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Trump declares National Emergency for border wall. TRANSCRIPT: 2/15/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Dahlia Lithwick

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  -- representatives who represent those areas.

Stacey Mitchell (ph) and Josh Barro, thanks for joining us. 


HAYES:  That is ALL IN for this evening. 

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.  Good evening, Rachel. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  I`m like filing at my desk. 

HAYES:  There is lots of paper. 

MADDOW:  I got some exhibits.  I`ve got some other filings.  I`ve got --

HAYES:  Well, I`m confused.  I`m going to watch THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW to get a better sense of what happened, because I do this for a living but I`m confused what got filed. 

MADDOW:  I will tell you, the cliff notes version is that one really important thing that happened with Manafort, and an intriguing thing.


MADDOW:  But something important with Roger Stone case, of all things today.  It had nothing to do with the gag order. 

HAYES:  Right, with the warrant.  What we learned with the warrant. 

MADDOW:  Right, and the thing in the Michael Cohen case today that came out of Congress is a big deal.  This is a real triple whammy. 

HAYES:  I think it would be funny if I got a private version of the Rachel A block every day.  It`s like 60-second digest at the top during the throw. 

MADDOW:  You come into my office at any time.  If you hide under my desk for any 15-second period of time, I mumble enough to get most of it out. 

Thanks, my friend.  Have a great weekend. 

HAYES:  Thanks.

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  This one of those Fridays. 

And as I mentioned to Chris, there is sort of a triple whammy going on right now in terms of the Russia investigation and big legal developments tonight.  But there`s a lot of different type of news that we are watching tonight. 

For example, we are still getting in new reporting tonight about the mass shooting that took place today in Aurora, Illinois.  What we know now is at least five people dead, multiple others injured from this mass shooting that took place at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, keeping in mind that initial reports from major mass shootings are often later revised in terms of our factual understanding of what happened.  With that caveat, I should tell you that preliminarily reports make it seem what happened here was a single shooter, a 45-year-old man.  He was ultimately killed by police. 

Authorities tell us that of the people who were shot and injured in this mass shooting, at least five were police officers themselves.  So, again, that means we think we`re talking about five injured police officers, five non-police officers, five civilians killed and the shooter himself killed on top of that.  So, we are watching that story as it continues to develop.  We`ll let you know more as we know more. 

Today started, of course, with the president declaring a national emergency to try to give himself a sort of legal way to take money, mostly from the military, to build a wall between us and Mexico, despite the fact that Congress will not appropriate the money that the president wants for that purpose.  Immediately upon declaring this emergency today, the president in what appeared to be a little bit of an ad lib, he blurted out, I didn`t need to do this.  I kid you not.  That`s an exact quote.  "I didn`t need to do this."

That`s not the right thing to say if you are trying to convey the idea that you really did have to do this because this is supposedly some kind of emergency that`s forcing your hand.  Almost immediately after he said "I didn`t need to do this," the president then went on to the rest of his presidential day, which culminated in him this afternoon getting on a plane and flying to Florida to be think go play golf for the whole weekend, which is fine.  Nothing against golf.  But, again, it`s just not on message when you`re supposed to be proclaiming a stop, drop and roll, everybody freak out crisis moment for the country. 

If it`s an emergency, is it OK that you`re going to go golfing for the rest of the day?  Shouldn`t you be handling the emergency?  Or is the emergency actually something, like you said, that you didn`t need to proclaim?

Suffice to say there is a near national consensus that the emergency the president proclaimed today does not exist in reality.  Protesters outside of one of the Trump properties in New York City tonight proclaimed that they believe, however, that there is an emergency.  Their chant tonight was "Trump is the emergency.  Trump is the emergency."  We`ll have more on that later on in the show tonight. 

But in the front row of the national emergency announcement today, for what it was worth, there was a new face, one who we are all going to see a lot of from here on out.  Today was the first full day on job for the new Attorney General William Barr, who was confirmed by the Senate yesterday.

Upon him being sworn in last night in the Oval Office, the husband of a top White House staffer posted this comment online.  Quote: Tomorrow will be the first day that the president will have a fully operational confirmed attorney general.  Let that sink in.  Mueller will be gone soon. 

I don`t know what it means to be a fully operational attorney general.  But since that comment is coming from a person who is married to a senior White House staffer, that at least serves as some evidence of what the White House may be expecting from Bill Barr now that he is taking over at the Justice Department.  And it may be so.  Maybe now that Bill Barr has started as attorney general, maybe Mueller will be gone soon, but Mueller was definitely still at work today. 

Part of the reason I said right at the top here that this is one of those days when a lot is going on all at once is that three big things happened in quick secession this afternoon and into tonight on three big cases that derive from Mueller`s investigation.  The biggest one is the one that came down latest, late tonight concerning the president`s campaign chair Paul Manafort.  There was this dramatic ruling earlier this week, you`ll remember, in which a federal judge in D.C. declared that Manafort in fact did breach his cooperation agreement with prosecutors.  The judge ruled that in fact Manafort intentionally lied to prosecutors about important things, about matters that were material to their investigation, including the extent of his contacts with someone who prosecutors say is linked to Russian intelligence. 

So, that ruling happened a couple of days ago this week.  After that ruling this week, prosecutors in the special counsel`s office moved quickly to start the process of Manafort finally getting sentenced for his crimes. 

Now, Manafort is facing sentencing both in the eastern district of Virginia, which is where he had his trial.  That`s where he was convicted of eight felonies.  He`s also facing sentencing in Washington, D.C.  That`s the court where he pled guilty to two felonies and started what was supposed to be his deal with prosecutors, which he blew up by lying to them. 

Well, tonight we`ve just received the recommendation from Mueller`s office as to how much time they think Manafort should spend in prison based just on the eight felony counts for which he was convicted in Virginia.  So separate and apart from whatever he might get in D.C., Mueller`s prosecutors are recommending that the president`s campaign chairman spend between 19 1/2 years and 24 1/2 years in prison.  Again, just for the felonies for which he was convicted in Virginia.  Separate and apart from what he`s going to get in D.C.

Now for a man who is about to turn 70, that means prosecutors are recommending what is in effect a natural life sentence for Paul Manafort.  You will recall that there is no parole in the federal prison system.  So, 19 to 24 years.  We`re going to get to that Manafort situation in a little more detail in a second. 

But this sentencing recommendation from these prosecutors, it not only spells out what they`re hoping to get from the judge in Virginia in terms of Manafort`s sentence.  What`s interesting about it and what`s worth taking a closer look at in terms of the prosecutor`s memo tonight, is that they also in making this case to the judge, they summarized what they believed to have been Manafort`s crimes and their seriousness and whether or not he`s done other things on top of those crimes that mean he should have even more of the book thrown at him.  So it is worth looking at that in detail and we`re going to get there in just a moment. 

Before we do that, though, we shouldn`t let the sort of magnitude of what just happened with the president`s campaign chair, we shouldn`t let that push aside a couple of other really important things that happened today before we get the Manafort sentencing memo.  So there are a couple of other things that basically got ripe and fell off the tree today when it comes to two other cases that derive from Mueller`s investigation. 

The first one is about Roger Stone, President Trump`s longtime adviser.  He was arrested at his home in Florida three weeks ago today.  Mr. Stone has pleaded not guilty to seven felony charges.  He says he wants to go to trial.  He says he`s innocent of everything he has been charged with. 

But one of the interesting things about Roger Stone`s indictment right from the get-go is that on the front page of that indictment, prosecutors notified the court that they considered his case to have a sibling.  They considered his case to be formally legally related to this other case that has this case number that you can see here 18cr215. 

That case is the Mueller indictment of a dozen Russian military intelligence officers.  That case is the GRU indictment.  One of the core indictments of Mueller`s investigation was that GRU indictment from last year.  In that indictment, Mueller charged Russian military intelligence officers with, quote, conspiring to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to steal documents from those computers and to stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. 

That`s how Mueller`s prosecutors have sort of nutted up that indictment.  That`s what those GRU officers were charged with.  Now, Roger Stone and his attorneys had objected to the Roger Stone case being formally legally linked to the GRU case.  They had complained about it formally to the court. 

Why do they care?  Well, one of the material consequences of having your case legally linked to another case is that all legally, formally related cases all get heard by the same judge.  So when Roger Stone and his lawyers started complaining to the court that his case shouldn`t have been described as related to the GRU indictment, what they were really saying is that they didn`t want Roger Stone`s case to be heard by the same judge who is dealing with the GRU case.  He was effectively arguing that he wanted to be assigned to a different judge. 

Roger Stone and his lawyers today failed in that effort.  That same judge is keeping his case.  That ruling from the judge came very quickly today after Robert Mueller and the D.C. U.S. attorney`s office filed a response with the court, laying out why in fact the Roger Stone case and the GRU case are all about the same thing.  And in the course of making that argument to the court, we learned from the special counsel`s office today that some of the GRU defendants, some of these Russian military intelligence officers who have been charged by Mueller for interfering in the election, some of those defendants, and in the course of making that argument to the court, we learned from the special counsel`s office today that some of the GRU defendants, some of these Russian military intelligence officers who have been charged by Mueller for interfering in the election, some of those defendants, according to prosecutors, quote, interacted directly with Roger Stone concerning stolen materials posted online. 

Prosecutors also explain how they ended up with evidence against Roger Stone when they seized material for the Russian military intelligence case.  Quote, as alleged in the GRU indictment, in 2016, the GRU defendants stole documents from the DNC, the Democratic Party, from the DCCC, from the Democratic campaign committee and the Clinton campaign chair. 

Those defendants then released many of the stolen documents, including through a website maintained by WikiLeaks.  In the course of investigating that activity, the government obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts used to facilitate the transfer of stolen documents for release, as well as to discuss the timing and promotion of their release.  Several of those search warrants were executed on accounts that contained Roger Stone`s communications.  His communications with Guccifer 2.0, a fictitious online persona created by the GRU.  They said they also obtained stone`s communications with WikiLeaks. 

Quote: Evidence obtained from those search warrants resulted in the allegations that the GRU defendants hacked and stole documents for release through intermediaries, including WikiLeaks, and that Stone lied to a congressional committee investigating among other things the activities of WikiLeaks regarding those stolen documents.  So, the same search warrant turned up the evidence that led to the charges against these Russian military intelligence officers, that they hacked and stole documents for release during the campaign.  They used WikiLeaks as part of their distribution channel for doing that. 

That same search warrant turned up the information that led to stone being charged for lying to Congress about their investigation, among other things, WikiLeaks.  So that`s Mueller`s prosecutors today telling a federal judge in Washington, D.C. that they`ve got the communications between Roger Stone and Russian military intelligence.  They`ve also got the communication between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks concerning these stolen Democratic documents that the Russian hacked and then staged for distribution during the campaign in a way that was designed to cause maximum damage to Hillary Clinton and maximum benefit to Donald Trump. 

Upon getting that argument and those declarations from Robert Mueller and the special counsel`s office, explaining all of the links between Roger Stone and Russian military intelligence that they turned up through their evidentiary searches, the judge then promptly ruled against Roger Stone.  No, she is not giving up that case.  She will be hearing that case because it is related to the GRU case.  Clearly, these two cases are related matters. 

So that happened today.  And then soon thereafter, a curveball development in the criminal case that derives from the Mueller investigation that concerns president Trump`s longtime attorney Michael Cohen.  Now, Cohen, as you know, is about to start a federal prison sentence early next month for multiple felony charges, including two campaign finance felonies.  He`s going to prison for three years. 

Those campaign finance felonies he`s going to jail for concern about $250,000 in hush money that was paid to two different women ahead of the 2016 election to prevent those women from going public with their allegations they had had extramarital affairs with Donald Trump.  And I know that of all the things that President Trump is potentially implicated in in all of these scandals, the hush money to the ladies thing, of everything, it just doesn`t feel like the thing that should be following him home every night looking more and more like a metaphorical Grim Reaper all the time, right? 

But think about everything that that alleged crime, well, that confessed crime when it comes to Michael Cohen, think about all of the things that have fallen apart and that are in jeopardy because of that one pair of felonies.  His longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen is going to prison for that and he has effectively flipped against the president and become a cooperating witness for the special counsel`s office on the way to that prison sentence.  And as part of that prosecution of that case, when it came to Michael Cohen, prosecutors identified the president as individual one, as the person who not only benefitted from those campaign finance felonies but who directed that those felonies be committed. 

Those crimes, of course, also touch on the president`s campaign, since the president`s campaign was the beneficiary of those illegal contributions.  It also touches on a company called AMI, the publisher of the "National Enquirer", supermarket tabloid. 

AMI was involved in the commission of one of those felonies.  That firm and its executives are being looked at by prosecutors right now for having potentially violated the cooperation agreement they entered into with prosecutors to avoid being prosecuted themselves for their role in one of those felonies.  AMI agreed as part of that non-prosecution agreement that they would commit no other crimes for at least three years. 

Prosecutors are now reportedly looking at whether, in fact, AMI has committed other crimes since entering into that agreement.  If so, that non-prosecution agreement with AMI is blown up and that company and its executives may be liable, not just for their confessed role in that campaign finance felony that is sending Michael Cohen to prison, but for anything else they disclose to prosecutors over the course of their cooperation as well.  Eek. 

That same crime, however small it may seem, it also implicates the president`s business, the Trump Organization, since the Trump Organization appears to be the entity through which some of those illegal campaign funds were effectively laundered.  We know that the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization has been cooperating at least to some extent with prosecutors on this matter, and he may have secured for himself an immunity deal in relation to that cooperation. 

And now on top of all of that, still deriving from those same felonies, now, tonight, Congressman Elijah Cummings, the estimable chairman of the House Oversight Committee in the House, has just published these 19 pages of notes.  Some of them are typed.  A lot of them are redacted.  Some of them are hand scrawled and very hard to read. 

These are notes from the Office of Government Ethics.  Congressman Cummings has released these notes.  He has also released to the public a letter to a Trump Organization lawyer.  He`s also released to the public a new letter he has sent to the White House counsel. 

Those letters demand information related to those hush money payments and those letters make the explosive allegation that it`s not just Michael Cohen, that two additional Trump lawyers, one who worked in the White House and another lawyer who represents Trump in a personal capacity, she was actually the one who orchestrated that stunt during the transition where Trump sat there by the big piles of papers and supposedly handed over control of his business to his sons.  The lawyer who orchestrated that and another lawyer who worked in the White House, according to Elijah Cummings tonight, they themselves may be in trouble for making false statement about those hush money payments. 

Quote, new documents obtained by the committee from the office of government ethics describe false information provided by the lawyers representing President Trump, including Sheri Dillon, President Trump`s personal attorney, and Stephen Passantino, former deputy White House counsel for compliance and ethics, eek, who has now left the White House to represent the Trump organization.  President Trump`s former attorney Michael Cohen is now going to prison in part for his role in these hush money payments.  During his guilty plea, Mr. Cohen said he did this in coordination with and at the direction of the president for the principal purpose of influencing the election. 

Congressman Cummings continues, quote: It now appears that President Trump`s other attorneys at the White House and in private practice may have provided false information about these payments to federal officials.  This raises significant questions about why some of the president`s closest advisers made these false claims and the extent to which they too were acting at the direction of or in coordination with the president.  One of the president`s lawyers is already going to prison for his role in covering up those hush money payments. 

Now, here`s a couple more who Elijah Cummings says are potentially on the hook related to those payments as well, and not just the payments in their case but the cover-up of the payments. 

So, the Cohen prosecution on the hush money payments, Cohen being prosecuted for those campaign finance felonies, him being prosecuted for those campaign finance felonies and naming the president as the person who directed him to commit those felonies, that is dramatic enough on its own terms, but that case is turning out to be a legal nightmare for lots of other individuals and entities that surround the president, from his business life, from his political life before he got elected and even know from his life as president.  This is all today.  So, dramatic developments today on the Roger Stone case, on the Michael Cohen case and related cases, but as I mentioned, the really big kahuna tonight is what just happened to the president`s campaign chair, to Paul Manafort, with prosecutors telling one of the two federal judges who is due to sentence him soon that they want a 19 to 24-year prison term for him plus potentially tens of millions of dollars in fines and restitution. 

The implications of this are not just bad for Paul Manafort.  In some cases, they are revelatory and that story is next.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  As the new Attorney General William Barr today started his first day on the job as head of the Justice Department, leading the husband of one senior White House staffer to proclaim online that William Barr starting as A.G. means, quote, Mueller will soon be gone. 

As William Bar took the reins at the Justice Department for his first day today, this is what prosecutors in Robert Mueller`s office told a federal judge tonight, who is starting the sentencing process for President Trump`s campaign chairman, Paul J. Manafort. 

This is what they told the judge.  Quote: The United States of America, by and through special counsel Robert S. Mueller, files this submission to address the sentencing of the defendant Paul J. Manafort Jr.  As an initial matter, the government agrees with the guidelines analysis in the presentence investigation report, and its calculation of the defendant`s total offense level as 38 with a corresponding range of imprisonment of 235 to 293 months.  That`s 19 1/2 years to 24 1/2 years in prison, a fine range of $50,000 to $24.4 million, restitution in the amount of $24.8 million and forfeiture in the amount of $4.4 million. 

The defendant stands convicted of the serious crimes of tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to file a foreign bank account report.  Manafort was the lead perpetrator and direct beneficiary of each offense.  And while some of these offenses are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about the millions of dollars involved in the defendant`s crimes, the duration of his criminal conduct or the sophistication of his schemes. 

Footnote one.  Footnote one reads, quote, Manafort was being investigated prior to the May 2017 appointment of the special counsel by prosecutors in this district, meaning in the Eastern District of Virginia, and by prosecutors in the criminal division of the Department of Justice.  Oh.  They were already pursuing Manafort before Mueller was ever appointed. 

Quote, Manafort committed these crimes over an extended period of time from at least 2010 to 2016.  His criminal decisions were not momentary or limited in time, they were routine, and Manafort`s repeated misrepresentations to financial institutions were brazen.  At least some of which were made when he was the subject of significant national attention. 

Neither the probation department nor the government is aware of any mitigating factors.  Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity are hardship.  He was well-educated, professionally successful and financially well off.  He nonetheless cheated the U.S. Treasury and the public of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources.  Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when his overseas income dwindled. 

Finally, Manafort pled guilty in September 2018 in the U.S. district court for the District of Columbia to other crimes committed over an even longer period.  The government references those crimes below in particular because they demonstrate the defendant`s concerted criminality, including the conduct to which he pled guilty from as early as 2005 and continuing up until the defendant`s involvement in an obstruction of justice conspiracy between February and April of 2018.  A crime Manafort committed while under indictment in two jurisdictions and subject to court ordered bail conditions. 

Quote, in the end, Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars.  The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes and serve to deter both Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct.  No mitigating factors. 

In addition, prosecutors also tell the judge that Manafort deserves an enhancement of his sentence because he was effectively the leader of other people in committing this criminal scheme.  Quote, Manafort controlled the money at issue.  He recruited others to facilitate these crimes and he claimed a larger share of the proceeds. 

Further, Manafort was plainly the leader.  He involved numerous individuals who were both knowing and unknowing participants in the criminal scheme.  These included Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.  Manafort`s tax preparers, his bookkeepers and others in Cyprus who were involved in originating and maintaining the defendant`s overseas accounts. 

Under the factor set forth in the guidelines, the leadership enhancement is warranted, which means there is something that gets colloquially referred to as the leadership enhancement that makes your sentence worse.  They say he should get that.  The prosecutors also say he deserves another sentence enhancement for using sophisticated means to commit his crimes. 

On page 19 of their submission, prosecutors say Manafort should be given zero credit in his sentencing for accepting responsibility for his crimes.  They say he also should get no credit for that in part because he didn`t plead guilty to anything in Virginia case, in part because he breached his cooperation agreement in the D.C. case and lied to prosecutors after he did plead guilty there.  They say he also shouldn`t get that, in part, because now he still isn`t handing over the financial materials he`s supposed to hand over as part of his sentencing process. 

Here is the big windup from prosecutors against the president`s campaign chairman.  Quote, Manafort`s history and characteristics are aggravating factors.  Manafort has had every opportunity to succeed.  He`s well- educated and a member of the legal profession, attending Georgetown University for college and law school.  He was a successful political consultant, both in the United States and abroad.  There they footnote Rick Gates talking about how brilliant Manafort was at his job. 

Quote, Manafort`s age does not eliminate the risk of recidivism he poses, particularly given that his pattern of criminal activity has occurred over more than a decade and that the most recent crimes he pled guilty to occurred from February to April of last year.  When he conspired to tampered with witnesses at a time when he was under indictment in two separate districts.  Further, as Judge Jackson in D.C. found, Manafort`s misconduct continued as recently as October 2018, when he repeatedly and intentionally lied to the government during proffer sessions and the grand jury.

For a decade, Paul Manafort repeatedly violated the law, considering only the crimes charged in this district, they make plain that Manafort chose to engage in a sophisticated scheme to hide millions of dollars from U.S. authorities.  And when his foreign income stream dissipated in 2015, he chose to engage in a series of bank frauds in the U.S. to maintain his extravagant lifestyle at the expense of various financial institutions.  Manafort chose to do this for no other reason than greed, evidencing his belief that the law doesn`t apply to him.  Manafort solicited numerous professionals others to reap his ill-gotten gains. 

The sentence in this case must taken to account the gravity of his conduct and serve to specifically deter Manafort and deter those who would commit a similar series of crimes.  That`s signed on behalf of the special counsel`s office.  They are recommending 19 1/2 years to 24 1/2 years in prison and fines and restitution of up to tens of millions of dollars. 

Now, this is just the filing from the prosecutors.  We will now expect quickly to see a filing from Manafort`s defense team that says, seriously, you guys, don`t be crazy.  He`s a boy scout who missed a few merit badges.  Community service would be more than appropriate, your honor.  I`m paraphrasing what I expect.

But given these guideline ranges, given the felonies that Manafort has been convicted of in this case, and given the fact that this is the first of Manafort`s two federal sentencing processes, this is only the first judge who is going to sentence him.  I think tonight what maybe important for all of us, not just for Paul Manafort as a person in this case, not just the president`s campaign chair in terms of what this says about the president`s campaign, right? 

What may be important for the country here is that this is very much looking like the end of the line for Paul Manafort.  I mean, what was he thinking in blowing up his plea deal by lying intentionally to prosecutors from the special counsel`s office?  I mean, he had to know they were going to catch him, given everything else they caught him on. 

Well, the judge says one of the things Manafort intentionally lied to prosecutors about was the extend of his communications with the guy who prosecutors say is linked to Russian intelligence.  Just think about that for a second.  That`s what he deliberately lied to prosecutors about, even after he had entered into a cooperation deal with him, when he knew that lying would be essentially a fatal offense. 

That means at great personal expense, at the cost of potentially dying in prison, Paul Manafort, the president`s campaign chairman lied to cover up the channel of communication or at least a channel of communication between the Trump campaign when he was chairman and Russian intelligence during the time that Russia was interfering in the U.S. presidential election to help his candidate, to help president Trump.  He was deliberately lying to prosecutors about that.  That is the lie that is going to cost Paul Manafort his last free breath. 

To cover up that channel of communication between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence during the campaign, Paul Manafort is willing to die in prison. 

Is his effort to cover that up something that President Trump will see as worthy of a presidential pardon? 

Again, today was the first full day on the job for William Barr as attorney general of the United States.  This is his second time serving as attorney general of the United States.  The one thing he`s famous for doing the first time he was A.G. in the administration of George H.W. Bush is that he was the driving force behind the infamous Christmas Eve 1992 pardons for six senior administration officials who were caught up in the Iran-Contra scandal, including the secretary of defense.  Six Iran-Contra figures pardoned on Christmas Eve by President Bush after Bush had already been voted out of office but before the next president could be sworn in. 

William Barr is the one who recommended those pardons in Iran-Contra.  The day he started as attorney general, this president`s campaign chairman received a sentence recommendation from prosecutors of 19 to 24 years in prison, plus tens of millions of dollars to pay.  Like I said, it`s all happening at once now. 


MADDOW:  In addition to the sentencing recommendation from prosecutors tonight, special counsel`s office telling a judge tonight they think president`s campaign chair Paul Manafort should serve 19 to 24 years in prison.  In addition to that recommendation from prosecutors tonight, we also within moments of that got a transcript tonight from a previously sealed hearing where a separate federal judge ruled earlier this week that Manafort in fact intentionally lied to prosecutors and the grand jury, including specific deliberate lies that were intended to cover up Manafort`s contacts with a man named Konstantin Kilimnik, a political operative who prosecutors say is tied o Russian intelligence. 

From the transcript, here`s the judge.  Quote: We have now spent considerable time talking about multiple clusters of false or misleading or incomplete or needed to be prodded by counsel statements, all of which center around the defendant`s relationship or communications with Mr. Kilimnik.  The judge continues, quote: This is a topic at the undisputed core of the office of special counsel`s investigation.  As paragraph B of the appointment order put it.  She`s quoting the appointment order that established the special counsel`s office with Robert Mueller at its helm.  She quotes that appointment order where Mueller is assigned to look into, quote, any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. 

Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from the great state of Michigan. 

Barb, thank you so much for being here.  I have a lot of things I want to talk to you about. 

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes, thanks, Rachel.  Busy day. 

MADDOW:  Yes, man, it all happens at once. 

In the Manafort transcript we got today out of the D.C., the recurring theme, it`s like a 70-page transcript, is that Manafort lied a lot to the government, the judge finds he did breach his cooperation deal, he did it on purpose and she really hones in on him lying about his communications with this guy Kilimnik who the government says is tied to Russian intelligence. 

You were talking the other night about the importance of why Manafort might have lied and what specifically he was lying about.  Now that we see the judge spell it out, what do you make of this? 

MCQUADE:  Yes.  Well, as you pointed out, he took on great risk by lying, knowing he was risking this substantial prison sentence for lying.  And we see in this transcript that more than half of it relates to his statements about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, much of it is redacted so we don`t know exactly what it was he was obscuring, but she does say that the FBI has assessed that Konstantin Kilimnik was connected to Russian intelligence and that was what he went out of his way to lie about.  She also points out these were not lapses of memory or failures to recollect, he created false narratives about matters he was asked about Konstantin Kilimnik. 

So, he certainly was very deliberate in lying about Konstantin Kilimnik.  So there is still some mystery for us, but those redacted bars may reveal the rest of the story. 

MADDOW:  And, Barb, when you see the prosecutors ask for 19 1/2 to 24 1/2 years for Manafort, just in Virginia.  That judge that ruled he deliberately lied about the communications with Kilimnik, that judge is yet to start the sentencing process with him.  That sentencing won`t happen until next month, but this recommendation from prosecutors that in the Virginia case alone, he should be looking at 19 to 24 years, does that mean we should expect he will get 19 to 24 years? 

MCQUADE:  Well, you know, that`s the sentencing guidelines.  It`s sort of a starting point where judges are supposed to look to calculate a sentence.  It`s a very numerical score.  You mentioned some of the things that go into that sophisticated means and leadership role, all these kinds of things.  You come up with kind of a math score and you go to a table and that`s where you get that range of 19 to 24. 

And then the judge is allowed to consider mitigating factors and aggravating factors to decide whether the sentence should be a little bit below that or a little bit above that.  Based on this filing, they can`t think of any mitigating factors, there are aggravating factors for someone who is very wealthy, who was highly educated and yet based solely on greed decides to commit these crimes.  The defense will file something certainly that tries to point out some mitigating factors, but I can`t imagine they`re going to say things that convince this judge to go substantially below that range. 

MADDOW:  Wow.  Barb, if you can stick with us, there is one other matter I wanted to ask you about, actually raised by Congress today.  Two more lawyers associated wit the president now being accused by Congress of lying to officials, lying to federal officials about that hush money crime for which Michael Cohen is going to prison next month.  If you could stick with us, I`d like to get your take on that before I let you go. 

MCQUADE:  You bet. 

MADDOW:  Great.  Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from Michigan, will be back with us for more questions when we come back. 

Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Back with us again is Barb McQuade, she`s a former U.S. attorney from Michigan. 

Barb, thank you for sticking with me on this. 

Elijah Cummings, chairman of the oversight committee, has released a whole bunch of documents tonight and they`re from the Office of Government Ethics.  It`s some handwritten notes, some type written notes.  A big part of it appears to be redacted. 

This is what that release from Elijah Cummings looks like, but he says that what these documents show is that a couple of lawyers working for the president, one who worked for the White House and one who worked for the president in a personal capacity, gave false information to the Office of Government Ethics about that hush money payment, the hush money payment that was the basis for the felony charges against Michael Cohen, the campaigns finance felonies he`s going to prison for next month.  Those are the campaign finance felonies he`s implicated the president as having directed him to commit those felonies. 

Now, Cummings says other lawyers for the president gave false statements about those payments to the Office of Government Ethics when they were working on the president`s financial disclosure about some of these matters.  Is this something that is sort of slap on the wrist territory?  Is this potentially illegal if they made false statements about those payments? 

MCQUADE:  Yes, making a false statement to anyone in government is a crime.  It`s the same statute 18 USC Section 1001, false statements.  It`s the same crime that we`ve seen Robert Mueller charge many times for lying to the FBI or lying to Congress.  It is similarly a crime to lie to a government agency about some matter that they are looking at within their jurisdiction. 

So, if the Office of Government Ethics is looking into this and someone makes a false statement to them, that is a prosecutable offense. 

MADDOW:  And am I right that this is one of those cases where there`s a popular perception that it only matters if you lied if you were under oath but lawyers will tell you it doesn`t matter if you`re under oath if you were lying to federal officials in that kind of a context, it`s a crime regardless of whether or not you ever put your hand on a bible? 

MCQUADE:  Absolutely right.  It`s a different crime.  If you lie under oath, it`s a crime of perjury.  If you`re not under oath, it`s a different crime, crime of false statements.  They`re both punishable for up to five years in prison. 

MADDOW:  Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for Michigan, you helped so much over the course of our production today working on these stories, and it`s great to have you here being clarion, as always.  Barb, thank you so much. 

MCQUADE:  Thanks, Rachel.  It was a great pleasure. 

MADDOW:  Much more to get to.  Busy, busy, busy Friday night.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  This will go down in the history of the Trump presidency as the day he declared a national emergency, a national emergency, a national emergency that requires him to build a wall between us and Mexico, because of immigrants crossing the southern border. 

What will also hopefully go down in history is the fact that right after he declared that national emergency, he immediately got on a plane and flew away to go to one of his private clubs to play golf for the weekend.  One of his clubs where he and his business are under increasing scrutiny, including possible legal scrutiny for hiring lots and lots of illegal immigrants to come work for him. 

It is not new for presidents to play golf.  It doesn`t help the sense of emergency that he needed to go golf urgently as soon as he declared this emergency.  It didn`t also help that while he was in the middle of declaring this supposed emergency, he couldn`t help himself from literally saying, "I didn`t need to do this."




MADDOW:  The whole idea of that emergency is that you did need to do this.  You did need to.  Hence the emergency. 

And then he hopped a plane to Florida to go hit a few balls. 

Even if the president is not doing his best work to make anybody take this idea of an emergency seriously, Democrats in Congress signaled that they are taking the declaration today quite seriously.  House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler has already announced an investigation into the president`s actions today. 

By next Friday, he wants the White House to make White House and Justice Department officials available for a first hearing on the subject.  They`re also already demanding legal documents about what processes went into making this emergency declaration today.  That should be fascinating. 

Remember, it was the emergency declaration right before the golf trip.  I mean, the lawsuits on this thing are already falling like rain.  However long the duration is of the Trump presidency, should we expect this matter to be tied up in court for that entire duration of his presidency?  Or should we expect that this, for all its faults and its weaknesses, might be actually something that is going somewhere?

Joining us now is the great Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent for "Slate". 

Dahlia, I`m glad you recovered from the hard time you had watching the president make this announcement today. 

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE:  When I die and go to heaven, I`m going to demand that 50 minutes back first. 

MADDOW:  Why was is so upsetting to you? 

LITHWICK:  It was -- I mean, first of all, there`s no evidence, right?  He says there`s an emergency.  He says he has his own data that doesn`t necessarily correspond to his own government`s data.  He just knows and the Angel Moms want this. 

I mean, the degree to which he just insists that everyone, including his own crime statistics, including, you know, his own experts are lying.  And Nancy`s lying and Chuck is lying.  It`s almost like this strange parallel universe where you`re dragged into his brain and sort of thrash around in this reality of, you know, the rapists and the women with the tape. 

It`s been debunked and debunked and debunked.  You just have to hear it again.  It`s crazy. 

MADDOW:  But legally, isn`t he free to free associate like that and to call everybody a liar and to negate all factual information to the contrary, because if a president, not just him, any president calls something an emergency, legally it`s an emergency? 

LITHWICK:  The National Emergencies Act in this sense is the worst thing that could have happened to the republic because it was trying to constrain at the time, 1976, post-Watergate, the declarations of emergencies, but what it in fact did was not define what an emergency is.  Not enumerate what the qualities might be.  It essentially gave the president carte blanche to just say this one is an emergency.  So, you`re right.  It plays into that. 

MADDOW:  So, when Nadler and the judiciary committee, I find it interesting that they are already demanding documents about the legal reasoning and the decision-making process that went into this declaration.  That will not necessarily be helpful in any legal sense in terms of the National Emergencies Act.  That will be helpful in terms of political accountability if they can show the decision-making process here was nut ball. 

LITHWICK:  Two answers here.  One, it will matter at some point to some courts whether under the national emergencies act this is any kind of emergency. 

MADDOW:  Really? 

LITHWICK:  That will matter, I think, to some. 


LITHWICK:  Certainly when he says I didn`t need to do this, there are judges I think who are going to say, boy, whatever this emergency was, and it`s important to say -- and he said it several times.  There are 50-some current national emergencies that have been declared. 

It`s not a, you know, it is a fairly trivial thing to declare an emergency.  Often they have to do with, you know, banking and foreign countries.  They don`t usually have to do with building a wall. 

But he`s going to say, look, people to this all the time.  He will be right.  But the fact that this is it in no way, shape or form an emergency, that his own national security team testified a month ago and forgot to mention the crisis of immigrant -- of illegal immigrants on the foreign border --

MADDOW:  They were testifying about every threat to the nation. 

LITHWICK:  Every emergency.  Except this, it didn`t rank.  So that will be material. 

I think the other thing that is important about this is that the lawsuits that are going to come are not going to be necessarily hinge on this question of whether it was an emergency.  I think they`re going to come from land owners.  One`s already been filed. 

MADDOW:  We`re already seeing that, right? 

LITHWICK:  Public Citizen just filed a suit on behalf of three folks in Texas whose land is going to be taken by eminent domain.  Those are going to be I think easier questions for the courts.  I think the courts generally defer to the president when they make claims about national security, right?  That`s what the Hawaii-Trump case was.  They tend to defer. 

But I think that on cases that have sort of these hard-hitting questions of, you know, not did the president lie, but can they take land away from people for a pre-textual emergency?  That`s when it`s going to become material. 

MADDOW:  What did you make of the president today singing a little ditty that ended with him getting to the Supreme Court, which will definitely ratify this decision, even though he expects other bad decisions in other districts and circuits? 

LITHWICK:  Again, it`s a maddening attack on the ninth circuit.  He explicitly attacked the ninth circuit and delegitimized --

MADDOW:  He does that all the time. 

LITHWICK:  I know.  But remember when we used to care?  Remember when the rule of law -- some respect. 

MADDOW:  Judges in general. 

LITHWICK:  So there was that.  But then also this sort of, you know, touchdown dance where my court is at the end of the day going to vindicate me --

MADDOW:  Because I`ve got five conservatives.  So I`ll get there.  I`ll get whatever I need out of them. 

LITHWICK:  It`s -- I wrote today about Neil Gorsuch wrote before he came on to the court about how damaging it is to try to do public policy in the courts because all it does is undermine and delegitimize the judges and the justices.  This is kind of made to order what he was cautioning us about. 

MADDOW:  Dahlia Lithwick is senior editor and legal correspondent at "Slate."  Dahlia, it`s great to have you here.  Thank you.

LITHWICK:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  I feel like this has been junior law school RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.  So, happy to keep things straight here.  This has been very helpful.

LITHWICK:  A-plus. 

MADDOW:  Thank you.  I paid for that. 

That does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again on Monday. 

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where 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