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GOP Rep. Justin Amash calls for impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 5/30/19, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Mike Quigley, Andrew McCabe, Valerie Jarrett

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  You can be there, too.  Full details on how to attend on our website,  I hope to see you there.  It`s going to be a lot of fun.

That is ALL IN this evening. 

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  I`m so excited for that, I can hardly stand it. 

HAYES:  I am extremely excited.  It`s going to be really good. 

MADDOW:  I mean, A, it`s you, B, it`s Elizabeth Warren, C, the setting, and, D, I think you need to be appreciated as the person who of all of the people on all the cable networks who does all of these things, you are the best person at the town hall format of everyone. 

HAYES:  That`s extremely sweet of you to say.  And I really appreciate it.

MADDOW:  I would say it even if I didn`t like you. 

HAYES:  We worked very hard on that. 

MADDOW:  You`re great at it. 

HAYES:  I have a lot to live up to. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, my friend. 

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 

And I would like to wish you all congratulations on your new home because tonight, you are the proud owner of some sort of nice but maybe not to your taste New York City real estate.  Tonight, my friend, you -- yes, you -- and me, too, we are the new owners of a condo in Trump Tower.  You and I and every American taxpayer as of tonight, we the people have taken possession of the Trump Tower apartment formerly owned by Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort who is currently serving a long federal prison term for multiple felonies. 

The federal judge in Manafort`s case today entered an order granting the forfeiture of Paul Manafort`s apartment in Trump Tower to the U.S. government, to help basically make good on his ill-gotten gains and the money he ripped off as part of his crimes.  After Manafort was initially convicted on eight felony counts, he struck a plea deal with prosecutors a in the special counsel`s office to try to avoid a trial on several more counts.  It was part of that deal that Manafort would agree to forfeit his real estate and his other assets.  Altogether, the value of Manafort`s forfeiture to the government was estimated to be as much as $46 million, which as many people have pointed out, would mean that the special counsel`s investigation has more than ended up paying for itself, despite the president`s frequent complaints that it cost taxpayers too much money. 

Taxpayers actually made money on the Mueller investigation.  Taxpayers made millions of dollars.  And now, look, here we are tonight with a Trump Tower apartment of our very own. 

Now, we don`t yet have pictures of our new apartment.  We have external pictures of the building, of course.  We don`t have pictures from inside, from Manafort`s apartment specifically from our new apartment.  We will have those pictures soon though, because the U.S. Marshal Service will soon put that condo up for auction. 

So, we expect there to be a proper real estate listing for it on the U.S. Marshal`s auction website.  And once that listing goes up then, you know, we can look at the floor plan.  We can argue about who gets what room and where are you going to put the ugly dresser your grandma gave you and whether we can be trusted to have a ficus together, right?  Anyway, congratulations to us on our new condo. 

Also, as of tomorrow, we the people will also own brand new transcripts we have never seen before from Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn, specifically his secret conversations with the Russian government during the presidential transition.  Transcripts of those conversations of him talking to the Russian government are going to be released publicly tomorrow.  These are the calls in which Flynn and the Russian ambassador definitely did talk about sanctions even though Flynn told the FBI they definitely did not talk about that.  That`s what`s going to be made available on the public docket by tomorrow per a court order from the judge in the Flynn case. 

Also, keep the trunk open.  There`s more.  Also as of tomorrow, you will also be taking possession of the redacted parts of the Mueller report that pertain to Mike Flynn.  The judge in Mike Flynn`s case in addition to ordering the release of those transcripts of Flynn talking to Russians, he also ordered that tomorrow, the Justice Department has to release the stuff that`s blacked out in the Mueller report that has anything to do with Mike Flynn.  All of that stuff has to be unredacted and released to the public tomorrow. 

So, despite the attorney general saying, no, no, no, he won`t release any of the redacted parts of the Mueller report, no way, no how, by tomorrow, some of those redactions are going to be removed.  And we the public will get access by order of a federal judge.

  And while we`re at it, also tomorrow, at 9:30 a.m., Robert Mueller`s grand jury is finally going to get testimony from a recalcitrant witness who has been fighting tooth and nail for, like, a year to try please to not testify, to not have to turn up and talk to the grand jury despite a subpoena ordering him to do just that. 

Andrew Miller is a young man who worked with Roger Stone.  He`s been fighting for almost a year now to not respond to a grand jury subpoena that orders him to testify to Mueller`s grand jury.  Mr. Miller has lost at every step of the way in this legal fight that he has waged.  But in a process that I have to guess has created a Matterhorn of legal bills, he has nevertheless been trying everything he can to get his case appealed and appealed, hopefully all the way to the Supreme Court. 

Well, yesterday in Washington, that quest -- that presumably really expensive quest, it finally came to an end when Andrew Miller finally, and finally was ordered by the chief judge in D.C. District Court that he must turn up to give grand jury testimony tomorrow morning at 9:30 or he should expect a warrant to be issued for his arrest. 

Now, Mr. Miller does not expect to be arrested.  As far as we understand from the court hearing this week, he expects to testify tomorrow.  This is interesting for a few different reasons. 

I mean, for one, this testimony from Andrew Miller is finally going to happen, after all the back-and-forth and every legal argument under the sun being deployed by his lawyers to try to block this grand jury subpoena, including every legal argument they could conceivably try to challenge the legitimacy of the special counsel`s investigation, all of that is finally over.  That`s interesting in its own right. 

It`s also interesting because we really don`t know what the testimony will be about.  We know that Andrew Miller did work with Roger Stone for a while.  So maybe it`s connected to Roger Stone? 

Roger Stone is already indicted on charges of lying to Congress and the FBI about his interactions with WikiLeaks as they were distributing stolen Russian material during the 2016 campaign.  Stone has pled not guilty.  His case is moving forward.  There was a hearing in that case just today. 

But because that case is already rolling through the courts, it`s really not clear what Mueller`s grand jury might still be working on pertaining to Roger Stone at this point if that`s what they want this guy`s testimony for.  Then there`s also just the fact that this Andrew Miller`s testimony tomorrow morning in D.C. means that Robert Mueller`s grand jury is still operating in D.C. 

I mean, Robert Mueller himself yesterday gave his farewell speech.  He officially announced that he was closing the special counsel`s office.  He officially left the Justice Department.  But his grand jury is chugging along.  Miller will testify to that grand jury tomorrow. 

And maybe his testimony pertains to a potentially new superseding indictment against Roger Stone, maybe it pertains to a new potential indictment against some entirely new person.  We really don`t know, intriguing questions.  But we do know from the resolution of this part of the case that the Mueller grand jury is still ongoing and still hearing from witnesses. 

And as that grand jury hums along in the Roger Stone case, and the Mike Flynn case and the Paul Manafort forfeitures continue, as this stuff rolls on, we, of course, are all in day two of riding the shockwave from Robert Mueller`s first and perhaps only public comments yesterday.  I mean, I know it was less than ten minutes and he didn`t go beyond the four corners of his report and there were no pyrotechnics from podium.  I mean, there are a number of reasons why you think Robert Mueller`s sort of monotone, serious, no questions comments yesterday might not have the impact that they did.  But they have had a remarkable impact. 

I mean, as I said last night in the show, it is one thing to read his conclusions in black and white on paper.  It is another thing to hear him deliver them in person.  In particular, to hear him say what he thinks are the important points of his investigation and their findings that he wants to highlight.  To hear him say in no uncertain terms we were not allowed to charge the president with a crime but if we had determined he didn`t commit a crime, we would tell you. 

I mean, that`s in the report, but to hear Mueller say it lands.  I mean, it sinks in. 

A lot of the energy from Democrats in Congress since Mueller`s appearance yesterday has been around the prospect of getting him to Congress to testify there, even though Mueller himself would clearly very much prefer not to do that.  But you can see why Democrats want him to testify live in person on camera, even if he doesn`t go beyond the four corners of his report.  It makes a difference. 

I mean, what we have learned over the past 36 hours is that when people hear Robert Mueller describe his findings, describe what`s in his report, describe his investigation, describe what he and his investigators found, when people hear him say it, they are shocked by the seriousness of what he`s describing. 

I mean, this parallels what we have seen when people actually read the report.  Turns out they get shaken up when they look at it themselves.  Congressman Justin Amash recently became the only Republican lawmaker to call for the opening of an impeachment inquiry.  He said he came to that decision specifically because he read the Mueller report.  And he said, if you read the whole Mueller report, you can`t avoid the conclusion that an impeachment inquiry is called for. 

Not because of a pre-existing, ideological bent in that direction, not because you are sure you read about what you were going to read about before you got there.  He says, if you just open mind, open book read that stuff, you`re going to say an impeachment inquiry ought to be started. 

If you want to boil down the case for televised public hearings with Robert Mueller, even if he stays within the four corners of his report, if you want to boil it down to one quote, one anecdote, let me offer this -- after Justin Amash held a town hall to talk about his call for impeachment hearings and why he came to that conclusion after reading Mueller`s report, after he explained that point to his constituents at home in his district in Michigan, here`s what one of his Michigan constituents told NBC News, quote: One Republican who supported Amash and the president said she was upset about Amash`s position but wanted to hear his reasoning.  She said that she will definitely support in -- support Trump in 2020, but the Tuesday night was the first time she heard that the Mueller report didn`t completely exonerate the president. 

Quote, I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump.  I hadn`t heard that before, she said.  Quote, I have mainly listened to conservative news.  I hadn`t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated. 

The Mueller report says what now?  Obstruction of -- are you telling me there`s bad stuff about the president in there?  I mean, that`s not just this one constituent`s take on this, right?  I`m not saying this to poke fun at any of Congressman Amash`s constituents.  This is what`s happening in the country, right?  This is what happens when you have weeks and weeks and weeks of the attorney general and the White House and all of their allies and especially the conservative media telling these exculpatory lies saying that what the Mueller report`s conclusions are -- no collusion, no obstruction. 

You`ve got this whole symphony from the right, from the media, the Republican Party, from the White House, from the overall administration, all telling these giant exculpatory lies about what is a giant dense document that at first we couldn`t see, for weeks while they started saying these things about it.  And even now once we`ve got most of it, most people still have not read it.  Most members of Congress still have not read it. 

In a clip released today of an interview that Attorney General William Barr has taped with CBS, William Barr says he thinks Robert Mueller could have and should have made a determination as to whether the president committed crimes, even though Mueller was prohibited by Justice Department policy from indicting the president.  This is an unusual thing for Barr to be saying now since according to Robert Mueller under Justice Department policy, he was not allowed to make any such determination.  It seems like the kind of thing these guys ought to be on the same page about. 

Mueller says, I`m part of the Justice Department.  I have to follow Justice Department policy.  Justice Department policy says I can`t indict and I can`t determine if the president committed crimes. 

William Barr, head of the Justice Department, is saying, that`s not Justice Department policy.  No, no, no.  You have misunderstood that.  I`m the head of the Justice Department.  Justice Department policy is you are supposed to say if you think the president committed crimes. 

So, here`s Barr saying actually it is Justice Department policy that Mueller should determine if the president committed crimes.  And if Barr is now saying that as the head of the Justice Department, as the attorney general, well, then, why can`t Robert Mueller and his team make that determination now?  If they are supposed to be following Justice Department policy and the head of the Justice Department says, here is the way to follow policy by saying whether or not the president committed a crime, well, then, why can`t Mueller do that?  Why can`t he tell Congress?  Why can`t he tell us what he thinks about potential criminal behavior by the president if the head of the Justice Department now says that`s what Justice Department policy requires? 

So, yes, I think Mueller will end up testifying before Congress.  And I`m sure he will want to stay within the four corners of the report, among other things his boss from the Justice Department is making that difficult.  In the meantime, what Mueller delivered yesterday, what he clearly hoped would be his final word on the matter was a fairly simple and direct message.  We were investigating an incredibly serious attack on our country, obstruction of the investigation is a gravely serious matter. 

We gathered all this evidence of obstruction but we can`t charge the president.  We can`t say whether or not what he did constitutes a crime.  We`d tell you if we were sure it didn`t. 

Now, a process outside the criminal justice system must be employed in order to make that determination, Congress, right?  That`s what Mueller said yesterday. 

And I think that is why over the last 36 hours or so, you started to see this perceptible movement of Democrats toward opening the impeachment inquiry.  I mean, at this point, we`re getting a new Democratic member of Congress coming out in favor of opening such an inquiry pretty much every few hours. 

Last night, two House committee chairmen came out in support of an impeachment investigation for the first time.  Bennie Thompson of Mississippi chairs the Homeland Security Committee.  Also, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, he chairs the powerful Rules Committee.  Those two chairmen both came out last night for the first time.  They joined Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters, some of the most senior members of the House, to publicly support the impeachment inquiry despite the resistance against it from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

Seniority matters very much in the House Democratic Caucus, both in terms of respect for the chairs, but also in terms of respect for the speaker. 

This afternoon, Congressman Greg Stanton of Arizona became the latest Democrat on the Judiciary Committee to come out in favor of one.  That`s important because the Judiciary Committee would run any impeachment inquiry if one were opened. 

Also, this is interesting -- this afternoon, Senator Bernie Sanders announced for the first time he thinks an impeachment inquiry should begin.  As recently as yesterday, Senator Sanders would not go that far.  But now, he says, yes, such an inquiry should be opened and that`s a big deal because Senator Sanders is obviously a high profile senator, also because he`s a leading 2020 presidential candidate.  I should say, the Democratic presidential candidates are approaching unanimity on this issue now. 

But it`s also obviously a big deal because Senator Sanders leads his own large faction of the progressive base in the Democratic Party, and so him changing his mind on this matters.  I think there is one other factor at work here that`s worth recognizing and paying attention to, which is going to get a boost from the front page of the "New York Times."  We`re seeing this trend of more and more people actually reading and digesting the content of Mueller`s report.  Now, people are hearing the special counsel speak for the first time, hearing him make clear himself how serious the evidence and allegations in the report are. 

As this stuff is starting to sink in, we are seeing people organically coming to the conclusion that impeachment proceedings are the logical next step and the necessary next step.  Now, the political framing around that trend has tended to be so far, well, OK.  I get the argument, but is going down that road worth the political cost?  Is it worth the political cost to the Democrats given how we know the Republicans will react to it? 

It seems like today in the wake of Mueller`s remarks yesterday, Democrats are starting to realize there is a political question on the other side of that coin, too.  "New York Times" just published this piece today with I think what should count as a helpful, clarifying headline.  Quote: Black voters challenge House members, why is Trump still in office? 

Here`s the lead.  Quote: Moments after the special counsel Robert Mueller wrapped up his appearance at the Justice Department on Wednesday, Representative Dwight Evans stepped out of his office in a black working- class neighborhood here in Philadelphia to visit with local business owners.  Quote: They had one question on their minds.  Why is president Trump still in office? 

Mr. Evans, a Democrat who began calling for Mr. Trump to be impeached long before Mr. Mueller issued his report was not surprised.  The issue that I hear constantly here is we sent you for one reason only, to get rid of the president, right?  Why haven`t you gotten rid of him yet? 

In cities around the country, black Democrats like Evans and other House members who represent majority black districts are hearing much the same from their African-American constituents.  Paulette Beale-Harris who owns a florist shop in Philadelphia said, quote, it`s time for Congress to do something, it`s time for them to stop being afraid to do what has to be done for the country. 

You know, it is -- it is worth remembering that there was already a vote in the House on impeaching the president.  It was a vote in December 2017 that was forced to the floor by a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, by Democratic Congressman Al Green of Texas, 2017.  On the House floor at the time, he said, quote, I am a voice in the wilderness but history will vindicate me.  He got 58 votes for that impeachment resolution back in 2017. 

African-American voters are nearly a quarter of the Democratic electorate.  A surge in black turnout was responsible for a significant portion of the Democratic gains in the house last year.  It almost goes without saying but if the Democratic Party gives African-American voters reasons to be bored, or demoralized or turned off, it doesn`t really matter who the Democrats are going to run for president in 2020. 

And right now, I think the Democratic Party is waking up to the fact that they not only have to think about how Republicans view the issue if they open an impeachment inquiry, but how their voters and would be voters would view them if they don`t.  How Democratic voters and would be Democratic voters will view them on this continuum of strength and action.  What will mobilize Democratic voters?  What will make Democrats in Congress and the Democratic Party look not weak?  Can they go to their voters with positions that are defensible? 

There is a shift happening in the Democratic Party right now on this, one by one.  Like I said, every few hours, we are seeing a new member of Congress say, actually, I was against it before but I`m for it now.  The only question, it seems to me is how big and how fast the shift is, and how long it`s going to go on.

Joining us now is Congressman Mike Quigley.  He`s a member of the Intelligence Committee in the House. 

Congressman Quigley, it`s great to have you here tonight.  Thanks very much for joining us. 

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL):  Thank you.  Glad to be here. 

MADDOW:  Tell me where you have been previously on the issue of impeachment and whether or not that inquiry should be opened and how you`re feeling about it now. 

QUIGLEY:  Sure.  I mean, for me, it was never a question of whether the president was fit for office -- he is not.  It was never a question of whether he has abused his powers -- he has.  Whether he obstructed, he certainly has.  And I believe he and his cohorts conspired with the Russians. 

To me, it was an effective way to move forward in the investigation.  What was the best strategy? 

And I attempted for all these three years that I have been watching this sadly because it`s been three years since my Intel Committee started to get briefed about Russian meddling in the democratic process.  I tried to be a reasonable voice that talked about getting to the truth so the American public can help us make that decision and we couldn`t get ahead of them. 

But, you know, events in the last couple of weeks just made it impossible for me to stay where I was.  The fact that there is obstruction after the fact, that`s how I describe the fact that clearly the president in detailed analysis by the special counsel obstructed prior to his release of that report.  What`s maddening is he and his office and the attorney general have obstructed after the fact. 

They have made getting subpoenas answered, getting the unredacted report available to Congress impossible. 

So how will we reasonably make a decision as to whether other crimes and misdemeanors were conducted without getting this information?  So, at this point, we have nothing to lose and I think opening impeachment inquiry will help us get that information. 

  And to your point, I think it will help educate the American public -- who, obviously, most have not read the Mueller report.  And their first blush with the Mueller report was a lie by the attorney general that the president was exonerated.  And we`re still overcoming that. 

And I think, if anything, the special counsel gave us the window to present the alternative to it.  And that`s an inquiry. 

So, for whatever it`s worth, on your program, I`m announcing that I notified the speaker`s office today that I`m now asking that we open an inquiry. 

MADDOW:  Is it your sense that the speaker is keeping a tally or keeping track as your conference -- as Democrats in the House seem to start to be shifting on this? 

As I mentioned, we have been seeing a lot of people who were previously reticent or previously opposed to opening an inquiry now saying, like yourself, that it should happen.  Is there dialogue happening with the speaker`s office here? 

QUIGLEY:  Oh, certainly.  I think Speaker Pelosi may be one of the great underrated politicians of our time.  She understands how to work a caucus.  It is tough to be a speaker in this day and age, Democrat or Republican. 

I mean, Republicans had more members of Congress than at any time since the Hoover administration and they shut down the government and chased out Speaker Boehner and Speaker Ryan. 

So, to answer your question, absolutely.  I have never seen the speaker in better form than she is now under extraordinary circumstances.  So I think we are going to move forward.  I think it`s a process that we`re going through right now and clearly she`s in touch with all members. 

MADDOW:  When you say that part of your calculus on this, part of your thinking about this now is you feel you have nothing to lose, that opening an inquiry may help obtain documents, obtain testimony, obtain witnesses that you otherwise are getting stonewalled for.  One of the objections that has been raised by the speaker`s office and I think it`s an interesting one, is that if an impeachment inquiry is opened in the Judiciary Committee, it might potentially head off the kind of investigation that you`re doing on your committee, the intelligence committee or that Congressman Cummings is heading up in the Oversight Committee. 

There are these robust inquiries that are happening in other committees that I guess would have to interact with the impeachment inquiry or somehow be melded with that. 

Do you worry at all about the ability of your committee, the Intelligence Committee, to continue its work if an impeachment process was started? 

QUIGLEY:  Well, considering what we have been through, I mean, let`s just remember Chairman Nunes co-opted my committee, the Intelligence Committee`s investigation and they shut it down obviously prematurely.  So, it`s not easy working together through complicated matters like this. 

But I think those chairmen all get it, right?  Nadler, Cummings, and Schiff, they understand that there is more than one task that`s involved here. 

This investigation began at its very start as a counterintelligence investigation.  The American public needs to know we are still on that.  The House Select Committee on Intelligence continues that work through the subpoena process.  The Justice Department just released some of the documentation to us.  But we are ready to proceed if at any point they stop cooperating. 

It is extraordinarily important for folks to know that Mueller thought that most of that was outside the scope of his investigation.  But it`s fair for us to ask whether the president of the United States was compromised.  And, frankly, I believe he was. 

So I believe, to answer your question, we can do more than one thing at a time.  It won`t be easy, but it`s additional information that tells us what kind of president we have. 

MADDOW:  Congressman Mike Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, says he now favors starting the impeachment inquiry.  Sir, I really appreciate your time tonight and thanks for helping us understand your decision here.  Thanks for making the announcement here. 

QUIGLEY:  Any time.  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  Much appreciated.

All right.  More ahead to come.  Stay with us. 



ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL ON RUSSIA INVESTIGATION:  Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.  The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate. 

I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.  And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. 


MADDOW:  The Russians really did attack our election.  They did so with the explicit purpose of damaging one candidate -- Hillary Clinton -- and benefitting Donald Trump. 

That warning was the whole first volume of Robert Mueller`s report.  But we just heard it yesterday out loud for the first time from Robert Mueller as he started and ended his first public remarks on his investigation with a description of the seriousness of what Russia did, Russia`s intervention in our presidential election to help install their chosen candidate in the White House. 

The section of the Mueller report that is titled Russian government links to and contacts with the Trump campaign is a section of the report that is over 100 pages long.  It lists 140-plus contacts between the Trump campaign and various Russians, to the point where it takes up three whole pages just in the table of contents.  That seems like something worth looking into. 

The former deputy director at the FBI who was part of launching the Russia investigation, former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe, has publicly expressed his concern about what he calls the remarkable number of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian-linked individuals. 

Former Deputy Director McCabe told "ProPublica" and WNYC in the wake of the Mueller report, quote, I have questions about the president and his associates` connections with Russia.  Why is it that there are so many representatives, so many people who have official connections to sanctioned entities or banks in Russia who are interacting with the president, with his associates, his family members?  Have we ever seen that before by any president or really any high level government official?  I haven`t in all the years I have been doing this. 

So, those are questions that I think were outside the scope of what Director Mueller was doing, to some extent.  But certainly questions I would love to see answered.  Outside the scope of what Mueller did -- tell me more. 

Joining us now is Andrew McCabe.  He`s the former acting director and former deputy director of the FBI. 

Mr. McCabe, it`s an honor to have you here tonight. 

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR:  Thank you, Rachel.  It`s good to be here. 

MADDOW:  So, Congressman Quigley of the Intelligence Committee just told me here live a moment ago that from his work on the Intelligence Committee over the past three years, he said he believes that President Trump is compromised by a foreign power.  But he also said that it seems to him that the question was outside the scope of what Robert Mueller looked at. 

Part of the reason I wanted to talk to you tonight even before I heard that from Mike Quigley is I think maybe you have been raising those same kind of concerns, particularly the part about understanding the scope of what Mueller looked into. 

Am I reading that right from you? 

MCCABE:  Well, you are, Rachel.  I think that, you know, Director Mueller was very careful about staying within the guide rails he had been given by the Department of Justice, by the Acting Attorney General Rosenstein particularly.  And I think that was a particular way to conduct the special counsel`s business. 

That does not completely eliminate every possible suspicion, every curiosity, every concern that counterintelligence investigators would have about a high level government executive, someone -- not even the president of the United States but anybody with access to the sort of material that the president has access to who also has a history of interactions and dealings with Russians of questionable background, with individuals who have -- surrounds himself with people who have contacts to sanctioned entities or to Russian intel -- people with backgrounds in Russian intelligence. 

Those are the exact sort of flags that you look for in a counterintelligence investigation to determine, is this person the principal -- in this case the president of the United States -- somebody who would be subject to influence from a foreign power, or is it someone who actually may even have some sort of a relationship with a foreign power? 

MADDOW:  When you were acting director after the firing of James Comey, as far as I understand it, you were the one who signed off on the counterintelligence investigation into the president specifically.  Given the simplicity of that question as you just laid it out, could the president be compromised by a foreign power?  Could he be acting on behalf of a foreign entity rather than on behalf of the United States of America? 

I mean, do you have a sense of what happened to that investigation?  I think we all either somewhere between assumed and believed that had been folded in to the work of Mr. Mueller and the special counsel`s office and that therefore we would see some sort of attestation as to the resolution of that fundamental question. 

We have this detailing of the contacts but no statement at all as to what the conclusion might be as to potential compromise. 

MCCABE:  Right.  So, I think, Rachel, to understand that completely, you have to go back to the fact that is we knew at the time and how we were thinking about the question.  We already had a viable, thriving investigation as to whether or not people associated with the campaign were coordinating with the Russian government.  That was focused on the four individuals that we have talked about a lot -- Carter Page, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and, of course, Michael Flynn. 

It was only after the president`s own actions, his statements to Jim Comey, his clear, clear indications that he was not happy about the fact that we were investigating Russia, his disparagement of the case publicly, his repeated requests to Jim Comey that we publicly acknowledge that he was not under investigation and then, of course, his direct request that we drop the investigation of Mike Flynn.  And after we failed to follow through with any of those requests with any of the pressure by the White House on May 9th, of course, President Trump fired the director. 

He fired the director and told the deputy attorney general as he was assigning him the task of writing the memo justifying the firing, he told him to include Russia in the memo.  He told Lester Holt the next day in a widely reported interview that he was thinking about Russia when he fired the director.  And then, of course, he told the Russians in the oval office he fired the director and that had relieved a lot of pressure on the investigation. 

So, with those facts, we applied those to our authorization to open a case which is, of course, a factual basis to believe that a threat to national security exists.  It was absolutely clear to us that we had reached the threshold and therefore it was time to step up to our obligation and begin an investigation. 

The question as to whether or not all of the questions and issues surrounding that investigation were resolved by the Mueller report, I think is fairly obvious.  They were not.  Director Mueller in the end of the day determined that his remit, his jurisdiction as it were was fairly narrow to the specific question about coordination between the campaign and the Russian government. 

Will we ever see a resolution to those questions?  I don`t know.  We`ll have to see.  We`ll have to wait and see what actions, what investigative actions the FBI takes, if, in fact, any of those actions are ever shared with the public. 

MADDOW:  And aside from the public, based on your understanding of the responsibilities of the FBI to congressional oversight, if the intelligence committee in the House or the intelligence committee in the Senate wants a full briefing on the status of that investigation in particular, whether it`s resolved or whether it`s open -- are they entitled to that? 

MCCABE:  Well, in my experience, Rachel, we were very careful to keep the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate up to speed on the most significant investigations that we`re pursuing.  This is certainly one that would fall within that -- within that realm.  I was very careful even in just opening the case on the president to notify the Gang of Eight in Congress as to the steps we had taken and why we had taken the steps immediately after we had. 

MADDOW:  Andrew McCabe, former acting director and deputy director of the FBI -- sir, again, it`s an honor to have you here.  Thanks for taking the time.

MCCABE:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  All right.  Lots more to get to tonight.  Stay with us. 



ZERLINA MAXWELL, SIRIUS XM:  If President Obama had done half of the things and said half of the things that President Trump is saying, even as recently as this morning, would he have been impeached and how long do you think it would have taken? 



MADDOW:  About a nano-second is how long it would have taken for President Obama to be impeached if he did or said half the things that President Trump said just today. 

That was President Obama`s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on Sirius XM today, with Zerlina Maxwell and Jess McIntosh. 

And this has become an interesting norms check in this era of our politics, right?  That little game, imagine if it had been Obama who -- take your pick -- saluted a North Korean general.  Imagine if that had been Obama.  Imagine if it had been Obama who skipped going to Arlington on Veterans` Day, or imagine if it had been Obama who skipped going to a war memorial for the U.S. dead on the 100th anniversary of World War I because it was raining and he for some reason he can`t go out in the rain. 

Imagine if it was Obama who gave an inaugural address that described the United States as a horror show, literally captioned with the phrase American carnage.  Imagine if it was Obama who said he was exchanging love letters with Kim Jong-un or if Obama kept taking solo meetings with Putin and claiming he believed Putin more than the U.S. government.  Imagine if Obama tried to do any of this stuff. 

This exercise is supposed to be kind of a norms reset to remind us of when things were less insane in American politics, supposed to remind us that there used to be normal incentives for rational behavior and predictable punishments for bad behavior when it came to national politics.  And that time was the Obama era. 

You know what?  That admittedly satisfying line of reasoning does have an antidote.  We got it from the news gods this week. 


QUESTION:  If a Supreme Court justice was to die next year, what would you do? 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  Oh, we`d fill it. 



MADDOW:  Imagine if Obama had a Supreme Court vacancy in his time in office and the other party decided they would not consider any Obama nominee to fill that seat on the court.  Instead, they would hold it open and hope for a Republican president.  They would invent a new principle that presidents are no longer allowed to nominate Supreme Court justices in the last year before an election.  Imagine the outrage if they tried that. 

Imagine the outrage.  They would never get away with that.  If they did get away with that -- which they did -- at least, of course, they`d have to live by that standard from here on out, right?  Even if they got a Republican president, they now had this new rule, right? 


QUESTION:  If a Supreme Court justice was to die next year, what would you do? 

MCCONNELL:  Oh, we`d fill it. 



MADDOW:  President Trump is a president like we have never had before.  Lots of different levels.  Granted, you know what I mean. 

But where did we get this idea that this particular Republican president is facing no limits from his party?  This idea that it`s OK if you`re a Republican no matter what it is, that it`s better for a Republican to vote against his or her own legislation if, God forbid, any Democrat signs on as well.  Where did we get the shameless idea that only Republican presidents are allowed to put nominees on the Supreme Court now? 

I mean, these are all Republican Party rules now, but they all precede Trump.  Those are all Republican rules that came to their zenith, in fact, in the Obama era when Obama who is the opposite of Donald Trump tried over and over again to try to work with Republicans, to try to find common ground, to meet halfway. 

The modern iteration of the Republican Party revealed themselves during the Obama era and especially since as really, really, really not interested in any normal rules of governance like that. 


MCCONNELL:  One of my proudest moments is when I looked at Barack Obama in the eye and said, Mr. President, you will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy. 



MADDOW:  As Democrats compete now to try to earn the right to run against Trump next year and as Democrats in Washington now try to figure out how to respond to criminal allegations against this president, does the Obama era of dealing with this Republican Party offer any tips or tricks for what not to do here?  Or even what to still try? 

We`ve got an excellent guest here next who is just the person to ask. 

Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  I`m very pleased to say that joining us here in studio is Valerie Jarrett.  She`s former senior advisor to President Obama.  She`s author of the new book "Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward."

Ms. Jarrett, thank you so much for being here.  I`ve been really looking forward to get a chance to talk to you.

JARRETT:  Me, too.  Thank you for having me on set, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  How was your post White House life? 

JARRETT:  Pretty good. 

MADDOW:  Really?

JARRETT:  Pretty good, wake up every day and do exactly what I want to do.  It`s pretty good to me, yes. 

MADDOW:  Well, do you feel like your political life is behind you or just you`re electoral politics life is behind you?  I mean, obviously, you are still a very engaged person. 

JARRETT:  Well, I think my life is committed to service.  And the issues that I care most about -- from gender equity to getting people to vote to focusing on criminal justice reform, ending gun violence, those issues I can work on whether I`m in the White House or whether I`m an ordinary citizen.  And so, that`s what I`m really devoting myself to. 

MADDOW:  What do you make about the storm in Washington right now about the Mueller report?  Obviously, it`s been 70 days or something since Mueller completed his investigation.  We got a long time waiting for the report and we got a piece of the report, and we`ve had Mueller for the first time speak out yesterday. 

We`ve been talking the whole rest of this hour about how it`s driven this increasing interest among Democrats in opening an impeachment inquiry.  It has to sort of feel like politics from another planet for you compared to what you went through with the scandal-free, two terms of the Obama White House. 

JARRETT:  It`s pretty night and day.  That`s for sure.

MADDOW:  What do you think about what`s happening now, about the Democrats` decisions? 

JARRETT:  Well, look, my take away from this is: first of all, there`s clear evidence that the Russians meddled in our election with an intended outcome to let Trump be elected.  Two, there`s evidence according to the report that there was an attempt to interfere where an investigation.  That is troubling. 

And also, as he said yesterday, that if he had confidence that President Trump had not committed a crime, he would have said so.  So, when you add those up, those are all very troubling. 

As for Russia meddling, what are we doing right now with an upcoming election to make sure no foreign government meddles in our election?  Why is that not the topic of conversation in the White House?

MADDOW:  If there is -- if it`s brought up in the White House, we`re told that the president doesn`t want to hear it.  I mean, the only thing that we can see about potential efforts to shut that down that are things that are happening sotto voce so the president doesn`t hear about them because he finds them so upsetting.  I mean -- 

JARRET:  But this isn`t about him being upset.  This is about protecting the integrity of our democracy.  There`s a lot at stake here, Rachel, as you well know.  And so, I think it`s incumbent upon all of us to lift up our voices. 

And what I`ve been hearing as I`ve traveled around the country is an increased concern coupled with an increased activism.  And that is what gives me reason to be hopeful. 

I was in Minnesota yesterday and I met with a group called Women Winning.  And they are women who support women who run for office who are pro-choice.  But we need that right now, given what`s going on around the country, with state after state passing laws that are infringing on our constitutional right. 

And so, what I am interested in is not so much what the Democrats in the House do because I have confidence in Speaker Pelosi, and she knows her caucus well and she will determine if and when it`s time to pursue an impeachment.  But what are we all going to do as citizens to try to take back our country and insure that we get back on the right track, where we`re focusing on what we have in common and not divisiveness and polarization and throwing ideas up against the wall, literally the wall, that don`t make any sense. 

MADDOW:  Do you think the sort of motivation and activism and enthusiasm that got Democrats control of the House in 2018 is continuing? 

JARRETT:  Yes, absolutely. 

MADDOW:  Do you feel like the Democrats are well-situated for 2020? 

JARRETT:  Well, that`s a little bit too far down the path.  I think that there is building momentum.  I was in Texas earlier last week.  And the Democratic Party there is mobilized.  You saw all these African-American women who won judgeships. 

And so, I do think that there is an appetite around the country for change and engagement and activism.  And the question is, on Election Day, do people actually turn out to the polls? 

Activism is one thing.  Voting is another.  And I am deeply troubled that in the last presidential election, 43 percent of eligible voters didn`t vote. 

We have to change that.  You can`t complain about what is if you didn`t participate in trying to make it better. 

MADDOW:  Valerie Jarrett`s new book is called "Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward," which is really good. 

JARRETT:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  People right these memoirs about my time in the White House and everything.  A, you have an unusually interesting life story.  But, B, you`re a really good writer. 

JARRETT:  Thank you.  I appreciate that. 

MADDOW:  It`s good to see you, Valerie.  Thanks very much for coming in. 

JARRETT:  Nice to see you.  Thanks for having me on.

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


MADDOW:  That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow. 


Good evening, Lawrence.

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