CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it is remarkable. I mean, I come back to this time and again. The America first campaign, the America first president, who is putting American interests behind the interests, quite frankly, in front of all of us, of Mohammed bin Salman who runs the Saudi kingdom.
Jennifer Rubin, thank you very much.
JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You`re welcome.
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. Much appreciated.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us tonight. Happy to have you with us.
This is the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East. It is a logistics hub for ongoing U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a key asset for the U.S. military in terms of its air power, among other places in the Syrian civil war and in every engagement and training mission in the region. This
is a huge base. There`s like 10,000 or 11,000 American personnel. And it is all the more striking the size and the import of the space given what a small place it is in, because this huge U.S. air base is located in the tiny nation of Qatar. This really big American outpost in that very small country, which sticks out like a thumb into the Persian Gulf right off the coast of Saudi Arabia, right next to the United Arab Emirates.
And, of course, America has complicated and textured relationships with every major country in the Middle East. But with Qatar, we do have this one very special thing, right? In that we`ve got this huge air base there. There are a ton of active-duty service members, American service members, who live there all the time, right?
That special thing about us and Qatar was what made it a weirder than usual moment in the Trump presidency when just a few months after he was sworn in, President Trump summoned the courage to try to pronounce Qatar live and in front of some cameras, I think for the very first time ever. The reason that he decided he would take the leap and try to pronounce Qatar was so he could proclaim them to be a bunch of terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The nation of Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And this was a somewhat random occasion for the president to bring this up. He was standing there in the Rose Garden. You might not recognize the flag behind president Trump there.
He was standing there in the Rose Garden with the president of Romania when that thing about Qatar, or as he calls it "ka-tawr" (ph) popped out of his mouth like a loose denture.
It was also strange, though, because that comment about Qatar appeared to be completely disassociated from anything else going on in U.S. policy at the time. I mean, to put a very fine point on how weird it was, that the president decided that day he was going to denounce Qatar as a bunch of terrorists. I mean, literally, less than a week later, the U.S. government sold Qatar a whole bunch of F-15 fighter jets, $12.5 billion worth of fighter jets.
So where did that thing come from from Trump that day, with him apropos of nothing denouncing Qatar, denouncing this country that has the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East, this key U.S. ally in the Middle East? Why did he say that? Well, who knows exactly and for sure? But if you start flipping through the rap sheets, literally the criminal history of some of the people associated with this president and his campaign, you may get pretty close to a story that explains it.
Elliott Broidy was a top fund-raiser for Donald Trump during the campaign. He was then named deputy finance chair of the National Republican Party after Trump became the party`s nominee for president. Elliott Broidy also narrowly avoided prison time when he became a cooperating witness back in the day after he was caught paying an elaborate and brazen series of bribes to financial regulators in New York state, along with their family members and their mistresses. That`s that sort of a record was apparently not a barrier for entry into the upper echelons of the Trump campaign in 2016 and into the upper echelons of the Republican Party in the Trump era.
At the Trump inaugural festivities, Elliott Broidy, of course, was there and at the inauguration, he reportedly hooked one another Trump-connected ex-con who the "New York Times" reports would go on to take frequent meetings. Sorry, "The New York Times" reports had taken frequent meetings throughout the campaign with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner and might Flynn after the inauguration, during the first year of the Trump administration. This guy was also reported to have spent lots of time at the Trump White House including multiple visits to Steve Bannon`s office just off the Oval.
His name was George Nader. And his criminal history included multiple convictions for child pornography and child molestation in two countries, resulting in at least two prison sentences.
So when Elliott Broidy, the guy who had narrowly avoided prison in the New York state bribery scheme, and George Nader, the multiply convicted child pornography and child molestation guy, when they met up at Trump inaugural, that was clearly a match made somewhere other than heaven. But they hit it off and those two men after meeting at the Trump inaugural reportedly decided they would go into a kind of business together. Because George Nader had long-standing connections to two gulf monarchies, to the united Arab emirates and Saudi Arabia, those two countries quite near Qatar that we just showed on the map.
Nader at various points appears to have been a paid emissary of some kind of diplomatic go-between for the royal families of both UAE and Saudi Arabia. According to landmark reporting from "The Associated Press", the basic deal that Elliott Broidy and George Nader hatched after he had met up at the inauguration was that Nader would use the connections he had with the royal families in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he`d use those connections to get huge contracts from those countries for Elliott Broidy. Broidy was operating some kind of defense contracting firm. Nader was planning to hook him up with a huge amount of contracting revenue, like a billion dollars in contracts from UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Was that because his defense contracting firm was the greatest one on earth and ought to have those contracts? I don`t know. But this is what Broidy was reportedly going to do in exchange for him getting those contracts. In exchange for those billion dollars worth of contracts Broidy, right, this deputy finance chair for the RNC, leading fund-raiser for the Trump campaign, Broidy would use his influence with the new Trump administration to get the administration to do things that the U.S. government would never otherwise be inclined to do, but that Saudi and United Arab Emirates wanted.
Specifically, in exchange for his company getting a billion dollars in contracts, Broidy would reportedly try to persuade the Trump administration that the president should start talking smack against Qatar, that the U.S. government should turn against Qatar, that the U.S. government should separate itself from and start denouncing Qatar, where we have that huge air base, right? Qatar, this crucial U.S. ally in the Middle East, the biggest U.S. military outpost anywhere in the Middle East.
Those other Gulf countries right next to Qatar, though, UAE and Saudi Arabia, they see Qatar as their archenemy. They want to turn the U.S. government against Qatar. How much would they be willing to pay for that? Almost anything presumably.
Well, George Nader and Elliott Broidy reportedly teamed up after they met at the Trump inauguration to try to give those countries someone to pay in order to achieve that result. And that result the president himself inexplicably delivered in the Rose Garden standing right next to the president of Romania on a fine June day in 2017, just months after he was inaugurated, out of the blue inexplicably denouncing Qatar as terrorists.
It`s almost like you could pick any day on the calendar, you could pick any day the Trump administration has been in effect, just pick one thing that happened that day. If you then go back and tell the full back story as to what led to that moment in the Trump administration and what cast of characters made that moment possible -- I mean, if you cast it really well and you got like George Clooney or Ben Stiller to direct it, you could make a movie about any day of the Trump administration that had a plot that was more scandalous than anything that has happened in any other U.S. presidential administration since there were cars. Or like since there was America. I mean, just the president making those -- anyway.
But now these kinds of trailing ends and the fuller back story on these ex- cons and these revealed schemes, they`re all starting to come to some dramatic conclusions. When it comes to that seedy little plot to apparently pay for the U.S. government turning against our ally Qatar, well, Elliott Broidy, he is no longer the deputy finance chairman of the RNC. He stepped down from that position after is it was revealed he made hush money payments to a "Playboy" model with whom he`d had an affair. Oddly, his hush money payments were brokered by the presidents long-time attorney Michael Cohen and another man named Keith Davidson, the two guys who were involved in hush money payments before the election arrangements for which Michael Cohen is now serving his own federal prison sentence and for which he too had to step down as deputy finance chairman of the RNC.
Broidy himself has also reportedly come under federal investigation for among other things, offering to have the Justice Department investigation into a huge international fraud case turned off. Broidy was offering a contract in which he said that he could get that investigation quashed if the interested parties would pay him and his wife $75 million. Now, why Elliott Broidy believe that he could turn off a major Justice Department investigation in exchange for tens of millions of dollars? I don`t know. But that is one of a number of issues for which Elliott Broidy has reportedly come under investigation.
Nice folks from the Trump campaign. Nice folks from the Trump-era Republican National Committee.
Now, as for Elliott Broidy`s business partner in that Qatar thing, well, as of today, he has a new and newly serious additional child pornography charge to contend with. Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner at the "Washington Post" were first to break the news today that George Nader has been indicted again on new child pornography charges stemming from an FBI search of his three iPhones at Dulles Airport in January of last year. These charges we now know have been pending against Nader for months. But apparently, he`s been out of the country and therefore out of the reach of U.S. federal law enforcement despite this sealed criminal complaint against him and a sealed warrant for his arrest that were filed with the court last April.
He fell back into the clutches of U.S. law enforcement today when he re- entered the country. He flew in to JFK airport in the New York City area reportedly to seek medical treatment. Upon landing at the airport he was arrested and taken into custody. Today, he made an initial appearance in the eastern district of New York, which means in federal court in Brooklyn.
The magistrate judge hearing his case said she believed that Nader is a flight risk. She would not give him bail today. She ordered him held overnight and reassessed tomorrow.
He is expected ultimately to be conveyed to Virginia, to the Eastern District of Virginia, where he will face these new child pornography charges.
But as I said, these types of charges are not a novel thing for George Nader. In 1985, he was charged with importing child pornography into the United States. He ultimately had that charge dismissed on a technicality. A few years later, in 1991, he was again charged with importing child pornography from overseas. In that case, he was convicted. He was given a six-month sentence.
Years later in 2003, he was sentenced again, this time in the Czech Republic, this time not for child pornography but for child molestation. That conviction also resulted in a prison sentence in the Czech Republic.
Despite that extensive record, though, George Nader did become some kind of adviser to the government of the United Arab Emirates and the government of Saudi Arabia. And he did then attach himself like a barnacle to the Trump campaign and the Trump White House, where he really made himself one of the guys. He was apparently around a lot.
In August 2016, during the presidential campaign, George Nader organized a meeting at Trump Tower which ultimately became the subject of this blockbuster report in the "New York Times", this time last year.
At the Trump Tower meeting where George Nader, Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince, and a man named Joel Zamel who was reportedly offering at that meeting an off the shelf foreign election interference effort that would be run by Mr. Zamel`s Israeli company and would be financed by some of these Gulf monarchies that Mr. Nader worked for, all to benefit the Trump campaign by flooding American social media and what amounted to a giant psy-ops campaign to turn off Clinton voters and boost Trump. That`s what he was offering. The Trump campaign, of course, says they weren`t buying.
"The Times" reports that after that meeting, George Nader became a frequent presence around the Trump campaign, he took multiple meetings with Jared Kushner and with Michael Flynn and with Steve Bannon. After Trump got elected in November of that year, George Nader reportedly made a $2 million payment to one of Joel Zamel`s companies. Again, Zamel was the guy who had been offering a foreign election interference effort for sale at that Trump tower meeting back in August. And again, the Trump campaign says they didn`t buy what he was offering. But still, Nader paid him $2 million right after the election, and that payment has still never been explained.
That same month, December 2016, George Nader is the one who organized another meeting, this one involving Jared Kushner, Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon and the crown prince of United Arab Emirates who`s usually described in the west by his initials, MBZ. That meeting took place in New York at the Four Seasons Hotel. Again, this is right after the election, December 2016.
And that meeting became a flashing red light for the Obama administration at the time because it was a big breach of protocol. It was a strange thing for the crown prince of this U.S. ally, the senior government official, in fact the de facto ruler of that country, to come visit the United States without telling the current administration that he was going to be paying a visit. It`s a very unusual thing. It`s not the way these things are usually done.
But in fact, that meeting that George Nader organized in December 2016, it involved the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates there in person plus all of those Trump transition officials. It was conducted as a secret thing. United Arab Emirates did not notify the Obama administration that he was coming in. They found out anyway that MBZ was here and that he took that meeting; but knowing that he had secretly come into the country to take that secret meeting set off alarm bells for the Obama administration.
A month after that in January 2017 just before the inauguration itself, George Nader set up another meeting. And this time it was in an exotic locale. It was in the Seychelles islands. George Nader is the one that organized that strange encounter where Erik Prince, the brother of Betsy DeVos, who`s the education secretary, the founder of the controversial security firm Blackwater, a man who`s described in the Mueller report as essentially being an informal representative of the Trump transition.
He met with the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund in Seychelles islands in a meeting that was set up by George Nader. That meeting is now believed to have been yet another effort by the Russian government between the Russian government and the Trump campaign to try to set up some sort of back channel secret communications between the two. Nader set up that meeting in the Seychelles as well.
The crown prince of the UAE was there. MBZ was there. Erik Prince was there, the guy from the Russian sovereign wealth fund was there as an emissary of the Kremlin. Nader is the one who brought them all together. That`s January 2017.
Later that month, Donald Trump is sworn in and becomes president. "Axios" goes on to report that George Nader becomes a frequent visitor in the Trump White House. During that first year that Trump is in office, that`s when Nader and Elliott Broidy are apparently trying to pull off this scheme where Broidy will get paid a million dollars of contracts in exchange for him using his influence to turn the president, to turn the U.S. government against Qatar, despite the fact we have this big air base there.
And then as we are rolling up on the one-year anniversary of Trump being in office, in January of 2018, George Nader apparently makes plans to travel to Mar-a-Lago to attend what were expected to be over-the-top festivities at the president`s private club in Florida to celebrate his first year in office. On his way to Mar-a-Lago, George Nader has to transit through Dulles Airport just outside Washington. Now, whenever he does that he probably has prison sentence flashbacks because back in 1991, one of the times he was prosecuted on child porn charges, the way he got caught in 1991 is that customs officials found child pornography on reels -- on reel to reel tapes that were concealed in candy containers in his luggage while he was flying in from Germany and trying to pick off his luggage in Dulles. They went through his luggage, they found the child porn that led to those 1991 charges and the prison sentence thereafter.
This time, January 2018, again he`s going through Dulles. And this time child porn was not on reel-to-reel tapes that he had to secret somewhere inside his luggage. This time, his newer stash of child porn was allegedly stored on his multiple iPhones. And unluckily for George Nader, when he was transiting on his way to Mar-a-Lago in January 2018, the FBI agents who stopped him at the airport had a search warrant, to look into his luggage, to search his person and to search his electronic devices.
Now, it appears that those search warrants related to the Mueller investigation, to Mueller looking into foreign interference in the 2016 election. Today`s FBI affidavit filed in the new criminal case against Nader describes those search warrants as being unrelated to child pornography. So child porn is not what they were looking for when they stopped and searched George Nader at Dulles Airport last January when he was on his way to Mar-a-Lago. But child pornography is nevertheless what the government says they found.
And so, to the already absolutely sordid and somewhat terrifying tale of George Nader, you can now add this new twist. I mean, we know from the context provided by the Mueller report that basically immediately after the FBI agents stopped Nader at Dulles Airport in January of 2018, immediately after that contact where they stopped him on his way to Mar-a-Lago, George Nader almost immediately became a cooperating witness for Mueller. Nader is all over the Mueller report, particularly when it comes to the section of that report that describes efforts between the Russian government and the Trump campaign to use various intermediaries to create secret back channel communications between the two entities.
Even this weekend in "The Times", there was new reporting about how prosecutors are still investigating whether MBZ and the United Arab Emirates might have been involved in some kind of illegal influence operation concerning the 2016 election and the Trump campaign. But what does this mean that George Nader has now been arrested? I mean, it had been widely reported in multiple reputable news sources that when Nader started cooperating with Mueller`s investigation he was doing so under a grant of limited immunity, he was getting immunity in exchange for his testimony.
Mueller`s report says in black and white that all but one of the interviews that Nader did with the special counsel`s office were under the umbrella of some sort of proffer agreement, meaning that Nader would have had some sort of immunity in exchange for the testimony that he was giving to Mueller.
But if that all is true, if Nader had worked out some sort of deal with prosecutors to avoid being charged for his own crimes, why did they draw up a sealed criminal complaint and arrest warrant for him in April of last year? That`s the complaint, an arrest warrant they acted on today when he re-entered the country.
If he had some sort of immunity deal with prosecutors, what was the immunity for? I mean, what was he not charged for if he was charged for this? I mean, these child pornography allegations he`s facing, prison time for this is a range of 15 to 40 years. He didn`t get immunity for this but he did get immunity for something else?
Or was he awarded immunity for these alleged crimes too but for some reason that immunity deal that he had has now been called off either because of something that he did or because of some change in the way the Justice Department is looking at it?
George Nader has been one of the most unnerving characters and ex-cons in a Trump campaign that frankly is full of them. He was also a crucial witness for the Mueller report, including on a number aspects of that investigation that as far as we can tell have not yet been wrapped up.
News of his arrest today is horrifying in many ways. It is also kind of a shock. The reporter who broke the news first joins us next.
MADDOW: The day after the election in November 2016, the morning after the election, we now from Robert Mueller`s report that somebody whose name is redacted sent a text containing this phrase. The phrase, quote, "Putin has won." That phrase was texted to a Russian businessman, to the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund, a guy by the name of Kirill Dmitriev.
Soon after Kirill Dmitriev received that message about the U.S. election result, Putin has won, that same businessman, the guy who`s the head of a sovereign wealth fund, Kremlin-connected, sort of Kremlin emissary business guy, he responds to that "Putin has won" text by turning around and texting somebody else. He texts a guy named George Nader to say, hey, I want to meet all of the key people in the incoming Trump administration given the great result.
Quote: Later that morning, Dmitriev connected Nader who was in New York to request a meeting with the, quote, key people in the incoming administration as soon as possible in light of the, quote, great results.
So, here`s a guy who`s working for the Kremlin running a Kremlin-backed Russian sovereign wealth fund. He gets this message, "Putin has won." That`s the response to Trump winning the election. He is super psyched that Trump won the election.
Right after receiving the "Putin has won" text, he turns around that same morning and thereafter he decides he needs to be connected to the key people in Trump`s world ASAP. Who does he call to make those connections to introduce him to all the key Trump people? He calls a guy named George Nader.
George Nader is the guy who was just arrested today on child pornography charged as he landed at JFK airport. That`s one of the threads involving George Nader that`s described in the Mueller report and in open source reporting. His arrest today is in keeping with his previous criminal record. But given what else is going on in terms of the Mueller investigation and the Russia scandal, the news of his arrest today at JFK airport was a shock.
"The Washington Post" reporter who broke that story today is Devlin Barrett. He joins us now.
Mr. Barrett, it`s great to have you with us today. Thanks very much for your time.
DEVLIN BARRETT, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So you and your colleague Rachel Weiner were first on this story today.
Do you -- do you have any understanding of whether or not Mr. Nader knew that traveling back to the U.S. today would result in him being arrested?
BARRETT: It`s pretty clear that from everything that`s happened in the last 24 hours, that he did not know this was coming. This wasn`t some sort of arranged surrender or, you know, negotiated deal between Nader and the government because what happens is he`s arrested at the airport and then they proceed to have a bail hearing in which he very clearly is trying hard to come up with some conditions to get released on bond. And so far, that hasn`t happened but there`s going to be another hearing tomorrow.
But my point is if there had been some arrangement or some expectation that this could be even possible, it wouldn`t have gone down like this. It would have gone down in a much different way.
MADDOW: So there`s been previous reporting that, obviously, Mr. Nader was a Cooperating witness with the Mueller investigation. He is described including his multiple discussions with special counsel`s office and FBI agents described and footnoted throughout volume 1 of the Mueller report, there`s been a lot of reporting that he cooperated with the government, with those prosecutors, with some sort of immunity deal, at least a limited immunity deal.
Does our understanding of that previous reporting change at all now that he`s been arrested?
BARRETT: I don`t think it changes a lot but there`s still some gaps that we haven`t been able to fill in. But, basically, I think the simplest answer is he cooperated under some sort of proffer terms and we`re told, gave testimony to the grand jury and technically -- and basically most of the time when you have a proffer, what you`re talking about is you agree to tell your story to prosecutors with the understanding that you`ll only be charged if you are caught lying to them.
And so that is the basic premise of most proffer sessions. And so, at that point, we have every reason to believe that was sort of the general condition of the Nader conversation, although we`d certainly like to know more and get the particulars of this. But my point is, it`s entirely possible and what it looks like so far is that Nader had some sort of understanding with prosecutors to talk about things like the meeting in the Seychelles, but not necessarily in a way that would expose him to any sort of criminal charges unless he lied to them.
MADDOW: So, forgive me for being dense. In part I`m distracted because Nader is part of so many different plots and so many storylines here, not many of which we feel like we`ve gotten to the end of. But is it possible that Nader would have done the type of immunity deal where he was not going to be prosecuted, where they agreed to not prosecute him for any of the things that he was describing to them related to the subject of their investigation, but this child pornography stuff was totally outside the realm of what they were talking to him about? They obviously had evidence of this from their first contact with him in January of 2018.
Is it possible that he would have done a cooperation deal without this -- with this stuff carved out knowing that he was still liable to be prosecuted on this stuff?
BARRETT: It`s a great question. I think the parts we can answer are this. It basically appears that by February of -- so Nader arrives -- let`s back up. Nader arrives in the United States January of 2017. I`m sorry, January 2018. He is questioned by NBA agents working for Bob Mueller`s team.
In February, the following month, those agents realized that one of the phones they`ve seized has this child pornography video on it allegedly, several videos according to the chart, the criminal complaint. So, in February of that year, they have some sense there`s a problem here that goes way beyond just the Mueller issues. But they don`t have a full chargeable case on him until April. And what seems to have happened is he seems to have left the country by April.
And now, because he came back, apparently thinking as best we can tell that he had no -- he was no longer in danger, then he gets charged.
MADDOW: OK. So, he did his cooperation, he testified to maybe the grand jury, certainly talked to Mueller`s investigators, between the time that he was initially picked up in January and when they brought that criminal case against him in April.
MADDOW: So he may have thought enough time had passed that he was out of the woods. Let me just ask you one other piece of this Devlin. Obviously, part of the intrigue about Mr. Nader is that he appears to have been a little bit of a go-between for some Kremlin connected figures like Kirill Dmitriev and the campaign. He also directly appears to have been directly working on behalf of the United Arab Emirates and the Saudi government in terms of some other kind of overtures they were making to the Trump campaign and later the Trump administration.
Do you have any understanding from your reporting as to what happened to Mueller`s inquiries related to the Emirates and Saudi Arabia and whether or not they may have also been involved in any sort of improper foreign interference?
BARRETT: Well, they certainly -- they certainly looked at this. And what you see from the report is the investigators are really focused on the Seychelles meeting and the Russian official, Dmitriev, and how that played into it. But obviously, that`s probably not Nader`s main focus considering who he works for and where he lives.
But I think what`s interesting about that whole sequence of events is what seems to happen according to investigators is at some point, that meeting in the Seychelles happens and then after that meeting, basically the meeting doesn`t go well. It`s an attempt to establish a back channel as far as we can tell that just falls apart because the Russian official Dmitriev doesn`t seem to much like Erik Prince and doesn`t seem to trust him as a good go-between and it all sort of falls apart from there.
So, the relationship seems to go sour and go south pretty quickly after that.
MADDOW: Devlin Barrett, national security reporter at the "Washington Post" -- thank you for helping us understand this, and congratulations on the scoop today.
BARRETT: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is one of those days when in addition to everything that has happened in the news, there`s also a bunch of stuff that is about to happen that we`ve been sort of watching for and waiting for all day and into this evening. One of the things we`ve been watching for involves the criminal case about Trump`s national security adviser Mike Flynn.
A couple weeks ago, the judge in the Flynn case ordered prosecutors to produce specific documents and make them public, including the transcripts of Mike Flynn`s calls with the Russian government during the presidential transition. These are the calls about which Flynn later pled guilty to lying to the FBI about them. Well, the dealt for federal prosecutors to have complied with that order and released the transcript of Flynn`s conversations with the Russians was this past Friday.
Sort of amazingly, prosecutors didn`t comply with that court order. They didn`t release the transcript of Flynn`s conversations with the Russian government. Judges don`t tend to like it when lawyers don`t do what they`re told to do by court order.
The judge in Flynn`s case in particular, Emmett Sullivan, beyond I think the way judges would typically feel about their orders not being followed, Judge Sullivan in particular has a reputation for not suffering any shenanigans in his courtroom or in his cases.
But since the prosecutors hit that deadline on Friday and refused to release that information about Flynn despite the court order, we have been expecting a response from Judge Sullivan. Thus far we have not yet seen one. But we`re sort of on tenterhooks waiting for that to happen.
Another thing we`ve been watching for today is whether Roger Stone could soon be going to jail. Roger Stone is awaiting trial on charges that include lying to Congress about his interactions with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign when they were releasing information stolen by the Russian government.
You might remember that after his indictment, Roger Stone decided it would be a good idea to post online a picture of the judge in his case with a crosshairs next to her head. At which point that judge imposed a very strict gag order on Roger Stone about his -- barring him from talking about his case and the overall investigation from which his case sprang.
Well, nevertheless, this weekend, Roger Stone decided he had a new good idea. He decided to go online and call for the death of former CIA Director John Brennan. He called for Brennan to be hanged for treason, claiming that the entire Trump Russia investigation that led to Roger Stone being charged was illegitimate and ought to result in its perpetrators being killed.
And I am not a lawyer, but boy, does that seem like a straight down the middle violation of that gag order prohibiting Roger Stone from talking about the investigation or his case. So, again, with that one we are watching to see whether or if the judge in the Roger Stone case will react to that online posting and whether or not the judge might view that as having violated that gag order, in which case Mr. Stone could be up against the risk of going to jail while he awaits his trial rather than waiting it out at home.
One last thing we are keeping an eye on this evening is not in a courtroom but in Congress. Last month, former White House counsel Don McGahn, you may remember he defied a subpoena from Congress. Congress ordered him to show up and testify. The White House ordered him to not show up and testify. He decided to go with the White House instruction.
But the Judiciary Committee pressed ahead that same day, issued two additional subpoenas to other important Mueller investigation witnesses, former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson who was Don McGahn`s chief of staff and who reportedly kept voluminous notes of all her time in the White House.
The subpoenas to Hicks and Donaldson require them to turn over documents to the committee by tomorrow morning 10:00 a.m. Now, as of tonight, we have not heard whether those two witnesses intend to comply. We are expecting that the Trump White House will presumably order Hope Hicks and Ms. Donaldson to not turn over documents, just like they`ve ordered other witnesses to not comply with other congressional subpoenas. So, tonight, we are awaiting word on whether the White House is going to block them from hanged over those documents or whether they will just defy them on their own, whether there will be additional contempt charges here.
I mean, even without Mueller investigation witnesses, the Judiciary Committee does say they are moving ahead with hearings on the Mueller report. Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler today announced a series of hearings in response to the report, starting with someone who knows something about presidents obstructing justice. Richard Nixon`s White House counsel John Dean whose congressional testimony blew the Watergate scandal wide open, he`ll be the Judiciary Committee`s first witness a week from today because history doesn`t repeat itself but it does rhyme.
The Judiciary Committee, again, trying to get witnesses who are people who provided evidence to the Mueller report directly. So far, the White House has either blocked those witnesses from complying with subpoenas or we are expecting them to. That includes documents we`re waiting on from the White House this night. We`ll let you know over the course of this hour as we hear more.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need as Democrats to build an economy that works. But it`s got to be with smart policies. Medicare-for- All may sound good. But it`s actually not good policy nor is it good politics.
I`m telling you. I`m telling you. A hundred --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Delaney finally gets his moment in the sun. Now, you will be forgiven if you do not know who John Delaney is, given the enormity of the Democratic presidential field this year. I mean, heck, John Delaney is not even the only moderate Democrat named John who is in the race this year. So there`s that.
But Mr. Delaney has now made national headlines for the first time for getting all but booed off the stage at the California Democratic convention this weekend.
Mr. Delaney was one of just 14 Democratic presidential candidates who spoke at the California Democratic convention this weekend, 14 of them. This was the biggest event. This was the largest collection of Democratic presidential candidates in one place in the whole presidential primary season thus far.
The reason they all went is because the state is so important in the primary this year because of its huge haul of delegates. But in particular because of the combination of its huge haul of delegates and the state`s new position in the earliest weeks of the primary.
There`s those four early states, right? It`s Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina. They each get their own week. Three days after South Carolina is this gigantic Super Tuesday event that includes California, which has the largest delegate haul of all.
California has not had this kind of importance in choosing a Democratic nominee in forever. And California voters I think are kind of feeling it. California Democrats are recognizing that they`re sort of in the catbird`s seat they haven`t been before.
And they had no problems letting candidates like John Delaney know what they thought of his criticism of Medicare-for-All. And Delaney was not the only one roundly booed during this weekend`s events.
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper got his share as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me be clear. If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer.
I was re-elected --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Honestly, though, that wasn`t the worst of the reaction for Governor Hickenlooper. At the end he was forced to kind of like scream into the void as he got played off stage by the music when his speaking time was up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HICKENLOOPER: I will once and for all take on the NRA and have universal background checks on all gun sales. I will stop ignoring the two thirds of Americans --
Thank you very much.
(END VIUDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The hug was probably worth it. At the end, you need to have a final moment there.
It`s worth -- for a taste of what this was like, it`s worth comparing that to the reception for Senator Elizabeth Warren and her speech in California.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So if you think we need to be a party of big plans to make this country work for everyone, a party that has the courage to fight for those plans, then join me. Text the word "change" to 24477. Help us organize, volunteer to dream big! Let`s win!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: See, she doesn`t need the hug. You see that?
I mean, if they`re going to start the music when your time is up anyway, you are going to get played off the stage. But if you`re going to get played off the stage, there are better and worse ways to do it. There`s a hero`s way to go out, right?
But honestly, watching the events this weekend in California, maybe the biggest hero of all, at least for those of us watching from home, was not one of the candidates who were speaking at the main events, not one of the invited candidates. It was actually a moderator at a forum for the progressive group Move On.
(BEGIN VIDEOI CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next question, Senator. On implementation of your first big idea on the gender pay gap, not everyone works for corporation.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MOVEON.ORG: Hey! Hey, hey, hey, hey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Settle down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, hi. Hi. Wait a minute, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a few minutes ago asking for your attention to a much bigger idea than.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much, sir, for your big idea. But we want to make sure that we are able to get through this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So that young man decided that this was his moment. But there was somebody else on stage who took control of the situation in an instinctive and very brave way. That is a boss move putting herself immediately between Senator Harris and the heckler who just walked up and took the microphone out of her hands. Not escalating things but also not having it either.
The boss moderator was honestly the one in control up there until security augmented by the senator`s husband hauled the guy off stage. But that will moderator, that as I said, that was a heroic move. I want to talk to her. She`s here next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AUDIENCE: Kamala! Kamala!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Senator Kamala Harris making her triumphant return to the stage after a protester jumped up on the stage, took her microphone away from her at the Move On Big Ideas Forum this weekend.
The star of this moment ended up being the woman in the pink dress.
I wish -- we all wish that we would have that kind of presence of mind and calm, cool collected bravery in that kind of a strange moment.
Joining us now is Karine Jean-Pierre. She`s chief public affairs officer at MoveOn.org. She`s an MSNBC contributor.
Ms. Jean-Pierre, I appreciate you being here. This is weird circumstances in which to be talking to you.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, it is. It`s been a wild 48 hours, for sure.
MADDOW: Yes, obviously, this is something nobody had any idea was coming.
JEAN-PIERRE: No, absolutely not. I mean, you know, just to explain. We did have security plan in place. You know, we thought, you know, it`s a kind of, you know, progressive space and you know, people are very messy. It`s not surprising there would be a protester, but in the audience, not on the stage.
And there was a breach. And it didn`t work out to plan. And I was shocked when it happened. We all were. And it did not play out the way that we thought it would, obviously.
MADDOW: You know, the reason I wanted to talk to you about today and I recognize this is not your work. This is a thing that happened. You had this admirable and brave response.
When -- like I saw this first on Twitter was the first place I saw it. I instantly burst into tears. I am a softie and I cry at weird moments all the time. But I -- other people I talked to about this moment also had a similarly very emotional response not just to the fact that this happened to Senator Harris, but the way that you bodily put yourself in there.
Is that -- have people been bringing that to you?
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, people have brought that to me. They`ve actually said, you know, it was great that I was there protecting Kamala Harris and I stood up to do that, but who was protecting me. And I think that`s something that really touched people. It`s like wow, you put your body in between her and this person you had no idea what he was doing and what was he about really.
JEAN-PIERRE: It was totally instinctively. I saw him kind of on the previously and I saw this person just hurl their body onto the stage and I thought to myself, OK. Virginia Beach just happened yesterday, where we lost 12 souls. We have an increase in hate crimes. Things are not safe for women of color, people of color, in this climate that we`re in currently.
We have a senator who is a woman of color running to be president of the United States. This is not good. And I just jumped into I guess into action and I thought, no, he`s coming for her and I can`t let that happen. Not today. It will not happen.
And so, that`s just where my heart went. That`s where my instincts went. And I can`t explain it. It`s just -- I just jumped to it.
Even when I watch it, even sometimes I`m like that`s not a big deal. I just stood up because the guy was coming. Everyone was like no, this was a big deal.
I do want to say, Rachel, I do want to thank Kamala Harris, because she came back on stage as you saw. And when she was done answering the questions, I gave her a hug and apologized.
And you know what she said to me? Instead of saying, oh, don`t worry, it`s OK. She said, you know what, Karine, I`m proud of you. I`m proud of all the work that you`re doing.
I looked at her and I`m like that`s the response you`re giving me? Thank you.
And then she called me yesterday and she -- I think it`s OK that I say this. She called me to check on me and to make sure that I was doing something normal for myself. And thanked me.
And I thought to myself, Rachel, this is what we`re missing in this moment. I`m not endorsing Kamala Harris. I`m not endorsing anyone. But I thought this is what we`re missing right now is someone who cares about people and shows that they do care where not just a certain sector of the population but everyone.
And I think that`s the fear people have been having for the last three years is that they feel their marginalized, their rights will be taken away and they`re fearful. A friend of mine said to me today, they texted me and said, you know what, Karine, you just gave me watching that -- gave me -- encouraged me to do more. And I`ve been so fearful, I`ve been so scared, and now, I`m realizing I need to fight and stand up. What can I do in 2020?
And I think if that could come out of this, that`s fantastic.
MADDOW: Obviously, as an organizer of this event as the moderator of the event, you had no intention for this to happen.
MADDOW: It has catalyzed the kinds of conversations you`re describing and I think also it`s put Move On in the spotlight in a way that`s going to be important as California and these other states decide what their role in the primary process.
Karine, thank you for doing it.
JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: I`m sure it has been a really weird 48 hours since then. But that instinctive behavior that you modeled there is inspirational.
JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
MADDOW: All right. Karine Jean-Pierre is chief public affairs officer at MoveOn.org.
That`s going to do it for us tonight. I will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END