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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/10/22

Guests: Susanne Craig, David Laufman, Thomas Schueman, Zainullah Zaki


Former President Donald Trump pleaded the fight at his deposition in New York. Republicans jump to Trump`s defense after the FBI searches his Mar-a-Lago residence.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Alicia, good to see you again. You have yourself a fantastic evening. We`ll see you tomorrow.

And thanks to you at home for joining this hour.

We got a big show for you tonight as we continue to learn new information about the FBI`s search of Donald Trump`s Florida home. Trump world has now reportedly started speculating about who in the former president`s orbit might have talked to the FBI, and what it could mean for the investigation. We`ll have more on that later.

But let`s go back in time a little, to 2005. More than a decade before Donald Trump`s first run for president, before he started fighting with racist birtherism conspiracies, back when he was just a real estate guy, with a funny hairdo, and a reality TV show, that year, the intrepid journalist, Tim O`Brien, the guy on the left, the side to side digging into the so-called Trump empire.

And what he found than probably wouldn`t shock anyone today. But back then it was a big deal. Tim O`Brien discovered that Donald Trump`s much lauded business excellence was actually far less impressive than Trump had led anyone to believe.

He found that Donald Trump had been significantly overstating his net worth by billions of dollars. That he wasn`t remotely close to being a billionaire. And so in 2005, Tim O`Brien wrote a book exposing Donald Trump`s prolific lies, and exaggerations about his wealth. Donald Trump reported by suing time O`Brien for defamation a year later, and that is how we got to see what it`s like when Donald Trump testifies under oath.

Quoting from the transcript, attorney, Mr. Trump, have you always been completely truthful in your public statements about your net worth of properties?

Trump, I try.

Attorney, have you ever not been truthful?

Trump, my net worth fluctuates and it goes up and down with a market and with attitudes and with feelings, even in my own feelings, but I try.

Attorney, let me just understand that a little, you said your net worth goes up and down based upon your own feelings?

Trump, yes, even my own feelings, as to where the world, is where the world is going, and that can change rapidly from day to day.

Attorney, when you publicly state a net worth number, what do you base that number on?

Trump, I would say it`s my general attitude at the time that the question may be asked. And as I say, it varies.

After Trump gave his, my network has actually just vibes, testimony, the judge surprisingly throughout the defamation case. It turns out the law didn`t care about Trump`s feelings.

Years later, Trump ended up back in court, this time as the defendant. He was being sued by former students from his sham business school, Trump University. Trump had claimed to have only hired the best of the best instructors for his fake school, instructors who were handpicked by Donald Trump himself.

But once under oath, Trump again found himself having to answer for his own boastful lies, this time about his great memory.


QUESTION: Do you recall saying you have one of the all-time great memories?

DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: I think that was expression I used at the time.

QUESTION: And you stand by it?

TRUMP: Yeah, I have a great memory. I have a very good memory.

QUESTION: Can you tell me whether this person is a student, live events instructor, or neither?

Johnny Harris?

TRUMP: Too many years.

QUESTION: Tim Gorsline?

TRUMP: Too many years.

QUESTION: Mike Dubin?

TRUMP: Sounds very familiar, the name sounds familiar, just too many years.

QUESTION: Darren Liebman?

TRUMP: It`s -- the name sounds familiar, but it`s too many years.

QUESTION: Johnny Burkins?

TRUMP: I don`t -- I don`t know.


VELSHI: Too many years. I don`t know.

Trump ended up settling that case playing the plaintiffs $25 million.

Late last year, Donald Trump was once again deposed under oath, the first time even deposed since leaving the White House. That possession came in a case brought by protesters who said that they were assaulted by Trump security at the 2015 campaign rally.

In that deposition, Trump tried to justify telling his supporters to, quote, knock the crap out of protesters, because of dangerous fruit. Quote, they were going to throw fruit. We were threatened, we had a threat. It`s very dangerous stuff. You can get killed with those things.

I want to tap he will be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit. And some fruit is a lot worse than tomatoes are bad by the way. But it`s very dangerous. They were going to hit, they were going to hit very hard.

So dangerous. This is how it`s gone in the past. Every time Donald Trump had to testify under oath and now today, Donald Trump once again found himself giving sworn testimony. This time it was a New York attorney generals investigation into whether Trump knowingly lied about the values of these various properties in order to pay less in taxes.


But this time, Donald Trump didn`t cite his feelings or his great memory, or dangerous fruit. This time he took a different strategy.

Just after Donald Trump arrived at the New York attorneys general office at 9:00 a.m. this morning, Donald Trump released a statement, quote, I once asked, if you are innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment? Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the target of an unfounded politically motivated witch hunt, supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the fake news media, you have no choice. Under the advice of my counsel, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.

Translation, Donald Trump the former president of the United States, twice impeached, pled the Fifth.

Trump was in the attorney general`s office more than six hours today. According to the former president`s attorney, during that time, Donald Trump only answered one question. And that was his name. He pled the Fifth on every other question he was asked.

Now, the former president isn`t the first Trump to take this approach with the New York attorney general. Back in 2020, Trump`s adult son, Eric, pled the Fifth nearly 500 times when questioned by the attorney general`s office as part of this case. But Trump`s other adult children, Ivanka, and Don Jr., were both questioned in the same case. Just last week at a court to NBC news, neither of them pled the Fifth at any time in their questioning.

Trump`s refusal to answer questions comes as the investigation into his business appears to be zeroing in. According to "The Associated Press", the new attorney generals office is nearing the end of its investigation and quote, could decide to bring a lawful, lawsuit, seeking financial penalties against Trump or his company, or even a ban on them being involved in certain types of businesses.

It was also the matter of the ongoing criminal investigation into Trump out of the Manhattan district attorney`s office, which presumably would be able to use any of Trump`s testimony today in helping build its case against him as well. And then there are the various January six investigations continuing to probe Trump`s attempt to overturn a legitimate election, a legitimate election. And now, a Justice Department investigation into Trump`s removal of classified records which the fed obtained a search warrant on Monday.

All of this seems to have obscured Donald Trump into doing something that he`s never had to do before in his life. Sit down and shut up.

My next guest is the first you want to speak to on a night like tonight. No one who has done more in-depth reporting on the Trump family and its business practices.

Joining us as my old friend Susanne Craig, investigative reporter for "The New York Times". She was one of the lead reporters on "The Times`" Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into Donald Trump`s finances.

Susanne, good to see this evening. Thanks for being with us.


VELSHI: Clearly, there was some calculation on the part of Donald Trump today to plead the Fifth. Why would it make sense for him to do that in this particular trial? Which mostly affect his businesses, it`s not a criminal trial.

CRAIG: Well, definitely, there was a lot of thought went into it from Trump and his legal teams, and I think the reason why is that you got this civil case, if that goes to trial, it can be used against him in that form. And there`s a lot of people have talked about that today as people have been mulling over this case, but you have to look that he`s got this criminal case going on in New York. They are looking at him individually, and right now that doesn`t seem to be like it`s percolating that if he didn`t take the fifth and he says something, in a deposition, it could be used against him and that form.

And also, he is heading to trial, both the Trump Organization and his CFO, and that could also you know, anything that he says and his opposition could land him potentially, land him in that as well.

So there is a lot of property going into it today if he did decide not to take the Fifth. It just sort of thought of it like it`s a basketball, thrown and you don`t know quite where it was going to land.

VELSHI: This is unusual, though, for Donald Trump because there are always lawyers who say, hey maybe say less, and you`ll be okay. We have no idea where this case is going to go as you said, it could end up with a trial, or settlement. He paid a $25 million settlement in the Trump University case.

What do you make of what`s the likely outcome is and what`s influence it has on anything else that we have been discussing? Is this a stand-alone case? And whether he takes settlement or he goes to trial, it doesn`t really affect the January 6 investigation and the bears other investigations into the Trump orbit?

CRAIG: It doesn`t, the country is very polarized on January 6 rightly, but they`re sort of two things going on.


There is a lot of the political investigations, and then you`ve got all of the ones into his business.

You know, I`m a very bad at predicting how things are going to go. I tried to stay away from that. But if history is any barometer, you got to settlements he`s had with the New York attorney general. I really do feel like it could go that way, but I think is just kicking the can down the road.

If he settles, that could take a while. If it goes to trial, it could take even longer. At least in the short term, anything that he said in a deposition, isn`t going to get kicked down to New York, where there is a very immediate criminal threats going on. But I think he was sort of like, okay, I`ll take the Fifth today, whatever is going to happen is going to happen, up in Albany, with the civil case, at least I`m not going to get into any more trouble in that criminal case into my businesses in New York.

VELSHI: And that`s an area in which you got great expertise. In court filings, the attorney general`s office have said that Trump may have quote, improperly obtained more than $5 million in federal tax benefits for misrepresenting his financial condition.

Does any of the evidence that is obtained into the New York investigation wind up and federal prosecutors` hands?

CRAIG: It definitely could. And I think that`s all of this is a risk. It`s interesting you see that the two of his children didn`t take the Fifth. With that, you just don`t know what they are involvement is. There`s a lot behind the curtain, but we just don`t know what the evidence is.

They decided not to. They had individual counsel. It`s maybe that they didn`t know a lot. There could`ve been some deposition amnesia going on there.

But with Trump, it`s a very real threat, and he was looking at it I think from the proceedings that he is facing and New York City that are criminal, that are very serious. The civil case is serious, it will come to some sort of conclusion, either trial, or a settlement.

I`m sure the settlement will be large. But I think that that was sort of the factor that was paramount today when he was thinking about how to handle this.

VELSHI: Susanne, thank you as always. We appreciate the depth of your reporting and your analysis. Susanne Craig is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for "The New York Times".

Well, now, to further break down what all this means for Trump, legally, let`s turn to Joyce Vance, former United States attorney for the northern district of Alabama, and the co-host of "The Sisters in Law" podcast.

Joyce, it was good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

You heard my conversation with Susanne about why Donald Trump would invoke the Fifth Amendment in this trial which is largely about his business. But there is something that Susanne was hinting at and that there is a lot Donald Trump can say because he`s a big talker that could be held against him. And he may be worry about other cases in addition to this particular one which he was deposed.

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, looking at it from the perspective of Trump`s lawyers, this is the sort of client that you do not want to give free range to in a deposition. You want to do everything that you can do to constrain his testimony. So the statement that was issued today that you reference at the top of the show, it`s very lawyerly, it sets forth in language that is unlike that used by the former president, this notion that he can`t talk because no matter what he says, the attorney general would find a way to use that against them.

And, you know, whether that is true or not, this is a civil case about a business practices. It`s unrelated in any way to January 6. Like every other person who is involved in our legal system, he has a right to declined to testify, if he believes that the words coming out of his mouth would tend to incriminate him. So, entirely proper for him to do that, but obviously not without consequence.

And Susanne hints at a very interesting one. We don`t know what`s his children testify to last week. We don`t know if their decision not to assert the Fifth Amendment means that some sort of deal has been struck. There`s no indication that there is a form of cooperation going on there in exchange for their truthful testimony. That`s one possibility. As Susanne says, that positional amnesia is another.

And, of course, there`s also the possibility that they didn`t believe that their testimony and terminated them, distinguishing them from their father, apparently.

VELSHI: So, obviously, there was a lot of people who always there for the last few years, boy who just love Donald Trump testify under oath, anywhere for anything, because he is such a talker. He is likely to incriminate himself.

This seems like the advice of counsel who has said, you are big talker, you could incriminate yourself, because you talk so much. I am surprised and other people might be that Donald Trump had the discipline to be able to do this but is that him perhaps finally listening to good legal advice?

VANCE: Well, it`s hard to make that call but what it suggests is that he appreciates the seriousness of the situation that he is in. His home has been searched.


The January 6th committee hearings held by the House were very serious, and that information and evidence that they uncovered came very close to him. So while here we are talking about his business practices, he obviously is concerned that there is some risk and perhaps that risk in his mind is that the criminal investigation that is currently on a little bit of a break in the Manhattan DA`s office but that could come back to life if he had engaged in a full range of testimony in this deposition.

VELSHI: Let`s talk about the Don Junior and Ivanka depositions recently. Where you said they answered questions but did not plead the Fifth. It could be as you said they might see things differently than Donald Trump sees it, but is it possible that the criminal exposure that`s being investigated here, it doesn`t apply to them? In other words, are they fine with testifying because they don`t think it has any carry over effect into anything else?

VANCE: So the way that I view this case that Letitia James, the New York attorney general, is involved in is that it`s a civil case looking at business practices and seeing whether not the Trump Organization lived up to New York law. If they didn`t the consequences could be civil fines or it could even include some limitations on their business. Of course, the New York attorney general, her predecessor had struck down the functioning of Trump`s charity because blatant violations of New York law, and ultimately said you can`t do this anymore.

So that sort of what is at stake here in this civil case that she is involved in, and those are very serious matters. Certainly, for Trump losing that business would be a serious sort of a sanction.

The possibilities with his children -- it`s tough to access because assess because we don`t know the focus of the inquiry. It could be that they simply lacked knowledge of the fundamental allegations here which involve inflating the value of property and inappropriately in order to obtain some sort of financial advantage, and perhaps they were able to truthfully say they were involved, they didn`t know, they weren`t overseeing the financial statements that were being made.

So it`s possible that their responses were because as you say, Ali, they didn`t feel they were risk.

VELSHI: Joyce, good to see you. I miss you. I was in your state of Alabama this weekend and I didn`t get a chance to see you. But I`ll have to make another trip.

VANCE: Enjoy the show, though. Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI: Thank you. Joyce Vance is a former United States attorney for the district of Alabama.

We have more to get to tonight, including new details on that FBI search inside Mar-a-Lago, and an interview with some very special friends of ours.

Stay with us.



VELSHI: Since the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago two days ago, Donald Trump`s allies have publicly jump to his defense both here in the United States and abroad.


IGOR KOROTCHENKO (translated): Trump was chosen as such a witch as the most popular politician in the U.S. today, who has every chance of winning in the next presidential election. They won`t just be vilifying him, they will be strangling him. These raids, involving dozens of FBI agents and German Shepard police dogs. This is worse than McCarthyism, my friends! This is a symbol of inordinate despotism.


VELSHI: Just a sampling of the commentary aired on Russian state TV after the FBI raid, the color to which hunt. Worse than McCarthyism, my friends, they said it was political, a strategy for 2024. Ring any bells for you? His Russian state TV starting to sound like your average Republican member of Congress?


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): The way our federal government has gone, it`s liked what we thought about the Gestapo, people like that, they just go after people.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think every Republican believes that the FBI when it comes to Trump and other organizations have lost their mind.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Governor Ron DeSantis as now tweeted out: The raid on Mar-a-Lago is yet another escalation and the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime`s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves.


VELSHI: The regime`s political opponents. The Republicans rush to defend Trump`s on air and on Twitter, decrying Trump`s treatment and ignoring any potential criminality while simultaneously vowing to go after the Biden family if they win the House. And those calls for explanations and revenge are echoed by Russian media.

As for what we know about the FBI raid itself, in June, Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the Justice Department visited Mar-a-Lago with a group of federal investigators. We spoke about this yesterday. According to the reporting from "The New York Times" that was later matched by other news outlets, quote, after Mr. Bratt and other officials visited Mar-a-Lago, they subpoenaed the Trump organization for a copy of Mar-a-Lago`s surveillance tapes. The company complied turning the tapes over the government.

It was after that and a few statements from Trump`s attorneys about which documents he had returned, that the DOJ began to question the accuracy of what Trump`s team was telling them.


Now, Jay Bratt`s predecessor in that counterintelligence job was David Laufman. Laufman handled both the Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus investigations which both revolved around the handling of classified records.

Laufman had this to say to "Politico" about the search of the former Florida president`s home. Quote: For the department to pursue a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago tells me that the quantum and quality of the evidence they were reciting, in a search warrant and affidavit than FBI agents swore to, was likely so pulverizing in its force as to eviscerate any notion that the search warrant and this investigation is politically motivated.

Joining us now is David Laufman, former chief of the counterintelligence and export control section in the Justice Department`s national security position. He held that position until 2018 and he oversaw the investigation of Hillary Clinton`s handling of classified records and the investigation of David Petraeus.

Mr. Laufman, thank you for being here tonight.


VELSHI: We know that many Republicans are claiming that this investigation is political, but I just read what you said to "Politico", that the only way the DOJ would`ve pursued the search warrant is that if it had any evidence that erased any notion that it was politically motivated.

What do you think that evidence might be and why are you so sure about that?

LAUFMAN: Because I think in matters of the sensitivity, the department is going to air in an abundance of caution not to make sure they not only go after the probable cause to persuade the magistrate judge to issue the warrant, but to be able to withstand public scrutiny as such time as the warrant affidavit maybe made public, the department can comment publicly about it.

And so, there is kind of a plus factor if you will that this attends to these kinds of investigative endeavors, where the department wants to make sure that they are as airtight as possible and so robust as to demonstrate cogently that there was more of an abundance of evidence to support the search warrants and the raid that flowed from it.

VELSHI: You -- the section that you headed, that Mr. Bratt now heads, the counterintelligence and export control section, what about that can tell us anything about what the FBI was looking for? Why your department?

LAUFMAN: Well, under Department of Justice policy, that section of counterintelligence and export control section or CES is assigned responsibility nationwide for the investigation and prosecution of a number of offenses under criminal law, including offenses related to the mishandling of classified information.

So the fact that Jay was personally involved in this matter signifies to me that there is a thread running through this consistent with the proposition that there are violations of mishandling classified information, that present national security risks, that feature in this investigation. That is almost certainly why he has been personally involved in helping to ensure that every I`s dotted, every T is crossed with respect to how the investigation is handled, and consistent standards of the Department of Justice enforcement policy and judicial precedent are being applied, and how best to proceed in this matter.

VELSHI: You mentioned it could have national security implications because there are some people who might argue, isn`t this all a technicality? Sure, if you work for the government as you have, you`re not supposed to take anything home with you. It`s not your property. You can`t even take photographs that you brought in.

What part of this thing makes it clear that it is not just a technicality that Donald Trump should not have government property at his home?

LAUFMAN: Well, there are a number of things that we know the true reporting, that boxes were sent back many months ago from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives. The national archives reviewed and were horrified to review that it contained classified information. They made a referral to the Department of Justice about that very issue. That is likely which triggered alarm bells and got the national security division at the Justice Department involved in the first place, that transformed something from the failure to return records per se, under the presidential records act, into an investigation concerned about the exposure of classified information.

There`s nothing that concerns the FBI and the Department of Justice more than the notion that there is classified information out there in the wild in a place that`s not authorized to be where multiple people may have access to it, including possible foreign nationals. Of course, we know as you put out in your program last night that this president is prone to inviting foreign nationals and displaying classified documents.

So there`s no telling why the president why would`ve wanted to bring classified information back to Mar-a-Lago or why he wanted to have retained even after being confronted by questions from the National Archives and Department of Justice.


VELSHI: Some of the people who have criticize the FBI and the partner just in the last 24 hours so they came to us slowly, and the criticism has sounded a bit like the FBI better explain what`s going on right now, otherwise people are going to lose faith in the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Evaluate that for me. Should the FBI be explaining why there was a raid on the home of the former president of the United States?

LAUFMAN: Well, of course, there is a sealing order in effect right now that almost certainly restricts with the Department of Justice can say at any level, in unauthorized way, about the search.

I do think though there is problem some measure of public education that the department leadership, the attorney general, deputy attorney general, can engage in to reassure the American people that all the rules were followed here. They abide by every procedure constitutionally and otherwise and carrying out this search, in fact is carried out in a more gentle fashion than most searchers are.

The FBI agents weren`t wearing their customary windbreakers. They had a low profile and carrying the search out. It was done in a very collegial way. They didn`t break the door down.

So, the notion that this was carried out in some heavy-handed footprint is just some kind of febrile, you know, rubber room stuff, that is being fed to the masses, who support this president, to create this kind of uproar, and it`s causing what appears to be threats to the lives and families of law enforcement officers and Department of Justice officials. And that is something that the department and the FBI have to take and the U.S. marshals service, have to take very seriously.

VELSHI: David, thank you for being with us tonight, and we appreciate your insight which we wouldn`t be able to get from somebody who didn`t understand as well as you do.

David Laufman is a former chief of counterintelligence and export control in the Justice Department`s National Security Division. We appreciate time tonight, sir.

LAUFMAN: Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: Up next, a remarkable story about sacrifice, perseverance, and most of all, brotherhood, at the end of America`s longest war. Our friend, Major Tom Schueman, and his Afghan Zach join us for their first cable interview to discuss their brand-new book, after this.



VELSHI: President Biden right before pulling the new night out of Afghanistan made a point to underline the commitment we have a country -- as a country, made to the Afghan men and women, who risked their lives to serve as interpreters for the U.S. military.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our message to those women and men is clear. There is a home for you in the United States, if you so choose, and we will stand with you just as you stood with us.


VELSHI: That was a year ago last month. The war in Afghanistan was the longest war in this nation`s history. The message that President Biden was underlying there a message America used to recruit Afghan residents for more than a decade. If you risk your life to serve and protect our military, there is a home for you in America.

A month after Biden made that statement, both Rachel and I had the honor of speaking with these two men, Major Tom Schueman, and his Afghan interpreter, or Zak, for short.

Major Schueman and Zak were assigned to one of the most ages areas of all of Afghanistan, and Zak risks his life day in and day out to help U.S. troops.

On one occasion, Zak overheard two Taliban fighters from the distance talking on their radios as they organize an attack on the group of marines plotting slowly towards them information, behind an engineer with a metal detector. Knowing they were in danger and unwilling to wait for the field to be clear by a minesweeper, Zak just ran through a literal minefield and tackled one of the Taliban fighters, saving the marines` lives.

Zak was just 20 years old when he started working with U.S. military, he is now in his early 30s. He`s got a wife and four young kids. As a former interpreter for the United States, Zak qualified for the special visa program, for Afghans who worked for the U.S. military. He applied back in 2016.

When we spoke with him last year, he couldn`t get out of Afghanistan. He was being held up by a bureaucratic technicality, all the while he started getting threatening letters like this one from the Taliban. They called him an infidel and a traitor. They made it clear that the U.S. evacuated that they plan to hunt him down and kill him for working with U.S. forces.

At one point, he believes he was even poisoned by the Taliban which hospitalized him, and left him without a practice, and a diabetic. But luckily, he was alive.

With the U.S. pulling out of Afghanistan, and Zak`s life in more and more immediate danger, Major Schueman pulled out all the stops to get him and his family out. He wrote letters for his visa applications. He made calls, he lobbied on his behalf, he sent Zak money to pay bribes, to get past checkpoint on his way to Kabul, which at that point was the only airbase you could use to escape. Major Schueman`s mom even wrote letters to the White House to lobby for Zak.

But none of the former system that was supposed to work specifically for people like Zak worked. So Major Schueman and contact with Zak started taking the social media to basically beg for anyone who knew anyone on the ground in Afghanistan to help get Zak out. He used footage this like this clip of two of Zak`s kids to help humanize his story.

With this photo of Zak and his family outside the airport, having fled their home at 2:00 a.m., three different marine and contractors have tried to help him get them to the airport. None of them are successful.


With this selfie video of them at the airport entry point, where they were again denied entry two days later. You can hear one of the kids crying in the background. And then finally, these photos, with the caption, wheels up. It took days an intense amount of effort and lobbying to help Zak and his family finally made it out.

Here are Zak and Major Schueman this year reunited in the United States. Now, Zak and Major Schueman`s story is a true hero story, but it shouldn`t have to be. Since 2015, a little over 18,000 people like Zak and their families have been granted the special type of these are that lets them into the United States, but as of July of this year, that still leaves behind more than 74,000 people who risked their lives to work for the U.S.

The State Department estimates that when you include those eligible peoples family members, that number becomes 160,000 people, 160,000 people trapped in a country facing economic collapse, dire food shortages, and oppressive government, and because of their work with the United States, potentially death.

But interpreters like Zak get into the United States, one of things we are supposed to do is give them a green card, a path to permanent legal status in the United States. But Zak`s story isn`t over yet.

As of April, his most recent visa application was rejected. So even after all that he has done for this country, and all he has done to get to this country, his stay in the United States is still not guaranteed.

Zak and Major Schueman join me live here and they studio right after this.



VELSHI: Wheels up was the caption on this photo of Afghan interpreter, Zak, the day he finally got himself and his family out of Afghanistan last year, after a herculean effort by his former marine partner, Major Thomas Schueman. But there is so much more to the story as we learned in their brand-new book, "Always Faithful: A story of the war in Afghanistan, the fall of Kabul and the unshakable bond between a marine and an interpreter".

Reading it, you get a sense of just how close these men became.

Tom, Major Schueman, right quote, Zak had become my friend, and confident, tactically, and professionally, Zak was the constant I needed. As we walk and talk with local villagers, and patrolled numbers of the Afghan national army, Zak served as interlocutor for it all,, because we were working in parallel, because he was literally charged with conveying both my words and they are intent. We became almost one person in a sense.

Zak also shares in the book, in his own words, why he chose to remain in a corporate or after several of his colleagues quit because of the Taliban`s attack. Quote, I thought, someone had to take a chance for Afghanistan. I was not in the Afghan national army, but I thought that by using my skills to help people trying to help Afghanistan, I was serving my country and building our future, end quote.

Their story is one of war, courage, and friendship, and it is ongoing.

Joining us now is active duty Major Thomas Schueman, founder of PB Abbate, a nonprofit for veterans, and his former interpreter, Zainullah Zaki.

Major Schueman and Zak, you and I have talked before. You have spoken with Rachel. We have spoken to some parallel circumstances, you will bring a mask. You are still stuck in Afghanistan. We weren`t sure you were going to get out.


VELSHI: And now you are here.

ZAKI: Now we are here. Yeah.

VELSHI: How does that feel?

ZAKI: That feels, you know, like a real life, get out of there, you know, at that time I was hopeless to -- I`m going to be alive for that long. Maybe this is -- this is the last interview on your TV. But this is life, you know? Because of this friend, and brotherhood, always faithful, we wrote a book, we keep our promises.

VELSHI: Wow, always faithful.

ZAKI: And we are together right now.

VELSHI: It`s amazing.

And you put meat on the bones of the story for a lot of people. Because at the time there was a number of people like Zak who were stuck there and did it feel like we were doing exactly the right thing as Americans. But we couldn`t quite understand for many of us what this unusual relationship was. And in your book you go into great detail about how Zak was with you all the time.

He literally walked into your footsteps, largely to prevent him from stopping on an IED. But he would walk in your footsteps, and how you described there how he learned to speak for you, not just on your behalf, but as a translator. But in fact, to get your intent across based on who he was talking to.

MAJ. TOM SCHUEMAN, U.S. MARINE: Sure. He was always one I`m distance away. The mission there was to provide better security for the people. We were also partnered with an Afghan army. So not only do I need him to help communicate with Afghan army soldiers, but I need him to help communicate with the local populace.


And rather than say word for word when I am trying to say, he understands the spirit and the intent of what I am trying to say. And then he is helping me understand the nuances, culturally, that they are occurring in and around me. So to have him help to be able to read the environment, to understand the environment, and to speak freely, for me, rather than me having to try to spell each little thing out, was an incredible, what we called force multiplier to have them fighting beside us.

VELSHI: So, I was so excited to finally get to meet you. And I thought everything would be fine. And I realize everything is not fine with you yet. You have to get yourself a permanent residency here. Why is that not working?

ZAKI: We hope and we say that I`m going to go get my citizenship, my green card, but the work that I did with the marine forces Helmand province, this is a period, about nine months. The rules for the applicants, they have for two years.

VELSHI: So you`ve got nine months. And they want two years.

ZAKI: And I did two years in my province with the Army Special forces. But I am partially, I didn`t get any letter or HR, which is required the applicants, they need to have these. That`s why they denied my case and 2001, in March. They denied my case then.

We are still struggling to find out a way in, and resolve that issue.

VELSHI: Is that a problem with our system, Major Schueman? Does that feel like a technicality to you, or what are we supposed to do about stuff like this? Because it seems, it was always abundant to Rachel and me. But after reading this book, it will be clear to everybody that Zak, if he needs to be, here should be here.

SCHUEMAN: It would be nice if at times, the system was more humanized. Not only that, it`s very clear what the contract of the visa, that program states. And it`s actually now been reduced to 12 months. Zak served for almost four years.

We found supplemental documentation from that Army unit. We now have that as well. With that sub mental information, his last application was still denied. We`ve put their appeal in, and we are still waiting.

So, you can infer what you would from that process, but it surely doesn`t - - not seem to be working.

VELSHI: In the spirit that it is intended.

Zak, when we last photo, as I said, your face was covered, you were frightened, I could tell you we`re front and. And I`m seeing hearing from you tonight, that might be the last time you would do an interview. And that they would come for you, the Taliban would come for you.

What happens after that? How did you get out?

ZAKI: We did like three attempts to the airport, to go there and go in. And somebody helped us, Tom`s friends, there was one of them was pilot. He told him to bring the ID. They sent me to a location.

But because of too much crowded and the people who have done work with Americans, they are all waiting to go, to go with the U.S. forces because their life was in risk, and most of them who left, Taliban killed them already. We did two times to go there, and on the third attempt, we just saw the SEAL team, the guys who were part of Major Tom. They sent me to the location, and showed me the time to come, and also they sent me somebody to pick me up from my apartment in Kabul. And bring me to the place where I was supposed to get in.

But when I get there, and I sent them a picture, I sent my family`s picture to Tom, and they sent it to them. They just targeted my son with a blue shirt. And they text message, keep your son on your shoulder. So he can see you. Your son is your sign basically. He was our sign. So they know that shirt.

I put my him on my shoulder, when I got to that point, it was morning, about 8:00 or 9:00. I saw some people that was, I`ve been with the military, I know who they are. I saw that this was a SEAL team, the guys, I feel happy. So, I said, the guys, I think they come for me.


I shake my hand. My son was on my shoulders. They saw me, on the roof top, says Zak! He sees my son. He`s wearing the blue t-shirt. I told him yes sir, I am! And they jumped out, grabbed our bags, and just went down to the gate, open the gate, and then they got us in. At that time, I just felt rescued.

VELSHI: You`re here.

ZAKI: And that we are --

VELSHI: Well, the last time I was worried about you, you ended up in America. So this time I`m worried about you, and hopefully that means you`re going to get your visa to stay in America. It is -- it is a great honor to meet you. Thank you for your service to our country.

ZAKI: Anytime.

VELSHI: I thank you for your service to our country.

We appreciate. This is a beautiful story of your friendship, and your commitment to each other, and to both of your countries. So thank you for being here.

SCHUEMAN: Thank you, sir.

VELSHI: Marine Major Thomas Schueman and his former interpreter Zainullah Zaki`s book is called "Always Faithful", it`s a story about the war in Afghanistan, the fall of Kabul, and the unshakable bond between a marine and an interpreter. We appreciate their time.

We`ll be right back.


VELSHI: It`s a hard book to put down but I learned a lot from it.

That does it for us tonight. We`re going to see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, my friend.