IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Britain faces October 31st Brexit deadline. TRANSCRIPT: 9/4/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Josh Gerstein, Gillian Tett

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend.

HAYES:  You bet.

MADDOW:  Much appreciated.

And thank to you at home for joining us this hour. 

Today, as the Bahamas announced the death toll from Hurricane Dorian has climbed in the Bahamas from five as of this weekend to seven as of last night, to 20 as of tonight, the increasingly clear views we are getting of the overwhelming devastation in certain islands in the Bahamas, making it all but a certainty that that death toll will climb even higher than the 20 killed that was described tonight by the Bahamian prime minister. 

Tonight, with that same storm now gaining strength again, as it zeros in on the southeastern United States, with both hurricane warnings and storm surge warnings in parts of Florida and Georgia and the Carolinas and Virginia tonight, today, the U.S. government in the midst of that stumbled into a station that we have never seen before.  Honestly, we have never seen anything remotely like this before. 

I mean, this is usually the time in the show where I would try to come up with some sort of clever story to lead up to this, right?  Like maybe a little historical anecdote to put it in perspective to help us understand what happened -- what it means today that this strange thing happened, right?   I tried to show one of the other times that a U.S. president has done something like this.  That`s what I would do at this point. 

I cannot do that tonight.  Because the U.S. president has never before done a thing even remotely like what President Trump did tonight in the context of this storm.  So, I don`t even know what would count as relevant historical context here if I tried to make up that story.  So we just got to take it at face value and try to assess how we deal with this coming from the top of the federal government now.

Because today, the president of the United States did what he called a hurricane update.  The official White House Twitter account posted a video of what the president did tonight and captioned it as President Trump gives an update on Hurricane Dorian.  Except what the president held up for display to the country in his update on Hurricane Dorian was a map that appears to have started out as a real map made by the national hurricane center, by the National Weather Service. 

You can see it started off as a real map.  See in the left-hand corner, NOAA.  That`s the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  That`s the overall agency.  And you see the headline at the top: Hurricane Dorian forecast track and intensity.  That`s the kind of headline you see on documents like this from the National Weather Service. 

And you get the information in the caption there, again, in this document that the president held up.  NWS, National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center.  So, the president with this thing on poster board in the Oval Office, he appears to be presenting real U.S. government information to the public in this self-proclaimed update on Hurricane Dorian from President Trump in the Oval Office. 

Except what the president is holding up is false information.  It`s an altered hurricane map.  The little semicircle in black sharpie on the map, that was added to the map.  That was not put there by the National Weather Service.  That`s not something the National Hurricane Center did. 

And actually, according to Bloomberg News today, that little bit was added to the map by President Trump personally, by the president himself.  Bloomberg News today citing sources saying that the president is the one who drew on this map and changed it and then displayed it to the American people as if this was Hurricane Dorian`s track.  That`s how Bloomberg has it. 

According to CNN tonight, it was some other official besides the president who drew on the map before the president held it up.  I mean, in either case, this is not the work of the National Weather Service.  This is not the work of the National Hurricane Center, right?  Showing the track like heading up through Florida and then -- over to Alabama, that`s not what the National Weather Service says now or ever said the hurricane was going to do. 

And while the words of this president are no longer expected, I think, in any quarter to have necessary connection to the truth -- I mean, it`s just a fact about this administration that nobody expects anymore that statements from this president will be things that are true. 

This is actually not him just saying a thing.  This is him doing a thing.  This is him announcing to the American people that he`s got an update for the American public on the hurricane. 

And this is his update.  This is him in the middle of a large hurricane bearing down on the United States, holding up a doctored map that for whatever reason conveys false information about the track of that storm to us, the American people, who are currently in the midst of trying out how to prepare for that storm`s impact.  The president is giving the country false information about where the storm might be heading. 

And, you know, honestly, what`s the cure for that?  How do you undo that level of irresponsibility when it`s coming from the head of the government in a constant flow?  I mean, it`s -- I don`t know if something started as the G7 conference that rattled something loose, but something is going wrong right now.  More wrong than it has been previously.  It`s going wrong at a bad time and in a bad way. 

I mean, you will remember, the president was supposed to go to Poland this past weekend, right, to commemorate the start of World War II 80 years ago this week.  He canceled that trip at the last minute.  So, according to the White House, he could spend every minute of the holiday weekend monitoring Hurricane Dorian, leading the national response to Hurricane Dorian.  The president then spent two days of the weekend golfing at his golf courses. 

Since he canceled his trip to Poland to instead stay home and golf/lead the hurricane response, the president was unsurprisingly asked by reporters if he had any message he wanted to convey to the people of Poland since he had to cancel his trip.  His trip, again, which was to commemorate Poland being invaded by Nazi Germany to start World War II. 

Asked if he had anything to say to the people of Poland on that somber, tragic commemoration date, the president`s answer was, quote: I just want to congratulate Poland.  It`s a great country. 

I mean, it`s not like he was being asked a trivia question.  He was being asked about him canceled his trip to Poland to commemorate the start of World War II.  Congratulations, Poland. 

The president then insisted that he has never heard of a category 5 hurricane.  And the experts have never seen anything like it.  It`s brand- new.  This is actually the fourth category 5 hurricane to threaten the United States just since he has been president.  How is it he thinks he has never heard of a category 5 hurricane? 

You know, and the general I think well-earned and appropriate response to this inane, muddled absurdity from the White House and the president in particular has been to tune it out, right?  Seek real information elsewhere.  Wait for this all to just pass. 

And, yes, I think that`s true.  That`s warranted on normal subjects and normal days, but this really is a life-threatening emergency.  It`s literally an emergency, a formally declared emergency, although the president is making stuff up about that, too. 

Under U.S. federal law, if a state wants to ask for a federal emergency declaration, that request has to be made to the federal government by the top elected official in the state.  The request specifically has to come from the governor of the state by law.  In the state of North Carolina, the governor is a Democrat, Roy Cooper.  And his party affiliation is something that should not matter at all when there is a hurricane looming off the coast of his state.

But it was Democratic Governor Roy Cooper who on Monday made the formal request to the federal government to declare an emergency in North Carolina ahead of this oncoming storm.  It had to be him who made the request.  That`s the law.  The governor is the only public official who can make that request. 

But the White House, the president himself even decided to lie about that, stating instead that the federal government was making this declaration of an emergency in North Carolina at the request of not the Democratic governor there but instead at the request of one of the state`s Republican U.S. senators who happens to be up for re-election next year.  The White House saying that Republican senator is the one who requested the emergency declaration from the federal government and so that`s why it was granted. 

I mean, I guess they are hoping that lie will help that Republican senator back home in North Carolina that will help him get re-elects.  It is a lie.  And, you know, it means they are lying about a federally declared emergency. 

If you lie about that -- I mean, one of the adages is you shouldn`t trust a person who shows no compunction about lying about little things, because even if those little things aren`t themselves important, having no compunction about lying about little things, it`s a pretty good indication that person would be comfortable lying about big things, too, right?  That`s a basic character lesson that you learn from, like, you know, fables that are read to you before you go to preschool. 

How do we adapt that as American citizens now to a situation where somebody in a very important position of responsibility is plainly comfortable lying even about life-threatening category 5 hurricane emergencies, right?  It`s just the situation we have never, ever, ever, ever been in before.  So, we don`t have rules.  We don`t have -- we don`t even have casual rules of thumb for how you deal for something like this -- for how you make it right. 

I mean, in some cases, the criminal law might help, in a couple of ways.  In the middle of the lying about the weather, over the last few days, White House staffers also quietly admitted to reporters from CNN that the president was also lying last week when he said publically that his administration had received phone calls from the Chinese government, very good phone calls, he called them, asking to reopen trade talks between China and the United States.  This is one of those little what`s the president talking about moments from last week`s news.  What was that all about anyway? 

Well, it turns out, according to White House officials, the president was lying about those supposed calls from the Chinese government.  And this one comes with a kicker.  Quote: Aides privately conceded that the alleged Chinese phone calls Trump described didn`t happen the way he said they did.  Instead, two officials said Trump was eager to project optimism that might boost markets. 

Oh, that`s why he told those lies about the Chinese government phone calls.  I mean, this is White House officials admitting the president told the public, told us that the Chinese government had called his administration to reopen trade talks when in fact that had not happened.  And he did it because he was hoping to boost the markets by telling that lie. 

The problem with that one is that lying to the public for the purpose of moving the markets, which is what White House officials are admitting happened here, that`s actually a crime.  It`s illegal to deliberately try to manipulate the markets.  The Securities and Exchange Commission says that behavior is against federal law. 

For the record, it`s a crime for a president or anyone to falsify a weather forecast like, say, a hurricane tracking map, like he did today when he held up this doctored map in the Oval Office.  As meteorologist Matthew Cappucci at "The Washington Post" points out today, excuse, meteorologist Matthew Cappucci and Andrew Freedman point out at "The Washington Post" today, quote, per 18 U.S. Code Section 2074, whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the weather bureau or other brand of government service shall be fined under this title or imprisoned by not more than -- excuse me, imprisoned not more than 90 days or both.  Pay a fine for that or go to prison for 90 days or both. 

I should say the modern iteration of those weather services mentioned would include the National Weather Service, would include the National Hurricane Center, which was, in fact, the originator of the tracking map the president put on display in the Oval Office today with what was reportedly his own added false drawing that was scribbled into the corner to make it look like the hurricane was going somewhere that it wasn`t. 

And what this appears to be about is the president trying to backfill for a weird lie that he has been telling about this hurricane.  While the president was not in Poland, while he was instead having his golfing weekend, he started tweeting this weekend and saying aloud this weekend that the great state of Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian.  Alabama will most likely by hit harder than anticipated.  He tweeted it.  He said it on camera a couple times. 

The National Weather Service, they were Johnny on the spot with their rebuttal.  Within 20 minutes of the president making these weird claims that Alabama was going to get hit by this hurricane, it`s not going to get hit by this hurricane, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, was clarifying that what the president was saying was absolutely not true.  Alabama will not see any impacts from Dorian.  We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.  The system will remain too far east. 

The only reason the National Weather Service had to say that was because of the false information to the contrary that was inexplicably being promulgated by the president.  And why was he doing that?  Who knows why the president was lying about Alabama being in the path of the hurricane? 

But he has done so repeatedly.  And that has now apparently led up to this odd display of this falsified National Weather Service map today in the Oval Office at what the White House billed as the president`s hurricane update.  And what that means in practical terms is that Americans now need to debunk the president of the United States in order to find real National Weather Service tracks of the hurricane while the hurricane literally bares down on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. 

And it`s all self-inflicted and inexplicable and in some cases, technically, illegally.  I mean, if the National Weather Service persists in putting out real information that doesn`t retroactively back up false things the president has said about this hurricane, is he going to fire them?  Is he going to retaliate?  Is he goes to denounce the weather service as the deep state? 

Will he tell Bill Barr he should prosecute them for something?  Think Bill Barr will?  I mean, it`s insane.  We don`t have any way to make sense of this. 

Nothing like this has happened before.  I mean, you would think that the weather is a thing that might be a great leveler in terms of the facts. 

A whole bunch of the Democratic presidential candidates have put out their climate plans or put out new iterations of their plans in the past few days.  Candidates including Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris. 

Elizabeth Warren has just announced that she`s adapting Jay Inslee`s climate plan.  Jay Inslee pronounced himself delighted she`s taking it since he said when he dropped out of the presidential race that he considered his plan to be an open source document and he hoped other candidates would, in fact, run on it. 

Democrats are trying to compete with this president.  They`re trying to say Donald Trump should be a one-term president in part because of his handling of climate.  In terms of the current administration`s climate plans, I mean, you have to read them not through what they say but what they do. 

Today, for example, we learned that the Trump administration is rolling back efficiency standards on light bulbs, standards that were first promulgated under the George W. Bush administration.  And light bulbs kind of sounds like no big deal, I know.  But the rule that the Trump administration is rolling back today was both working and it was kind of a big deal. 

Quote: The rule change announced today by the Trump administration is expected to increase U.S. electricity use by 80 billion kilowatt hours over the course of a year, roughly the amount of electricity needed to power all the households in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Getting rid of that rule as of today. 

Also today, "The Washington post" reporting that, quote, the top interior official who pushed to expand drilling in Alaska will now join an oil company drilling in Alaska.  This is calling drilling the swamp, not draining it. 

"The Washington Post" reporting that the Trump Interior Department official who`s the guy in charge of overseeing oil and gas drilling on federal lands is now joining a foreign oil company that`s expanding its drilling operations on Alaska`s North Slope.  Before he left the Interior Department, this is the guy who oversaw preparations to hold lease sales in parts of Alaska that would open those parts of Alaska up to being drilled for oil by private companies.  Now, that official who did that work in the Trump administration is going to work for one of those companies that`s drilling in Alaska. 

So, that`s what the Trump administration is actually doing in terms of climate policy.  I mean, no matter what it is they are saying, you can see evidence of what it is they`re doing.  But as this storm bears down on the southeastern United States, the policies and actions of this administration are one thing.  The random nonsense words from the president and the White House on this or any other issue, that`s usually quite another thing all together.  In most cases, it`s worth ignoring, just watching what they do rather than what they say. 

But now, as of tonight, we are in a new -- I repeat, new situation in which the president`s daily nonsense has crossed over into behavior in the midst of a literal emergency.  The president putting on display a map that appears to deliberately misinform the public about what`s going on at a time when this potentially quite deadly thing is roaring onshore. 

Joining us to talk about what`s actually going on is MSNBC meteorologist Bill Karins. 

BILL KARINS, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST:  But, first, you hammer the nail in, I got to pull it back out and just hammer it just a little bit more. 


KARINS:  Because let`s just go and show you the map.  He sent the Alabama tweet out, saying Alabama was at risk, along with Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.  So, we can take the weather map and show, that morning he sent the tweet about four hours before it went out, this was the official forecast.  Most people in a position of power would wake up and see this and, pretty obvious, right?

But maybe he didn`t see.  It`s 5:00 a.m. in the morning, maybe he missed it. 

So, after we went through all this nonsense that you just said today, the president tweeted out this map saying that this was his proof of why Alabama was in the cone.  All the squiggly lines are computer models.  He`s got us.  Look, even some go to Louisiana -- even Louisiana and Mississippi.

You know, if that`s the case, I don`t know why he left Louisiana and Mississippi off and Alabama.  So, then I was like, let`s take a closer look.  The date is August 28. 

Wait, he tweeted that out on September 1.  This was four days before he sent the tweet out about Alabama.  So, why would you pick four days before the tweet?  Why would you pick a map? 


KARINS:  So, I said, OK, let`s go see what those spaghetti lines looked like.  This is on the Weather Nerds Website.  This is hours before the tweet what the spaghetti lines looked like. 

MADDOW:  So, it`s the same kind of map. 

KARINS:  Same kind of map. 

MADDOW:  But it`s the day that he actually said Alabama. 

KARINS:  Hours before he did it.  None into Alabama.  He couldn`t have sent that up.  Maybe he didn`t see that. 

Let`s go back 24 hours before he sent out the Alabama tweet.  Still, none of the lines go in there. 


KARINS:  So, if that is his proof that he wants us to believe that for four days, cancelling Poland and golfing, he didn`t get any other weather maps showing it was going -- what`s worse?  Trying to cover this up and keep going on it or the fact that his argument saying he -- four days. 

MADDOW:  So -- 

KARINS:  At this point, should we apologize to the National Hurricane Center, all the emergency managers and everyone that evacuated in South Carolina and North Carolina that maybe watching right now, trying to get some facts and information? 

MADDOW:  Well, that`s the key here for me because real information is always important.  It`s the basis of living as an adult.  It`s the basis of our democracy.  It`s the basis of us communicating with one another and making rational decisions about how to conduct ourselves as citizens and live our lives even just as, you know, members of families and responsible people.  Facts matter. 

In a situation that is a literally and formally declared emergency, facts are life and death.  In this case, we`ve got this new hurdle for people like you and for people who work at the National Weather Service, people who worked at the National Hurricane Center who are trying to save lives by conveying real information, there`s a brand new hurdle we`ve never had before, which is the president conveying repeatedly, insistently false information that serves some other purpose for him.  And that -- I want to know how dangerous it is, I guess. 

KARINS:  Yes, we have people at the National Hurricane Center for the last week have been working around the clock shifts watching this storm, the best scientific knowledge to help everyone out.  They left their families on Labor Day weekend when the storm started getting nasty. 

Do you know how many media inquiries they got today?  Will you guys comment on this?  Will you comment on the president doing this?  What they are supposed to do?  They`re supposed to be non-political.  They are trying to give science. 

And we`ve got someone doodling on their maps that the emergency managers use for preparations and evacuations to save people`s lives.  I mean, I don`t know.  At this point, should we go and help the people in South Carolina and North Carolina? 

MADDOW:  Well, I asked somewhat rhetorically in my introduction here, like what`s the cure to this?  I do actually think that the cure to this is real information.

KARINS:  It`s science.

MADDOW:  Science.

KARINS:  It`s like the climate argument.  It`s like it`s science.  It`s like, if you don`t want to believe the science?  Fine, but, you know, that`s up to every individual. 

MADDOW:  Bill, when you look at what`s happening right now with Hurricane Dorian, what do you expect in terms of the most dangerous situations and the things you are most worried about over the next 48 hours? 

KARINS:  Starting tomorrow morning and going for about 36 hours, we are likely going to have a billion dollar weather disaster in our country.  That`s how serious it is.  I mean, we can show the maps.  Go over to our graphics.  I can take you through the thinking on everything here. 

That`s looking at the path and kind of shows you coming up along the coast.  And then as far as what we`re going to deal with is, that`s the center of the storm.  We didn`t have too bad of a storm surge in Savannah.  They are expecting tonight, about 1:00 a.m., to have the third highest water level they`ve ever recorded since the 1940s with that high tide cycle. 

MADDOW:  In Savannah? 

KARINS:  In Savannah.  That`s going to do some damage.

In Charleston, 1:15 in the morning, they`re expecting the second highest water levels they`ve ever recorded, only after Hurricane Hugo.  So, we easily could have significant damage along the coast tonight. 

And then as the storm moves and rakes the coast from Charleston all the way to the outer banks, that`s 280 miles of a category 2 along the coast.  It won`t lose strength.  We have multiple hazards that we`re going to deal with, with the storm.  We have storm surge we talked about. 

Because it`s so close to the coast, we`re also now going to bring in some rainfall problems.  We`re going to have flash flooding.  We`re going to have a lot of trees down.  We`re going to have power outages.  You get the general idea. 

We`re about to go through this horrendous event.  And everyone is wasting time on what we mentioned. 

MADDOW:  Because we have to.  He put this in our way. 

KARINS:  That`s our job, I guess.

MADDOW:  Getting real information about this.

Bill, I appreciate you being here.  I know it`s a long night for you, man.  Thanks a lot.  Thanks a lot.

KARINS:  Thank you.

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


MADDOW:  You are not having a fever dream.  I promise you, this piece of tape I`m about to show is a real thing.  In the early `90s, there was apparently a short-lived Nickelodeon game show called "What Would You Do."

From what I can tell, the conceit of the show was that contestants would try to win games so they could avoid getting a pie in the face.  That`s what`s going on in this next clip.  Watch closely because the payoff at the end, it`s a visual, and it`s worth it. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Here is what we`re going to do.  We`re going to find out how much of the stuff in your purse and how much of the stuff in your purse you are willing to give up, because we`re going to weigh these purses.  And the lady who has the lightest purse is the winner.  The one who has the heaviest gets a little surprise. 

Now, you are allowed -- how many seconds?  Fifteen seconds.  To unload as much stuff as you want.  Whatever you unload, I get to keep.  I will not give it back to you, OK?  It`s absolutely -- what`s that? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  My husband`s wallet. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Your husband`s wallet.

Is there anything in there? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, good.  Well, now, if you put it out here, it does become mine.  I will not give it back.  OK?  How long have you been married? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Almost 15 years. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Very good, that`s good.  That`s a big wallet.  Things are going well for your husband. 

Kathy, remember, whatever you put down here, you gave up.  This is her husband`s wallet.  How many American Express cards does one person need? 

Let`s count they will together.  One, two -- wait.  Three American Express cards.  He`s got a gold, a platinum and a corporate.  He`s got nine Visas and an AT&T credit card.  OK, fine.  Well --


MADDOW:  I told you it would pay off.  Were you watching? 

Paul Manafort.  Hi.  On a freaking Nickelodeon game show from the 1990s.  This was posted online last night by a Twitter user Samuel Hammond (ph).  And thank you for it.  No, we did not know this existed before we saw this last night. 

I should note that Paul Manafort`s wife Kathy ended up having the lighter of the two purses at the end of the game which meant the other contestant ended up taking the pie to the face, which was a win for team Manafort. 

But, you know, life comes at you.  One minute you are in the studio audience during a taping of a Nickelodeon game show while the host is teasing you about my god, how many American Express cards do you have, the next you are the president`s campaign chairman serving seven plus years in federal prison and awaiting the start of your trial on state felony charges as well.  That`s where the president`s campaign chairman is now. 

The president`s deputy campaign chairman, we learned this week, is still cooperating with federal prosecutors, having basically been the government`s star witness at Manafort`s federal trial.  Lawyers in Gates` case telling a federal judge today that -- federal judge this week, excuse me, that Rick Gate`s cooperation is ongoing.  They don`t want another status report before the judge in his case until mid November. 

Trump`s former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, was also a cooperating witness for the government for a time.  This week, that seems to have gone off the rails now that he has dumped his legal team and hired a new team full of anti-Robert Mueller crusaders.  This week, the prosecutors told the judge that Flynn`s cooperation has ended.  Flynn`s defense team told the judge in his case this week that they want the prosecutors in the Flynn case disciplined.  That doesn`t seem like it`s heading for a happy ending. 

As for the president`s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, he is also in federal prison right now, but he may finally be getting a little vindication or at least something to hope for.  Earlier this summer, federal prosecutors ended their investigation into payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to women who claimed they had affairs with then candidate Donald Trump.  The payments were to keep them from talking about those alleged affairs before the election. 

Now, Michael Cohen has been complaining loudly from prison about the fact that he was prosecuted for those campaign finance felonies while everybody else involved in those felonies, including the president, seems to have gotten off the hook.  Cohen telling "The New Yorker", quote: How come I`m the only one?  How come I`m the one that`s going to prison?  I`m not the one that slept with the porn star.

Well, now, House Democrats say they plan to launch an inquiry into the matter starting as soon as next month.  From what we know, Michael Cohen is not expected to be brought in to testify during these hearings.  I should mention, there`s precedent in terms of calling federal prisoners into Congress to testify at important hearings. 

The Senate Finance Committee did it as recently as 2007 when they brought in a convicted felon to testify about identity theft and tax fraud.  There he was on his blazer over his orange jumpsuit.  Whether or not an orange jumpsuited Michael Cohen is put before the cameras by Democrats in Congress, he may even from prison finally have his vindication if House Democrats launch their own inquiry into what happened to the other people involved in the commission of the campaign finance felonies.  Remember, federal prosecutors describe the president as individual one who directed the commission of those felonies. 

Well, against this backdrop, a sort of where are they now backdrop involving all of these people very closely related to President Trump and his campaign, well, today, we finally got a case where somebody caught up in an offshoot investigation from the Mueller case got acquitted by a jury.  Today, former White House counsel Greg Craig was not found not guilty of lying to the Justice Department about work he did for the Ukrainian government in 2012 in a scheme that was cooked up by Paul Manafort, the president`s campaign chairman. 

Greg Craig is the only member of a Democratic administration to be prosecuted in a case that has derived from the Mueller probe.  This case had seemed a little wobbly from the start.  But today, the verdict in less than five hours from the jury, not guilty. 

Joining us is Josh Gerstein, senior legal affairs contributor with who was there for the whole trial. 

Josh, really nice to have you here.  Thanks for being here.


MADDOW:  I got the sense from reading your dispatches from the Greg Craig trial and from talking to you a little bit here on the show about the Greg Craig trial that the prosecution might have wobbled a little bit, might have seemed off their game or might have seemed like they had been knocked back by the judge at the outset of this trial. 

Was it not that much of a surprise when Craig got acquitted by this jury?  Did it surprise you? 

GERSTEIN:  I was a little surprised with how quickly it came, Rachel.  But I wasn`t that surprised with the acquittal.  I really felt there were going to be a few jurors that had reasonable doubt about Craig`s guilt.  We did talk to a couple of the jurors right after the verdict was returned.  One of them said that the jury was initially split almost down the middle on Craig`s guilt. 

But there was a technical issue at the trial about when Craig may have misled the government.  There were really only a couple of instances that were up for the jury to decide.  The jury said on those two occasions, there wasn`t enough proof that he had actively sought to confuse federal officials.  So, they ended up acquitting him.  Although some of them did say it was a pretty close call. 

MADDOW:  And in terms of technical issue, that date in terms of when Craig allegedly lied to these officials at the Justice Department, is the importance of that date basically the statute of limitations for the crime here, that he had to have committed this alleged crime within the five-year statute of limitations in order to be convicted by this jury today? 

GERSTEIN:  That`s exactly the issue, Rachel, but the jury wasn`t told that.  The jury was only told they could consider whether Craig had actually committed this offense after a certain date.  The window was extended a little bit as Craig`s attorneys tried to convince prosecutors over the last year or more to not file the case.  They agreed to extend it somewhat.  But at a certain point, they stopped and within a few days after that, Craig was indicted. 

One other thing that`s worth mentioning, Rachel, is that, you know, Craig`s lawyers came out after this and suggested that this case was a disgrace, and we had some close friends of Craig who say they think this was actually if not politically motivated, an effort to make the Mueller probe seem more politically even-handed, perhaps given in a little bit to Trump`s criticism that Mueller had gone after too many Republicans or too many members of his administration. 

MADDOW:  In terms of on that last point, Josh, did any of the jurors who spoke publically or spoke with you about these deliberations describe their own either suspicions or frustrations with the prosecution having been brought?  Obviously, this wasn`t Mueller`s prosecutors bringing this case.  They spun this off to the U.S. attorney who ultimately brought it. 

But was that something that jurors raised as well in terms of why Craig was prosecuted in the first place? 

GERSTEIN:  One juror did say that he thought it was a waste of effort given the things that Mueller was supposed to be investigating.  This juror said he was disappointed that Mueller hadn`t brought any charges directly against Americans regarding Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.  So, it was interesting that he made it on the jury and then he was also strongly in favor of acquittal. 

Another juror said they understood the way Craig was stepping up to the line and might have lied before the key statute of limitations date, that this was a legitimate case, at least for the Justice Department to have investigated if not brought. 

MADDOW:  Fascinating.  Well, first acquittal in any of the cases, so many of which have ended in guilty pleas and cooperation agreements. 


MADDOW:  The ones that have gone to trial have otherwise ended in guilty verdicts or hung juries.  It`s fascinating today this resolution to Greg Craig`s case. 

Thanks for covering it and helping us understand it, Josh.  Really appreciate it.

GERSTEIN:  No problem, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Josh Gerstein, senior legal affairs contributor with "Politico".

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


MADDOW:  In Great Britain, if you say something has gone pear-shaped, that means that thing has gone wrong.  I consider that to be a great insult to pears, also to the shape of pears which frankly is a nice shape.  I have never been offended in my life, but that gets me close. 

Today, I learned that another dodgy British insult is to call someone or to call something a great big girl`s blouse.  Why is that an insult?  This is a small boy`s shirt a good -- anyway, a great big girl`s blouse is an insult, at least according to the new prime minister of Great Britain who hurled that phrase at the leader of the Labour Party in parliament today. 

Boris Johnson, prime minister of Great Britain, screamed today at Jeremy Corbyn that he was a great big girl`s blouse. 

He also tried this one. 


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  There is only one chlorinated chicken that I can see in this house, and he`s on that bench.  Will he confirm again?  Will he confirm?  Will he confirm that he will let the people decide?  Let the people decide on what he is doing to this country`s negotiating position by having a general election on October the 15th. 


MADDOW:  There`s only one chlorinated chicken that I can see in this -- despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson persuasive rhetoric about chlorinated chickens and the size of girl`s blouses, British parliament did not go with his call to have a snap general election six weeks from now.

That was Johnson`s latest gambit in his effort to break the U.K. out of the European Union.  Boris Johnson has only been prime minister for about 30 seconds.  He`s already lost multiple high-stakes votes in parliament, and won none of them. 

Today, it was all the speaker of parliament could do to keep some basic order throughout another rowdy day in the House of Commons. 


JOHN BERCOW, U.K. HOUSE OF COMMONS SPEAKER:  Order.  If we have to go on longer because people sitting on the treasury bench are yelling to try to disrupt, so be it, it will go on longer.  Some people used to believe in good behavior.  I believe in good behavior on both sides of the house.  It better happen or it will take a whole lot longer, very simple, very clear. 

Order.  It`s order, order. 

It`s very difficult to hear the responses from the prime minister.  Members must calm themselves.  There is a long way to go. 


MADDOW:  There sure is.  But there is one moment from today in British parliament which we have on tape that I think you really, really, really should see and we`ve got that and more. 

Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Order, order!

Here`s one moment, a non-yelling moment from the slow motion Brexit disaster in Great Britain I want to show you tonight because I think it kind of captures some of the spectacle but also the weight here.  It`s like this difficult combination, all the antics, and the pettiness and the incredible just theater of it alongside the historic weight, even the existential despair that this moment in British politics and British political failure is bringing about in our most important overseas ally. 

When the brand-new Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost his first big Brexit vote as prime minister yesterday, he lost it because over 20 members of his own party crossed over and voted against him.  The Conservative Party lawmakers who voted against him included some of the most senior members of the party, long-serving conservative party elders.  And to punish the lawmakers who voted against him, Boris Johnson banished them all from the conservative party.  They will not be allowed to run on the Conservative Party ticket in the next election, which is more or less equivalent to kicking them out of parliament. 

One of the lawmakers who Boris Johnson is summarily booting out of the Conservative Party is this man.  If it tickles something in the back of your mind, he looks a little familiar, he looks like Winston Churchill, that is because he is Winston Churchill`s grandson.  His name is Sir Nicholas Soames.  He served in parliament for almost 40 years. 

And today in parliament, he got a little choked up giving what amounted to his farewell address, while urging his colleagues to continue to oppose what Boris Johnson is trying to do. 


SIR NICHOLAS SOAMES, CONSERVATIVE MEMBER, U.K. HOUSE OF COMMONS:  Mr. Speaker, I`m not standing in the next election and I am vast approaching the end of 37 years service to this House of which I have been proud and honored beyond words to be a member.  I am surely very sad that it should end in this way, and it is my most fervent hope this house will rediscover the spirit of compromise, humility and understanding that will enable us finally to push ahead with the vital work in the interest of the whole country that has inevitably sadly neglected while we have debated so much time to wrestling with Brexit.  I urge the house to support this bill. 

HOUSE:  Here, here. 


MADDOW:  If you do not understand how kicking Winston Churchill`s grandson out of parliament gets Great Britain any closer to a solution to its current crisis, you are not alone.  Really nobody knows how this ends, even people who really should know. 

Joining us now is Gillian Tett.  She`s chair of the editorial board and editor at large for the U.S. edition of "The Financial Times". 

Ms. Tett, it`s an honor to have you here.  Thanks for --



MADDOW:  I know that Americans are both sort of riveted by this spectacle, but also alienated by its seemingly arcane nature and difficult to discern plot lines. 

TETT:  I think there are a lot of parallels between the way that many American voters reacted to Trump`s Twitter account whether that first happened.  And they kind of were shocked and horrified, they laughed.  It was almost entertaining and it became a source of conversation around the water cooler. 

In many ways, what`s happening right now in parliament is just the same.  People are shocked and horrified.  But there is actually a very serious point here, which is many of the political structures we got used to and the political practices in the last few decades are breaking down, and we don`t know what`s going to replace them. 

MADDOW:  When Boris Johnson kicks all of those members of the Conservative Party essentially out of the party and out of parliament, presumably, he expects not just to have reduced his majority down to a minority and made his party smaller, presumably he believes that those people will be replaced by other conservatives who are more loyal to him? 

TETT:  I think at the moment a long-term strategy is complete illusion.  This is basically desperate moves.  It`s a bit like playground politics, where people are doing whatever they can to throw stones at each other, shout, yell, all of you sucks (ph). 

It`s not clear whether they are kicked out permanently or not.  In the last few hours, he`s actually rolled back a bit and said maybe they will come back.  Some will come back.  Maybe it`s all the fault of the chief whip, the person who has to keep the party in order. 

Frankly, right now, it`s so chaotic, you can barely predict what`s going to happen next week, let alone next month, or even next day. 

MADDOW:  Well, speaking of next month, do you think that there is going to be a national election, the third national election in five years? 

TETT:  Well, at the moment the party, the Labour Party, which is opposition party, said they`re not going to sign up to any new election until the bill to stop a "no-deal" Brexit is actually signed, sealed and delivered.  But the problem is that even when that bill is signed, sealed and delivered, it`s unclear whether the entire fragmented opposition will unite or not. 

I mean, the key thing to understand is that the U.K. had two dominant parties, Labour, Conservative, plus some smaller ones like Labour Democrat, that is now fragmenting and you have a complete mess emerging.  We could be on the merge of a complete realignment of British politics going forward.  And that is a pretty scary thought given all the concern about the lack of Constitution and the uncertainty and, P.S., the economic damage as well. 

MADDOW:  Is there a strain on the parliamentary system itself rather than the strain on the individual parties?  Obviously, some of what Boris Johnson has done to arouse anger from members of his own party is by proposing proroguing parliament, essentially closing down parliament on his own terms, is the parliamentary system itself wobbly? 

TETT:  Well, the parliamentary system has been under pressure ever since they had the referendum for Brexit, because historically, they had a decision whereby most decisions are taken by parliament, not by referendums.  And the referendum was so close, it was inevitably going to create a lot of controversy about whether the popular rule really was to leave overwhelmingly or not. 

The fundamental problem has been all the way through.  The majority of parliamentarians never actually wanted to leave at all.  So what is democracy?  How do you measure it?  How do you organize it? 

These are fundamental existential questions that are confronting the U.K. right now and, again, in many ways they echo what`s been happening in America. 

MADDOW:  Whew.  It`s incredibly entertaining at one level and it is incredibly dark and deep at the same level. 

Gillian Tett who is the editor at large for the U.S. edition of "The Financial Times", chair of the editorial board -- thank you so much for coming in.  Thanks, appreciate it. 

TETT:  Thank you. 

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


BERCOW:  Order.  Order, very rude for members.  Order. 



MADDOW:  You can think of it as the offertory hymn of the Trump campaign. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And who`s going to pay for the wall? 

AUDIENCE:  Mexico! 

TRUMP:  Who? 

AUDIENCE:  Mexico! 

TRUMP:  Who is going to pay for the wall? 

AUDIENCE:  Mexico! 

TRUMP:  And who is going to pay for the wall? 

AUDIENCE:  Mexico! 


MADDOW:  Over and over, call and response.  Who is going to pay?  Mexico!  Who pays?  Mexico pays! 

Turns out Mexico is not going to be paying.  But do pass the plate, because in a letter to Congress, the secretary of defense now says the president will be taking money for his wall out of the U.S. military, out of pentagon funding originally set aside for military construction projects, $3.6 billion to be cut out of military bases and facilities around the country and around the world. 

As the Trump administration was rolling out this plan for sliding $3.5 billion out of the U.S. military so he can use that to build the wall Mexico was supposedly going to pay for, we got word from Congress that no way are they going to let that happen.  For one thing, they tell us they may keep challenging this in the courts, they believe they have grounds for doing that.  For another, the House version of the bill that funds the U.S. military, the version of that bill that the House passed in July, that bill expressly prohibits the White House from taking money from the military to put into the wall.  It`s explicit. 

When lawmakers get back to work this fall, one of their big chores is to reconcile the House and Senate versions of that military funding bill.  But if you think Democrats in the House are likely to cave on this issue, more likely to cave on this issue than they were before the president started listing and naming all the military projects that are going to lose money, well, that`s not what we are hearing, nor is it what anyone would expect. 

So yes, Mexico isn`t paying for the wall.  He says the U.S. military is going to pay for the wall.  I wouldn`t bank on that either. 

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


Good evening, Lawrence.