CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I am excited for this trip for you, my friend. This is going to be amazing.
HAYES: Yes. I`m excited, too. We`ll see you tomorrow night.
MADDOW: Well done. Thanks, Chris.
All right. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you with us. Lots going on tonight.
The week before Christmas, this past December, we thought that the president`s national security adviser, his first national security adviser Mike Flynn was about to be sentenced. Flynn had a sentencing date. The prosecution and the defense had both filed submissions with the court giving judge advice on what Mike Flynn`s sentence should be.
The appointed sentencing date arrived. Mike Flynn put on a suit, got in an SUV, turned up in court. All the lawyers were there on both sides. It was time for us all to figure out in open court that day how much time Mike Flynn was going to serve in prison if he was going to get any prison time at all.
But when it came time for Mike Flynn to be sentenced that day, in the end, he was not sentenced. It was sort of a shocking day in court. You might remember. Flynn, of course, had plead guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with the Russian government while he was serving the Trump transition. When he plead guilty, he became a cooperator, became a cooperating witness.
The special counsel`s office thereafter told the court repeatedly and officially that Flynn was a good cooperator, that he had cooperated extensively with them and helped them with multiple investigations. As such, the special counsel`s office advised the judge in the Flynn case that despite the seriousness of Flynn`s own confessed crimes, his cooperation had been so valuable to prosecutors that they believed the judge should give him little to no jail time.
But nevertheless, a week before Christmas last December, the judge in the Mike Flynn case balked. He told Flynn in open court that day that he could not hide, quote, his disdain, his disgust for Flynn`s criminal conduct. In open court, he asked prosecutors from the special counsel`s office if they had considered putting Mike Flynn on trial for treason, of all things. That was a shocking enough almost suggestion from the judge that later in the hearing he actually walked that back in open court.
But whatever that judge was looking at in terms of the evidence, the evidence that we could see, also the sealed filings, any of the background information he had been provided in terms of Flynn`s conduct and his cooperation, I mean, whatever the judge was seeing in the universe of information he had access to about Mike Flynn, it had that judge fired up enough that day in that courtroom that honestly, the real mercy that judge showed to Mike Flynn that day was when the judge repeatedly asked to Flynn multiple times throughout the hearing if Flynn was really sure that he wanted to go ahead with the sentencing.
The judge repeatedly went back to Flynn over the course of that hearing, are you sure you want me to sentence you right now? Basically, are you sure today ought to be the day? Are you sure you might not want to take more time as a cooperating witness and see if there is anything else you might possibly be able to do for your country that might possibly mitigate the size of the book that I`m about to throw at you for your crimes, which I`ve already said to your face in open court are crimes that disgust me? Are you sure you want to go ahead with this today?
It was interesting as a sort of moment of human drama. During that hearing that day, Flynn repeatedly rebuffed those, you know, questions/suggestions from the judge, basically saying no, your honor, no, you`re good. Go ahead. I`m ready to be sentenced.
Eventually, there was little break where Flynn had time to have some quality time with his own lawyers, and after that break, Flynn did I think figure out what was going on. He did then concede to the judge that, yes, maybe today wasn`t good. Maybe it might be a good idea to take a little more time.
And so the outcome of that hearing was that Mike Flynn was not sentenced. That was the week before Christmas. They put off his sentencing hearing sort of indefinitely. They put it off for months. He went back to being a cooperating witness after that shocking day in court.
He`s not even going to have a status conference on the state of his case until deep into next month. They put this thing off for a while. Go see what else you can do, sir.
But in that case, the case of Mike Flynn and his aborted sentencing hearing, you might notice a little -- a little melody, a little tune that recurs that is becoming sort of a theme song for all of the various cases, for all of the various people who have been charged and/or plead guilty in the Russia investigation thus far. I think there is a theme that even us non-lawyers can recognize now when we look at these cases, when we can now see over time with all of these cases and all these dozens of indictments and dozens of defendants, we can now see a little bit of a recurring melody, a little theme that you can recognize in how judges react when they hear about, when they see evidence about the alleged or confessed crimes of the people who have been caught up thus far in this investigation. This investigation that centers around the special counsel`s office, but has been disbursed into these multiple cases.
We see how judges react when they get access to information about these defendants. We saw that with Flynn dramatically in November. We also see that theme all over today`s news in multiple cases.
The day before Mike Flynn`s disastrous sentencing hearing in December, the day before that went so wrong for him in court, you might also remember that Flynn`s business partner, his long-time business partner, a guy named Bijan Kian was also indicted, also charged with -- in his case, acting as an agent of a foreign government.
This is sort of more serious version of the charge that a number of Mueller targets have faced, which is failing to register as a foreign agent. What Bijan Kian was charged with in mid-December is sort of the more serious version of that crime. According to his lawyers, it is something that has only been charged in the United States a handful of times since the law was created.
But Bijan Kian pled not guilty. He is not pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate like most of the other people who were charged in the Mueller investigation thus far. Kian has pled not guilty. He wants to go to trial.
Today, there was a hearing in his case to among other things set a trial date. Kian`s lawyers pled with the judge, pleaded with the judge hearing that case in the Eastern District of Virginia that they needed quite a lot more time to prepare their defense before they would feel comfortable proceeding with a trial, and mostly, their basis for arguing that today is that there is a ton of evidence to go through in the government`s case, what they described of as terabytes worth of data on multiple hard drives that they had received from the prosecution outlining their case against Bijan Kian.
But one of Kian`s lawyers also told the judge today there was a more personal reason they wanted to delay. They wanted to delay specifically until this fall. And we got a transcript of that hearing today in which we can see Bijan Kian`s lawyer telling the judge today, quote: I know it is not of utmost concern to the court, your honor, but our client`s daughter`s wedding is the first week of August. So, we would like to make sure that we don`t jam him up in that regard as well.
His lawyer saying that please, can we put the trial off to the fall. There is so much to do. There is so much evidence to get through, but also his daughter`s wedding is the first week of August. Couldn`t we do it after that?
The judge responded to that effectively sorry, when is his daughter`s hearing? It`s the first week of August? You don`t want to, what did you say, jam him up right before that? OK, then. The judge said we will set his trial for July 15th. So maybe he can just wear his father of the bride tux to the trial in case that`s going to be the closest he gets to celebrating his daughter`s wedding the first week in August.
On the Concord Management case, there was another blunt ruling from a federal judge today in that case. Concord Management, you`ll remember that`s the Russian company charged in conjunction with the Internet Research Agency case. This is the indictment brought early on by Mueller charging a bunch of Russian citizens and the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg and the Russian oligarch who funded and ran that and his management company. They`re all charged with conspiring to defraud the United States by interfering with the lawful functions of our election process, among a whole bunch of other crimes, including identity theft. They`re basically charging these defendants with having run the social media and propaganda element of the Russian government`s interference in our 2016 election to benefit President Trump.
Now none of the Russian defendants in that indictment have set foot in a U.S. courtroom since this indictment was handed down. Russia as a rule does not extradite their citizens to stand trial in the United States. But the Russian oligarch who is charged in this indictment, Russian oligarch close to Putin, close to the Russian government, the guy who allegedly runs the Internet Research Agency and ran this part of the operation, he appears to have decided to try to use the U.S. court system against the United States of America, and specifically, against the Mueller investigation by taking materials obtained over the course of that criminal case and disseminating them in Russia in an effort to try to gain intel on what Mueller has figured out about Russian interference.
And prosecutors in that case say they`ve also used the materials obtained in that court case in what amounts to another Russian intelligence operation, an effort to take the case materials from this Concord Management case that the lawyers representing Concord Management in that case have obtained through the American court system. Those materials were obtained through this criminal case through judicial proceedings in the United States. Those materials then turned up online being shopped by pro- Russia Twitter accounts as supposedly hacked material from the Mueller investigation, that they were shopping to U.S. journalists trying to undermine and discredit what Mueller is doing and what evidence he has found.
So, this Concord Management case, none of the Russian defendants have turned up in court. For Concord Management, this Russian corporate entity, they did hire American lawyers to represent that Russian entity. They`ve used those American lawyers basically to obtain information from the Mueller investigation that Russia appears to be turning around in another op intending to target the U.S. public.
So that -- that case has definitely taken a bunch of weird turns. This is an odd duck case among all of the Mueller and Mueller derived investigations thus far. It`s ultimately important to know, though, about this Concord Management case that at every turn, at every incremental step that we have been able to see thus far in the case, Concord Management and their U.S. defense team have lost against Mueller`s prosecutors. Everything they fought on, they have lost.
Today was no exception. Today the judge in the Concord Management case issued her order on yet another request by concord management that they should get yet more discovery materials as part of this case. The judge ruled flatly: no, ruled against them full stop. No, they cannot have those new discovery materials they`re asking for. They have lost at every step of this case thus far, including today.
That same theme, that same little melody also seems to be applying when it comes to the new case of Roger Stone, the long-time Trump political adviser who was arrested at his home in Florida two weeks ago. Stone was charged with seven felony counts for allegedly lying to Congress and witness tampering and obstruction of justice. Roger Stone`s lawyers today tried to make the case to the judge here in the Stone case, tried to tell the court that the prosecutors acted illegally on the day that Roger Stone was arrested.
His lawyers told the court today that the indictment, the actual written indictment of Roger Stone, it was illegally sent out to reporters before Roger Stone was arrested while the indictment was supposed to still be under seal that was their contention to the judge in the Stone case today.
To back it up, Mr. Stone`s lawyers then provided evidence to the court that in fact the indictment of Mr. Stone was e-mailed out to reporters after Stone was arrested. So, again, their big allegation to the court today was hey, this indictment was sent out before Roger Stone was arrested. They then provided written evidence to the court showing that the indictment was sent out after Roger Stone was arrested. So, I mean, that`s a little bit like calling in sick to work and then turning in a note from your doctor that says Rachel`s fine. Like maybe the proof, supposed proof didn`t help.
So it`s starting to look like the Roger Stone case is not going all that well either, although there is certainly lots to come. At this point he is still pleading not guilty, still planning on going to trial. It should be interesting.
Now although this pattern seems to be clear on every legal case that we`ve seen thus far on the Russia investigation, either directly from Mueller`s office or from any of these associated prosecutions, so far, we have seen this theme that nobody is faring well when it comes to these legal cases being prosecuted. That said, a lot of these things are still in process. It`s obviously not all done. It`s obviously not all settled.
Even today, there is a bunch of intriguing stuff that isn`t yet decided that could go any way at all. For example, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, that`s a court that`s one level below the U.S. Supreme Court. Today we found out from filings before that court that we`re likely to get public access soon to some of the core materials in the mystery case. This is the case that the special counsel`s office has been fighting out with an unknown company that is wholly owned by an unknown foreign country.
We know the basics about this case. This company owned by a foreign country got a subpoena from Mueller months ago in 2018. They have fought to it the highest levels of the U.S. court system, including some elements of this case that have gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their contention is that they don`t have to comply with the subpoena from Mueller basically because they`re owned by a foreign country.
But, again, like we`ve seen with all of these cases, as far as we can tell with the mystery case, it appears that at every turn in this court case thus far, they have lost. I mean, they`re fighting it out. They`re fighting as I said all the way to the Supreme Court in some cases. But they appear to have lost at every stage.
As far as we can tell from the heavily redacted filings that we have in the mystery case, the company is now paying $50,000 per day every day as punishment for them still refusing to comply with the subpoena because the courts have ruled that they really do need to comply with the subpoena. And, you know, this is a case that has been tied up in incredibly highfaluting litigation for months now. It`s still not clear, I guess, in the end if Mueller is going to get whatever it is he is demanding in the subpoena from this company, but we did find out today that we the public are going to have access to more material from that case within the next few weeks, if today`s new court filings in that case are anything to go by.
We also learned today that this man, Sam Patten has finally been given a sentencing date. Sam Patten pled guilty last August to failing to register as a foreign agent working on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. He also admitted to prosecutors that he helped a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch illegally funnel foreign money into the Trump inaugural committee.
Sam Patten pled guilty last August. He became a cooperating witness. What we know of his business pasts and the filings in the case thus far show that the case and his cooperation may be tied up not only to the Trump inaugural committee, which was just subpoenaed last week by federal prosecutors, but also to Konstantin Kilimnik with whom he was involved in business relationships. Konstantin Kilimnik is the alleged Russian intelligence figure who has himself been indicted by Mueller on witness tampering charge. He is central to some of the most intriguing elements to the Paul Manafort prosecution.
Sam Patten is tied to Konstantin Kilimnik. Sam Patten is also tied to Cambridge Analytica, which, of course, was the Trump campaign data firm during the election, around which there has been lots and lots of intrigue. We found out today that Sam Patten will finally be sentenced on April 12th. So, couple of months from now, a week in advance of that sentencing, in the first week of April, we will get filings in his case that we expect to detail the extent of his cooperation with federal prosecutors since he plead guilty last summer.
Given all of the different elements of the scandal that Sam Patten is potentially connected to, the inaugural, Kilimnik, Cambridge Analytica, it`s going to be fascinating to see what he`s helped prosecutors with, when he finally turns up in court and his case, which has been totally opaque to us the public thus far gets laid out for the public, we will understand how he fits into this puzzle as well. So, there`s definitely still stuff that remains to be explained and that we will eventually learn as members of the public who are watching all of this stuff.
There is definitely cases that aren`t over, trials that haven`t been held, questions that haven`t been answered, stuff that hasn`t been unredacted and unsealed for public viewing. But even in the middle of all those things, in general, the theme, the melody is now quite recognizable. I mean, whose won going up against the Mueller investigation or any of the related prosecutions? Whose come out on the long end of the stick?
I mean, if you had to decide right now which party you would want to be in any of these cases, if you were told hey, the news gods are going to plot you personally into any of these ongoing cases that derive from the Mueller investigation, would you rather be on the defense side or the prosecution side? What do you think?
I mean, in every instance, you would rather be on the prosecution side because of how poorly everybody has come out who has thus far been on the defense. Even people who the special counsel`s office has called for lenience about, people like Mike Flynn when independent federal judges get a look at the evidence and the information supporting these cases, even guys like Mike Flynn aren`t turning out well in court.
But that -- that theme which we can hear running through all of these different cases and all of these different stories that broke in today`s news, it is loudest and clearest when it comes to the president`s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. As you know, Manafort was initially charged with multiple felonies in October 2017. He and Trump`s deputy campaign chair Rick Gates were then hit with another superseding indictment, another 32 felony counts this time last year, February of 2018.
In what was supposed to be the first of his two federal felony trials, Manafort was convicted on eight felonies in the Eastern District of Virginia. He then in September changed his mind and on the eve of the start of his second federal trial, he decided to plead guilty and agree to cooperate with prosecutors rather than go through with that second federal trial.
Well, his cooperation deal with prosecutors we now know went poorly. Within about ten weeks of him starting that supposed cooperation deal with prosecutors, the special counsel`s office had advised the judge in the Manafort case that Manafort was lying. Manafort had breached his plea agreement, breached his cooperation agreement, and repeatedly lied to prosecutors on multiple topics.
Since the prosecution team told the judge that Manafort had been lying to them in late November, that has been the subject of lots and lots of billable hours and a lot of back and forth involving Manafort`s defense team and the prosecution and the judge. There have been tons of filings. There have been multiple hearings. Tonight, the judge in the Manafort case finally issued her ruling on the question of whether or not Manafort lied, whether or not he breached his plea agreement and his cooperation agreement when he lied to prosecutors.
And it sounds like a little process thing, but the significance of this is hard to overstate when it comes to Paul Manafort`s life, his natural life and the prospects for what`s going to happen in the rest of it. I mean, he`s 70 years old. He does not appear to be in great health. He was already looking at maybe ten years in prison based on the convictions he`s already suffered at his first trial.
As a cooperating witness, he was clearly hoping to get little to no additional time on the charges that would have been the subject of his second trial. He was presumably also hoping for lenience against the prison sentence he was expecting for his other convictions from his first trial. We`ll get some expert advice on this tonight.
But my reading of this ruling tonight is he can now forget all that. I mean, the judge in the Manafort case tonight seems to have kind of sealed Manafort`s fate in an almost existential sense.
The judge tonight ruled on two matters. First, she ruled that Manafort did breach the plea agreement. That means the office of special counsel, Mueller`s office, is no longer bound by anything they agreed to with him, and that means they can charge him with absolutely everything they believe he has done and they can prove in court.
From the judge`s ruling tonight, quote: The office of special counsel is no longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement, including its promise to support a reduction of the offense level in the calculation of the U.S. sentencing guidelines.
But then there is a second matter on which the judge rules as well. Quote, but that is not the only question before the court to decide. The question remains whether the defendant made intentionally false statements in connection with the five matters that have been identified by the office of special counsel as matters on which Manafort lied to them. Quote, the answer bears upon the applicability of certain provisions of the sentencing guidelines, in particular the adjustment for acceptance of responsibility and bears more generally on the court`s assessment of the factors set forth in the sentencing statute.
That`s the judge saying this is the part that really is going to have a big impact on how many years I give him. I mean, again, prosecutors say Manafort lied to them on five separate issues. What the judge ruled specifically tonight is that on three of those five issues, she says Manafort didn`t just lie, he lied to prosecutors intentionally. These are those matters.
Quote: The office of special counsel has established by a preponderance of the evidence that concerning a $125,000 payment to Manafort, quote, a matter that was material to the investigation. The judge continues, also, the office of special counsel has established by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant intentionally made multiple false statements to the FBI, the office of special counsel and the grand jury concerning other matters that were material to the investigation, namely, defendant`s interactions and communications with Konstantin Kilimnik.
The judge also ruled that in some other DOJ investigation that we`re not allowed to know what it was about, Manafort once again, quote, intentionally made false statements that were material to the investigation.
So, again, we`ll get some expert advice on this in just a minute, but I think basically this clears the way for this judge to move ahead with sentencing Paul Manafort. The combination of him breaching his plea agreement and being found by the judge who have intentionally lied to the prosecutors on matters material to their investigation, that combination implies that from here on out what Manafort is looking at in his case is no credit for having been a cooperating witness. Maybe not even credit for him pleading guilty, which usually counts in your favor because it shows you have accepted responsibility for your actions.
And I think there is a chance that this might also mean that Manafort could be looking at additional felony charges. Potentially, the reinstatement of the felony charges that the special counsel`s office had agreed to drop in exchange for his guilty plea. Potentially, they could reinstate the additional 10 felony charges that he faced at his first trial on which the jury was hung, on which they were not able to come to a verdict. I mention that he is 70 years old already.
So, where we are in this as of tonight, where we are we in terms of this devastating ruling for the president`s campaign chairman? I mean, in terms of Paul Manafort, I think this is a doomsday situation for him in terms of his own fate. Prosecutors have already raised to the judge in his case the prospect that Manafort has been angling for a presidential pardon. They`ve raised the possibility to the judge that that may explain some of Manafort`s behavior thus far, even since he pled guilty and agreed to cooperate.
We know from filings in Manafort`s case that his behavior, specifically some of his behavior that involved that alleged Russian intelligence figure Konstantin Kilimnik, in the word of the special counsel`s office, that`s something that goes right to the heart of the central matter that Robert Mueller is investigating.
I mean, stepping back for us just as citizens here, big picture, everything has gone south for everybody who has been caught up as a defendant in any of these investigations thus far. Nobody has won against Robert Mueller or any of the prosecutors who have brought cases against these defendants in conjunction with the Mueller investigation. Nobody has won. Everything has gone south for every one of those defendants.
For the president`s campaign chair specifically Paul Manafort, things have not just gone south for him, he is now at the South Pole. And if he has just bottomed out in his case, if he has reached the end of the line, if he is staring down the prospect of a sentence long enough to ensure that he dies in federal prison, and if in fact there are elements of his case that are central to the core question of the special counsel`s investigation, which is Russia`s interference in our election and the Trump campaign`s involvement in that, then it is starting to feel like we may know what the final collision course is here between this president and the justice department, including the special counsel.
And as that legal collision takes shape, literally tomorrow morning they`re going vote in the Senate on Trump`s nominee to be the new attorney general. Tomorrow morning is going to be the final confirmation vote on William Barr. William Barr, who was chosen by Trump for the job and who will overtly make no commitment that Mueller`s ultimate findings will be made available to Congress let alone to the public.
Mueller thus far seems to be batting a thousand in all of the cases brought in association with this scandal, but in some of these cases and in the Manafort case in particular as of tonight, that means these prosecutions are pushing this to the place where it ends for everybody involved, central matters at the heart of the investigation with the cases coming to the end, the defendants having lost in every way and in ways that put their free life in question.
Will the Justice Department, will the special counsel`s office be allowed to see this all the way through to the end? Will they be allowed to run through the tape? Because in at least one of these central cases, we`re there.
The Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was just told by the House Judiciary Committee tonight that they believe he may have lied under oath. They want him back to clarify his testimony from last week, specifically about his contact with the White House about prosecutions related to the Russia investigation. The new attorney general, William Barr, is likely to be confirmed tomorrow morning in the midst of all of this, while this collision is happening.
This is not a test. Hold tight.
MADDOW: Tonight, the Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has been sent this letter from the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York. The letter advises Matt Whitaker that at his testimony last week in Congress, quote: Members on both sides of the aisle found many of your answers to be unsatisfactory, incomplete or contradicted by other evidence.
Contradicted by other evidence is a bad one. I mean, the Judiciary Committee chairman is inviting Matt Whitaker to clarify his testimony, but the implication of his letter, this contradicted by other evidence thing, the implication here is that Matt Whitaker may have made false statements to the committee while he was testifying under oath.
To be specific, Nadler says that the committee, quote, has identified several individuals with direct knowledge of the phone calls you denied receiving from the White House about the Justice Department`s prosecution of long-time Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Mr. Whitaker said under oath in his testimony that he did not have communications with the White House about the Cohen prosecution. Jerry Nadler has advised him tonight that they have identified several individuals who have direct knowledge of Whitaker in fact having phone calls with the White House about that prosecution. If Whitaker gave false testimony under oath, that`s going to be a big deal.
As far as we know, there has been no response yet from the Justice Department in general, or Matthew Whitaker in particular, but it will be interesting to see how that response goes. It will be particularly interesting just to see if Mr. Whitaker tries to invade, tries to evade congressional oversight on this by virtue of the fact he is about to be no longer a Justice Department employee, because as if there weren`t enough going on today, tomorrow the Senate is expected to vote on a new attorney general to replace Matt Whitaker. William Barr is on track to win confirmation from the Republican-controlled Senate as the new head of the Department of Justice.
In his confirmation hearing last month, of course, Mr. Barr was notably indirect and noncommittal on what he will do with any findings from special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation. Barr said he could not say whether he would make any of those findings public or even let Congress see them.
Across the Capitol in the U.S. House, however, the Democratic majority there has suggested there may be some remedies for Congress and maybe even the public getting access to what Robert Mueller finds in his investigation. The House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff says yes, he pretty much is willing to subpoena any Mueller report if there is one and if need be. I also have questions as to whether the chairman believes it would be possible to get testimony from Robert Mueller about any of his findings in his investigation, separate and apart from any report that Mueller may provide to William Barr or whoever is the next A.G.
Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Mr. Chairman, it`s good to have you with us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thank you. It`s great to be with you.
MADDOW: There is a lot going on. I have a ton of things I want to ask you about tonight. But I`d actually like to ask you first about this sort of breaking news that we`re following tonight, this ruling from the judge in the Paul Manafort case, ruling that Mr. Manafort intentionally lied to prosecutors after he had agreed to cooperate with them. As both the chair of the Intelligence Committee and as a former prosecutor yourself, I just wanted to ask you your sense of how important this ruling is.
SCHIFF: Well, it`s going to be devastating to Manafort. He is going to get none of the benefit of the plea agreement, and I think he is likely to have the judge throw the book at him. I mean, look, this is someone who after he`s arrested, while he is being tried is found to be witness tampering, and then he agrees to cooperate and he`s found to be lying.
I mean, it`s hard to have a record more appalling than that to the judge. What I also think is significant is it appears the judge has largely agreed with what the special counsel argued, and that is not only did he lie, but the motivation here is if he told the truth about his relationship with someone affiliated with Russian intelligence while he was the campaign chairman, that would be so damaging effectively to Trump that it would negate his chance of a pardon.
That to me is quite telling. It`s not just that if he told the truth, it would be damaging to Manafort or Kilimnik, but it would reflect so adversely on the president that he would lose his chance of a pardon, and there is obviously more to that when we find out about those meetings with Kilimnik.
MADDOW: Are you worried -- I mean, one of the things the prosecutor suggested here is something that -- one thing that might explain some of Mr. Manafort`s behavior, including when it comes to his interaction was prosecutors is that he might have been angling for a pardon from Mr. Trump. Now that Mr. Manafort`s case appears to have come to this crashing end, as you say, it looks like the judge has no reason to not absolutely throw the book at him.
Are you expecting or concerned? Do you have any thoughts on the prospect that this is the moment at which the president might feel most inclined to talk about a pardon when it comes to Manafort?
SCHIFF: It certainly is a concern, because if there was ever a president to abuse the pardon power, it`s likely to be this one. I think Manafort was trying to play it both ways. He wanted to angle for a pardon with the president. At the same time, he knew he could get stiffed by the president because the president, after all, doesn`t care about Manafort or anyone else. He cares about Donald Trump.
And so, he wanted at the same time to try to minimize his sentence and reduce his exposure there. And still hold out the prospect of a pardon. But I think he clearly felt that he couldn`t maintain any possibility of a pardon if he was honest about what kind of a relationship the campaign had through him with this Russian intelligence-linked individual.
MADDOW: Mr. Chairman, if you don`t mind, I`d like to ask you to stay while we have a quick break there are a couple of other matters that arose in today`s news and that are going to be important tomorrow. I`d like to ask that you stick with us.
MADDOW: All right. Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, joins us again when we come back.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re back now with the chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for staying with us.
SCHIFF: You bet.
MADDOW: Tomorrow, William Barr, by most accounts, by all accounts is expected to be confirmed as the next attorney general of the United States. As you know, during the course of his confirmation proceedings, he would not confirm to the Senate, he would not pledge to the Senate that he would allow any findings from Robert Mueller`s investigation to be released to Congress, let alone to the public.
I wonder in your role as the chairman of the intelligence committee if you feel like that`s the final word on that, or if you feel like you with your own powers as chairman and the powers of your committee, if you would have some way to access those findings, even if Mr. Barr decided that you shouldn`t see them.
SCHIFF: It`s certainly not the last word, and we will use every form of compulsion we can to make sure that we get the report, that we make the report public, and we may need well more than the report. You know, one of the facts that I think it`s very important for people to know is the special counsel`s office is in possession of evidence that it may be impossible to get except for from the special counsel.
And to give you an illustration, there were searches done of Roger Stone. There were searches done of Paul Manafort. There were searches done of Michael Cohen. That evidence, some of it reportedly, for example, in the form of hard drives from Roger Stone, there may be no other way for the Congress to get except through the Justice Department, which means that if Bill Barr as attorney general decides you`re not going get to see that evidence, we`re not going to include that evidence in any report to Congress, the American people may never know exactly what happened.
That is unsustainable. The American people are going to demand it. We`re going demand it. We`re going use every compulsion we can to get it.
It`s too big to be swept under the rug. And I want to make this point, too, Rachel, and that is it`s not just whether we get a report. It`s also what kind of a report we get. The attorney general could have a role in telling the special counsel what kind of a report, whether it`s skeletal, whether it`s extensive to file, believing that the report will be made public.
So maybe we will shape the report before it`s produced. So, there are all kinds of ways to play mischief here, but we`re determined to get to the truth.
MADDOW: There was a letter sent by your colleague, Chairman Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee to the acting attorney general, to Matt Whitaker tonight, suggesting that he -- well, telling him that he needs to clarify his testimony before Congress last week, and suggesting that Mr. Whitaker may have lied under oath, may have not spoken truthfully under oath last week when he denied that he had communications with the White House about the Michael Cohen prosecution. There are a few other matters that Mr. Nadler raised in this letter to Whitaker.
And that`s interesting about Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker we believe is on the way out, but it also raises this prospect that the White House has been through its contacts at the Justice Department, through its appointees at the Justice Department, that they have been trying to get information or trying to put pressure on what the Justice Department is doing.
Do you know that they have done that one way or the other? And do you think it has had an effect on what the Justice Department or even the special counsel has been able to pursue?
SCHIFF: I don`t know the answer. You know, he will say this, though. This is someone who has refused to follow the advice of ethics lawyers. So, you know, you start out with a great skepticism about whether you`re getting the full story from someone like that. This is someone who obviously auditioned for the part by showing his hostility to the investigation.
And I think that the Judiciary Committee needs to demand answer, and if there is credible reason to believe he has not been truthful, they need to do everything necessary to hold him accountable. And the fact that he`s leaving the Justice Department doesn`t make him any less accessible to the Congress. Indeed, in many respects, it makes him more accessible. It`s less of an issue of pulling him out of his responsibilities as acting attorney general.
So, you know, we need to get answers, particularly if there is any question about his truthfulness, what he has shared with the White House about any investigation.
MADDOW: Chairman Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee -- sir, I really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much for being with us.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
MADDOW: I should correct something that I said earlier in the show tonight. I said in the middle of a long string of things in the a block tonight that Paul Manafort, the president`s campaign chair, who is in so much legal trouble as of tonight, I said that he is a 70-year-old man. He is apparently a 69-1/2-year-old man, and I did not mean to round up.
I know when you get close to a round number it can be an even more sensitive subject than usual. So to the extent that I made Mr. Manafort shy of his few months of his actual age, I apologize.
Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
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ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don`t think they decide (ph) if they wait for Bob Mueller -- you know, for the Mueller report, for the one that comes of Russia. Congress back in Watergate times didn`t wait for Leon Jaworski or Archibald Cox to finish a report. They have a negative impact on an ongoing investigation. But I think they just need to be responsible, serious, and focus on consequential things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Former Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, last night, after a speech at Drake University. That was him speaking with reporters. And no, Eric Holder is not from Des Moines, Iowa. And yes, it is that time of year when political figures mysteriously turning up in Iowa always means the same thing.
Attorney General Holder has not announced that he is running for president in 2020, but he was there in Iowa last night giving that speech and then afterwards talking with reporters about a number of things, including the Mueller investigation and Congress` responsibilities in light of that investigation. Holder says he will decide whether or not he is running for president soon, by next month. Of course it would be fascinating to have the guy who very recently used to run the Justice Department hanging out on the campaign trail every day, available to weigh in on whatever new developments there are, not just in our politics in general, but also in the Trump-Russia investigation as it comes to this crucial phase. We`ll find out next month about that, whether or not he`s going to run.
In the meantime, though, there are continuing develops -- develops. There are continuing developments in the Russia investigation that I mentioned at the top of the show tonight with particularly devastating implications for the Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. We do not have Eric Holder here next to talk about them, but we do have an incredibly talented former prosecutor to talk us through what it means, not just for Manafort but for the rest of us. And that`s next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Barbara McQuade. She`s a former U.S. attorney from the great state of Michigan.
Barbara, it`s great to have you with us tonight. Thanks for being here.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, thanks. Glad to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: I want just to get your top line reaction to this ruling in the Manafort case. The judge ruling even after he was supposedly cooperating, Manafort still lied intentionally to prosecutors, among other things about his contact with this guy linked to Russian intelligence.
What does this ruling mean materially for what`s going to happen next to Paul Manafort?
MCQUADE: It`s a very significant development for Paul Manafort. He has gone from facing maybe guidelines of maybe eight to ten years with this cooperation reduction, which could be applied concurrently with his sentence in the Eastern District of Virginia, to now a sentencing guideline range that is 24 to 30 years. I don`t know that he`ll get all of that, but he could face that length of time by breaching this plea agreement.
So very, very significant consequences, which makes you really wonder what is it that caused him to lie, knowing that he was facing such severe consequences if he did.
MADDOW: And what happens next in terms of the timing? We were -- we watched him go through his first trial. He was about to go through his second trial. That got called off because of his guilty plea and his plea agreement.
Now, the plea agreement is breached and nobody`s bound by it anymore. Does this mean his case is essentially over now and the judge will go ahead and sentence him? Does he potentially go on trial for the other stuff he was otherwise about to go on trial for in that second felony trial proceeding in D.C.?
MCQUADE: So he could. My guess is that he won`t. The agreement says basically the government gets all the benefits of this bargain and the defendant gets none of them now that he has breached.
And so his guilty plea can stand, but they can sentence him to the max, so all the benefits that he got in exchange. If they wanted to, they could charge him with all of the additional things that were dismissed. In light of the substantial amount of time he`s facing, I doubt they would expend the resources to do that. They can probably already get -- a sentence longer than his natural life, so I don`t know that they will go ahead and do any of those things.
They can also charge him with additional crimes for making false statements. But, again, in light of the amount of time he`s already facing, it seems that there would be no need to do that.
MADDOW: Right. If he`s already looking -- as you said the guideline is 24 to 30?
MCQUADE: Yes. Years.
MADDOW: Wow. Usually we talk about months when we talk about sentences. In his case, a 69-year-old man, a 30-year sentence, that`s the whole enchilada.
Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from Michigan, thank you so much for being here, Barb.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The markup started at 10:00 a.m. on HR-8 which would require anyone selling a gun to run a background check on the person buying it. Today, the Judiciary Committee in the House met to make their final tweaks to that bill and then vote on it. They started at process at 10:00 a.m.
The markup lasted all day, fast forward to 8:13 p.m. Eastern Time, more than ten hours later, quote, House Judiciary just passed HR-8. This is the first major gun violence legislation to pass the committee in several decades.
When the hearing was gaveled to a close, people who had been sitting in that hearing room for ten-plus hours got up and cheered. After ten hours. Again, this is background checks, the first gun reform to pass this committee in a very, very long time. Now it goes on to the full house.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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