JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: No matter who you nominate, they ain`t that. Blair Kelly, David Jolly, thank you very much.
That is all for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Oh my God, I hit the number exactly.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Nine, zero, zero, zero. Fantastic, Joy. Nailed it. Thank you very much.
REID: Thanks, Rachel. Have a great show.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Happy Presidents` Day. Super happy to have you here.
Today, I learned a new thing, just to show you that sometimes it is worth coming to work on a federal holiday. Today at work I learned that there`s a thing called the Federal Judges Association. I had no idea. Federal judges have a group that is independent of the government, independent of the judiciary, but there are like more than a thousand federal judges in the Federal Judges Association. I had no idea, who knew.
The reason I learned this tidbit today is because the Federal Judges Association not only exists, but it has called an emergency meeting for tomorrow for America`s federal judges to meet on an emergency basis about this rule of law crisis that has erupted over the past week, with revelations about Attorney General William Barr intervening in multiple active federal criminal cases on behalf of the president. Attorney General William Barr has been in place for almost exactly a year. And some of these abuses go back almost to the very beginning of his tenure, we are now learning, but they have all sort of burst into view with last week`s absolutely unprecedented intervention by Attorney General Barr to try to achieve a more lenient sentence for the president`s friend, Roger Stone, after the president publicly demanded such a thing.
That was followed by the resignation of four federal prosecutors from that case, apparently in protest, and that has led to a flood of new reporting about all of the other criminal investigations and criminal prosecutions that William Barr has apparently been trying to fix for the president, which means he`s been doing exactly what Trump promised during the campaign, about locking up his enemies and making sure his friends go free. And we all thought it was bluster or hyperbole, but now as president, now that he`s got the right attorney general in position to do it, we now know they really have been trying to gin up criminal prosecutions and criminal investigations into the president`s perceived enemies and they have been quashing prosecutions and even punishment for convicts who the president has decided to protect.
I mean, I love bananas as much as the next guy, but this is really banana republic stuff, full stop. I mean this is -- I mean this is the worst case scenario we`ve all been imagining and sort of gaming out in terms of rule of law, and this president. And it is happening. It`s not threatened, there aren`t concerns that it might become this, it is happening. And it is a serious enough thing for us to all see this as citizens and for us to confronting what our own responsibilities are when our country takes this kind of a turn. But if you`re a federal judge in this country, while this has happened to the U.S. Department of Justice, it seems like -- well, it seems like maybe you and your fellow judges should get together on an emergency basis and talk about how y`all are going to deal with this, because y`all have a special role here.
Today I learned that apparently federal judges have a venue for doing so, and that Federal Judges Association emergency meeting is going to take place tomorrow. We`re going to have more on that topic coming up a little later on this hour. More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials, more than 2,000, have now come out and demanded that Attorney General Barr should resign because of this crisis that he has caused. The former deputy attorney general from the George H.W. Bush administration, which is the other presidential administration in which Bill Barr once served as attorney general, a man by the name of Donald Ayer, came out and said that not only must Bill Barr resign over what he has done, but there should be, in Donald Ayer`s words, a, quote, public uprising demanding that Bill Barr resign, quote, immediately or, failing that, that he be impeached.
I will say I was a little haunted all weekend -- had a great weekend, but I was a little haunted all weekend by the interview that we had on this show, on this subject on Friday night with David Rohde from "The New Yorker." David Rohde is an incredible reporter, with an incredible track record. And he has just done some reporting on Bill Barr, among other things, for a book that he`s got coming out soon.
And on Friday, I asked David Rohde if what he knows, what he`s reported about William Barr suggests that we might not be heading for just a breach of the rule of law, which is what we`ve got now, but if he`s worried that we actually might be heading for a legitimate constitutional crisis.
We throw around the phrase "constitutional crisis." It`s a specific thing. One definition of a constitutional crisis, one instance that would definitely be that is if the president actually decided to defy a court order. That would be the definition of a constitutional government. We`ve got a tripartite government, right? It`s equal -- co-equal branches of government.
If the executive, if the president decides that judicial rulings do not bind him, that`s a legitimate constitutional crisis, because there`s no other authority to go to to try to resolve that issue. Literally, it just be a matter of force at that point, which is not the way we are supposed to resolve things in this country. So I asked David Rohde if this rule of law breakdown that we have seen under Bill Barr might conceivably be an indication that we are heading for a constitutional crisis, for an irresolvable constitutional confrontation. David Rohde Friday night did not hesitate at all in saying yes, yes. Bill Barr would absolutely advise President Trump to defy a court order if he wanted to. He wouldn`t blink whatsoever about the constitutional crisis that would ensue.
So that has sat very uneasily with me since I heard it. I think in large part because I believe it. But thinking ahead about that, trying to think about how to be a good citizen and an aware observer of our nation at this point, looking ahead for a potential flash point around which something that bad might happen obviously can come at any point on an issue large or small. But to my mind, the thing that immediately pops for me is the thing that`s going to happen next month, because next month, there will be oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court involving the president`s taxes and his financial records.
If you`ve been following this at all, you know there have already been multiple federal court rulings about whether or not subpoenas for the president`s taxes and financial records are valid and can be enforced. At the federal district court level, the federal appeals court level, those decisions have all gone effectively against the president. They`ve all gone in the same direction, which is that if congressional committees or prosecutors are subpoenaing financial institutions to obtain the president`s taxes and his financial records, court orders until now have said there`s no reason those subpoenas should be blocked. They are valid and those records should be handled over to those committees and those investigations.
Well, next month is when the Supreme Court is going to hear oral arguments on that matter. And we don`t know how those arguments will go, we don`t know how the Supreme Court will rule.
But we do know about President Trump`s hyper desperation to avoid the exposure of records like this, right? There is nothing that he has fought harder or on more fronts or at more personal expense than his various legal battles to stop his taxes from becoming public and to stop his financial records from becoming public or from being handed over to investigators.
So if the Supreme Court does rule that those kinds of records ought to be released, it is not at all hard to imagine that the president would flip the proverbial bird to the Supreme Court and just say no. Now that said, the way most of those cases are structured, it actually wouldn`t be -- it wouldn`t be easy for him to do that, because it wouldn`t be the president himself who would be in the position of deciding whether or not to hand over the records. The subpoenas, remember, are directed to third parties. They`re directed to an accounting firm and to a bank called Deutsche Bank. And it is those institutions that would ultimately have to decide whether they are going to obey a court order and hand the material over. At which point there`s always the possibility that the president would lean on the accounting firm and lean on the bank and tell them not to, tell them to defy the Supreme Court or else.
I mean, heck, if this attorney general is still in place, the president at that point could promise a politically motivated persecution, right, courtesy of Bill Barr. I`ll roll in the FBI on you unless you defy the Supreme Court here. I mean, that`s how banana republics work, right?
I mean, we are in a bad place now when it comes to the rule of law, and the rule of law being perverted to serve the president instead of to serve impartial justice. I mean, it`s bad enough that, you guys, the judges are having an emergency meeting together tomorrow. That`s how bad this is.
But it is hard not to look down the road about a month and feel like there`s something potentially much worse coming in terms of a direct constitutional conflagration because this president is so desperate to keep his financial records and his financial history under wraps and that is about to be litigated. Because he`s got Bill Barr at the attorney general`s office, you know, provided Bill Barr makes it that long, that`s a potentially very, very, very bad situation not just for the rule of law but for our constitutional republic.
It`s also worrying, or at least intriguing, because looking ahead toward that potential confrontation, you need to know that the financial institution at the center of that fight is not a normal financial institution. It is a bank called Deutsche Bank. And they are not a normal bank.
And the definitive history of Deutsche Bank as a worldwide disaster-making machine is being published tomorrow. And I`ve got it here tonight. And oh boy, does that book make it look like that coming confrontation is going to be like a 5,000-car pileup. Because -- I mean, if you just step back for a second and think about where we have come over the last three years, right, over the course of this presidency, the issue of following the money when it comes to Donald Trump, follow the money if you can, it`s been paramount from the very beginning.
I mean, all the way back to the Republican primary, right? There was this huge controversy, he wouldn`t release his tax returns. Going back to Watergate, every president had done that. Trump kept saying he would release his taxes and then he didn`t. His Republican rivals took him to the woodshed over that. The press gave him a sustained difficult time about that.
He could never explain himself during the entire course of the general election about not releasing his taxes. Ultimately, he became president and kept making noises for a while that he would still release his taxes but he still didn`t.
I mean, for somebody who defined his public persona in terms of his financial history and his supposed financial genius and the amount of wealth he had supposedly piled up, not just by inheriting it from his father but his business acumen. I mean, for somebody who built his entire public persona on that, he has made it very difficult to follow the money when it comes to any aspect of his life or his political career. He`s made it as hard as possible. Back to the taxes and all the rest of it.
That said, any time any reporters or any investigators have gotten ahold of any little piece of his financial history, it has turned out to be so unimaginably bad. It`s kind of hard to believe this isn`t all anybody works on when it comes to him. Any little money thing related to him that has been fully reported reveals a catastrophe. I mean, just pick one at random, right?
The presidential campaign, hush money payments that were made to benefit his campaign during the time he was running for president, funds paid by checks handwritten by Trump organization executives, including his eldest son, right? We still don`t totally understand why those Trump Organization executives never got charged in this scheme. The president`s personal lawyer who conveyed the checks to the women who were being paid off in the scheme, he ended up going to prison for this money.
But Michael Cohen is still in prison for that hush money scandal. Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York named the president as the person who supervised and ordered the commission of those felonies. They described him as individual 1. Who knows, depending on the statute of limitations and whether he wins re-election, maybe we`ll soon see him face his own felony charges on that as well.
I mean, that`s just one -- that`s just a couple hundred thousand dollars during the campaign. Let`s take a look at that. Whoa, people are going to prison. Maybe the president is too.
What do we know of the president`s taxes? Nobody has been able to obtain more than a few pages of his taxes. But "The New York Times" combined those few known pages of his taxes with a bunch of business records from the Trump family businesses that they obtained through sort of mysterious means and a bunch of Trump`s father`s taxes. With those materials, "The New York Times" was able to put together a magnum opus 40-page long, 13,000-word Pulitzer Prize winning expose about the president and his siblings running a small despotic country`s worth of criminal schemes to evade taxes, to rip off everyone from the city to the federal government to their own tenants. I mean, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
It was such a bad expose, it was bad enough that the president`s sister resigned her lifetime seat on the federal judiciary to avoid an ethics inquiry into what she and her brother had done to evade taxes as part of this big family scheme. I mean, judges have lifetime tenure, and I learned today, an association where they have emergency meetings.
She gave up her seat as a federal judge. She gave up lifetime tenure on the federal bench just to evade a judicial ethics inquiry into her role in that alleged illegal tax scheme that she did with her brother. But she, of course, pays no penalty for because he`s president now.
What else? Oh, the president had a business venture which he called a university, Trump University. That was exposed in a tidal wave of civil lawsuits as a massive financial fraud.
That was the case you might remember in which the president derided the judge overseeing that matter as being incapable of judging his case because the judge was of Mexican ethnic extraction. His parents were from Mexico. And so, therefore, of course, he could not be a judge of a Trump-related matter. Really? Desperate much?
The Trump University scam really does appear to have been a long-running, straight-up, big criminal fraud scheme. The president ultimately decided to settle those cases by paying $25 million in cash to the victims of the Trump University scheme. Also, he ran a charity. When the president started promising charitable gifts to Veterans Organizations during the campaign, remember, he boycotted a debate and said instead he`d hold a fund-raiser for veterans, give a million dollars of his own money and wouldn`t veterans be so happy to get these big donations.
A "Washington Post" reporter was assigned to figure out why it seemed like the veterans groups were not actually getting these donations after all and what happened to Trump`s supposed million dollar pledge. That appears never to have materialized.
Ultimately, the reporter from "The Washington Post" trying to follow that one single financial thread with Trump, he ultimately stumbled upon another gigantic financial fraud scheme that the president had been operating, this time under the guise of his foundation, his charity, which was then after tons of public reporting exposed what he had been doing, it was shut down as a fraud by New York state regulators.
And the president will have a very hard time ever being associated with any charitable entity in years to come, should any charity ever want him. I mean, every single financial anything associated with this president that has ever been investigated to the slightest degree or reported on with any vigor has revealed something that deserves a prison sentence or at least a lot of probation, or at least the entity being shut down by the authorities, or at least multimillion dollar fines. I mean, even the ones that you`ve forgotten about.
This is a young man named Sam Patton. He very narrowly avoided years in federal prison and instead got years of federal probation thanks to his fulsome cooperation after he pled guilty to funneling illegal foreign donations into the Trump inaugural committee. But, of course.
This is the main super PAC supporting President Trump`s re-election effort. The super PAC was recently subpoenaed in conjunction with the criminal case against these gentlemen who were recently indicted for making hundreds of thousands of donations of illegal donations to Republican candidates and causes, including over $300,000 that they illegally donated to that pro- Trump super PAC supporting the president`s re-election effort.
I mean, literally, is there anything financial associated with Donald Trump that hasn`t resulted in an indictment, a settlement or some sort of massive scandal? I mean, even if you set aside the illegal emoluments stuff, right, and keeping his businesses open and taking payments from foreign governments, which the Constitution explicitly prohibits. Even you set aside all the self-dealing.
Remember when he was going to host the G7 meeting at Doral so all of the other G7 countries would have to pay him personally for the privilege of attending the G7? Even if you set aside him spending a third of all of the days of his presidency at properties owned by his business while his company says, oh, no, we`re not profiting from that. The Secret Service stays here for free. But it turns out his business has been charging the U.S. government rack rate, full rack rate for Secret Service rooms. They have been making a mint on it all this time and just been flat-out lying about it.
Even if you set aside the petty, rank corruption and self-dealing of his time in office, leaving even that aside, any time anybody has been able to follow any of the money around him, it is a dumpster fire and someone often goes to jail. And so, yes, broad ranging subpoenas for the entire universe of his financial and banking records and all of his tax returns going back years, yes, I think he`s nervous about that. I believe that would be the proverbial hill he would choose to proverbially die on in terms of what fight he would take to the max. I believe he would do anything to stop that material from coming out.
And it turns out the entity that houses his bank records, because it`s the only entity that`s been his bank for the last 20 years, is this bank called Deutsche Bank. His relationship with them started after all other financial institutions swore him off because he was constantly reneging on all of his loans. Deutsche Bank for its own reasons decided in the late `90s that they`d give him $125 million loan to rehab a downtown office building.
The bank would go on to loan him over $2 billion over the next two decades, including absolutely inexplicable deals, like the half billion dollars plus they loaned him to build a hotel in Chicago and that he decided he wouldn`t pay back any of it. And then he decided he would sue the bank that had loaned him the money by claiming that they caused the international financial crisis which resulted in Trump not being able to pay them back so they should actually pay him $3 billion. What? The way that revolved is even crazier.
The way that resolved is that a different part of that same bank agreed to loan him the money to pay back the loan to the other part of the bank that he had stiffed. I mean, the fact that Trump even had a business to be in by the time he decided he wanted to run for president, the fact that he even existed as an apparently solvent businessman by the time he wanted to be a politician is due in large part to this one financial institution, choosing to dump a mountain of money upon him in what seemed to be increasingly inexplicable transactions that nobody else in the financial world would go anywhere near.
Why did that one financial institution do it? And what do their records show about Mr. Trump and his financial dealings over the years? What are they going to show that he knows already, and what are they going to show all of us when they come out?
Hold that thought.
MADDOW: David Enrich is the financial editor -- excuse me -- the finance editor of "The New York Times." His new book is called "Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction."
We`re going to talk with him in just a moment, but I want to give you a couple pieces of his reporting before we bring him on. This is basically the definitive story of what went wrong at this institution, Deutsche Bank, and why that coincided with Deutsche Bank becoming the sole underwriter of the mythical business career of Donald Trump, leading right up to the point where he became president.
Among the revelations in Enrich`s book are sort of small worrying signs like the original loan documents for the earliest Deutsche Bank loan to Trump having what appeared to have at least one forged signature on it, to big flashing red lights like multiple Deutsche Bank officials on multiple occasions flagging there was organized crime ties to Mr. Trump and his businesses, and that maybe meant the bank should stop shoveling money to him.
There`s brand new reporting in the book that over the course of Deutsche Bank`s two-decade involvement with Mr. Trump, they repeatedly lined him up with wealthy Russians who were looking to park a bunch of cash, Russian cash in Western real estate entities. That resulted in apparently a lot of Russian money of murky origin finding its way into Donald Trump projects in places like Hawaii. I`ll give you a little piece from that from the book.
Quote: When he partnered in 2006 with a Los Angeles developer to build a Trump-branded resort in Hawaii, Deutsche Bank organized get-togethers in London and elsewhere to connect Trump and his partners with wealthy clients who used anonymous shell companies to buy blocks of units in the sprawling Waikiki hotel complex. The bank played much the same behind-the-scenes match making role when Trump sought to drum up interest in a planned resort in Baja, California and Mexico. In both cases, Deutsche Bank steered the very rich Russians -- excuse me, steered very rich Russians into the Trump ventures, according to people who were involved in the deals. And this was just a couple of years after American regulators had punished Deutsche Bank for whisking Russian money into the U.S. financial system via Latvia.
Quote: Some executives at Deutsche Bank had discussed the potential pitfalls of the Trump relationship and they were worried. It was not only the not insignificant risk that Trump would default on loans. The bankers also knew how filthy the New York real estate industry could be. They talked about Trump`s well documented ties to the organized crime world and the possibility that Trump`s real estate projects were Laundromats for illicit funds from countries like Russia.
Specifically on the Russia issue, David Enrich finally pulls together all of the world`s known reporting about some of the most disturbing still open questions about what went on with the Kremlin interference in the 2016 election to benefit Trump and how that may have mapped to financial dealings involving his company. And potentially, Jared Kushner`s family company as well.
Here`s more, quote, Tammy McFadden had worked in Deutsche Bank`s Jacksonville offices, a few buildings down from the FBI`s field office there, for eight years when in the summer of 2016 some suspicious Jared Kushner transactions landed in her inspection queue. Deutsche Bank`s computer systems automatically scanned thousands of transactions every day looking for any hints of impropriety and sent those flagged transactions to experts for review.
McFadden was a veteran anti-money laundering compliance officer attached to Deutsche`s private banking division. She was one of those experts.
In early 2016, McFadden had noticed that many customers of Deutsche`s private bank, including quite a few of Rosemary Vrablic`s super rich clients didn`t have the proper documentation attached to their accounts. This is especially problematic for customers who are classified as politically exposed persons, a designation that`s supposed to subject them to extra vetting bought heightened risk they could be involved in bribery or other public corruption. McFadden did a broader review and found more than 100 politically exposed clients who didn`t have the requisite documentation showing things like where the money came from. Among those customers she realized, were Donald Trump and his family members. When McFadden alerted her superiors, they told her not to worry about it.
Now, in the summer of 2016 with Trump having clinched the Republican nomination and Jared Kushner as his advisor, McFadden was assigned the task of reviewing a number of transactions in the Kushner Companies` accounts that triggered alerts in Deutsche`s computer system. Right off the bat, she could see why the transactions had tripped up the software. Kushner`s real estate company was moving money to a number of Russian individuals.
McFadden did some research, looked into the recipients of the money and into the Kushner Companies` history of moving funds overseas and concluded that the appropriate response was for Deutsche to file a suspicious activity report with the arm of the treasury report responsible for policing financial crimes. This didn`t strike McFadden as an especially close call. She typed up the report and sent it to her superiors.
Quote: Word traveled back to McFadden that her report was being killed by managers in the private bank. McFadden was pretty sure this was an example of the private bank trying to preserve its lucrative relationship with the Kushners and therefore, the Trumps at the cost of not adhering to anti- money laundering laws. Ultimately, in April 2018, McFadden was fired, but she had found something important. The Kushners with their long-standing ties to Deutsche Bank were moving money to Russians at the same time that Russia was interfering in the American presidential election, trying to tilt it in favor of Jared Kushner`s father-in-law.
It was hard not to be a little suspicious. What exactly were the purposes of the transactions that McFadden had spotted? What did they show about the interests of Kushner, Trump or his presidential campaign in Russia? With McFadden fired and her suspicious activity report deleted, the answers to those questions vanished inside Deutsche`s computer systems.
If only a subpoena could pry them loose.
David Enrich joins us next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: There`s one more bit of this I want you to hear, ready? This is from David Enrich`s new book, "Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and Epic Trail of Destruction". It comes out tomorrow. We`ve got it tonight.
Quote: There was no doubt that Deutsche Bank had extensive business dealings with Russia and those dealings included acting as a conduit for dirty money to get out of Russia and into the Western financial system. Deutsche, of course, was the only reliable connection that Trump, his family and his company had to the mainstream banking world.
And Eric Trump had blurted that Russians financed the family`s golf projects, even though it was Deutsche who had made the Doral loans. Perhaps this was more than a coincidence. Maybe Deutsche was what connected Trump to Russia.
The rumor that had been ricocheting around Washington, New York and London was that the Russian government supported VTB Bank, had in the recent past fund dirty money to Trump via Deutsche. VTB certainly seemed connected to Trump. Felix Sater claimed that VTB was facilitating travel and other arrangements for Trump`s team in 2016 as they discussed a possible Trump Tower project in Moscow. And there was no doubt that VTB had deep long standing ties to Deutsche.
Now the theory was that one of the reasons Deutsche had been willing to take such risks on loans to Trump was that it wasn`t actually taking the risks at all. VTB had agreed to secure the loans. If Trump defaulted, Deutsche could collect whatever it was owed from the Russian bank. In effect, that meant that VTB was the one lending to Trump, a direct financial connection between the Russian government and the American president.
Deutsche executives insisted this was false. Again, this is from David Enrich`s new book, "Dark Towers, Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction." It comes out tomorrow.
This last little bit, check this out.
What jumped out at the auditor as he scrolled through this spread sheet was just how much business Deutsche had been doing with Russian banks. There were tens of millions of dollars outstanding with VTB alone. The spread sheet showed that a network of more obscure companies like Russian International Bank and Russian Mortgage Bank and Russian Commercial Bank Cyprus limited to name a few also were doing tens of millions of dollars of business with Deutsche, and that was just on this one particular day that this one spread sheet captured in the fall of 2013.
The spread sheet was a tantalizing clue as to just how deeply entangled Deutsche was with Russia. And despite everything that was already public, thanks to Deutsche`s repeated scrapes with Western law enforcement and regulatory agencies, just how little was really known about what the bank was up to. Those answers lay hidden inside Deutsche. Short of theft or a very lucky break with a very disgruntled employee, the only way to crowbar open those electronic vaults was for a government body to issue a subpoena.
Since that time, of course, those subpoenas have been issued. Two levels of federal court have said those subpoenas are valid and should be enforced and Deutsche should hand over their financial records related to Donald Trump. The Supreme Court will hear that next month. And the president`s desperation to stop the release of his financial records from Deutsche Bank is so palpable, you owe it to yourself to read this to understand why he is so freaked out.
Joining us now is David Enrich. He`s finance editor at "The New York Times". He`s author of this new book "Dark Towers."
David, thank you.
DAVID ENRICH, FINANCE EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you.
MADDOW: I`m sorry that I just read your whole book on TV.
ENRICH: It`s fine. There`s few parts you can get, and I am happy for any publicity you give me. So --
MADDOW: I picked those things out because those are the things -- I have the official copy of your book, the bound copy and I have the galley that I`ve been tearing for a few weeks since I got it.
ENRICH: I`m so impressed. That`s the most dog-eared copy of my book I`ve seen.
MADDOW: Well, it`s -- your book is about a lot of things that I have been worried about and wondering about for a very long time.
Let me just ask you a very basic question. What was it about President Trump that made it so by the late `90s, there was no other bank in the world that would do business with him other this one.
ENRICH: He kept defaulting. That was his modus operandi. He would borrow money or accept services from banks, from contractors, from law firms and then he would refuse to pay them back. That`s obviously not a type of business that many financial institutions, serious ones anyway, are eager to work with.
MADDOW: And this is the story of the sort of cursed history of Deutsche Bank from its origins, like literally from them financing the creation of Auschwitz until the current day. And the book is essentially about what a bad and dysfunctional organization you portray Deutsche to be.
But is it -- is that -- is that the simple answer to why they were the one institution in the world that would still do business with Trump, given that that was his M.O.?
ENRICH: Well, this was an institution that was so hungry for short-term profits that they were willing to turn a blind eye to bad clients` reputations. And this is the same reason -- the same reason that they were doing business with Donald Trump is the same reason they were the only bank ultimately willing to do business with Jeffrey Epstein.
You know, this is a pattern that keeps repeating itself over the years at Deutsche Bank. They really wanted clients and they were in such a weak position competitively that they had to go for the clients that no other banks would touch. And Donald Trump is a perfect example of that.
MADDOW: During the presidential election, you write, a Deutsche Bank employee raised concerns about transactions related to Jared Kushner and that there seemed to be at least sort of sociologically, you`re able to report, there seemed to be a link between Kushner`s dealings with Deutsche Bank and Trump`s dealings. They sort of -- they seemed -- they involved the same banker, they seemed to sort of be cultivating the same ties.
What do you know about the seriousness of the concerns that were raised about Kushner and sending money to Russia during the campaign?
ENRICH: They were extremely serious. This is the woman who raised these concerns, named Tammy McFadden. They spent a lot of time talking with her. And she was so concerned that she not only filed the suspicious activity report, those that she (ph) sent to the government, but when that report was killed, she started complaining so loudly internally that she had to be transferred to another part of the bank and then ultimately was fired.
And she still feels really strongly about this. She had the courage to speak up publicly and talk to me, have her picture taken, which is something that in this day and age, in this political climate takes such guts. And people who don`t feel really strongly and really alarmed over what they`ve seen don`t do it.
MADDOW: Were you able to find any independent corroborating evidence that those payments might have been a thank you or a pass-through to Russia basically to compensate them for the help they were offering Trump in the campaign?
ENRICH: I`m afraid not. That was definitely something that I was looking for. And I was not able to confirm that. What I was certainly able to confirm that a number of other people in the bank had raised similar concerns, whether it was about Trump or the Kushner accounts, and there`s a long-standing pattern within Deutsche Bank of facilitating money laundering for people in Russia and elsewhere.
And the anti-money laundering compliance officers at Deutsche Bank certainly were viewing these Trump and Kushner transactions through that lens. This is -- it fit the bill of the exact type of stuff they had been trained to look out for. And, you know, they tried to raise these red flags and were thwarted at every turn.
Now, that doesn`t mean -- I don`t think they had any insight into what the intent of those payments were. They could just see the payments leaving the bank`s accounts and going into the pockets of these Russians.
MADDOW: And knew they were suspicious enough and of a type of suspicious payment that they should have been reported to the financial industry (ph)?
ENRICH: Yes, it wasn`t a close call they said.
MADDOW: I have more to ask you. We`ll be right back with David Enrich. His book comes out tomorrow. It`s called "Dark Towers, Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction."
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Joining us once again is David Enrich. He`s finance editor at "The New York Times." His new book is called "Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction." It comes out tomorrow.
David, thank you again.
ENRICH: Thank you.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about something that I expected to happen at the start of the Trump administration which I thought would be awkward. The president takes office. We know very little about his finances but we do that he probably owes hundreds of millions of dollars to this one institution. That institution at the time he becomes president is expected to be in the crosshairs of the Justice Department.
They had just been nailed, had to pay a huge fine in this Russian money laundering scandal. It was widely believed that the Justice Department, federal justice department was about to bring a case against them for essentially that same crime and that was going to be a big confrontation in terms of the independence of the Justice Department.
Whatever happened to that case?
ENRICH: Yes, that is the million dollar question. So back at the tail end of the Obama administration, my understanding is that the Justice Department was close to bringing a criminal case against Deutsche Bank, actually probably charging the bank itself with a crime for its involvement in Russian money laundering. And the Trump administration begins and Deutsche Bank executives are steeling themselves for this and they just hear nothing.
And the weeks go past. Initially, they just think it`s a presidential transition and it`s just been put on the back burner a couple of weeks but then the months start passing and a year passes. And Deutsche Bank executives became convinced this was just too hot to handle for the Trump administration. They did not want anyone in the administration to bring more public attention to the very close relationship between Deutsche Bank and Russia on the one hand and Deutsche Bank and Trump on the other hand.
MADDOW: We believe that the president still owes them a ton --
ENRICH: Yes, hundreds of millions of dollars.
MADDOW: A Deutsche Bank spokesperson made a statement -- gave a statement to "Business Insider" in response to your book.
ENRICH: Wow, this is news to me.
MADDOW: Here we go, ready?
While elements of the narrative seem to be exaggerated to fit into a story line, we have long acknowledged and sought to learn from our historical shortcomings. That`s the statement. What has Deutsche Bank said to you in response to your reporting here, particularly when it comes to what you just described, their ties to Russia, their admitted, confessed and punished ties to Russian money laundering and their simultaneous ties to the president?
ENRICH: Well, they publicly denied. First of all, they publicly refused to speak -- say much of anything in the public about their client. They acknowledge Trump is a client. Trump has disclosed in his limited White House disclosures the amounts that he owes and what those loans are. They have in the case of Tammy McFadden that we were discussing earlier, they said that they handled everything properly.
You know, they`re playing defense. And they are trying to desperately, I think, to make this very bad situation where they are the public face of Donald Trump`s finances. They`re trying to make that go away as best we can. I think to their credit here, it sounds like they`re owning up. They`re not really disputing anything, they -- and it`s hard to dispute because a lot of this is public.
MADDOW: The last question I have for you is about what I see coming next month with the Supreme Court arguments over, among other things, the subpoena to Deutsche Bank to hand over their financial records related to Trump. Are you concerned that they may have destroyed or mishandled or altered those records? I raise this because you had reported at "The Times" that multiple Deutsche Bank executives had told you that among their Donald Trump records were years of the president`s federal tax returns.
They then told a federal court, no, we don`t have his tax returns at all. Do you think they might be burning that stuff in an oil drum somewhere?
ENRICH: I doubt they`re burning it in an oil drum somewhere, but they definitely had the tax returns because I`ve spoken to people who have seen them at Deutsche Bank. I believe them when they say they no large longer have them. So, that means they`ve either destroyed them, lost them or given them back to Trump. And I don`t know which of those things was worse, but it was very surprising to me to say they no longer had the returns.
MADDOW: I don`t know what we`re ultimately going to see in terms of what Deutsche Bank has on the president and what that explains about who he is and how he got to be where he is, but you have given us the best key to understanding that so far, by far.
David Enrich is the financial editor at "The New York Times." The new book is called "Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction." Come for a preview of what`s going to happen at the Supreme Court. Stay for the surprise story of how we ended up with Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. I can`t even go there.
It`s in the book. You`ll want to see it.
David, thank you very much.
ENRICH: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Really appreciate it.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: 2003, that is the number of signatures that are, as of right now, on this letter calling for the attorney general to resign over the rule of law crisis we`re currently living through in this country. All 2,000-plus names signed on to this letter today are former U.S. Justice Department officials.
And all 2,000-plus of them are calling on Attorney General Barr to resign for interfering in cases related to the president`s allies, for trying to fix politically sensitive cases to benefit the president. That`s why we`re in this crisis. But there`s something else these former Justice Department officials wrote, that is worth paying attention to.
Two thirds of the way they say this: we call on every DOJ employee to be prepared to report future abuses to the inspector general, and Congress. We call on every DOJ employee to refuse to carry out directives that are inconsistent with their oaths of office, and we call on every DOJ employee to withdraw from cases that involved such directives or other misconduct, and if necessary, to resign and report publicly in a manner consistent with professional ethics to the American people the reasons for their resignation.
In other words, squawk. Hello current Justice Department officials. Speak up, if you see something improper, if you bear witness to further abuses of the rule of law at the Justice Department, say something. That`s the message for more than 2,000 former Justice Department officials to the thousands of men and women who still work at the Justice Department.
And I mean, it is -- the justice department is its own thing, and they have their own culture, and they have their own means of communication. But it feels like we may be seeing signs of that squawking happening around in the press. Last week, "The Wall Street Journal" reported that the justice department is nearing a decision about whether to bring charges against Eric Prince for lying to Congress during the Russia investigation.
According to a reporter on that story, the Erik Prince case is currently in the hands of the D.C. U.S. attorney`s office, which is the office where the U.S. attorney was unceremoniously removed from her job in recent weeks and replaced with a close aide to Attorney General Bill Barr. That`s the same U.S. attorney`s office where the A.G. has been meddling in cases to benefit the president. It`s been almost a year since the Erik Prince was referred by Congress to the Justice Department. We haven`t heard beep about the investigation since. So, why are we just hearing about it now?
Again, no indictment has been made public, but somebody is letting the Wall Street Journal know that the criminal case against Eric Prince is alive and well and there could be charges. Same thing with the investigation related to the president`s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Since Friday night, we`ve had a pair of reports from "The Washington Post" and CNN about how federal prosecutors are currently still working on and advancing their criminal investigation into Rudy Giuliani related to his two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman who were already under federal indictment.
And again, that`s good to know. There had been earlier reporting that the Giuliani case might result in criminal charges against Mayor Giuliani. But that`s getting re-upped now when we`re told -- reporters are being told now that, by the way, not only is that investigation still live, it`s being currently investigated. Interviews are happening now, even since the end of the impeachment trial, Giuliani interviews related -- interviews related to the Giuliani case are live.
Why are we hearing about the stuff in the press now? I mean, whatever the reason. These little flairs being put out in the press by people who know something about these cases, they do serve as a kind of public notice that these investigations, these politically sensitive investigations into the president`s allies are active and ongoing cases, which honestly is good to have on the public record, just in case the attorney general ever tries to make those cases go away.
MADDOW: All right. That`s just about going to do is it for us tonight. There`s two things we`re going to be watching for tomorrow, after this conflagration we`ve had over Attorney General Bill Barr interfering in the prosecution of the president`s friend Roger Stone last week. The judge in that case scheduled a surprise conference call for lawyers on both sides of that case, tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. We really do not know what that`s about, but we`re going to be watching that closely, given the huge furor that has erupted since the attorney general got involved there.
But also, tomorrow is the deadline for Democratic candidates to qualify for Wednesday`s presidential debate in Nevada. So far, it`s Sanders, Biden, Warren, Buttigieg and Klobuchar. But Bloomberg is on the cusp of qualifying for that debate. It would be the first debate he`s in. He only needs 10 percent in one more national poll, in order to qualify. He`s been over 10 percent in the last, I think, four or five national polls.
If there`s another national poll that comes out showing with that kind of a standing tomorrow, he will be in the Wednesday night debate. He has until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow to make that cutoff.
All right. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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