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Two OMB staffer quit after expressing frustration. TRANSCRIPT: 11/26/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Dan Kildee

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That is ALL IN for this evening. 

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.

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

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

So, we do not know their names, but as of tonight, we do know that two White House officials, two employees of the White House Office of Management and Budget apparently resigned their jobs over the Ukraine scandal for which President Trump is now facing impeachment.  We, of course, had two weeks of public hearings from the intelligence committee as they investigated the facts at the heart of these impeachment proceedings. 

Just today, the Judiciary Committee announced that as of next week, Wednesday next week, they are going to start convening public hearings of their own on the legal and constitutional basis for these impeachment proceedings against the president. 

But even as the process is moving forward in that way, right, with the scheduled public hearings for the intelligence committee wrapped and the intelligence committee writing up their report now on what their investigation determined, they`re planning to hand that over to the Judiciary Committee.  So judiciary is preparing to receive that report.  They have now announced the start of their own scheduled public hearings.  All of that toward their ultimate end, which is to draw up the articles of impeachment against the president and put those on the floor of the House for a vote. 

I mean, as that is all moving forward at pace right now, we are still getting more about how this whole thing went down including inside the executive branch with these previously unreported protest resignations inside the White House, inside the White House Office of Management and Budget. 

Now, the core allegation, of course, at the heart of all of this is that the president pressured a foreign government including a foreign president to conduct investigations into his political rival, Joe Biden, investigations that would benefit President Trump politically, right?  And whatever else is turned up in the impeachment inquiry, that`s the core allegation that the House has made against the president.  And that core allegation is essentially uncontested at this point.  And if on nothing else, it looks like they will impeach him for that. 

I mean, you may remember the call notes that the White House released from the conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky in Ukraine, which overtly show President Trump Pressuring Zelensky.  Trump tells Zelensky that Zelensky has to, quote, do him a favor.  He then tells him he wants an investigation into Joe Biden and Joe Biden`s son. 

The president says repeatedly that Zelensky should talk to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr about this matter and also his own personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.  That`s him telling the Ukrainian president talk to Rudy.  Talk to Rudy about this stuff I want you to do, this favor I want you to do for me. 

Remarkably tonight in an interview with a former Fox News host, President Trump denied that he ever directed Rudy Giuliani to do anything concerning Ukraine.  He was asked in this interview what Rudy Giuliani was doing on his behalf in Ukraine.  The president responded, quote: You have to ask that to Rudy.  Rudy has other clients other than me. 

Oh, somebody else was -- so this part of it apparently is going to be hilarious.  Subpoenas demanding information about Mr. Giuliani and about Giuliani`s business and about planned or actual payments to him, subpoenas seeking that information have reportedly been flying out of the federal prosecutor`s office in the Southern District of New York in recent days and recent weeks, with Mr. Giuliani apparently in those kinds of crosshairs with federal prosecutors, President Trump is already pretending like he has no idea what Mr. Giuliani might have been doing in Ukraine despite his own White House releasing this call record in which he himself repeatedly tells the president of Ukraine that he needs to talk to Giuliani, he needs to talk to Rudy about what the president is demanding in terms of this favor. 

Now he`s like Rudy who?  Rudy where?  I wonder who he was working for.  You know he has lots of clients.  I bet he has other presidents who were getting help from the Ukrainian government about Joe Biden. 

I think it is an under-appreciated part of this impeachment scandal, this still unfolding impeachment scandal that in addition to what`s going on Capitol Hill, there are multiple federal criminal cases currently being adjudicated, including active grand jury investigations, active indictments, these criminal cases that butt right up against the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill.  I think that`s an under appreciated part of how this is going, the kinds of pressures on the people involved and how this may ultimately unfold. 

We`re going to get really, really expert advice on that part of this coming up later in the show tonight.  We`re getting advice from somebody who among other things was a key member of the special counsel`s team among prosecutors working under Robert Mueller.  That is still to come tonight. 

But this new news we`re learning tonight is that the leverage part of this scandal, the part where President Trump didn`t just demand that Ukraine help him with these investigations, he leveraged U.S. policy toward Ukraine to try and force them to do it, he put a hold on Ukraine`s crucial military aid from the United States government while he was trying to pressure them into doing these investigations for him.  That part of the scandal, the leverage part of the scandal, the withholding military aid from Ukraine part of the scandal we are learning tonight for the first time that apparently caused two different officials in the office of management and budget, two different people who were involved in that process of Trump holding up that military aid, it caused them to quit their jobs rather than be part of this, apparently. 

The news comes from this deposition which was just released tonight from the impeachment committees since the testimony of Mark Sandy who was a career staffer incidentally a military veteran, also a veteran official at the Office of Management and Budget, at OMB.  And this is where he breaks that news. 

He is asked by committee counsel, quote: Are you aware of anyone resigning or leaving OMB under any circumstances at least in part because of the manner which OMB was handling Ukraine security assistance?  Answer, I`m aware of one colleague who left in September.  I`m always reluctant to speak to someone else`s motivations. 

Question: Well, did you speak with this person who left in September about their departure from OMB?  Answer: Yes I did. 

Question: And did that person express to you either in that conversation or any other prior conversations their position with regard Ukraine security assistance?  Answer: Yes, this individual did expressed.  He expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold.  That`s my recollection. 

Question: Was this individual within the legal division?  Answer: No. 

Question: Are you aware of any individual in the legal division resigning or leaving OMB?  Answer: Oh.  Question: At least in part because of Ukraine security assistance?  Answer: Oh, oh.  Yes, I am. 

Meaning they were asking him about this person they had heard left from the legal division.  He started telling them about a whole other person who resigned too and then he has to clarify, oh, yes, I know somebody who quit the legal division too. 

Question: And what do you know about that?  Answer: This person in the legal office expressed to me concerns about actions vis-a-vis the Impoundment Control Act.  Question: In the context of the Ukraine security assistance and the hold?  Answer: Yes, I am aware of this person`s frustrations in that area, yes. 

Question: OK, so this person who worked at OMB legal expressed concerns about the hold on Ukraine security assistance and resigned from OMB.  Did this person tell you they were leaving or resigning from OMB at least in part because of their concerns or frustrations about the hold on Ukraine security assistance?  Answer: Yes.  In terms of how -- yes, in terms of process. 

And there`s some back and forth with the lawyer who`s there with Mark Sandy, this OMB official.  But eventually, Sandy comes back to the point and says this.  He says, quote: The individual who resigned from the legal office at OMB did note a disagreement on this topic.  Question: And this topic being the hold on Ukraine security assistance?  Answer: Correct. 

Question: OK, just to be clear what was the disagreement with?  Was the disagreement with the fact that OMB was implementing the hold?  Was it disagreement how the general counsel`s office was holding it?  What was the disagreement?  Answer: I think the best way to characterize it would be a dissenting opinion vis-a-vis the Impoundment Control Act provisions. 

Meaning a dissenting opinion over whether what the president had ordered here was illegal or not.  And Impoundment Control Act is not something that, you know, rolls drippingly off the tongue, it`s not something we talk about here.  But it`s a basic idea. 

I mean, Congress appropriated these military funds for Ukraine.  That meant the White House was legally obligated to disperse those funds, right?  Congress appropriates the money, White House is legally obligated to disperse them. 

But the president ordered the White House to not do that.  The president ordered that the funding should be held up.  And now we know as of tonight that two people including one in the legal office at OMB resigned over that.  One person resigned from OMB because of, according to this witness, not understanding the reason for the hold that President Trump put on those funds for Ukraine.  Another person apparently resigned from the legal office at OMB because of the prospect that what the president ordered the holding up of those funds, could have been illegal. 

As "The Washington Post" notes tonight, although current and former government officials have testified that they were alarmed about the White House`s decision to withhold the money from Ukraine, quote, Mark Sandy`s testimony is the first public confirmation that the dispute over handling the Ukraine aid became so intense at OMB that it contributed to resignations from the agency.  And, again, we don`t know who these officials are who resigned.  The questioning here, like I mentioned, kind of makes it seem like the impeachment investigators knew that there was somebody in the legal office who quit in protest but they maybe didn`t know that a second official also quit as well. 

So, they`re asking about the person from the legal office, that kind of volunteers someone else he knew quit over this as well.  So this is news tonight.  Again, we don`t know the names of these officials who quit over the president holding up this aid.  But the questions about the potentially illegal nature of what the president was ordering appeared to not have been niche concerns. 

They appear to have been widespread among officials who know how this stuff is supposed to work under the law.  For example, there`s this portion of the Mark Sandy deposition where investigators ask about his own contact with an official who seems to be at the Pentagon, an official whose name is redacted. 

Question: She was expressing not only her own concerns but was expressing the concerns of other staff?  Answer, from Mark Sandy: That`s correct.  And what were those concerns?  Answer: The concerns were vis-a-vis the Impoundment Control Act.  So that appears to be a Pentagon official speaking on behalf of herself and her staff raising concerns about potential illegality of the hold from the president. 

And then right after that, there`s another official whose name is also redacted.  Mark Sandy says, quote, I`m aware of one individual from the budget review division who expressed similar concerns.  Question: OK, were those concerns expressed to you?  Answer: On one occasion I definitely recall, yes. 

Question: OK, and who was that one individual at BRD?  Answer, the name is redacted.  Question: What did that redacted person`s name tell you?  Answer: She made a general comment that reflected the concern about the apportionments. 

Question: What was her concern about the apportionments?  Answer: Her concern was vis-a-vis the Impoundment Control Act.  Vis-a-vis the law that says once Congress has appropriated these funds, the White House can`t just hold them up for whatever reason. 

I mean, we also know from this new testimony tonight that the White House himself, Mr. Sandy himself also raised concerns about that law, about the possibility that what the president was trying to do here, withholding this aid to Ukraine was an illegal act.  After a Trump appointee named Michael Duffey told Mark Sandy to sign the paperwork officially putting a hold on the aid to Ukraine, Mark Sandy says this, quote: So on that day, I emphasized that would raise a number of questions that we would need to address.  And so I advised we would want to consult with our office of general counsel on those questions first. 

So we know as of tonight at least two people in the Office of Management and Budget quit over what the president was doing holding up this aid to Ukraine.  Mark Sandy himself doesn`t quit over him sharing these concerns that this might be an illegal act by the president.  But he is concerned that this might be illegal.  And he says so to his boss.  He says he wants to go to it lawyers on this. 

Well, of course in this scandal that will not do.  And so, the way this unspools and the way we can now see it, in a way that we didn`t know about before this deposition tonight -- the way this unspools is that the president has ordered this hold up on the aid.  The career staff that are supposed to execute an order like that, they all raise red flags.  You want us to do what now?  Isn`t that illegal?  I think we`re going to need to run this by the lawyers. 

The White House response to that we now know by taking the career staff member who`s literally supposed to sign the paperwork to hold up the money, Mark Sandy, they took him off this job.  This part of his job where he signs off on the money either being dispersed or held up, that part of his job is taken away from him, so a Trump political appointee, Mr. Duffey, can do it instead. 

And according to OMB staffers, this is apparently unprecedented.  And, you know, circumstantially, this unprecedented act of putting this political appointee in charge of holding up or dispersing the money, taking the career staffers off and instead putting in a Trump appointee, the former executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, putting that guy in charge of dispersing the money instead of the technocrats who usually do that sort of stuff, circumstantially, that replacement, taking the career guy out, putting the political guy in, that appears to have been an effort to seamlessly continue to carry out this order of the president to withhold the aid despite the expressed belief by senior staff at the agency that those orders from the president were illegal. 

If you`ve got career staffers who are starting to squeak about whether or not they`re going to carry out this potentially illegal order of the president, well, you might want to get them out of the way, put in somebody who`s not going to squeak.  And we now know that that was the order of events.  And we now know there is an overt paper trail for all of it. 

And that`s the other thing that`s new here tonight.  Question: Did you hear of any questions that were being raised by OMB about Ukraine security assistance at the end of June or the beginning of July?  Answer: Yes. 

Can you describe what you heard?  I heard that the president had seen a media report, and he had questions about the assistance.  When did you hear that the president had seen a media report and had questions about the assistance?  On June 19th. 

Do you know what the media report -- what that media report was?  Answer: I don`t recall the specific article.  Question: Who told you that the president had these concerns or these questions?  Answer: Mike Duffey. 

And that was a conversation you had with Mr. Duffey on June 19th?  I believe actually it was an e-mail.  Oh, what exactly did Mr. Duffey say to the best of your recollection in that e-mail?  He said that the president had questions about this press report and that he was seeking additional information. 

So that`s June 19th, and according to this deposition that we just got tonight, according to this testimony, on June 19th, there is an e-mail that proves that the order to start questioning the military aid to Ukraine is from the president personally.  The president has reportedly seen something in the media about the U.S. giving aid to Ukraine.  That sparks him having questions about that aid.  We don`t exactly know what he might have seen in the media. 

I can tell you that there was this Defense Department press release the previous day on June 18th announcing the U.S. military aid for Ukraine.  So maybe he saw that press release or saw something in the press about that that bugged him.  Regardless, that`s when the paper trail starts, the president expressing concerns about military aid to Ukraine. 

Then our witness Mark Sandy goes on vacation for a while.  He goes on vacation early July.  Comes back July 18th.  As soon as he`s back from vacation, big news in his office.  His boss comes to talk to him, this political appointee Michael Duffey comes to talk to him and tells him now since he`s been on vacation it`s now longer just the president asking questions about the aid to Ukraine, the president is now ordering that aid to Ukraine be stopped. 

And again there`s a paper trail.  Mark Sandy, quote, when I return from leave July 18th, I was informed that the president`s direction to hold military support funding for Ukraine.  Who communicated that to you?  Mike Duffey.  He shared that he had communicated this direction to the Department of Defense. 

He being Mr. Duffey?  Yes.  Mr. Duffey.  OK.  He also expressed a desire to create an apportionment that would implement the hold. 

Ah, you have to put it in writing, right?  The president can`t just hold the aid by dent of a verbal order.  This is money appropriated by Congress.  He has to actually direct people to sign things and commit official acts to hold the aid.  He does that through this guy Mike Duffey. 

The career folks tell Mike Duffey in response, hey, this could be illegal.  This has to go through the lawyers.  And so, what happens next?  Well, Mike Duffey takes over this job himself.  So the career officials who are telling him this might be illegal won`t be the ones being ordered to do it. 

Question, did have you any conversations with anyone other than Mr. Duffey about the fact that this apportionment approval authority was being taken away from you?  Answer: Well, certainly with my staff.  Question: And what was their reaction?  Answer: They were surprised and they were concerned. 

Question: In your career at OMB or otherwise, are you aware of any other political appointee giving given the responsibility to authorize apportionments as what happened here with Mr. Duffey?  Answer: No, I`m not aware.  Question: Am I correct that never in your career at OMB has that precise situation occurred?  Mr. Sandy: That`s correct. 

So -- all right, first, it`s the president -- it`s the president himself who orders the hold on military aid to Ukraine, while it is the president himself simultaneously pressuring Ukraine they need to give him these investigations he wants for 2020, right?  The president himself questioning the aid to Ukraine, ordering the hold on Ukraine, that`s in writing now, we know now. 

Second, at least two officials at the White House resigned over the president putting this hold on military aid to Ukraine.  Third, multiple officials overtly expressed that the hold might be illegal, including telling the guy that -- the guy they were telling to sign the paperwork to implement the hold.  He`s one of the people who told them, hey, this might be an illegal thing you`re asking me to do.  I think we should bring this to the lawyers. 

In response, that guy was replaced by a Trump appointee who had said that this was the president`s wish, who had ordered it done, and who had been advised by these career staffers this might be an illegal thing.  He`s the one who took it over himself.  And there`s a paper trail for all of these pieces of the process. 

I mean, there`s a million instances like this just in this one deposition that was released tonight.  But just look at one of them.  I mean, this is -- there`s a million instances in this testimony where they just spell out the paper trail and how to find it, right?  No wonder the White House is totally stone walling the impeachment investigation and is not handing over any paper.  It turns out there`s tons of paper.  It turns out they really did do all of this stuff by e-mail and discuss it in real time, in records that were retained that were currently being held by the White House. 

This is like jackpot testimony for investigators.  Just as an example look at this part of it.  Question, so this July 12th e-mail from Mr. Blaire and the White House chief of staff`s office, what did it say?  Answer, to the best of my recollection it said that the president is directing a hold on military support funding for Ukraine. 

What else was in the e-mail?  Nothing that I recall.  Was any other country mentioned?  No, any other security package?  No. 

Any other aid of any sort?  Not to my recollection.  Any other topic at all in this e-mail?  No. 

To whom did Mr. Blaire in the White House chief of staff`s office send this e-mail?  To Mr. Duffey.  Who else was on this e-mail?  I don`t recall anybody else being copied. 

Mr. Duffey then forwarded this e-mail to you?  Correct.  To the best of your knowledge, has that e-mail been retained by OMB?  Yes. 

Was there anything else in this e-mail string or was it that one communication you already described?  The only -- that was the only communication.  Question: OK.  And what did you do with that e-mail?  Answer: I retained it. 

The e-mail sent from the White House chief of staff office making clear that the direction for the hold on the military aid from Ukraine came directly from the president.  Oh, yes, they sent that to Mike, Mike forwarded it to me, I retained it.  Of course I did. 

That communication exists.  It is retained.  It is the proof in this case of who did it, right? 

And what that sounds like to investigators is a dinner bell ringing.  Come and get it.  They didn`t just do it out loud.  They typed it.  And those communications are retained. 

Well, turns out that while the Office of Management and Budget has steadfastly refused thus far to comply with a subpoena from the impeachment investigators that they need to hand over all relevant documents as part of these impeachment proceedings, the other piece of big news tonight that we just got is that somebody in Congress is starting to get these documents, or at least they`re starting to get some of them.  Because today, the budget committee and the appropriations committee announced out of the blue, surprise, that even though the impeachment committees are being stone walled by the White House, those two committees, Budget and Appropriations, they have been getting stuff.  They have received documents related to the White House holdup of military aid to Ukraine. 

The committees had apparently asked OMB for these documents in September, all related to the withholding of the military aid for Ukraine.  The agency ignored the committee`s October deadline to produce those documents, but in a surprise twist today -- hello, the House Budget Committee announced actually it has started receiving some of those documents. 

Now, the committee is not releasing those raw documents to show the public at this time, but they did share a summary of the findings from these documents with reporters.  That summary says in part, quote, after careful review the chairs have become more concerned that the apportionment process has been abused to undermine Congress` constitutional power of the purse.  Specifically number one, the time line of actions taken by OMB as seen in the provided apportionments which are legally abiding documents suggests a pattern of abuse and current law. 

Number two, OMB took the seemingly unprecedented step of stripping career officials of their normal role in the apportionment process and instead investing a political appointee with that authority.  This is a troubling deviation from long-standing procedures. 

The committee also confirmed it has in its possession documents related to Mark Sandy`s assertion that President Trump questioned Ukraine`s military aid as early as mid-June.  As soon as there were press reports derived from a Pentagon press release that said that the military aid was on its way.

You`ll remember Mark Sandy testified he first heard about the president`s interest in the military aid on June 19th, the day after the Defense Department announced the aid was going to Ukraine.  Sandy said he heard about it in the form of an e-mail from his boss, the aforementioned Mike Duffey, expressing a, quote, interest in getting information from the Department of Defense about this military aid that the president was now questioning. 

Well, as part of its time line contained in its summary, the Budget Committee today says that specifically, on June 19th, OMB asserts in our documents that they first inquired with the Defense Department about Ukraine security assistance.  Which means part of what`s being described here by Mark Sandy in this deposition, the president expressing concern, the president withholding the order of the aid, the advice from career officials that might be illegal, those career officials being replaced by the guy who they told this was going to by illegal, it appears not only was that documented from Mr. Sandy`s deposition, but at least some of those documents have made it to Congress.  Not to the impeachment committee but to these other committees.  OK. 

The committee notes ominously at the end of its summary, quote, OMB`s documentation to date confirms that the apportionment process has been misused to withhold congressionally enacted appropriations.  But, I mean, we can read between the lines.  We don`t know exactly what they`ve got.  A committee source tells us tonight the documents the committee has received arrived in sort of dribs and drabs over the past two months, which suggests maybe the White House doesn`t have as tight a control over their own behavior of this investigation as you might expect them to. 

The committee is not releasing these documents today, but this committee source tells us they might in the future as parts of the, quote, legislative process.  As for why they got these documents, as for why OMB released documents to the Budget Committee when it has steadfastly refused to give them to the impeachment committees, we really have no idea how many documents they let out, what those documents exactly show, their overall relevance to the impeachment proceedings.  That`s a question for the budget committee to answer at this point.  At least I think it is. 

But it looks like some of what they`re looking for, some of the incredibly damning stuff at the heart of these impeachment proceedings specifically at the behavior of the president appears to be squeaking out.  Appears to be getting out of what is supposed to be a locked up White House on this issue.

I have just the person to check this out with, next. 


MADDOW:  A few hours ago we got this.  Nearly 200 pages of testimony from OMB official Mark Sandy from his closed door deposition in the impeachment hearings.  Among other things, Mark Sandy`s testimony reveals at least two officials at OMB appear to have resigned in protest against the president ordering a hold on military aid to Ukraine.  That`s new.  We did not know that before we got this testimony tonight. 

What`s also knew is the surprise word from Capitol Hill that OMB documents on this subject have apparently been hand over to Congress despite the White House supposedly putting a total lock down on any cooperation with the impeachment proceedings.  It`s the Budget and Appropriations Committees who say they`ve received documents on this subject from OMB and the documents they got according to the chairs of those two committees they say show a, quote, pattern of abuse by the White House. 

Joining us now is a member of the Budget Committee, Congressman Dan Kildee. 

Sir, it`s great to see you.  Thanks very much for making time for us tonight. 

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI):  Thanks, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  So I am surprised that you`re committee has these OMB documents given the fact they were quite germane to these impeachment proceedings and given the fact that the White House seems to have indicated they`re not handing over anything that might be germane to those proceedings. 

How did your committee get them? 

KILDEE:  Well, it`s just the normal process of oversight where we continually request information from agencies of government.  What`s not so clear is why in this case these particular documents have been supplied.  It`s hard to even speculate as to why they might be delivered to us except that perhaps they`re still our people there willing to do their job notwithstanding orders that they see as being unlawful from the president of the United States. 

These are -- these are public documents that ought to be in the public domain, and I know that the two chairs of our committees, I sit on the Budget Committee -- will make the right decision at the right time and make sure the American public has access to this information. 

MADDOW:  Obviously, we`ve got a description of what is in some of these documents from the committee chairs.  We can all see just because of the way this fits into the story line around the impeachment and other public reporting we`ve got around impeachment, we can see how germane they are. 

Is there some process we should understand in terms of how and whether these documents could be publicly -- made publicly available and whether they could be provided to the impeachment inquiry which now seems to be moving over to the folks in Judiciary? 

KILDEE:  Well, that will be a decision that the two chairs of the committees will make.  But I do think that ultimately they will be because the information that we`re receiving is consistent with everything else we`ve been hearing from the witnesses that have appeared before the Intelligence Committee, from other reports that are coming through. 

And the thing troubling about that, Rachel, is that every bit of fact evidence whether it`s direct testimony by both witnesses that we called or even that the Republican minority wanted to have come before the Intelligence Committee, and now these documents confirm the whole story that the president was directing this, that the president wanted to exchange this military aid for political help in going after one of his opponents.  And the very fact not only was he willing to do that, but he was willing to violate U.S. law in order to do so. 

You know, the Impoundment Control Act has a very specific procedure for the president to use if he thinks there`s a reason to withhold money.  He`s supposed to notify Congress, and Congress has the authority to conquer with him.  If they don`t concur, the money has to be delivered. 

So, this isn`t some sort of process that he can just make up as he goes along.  This is a serious breach of American law, and just another bit of evidence that these Republicans unfortunately seem so willing to over look, it`s just very damning. 

MADDOW:  Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan, sir, thank you for being here tonight.  This is very unexpected development in terms of what we know about this story.  Thanks for helping us understand it. 

KILDEE:  Thank you, Rachel.

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


MADDOW:  We got this weird statement from the Justice Department last month.  It came in on a weekend.  It was about a meeting that the Justice Department had had with Rudy Giuliani. 

And that weekend, the Justice Department put out a statement that basically said, yes, we met with him but we had no idea what Rudy was involved with, when we met with him and we don`t want to talk about this.  It was very, very odd. 

This is how "The New York Times" wrote it up at the time.  Quote: Several weeks ago, Brian Benczkowski, the head of the Justice Department`s Criminal Division and lawyers from the division`s Fraud Section met with Mr. Giuliani to discuss the bribery case in which he and other attorneys were representing defendants.  That meeting took place before U.S. attorneys in Manhattan publicly charged two Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman with breaking campaign finance laws and trying to unlawfully influence politicians.

Here was the statement the DOJ put out that Sunday.  Quote: When Mr. Benczkowski and Fraud Section lawyers met with Mr. Giuliani, they were not aware of any investigation of Mr. Giuliani`s associates in the Southern district of New York.  They would not have met with him had they known.  At the time, nobody exactly knew what that meeting was or who this was facing bribery charges, who Giuliani got into the Justice Department. 

Nobody knew what that meeting was about, who that meeting was about.  Now we know.  Now we know.  It turns out according to "The Washington Post" tonight, Rudy Giuliani was at the Justice Department that day interceding on behalf of a Venezuelan billionaire, a Venezuelan billionaire the justice department is considering bringing criminal charges against in a billionaire bribery and money laundering case. 

Giuliani had just come back from a trip to Spain where he and Lev and Igor stayed at this billionaire`s lavish estate, quote, on the grounds of an ancient castle once used by Spanish royalty.  This is the same castle "The Miami Herald" reports the billionaire bought with his windfall from this alleged money laundering scheme in Venezuela. 

Rudy stayed at the guy`s Spanish castle and he came back to the U.S. and met with the Justice Department to try to get the castle guy out of any potential U.S. federal charges he might be facing for laundering billions of dollars.  No wonder the Justice Department is like we did not know what was going with on with Rudy.  Had we known we wouldn`t have.

But, you know, this is the second time just this week we had reporting of Rudy Giuliani doing that.  Allegedly going to billionaires who are facing serious federal criminal scrutiny in the United States and offering those billionaires that he can help out in terms of their Justice Department worries.  I mean, there`s this guy with the Spanish castle we learned about today, and according to some bombshell reporting in "The New York Times" just yesterday, there`d also Dmytro Firtash, who is a major subject of my new book "Blowout".  I`m just saying.

Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who`s an upper echelon associate of Russian organized crime, according to the Justice Department.  Rudy Giuliani reportedly offered Mr. Firtash a little help with his problems with DOJ if he will give Giuliani a little help in Ukraine. 

Well, Lev and Igor are going to be back in court on Monday in New York.  We may learn more then about the trajectory of this case against them.  Meanwhile, a whole bunch of people have just reportedly been served with subpoenas for information related to Rudy Giuliani and his company.  And according to Reuters reporting, related to potential payments to Mr. Giuliani. 

The impeachment proceeding is one thing on Capitol Hill, but there are also these parallel criminal cases which are related to and happening simultaneous to impeachment.  As the impeachment proceedings steam ahead, are these criminal cases likely to produce more information that`s going to be relevant to the impeachment?  Are there any worries about the ways they might intersect or interact with one other, potentially, you know, having to do with congressional immunity or prosecutorial immunity, right? 

Lev`s lawyer for example appears to want some immunity for his client, that`s why he keeps offering some damning-sounding things that Lev might testify to if Congress just brought him up to Capitol Hill and offered him immunity in exchange for his testimony.  Just how serious are these criminal cases as far as the legal jeopardy their targets are in? 

Hold that thought.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Joining us now here on set I am very pleased to say is Andrew Weissmann.  He`s the former head of the criminal fraud section at the Department of Justice.  He`s also a leading member of special counsel Robert Mueller`s team. 

Mr. Weissmann, it`s really an honor to meet you.  Thank you for being here.


MADDOW:  I have been sort of watching the impeachment proceedings with one eye on the courts, but it seems to me like the Fruman and Parnas indictments and what is reported to be an ongoing criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani alongside them, those appear to be sort of parallel and potentially a budding case what we`re seeing on Capitol Hill. 

Do you see it that way as well? 

WEISSMANN:  What you just covered with the Peter Carr announcement with Brian Benczkowski, the fraud section, very unusual because what it signals is there`s clearly an investigation into Rudy Giuliani, because normally just because a lawyer has clients who get indicted doesn`t mean that you say oh, I`m not going to meet with the lawyer anymore --

MADDOW:  Presumably most of the lawyers you meet have clients who have been indicted. 

WEISSMANN:  Absolutely.  All of them do.


WEISSMAN:  So, it`s a very, very unusual announcement.  It tells you -- in fact, we now know there is an investigation.  And one of the reasons there could be real overlap is -- and this is speculation.  We don`t know what the Southern District is doing. 

But one way you could do that is if you have a case on bribery involving the president.  Well, the president under DOJ policy cannot be indicted while he`s in office.  That does not apply to anyone else who was involved. 

Now, we know Rudy Giuliani was involved not just from a number of witnesses but you have Rudy Giuliani in "The New York Times" in March touting that he`s going to be going to Ukraine precisely because he wanted to drum up business in terms of having them investigate the 2016 election, having them investigate the Bidens. 

So you could have the Southern District investigating him for bribery.  One of the results of that could be if I were doing that, of course, you want documents.  I mean, one of the things remarkable about what`s happened so far is that you have Congress getting so far with a minimal number of documents, which is really unusual and difficult to do an investigation usually.  That`s one of the first things you start with because that`s what you use to refresh witnesses or for witnesses who are less than candid, you confront them and say what you`re telling us is not consistent. 

So we know from a whole series of reporting including your reporting tonight that there are documents out there.  Well, the Southern District has grand jury subpoena power.  So, one of the things they can do is actually get the documents. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the resistance by the White House in particular to handing over documents to congressional subpoenas, if they chose to resist grand jury subpoenas in the same way, would their resistance be evident to us, or would it play out in the courts in the same way?  Or is that something that would immediately be the subject of court orders? 

WEISSMANN:  That is a great question.  So, there are two things about.  One, it would not be public.  The enforcement of the grand jury subpoena is something that happens in secret because grand jury proceedings are secret and so the enforcement proceedings are secret. 

MADDOW:  Although people who received a grand jury subpoena are allowed to discuss it publicly.

WEISSMANN:  Absolutely.  A witness can talk about it and so you could potentially learn about it that way, but presumably, if you`re getting a grand jury subpoena and you are let`s say the State Department working for the White House, you might not have an incentive to actually say anything. 

But there`s something on the plus side.  While we may not know that`s happening, it happens very quickly.  The law in terms of enforcement of grand jury subpoenas, it can happen especially in the second circuit which is where the Southern District of New York is.  That can happen in days.

This sort of concern you`re hearing about we don`t want to go down this rabbit hole because it can take months and months and we don`t have that time frame, my experience with grand jury litigation is you can have decision from a district court judge within a matter of 24 hours and you can be in the Second Circuit on Appeal the following week and have a decision.  They`re very used to proceeding quickly. 

MADDOW:  So, to the extent that these criminal proceedings are parallel and related, those will move faster. 

WEISSMANN:  Exactly.

MADDOW:  I have more that I want to ask you.  Stay right there.

Our guest is Andrew Weissmann, former top official at the Justice Department. 

Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Joining us once again is Andrew Weissmann.  He`s former head of criminal fraud section of the Justice Department.  He`s also a leading member of special counsel Robert Mueller`s team. 

Mr. Weissmann, thank you again. 

WEISSMANN:  You`re welcome.

MADDOW:  I just wanted to ask your take as a prosecutor and with the experience you have, I feel like the evidence that we have collected in the impeachment proceeding and that we`ve seen evolve in public reporting alongside it, not only all points in the same direction, it all sort of keeps piling up.  Mr. Sandy`s deposition that we just got tonight says not only people resigned in protest over what the president was doing withholding that military aid, but it is -- it didn`t go down the way we thought it did, and there`s a paper trail you can follow if you can get the documents that`ll explain it every step of the way. 

That`s how -- but I`m not a lawyer.  As a layman, is that -- am I being naive about what`s here? 

WEISSMANN:  Look, each piece keeps on fitting together and keeps getting deeper and deeper.  When I was a baby prosecutor --

MADDOW:  You prosecuted babies?  That`s terrible. 

WEISSMANN:  Yes, yes, exactly.

MADDOW:  What they say about you is true. 

WEISSMANN:  Yes.  So I`d come to my boss and I`d say, look what I just found, look what I just found.  And they kept on sort of coming in with new pieces of evidence.  Then pops looked at me and said, why are you so surprised?  They`re guilty. 

So, you know, when you continue investigating somebody where the story is clear this is what they did, what we`re seeing is each of these pieces is confirming a really obvious story. 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

WEISSMANN:  And so far, there is no counter narrative.  I mean, there is no one who has actually testified, oh, don`t worry, there`s no linkage, oh, don`t worry this didn`t happen.  You have people who are not willing to come in and testify who are saying that. 

But everybody`s who`s actually come in and, you know, walked with their feet and sat down and taken an oath and sworn to tell the truth has come in, and every piece fits.  And when every piece fits, there`s one reason for that. 

MADDOW:  One last question for you on this.  If as you mentioned if Justice Department policy precludes the indictment of a president, but there are other people involved in this and it was criminal behavior, if it was bribery or other serious violations of criminal statute, do you have faith sitting here today that the Justice Department, this Justice Department under William Barr would see to it that people other than the president were charged for those crimes? 

WEISSMANN:  I have faith that there are career prosecutors who will seek to do that.  I can`t say that I know that it will get approved if the deputy attorney general and the attorney general have the ultimate say. 

MADDOW:  Will we the public ever have visibility into that? 

WEISSMANN:  Well, what you could end up seeing is something that someone taught me years ago, which is if there`s something you really can`t stomach, you have to be prepared to resign. 

So, you know, one sign of that would be if you see career prosecutors resigning, that would be one sign of it. 

MADDOW:  And it would be helpful at that point if they said why they were resigning. 

WEISSMANN:  It would be.


Andrew Weissmann, former top Justice Department official, veteran of the Robert Mueller investigation.  Sir, it`s an honor to have you here.  Thank you.

WEISSMANN:  Thank you so much.

MADDOW:  Thanks a lot.

We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  I have just eaten 10 seconds of my colleague`s time.  I -- oh, 14, 15 seconds.  I`m sorry. 

See you again tomorrow. 

Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD."  Katy Tur in for Lawrence tonight. 

Good evening, Katy.  I`m sorry to take your real estate. 

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