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Flynn/Miller case filings. TRANSCRIPT: 5/16/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Ryan Goodman, Nancy Northup

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Zerlina Maxwell and Laura Bassett, great to have you both.


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.  Thanks, my friend.

HAYE:  You bet.

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 

Back in December, the week before Christmas this past year, you might remember that there was sort of a freaking debacle in a Washington, D.C. federal courtroom. 

Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn showed up in court to be sentenced by a federal judge.  And when he got there, Flynn appeared to be in good spirits.  And that was understandable.  Prosecutors had filed a public facing document that praised him for his cooperation since he pled guilty.  Prosecutors said, yes, yes, Mike Flynn committed and pled guilty to have serious crimes. 

But once he got caught, he pled guilty right away, he corresponded substantially to investigators on multiple investigations and prosecutors told the judge they wanted the judge in the Flynn case to take into account when sentencing him what a good Cooperator Mike Flynn had been.  So when Flynn showed up in court that day in December, you know, you could understand why he was a little buoyant, right?  Everything was going to go great.  This was going to finally be behind him. 

It did not go great.  The judge at one point during that sentencing in mid- December told Mike Flynn, quote, I`m not going to hide my disgust, my disdain. 

That was right before the judge asked one of the prosecutors standing there in the courtroom whether he had assessed whether Flynn`s actions actually might rise to the level of treason.  The prosecutor said in response effectively, hamana-hamana-hamana.  The judge later walked that back. 

But he didn`t walk it back that much.  This judge said to Flynn in the courtroom that day, he pointed to the American flag in the corner of his courtroom and he said to Flynn, arguably, this undermines everything this flag over here stands for.  He told Flynn, quote, arguably, you sold your country out.  And that went on for a while. 

And ultimately, Flynn finally did get the message, the very unsettled message from the judge maybe that would not be the best day to go through with the sentencing.  Maybe, it might be better to come back a different day, see if there was any help that Flynn could maybe provide to anyone else if there was any other investigations Flynn might possibly contribute to help his country, the one with that flag there in the corner of the courtroom.  Try to help the cause of justice in some way, maybe try again in a few months.  That was in December. 

Now, Mike Flynn`s case is not scheduled to be back in court until the middle of next month.  That`s when the next status report is due in his case.  All the more surprising -- that made it all the more surprising today when we got a whole new bunch of stuff from Flynn`s case unsealed by that judge without warning. 

And it`s interesting.  This doesn`t seem to be related to any forthcoming proceeding relating to Flynn.  It doesn`t seem to be driven by something else going on in Flynn`s case.  This stuff just popped onto the public docket today by order of that judge. 

And one of the items that we got for the first time today is the sealed, the previously sealed documents that prosecutors had filed with the judge in Flynn`s case in advance of that doomed sentencing proceeding back in December.  Prosecutors had filed a public facing document, which is the one that said Flynn is a great cooperator, you should give him credit for that, judge.  That public facing document didn`t spell out much what Flynn had cooperated about. 

They saved that for this sealed document, this document that was sealed until today which does spell out in detail exactly what Flynn helped with, exactly what investigations Flynn cooperated in.  And so, now, that it`s been unsealed today, surprise, we`re seeing that for the first time. 

You can see it there at the top it`s described as under seal and ex parte but there`s a struck out.  They`re struck out because as of today, this is no longer under seal.  It`s been released.  It`s been posted publicly so now we can see it. 

Quote: This addendum to the government`s memorandum aid in sentencing describes the significance and usefulness of defendant Michael T. Flynn`s assistance to the government and the timeliness of that assistance.  As described here in the defendant`s assistance to the government was substantial and merits consideration at sentencing. 

Quote: The defendant has assisted with several ongoing investigations.  Number one, a criminal investigation in the eastern district of Virginia that is likely to result in criminal charges.  More on that in a second. 

Number two, the special counsel office`s investigation concerning any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald J. Trump. 

And then the next line down is presumably the third thing that Mike Flynn helped with, maybe.  The next part after the comma there, he helped with the Eastern District of Virginia criminal case, comma, special counsel`s office investigation, comma, and then redacted, redacted, redacted. 

But this new document does go onto describe at least for the parts that aren`t still redacted, it describes the assistance that Flynn provided in pretty good detail.  It spells out, for example, about that criminal investigation in the Eastern District of Virginia is the case that ultimately did result in criminal charges against Flynn`s former business partner, a Trump transition official named Bijan Kian.  Kian, you may remember, is charged with acting illegally as an unregistered foreign agent in this country, while he was working for Flynn, and also, while he was working on the Trump transition, doing little unimportant tiddlywinks tasks like oh, say helping pick out the CIA director. 

Bijan Kian has pled not guilty.  That case is ongoing in the eastern district of Virginia.  But prosecutors in Flynn`s case gave Flynn big props for how much he helped in the Kian case.  Quote: According to prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia and the National Security Division at the Justice Department, defendant Flynn`s cooperation and assistance have been critical to their investigation in the Bijan Kian case.

And then there`s another big redacted chunk.  The EDVA and the National Security Division prosecutors have interviewed the defendant, redacted, redacted, redacted. 

So that`s something dealing the Bijan Kian case.  The second case where they say Flynn helped is the special counsel`s investigation.  And this is sort of fascinating.  This is new -- at least in this form this is new.  Quote: The defendant has also assisted with the special counsel`s investigation concerning links or coordination between the Russian government and with individuals associated with the Trump campaign. 

Defendant Flynn has assisted the special counsel`s investigation on a range of issues, including interactions between individuals in the presidential transition team and Russia, discussions within the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks releasing e-mails and potential efforts to interfere with the special counsel`s investigation. 

And they break it down.  Quote: Defendant Flynn provided first-hand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials.  For example, after the election, defendant Flynn communicated with the Russian ambassador as a representative of the transition team on two sensitive matters.  A U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution calling for Israel to cease settlement activities in the Palestinian territory, and Obama administration`s imposition of sanctions and other measures on Russia for interfering in the 2016 election. 

Quote: Several senior member of the Trump transition team publicly released false information conveyed to them by defendant Flynn about communications between him and the Russian ambassador regarding the sanctions.  Flynn provided details on which transition team officials he conferred with before communicating with the Russian ambassador, also, who on the transition team was aware those communications were occurring, also, who on the transition team was informed about what he discussed with the Russian ambassador. 

So, it`s really interesting to get all that detail.  I mean, we know from the context here and we know we can see in the Mueller report that that contact between the Russian government and the Trump transition team about sanctions, that was one of dozens of contacts between the Russian government and Trump world during the campaign and during the transition.  That, in fact, was one of the contacts with the Russian government that all the Trump people lied about. 

Well, now, we know one of the ways Mike Flynn cooperated with prosecutors was by telling them who knew the truth about his secret contacts with the Russian government while he and everybody else in the Trump transition was lying about those contacts.  This new filing from prosecutors also says that Flynn helped them investigate WikiLeaks and how the Russians released the material that they stole from the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign in their effort to help Trump win the election. 

Quote: Defendant Flynn also provided useful information concerning discussions within the campaign about WikiLeaks` release of e-mail.  WikiLeaks is an important subject of the special counsel`s investigation because a Russian intelligence service used WikiLeaks to release e-mails the intelligence service stole during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Defendant Flynn relayed to the government statements made in 2016 by senior Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks to which only a select few people were privy.  Meaning they got stuff from Flynn about how the Trump campaign was talking about WikiLeaks, and it was information they probably couldn`t have gotten otherwise had Flynn not told them about it. 

Quote, for example defendant recalled conversations with senior Trump campaign officials after the release of John Podesta`s e-mails during which the prospect of reaching out to WikiLeaks was discussed. 

So what we`re getting here, again, for the first time, this has never been unsealed before.  We get Flynn helping with the Bijan prosecution which is ongoing.  We get Flynn helping with all lying about the transition team talking to the Russian government.  We get Flynn helping with Trump campaign and their enthusiasm fro the Russian efforts to help them during the campaign and the Trump campaign`s response to reach out in response to what Russia was doing to help them. 

But then, remember, the other big volume of Mueller`s report, the whole second half of Mueller`s report was about obstruction of justice.  And now we know Flynn was helpful there, too.  Quote: Defendant Flynn also assisted the special counsel`s investigation into potential efforts to interfere with or otherwise obstruct its investigation.  Defendant Flynn informed the government of multiple instances both before and after his guilty plea where either he or his attorney received communications from persons connected to the administration or Congress.  Or Congress? 

That could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.  The defendant even provided a voice mail recording of one such communication.  In some of these instances, the special counsel was unaware of the outreach until be alerted to it by the defendant. 

So, before and after Mike Flynn pled guilty, people connected to the Trump administration and also people connected to Congress, who`s that?  They were reaching out to Mike Flynn to talk to him about what exactly he planned to tell prosecutors and whether he planned to cooperate with them and how much and on what topics. 

We know that one of those instances of outreach from persons connected to the Trump administration was referenced as the voice mail here, which we think is probably the same reference from Mueller`s report about a lawyer for the president, quote, the president`s personal counsel leaving Mike Flynn a voice mail.  This is amazing. 

So, right after Flynn withdrew from his joint defense agreement with the White House, which is signal he was about to plead guilty, it was also a very strong signal he was about to start cooperating with prosecutors, right after he pulled out of that joint defense agreement, Mike Flynn got a call.  And in the Mueller report, this is sort of a particularly mafia- esque episode in Mueller`s report.  I mean, this is literally the part where Flynn is about to cooperate, right? 

He pulls out of the joint defense agreement, it`s pretty clear he`s about to plead guilty.  He`s about to start cooperating.  And he in the dead of night gets the warning from the president`s goon squad, letting Mike Flynn know if he`s thinking about cooperating, you know what, Mike, here`s what you might want to keep in mind. 

I mean, this is from the Mueller report.  Quote: In late November 2017, Flynn began to cooperate with this office, meaning with Mueller`s prosecutors.  Quote, on November 22nd, Flynn withdrew from the joint defense agreement he had with the president.  Flynn`s counsel told the president`s personal counsel and counsel for the White House that Flynn could no longer have confidential communications with the White House or the president. 

Later that night, the president`s personal counsel left a voicemail for Flynn`s lawyer that said this.  I understand your situation but let me see if I can`t state it in starker terms.  It wouldn`t surprise me if you`ve gone onto make a deal with the government.  If there`s information that implicates the president, then we`ve got a national security issue.  So, you know, we need some kind of heads up just for the sake of protecting all our interests.  Remember what we`ve always said about the president and his feelings towards Flynn, and that still remains. 

The following day, November 23rd, Flynn`s attorney returned the call from the president`s personal counsel to acknowledge receipt of the voicemail.  Flynn`s attorneys reiterated that they were no longer in a position to share information under any sort of privilege.  Meaning, hey, we are out of this joint defense agreement.  We can`t talk to you anymore, and anything you say to us from here on out, we can`t keep it secret.

  Quote: According to Flynn`s attorneys, the president`s personal counsel was indignant and vocal in his disagreement.  Quote: The president`s persona counsel said that he interpreted what they said to him as a reflection of Flynn`s hostility to the president and that he planned to inform his client, the president, of that interpretation.

Flynn`s attorneys understood that statement to be an attempt to make them reconsider their position.  Yes, you think?  Would you look down to see if your kneecaps were still in the front? 

Nevertheless, on December 1st, so a week later Flynn in fact pled guilty.  And when he turned up in court to plead guilty, then everybody officially knew he was cooperating with prosecutors, with the special counsel, whereupon almost immediately the president changed his tune to start publicly dangling a potential presidential pardon for Mike Flynn.  We knew some of that from the Mueller report. 

We now as of tonight know the other side of it from a description of Flynn`s cooperation that was just unseal bide this federal court today.  And I mean just a little personal aside here, how is the president not being impeached for obstruction of justice right now?  I mean, that episode alone -- I realize there`s a lot of equities involved in terms of whether or not the president is going to be impeached for stuff like this. 

But this is -- this is the president`s personal counsel calling up Flynn and being like, you know, it might be a national security issue if you said anything about the president.  You know how much the president likes you, wouldn`t want me to tell him you turned hostile on him, would you?  I`m going to go ahead and tell him.  I`m going to tell him you`ve become hostile to him if you cooperate, are you sure you want to cooperate? 

I mean, this is like the stuff that gets cut out of a B movie because it`s a little too ham-handed in terms of explaining to the audience how this particular crime family does its business.  Are you sure you want to cooperate?  Oh, you`re going to go ahead and cooperate, well, I`m going to tell my client about your hostility to him.  Are you sure you --

This was made public today.  Soon thereafter, we got another brief order from the judge in Flynn`s case after he ordered the unsealing of this stuff.  He soon thereafter ordered the prosecutors to also file on the public docket the full transcript of that voicemail recording that Flynn handed over to prosecutors, the voicemail that is described in part in the Mueller report.  The prosecutors are ordered to hand over transcripts of that voicemail.  They`re also ordered to hand over transcripts of Flynn`s conversations with the Russian government.  Those are going to be on the public docket.

And the judge himself has told prosecutors that he doesn`t want just the transcripts himself, he wants both the transcripts and the actual audio recordings of both Flynn talking to the Russian government and the president`s goon squad calling up Flynn and threatening him to not cooperate.  The judge wants the audio versions of both of those recordings delivered to him on a DVD in chambers by the end of this month. 


Now, I don`t know if that means we the public will ever get to hear the actual audio recordings but we definitely are going to get the full transcripts.  And then oh, wait there`s more because that was followed immediately by another short order from this judge, and this one I had to read backwards and forwards a few times before I would believe my lying eyes.  I sort of can`t believe the judge just did this, but he did.  And I think this is huge deal, and I`ll have that over for you next. 


MADDOW:  So a federal judge in Washington, D.C. today issued an order that`s not very long, only this long.  And even though it`s this short and this straightforward, I could not believe it when I first read it.  I read it backwards and forwards and convinced myself this isn`t what it said. 

But this is from Judge Emmet Sullivan.  He`s a Washington, D.C. federal judge.  He`s the judge in the Michael Flynn case.  And in this little order, Judge Sullivan is now ordering the government or the prosecutors in this case, he`s ordering them to remove all of the redactions from the Mueller report that have anything to do with the Mike Flynn case.  This judge today says take out those redactions and then publish that unredacted version of Mueller`s report. 

Quote: The government is ordered to file on the public docket in this case by no later than May 31st an unredacted version of those portions of the special counsel`s report that relate to Mr. Flynn, signed Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. 

So plot twist, right?  I mean, Mueller`s report gets released or gets submitted, right?  And then it gets released to the public with redactions and under strange circumstances, right?  We now know the attorney general wouldn`t release the summaries from the report which Mueller`s team had written specifically so those summaries could be released to public.  He refused to release those summaries and instead wrote up his own totally misleading characterizations of the report. 

We have since learned that Mueller and his team were furious about the way that Barr has mishandled their report, their document, their findings.  Barr initially suggested that even the redactions in the report were all things that Robert Mueller wanted.  It was just purely Robert Mueller`s wishes.  He later admitted under reluctant questioning that, OK, there may have been conflicts over the redactions and maybe the redactions don`t reflect the way Mueller wanted this to come out. 

Mueller still has not been allowed to testify about his own finings or the handlings of his findings by the administration, nor any member of Mueller`s team.  The White House is saying they will not allow any witnesses who spoke to Mueller to testify to Congress, nor will they allow any documents about what Mueller found or investigated to be handed over.  They`ve gone so far as to retroactively throw a fire blanket over the entire Mueller report, even after most of it was released to the public.  They`re now claiming the whole thing retroactively is covered by executive privilege, which is weird assertion, but they`re doing that specifically because they hope that gives them an extra tool so they can try to prevent anybody from testifying about it or talking about it. 

And in the midst of all that today, surprise, here`s Judge Sullivan saying, actually, I order you to release it.  I hereby direct you in this court order to remove all the redactions which relate to my case, which is the Mike Flynn case.  Take all of that out, make this public, you`ve got two weeks. 

So I know the White House is doing everything they can to try to keep everything secret, to try to stuff the toothpaste back in the tube, but look at how this is going now.  The judge overseeing the Roger Stone case started off this week by herself getting an unredacted version of the Mueller at least as it pertains to everything having to do with WikiLeaks and Roger Stone and anything else that might touch that case she`s overseeing. 

That judge, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, has already had the Mueller report`s redactions removed.  So, she can read the redacted part as she oversees the Stone case.  Now, we`ve got another judge in the same district who`s overseeing another Mueller derived case, the Flynn case, ordering not just he should get to see the redacted portions of that pertain to his case, but he`s ordering that we all get to see it, too.  That that stuff has to be released to the public even before the Flynn case is over, even before Flynn is sentenced. 

Again, this deadline from Judge Sullivan for the unredacted version of the Mueller report as it pertains to the Flynn stuff, the deadline for that to be released to the public is a couple of weeks before there`s even the next status report on Mike Flynn, let alone before he gets another sentencing date.  So even before the Flynn case is wrapped, he`s saying release everything in that Mueller report, unredact everything in that Mueller report that relates to Flynn.  Do it, court order. 

I mean today, literally, as I speak right now, members of the House Democrats in Congress are conducting a marathon live reading of Mueller`s report.  At least the portion of it they`ve been allowed to see, right?  The House Democrats started with this at noon.  They`ve been going all day long reading Mueller`s report out loud.  They`re expected to go through the night and maybe finish some time tomorrow morning.  That`s actually a live shot right now.  That`s Mary Gay Scanlon.

I will say I watched this on and off throughout the day shout out to Mary Gay Scanlon, also to newly elected freshman Democrat Val Demings, who`s in her second term.  They today have been really, really good readers.  They make it sound like a better movie you could expect, even though in the report itself we`ve got the president`s lawyers threatening Mike Flynn in the dead of night and all that melodrama stuff. 

Some of these readers are very good.  But the reason they`re reading the report out loud is they`re trying to stop the disappearing of this report.  It also highlights the fact not all of the report has been released. 

Yesterday was the subpoena deadline for the Justice Department to hand over the fully unredacted report to the Intelligence Committee, plus the intelligence information that was turned up in the course of the investigation.  The Justice Department did not respond to that subpoena, they did not hand over any of that material. 

The Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff today said his committee will meet next week to discuss an enforcement action of some kind in response to the Justice Department defying that subpoena.  The question of what happened to the counterintelligence investigation into among other things whether the president were acting as an agent of a foreign power, wittingly or unwittingly, that counterintelligence investigation is not really described at all in Mueller`s report.  The question of what happened in that investigation is becoming increasingly urgent as people wake up to the fact that Mueller appears not to have done it.  We`re going to have more on that coming up a little later on in the show. 

But one of the other things Schiff told reporters today is when his committee meet next week to discuss this enforcement action in response to the Justice Department ignoring their subpoena, one of the other things he says they`re going to do at that meeting is that they`re going to release the most recent testimony that committee got from Michael Cohen, the president`s long time personal lawyer who`s serving a prison sentence among other things for paying a quarter million dollars in hush money to two women right before the 2016 election to prevent those women from describing alleged affairs with then candidate Trump. 

Today, the president had to release his most recent financial disclosures.  It was a nice reminder that the president has in effect confessed to his own role in those campaign finance felonies for which Michael Cohen is now serving his prison sentence.  At least the president confessed his role in those felonies to the extent this time last year when he put out his financial disclosures, he had to put in an amendment mentioning the payment he made to Michael Cohen to cover that illegal hush money stuff.  Those payments which he had previously been both lying about to the public and keeping secret until Cohen`s court case forced the public to retroactively add his accounting for his making those payments onto his own financial ledger. 

And today`s financial disclosure from the president is interesting as far as it goes in terms of figuring out how his businesses are going and reading between the lines in terms of his accepting money from foreign governments and stuff. 

While he is required to release that financial disclosure, though, he has also hired a whole new team of lawyers to keep his real financial history and his taxes secret.  We`ve been trying to figure out who`s paying those lawyers.  No one will cop to paying them.  We don`t know if that`s the White House or the RNC or the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization or the Trump family, yes, right. 

Is your elderly uncle who`s been buying Make America Great Again merchandise from the Trump campaign website inadvertently fighting the lawyers to keep the Trump taxes secret?  I think he might be.

Whoever paying those lawyers fees, those lawyers are now fighting subpoenas for the president`s taxes and financial information in two different court cases involving Deutsche Bank and an accounting firm called Mazars.  The idea of both of those court cases is quite clearly to try to stretch those fights out as long as possible, to delay as long as possible the prospect that any investigators especially ones in Congress might ever get a look at the president`s actual finances and taxes. 

But you know what?  I mean, subpoenas are a real thing.  And the judicial process, that among other things that enforces subpoenas, is a real thing. 

Tomorrow, another subpoena deadline will arrive.  Tomorrow`s the date by which the IRS and the Treasury are supposed to hand over the president`s tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee in response to that committee`s lawfully issued subpoena.  We`ll see what happens tomorrow when that deadline hits and we presume the Treasury Department and IRS will stand in defiance of it. 

But, you know, we are at the point where the bluster and the defiance is starting to kind of hit the wall here.  I mean, a federal judge just ordered the public release of whatever has been redacted from the whole Flynn section of Mueller`s report, right?  They`re all saying no, no, the Mueller report, the redactions you`ll never get behind them, executive privilege -- you know what, court just ordered to release them. 

I know they love the optics and they love the chest pounding joy of saying they`ll defy the Democrats and they`ll defy Congress and they`ll defy any kind of oversight, right?  Now what are they going to do?  Are they going to defy a federal judge?  Are they going to defy a court order?  Really? 

Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  This week, the calendars for special counsel Robert Mueller`s top deputy Andrew Weissmann were publicly released.  The released of these calendars elicited a bunch of weird human interest stories how the Mueller team had potlucks and made time for birthday cake, it was kind of weird. 

But on the right, those calendars being released was used for occasion of an attack on the individual members of the special counsel`s team.  They`ve been attacking prosecutor Andrew Weissmann specifically interest having interviewed people and hired people to work on the Mueller investigation as if that is some sort of gigantic scandal.  But that`s how they`ve moved onto pursuing this on the right.  They`re now going after individually named prosecutors and investigators. 

We`ve seen a little bit of this from the very top, too.  During Attorney General William Barr`s testimony before the Judiciary Committee earlier this month, he had an answer for a letter that was sent to him by the special counsel that unceremoniously ripped William Barr for mishandling the Mueller report.  Barr responded to questions about that letter by going after Mueller`s staff. 

He told the committee, quote, you know, the letter is a bit snitty.  I think it was probably written by one of his staff people. 

You`re seeing this pattern whereby the attorney general and other on the right are trying to put the spotlight on, trying to specifically indict staff members from the special counsel`s office, the prosecutors who did the work under Mueller. 

And they get to do whatever they want to do.  But honestly, it also raises the question of whether or not then those members of the special counsel`s office and the prosecutors should be brought in to testify themselves as well.  I mean, you can`t make these people into villains and blame them for all the worst things you think happened in the Mueller investigation and then not allow them to explain themselves or speak for themselves. 

That said, where`s Mueller anyway?  I mean, it has been so long since the release of his report and yet we still have zero clarity on when he will be able to testify before Congress about his investigation and his findings. 

"The Wall Street Journal" has this report this evening that maybe the hold up has something to do with the White House asserting executive privilege over Mueller`s report and so maybe that screws everything up.  Maybe. 

That said, a source familiar with the negotiations from the congressional side tells "The Wall Street Journal" that`s bullpucky.  That the whole privilege thing is actually not the reason for the holdup at all. 

Whatever is behind the delay, with each passing day, it becomes more untenable that Mueller and his team have not been able to speak for their own findings and their own investigation at all.  One silver lining about the delay, though, is that the Democrats` job does get easier with each new day of delay because people like legal experts at Just Security keep drawing up more and more comprehensive questions about what Mueller and his team should be asked when they finally do get to testify.  So by the time their butts are finally in chairs, the Democrats will have a lot of their homework already done for them by people who are watching this process wondering where Mueller and his team are. 

Joining us now is NYU law professor Ryan Goodman. He served as special counsel to the Defense Department during the Obama administration.  He`s now co-editor in chief at Just Security. 

Professor, thanks for being here. 

:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  One of the questions that you guys wrote today in terms of thinking about what Mueller should be asked is really what I want to ask you about.  You think Mueller should be asked: Did your office ever provide an assessment to the extent President Trump is acting witting or unwittingly to advance the interest of the Russian government?  If so, has that assessment been provided in some form to Congress?  And if so, which members? 

If your office didn`t make that assessment, are you aware of the FBI or others in the government having produced such an assessment at any point?  Do you know if that has been provided in some form to Congress? 

You were asking whether this "is the president a foreign agent" question ever got investigated? 

RYAN GOODMAN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW PROFESSOR:  That`s right.  What on earth happened to it?


GOODMAN:  "The New York Times" reported they opened an investigation and Andy McCabe confirmed that, in fact, he was responsible for opening an investigation on the president himself.  They briefed it to the Gang of Eight.  And recently, last week, the former FBI general counsel was also on your show, had also confirmed that`s exactly what they did.  So what happened to it? 

Adam Schiff is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee just gave an interview with "The Washington Post" in the last few days, and he actually says as the chair of the committee, I don`t know what happened to the investigation.  I don`t know what happened to the investigation into the Trump circle, and I don`t know what happened to the investigation with respect to President Trump himself. 

MADDOW:  And when you read the Mueller report -- I mean, obviously, you and your colleagues putting together this list of questions people should be asked -- when you guys publish this today at Just Security, obviously this is based on a close reading of the report.  I`m gleaning from this as you read the report as I do, I don`t see evidence that Mueller`s team actually investigated those key counterintelligence questions.  It doesn`t seem like they investigated and then left those findings out and put them in some classified annex that we haven`t heard about yet. 

It seems like they didn`t look at those matters, is that how you read it? 

GOODMAN:  It`s how I read it and it`s consistent with what the former FBI general counsel said to you.  Recently, what he said, Mueller was just seeing himself as a prosecutor and was embedded in this larger counterintelligence investigation that was looking at these other questions, where the public might think if there`s other questions there`s not criminal conspiracy but collusion, or were people acting as witty or unwitting assets of the Kremlin? 

That`s what`s missing.  And it`s missing from the public.  It`s missing from Congress.  They don`t have access to it either. 

It`s kind of astonishing we don`t have that information and we`re talking about persons in the White House. 

MADDOW:  So, the reason I raised these questions to you and wanted to talk about in the context of Mueller`s potential testimony, if Mueller and his team were eventually allowed to testify, and I still don`t understand what the holdup is, if they were allowed to come in and talk to Congress, is there any reason why they wouldn`t be able to talk about the scope of their investigation, whether or not it included these counterintelligence questions, what they know about how that was followed up elsewhere in the FBI if at all? 

GOODMAN:  It`s difficult to say, but at least in one respect, they should be able to say something about just the scope, what was their jurisdiction, what was their authority?  Part of the reason they should be able to say that is when James Comey was FBI director, he made this significant public statement before Congress and he said I`m authorized to tell you, we have a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, and the campaign and potential coordination with the Kremlin and there`s also potential spin-off investigations that might come out of that. 

So, he publicly announced it.


GOODMAN:  And then, Rod Rosenstein`s order establishing Mueller in the special counsel also seemed to suggest you take over the counter intelligence investigation that James Comey announced.  So, that`s why many people had thought Mueller has it.  That`s where it`ll be and it`ll be in the report. 

But he doesn`t appear to have it because the report itself seems to say, no, there were just some FBI agents embedded in the Mueller team.  But they were feeding the counterintelligence information back to FBI headquarters.

MADDOW:  And those FBI agents were not involved in our investigation.  That`s -- I mean, in the report, he says those FBI agents who were gleaning intelligence information from what they were doing in order to feed it to other places they were not involved in the core investigation that Mueller is carrying out.

GOODMAN:  That`s right.

MADDOW:  It`s remarkable.

Last question, briefly, do you think there`s an open question to this point as to whether as to whether it`s Mueller or Mueller and his whole team testifies?  Is it clear to you how that`s going to go?

GOODMAN:  It`s not clear how it`s going to go. 

MADDOW:  Ryan Goodman, co-editor in chief at, thank your coming in, Ryan.  Much appreciated.

GOODMAN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  All right.  Much more ahead tonight.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Republicans in the Senate have confirmed the newest Trump pick for a federal judgeship in Louisiana.  Her name is Wendy Vitter.  Her name may sound familiar to you because she`s famous for a lot of things besides being a brand new judge. 

Yes, she was married to a sex scandal-ridden Republican senator named David Vitter, but that`s not what I mean.  In her own life, she`s famous for her radical, hard line and somewhat conspiratorial stance on abortion rights. 

Here are some of the headlines about her confirmation yesterday.  Wendy Vitter, abortion foe, confirmed for lifetime federal judicial seat, judge that endorsed theory abortion causes cancer, confirmed by Senate. 

Wendy Vitter really did endorse the idea that abortion causes cancer.  Abortion does not cause cancer, but she endorsed that idea at a conference she hosted called abortion hurts women`s health.  Abortion does not hurt women`s health, neither does birth control. 

But at that same conference, Wendy Vitter endorsed this brochure which claims that birth control causes cancer and HIV, and suicide and violent death.  Birth control does not actually do any of those things. 

But according to Louisiana`s newest lifetime appointed federal judge, it`s not just birth control causing violent death, it`s also Planned Parenthood.  According to now Judge Wendy Vitter, those abortion givers over at Planned Parenthood kill over 150,000 women per year. 

Planned Parenthood does not kill women.  Abortions do not kill women.  Birth control does not cause you to die a violent death, but Wendy Vitter says they do. 

That is also conveniently all of the stuff that Wendy Vitter left off her nominating paperwork when she was picked to be a federal judge.  She did not include any of those comments about abortion or birth control in her disclosure form to the Senate Judiciary Committee when they were considering her nomination, despite the fact you really are supposed to include all your public statements when you are being considered for a federal judgeship. 

No matter, Senate Republicans don`t care, confirmed her all the same.  All but one Republican voting not to give her a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. 

That confirmation, of course, comes on the heels of Alabama effectively banning abortion in that state full stop.  Alabama Republicans have made it so a woman is forced to carry her pregnancy to term by the state, even if she`s pregnant as a result of a rape or incest.  That new law in Alabama is, of course, part of a package of legislation being pursued by Republican controlled states across the country all aimed at making it illegal to have an abortion. 

The goal is to, of course, provoke a court challenge that will lead the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade.  We`re still waiting for one of those court challenges to drop in the Alabama case.  The ACLU says they`re dotting the I`s and crossing the T`s on that coming lawsuit.

I mean, ultimately, big picture, we know where this fight is headed, but it`s anybody`s guess where the twists and turns it could take along the way.  And there`s interesting questions being raised about whether the aggression that the Republicans are taking in their anti-abortion zeal right now might actually hurt them in their effort to get done what they want to get done. 

That story`s next.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Joining us here in studio tonight is Nancy Northup.  She`s president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is an organization that among other things helps health care providers sue states that try to ban abortion.  This is exactly how want to be talking to at this moment in American politics. 

Nancy, thank you very much for being here tonight. 


MADDOW:  So Republican-controlled states across the country are in this sort of frenzy right now, where they`re all passing the most aggressive abortion bans they have ever tried before.  And this has a lot of different consequences.  It has immediate consequences in the states in terms of the availability of health care. 

It has political consequences including for 2020.  I mean, now, it`s very clear, you know, that`s what the Democrats are going to say, vote for Republicans if you want abortion to be banned in multiple states.  That`s what they are doing, vote Democrat otherwise. 

What do you make though about the theory that is driving all this activity in these Republican-controlled states that they think this gets them closer to a nationwide overturning of Roe? 

NORTHUP:  Well, clearly, and you`re right.  Everybody who cares about women`s health, everyone who cares about women`s equality under the Constitution should be alarmed by what`s happening, alarmed because these are extreme laws and alarmed because they`re coming really quickly. 

And, obviously, this is the strategy to try to set up.  They say it on the floor of the legislatures.  They want to have a test case for Roe versus Wade. 

What`s important is that every one of these laws will be challenged and every one of these laws is going to be blocked, right?  We`re talking about complete ban on abortion.  We`re talking about six-week bans on abortions.  All of these are in blatant violation of Roe versus Wade and almost 50 years of constitutional protection. 

MADDOW:  So, we have seen law -- I`ve talked to you a million times all the laws they passed in recent years, chipping away at people`s ability to access abortion.  But Roe stands as long as Roe stands, you can`t do anything nearly as blunt as what they`re passing in these states, clearly. 

NORTHUP:  Absolutely right.  The lower courts have to follow. 

MADDOW:  They`re constrained by that precedent. 

NORTHUP:  Absolutely.  We`re challenging a 15-week ban in Mississippi.  The trial judge was pretty clear that he was outraged that the Mississippi legislature had even done this and that they have to follow the law.  Only the Supreme Court can reconsider Roe versus Wade. 

MADDOW:  OK.  And so, they think they can get the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe versus Wade with these extreme laws.  What do you make of their logic? 

NORTHUP:  Well, I mean they`ve been encouraged by the president who said he was going to put justices on the court who are going to overturn Roe versus Wade. 

But you know, Roe versus Wade is not a stand alone case.  It stands after 50 years and 50 years beyond it of the protections of personal liberty under the Constitution, these personal decisions about our family. 

I think that the court has again and again since Roe versus Wade reaffirmed that core right for women like other people in the United States to make the decisions about their health care, their future, these incredibly personal family decisions. 

And you know, we are counting on the Supreme Court.  We`ve got a case in front of it right now out of Louisiana in which we need the court to block Louisiana from trying to do exactly what the court blocked Texas from doing three years ago in Whole Women`s Health versus Hellerstedt. 

So, we got a stay from Chief Justice Roberts in that case and we are now asking the court to summarily reverse it and tell states they cannot ignore settled law. 

MADDOW:  You are making an argument that in part you`re hoping the justices hear in terms of how Roe doesn`t stand alone, how Roe fits in not only as a sort of super precedent but it`s also supported by bigger doctrinal issues that they would have to be -- to have to take a radical swing at if they wanted to get rid of. 

I think a lot of people observing these issues and looking at these Republican-controlled states right now think this is the court ready to take that radical swing and they`ll do whatever they need to do and they`ll do it quickly.  And I think there`s a lot of fear because of that.  And I am starting to see you know, anecdotal evidence that some reported evidence that advocacy groups and women`s groups and people who have worried about this for a long time are starting to put their post-Roe plans in action. 

NORTHUP:  Well, absolutely.  We have to be looking ahead.  I mean, as we`re looking to the court and as we`re asking it, to follow settled law as they all said in their confirmation hearings, we`re also looking at what would happen if Roe fell. 

And the Center for Reproductive Rights for 15 years has been documenting what would happen.  We were concerned about it in the Bush administration and we`ve been doing it forever since.  And it is true that were Roe to be reversed over probably over 22 states, as many as half the states would either ban abortion or so severely restricted.  It would be hugely difficult for women in those states. 

And so, we have to look beyond that.  But we have to remember, we have state constitutions.  And we`ve been getting amazing rulings including one out of Kansas -- 

MADDOW:  That`s right.

NORTHUP:  -- which now protects the right to abortion more strongly under the Kansas constitution than the U.S. Supreme Court. 

And we`ll also be looking to federal legislation.  The Women`s Health Protection Act will be reintroduced in a couple weeks.  I mean, we will look for everything because women in the United States are not going back. 

MADDOW:  Yeah.  And these -- there are 22 states right now fully Republican controlled in terms of legislatures and governors.  So, I know the 22 you`re talking about.  But that issue about state constitutions is going to become really important really fast. 

Nancy Northup is the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights -- Nancy, thank you for being here.  I appreciate it. 

NORTHUP:  Thank you. 

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


MADDOW:  As I mentioned at the top of the show, the IRS and the Treasury Department face a deadline of 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow, to respond to a subpoena that commands them to hand over six years of President Trump`s tax returns.  House Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal has called for the returns as the law allows him to do. 

The IRS and Treasury have said, no, they won`t hand over the taxes.  The resulted in the subpoena.  The subpoena`s deadline, again, 5:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.  We will see what happens.

I`m also honestly looking forward to seeing what happens in response to this court order from Judge Emmet Sullivan today ordering that portions of the unredacted Mueller report be made public.  I`m really looking forward to see the White House freak over that. 

But that does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again tomorrow. 


Good evening, Lawrence.                                                                                                                  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END