Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 18, 2019
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": There are still tickets left.
Plus, big news, we have details for the third stop of our tour, which is Chicago. Tuesday, November 12th. We`ll release tickets at Monday at 10:00 a.m. Central. You can get the tickets for Chicago at the same place you got them for L.A. That`s MSNBC.com/withpodtour.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Man, I love these live shows. Excellent. Thanks.
HAYES: I do, too.
MADDOW: All right. Thanks for joining us this hour. Happy to have you with us.
A little bit less than a year ago, shortly after former President George H.W. Bush died, his funeral in Washington was the kind of occasion that we only very, very, very rarely see in U.S. politics, right? I mean, there are only so many U.S. presidents. There are only so many ex-presidents alive at any one time, and any one of them passing is always going to be a very, very big deal, let alone one as revered as former President George H.W. Bush.
One of the things that was remarkable about his funeral last year were the pictures from the funeral. Do you remember this shot? Rosalynn Carter next to Jimmy Carter next to Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, next to Michelle Obama and Barack Obama, next to Melania Trump, next to Donald Trump, all there together, the vice presidents and their families sitting behind them.
You just don`t see that in real life. That`s like flipping through a history book, right? Except there they all are on the same page in the same place, at the same time all together. You never see that.
But President Bush`s funeral at the National Cathedral was a huge affair. It wasn`t just presidents and vice presidents and their families. It was everyone imaginable in U.S. politics.
One of the weirder things we have since learned about the attendance of that funeral is that when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani decided that he would attend that funeral, he brought with him a date, a most unusual date. The Bush family has since pronounced themselves, quote, disappointed to learn that the man who Rudy Giuliani brought to Poppy Bush`s funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington was Lev Parnas?
Lev Parnas now famous as one of Rudy Giuliani`s two associates who was just last week arrested at Dulles Airport with a one-way ticket out of that country. He and three other men have been charged with a sprawling campaign finance scheme that prosecutors say was designed, among other things, to funnel illegal foreign donations to the president`s re-election effort and to a number of different Republican campaigns.
Well, since those arrests, the picture that has unfolded about Mr. Parnas, about Rudy Giuliani`s date for the Poppy Bush funeral, it started bad, but it`s gotten very dark very fast. Here, for example, is Ben Schreckinger and Darren Samuelsohn writing for Politico.com.
Quote: On October 25th, 2008, the owner of a property in Florida in which Lev Parnas had been living told Parnas he needed to leave. When the men began to argue and the owner told Parnas he would call the police, Parnas told the man, quote, if you call the cops, they`re not going to find you, ever.
That`s according to a petition for a restraining order that was subsequently filed in court in south Florida. That restraining order petition was obtained by these "Politico" reporters. According to court filings, despite that, they will never find you ever threat, three days later, quote, the men met again to discuss the matter further.
According to the restraining order petition, this time it went even worse. Quote, Lev Parnas held a gun to the man`s head and said, this is my last warning to you. He then, according to the court filing, got into his car, a dark blue Porsche, and he drove off.
We know from another court motion obtained by "Politico" that soon thereafter, on Halloween night, police found Mr. Parnas and seized at least three guns from him, including a 40 caliber Glock, a 9 millimeter semiautomatic pistol and a .38 revolver.
So, now, in what is turning out to be sort of the criminal prosecution offshoot to the ongoing proceedings against President Trump, some of the mystery here, some of the weirdness here is finally start to come into focus after a week or so of starting to figure out who this cast of characters is. I mean, first, you should know this particular guy, the one who went to the George H.W. Bush funeral as the guest of Rudy Giuliani, the guy with the gun to the head restraining order filings in Florida, he`s the only one of these four guys who were charged in this criminal case this past week who apparently has not made bail. Interesting.
His friend, Igor, did. Igor is out on $1 million bail. After some initial confusion as to the bail status of these guys, we actually talked with the reporter who told us that with her own eyes she saw Igor walk under his own power out of a federal courthouse with his lawyers. So we`re confident that Igor was ultimately bailed on $1 million bail.
We also know from the arraignment of the other two defendants in this case, yesterday in federal district court in New York, the other two defendants in this case have also made bail, the guy arrested in San Francisco. Like Igor, he was released on $1 million bail. The guy who was at large for several days after the indictment was unsealed who was only eventually arrested just a couple of days ago after arriving at JFK airport. He too is out on bail, although his bail was set lower, was set at a quarter of a million dollars.
We actually got the transcript of their arraignment today and we can see from the transcript of the arraignment that the judge hearing the case -- he confirms the bail arrangements for all these defendants. The judge then in his interactions gives us a couple pieces of information about this case that we didn`t previously have. First of all, the judge makes clear this might be a case that is a little bit sprawling. I mean, soon after an arraignment like this, it`s incumbent upon the prosecutors basically to share with the defendants and their lawyers, to share with the other side the evidence that prosecutors are going to use to try to prove their case against these defendants a process called discovery. It`s part of a fair trial. You get to see what the government has against you.
Well, in the arraignment in federal court yesterday afternoon, prosecutors told the judge that in this case, the discovery is going to be a lot. So much so that it`s going to take a long time for them just to hand it all over.
From the transcript, the judge says, quote: Before we address scheduling, I would like to ask counsel for the government if they could briefly describe the categories and volume of discovery to be produced.
Prosecutor says: Yes, your honor. The discovery in this case is fairly, fairly voluminous. It includes approximately 10 search warrant applications and records obtained pursuant to search warrants for over 10 email accounts which encompass multiple gigabytes of electronic data. The discovery will also include financial records for more than 50 bank accounts.
Again, according to the prosecutor, quote: fairly voluminous an amount, as well as records from a number of third parties that either have been produced or continuing to be produced. So, your honor, the government`s intention is to begin discovery on a rolling basis.
I mean, I know it is four guys who are charged in this indictment, but more than 50 bank accounts?
Prosecutors also made clear under further questioning from the judge that seems like this is not over, that this investigation is not done. The judge says, quote, to the prosecutor: Do you anticipate any superseding indictments at this point, meaning further indictments of these four defendants?
Prosecutor says: Your honor, I think it is fair to characterize the investigation as ongoing, but no decision about any type of additional charges has been made.
So, I mean, we know that the government`s case, prosecutor`s case is ongoing here because since these guys were all indicted, we know that at least one former Republican congressman to whom they allegedly steered illegal foreign campaign contributions, former Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions has received a subpoena from the same grand jury that indicted these guys. So, because the grand jury still handing out subpoenas, we know this investigation is ongoing and there`s the possibility of further charges against either the guys who have already been charged or against additional defendants.
But now from the transcript, we`ve got it here from the prosecutor`s mouth as well. Your Honor, I think it is fair to characterize the government`s investigation as ongoing.
In this criminal case, though, that, again, appears to be the sort of criminal prosecution that is adjacent and connected to the ongoing impeachment proceedings against the president, I find it interesting that of the four guys who were charged, only one of them appears to still be in because no not bailed out. He`s the one opt far left, the one who has in his public record this holding a gun to the guy`s head stuff from Florida.
There`s also been extensive public reporting on the number of outstanding civil fraud suits that he appears to have been running from from some time. If you look at the public record of his past experience as a stock broker, you also find that he`s been associated with at least three financial firms that have been shut down by financial regulators, including one that later surfaced in a lurid, mob-connected stock scheme that involved senior members of the Colombo crime family. Tell me again how he ended up as Rudy Giuliani`s date at Poppy Bush`s funeral?
Tell me also how he ended up having dinner at the White House with the sitting president of the United States. Tell me again why he`s got all these different pictures of himself with the sitting president of the United States. I mean, it`s almost more unnerving that in addition to the pictures of himself with the president, we`ve also got a picture of him with the president`s eldest son, right?
The other guy besides his codefendant on the far right side of this picture and the president`s son on the far left side of this picture, the other guy in this picture is a man who at the time this picture was taken was running the main super PAC that is supporting President Trump`s re-election efforts. That`s a super PAC called America First, which itself is named in these felony allegations from federal prosecutors about these illegal foreign campaign donations. We`re going to have more on that aspect of this case coming up in just a moment, ProPublica has just published some eye-popping new stuff about that part of the president`s re-election effort and how that might factor in here.
But on Capitol Hill in Washington, right, I mean, the impeachment part of this, the impeachment thing is obviously not going very well for the president. There`s no clear sense as to who is quarterbacking the White House`s defense for the proceedings. There have been some insinuations over the last week or two that maybe it was White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who was running the defense to the impeachment, whether or not that was true before yesterday, it`s definitely not true now. Not after Mr. Mulvaney strode to the White House podium and cheerfully admitted that not only, yes, the president definitely submitted help from a foreign government to use against the Democrats, but of course there was pressure behind it, a little trade, call it quid pro quo, whatever you want, just get over it.
White House chief of staff cheerfully, even boisterously admitting yesterday that, yes, military aid was withheld in exchange for these demands from the president for domestic political help against his opponents.
That performance by the White House chief of staff yesterday -- I mean, it`s scrambled Republicans defense of the president`s behavior, right? That cheerful admission from him that yes, there was a quid pro quo. That has undermined the chief defense of the president`s actions from multiple Republicans in Congress. I keep they`ll be paying for that politically for a very long time.
The other thing, though, that Mick Mulvaney set out to announce was the plan by the administration to steer what amounts to a gigantic government contract to the president`s golf property in Florida, which is called Doral. We`re going to talk about that a little later on tonight in the context of the impeachment inquiry because it`s starting to look like that itself could end up being an additional stand-alone article of impeachment against President Trump.
Again, that is still to come just this hour. It`s Friday, right, so the news is like pureeing something in a blender with no lid on. It`s just happening. We`ll get to everything, I swear.
But I do want to say tonight kudos to Bloomberg News and CNN for what I think is the most important new reporting of the day, important new reporting about how this scheme for which the president is being impeached appears to have come together. They -- both of these two reports give us something new and very, very fundamental that makes a lot of what is otherwise been confusing suddenly seem crystal clear.
Let`s start with Bloomberg. Bloomberg reporter Stephanie Baker and Irina Reznik tonight have what amounts to the scoop I`ve been waiting for for the past few weeks, a scoop at a finally makes the whole cast of characters that Rudy Giuliani and the president appear to have employed here sort of makes sense as part of one cogent and rational, if potentially quite illegal story. It has to do with this Kremlin connected Ukrainian oligarch who we have been talking about for the last few weeks in conjunction with this scandal.
His name is Dmytro Firtash. For years, he was the Kremlin main power player in Ukraine. The Putin government set him up in business in Ukraine as its cutout. The deals that Putin set up for him made him very rich and very powerful in that country. He in turn then funded pro-Putin political parties in Ukraine, including funding the career of Trump`s now-imprisoned campaign chairman Paul Manafort what he was working for pro-Putin interests in that country.
The problem is that U.S. law enforcement considers Dmytro Firtash to be an upper echelon associate of Russian organized crime and the Justice Department has indicted him in a gigantic bribery scandal. They want to put him on trial in the northern district of Illinois.
Now, he`s been under house arrest. Dmytro Firtash has been out on bail, like $174 million bail, he`s out on bail in Vienna, he`s under house arrest, he`s been fighting efforts to extradite him to the United States to face those felony charges. He`s been fighting those efforts for years.
I`ve been obsessed with this guy for a long -- I mean, he`s the reason kind of that I wrote this book. It`s weird that it just came out at the same time. This is happening with the president`s impeachment.
But as interesting as this story is, as important as it is to understand that part of the world, what Bloomberg is reporting tonight kind of makes it all fall into place. What Bloomberg is reporting tonight is that the way we may have gotten ourselves into this impeachment drama we are in in this country is, when his case took a bad turn for him this summer, this thing for which the president is now being impeached seemed to sort of kick into gear.
Here`s what happened. This summer, a court in Austria ruled in what appeared to be a final decision that this guy, Dmytro Firtash, finally had to be extradited to the United States to face federal bribery charges in a U.S. court. He`s been fighting this for years. This court ruling this past summer makes it seem like it`s finally going to have to go.
Quote: In five years of court battles, Firtash`s legal team had successfully beaten back U.S. efforts to bring him to trial in Illinois. The tide appeared to turn in the summer when the Justice Department won a ruling in Austria securing Firtash`s extradition. At that point, as Bloomberg reports tonight, Firtash essentially hit the panic button in his case, or at least decided he was going to put plan B into action.
Up until that point, his highest profile U.S. lawyer had been a man named Lanny Davis, which might have made sense for a while for Mr. Firtash, but after Mr. Davis became publicly associated with Michael Cohen, President Trump`s one-time personal lawyer who famously turned against President Trump, one Lanny Davis and Michael Cohen were an anti-Trump force out there in the world, that no longer was a good look for Mr. Firtash`s defense efforts.
So, Mr. Firtash after that ruling that said he was going to get extradited to the United States, when he put into effect plan B, when he hit the panic alarm and changed gears in terms of how he was trying to avoid trial in the United States, he got rid of Lanny Davis and, quote, shuffled his lawyers, dropped Lanny Davis and instead added these two pro-Trump TV lawyers whom Bloomberg describes as vocal supporters of President Trump who had worked with Rudy Giuliani.
So, here`s Firtash, right? Putin`s guy in Ukraine, allegedly connected to the Russian mob, very, very, very, very rich, very powerful, fears that he`s finally going to lose his extradition fight and ends up in court. He dumps his lawyers who might be seen as anti-Trump, picks up new Fox News lawyers who are very pro-Trump and who specifically have connections to Giuliani.
What else can he do to try to help his case to stop the U.S. Justice Department from extraditing him and putting him on trial? He believed he had one other card to play.
Quoting from Bloomberg tonight: Associates of Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch fighting extradition to the U.S. were working to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden last summer in an effort to get Rudy Giuliani`s help in the oligarch`s legal case. That is according to three people familiar with the exchanges.
Dmytro Firtash charged with conspiracy by the United States and living in Vienna shuffled lawyers to add vocal supporters of President Trump to their team, vocal supporters of President Trump who had worked with Mayor Giuliani. Around that time, Firtash`s associates began using his broad network of Ukraine contacts to try to get damaging information on Biden.
The pro-Trump lawyers have billed the oligarch $1 million for their work thus far, that includes costs to be paid to Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate who reportedly acted as a, quote, translator and important contact.
So, this very rich guy in Ukraine is pulling every string he can to try to get out of trouble with the U.S. Justice Department. Gets rid of the anti- Trump lawyer, puts these pro-Trump lawyers on the payroll, and that includes putting Lev Parnas on the payroll.
Rudy Giuliani then says he in turn has been paid about $500,000 by Lev Parnas. I wonder where that money came from. Giuliani by his own admission, along with his friend, Lev, according to U.S. prosecutors, then got to work trying to get rid of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine because they saw her as an impediment to this scheme.
They also, Lev and Igor, according to the U.S. prosecutors, suddenly became conduits for mysteriously large sums of money that appeared to be foreign in origin that got funneled to the president`s reelection efforts and to multiple Republican campaigns.
Giuliani then gets inserted by the president into the diplomatic process between the United States and Ukraine so that Ukraine through him gets the quid pro quo message. They`re not going to get any White House meeting for their new president. They`re not going to get their military aid unless they cough off damaging information that President Trump can use against Democrats.
And what is this specific damaging information that the president and Rudy Giuliani want, that they think they can get from Ukraine? Turns out it`s all stuff, all allegations against Biden, coughed up by Dmytro Firtash, including the supposed holy grail of this whole effort, sworn allegations against Vice President Biden from a former Ukrainian prosecutor whose sworn statement it says right on the front page was obtained via Dmytro Firtash.
And that`s where the other big scoop of the night comes in. CNN reporting exclusively tonight that one of the State Department depositions that happened behind closed doors this week in impeachment proceedings against President Trump included testimony that Rudy Giuliani intervened at the State Department and the White House to try to get a U.S. visa to the guy who swore out that statement with all those made-up allegations against Joe Biden. That sworn statement that Firtash gave to Giuliani that Giuliani have been waving around on television and saying is all the dirt on Biden that the Ukrainian government is supposed to investigate, right?
Dmytro Firtash gave that statement to Giuliani, apparently, because he thought it would be something that would be of value to President Trump. This is a guy who`s very rich and directly connected to the Kremlin, allegedly connected to Russian organized crime. He`s facing trial in the United States. He switches gears last summer, right, when it looks like he`s going to get extradited and he gets busy filling out his payroll and pulling every string he can possibly get to get the Trump administration and people connected to the president to kibosh his extradition to the U.S. and his felony prosecution.
According to CNN tonight, the State Department objected to that guy being given a visa because of his whole life known involvement in corruption in Ukraine. The State Department didn`t grant his visa. According to the State Department official who gave his deposition in the impeachment proceedings this week, Giuliani then, quote, appealed to the White House to have the State Department reverse its decision and grant that visa. The man`s visa was, however, quote, never granted.
So at least that`s one story line, right? I mean, since this cast of characters started to emerge, it was pretty clear that this was going to be a dark story. As the impeachment proceedings go forward in Congress, as this criminal case goes forward in the Southern District of New York, if it`s true as reported that a counterintelligence investigation has also been opened into Mr. Giuliani to ascertain how much of this may be a foreign influence operation directed by a foreign government or directed by a foreign intelligence service, presumably as all those things go forward in concert, we are going to learn more.
But at least the view from here as of tonight, as of this part of the hour, who knows what will break in the next two minutes, right, but at least our view from this vantage point is -- I mean, it`s a movie. The scheme for which the president is going to be impeached kind of seems to have started with a Kremlin-connected billionaire, who U.S. law enforcement says is linked to the Russian mob. He`s wanted in this country on felony charges.
He`s been buying up people in Trump world to buy help for himself to stop himself from being prosecuted for corruption in U.S. federal court. If this new reporting bears out, it would appear that part of the way he was trying to buy himself out of being prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department was by concocting anti-Joe Biden documents and allegations to attract the attention of and win the favor of president of the United States by giving him fake foreign origin dirt that the president could use against his Democratic opponents in the next election. Because, of course, why would you try that after how well everything worked for these guys in 2016?
The other piece that is emerging today thanks to new reporting from ProPublica is that main super PAC supporting President Trump`s re-election, that super PAC appears to be not only directly implicated in the criminal part of this scheme involving Rudy Giuliani`s funeral date for Poppy Bush`s funeral and all the rest of these guys, it also appears to have some other quite serious problems that look bad in this criminal case but look worse in terms of the new stuff that is just coming to light.
Again, this is the main dark money group supporting the president`s re- election effort, and that`s our next story.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: When associates of Rudy Giuliani, the president`s lawyer, got arrested last week, these guys, it was alleged conspiracy to break the campaign finance laws of this country. Prosecutors say one part of their scheme involved them trying to funnel foreign money into U.S. elections, in part, through a political action committee that`s referred to as committee- 1. Committee-1 is referred to by reporters as America First Action, the main super PAC supporting President Trump`s re-election.
Now, why were these guys allegedly carrying out this felony campaign finance scheme that involved trying to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars into the president`s re-election super PAC? I don`t know. Stay tuned. I want to go to all the court hearings.
But the same super PAC shows up in new reporting from ProPublica today. Looks at the PAC in terms of some of their ongoing drama. Quote: Last year, a Department of Defense contractor quietly donated a-million dollars to this PAC, America First Action. A day after the company was awarded a supplemental government contract worth just under half a million dollars, they turned around and basically spent that much money on a campaign donation to the Donald Trump super PAC.
That`s a problem because federal contractors are not allowed to donate to political entities. Now, upon being caught out for having done this, the company`s founder said oops, he meant to make this as a personal donation, not as an illegal contractor donation. He subsequently filed paper work to clean up as the did the pro-Trump super PAC.
But the company founder first acknowledged to ProPublica that, quote, the optics of his America First donation were less than ideal. The executive told ProPublica, quote: The facts might be a problem, but they are facts -- which means we now have a new caption for our time in this period of American history.
Joining us now is Mike Spies, he`s a member of the ProPublica reporting team that broke this story.
Mr. Spies, it`s really pleasure to have you here.
MIKE SPIES, PROPUBLICA REPORTER: Thanks for having me on.
MADDOW: Thanks for doing this.
So, I have been interested in the president`s super PAC for a long time, even from before they turned up in this indictment. There have been allegations that the president`s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has used this PAC basically to self-deal. He`s not supposed to coordinate between campaign and the PAC.
MADDOW: Also, the president`s troubled inaugural committee, the treasury from that inaugural committee is one of the board members for this PAC.
MADDOW: We all know about that trouble.
But what you`re finding is direct evidence they`ve been taking illegal donations.
SPIES: Yes, there have been a number of complaints filed over the last year and a half, none on which -- seems like nothing will happen with them because the FEC at the moment is utterly toothless, which is terrifying at this particular moment in time. Though this particular example, campaign finance law is just a giant gray area in general. The one thing, the one thing that`s black and white is that if you have a federal contract, you can`t do not to a political committee or campaign.
So, this was just like one of the most brazen violations imaginable, and it went totally unnoticed for several months until a watchdog happened to catch it and filed a complaint, which is what caused Mr. Perkins to then do a shuffle and say something like, no, no, it did what it says specifically was. It was a corporate check, but it was from my corporate personal distribution account, which is a phrase I`ve never heard before.
MADDOW: Corporate personal distribution account?
SPIES: Nobody has ever heard. I have not met anyone who knows what this actually is, but according to him the money he used will get taxed as personal income. It`s very confusing, but it still, he admits was a corporate check. He also said it didn`t explain they cleared it first with America First, which presents its own issue.
MADDOW: That was another big red flag here for me in your reporting. Part of the reason I wanted to talk to you. If people who are giving illegal campaign donations accidentally or not to this campaign are checking it out -- this campaign committee, if they`re checking it out with the campaign committee in advance before they do this stuff, that would imply this may be a sort of systematically okayed, systematically organized thing by the PAC.
SPIES: Perhaps it should have been returned. What`s interesting was when Mr. Perkins said to me, I then tried to follow up within the next day and maybe he realized he had gone too far and wouldn`t respond to any of my follow-up queries.
But yes, it`s also the PAC`s responsibility once it gets a donation to check it out and make sure it doesn`t have red flags attached to it. So, there`s something very odd happened. If there was cleared with them beforehand, seems like it`s totally possible that they knew that they were getting a donation that wasn`t above board.
MADDOW: And for that to be surfacing at the same time that they appear in this indictment from this illegal $325,000 donation from these guys, weeks apart.
SPIES: Weeks apart. It`s not the only thing, the only problem that was going on.
MADDOW: I will say that part of the reason I wanted you here is I want to use you as a human demonstration project to tell people we do not have an FEC at this point in this country, we don`t have an active one. Which must groups like the Campaign Legal Center and reporters like Mike Spies at ProPublica are the only people who are finding these things out, which means figure out a way to support journalism monetarily and bodily in this country because it`s the only way we`re going to get to the bottom of some of these criminal pursuits.
Mr. Spies, thank you for being here.
SPIES: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Appreciate it. Come back soon.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Quote: On or about arch 6th, 2016, the plaintiff, Eric Linder checked in as a resort guest. He was assigned a guest room in the Jack Nicklaus villa building. The plaintiff awoke to discover that he had multiple welts, lumps and marks over much of his face, neck, arms, and torso and complained to resort management who had both villa guest rooms tested for bed bugs.
The plaintiff was advised by resort staff and/or management the guest room in the Jack Nicklaus villa had tested positive for bed bugs. The resort generally and the Jack Nicklaus villa in particular has a history of severe bed bug infestation, going back to at least the beginning of 2016, and the remediation was either not performed or was inadequate. Yet the resort permitted guests to continue to stay in unsuitable rooms nonetheless. That`s according to the complaint filed about this incident.
Today, we spoke with a source who confirmed that these are photos of the welts in question. This is the plaintiff from that complaint following his stay at the resort. As you can see, the bites were all over his neck, both sides of his face, all down his arms.
Lawyers for the resort later reached an undisclosed settlement with the plaintiff. I think it`s fair to say he will not be returning to that particular resort anytime soon.
But what`s the loss, really, when you have world leaders lining up to sleep in the Jack Nicklaus villa in the meantime? Because the resort in question here is the president`s struggling golf property in Doral, Florida.
Yesterday, the president`s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, confirmed to the press that that resort, the president`s golf course in Doral, will host next year`s G-7 summit. And, clearly, this is an unprecedented use of the presidency to put revenue into a president`s pockets. But what`s interesting about this new scandal is that it`s also quite clearly a way to prop up a business that has been severely underperforming for the president.
"The Washington Post`s" Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Fahrenthold has done some remarkable reporting specifically on this Doral property showing how steep of a decline the resort is in. And that`s no small thing for the president and his business. Doral is where he makes most of his money. It`s his keystone property. It`s his biggest moneymaker hotel.
But in the past few years, the net operating income at a club has dropped by 69 percent. A tax consultant hired by the club has told officials it is, quote, severely underperforming.
That maybe explains why the property has been recently not all that discerning when it comes to the type of events that it has looked to host. Back in July of this year, you might remember the resort teaming up with a notorious Miami strip club at that planned event at the president`s Doral resort, golfers were given the option to pay for a nude dancer who would then serve as their caddie girl while they shot around at the president`s club.
The planned itinerary was to have everybody head back to the strip club for what was described as a, quote, very tasteful burlesque show, one that however should be noted could involve nudity. No promises, we`re just saying, it could.
That strip club event at the president`s property was ultimately canceled when the president`s family business decided not to go through with it. More recently, though, that`s the same property that`s been in the news for hosting a pro-Trump conference on a recent weekend. That`s the conference in which a video was shown that depicted President Trump shooting and murdering and decapitating and stabbing his political opponents and specific members of the news media.
So, clearly, the natural progression is now host the G-7 summit of world leaders at that same property.
The event is set for June when business is already very slow at that property. Just to give you an idea in June of 2017, Doral had a 38 percent occupancy rate. I guess if they host the G-7 there in June, maybe it`ll help with that.
The White House said today they vetted 12 possible sites all around America, and what do you know, Doral was just the only one that made sense.
Nobody actually knows if a selection process took place at all. Extensive federal reviews have to be done to secure a location for an international summit of this magnitude. There seems to me indications that reviews like that just weren`t conducted ahead of this announcement about the G-7. Key local officials, like, for example, the mayor of Doral, Florida, say that they only learned about the summit when everybody else did, on Twitter, on TV. The mayor of Doral says he`s yet to get a call from the White House about this at all, which would imply there hasn`t been an extensive federal review about the city`s planning and security preparations that they would need to be able to promise to carry off an event like this.
I mean, there`s no shortage of reasons as to why this whole idea is a major problem. My colleague, Steve Benen, who writes the Maddow Blog I think has honed in on the biggest issue of all.
Steve writes for us today, quote: We`re watching a passive versus active problem play out. When Saudi Arabia, for example, books rooms at the Trump International Hotel in D.C., and some of the profits from that transaction end up in the U.S. president`s pocket. President Trump can defend the arrangement by saying it`s entirely passive. He played no role in the Saudi`s decision to stay there. That defense disappears with the G-7 summit scheme. It`s all active corruption, not passive corruption.
President Trump with this deal in no uncertain terms is telling some of the most powerful leaders that if they wish to participate in next year`s international diplomatic summit, they have to spend quite a bit of money at one of his struggling businesses. It`s, quote, conscious, it`s deliberate, it`s direct.
Well, the problem with this happening while an impeachment proceeding is already under way, it appears to be blatantly unconstitutional, and there`s the prospect that this alone might stand as its own article of impeachment in these proceedings. We`re going to speak next with a lawmaker who wants Congress to go on the record to vote on why they explicitly don`t approve of this move on the part of the president. That`s an important thing as to whether or not this is a proven anti-constitutional effort by the president. When something like that happens in the middle of impeachment proceedings, it doesn`t tend to end well for the president in question.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: In the Constitution, there`s a specific line that says a president can`t take payments from foreign governments without the express consent of Congress. Two things that are very important about that. First of all, it`s just unavoidably clear. Whether it`s small payments or big payments or market rate payments or discount payments, it doesn`t matter. The president can`t take payments from foreign countries.
Then there`s the consent of Congress part of it. I mean, who knows what this president considers to be permission from Congress to take money for himself from anywhere? Now that the president has proposed that the G-7 summit be held at one of his personally owned properties, which would force foreign governments to pay him for the privilege of coming to that event, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland has come up with a plan to make it clear that the president has the opposite of the consent of Congress for this scheme.
Congressman Raskin is proposing that Congress vote explicitly to make clear that they don`t approve of this. If that happens, that would make it so there`s no constitutional way out for the president. His resolution opposing the decision to host the G-7 at the president`s golf resort in Florida is planned for the House Rules Committee for Tuesday, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time for a vote.
If that vote goes against the president, which it will, and if the president still goes ahead with this, that means he is explicitly taking money from foreign governments with the explicit lack of consent from the Congress, which sort of feels like the only two ingredients you need for a ready-made, fully cooked new article of impeachment just on this point alone.
Joining us now is Congressman Jamie Raskin. He sits on the Rules Committee and also Oversight Committee, which I should mention is one of the three committees leading the impeachment proceedings against the president right now.
Sir, thanks very much for your time tonight. It`s nice to see you.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Nice to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I want to mention before I ask you about this just how sad, how devastated we are about the loss of your chairman in the oversight committee. Congressman Cummings passing feels like a landmark moment in American politics, in U.S. history. I imagine you on the committee under his leadership, you guys must be just gutted.
RASKIN: I mean, it`s been a very tough week for us for that reason and a very tough week in Maryland. He was, of course, our favorite son in every way. But Elijah showed us how you fight with every fiber of your being to defend democracy but maintain your decency and your civility and your sense of humor at the same time. So, he leaves a remarkable example for us and his memory will always be a blessing to those of us who had a good fortune of knowing him.
MADDOW: Let me ask in the way that I set up this discussion talking about this plan for a resolution of disapproval for what the president is trying to do with this G-7 Summit, hosting it at one of his properties. To me, it seems like that would have pretty direct implications in terms of the surface level, unconstitutionality of what the president is trying to do.
Did I explain that in the way that you`re thinking about it? Or is there any of that I missed?
RASKIN: No, very much so. You know, one thing we need to point out is that no other president in the history of the United States of America has come remotely this close to even touching the emoluments clause.
In the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln got these beautiful elephant tusks from the king of Siam. And he took them to Congress. He wanted to keep them and he said, can I keep these in the middle of the civil war. They said, you`re doing a great job, Abe, but no, you have to turn those over to the Department of the Interior.
Trump`s great racial nationalist hero, Andrew Jackson, received a gold medallion from the prime minister of Venezuela, Simon Bolivar. He wanted to keep that, turned it over to Congress, Congress said no.
This president has been collecting millions of dollars from foreign governments at hotels, resorts, golf courses and business deals all over the world. And, of course, at the headquarters of all the corruption, the Trump Hotel in Washington, which we call the Washington emolument.
But now, he`s outdone himself with this event which will be clearly the most unconstitutional event ever to take place at a hotel in the history of the United States because you`ve got a convergence of foreign emoluments violations with domestic emoluments violations. He`s going to be shaking down these foreign governments for hundreds of thousands, at least probably millions of dollars, which he cannot receive, as you pointed out. He can`t take one dollar from them without the consent of Congress. And he`s not asked for our consent.
And then he`s also going to be directing millions of dollars from the U.S. government directly to his property. The concede here apparently is they`re not going to take profits, whatever that means. In any event, it`s totally irrelevant because the Constitution doesn`t say the president can`t take profits from foreign governments. It says he cannot take payments of any kind whatever, whether that`s gross or that`s net.
So what we`re going to do, I hope, is to adopt this resolution, which expressly forbids the president to go ahead with this plan and to manifest our non-consent to his collection of these foreign government emoluments. We are also pointing out his violation of the domestic emoluments clause, which says that the president is limited to his salary in office and he cannot collect any other money from the taxpayers.
So when the president says, I don`t even take my salary, that`s all he`s allowed to take. He cannot take millions of dollars flowing to his hotels and resorts from the Department of Defense and the Secret Service and the White House as they put people up and pay for their meals and golf carts and so on. It`s just a scam. It`s a get-rich-quick scheme.
MADDOW: Congressman Raskin, thanks very much for being here tonight. We`re going to be watching this closely on Tuesday. But as this continues to unfold in the context of the impeachment proceeding, I hope you`ll come back and talk to us about it again.
MADDOW: All right. Thank you. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Because it`s Friday, naturally, "The New York Times" has just broken another late-night story that relates to the president`s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The headline, Giuliani mixes his business with role as Trump`s lawyer. A dense new story from Ken Vogel and Michael Schmidt and Katie Benner at "The New York Times."
Central allegation in this piece, the central reporting in this piece is that Giuliani has continued to represent clients and broker deals and take on consulting contracts even as he emerges as a central figure in the impeachment inquiry. Kind of along the same lines as our A-block tonight, in terms of talking about how the impeachment proceedings appear to fit alongside the criminal investigation of these matters, that is working its way through the courts in the Southern District of New York.
I will just highlight this new detail from "The New York times." Quote, a few weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani secured a meeting along with some other defense lawyers with the head of the criminal division at the Justice Department as well as attorneys in the fraud section. They were there to discuss a foreign bribery case for a client that Mr. Giuliani described as very, very sensitive. Mr. Giuliani declined to divulge details about the meeting.
But as -- serving as the president`s lawyer, he`s taking meetings with the head of the criminal division trying to get somebody off on a foreign bribery case?
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: That`s going to do it for us tonight. Presumably, I`ll be up all night looking at breaking news because it`s a Friday. I`ll see you again on Monday.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Katy Tur filling in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, my friend.
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