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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/11/22

Guests: Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Jamie Raskin

Summary

MSNBC continues its live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) is interviewed.

Transcript

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": That is "ALL IN" on this Monday night, and you`re thinking, Chris got out a little early. It`s true, because it`s time -- drum roll for THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW hosted by the only -- one and only Rachel Maddow.

[21:00:02]

Welcome back, Rachel, at 8:59:48. How about that? How I get the dead apples, huh?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Were you expecting the drum roll to be a little bit longer, and maybe have a little high had in it? You had -- like extra 12 seconds there pan out.

HAYES: I rushed through because I wanted to -- I wanted to -- I was like I got to budget time, a little bit of crosstalk because Rachel is back, I missed her. I also don`t want to eat into her show, always front of mind for me, I was sort of rushing a little bit.

MADDOW: Well, thank you very much my friend, it is good to be back. I`m super rusty, so I`m hoping that people stick around tonight if only to see me inevitably screw up.

HAYES: I doubt that will happen. Two things, Ali didn`t amazing job in your absence.

MADDOW: Yeah.

HAYES: Totally incredible job.

And -- but we missed you a ton, and it`s great to see your face on my screen here, so welcome back, friend.

MADDOW: Thanks a lot, my friend. Much appreciated really.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. It is really nice to be back. It`s really, really, really nice to be back.

If this face does not seem familiar, if you are -- if you are not quite used to seeing somebody else at this hour -- hello, it`s nice to meet you. I`m Rachel. I have been away from the show for a few weeks. I took a hiatus to give myself a little reset and also to work on some other MSNBC projects that I`ve got cooking.

I got tell you. The hiatus has been fantastic. I am really grateful for it. I know it is an unusual thing to get in this business. I`m very grateful to MSNBC and MSNBC`s president for letting me do it.

I`m profoundly grateful to the staff on the show for keep everything running, for doing such great work while I was gone.

And, as Chris mentioned there, I am also grateful almost beyond words for Ali Velshi in particular, and for my other colleagues who filled in for me while I was away. If you can tell from the way that all the rest of us talk about him, you should know that Ali Velshi is a prince among men. He has been in Ukraine and in bordering countries for five straight weeks, covering the war, hosting this show, hosting his own show. He`s been doing incredible work literally around the clock, all the while just being a great and generous and upstanding person, and a great coworker to everyone here works with while he was doing it.

I`m telling you, you should be so lucky to ever have a coworker as great as Ali Velshi. We are incredibly lucky to have him here at MSNBC, and I`m really, really grateful that he home things so ably while I was gone. I sort of feel like I have a big shoe to fill coming back, given what a good job he`s been doing.

But I am back. I said when I left before that I might eventually be taking another hiatus later on this year. That things were fluid, we`d be taking it one step at a time. That`s also true-ish.

But, one of the things I realize while I was on hiatus working on these other projects these past few weeks, one of the things I realized, to my surprise, is that I actually don`t really need another hiatus. This one was great, but I think only need the one. I do still have all these other irons in the fire, all these other things I`m working on that I want to bring to fruition. None of them are fast, all of them take a long time, I`m still working on all of them. But I don`t think I need another big stretch of time off.

So here`s the plan. I`m back, I`m going to be here all this month, Monday through Thursday night. Now, for big news events, like the lead up to the election, I will be here. But that is the general plan. I will be here this month, Monday through Thursday nights.

And then starting next month, starting in May, I`m going to be here weekly. I`m going to be here on Monday nights. Again, to give myself just more time to work on some of the other stuff that I`ve got cooking for MSNBC and NBC.

So, Monday to Thursday night this month, starting next month, I will -- I will be here weekly. And again, this might change. We will see how things go. But, that is the plans of now. So, now you know. And we will never speak of it again. Enough of that, let`s start the show. We`ve got a lot to get to tonight.

All right. As I mentioned, in addition to having hosting duties on the show, Ali Velshi has been hosting his own show on the weekends here as well. He has been hosting from Ukraine and from bordering countries where`s been for these last few weeks. And I mention this because yesterday, if you caught Ali`s MSNBC show, you might have seen him interviewing this gentleman on the right side of your screen here.

If you were a long time viewer of this show, that guest might look familiar to you. His name is Vladimir Kara-Murza, Vladimir Kara-Murza. And, Mr. Kara-Murza apparently haunts the dreams of Vladimir Putin.

The first major opposition figure to emerge as a potential rival to Vladimir Putin was an entrepreneur billionaire who ran the one Russian oil company that actually knew it was doing.

[21:05:09]

His name was Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Actually, I wrote about this extensively in the book I wrote a couple of years ago called "Blowout". If you ever want to read this back story here, I think it is an amazing story.

But basically, this guy, this entrepreneur billionaire guy, he became the richest businessman in Russia. He then challenged Putin. He made this public challenge that Russia needs to be a real democracy, and the dawn of the government needs to stop doing everything and be corrupt.

That was such a threat to Vladimir Putin, that Putin had him arrested on made-up charges, seized his company, and took it from self. And then Putin had the guy locked up in prison for a decade.

After he got out of prison, at the end of a decade, he fled the country. He now lives in exile. But Michael Khodorkovsky founded a pro-democracy group that operates internationally. It`s called Open Russia. And it advocates for democracy in Russia, for civil society. It advocates against corruption in Russia.

That, of course, is very threatening to Vladimir Putin after Khodorkovsky self threatened him. When was done threatened by the organization that he founded. And so, Putin of course had the organization banned. He had Open Russia declared illegal.

But until Open Russia was banned, the guy who was running it was Vladimir Kara-Murza. And he keeps popping up in places like this.

The next real critical rival to Vladimir Putin was this man, a charismatic opposition named Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov was brilliant, really well spoken. He was a physicist by training, he was six foot five. He had a lot of different prominent offices and Russia, including being deputy prime minister.

And he emerged ultimately as this outspoken crusader against corruption in the Russian government. And so, naturally, just like Khodorkovsky before him, Boris Nemtsov emerged as a huge threat to Putin. For one thing, he was another real, credible challenger to Putin. And, so of course, he had to go to.

With him, they didn`t go through the trouble that they went through the loyal guy. They didn`t go through the trouble of arresting him and jailing him and stealing his company and exiling him. For Boris Nemtsov, they want a simpler route, they just killed him, four bullets in the back for Boris Nemtsov as he walked along the street just outside the Kremlin. That was in 2015.

But here, too, again, we find our friend Vladimir Kara-Murza. There`s a foundation named for Boris Nemtsov. It supports journalism. It supports freedom of the press. Every year, they gave the Boris Nemtsov prize for courage, and upholding democratic values. Vladimir Kara-Murza runs that foundation. He runs the foundation those founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He runs the foundation, founded in the name of Boris Nemtsov.

I mean, the pattern here is clear. Part of the way Vladimir Putin stays in power in Russia is that he keeps imprisoning and killing all the opposition figures in Russia.

They`ve got Alexei Navalny in jail now after nearly killing him with poison.

They had Mikhail Khodorkovsky in jail for a decade. Now, he`s in exile.

Boris Nemtsov, they had him just gunned down in the street.

But the opposition, it keeps trying, it keeps going. Vladimir Kara-Murza linked to all these opposition figures, a very high-profile opposition figure in his own right, carrying on the work of all these killed and imprisoned leaders, to keep the opposition alive in Russia, literally alive, and politically alive. And he has paid the price for it too.

In 2015, Vladimir Kara-Murza was poisoned. Him too, multiple organ failure. He had to learn to walk again. It took him a year and a half to recover when he was poisoned in 2015, but he lived.

Then two years later, he was traveling in Russia, inside Russia promoting a documentary about the life and the assassination of Boris Nemtsov. Somehow Vladimir Kara-Murza was poisoned again, twice in two years, again in and out of a coma, multiple organ failure again. His wife somehow got him out of Russia and into the United States for him to try to recover here. Doctors here told her that he had a five percent chance of survival but he survived.

And in 2017, as he was still recovering from that second assassination attempt, in fact, he was he was right here on this show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: We saw the offices of Alexei Navalny`s organization get ransacked and have all their computers and all their paperwork and all their staff get getting arrested, Open Russia getting banned this week, the raid on your offices there this week.

[21:10:01]

I mean, how -- how do you maintain any sort of momentum, any sort of organizing structure against that?

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, OPEN RUSSIA: Well, I mean, the other side -- if you just look at it formally, the other side of course does have a massive advantage, right? They have all the so-called law enforcement agencies. They have the entire propaganda machine. They have the whole power of the state on their side. But what we have I think is something much more important and that is the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: We have something much more important, the truth, Vladimir Kara- Murza, Russian opposition figure.

As Vladimir Putin`s war against Ukraine grinds on now, what, day 44, day 45? As tonight, we feel the first unconfirmed reports that Russian forces may have used a chemical weapon in Ukraine, as the number of Russians arrested for opposing Putin`s war dwarfs the number of arrests we saw even from the big opposition protests in Russia in 2012 and 2017. As Putin has now eliminated the last vestiges of the independent press in that country, as he has made it a criminal act to even call the war in Ukraine a war, as thousands -- as tens of thousands of Russian citizens have fled their own country probably permanently, to escape Putin and what he is doing now to Russia as he wages this war -- this man, Vladimir Kara-Murza, has stayed to try to keep the opposition to Putin alive or perhaps to die trying.

Yesterday, he spoke with Ali Velshi from Moscow. Today, Vladimir Kara-Murza was arrested. He was seized by the Russian authorities.

It was first reported by Russian dissident, chess champion Gary Kasparov. It was later confirmed by the Boris Nemtsov foundation with which Mr. Kara- Murza leads. Mr. Kara-Murza was taken earlier today by Russian authorities, his whereabouts tonight are unknown.

When he spoke with Ali just yesterday, I want to say that he knew it was coming, but he knew he was in Russia at this time still speaking his mind and he was eyes open, facing it head-on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Are you worried about speaking out against the Russian government and against this war and invasion from Russia?

KARA-MURZA: We all know the price. We all know the cost, but we also know that there are millions of people in Russia who categorically oppose Putin regime and everything it`s doing, both in terms of domestic repression and in terms of the external aggression. We know there are many people in Russia who want our country to be a normal, modern, democratic European state. I think it would be very demoralizing those of us who are sort of the public faces of the pro-democracy movement, of the opposition movement, but I`ll just leave the country.

I do not, you know, condemn anybody. It`s everybody`s personal decision, but if you`re asking about me, I`m a Russian politician. Russia is my country. Russia is my home and this is where I have to be.

VELSHI: I`m -- I`m worried for you, my friend. You have been a source of my information for many, many years. So I`ll worry on your behalf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was yesterday. Ali telling Vladimir Kara-Murza how worried he was on his behalf. But again, Mr. Kara-Murza, Russian opposition leader who has twice already survived poisoning assassination attempts, today, he was seized by Russian authorities, arrested after giving an interview to CNN and after giving that interview to MSNBC just yesterday.

Other opposition activists in Russia have reportedly gone tonight where the police station where they believe he may have been taken. They are calling for his release. We`ll let you know more as we learn more.

In Ukraine today, the Pentagon confirmed the reports that we have been seeing for several days that Russia appears to be massing both troops and equipment in Eastern Ukraine, and it is not a minor shift.

According to the Pentagon, it`s 50,000, 60,000 Russian troops converging in Ukraine`s east now with aircraft and equipment that appears to show them preparing for a massive new offensive. Commercial satellite photography shows an eight-mile long Russian military convoy in the east. It`s near Ukraine`s second largest city, its largest city in the east, Kharkiv.

The Ukrainian military has thus far been David fighting off a relentless and brutal Goliath.

But again, with new and as yet unconfirmed reports that Russia may have used a chemical weapon in the city of Mariupol, and with confirmed reports that Russia appears to be preparing a whole new massive scale assault on the eastern part of the country, how much proverbial gas does the Ukrainian side have left in the tank? How well-resourced are they? How much more do they have to give? How much longer can they fight this hard and this well and this effectively against the massive Russian force now massing in the eastern part of the country?

[21:15:08]

What do they now want from the rest of the world to help them hold up?

Joining us now is Andriy Zagorodnyuk. He`s the former Ukrainian minister of defense. He`s co-founder and chairman of the security think tank Center for Defensive Strategies.

Mr. Zagorodnyuk, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate your time tonight, sir.

ANDRIY ZAGORODNYUK, FORMER UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: Yeah, thank you for invitation. Thank you.

MADDOW: Let me first just ask about these reports that the Pentagon briefed to U.S. reporters today saying that the Russian military is massing huge numbers of troops and a large amount of equipment for what appears to be a renewed assault on the eastern side of the country. Does that meet your understanding of what you believe is happening in your country? And what do you make of the scale of that that apparent preparation?

ZAGORODNYUK: Yes, absolutely, it means. That`s what they do and essentially what happened. Originally, they had a plan of quick capture of Kyiv and quick destruction of Ukraine. That didn`t work.

Then they started to assault number of cities. That didn`t work. Then they started to curse Ukrainian citizens by destroying the cities and bombing everywhere, including civilian infrastructure, most of all. That didn`t frighten us.

So, now, they are concentrating all they have on one region because they we believe they need to show to themselves, to them -- like leadership to Putin and so on that they at least can achieve something, because generally, a Russian campaign in Ukraine was failing. And right now, they concentrate all their forces on one region and that is absolutely true.

According to our statements of our ministry of defense and ministry foreign affairs, the -- we expect the operation in the east uh to be uh somewhat reminding of World War II battles. So, yes, indeed they were talking about tens of thousands of the troops, thousands of vehicles, equipment, weapons and so on. So, this is a very serious development.

MADDOW: When you say you expect combat along the lines of what we saw in World War II, you`re talking about mass conventional forces facing off on the battlefield. Tell us about the balance of power between the types and amount of Russian hardware and forces being moved there versus what the Ukrainian military has at his its disposal and the number of Ukrainian forces are available to fight that kind of a battle?

ZAGORODNYUK: Well, yes. We -- basically, when we compare to World War II, we need to understand that this war is already largest conflict in Europe since World War II, by a number of the troops employed by weapons and casualties and so on. So we`re talking about a very serious war, which is happening right now in Europe.

And, of course, we have -- we have personnel, which is ready to defend our country. We have -- we have no shortage of volunteers who -- of reserves who are ready to join. Our biggest issue which we, of course, can replenish with our own forces but something which where we need support is equipment.

So, it basically weapons, particularly this war is going to be very different from what has been so far because what happened before was that Russians tried to attack from all different sides, all different places. They had reasonably limited troops in many, many, many locations around Ukraine and our small tactic -- small group tactical approach was very efficient, and that`s where our allies with -- of course, the United States, first of all, who supplied us with the Javelins and Stingers and United Kingdom with other anti-tank equipment. That`s where it was useful because we could -- we could use that.

However, we also used a lot of artillery, and we used it very successfully and that`s how Russians couldn`t be successful in their attempts.

This phase most likely is going to be old -- all long-range, all what is called major firepower. So this is going to be a -- the war where actually physically, the two sides may not even see each other in a plain sight. So this is much more dangerous and much more deadly if I may say so. So, yeah, it`s a -- it`s a serious challenge..

MADDOW: In terms of the kinds of weapons you`re describing needed for that kind of a battle, to what extent does this mean that this is a qualitatively different type of ask, a qualitatively different type of request. Do you need -- obviously, replacement for the artillery that`s already been expended in the fighting thus far -- but do you need new kinds of weapons that you haven`t had to use before in the kind of small group tactics that you were just describing?

ZAGORODNYUK: We -- you -- we need to -- we need to have armored vehicles. We need to have --h what is called multi-launch rocket systems and artillery, and that`s what we`ve been using at home and this is we know where well how to use. But, of course, we our stocks (ph) are not like endless, and that`s why we`ve been asking for help with our allies including United States, of course.

[21:20:06]

It`s not something totally new which we`ve never seen before, but this is something where our partners can definitely step in.

MADDOW: Former Ukrainian minister of defense, Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Mr. Minister, thank you so much for your time.

ZAGORODNYUK: Thank you very much.

MADDOW: Good luck. We appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you.

ZAGORODNYUK: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to come here tonight. It`s good to be back with you. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:15:08]

MADDOW: I know the news about the war most days feels overwhelming, some days it feels like you may just want to check out of it all together. I will tell you we`ve got a bunch of stuff to get to on tonight`s show that is not about the war at all.

But since I`m just back at this after being away for a little while there`s a couple of things that I just kind of want to paint as a target here, a couple of stories that I think it`s worth pointing out um might be important in the days ahead, things that are worth keeping an eye on in terms of new types of potential confrontation looming, including potentially American levels of confrontation related to this war.

Again, like I said, two stories, the first one is about communication, communication on the ground in Ukraine. Ukraine`s military, also with civilians, like all countries around the world including ours, they rely heavily on GPS, on global positioning system every day. Whether it`s for military stuff like coordinating targeted missiles and drones or dealing with disaster response or just allowing everyday people to find their way around using maps and directions on our smartphones, the world relies on U.S.-owned and operated GPS technology.

I say it is U.S. owned and operated, even though it operates around the world because the U.S. provides GPS technology to most of the world for free, from American orbiting GPS satellites. It`s just an unusual thing. It`s an -- it`s an American exceptional thing about technology that everybody all over the world uses.

GPS technology is largely reliant on U.S. GPS satellites and we again let every country in the world use it for free.

Well, tonight, NBC`s Tom Costello has some exclusive reporting he says that Pentagon officials are starting to sound the alarm that in Ukraine, Russia is messing up that system. Russia is jamming the U.S. provided GPS signals on the ground in Ukraine. It`s a four-star Pentagon official -- four-star general who tells NBC News tonight, quote, Ukrainians may not be able to use GPS because there are jammers around that prevent them from receiving and using the signal effectively.

So that`s one thing that is worth keeping an eye on, particularly because again this is not some, you know, inchoate international resource or set of norms that the Russians are reportedly messing with. This is American tech, this is U.S. technology that they are reportedly blocking and when it comes to U.S. involvement potential confrontation with the United States, this part of the technological confrontation in Ukraine may ultimately be a source of U.S. confrontation in Ukraine worth watching.

Relatedly, Russia has also reportedly jammed GPS systems not just on the ground in Ukraine but GPS system used by civilian aircraft that have flown along the Russian border with Finland. And that brings us to this next story that I think is worth watching. We are now seeing increasing and increasingly clear indications that the nations of Finland and Sweden may try to join NATO and soon.

These two countries are formally independent, they`re not militarily unaligned. They have long held off on joining NATO but Russia`s invasion of Ukraine has changed everybody`s calculus. And the Finnish prime minister now says she expects that the Finns will make a decision before mid-summer on whether or not they are going to seek membership in NATO. The BBC reports that Sweden`s ruling Social Democratic Party which traditionally opposed NATO membership, they are rethinking that position in light of Russia`s attack on Ukraine.

Now, the fact that Finland and Sweden are making these moves is perhaps unsurprising given the fact that Russia has full scale invaded one of its neighbors that wasn`t a NATO member. But it is also driving the Russian leadership crazy. These are preliminary reports that Finland and Sweden are considering joining NATO, but the Kremlin is already warning of severe consequences if they do so. I will tell you, with Sweden and Finland, both of these countries it`s a super interesting prospect and it is provocative to Russia but it is also fascinating in terms of its potential implications for the North American Treaty Alliance.

Finland specifically though does share an 800-plus mile border with Russia. They are better prepared than most countries neighboring Russia in terms of how to deal with their much larger neighbor. Finland and Russia have a fascinating history, one that has some eerie parallels for what`s playing out right now in Ukraine. That history has led to all sorts of recent war preparation on behalf of the Finns that might make Russia think twice about how much saber-rattling they`re going to do about Finland joining NATO.

[21:30:08]

I mean, Finland basically built a whole other second city underneath their capital just in the event Russia starts a war that targets Helsinki. It`s incredible stuff. We`re going to have more on that tomorrow night. But again, both these stories targeting us GPS technology and this the upset in Russia over Finland and Sweden potentially joining NATO, both of those are worth keeping an eye on.

All right. Lots more to get to tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:35:10]

MADDOW: I bet you remember this photo, this crazy photo. This photo -- remember this? This photo was taken on Donald Trump`s very first foreign trip of his presidency.

His first foreign trip was to Saudi Arabia. That`s the king of Saudi Arabia in the middle there, the guy in yellow who looks surprised.

Again, this was Trump`s very first foreign visit as president. No other American president ever made Saudi Arabia their first foreign trip, but Trump did. And that kind of set the tone for a lot of really unusual favors and special treatment for Saudi Arabia during Trump`s one beleaguered term in office.

Trump`s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner was at the helm of most of those decisions, most of that special treatment. Mr. Kushner himself made at least three trips to Saudi Arabia just during Trump`s first year in office, and I say it was at least three because we don`t know about all his trips maybe. Of those three, one of them, Kushner flew there secretly. We didn`t learn about it until after he was back, long after it was over.

That was the trip that reportedly included several nights where Jared Kushner and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, he goes by MBS, Jared and MBS reportedly stayed up until 4:00 in the morning, swapping stories and planning strategy, end quote.

Shortly after Jared Kushner got back from that trip, the Saudi crown prince, MBS, rounded up literally hundreds of members of the royal family and other rich Saudis and basically jailed them, including torturing some of them in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, until lots of them were forced to give up billions of dollars and any claims to power they might have. And MBS didn`t just have tacit support from the Trump White House for that bizarre crackdown, President Trump explicitly tweeted his approval of it.

Trump also incredibly supported Saudi Arabia`s weird economic blockade of their neighbor, Qatar, even though Qatar is a staunch U.S. ally and they host a gigantic U.S. military base that houses 10,000 American troops. Saudi Arabia launched this big blockade of Qatar and Trump said, okay, I`m on the Saudi side. Really?

Trump even bent over backwards to prevent Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Arabia`s crown prince after the murder and dismemberment of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an operation that U.S. intelligence concluded was personally approved by MBS himself.

Trump later told journalist Bob Woodward about MBS, quote, I saved his bass. Quote, I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop. Why? Why did you do that?

It was so strange and so blatant. Why are -- why is the United States government doing this? Why is our government going out of their way, not just to excuse and paper over but to really prop up this guy? How does this work?

While the Trump administration was giving the Saudi crown prince everything he wanted and more, Trump`s treasury secretary the guy in charge of money for the Trump administration, Steven Mnuchin, he kept making ever more frequent trips to go see MBS even after the Jamal Khashoggi murder. In fact, in the very last days of the Trump administration, Mnuchin took it -- took one last taxpayer-funded overseas junket to go visit Saudi Arabia. He had to cut that trip short because of the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, but not too short. Even after that, he stretched it out a couple more days because he wanted to squeeze in one last meeting with MBS.

Well, now we know just how well all that hard work paid off. "The New York Times" is reporting now that just six months after Trump left office, Saudi Arabia gave Steven Mnuchin a billion dollars. Saudi Arabia put a billion dollars into a brand new investment fund created by Mr. Mnuchin. That money came out of a Saudi government fund controlled by MBS. I mean, services rendered, right? A billion dollars for a job well done when you were a public official serving in the Trump administration.

But here`s the thing, Steven Mnuchin -- the money guy from Trump`s cabinet -- yes, he got a billion dollars from the Saudis six months after leaving office, but we now know that at about the same time, the Saudis gave $2 billion to Jared, to Trump`s son-in-law and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner.

According to this new reporting from "The New York Times," MBS gave this $2 billion to Jared Kushner`s new investment venture, despite all the advisors for the Saudi sovereign wealth fund advising against giving Jared the money. The Saudi advisors who oversee the fund looked at Jared`s proposal and according to internal documents obtained by "The New York Times," their response was basically -- yeah, why would we invest in this?

[21:40:05]

Jared Kushner has no experience in this kind of investing, none. Also, there are no other investors in this thing at all besides us, and our due diligence on their operations, quote, shows that they are unsatisfactory in all aspects, in all aspects.

That said, MBS staffers at the Saudi fund told these advisors, don`t worry, we`ve told them that after the first $500 million, they really, really have to hire some people who know what they`re doing before they get the other billion and a half. You know, after that, you know, fingers crossed, they`ll figure out how to manage the other $1.5 billion we`re giving them, but we`ll condition the first $500 million on them actually setting up a company that hires some people who know to how to do what Jared is asking us for this money for.

I mean, at least with Steven Mnuchin, he was technically an investor. He had been the treasury secretary. I mean, he had a money-shaped hole in which you could insert a billion dollars, right? He was like a money guy.

But Jared Kushner? He ran his dad`s real estate firm for a while when it got into money trouble.

I mean, with Mnuchin, the deal still stinks to high heaven, but on paper at least, he kind of makes sense as a place for the Saudi government to park some money, maybe. The Saudi government though then gave Jared Kushner twice as much money on more favorable terms on the vague hope that Jared will eventually hire people to do the actual work of, you know, managing their investment. Why was Jared worth twice as much as the billion dollars they gave Mnuchin?

Well, presumably in his case, it`s not just services rendered but services to be rendered. There`s always the prospect that Donald Trump might be president again. Who knows if Trump would pick the same cabinet secretaries, again? Who knows if Steven Mnuchin would get the job back again, but he`ll presumably have the same son-in-law, so maybe it`s payment for services rendered and also services to come.

When one of the skeptical Saudi advisors asked why they couldn`t at least cut back the amount they were giving Jared, MBS`s staff replied that the whole point was to, quote, form a strategic relationship with this new fund and its founder Jared Kushner and cutting back the $2 billion stake they were giving him could screw that up.

The Saudi government under MBS giving Jared Kushner $2 billion really does look like not just payment for services rendered, but also a down payment for services expected. If you had to explain corruption, if you had to explain being compromised by a foreign power to like a seven-year-old, this would be a good coloring book to start with. What are we as a country supposed to do about a situation like this?

Joining us now is Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland. He sits on the Oversight Committee and the Judiciary Committee. He`s a member of the January 6 investigation.

Congressman Raskin, it is really great to see you. Thanks very much for being here.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, I`m delighted to be with you, Rachel Maddow, and welcome back to your show.

MADDOW: Thank you very much. I know you`ve been keeping the seat warm for me, sir.

Let me just -- let me ask you: I am floored. I shouldn`t be floored. I`m floored by this "New York Times" reporting because um it does feel like a textbook example about somebody being compromised by a foreign power and it also feels like a bribe to us public officials. Is there a more complex way to see it or are there other nuances of this that aren`t immediately visible to those of us reading this reporting?

RASKIN: It was a money-making operation from the beginning. That`s the way I see it and I do fault the Democrats for not more aggressively pushing the foreign government emoluments that Donald Trump was raking in from Saudi Arabia and from the United Arab Emirates and from Indonesian, from governments all over the world, and it was a money-making operation from our own government as department after department, agency after agency spent their money at the Trump Hotels and the golf courses and so on.

And so, of course, they`re back in business, both for the pure capitalist motive there, but also in order to put the money together to get back into power. And you know, every kleptocrat, autocrat, dictator, bully and despot on earth is now rallying behind Donald Trump and they want to restore him to power and they believe it will mean the end to democracy in America and an end to democratic government in America being on the side of human rights and democratic countries around the world.

MADDOW: Is the law silent on the ability of former public officials -- and potentially future public officials -- to take money like this from a foreign entity that they served and in this case served quite favorably while in public office?

[21:45:09]

Is this something that we expect people to not do because of shame or are there legal constraints on taking this kind of money from a foreign entity?

RASKIN: Well, you know, I`m not that familiar with exactly where the money is going and what kind of accounts it`s being deposited. And if it`s all under the banner of business deals or arrangements, there`s little that can be done except you know under certain corruption statutes if they think they`re getting something directly back from the government right now. So it`s a tough situation.

But I wouldn`t say there`s nothing available but we`d have to, you know, really put it under a microscope to figure out what`s going on. And my interpretation, just having looked at the stories today, was exactly yours, that this is a down payment on corrupt relationships in the future. It`s an investment in the restoration of the Trump-ocracy, rather than, you know, the payoff for services rendered.

MADDOW: I wondered looking at this and thinking about previous corruption scandals and actually and sort of foreign compromise scandals in the U.S. government, thinking all the way back to World War II, and you know, how we got the Foreign Agent Registration Act, for example, was in response to the fact that -- at that point, the Nazi government was abusing its access to U.S. taxpayer funds to try to propagandize to Americans in this country and the Congress looked at that and passed FARA, passed the Foreign Agent Registration Act in 1938 to try to head off that sort of thing.

I was wondering if an entity like the Oversight Committee on which you sit might look at this -- might look at this as an oversight matter specifically with an eye toward creating new federal legislation that would ban something like this for former officials in the future.

RASKIN: Well, yes, indeed. And you know, I`ve got legislation called the Get Foreign Money Out Act with several dozen co-sponsors already, which is really an attempt to address a gaping loophole that was opened up by the Citizens United decision, and President Obama at the time called it out and he said if what we`re saying is that corporations can spend to the heavens in order to advance their agendas, a corporation doesn`t really have a citizenship or nationality the way that a person does because you can put foreign money into a domestic corporation.

And so, this is the -- the Get Foreign Money Out Act is an attempt to address at least part of the problem revealed by what`s happening here which is the infusion of foreign government money or foreign corporate money into domestic corporations and then channeling that money directly into our politics. And we`ve seen the way in which Putin and his autocratic army have attempted to inject ideological, racial, ethnic religious poison into the lifeblood of American politics through the social media back since 2016. I mean, that`s what the Cambridge Analytica story was all about.

So, it doesn`t take much to alter the chemistry of a nation`s politics this way. So this is one of the bills I`m hoping we`re looking at, in addition to others that deal with this general problem that you`re raising about, you know, foreign governments that will make a long-term investment in a potential president.

MADDOW: Yeah, a multi-billion dollar investment in this case and his son- in-law.

Congressman Jamie Raskin, sir, it is great to see you. Thank you so much for your time tonight.

RASKIN: Great to see you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We got much more news ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:53:30]

MADDOW: Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she is testing negative for COVID-19 now. That is a big deal because just four days ago, she got a positive test result and start isolating.

Nancy Pelosi is one of dozens of big names in Washington, D.C. to come down with COVID in the past week. It has been a remarkable, remarkable list.

Many of those people attended the gridiron dinner, which is a spiky event in Washington, about a week ago. So far, at least 80 people who attended that event have tested positive. That is 12 percent of the attendees.

But here`s the good news, nobody appears to be in the hospital. Most people have tested positive so far have reported symptoms, yes, but not scary symptoms. Not have to go to the hospital symptoms.

Well, it was a requirement of that dinner, that you had to be fully vaccinated in order to attend. If you -- still are looking for proof that vaccines work, here you go. Here is a ton of very high-profile positive cases with relatively mild symptoms, no severe illness, and none of them in the hospital. Thank you, vaccines.

Vaccines are centerpiece of the COVID preparedness plan the Biden administration plan announced last month. The administration is trying to maintain our countries access to vaccines and boosters and treatments and tests and mask.

Last week, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democratic leader, and Senator Mitt Romney, the Republican, announced a bipartisan plan to spend $10 billion which will be fully covered by unspent money from the American Rescue Plan.

[21:55:06]

But then the Senate left for Easter break this weekend without voting on it, after Republicans try to put up a poison pill amendment into it to try and screw it up. The Senate left. Congress is going to be gone to April 19th. In the meantime, our ability to keep giving Americans tests and treatments and lifesaving vaccines is now kind of drifting into unfunded territory.

The federal government says it does not have enough funds to buy more tests and vaccines once our current supplies run out. Thanks to Congress bailing and going home for Easter. Time`s ticking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Thanks for being here for the show tonight. It really is great to be back. I missed you.

I`ll see you tomorrow night. Samantha Power is going to be here as my guest. You`ll definitely want to be here for that.

But now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".

Good evening, Lawrence.