LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I`ve been in courtrooms during sentencing. And it`s very easy in the courtroom to identify just on a human level with anyone who`s facing prison time. I`m not going to be one of those people who`s outraged that a federal defendant didn`t get 25 years in prison tonight.
But I would like to see -- I would like to see Paul Manafort`s sentencing bring federal sentencing into a new phase and have everyone else`s sentence reduced in proportion to Paul Manafort`s sentence because this is a country where over-sentencing is our biggest problem.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes, and that`s what sentencing guidelines are about. Barbara McQuade was just very eloquent about this. The sentencing guidelines exist. They`re not binding. But they exist essentially to give statistically sound guidance to judges who are looking at trying to make sure that people get sentenced in like ways for like crimes.
And to have this big a departure from those guidelines, again, it`s totally within the judge`s rights to do it. I`ll be interested to see when we finally get the transcript from this long hearing as to how the judge justifies that huge departure. But regardless of how Manafort`s crimes stack up against other people and how long the sentence is compared to those guidelines, it`s still four freaking years in federal prison while the president who he helped elect is still sitting in his first term in office. It`s just -- it`s worth being stunned by that anew.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it is -- we haven`t been here since the Nixon administration.
MADDOW: And not even then.
Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: We have a lot of ground to cover tonight, beginning with the first sentence that Paul Manafort has now been handed for the crimes that he was convicted of in a Virginia federal court. Paul Manafort is still awaiting sentencing for crimes he pleaded guilty to in federal court in Washington, D.C.
We will have an exclusive interview in this hour with one of the jurors who found Paul Manafort guilty in that case that he was sentenced in tonight. We`re really looking forward to hearing from that juror. And we`ll be covering the two major tracks of investigation that the House Democrats are now conducting.
Most of the public attention is on the investigation of possibly criminal contract involving the president and his associates, including payoffs to women for their silence. But there are also more investigations going on in House committees of Trump administration policies, including the separation of children from their parents at the southern border and those investigations are actually the ones that Democratic presidential candidates are talking about most on the campaign trail.
And at the end of the hour tonight, you will hear what may very well be the very last public words spoken by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as he approaches the end of his service. He gave a speech today in which he said is one of his final speeches, possibly his final speech. You will want to hear every word of what Rod Rosenstein had to say that he appeared to be aiming directly at the president of the United States. And you will also hear Rod Rosenstein`s one attempt at stand-up comedy. That`s the part you really don`t want to miss.
All of that is coming up at the end of this hour.
But first, not since the Nixon era have we seen anything like this. The campaign chairman of the president of the United States, who has been in prison awaiting sentencing, has tonight been sentenced to 47 months in prison for tax evasion and bank fraud in federal court in the eastern district of Virginia. Paul Manafort will be credited with the nine months he has served while awaiting sentencing.
The federal sentencing guidelines for Paul Manafort`s crimes suggested a sentence in the range of 19 to 24 years. But prosecutors simply referred the judge to those sentencing guidelines instead of recommending a specific sentence. Paul Manafort`s attorneys asked for leniency, citing Manafort`s age, his health problems, and lack of a criminal record.
Judge T.S. Ellis, who is 78 years old and was appointed by Ronald Reagan, said he believed the sentencing guidelines are too high and he said Paul Manafort, a Washington lobbyist, quote, lived an otherwise blameless life.
The judge also fined Paul Manafort $50,000 and imposed three years of supervised release after his sentence. Paul Manafort will face a second sentencing session next week before a federal judge in Washington, D.C., Judge Amy Berman Jackson, could add as much as ten years to Paul Manafort`s prison time.
Leading off our discussion now: Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst.
Nelson Cunningham, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York. He was also general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then chairman Joe Biden.
And also with us Ron Klain, former senior adviser to Joe Biden and president Obama, a former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Mieke Eoyang is with us. She`s a former staff member for the House Intelligence Committee.
And, Jill, let me start with you since this does take us back to the Nixon era. We all remember John Mitchell, who was Richard Nixon`s first presidential campaign manager in the 1968 campaign, became the president`s attorney general. He ended up going off to prison for his service to Richard Nixon. But you have to go back that far to find something like what we`re reporting on tonight.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he went to prison actually, he only served about 18 months. He was eligible for up to 30 years and got something like 2 1/2 to eight years. So it`s not as far off as one would think from today.
But that was 45 years ago, and the sentencing guidelines have changed dramatically. And I think people are upset because of the divergence between what would happen to any other defendant and what happened to this defendant. His privilege and his wealth clearly made a difference in the sentencing. And his crimes are quite serious. And they were a cumulative set of crimes for which he was eligible rightly so for quite a long sentence.
I think the leniency is something that will hurt in terms of deterrence of future criminals but also just shows the lack of equity in our justice system, that something that we really need to focus on is to get the sentencing right. The guidelines are only advisory. So, the judge is quite free to ignore them. And he clearly did.
But he also interfered in the trial. Let`s noted forget all of the comments he made attack the prosecution during this trial. He clearly affected the outcome of the trial, and now he`s had the LAST WORD in terms of sentencing, saying I`m not to going to pay any attention to how serious you think this was, prosecutors. That`s not what I think.
O`DONNELL: Well, Nelson Cunningham, it isn`t actual the LAST WORD for Paul Manafort. It`s the LAST WORD in this particular case. Paul Manafort has another judge in another federal district in D.C. next week. First, your reaction as a former federal prosecutor to this sentence tonight.
NELSON CUNNINGHAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It was a stunning downward departure. It`s what we`ve heard all night long. When the sentencing guidelines, which are designed to be objective, give you -- give everyone a sense of what most people would consider fair based on the crime, the amount taken, the repeat conduct, any signs of regret or contrition -- huge downward departure from 20-plus years to less than four years. But it`s not the LAST WORD.
O`DONNELL: What is the sentence you think would be reasonable on the basis of this evidence in this case?
CUNNINGHAM: Close to 20 years. I mean, this is a man who the evidence at trial showed over a period of years hid his income, cheated on his taxes, urged his colleagues to lie about cheating on his taxes, defrauded banks to get more money to get mortgages. It was on and on and on and on.
It was not just one crime. It was a whole series of crimes related to, honestly, cheating everybody else so that he could keep more money for himself.
O`DONNELL: If you sentence someone of this age to, let`s say, close to ten years, you`re pretty much eliminating the possibility he`s going to do this again because he`s going to be 80 years old by the time he gets out. If you go for a longer sentence than that, is the rationale for it deterrence for others who are out there now?
CUNNINGHAM: That`s certainly one of them. Look, it`s not just deterrence. It`s punishment. We`re going to punish you for doing what you did over a period of years repeatedly and intentionally and consciously. And it`s deterrence, making sure that other people understand exactly how important this crime is and how important it is that you be sentenced justly.
I have to imagine one of the people who`s looking carefully at the sentencing today is the man sitting in the White House, and he`s saying to himself, Paul Manafort led an otherwise blameless life. I think we`re going to be hearing that again if President Trump ever issues, say -- ever decides to use one of his other constitutional powers in connection with Paul Manafort. As the judge said, he led an otherwise blameless life.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, I think we now have the title of Donald Trump`s next memoir, "otherwise blameless life." To hear any Washington lobbyist described as having lived an otherwise blameless life is a first for me. Those are words I personally would be very uncomfortable applying to a lifetime Washington lobbyist.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: True, and obviously, untrue about Paul Manafort. I mean, look, he is about to get sentenced in another criminal case next week. So to suggest this is an otherwise blameless life ignores the fact he was convicted of other crimes, pled guilty to other crimes for which he`ll be sentenced.
And the sentence is I think ridiculously short. Because of his shenanigans, America`s been sentenced to 48 months of Donald Trump as president. It seems like 47 months of Manafort in jail seems like a very light sentence for that.
I do think Jill`s core point here really is the most serious one, which is, you know, this just illustrates again that we have two systems of justice in this country. Paul Manafort engaged in $55 million in tax fraud. There are poor African-Americans in jail tonight much longer than Manafort`s sentence who stole $55 or $155 from a 7-Eleven or committed some kind of non-violent crime even, some drug offense.
It`s just hard to give people confidence in our criminal justice system when a crime of this nature gets such a short sentence compared to the sentences that poor people, people of color, get every day in our court system.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted just moments before the show: Paul Manafort getting such little jail time for such serious crimes lays out for the world how it`s almost impossible for rich people to go to jail for the same amount of time as someone who is lower income in our current broken system. Justice isn`t blind. It`s bought.
Mieke Eoyang, your reaction to the Paul Manafort sentence tonight.
MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFF MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes, I think that it really shows that you got someone who has a pattern of deceptiveness in cheating the American people, the length of the sentence is troubling in how short it is but I have to keep in mind that there are many other crimes and I think there are more crimes that haven`t even been charged yet, either under New York state law, under Virginia state law, and we don`t know everything that Mueller knows about Paul Manafort. This is certainly not his last day in court.
O`DONNELL: I want to read Professor Laurence Tribe`s tweet, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, has argued many cases in front of the Supreme Court. He wrote tonight: Judge Ellis`s assessment that Manafort led an otherwise blameless life was proof that he`s unfit to serve on the federal bench. I`ve rarely been more disgusted by a judge`s transparently preferential treatment to a rich white guy who betrayed the law and the nation.
Jill, that goes to your point. I think Professor Tribe is taking notice of all of the comments that the judge made in the course of this trial. Many of them outside of the hearing of the jury in bench conferences basically. That seemed very favorable to Paul Manafort and highly skeptical of everything about the prosecution.
WINE-BANKS: Absolutely. He demeaned the prosecution and the prosecutors. He accused one of -- you`re crying in my courtroom. Look at me when you talk to me.
He made fun of the introduction of the ostrich jacket. He did a lot of things that undermined the case and no doubt led to possibly to the fact that he wasn`t convicted on all the counts. I`ll be looking forward to hearing from the juror.
And so, it was -- it was a bad thing. He does have a history of being very favorable to white-collar criminals and going very easy on them. But I agree with what everybody has said. The sentencing guidelines called for much more.
And if we`re going to have an equitable system, we need to use the sentencing guidelines so that everybody feels that they are standing before a blind justice and have the same chance as anyone else for a fair trial and a fair sentencing.
O`DONNELL: And, Nelson, for the judge to talk about, you know, he was charged with 18 counts, he was convicted on 10, and using that in his calculation of what was in front of him, Paula Duncan, who`s the juror who`s going to join us, did speak publicly after the conviction. She revealed among other things that she is a Trump supporter and she actually went into this hoping that she could find Paul Manafort not guilty, didn`t want to think that this person was guilty of these things and was guilty.
She and all the other jurors except for one, she said, voted guilty on all 18 counts, and there was only one holdout on the counts where there was not a conviction. And so, for the judge to lean on that one holdout in a sentencing session is pretty unusual.
CUNNINGHAM: It is. First of all, good for you for getting the juror on here later on tonight. That`s going to be an extraordinary piece of witness from her.
Any prosecutor has found jurors who for one reason or another couldn`t agree with the other 11 on the jury. And it happens, and every prosecutor deals with it. It`s frustrating. You gnash your teeth. You feel leek you wasted your time in court because you might have to go ahead and do it again.
What the judge is forgetting here is that yes, Manafort was not convicted on those other counts but it was only as a result of his offer to plead guilty to the D.C. charges that Robert Mueller said I will not re-prosecute you on those remaining charges. He had -- Mueller had every right to go back to court and to prosecute him on those remaining charges in the next trial.
Do we think the 12 jurors would have agreed with the first 11 in the first trial? Probably. Manafort got away from being retried on those cases by saying I will cooperate with you, Mr. Mueller. And, of course, he cooperated for a period of time and then walked away from that cooperation and broke his cooperation agreement.
So he`s already gotten a benefit from that, which is that Mueller declined to re-prosecute him for those crimes.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And, Ron Klain, I`ve seen a lot of sentencings. One thing I`ve never seen is leniency in sentencing with a defendant who does not express regret and say I`m sorry and the judge in issuing a lenient sentence noted that he was surprised that Paul Manafort did not express regret and say he was sorry for everything he`d done.
KLAIN: Yes. I mean, Lawrence, I think that`s the thing. There are cases where obviously judges depart downward from the guidelines. That`s why they have discretion to do it.
They`re usually cases where a defendant expresses regret, remorse, and shows he`s a changed person. Paul Manafort, just the opposite. He`s defiant. There are cases perhaps where the defendant cooperates with prosecution. Here Paul Manafort started to do that and then began to lie to the prosecutors.
I mean, there`s just no rationale, no explanation for this downward departure. And you know, so I think that it`s very hard to look at this proceeding and say it was on the level with regard to Paul Manafort. Now, he will face a day in court next week. He will face justice there.
And as Mieke suggested earlier there may be other cases, other proceedings, other ways to make Mr. Manafort accountable for what he did, but he escaped quite lightly today in Judge Ellis`s courtroom.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Jackie Speier of the House Oversight Committee, tweeted tonight: Manafort`s sentencing is a gross injustice, ignoring sentencing parameters and claiming Manafort led a life otherwise blameless suggests Judge Ellis is patently ignorant of the basic facts of the case and angling for a presidential judicial appointment.
I`m not sure what he could be angling for, Mieke, at age 78. But there`s congressional reaction building. What do you think is the possible future of Paul Manafort as a subpoenaed witness in congressional hearings?
EOYANG: I think it`s very likely he has a lot of light to shed on what exactly what`s going on in the Trump campaign, specifically in their dealings with the Russians. What his dealings were with Konstantin Kilimnik, who was a Russian intelligence officer. You know that the House Intelligence Committee at a minimum wants to talk to him about these things. And his refusal to obey a congressional subpoena could wind him back in jail as well.
O`DONNELL: And, Nelson, if Paul Manafort is subpoenaed in front of congressional committees for testimony, does he have any Fifth Amendment rights left at that point?
CUNNINGHAM: Not for any crimes for which he`s already been punished. For new crimes that he might admit to he would have an existing Fifth Amendment claim. But at that point what you might well see is you`ll see the intelligence committee go and ask for a grant of immunity for him for any testimony he gave.
Because he`s already serving time, he`s already in jail, my guess`s is the Justice Department would go along with that grant of immunity. And so he would -- they would effectively bar him from pleading the Fifth.
O`DONNELL: And so, Jill, this sets up Paul Manafort now after his sentencing next week to possibly be a very significant witness in Congress. Let`s listen, first of all, before wet` get to this, of what the president said about the possibility of pardoning Paul Manafort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Will you pardon Paul Manafort?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t talk about that now. I don`t talk about that. I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad when you look at what`s going on there. I think it`s a very sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time.
But you know what? He happens to be a very good person. And I think it`s very sad what they`ve done to Paul Manafort. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Jill, so, that was right after Paul Manafort`s conviction, the president being asked about pardon. But again, that`s complex, isn`t it? If Paul Manafort were to be sentenced next week and then let`s say the week after that, the president pardons him, he still is available as a congressional witness and at that point he has no Fifth Amendment rights left really because he cannot incriminate himself for things he`s been pardoned for.
WINE-BANKS: Again, it`s only for things he is pardoned for. So, if he`s going to be asked about some of the Russian conspiracy charges that he hasn`t been charged with, he does still have a Fifth Amendment as to those, unless the president pardons him for all potential crimes that he has committed in the past.
I also want to add one thing about the juror you`re going to have on because I remember right after the trial when she spoke she gave me great hope because she was a Trump supporter and she said, I was ready to acquit, I wanted to be able to, but the facts mattered. I was convinced that he was guilty by the facts. And that`s what I`m hoping is going to come out of, for example, some of the public hearings before congress, is that the American people will see the facts and that they will be persuaded by the facts.
So that`s something that is very important to me, is how that makes as difference, is that it`s not just an opinion about I like a person, I like a president, I want to support him, but it`s the facts that matter. And possibly, maybe once he realizes what he`s facing, Paul Manafort will start telling the facts and will stop dissembling as he did as part of his plea agreement. He was supposed to be cooperating, and he lied.
So -- and that goes to the statement of the judge that he led an exemplary life. There is nothing exemplary about the series of events and crimes that he committed and that he committed after agreeing to cooperate where he also tampered with witnesses. Those are things that should matter. Those are facts.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what John Brennan, a former CIA director, told Chris Matthews tonight right after the sentence was handed down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Yes, it`s an extraordinarily lenient sentence in light of the extent and scope of Mr. Manafort`s criminality. It just shows there`s a lot of power vested in the hands of judges. I think this sentence says a lot more about Judge Ellis than it does about Paul Manafort.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, "HARDBALL": What`s it say?
BRENNAN: It says that he has an attitude towards a person of Paul Manafort`s ilk, who has really -- really has defrauded the government, as was demonstrated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Mieke, this is a former director of the CIA who was aware before leaving office of at least the beginnings of the investigation of Trump campaign connections to Russia.
EOYANG: Yes. And John Brennan`s got a very long history of service to the nation. And this is a deep concern for a lot of people. I do think it`s very clear that Judge Ellis sees some of himself in Paul Manafort. This concern that -- well, if you can get away with cheating on your taxes you can get away with it.
I think there`s another challenge here, though, when we talk about the pardon for Paul Manafort, and that`s if in fact the president tries to pardon Paul Manafort, then Manafort can be compelled to testify before Congress, which could in turn lead Congress to remove the president from office. However, if Paul Manafort refuses, then Paul Manafort goes back to jail.
So, you see this catch-22 that he`s caught in if the president is considering pardoning him.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, going forward in the congress, with your experience in the Senate Judiciary Committee, what is the first thing you would think in the House committees where the Democrats have control, I guess? They would want to try to pursue with Paul Manafort. Which one of those committees would want the first chance with him?
KLAIN: You know, I imagine it`s Mieke`s old place of business, the House Intelligence Committee. And I think Congressman Schiff, chairman of the committee, will be really interested in trying to find out what Paul Manafort knows about Trump`s collusion with Russia.
He obviously had extensive overseas ties, connections to people close to Putin, serious debts to those people. He`s probably very much in the loop of all this activity that went on. He and Roger Stone seem to be the two focal points of it.
And I think -- the challenge is this, though. This goes back to this comment, an otherwise exemplary life. Manafort has stonewalled. He has lied. He promised to cooperate. He hasn`t. He has lied to prosecutors. They`ve said that.
And so he`s going to be a very difficult witness before the House because he is not where Michael Cohen was of being repentant and trying to get right with the law and trying to make clear -- let the American people know what happened. He`s still on the lying campaign. And I think -- so I think that`s going to make it very difficult for him to be very useful to the Congress.
COOPER: Jill Wine-Banks, Nelson Cunningham, Ron Klain, Mieke Eoyang, thank you very much for starting us off tonight. This is exactly the panel needed to get this going.
We are joined now by one of the jurors who found Paul Manafort guilty last year in the case in which Paul Manafort was sentenced tonight. We are joined by Paula Duncan.
Paula Duncan, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know this was short notice. I really appreciate it.
We all remember you speaking about your jury deliberations after the conviction and talking about being a Trump voter and going into this hoping not to find what you found, which is that you found Paul Manafort guilty. And as I recall, Paula, you said you for one voted guilty on all 18 counts.
PAULA DUNCAN, VOTED TO CONVICT PAUL MANAFORT ON ALL COUNTS: Yes, I did, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And that`s true of the rest of the jurors except for one. That`s what I reported you had said and I`m pretty sure that`s true.
DUNCAN: That is correct.
O`DONNELL: What is your reaction to the sentence tonight?
DUNCAN: I think that -- I think Mr. Manafort is going to have a rough 47 months in prison. I know his age is a factor in Judge Ellis`s decision. I do think that`s light compared to the guidelines. I do agree with that. But it`s not over.
And Mr. Manafort pleaded guilty and next week will tell a different story I`m assuming. So when you add the two together, Mr. Manafort is not going to get off as easy as some would like to believe.
O`DONNELL: And, Paula, one thing that surprised even the judge in the session today was the judge, even though he was giving him a lenient sentence, said he was surprised that Paul Manafort did not apologize and did not express remorse for what he`d done. Is that something that as a juror having gone through all this evidence, you would have liked to have heard from Paul Manafort today?
DUNCAN: Absolutely. I mean, the man, he broke the law. And no one is above the law. I said that before, and I`ll say that again and again and again. No one.
And he knows what he did. And he just doesn`t seem remorseful. And I think that`s a shame.
O`DONNELL: After you did your job as a juror, the president was asked about pardon and he said that`s not something he was thinking about or wanted to talk about then. What would be your reaction if the president pardoned Paul Manafort?
DUNCAN: I support President Trump. He`s our president. He was elected. And I think he`s doing a good job.
But I will be very disappointed in him if he does pardon Paul Manafort for Paul Manafort`s crimes.
O`DONNELL: What would you say to the president about this? If the president -- if you had a chance, a minute with him, and he said I`m thinking about pardoning him, you were in the case, you heard all the evidence. What do you think?
DUNCAN: I would say, President Trump, that`s a big mistake, or a huge mistake as he would say. That would send a bad message to other people. And it would make President Trump look bad too. Paul Manafort needs to pay the price for what he did.
O`DONNELL: And the fact that the judge said that Paul Manafort lived an otherwise blameless life, even while he`s waiting for sentencing in another case literally next week in Washington, D.C., was that surprising to hear from the judge today?
DUNCAN: Judge Ellis -- I know a lot of people are saying that Judge Ellis is too lenient and that he influenced the case. And I completely disagree because we all but one would have charged Paul Manafort as guilty on all 18 counts.
So, Judge Ellis didn`t influence our decision. He, however, does have the right to sentence as he sees fit, and that`s what he did.
O`DONNELL: Would it surprise you -- and I actually have no idea what the answer to this is. But would it surprise you if there was a survey of Judge Ellis`s sentencing going back the last 20 years or so and find that this is way out of line with what the judge has issued in similar cases or even much less serious cases.
DUNCAN: It would disappoint me, for sure.
O`DONNELL: And, Paula, now that you`re here, I just want to ask you just a couple more reactions about things you`ve learned about this world surrounding Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign. Michael Cohen was part of all that, active in the campaign. He was a Republican Party official during the campaign.
O`DONNELL: Just last week, he testified in court about the president, his long-time friend prior to testifying. What was your reaction to hearing Michael Cohen testify about the president last week?
DUNCAN: Sad and -- it makes me sad that our nation is so deeply divided. I voted for Trump. I will vote for Trump again because I do think he`s doing some good things. That doesn`t mean that I approve of everything President Trump does or says. I don`t have to. I don`t think there`s any perfect person.
And I just wish we could come together. Let him finish his term. Do the good that he can do and get past this. The Russian collusion thing, when I voted -- I don`t know about you, Lawrence, but when I voted there weren`t any Russians at the polls and I feel like Americans like me voted without any influence and that`s how Trump was elected.
So as far as Cohen being friends with Trump and changing his tune, there`s -- no one`s all good or all bad. But it makes me sad to see this go on and on and on and affect our country in such a negative way.
O`DONNELL: Paula, let me just put you back in the juror`s chair hypothetically just for a second on Michael Cohen. Now, there was no jury because he pleaded guilty.
O`DONNELL: But one thing he pleaded guilty to was that Donald Trump directed him and conspired with him to commit campaign finance crimes in funneling pay off money to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet. Michael Cohen testified about that under oath last week in the House of Representatives, laid that out very specifically, showed the checks with Donald Trump`s signature on it repaying Michael Cohen he says for the money he paid to Stormy Daniels.
As a juror, as someone who sat in a courtroom and had to evaluate financial instruments and evidence like that in court, have to listen to witnesses, evaluate their credibility. Just as a juror listening to that piece from Michael Cohen about the payoffs with those exhibits, the checks, how did you process that?
DUNCAN: As a juror, I would have to process that on just the facts. And if the checks were there and it could be proved that Trump funneled the money and did it, he would be guilty. It`s a matter of right and wrong, yes and no. and that`s how the judicial system works. And as a juror, you have to go by the facts and not just your feelings.
O`DONNELL: Paula Duncan, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
DUNCAN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And I hope you heard what the lawyers were saying about you before you joined us tonight. A lot of people are very impressed that when you raised your hand to take that oath to evaluate the facts in the Paul Manafort case and set aside any political biases or any biases you might bring into that courtroom, it is very clear to people listening to you that you did that, that you went in there as a Trump voter. A lot of people would think that`s a biased juror. You took that oath and you followed that oath. That is very clear to all of us who`ve listened to you. And thank you, Paula, very much for joining us.
DUNCAN: Thank you. It makes me proud to hear that.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
When we come back, there are two major investigative tracks that the Democrats are following in the House of Representatives. One is the investigation of President Trump for possible criminal violations and corruption. The other is the investigation of Trump administration policies. And those are the investigations that Democratic presidential candidates are actually talking about on the presidential campaign trail.
One of the new leading voices in those policy investigations will join us, Congresswoman Nanette Barragan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANETTE BARRAGAN (D), CALIFORNIA: You let kids be separated without tracking them. Do you know how outrageous that is, madam secretary? You have no feeling, no compassion, no empathy here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And at the end of this hour tonight, you will hear what might be Deputy Attorney General`s Rod Rosenstein`s last public words as attorney general and he directed them straight at the president of the United States.
O`DONNELL: House Democrats are running two major tracks of investigation. The one that gets most of the attention is the investigation into possible criminal conduct by the president himself and his family members and associates. The other track involves even more committees investigating the governing policies of the Trump administration.
On the criminal side this week, Michael Cohen continued his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on the possible crimes by the president. And on the policy side, there were several hearings in the House investigating the workings of the Trump administration policies including the policy of separating families detained at the southern border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D), MICHIGAN: When you saw those pictures of babies and cages, what did you do? What did you do? To just scream bloody murder up The chain to the president, to say I cannot represent an agency that is forcing its border patrol to do this. What did you do?
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: Just yes or no. Are we still putting children in cages?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: To my knowledge, CBP never purposely put a child in a cage --
THOMPSON: I`ve seen the cages. I just want you to admit that the cages exist.
NIELSEN: Sir, they`re not cages.
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O`DONNELL: California Congresswoman Nanette Barragan, a daughter of Mexican immigrants, said this yesterday to the secretary of Homeland Security.
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BARRAGAN: You said that you waited to give direction on how to implement the zero-tolerance policy because you wanted to do it with compassion. Do you know how outrageous that sounds? You wanted to separate children and families and you wanted to do it with compassion.
So in the meantime, you didn`t do anything at all and you let kids be separated without tracking them. Do you know how outrageous that is, madam secretary? You have no feeling, no compassion, no empathy here.
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O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Nanette Barragan will join us on how the House Democrats are managing these two tracks of investigation and why the Democratic presidential candidates are focused more on the investigation of Trump policies than Trump corruption. That`s next.
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BARRAGAN: Where in the asylum law does it say that when you present yourself on a port of entry, and by the way when you`re on U.S. soil, that you can be sent by an agent to another port of entry? Is it anywhere in the asylum law?
NIELSEN: What we`re trying to do is process --
BARRAGAN: It`s not in there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Nanette Barragan. Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
BARRAGAN: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: Now, you are on the Homeland Security Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee. You are not on one of the committees that are running investigations aimed at criminal conduct of the president or his associates.
But by my count, there are more investigations and reviews going on in House Committees of Trump governing policy than there are on the criminal investigative track. What is it -- what are you finding to be the most important avenues that you`ve been trying to explore in what this administration is actually doing in government?
BARRAGAN: Well, the American people want to know what Congress is doing to provide oversight on some of these policy issues. I hear it all the time in my congressional district, whether it`s separating children and their parents, whether it`s caging children. It is pretty outrageous to hear the secretary either not know what`s going on or lying to Congress.
And we got a lot of feedback on the questioning and saying that really they don`t believe that she doesn`t know this. But the American people need to know about the policy issues, whether it`s this, whether it`s rolling back environmental protections and what it`s doing so that frankly, they can make a decision if they want four more years of this or a change.
O`DONNELL: And clearly, polling indicates that the American people are strongly on your side of these questions. For example, the latest poll coming out saying 65 percent disapprove of the president`s use of an emergency to build the border wall. We now have reports coming out of the Senate that as many as 15 Republican senators may also vote like you did in the House to disapprove of the use of this emergency for the border wall.
And we noticed it on the presidential campaign trail. When voters are asking questions of the candidates, I am not hearing questions about the criminal investigations or Michael Cohen. I`m hearing questions about the kinds of questions you`re asking in hearings.
BARRAGAN: Absolutely. The American people want to know what we`re going to do for them, whether it`s lowering prescription drug price, whether it`s bringing some normalcy back. But they also want to make sure we`re stopping these practices that are un-American and that don`t go to the values of what the American people think.
And frankly, they want us to make sure we`re using their dollars properly. And that`s what I hear a lot about when we talk about this wall of his and the emergency and saying we should be spending that money elsewhere where we can be helping the American people.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman, now that you finally have real oversight hearings, are you surprised at how unprepared for them the Trump cabinet seems to be?
BARRAGAN: I am quite surprised because the secretary has been before our committee before. We did get a call from her folks before the hearing, I think to try to get a sense of what we were going to ask about. I wasn`t at that time prepared to discuss that. But I was quite surprised at how unprepared she was. Either that or frankly because she was under oath she was worried about being straight with us.
And I think there`s more to that than her being unprepared. I don`t think the administration and this secretary wants the American people to know what is going on and what they`re doing. And that`s where Congress`s role is critical, to provide that oversight and to get those answers.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Nanette Barragan, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
BARRAGAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein started his farewell to the Department of Justice today. It wasn`t to the Department of Justice, actually. It was to a private organization that he was speaking to in Washington, D.C.
But it may be his final public speech as deputy attorney general. He seemed to aim much of it straight at Donald Trump. You really want to hear what Rod Rosenstein had to say today.
O`DONNELL: Here is something you don`t see every day, the deputy attorney general of the United States of America telling a joke.
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ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: In 1994, I visited the nation of Armenia, when it was emerging from seven decades of Soviet domination. I gave a lecture about public rational laws. When I finished, the student raised his hand. He asked, "If you can`t pay bribes in America, how do you get electricity?"
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O`DONNELL: What do you think, Netflix? Rod Rosenstein, standup comedy special. He`s available.
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ROSENSTEIN: What`s next for me is a period of unemployment.
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O`DONNELL: Rod Rosenstein explained to his lecture audience today in Washington that he is not going to even think about what his next job will be until he leaves the Department of Justice which could be any day now. And so the speech Rod Rosenstein gave in Washington today might be the last public words as deputy attorney general of the United States that he ever speaks. And many of those words could mean trouble for the president of the United States.
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ROSENSTEIN: The desire to promote morality is reason enough in itself to prevent corruption.
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O`DONNELL: After this break, we`ll hear more from Rod Rosenstein, including his last words today that seemed to be aimed I mean directly at Donald Trump.
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ROSENSTEIN: Fighting corruption and creating a fair opportunity for honest American citizens who work hard and play by the rules, that is why I came here in the first place.
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O`DONNELL: But that`s not why President Trump chose Rod Rosenstein to be his deputy attorney general as the president has publicly made clear many times he wanted an attorney general and a deputy attorney general who would protect him.
What you just heard was from a speech that Rod Rosenstein gave in Washington today that might be the last public words that we hear from Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general since he could be leaving that job any day now.
He told his audience today that this would be one of his final speeches as deputy attorney general and he seemed to be aiming much of the speech directly at the president of the United States. Guess who went to the same college as Donald Trump? Rod Rosenstein. He`s a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania`s Wharton School. And he told his audience today how important that has been to his work as a prosecutor.
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ROSENSTEIN: I attended an undergraduate business school where I studied management marketing, accounting and finance, and understanding business remains central to my work. Financial expertise is important to prosecutors because you need to comprehend transactions in order to understand when they are fraudulent.
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O`DONNELL: So when Rod Rosenstein looks at checks that were used in a criminal payoff scheme, for example, you`re not going to fool him about what is going on here because you have changed which checking account you`re using in the middle of the payoff plan.
Who do you think was paying more attention at the Wharton School to legal accounting practices? Rod Rosenstein or Donald Trump?
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ROSENSTEIN: We should focus on the people who play significant roles in setting a company on a course of conduct. We want to know who devised and authorized the schemes and we want to hold them accountable.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Last fall, I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with individual number one. And for the record, individual number one is President Donald J. Trump.
ROSENSTEIN: The most effective deterrent to corporate wrongdoing is to identify the people who commit crimes and to send them to prison.
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O`DONNELL: Rod Rosenstein supervised the federal prosecution of Michael Cohen in New York City in which the prosecutors supervised by Rod Rosenstein said that Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to commit those crimes and committed those crimes with Michael Cohen. Rod Rosenstein just said if you do that, you should be sent to prison.
And here is how Rod Rosenstein ended what may be his final speech as deputy attorney general.
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ROSENSTEIN: I will leave you with the wisdom of an ancient proverb. If you desire to know a person`s character, consider his friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Paul Manafort, chairman of the Trump presidential campaign found guilty and sentenced to 47 months in federal prison and awaiting sentencing in another federal case where he pleaded guilty. Rick Gates, deputy chairman of the Trump presidential campaign, pleaded guilty, testified against Paul Manafort, and is awaiting sentencing.
Michael Flynn, Trump campaign advisor and the first Trump White House national security advisor, pleaded guilty, awaiting sentence. George Papadopoulos, Trump campaign advisor, pleaded guilty and served 12 days in federal prison.
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump`s personal lawyer, pleaded guilty, sentenced to three years, and awaiting sentencing in another case where he has pleaded guilty. Roger Stone, Trump political advisor, indicted and awaiting trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSENSTEIN: Always make sure that you can stand proudly with the company that you keep. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The deputy attorney general of the United States, Rod Rosenstein gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Always make sure that you can stand proudly with the company you keep. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END