in the Michael Cohen case materials, that would screw up the ongoing investigation? And so those people don`t -- really?
So there`s a lot going on in the Michael Cohen case that we don`t know about. With this filing today, we get a little more visibility into what we don`t know into shoes that we didn`t know were going to drop that are apparently going to drop in the future.
In addition to that, there is something going on in the special counsel`s investigation right now that is a complete mystery. Last week CNN was first to report in a couple paragraphs in an otherwise longer piece on a whole bunch of different subjects. They were first to mention in a report last week that there appeared to be some secret, unexplained legal wrangling happening at the D.C. courthouse where Mueller`s grand jury sits in that jurisdiction. In the previous six weeks or so, CNN reported that the judge overseeing that grand jury had apparently held two sealed hearings with prosecutors from Mueller`s team. Now, it`s a sealed hearing, so that means that no reporters, no member of the public can go in there and report on what happened.
Well, now, politico.com has done some sleuthing at that same D.C. courthouse, and this is what they report today. Quote, special counsel Robert Mueller appears to be locked in a dispute with a mystery grand jury witness resisting giving up information sought in the ongoing probe into alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia. Quote, it`s unclear exactly what the two sides are fighting over, but the case appears to resemble a separate legal battle involving an associate of Trump ally Roger Stone, a man named Andrew Miller who was fighting a Mueller subpoena.
So, I mean, this is what we know. This is the docket entry for the case. The parties in the case are listed as sealed versus sealed. Mystery. But remember what I said about sleuthing?
Here`s how we know that this sealed case involves Robert Mueller and the special counsel investigation. Quote, a "Politico" reporter who visited the appeals court clerk`s office on a day when a key filing in the case was due earlier this month observed a man requesting a copy of the special counsel`s latest sealed filing so that the man`s law firm could craft its response. The individual who asked for the secret filing declined to identify himself or his client, and replied, quote, I`m OK, when offered a reporter`s business card to remain in touch.
Well, I know you don`t want to talk now, but can I give you my card in case you`d like to talk at some point in the future? Yes, I`m OK, I don`t need your business card. In fact, if I go home with your business card in my pocket, I`ll disappear. In fact, I was never even here.
What is going on here? And how can we tell whether it`s important? Joining us now is "Politico`s" Josh Gerstein, who is one of the reporters who has been doing the sleuthing around this mystery case.
Mr. Gerstein, it`s nice to have you here. Thanks for being here.
JOSH GERSTEIN, POLITICO REPORTER: Hey, Rachel. Great to be with you again.
MADDOW: So, we have seen some wrangling over the overall sort of constitutional health of the special counsel`s office and Robert Mueller`s appointment when it comes to this guy Andrew Miller and him trying to fight subpoenas that he`s received from the special counsel`s office. What you`re reporting on here seems to be something different, seems to not be the Andrew Miller case. Seems to be somebody else who is trying to sort of question the overall validity of Mueller`s appointment?
GERSTEIN: Yes, it`s pretty clear it`s not Andrew Miller. In fact, that`s how we came across this case, was I was basically looking for an update on what was going on with the Andrew Miller case which is listed there in the D.C. Circuit, the Appeals Court`s records as in re: grand jury case. If you run that through the system, all of a sudden we noticed at the beginning, I think it was the end of September, that there was another case there that was filed a few weeks after the Andrew Miller matter went up to the D.C. Circuit. The details on it were even more sparse, but it piqued our curiosity and it led me to dispatch one of my colleagues down to the courthouse in early October, on a day that we knew a significant filing was due in the second grand jury dispute.
And that`s when this interesting encounter with the fellow who came in to get a copy of the filings in that particular case took place. So, that only piqued our curiosity even more. We`ve been tracking it ever since, and it turns out it`s gone up and down twice now to the D.C. Circuit which is one of the reasons we decided to go ahead and write about it. It seemed like it may be coming to a head.
MADDOW: Now, one of the things you describe -- and again, these are sealed proceedings so you can`t report on them directly. But one of the things you describe is that this appears to be a fight between Mueller and his prosecutors on the one hand and on the other hand, somebody who they have subpoenaed, who they have subpoenaed either to testify or to turn over documents or information.
MADDOW: To the special counsel`s inquiry, to the grand jury. How can you discern that from what you`ve been able to see and report thus far? Is that just because it`s in the D.C. Appeals Court and that`s the kind of thing that a court like that would be called upon to adjudicate?
GERSTEIN: Well, I mean, it`s docketed as a grand jury matter and there is really a limited number of grand jury type issues that tend to come up and get taken to an appeals court. We know that it was handled in the lower court by Chief Judge Beryl Howell, so that would be very congruent with the CNN report that you mentioned a few minutes ago, that there was action in Judge Howell`s courtroom in September, and then again in early October.
It looks like what happened in this pair of cases, since it went up twice to the D.C. Circuit here, is possibly that the witness here tried to invoke some kind of privilege or make some kind of argument to knock down the subpoena failed, and then tried to immediately go to the D.C. Circuit, was then rejected by the D.C. Circuit who said, you really have to be held in contempt before we`ll consider your issue, and it looks like that happened in early October after the D.C. Circuit dumped the first case within basically a matter of a couple days. There was a hearing in front of Howell according to docket records that we can see, and within a few days after that, the issue was back at the D.C. Circuit again which as of earlier this week was scheduled oral arguments on this matter for December, I think December 14th.
So that will follow a similar kind of hearing in that Miller case in early November. So, a fair amount of action for Mueller`s office as we go into the preholiday period here.
MADDOW: Briefly, Josh, when those oral arguments happened, will those be under seal or will that be in open court?
GERSTEIN: I mean, it`s on a public listing and a public calendar. It`s sandwiched between two public arguments I think it will be done publicly. Usually in a grand jury case, they do hear arguments in public. They may try to anonymize the parties.
But at least some information will come out. If there are lawyers in the room arguing, we`ll know they`re from Mueller`s office and we`ll know who the witness`s counsel is even if they say try to leave the witness`s name out of it or leave out other details that could identify exactly what the dispute is about.
MADDOW: This is such a great sleuthing story and bit of reporting. Josh Bernstein writes for politico.com.
I really appreciate your time tonight, Josh. Thank you.
GERSTEIN: Thanks, Rachel. Anytime.
MADDOW: Again, just underscoring what Josh said there. It appears that this means that there was somebody who was held in contempt of federal court for resisting the Robert Mueller investigation sometime in the past few weeks. We don`t know who it is, it`s all being conducted in secret and there is a big D.C. circuit court fight going on about that right now, none of which we the public are allow today see, yet.
More coming. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here`s one more thing about this election we`re about to have 12 days from now. You can file this one under, oh, come on! Dodge City, Kansas, is now a majority Hispanic town. It`s one of the few majority minority towns in that state. It`s about 2 1/2 hours west of Wichita, has 13,000 registered voters.
The average polling place in Kansas serves 1,200 people or so according to the ACLU.
Well, in Dodge City, Kansas, more than ten times that many voters, have had to use one single polling place in town. Thirteen registered voters, one polling place. Which itself is amazing, but this year they have decided to move that one single polling for 13,000 voters, a majority Hispanic Dodge City, Kansas, they decided to move the one polling location for 13,000 voters completely outside the city limits.
Now, this was first reported a few days ago. Ever since this first got some national attention from an "A.P." story a few days ago, people have been trying to rig up special bus service or rideshares to help Dodge City voters get to that way out of town polling location which is far from public transportation, and it`s hard to get to if you don`t have a car. So that`s what`s been happening the last few days.
But now, now tonight, now it turns out that getting to Dodge City`s one out of town single polling place for 13,000 voters is going to be even harder because the elections office has been sending people to the wrong address. Not kidding.
Quote: New voters get notices listing wrong Dodge City polling site. The "A.P." reports tonight that local officials sent newly registered voters an official registration notice telling them to vote at an old polling place that is no longer being used in Dodge City. The chairman of the local Democratic Party saying tonight, quote, I didn`t know this could get worse, but it did. Hey, let`s move the site and not tell new registrants where they`re supposed to go.
Supposedly officials are sending a new notice to voters with the correct information now. The Kansas secretary of state is responsible for running elections in that state. His name is Chris Kobach, he`s the Republican candidate for governor in this year`s elections, which means if any of the majority Hispanic voters in Dodge City ever do get to see a ballot this year, or cast one, Chris Kobach will be right at the top of the ticket in this election that`s being run in the state by his office. Dodge City, Kansas. Come on.
MADDOW: They call this part of the political year, the silly season, because as the election gets closer and closer, people start doing silly things in last-ditch attempts to get themselves or their candidates elected.
One side does something silly, the other side goes, oh, now, it`s just the silly season. Pay attention to my opponent calling me a drunken caterpillar either. He`s just being silly. He`s a drunken caterpillar. Right. Silly season.
Keep that in mind when I show you the next headline which has just popped at "The New York Times." Quote, Trump considers closing southern border to migrants. Quote, President Trump is considering taking executive action to bar migrants including asylum seekers from entering the country at the southern border according to people familiar with the plan.
And then honestly, credit to "The New York Times" for just being blunt about what this really is. Quote, the effort would be the starkest indication yet of Mr. Trump`s election season push to play to his anti- immigrant base, as his party fights to keep control of Congress. Quote: The plan appeared meant as much to generate headlines to appeal to his anti-immigrant base and fuel outrage among Democrats and immigrant advocates including legal challenges that administration officials are anticipating as it was to have any practical effect on immigration. It`s to generate headlines to appeal to his base.
Yes. This is potentially very serious stuff. Certainly, it is a very serious matter. It`s a very extreme matter for the president of the U.S. to be considering closing our nation`s border, even closing it to people seeking asylum for their own safety.
This also, though, is the president promising everybody in his base the policy equivalent of a very nice pony they all get to take home at the end of the night. But don`t worry, he doesn`t eat or poop. He`s your just friend.
How we square those matters as a country, as a people, watch what they do, not what they say. And watch this space.
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL," although Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, Ali.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.