The House Oversight Committee has been investigating whether or not Trump`s lease of that federal building constituted a conflict of interest given that while he was president, he was leasing that building from the federal government that he himself was in charge of. According to the oversight committee today, Trump concealed certain debts from the federal government when he applied to lease the post office, essentially to make himself look like a more qualified applicant to take over that lease. The Texas abortion ban is back in effect with a ruling tonight from a very conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That`s "ALL IN" for this week.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris, have a fantastic weekend, my friend, thank you.
HAYES: You too.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday. Very happy to have you here.
This is one of those Friday nights when the news gods are saying, neener, neener, we don`t believe in weekends.
Today, we have got eyes on the country`s most conservative federal appeals court, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Circuit -- Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals sits in Louisiana. Ideologically, Republican presidents have so stacked that particular court with their appointees that it`s now the judicial equivalent of like a combination anti-vaccine rally and gun show.
The Fifth Circuit includes the state of Texas. And tonight, the state of Texas has told the Fifth Circuit that they want their abortion ban back. Texas, as you know, earlier this year passed a law that effectively banned abortion in Texas. The conservative Republican appointed majority on the United States Supreme Court amazingly let the Texas abortion ban go into effect, even though there`s a ruling called Roe v. Wade that`s supposedly still standing precedent, that supposedly blocks states from banning abortion.
The United States Supreme Court, despite that, let the Texas abortion ban go into effect last month. The Biden administration, the Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, they sued Texas in federal court, asking a judge to step in and block implementation of the Texas abortion ban while the case is heard in the courts.
Two nights ago, a federal judge in Texas did just that, blocked the ban, which has meant for the past two days or so, the Texas abortion ban has been suspended and Texas women could once again, at least theoretically, get an abortion in that state.
But as of tonight, Friday night, we are watching that ultraconservative, ideologically uniform, far right federal appeals court, because tonight, the state of Texas has asked them to jump in and reinstate Texas` abortion ban.
I am not a lawyer, do not take this to the bank or anywhere where it might be perceived as currency, but my expectation from what I know of that appeals court is that that appeals court probably will find a way to reinstate Texas` abortion ban. And it`s probably just a question of when, in the expectation that it might be as early as tonight, tonight we do have eyes on the Fifth Circuit. We`ll keep you posted as we keep watching that matter.
Now, midnight last night was the deadline for these four former Trump administration officials to comply with the -- the guy at the bottom, that is not a joke, he made that face of his own accord, do not blame me. Sorry.
The deadline was last night at midnight for these four to comply with subpoenas from the committee that`s investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Now, of these four, the committee says that two of them are responding thus far. The January 6th investigator said today that these two, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Mr. Goggly Eyes, Kash Patel, they are, quote, engaging with the January 6 Committee that they received. Okay.
That said, this guy on the lower left hand corner, Trump social media guy Dan Scavino, he apparently is not engaging with the committee. He`s not responding to the subpoena despite the deadline, because apparently the committee can`t find him. I don`t know if it`s fair to say he`s on the lam, but apparently nobody can locate him to actually serve the subpoena and until they can physically find Dan to give it to him, we don`t know what`s going to happen there. Which of course leaves this guy, upper right corner, who has been found, one of the only pictures known to humankind in which Steve Bannon is wearing only one shirt.
But Steve Bannon is not engaging in the committee even though he has been found and he has been served with a subpoena. Steve Bannon sent the January 6th investigators a letter today saying he won`t comply with their subpoena. And, you know, presumably Mr. Bannon is doing that because one of the tried and true lessons that was learned in the Trump era by all of the many, many accused felons and subpoenaed ones witnesses in Trump`s orbit was, play dumb, delay, don`t respond, resist subpoenas, say you won`t testify, see what happens, nothing ever happens.
Through the Mueller investigation into, you know, Russia interfering in 2016 to get Trump elected, to the impeachment investigation over Ukraine, to the other Trump impeachment investigation, to all the other serious investigations in between, all the Trump guys think they`ve figured it out.
As long as you just drag things out, refuse to cooperate, the hints and the threats that something bad might happen to you if you defy a subpoena, that never really comes to much, nobody ever gets in trouble, don`t ready about it. Better to risk that inchoate and feeble theory than help anybody investigating Trump`s alleged crimes.
So Bannon is defying the subpoena. The only problem with Mr. Bannon taking this tack with the January 6th investigators is that those investigators also all lived through the Trump investigations of the past five years. They`re all wise to this as a Trump tactic of delay and distraction during investigations. That`s why the January 6th investigators have been saying so insistently that they`re not going to get played the way other investigators have been. The chair of the investigation, Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, has been threatening from the very beginning that the January 6th investigation is not going to just let people defy its subpoenas.
Steve Bannon is apparently happy to test that. That`s why you`ve got dramatic headlines like this one in "The New York Times," January 6th panel threatens to pursue charges against Steve Bannon. We shall see.
Tonight, we are also going to speak with Susanne Craig, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter for "The New York Times." We`re going to speak with her about new documents and materials just released by the oversight committee today which are honestly sort of shocking. Not very much shocks me in this type of investigation anymore, but this is amazing. The documents they produced today show that while he was president, Donald Trump apparently received tens of millions of dollars from the foreign owned bank Deutsche Bank. Just a massive financial windfall he got from deutsche bank without publicly disclosing it while he was president.
The oversight committee turned up evidence of that previously secret arrangement between Trump and Deutsche Bank. Again, this happened while he was president, and it`s never been publicly disclosed before. They also turned up evidence that they say shows that the former president lied materially about his financial status when he applied to the federal government to lease the building that he then turned into the Trump Hotel in D.C.
Materially misrepresenting your financial standing in order to get a thing of value from an entity like a bank, an insurance company, tax authorities, the federal government, that can be a serious matter. But honestly, shocking stuff released today by the oversight committee. Susanne Craig dropped the anchor down through the opaque morass of Trump`s finances, which led to, among other things, the criminal charges the Trump businesses are facing in New York. Susanne Craig is going to join us live in just a moment to talk about these new revelations as well.
All that have tonight, plus, we`ll have an update for you on how it is that we still have a postmaster general, a dude running the U.S. post office nationwide, while personally under FBI criminal investigation and while he`s now putting in place new post office rules specifically to mess with your Christmas this career. And while he`s continuing his quest to make the post office provide fewer services more slowly and at higher cost. Why are we still beset with this man now that there is a new administration?
I do not know. But the effort to stop him picked up steam in an interesting way today. We`re going to have more on that tonight as well. I told you, this is a Friday, which the news gods just will not let go.
But I also want to show you this tonight. This is a sitting member of Congress, a Republican member of Congress, making his case this week at an official congressional hearing. As you know, Republicans in Congress have almost universally at this point, at one level or another, gotten behind this crusade by former President Trump to say that the election was stolen from him, that he should rightfully still be president, that there was something wrong with the last presidential election.
Their exhibit A, their prize case study for something having been wrong with the election, with Arizona. Well, here is a congressman from Arizona, Paul Gosar, explaining in his own words exactly what he knows went wrong in the Arizona election, just making it clear as day, spelling it out for all the stupid, stupid other members of Congress who don`t get it even though it`s so clear to him what happened. He wants you to know, it`s so obvious. At this hearing this week he just decided he was going to lay out all the evidence so we could all follow along with him because he says it`s all very, very simple.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): From the standpoint that we see this, there`s problems. How about me? Where do you come for me? The day after the election, I was contacted by two individuals. One had security and fraud -- jobs with the banking world. The other one from fraud from the Department of Defense. They were monitoring the election through Edison, the amalgamator, who was providing information to the media.
What they saw in Arizona, they were watching the secretary of state at the same time, but what they saw from Arizona drew their attention quickly first. They saw numbers of 90-some thousand, 60-some thousand, 40-some thousand ballots drop into Donald Trump`s category and they quickly come out verbatim. There may be a reason for that. We don`t know. But then they started watching and looking to the dumps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Then they started looking to the dumps, hmm, the dumps, hmm.
My favorite part is when he said there may be a reason for that, we don`t know. But the 90,000, 50,000, 60,000, 40,000 ballots dropped in Trump`s category and came out verbatim. Do you know what verbatim me? The Edison amalgamator. How about me?
Lest you think I`m taking Congressman Gosar out of context here and cherry picking the one part where he seems to be off in his own haze, trust me, it`s all like this from him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOSAR: The results we see here supposedly don`t change the outcome. But there`s -- there`s more to the story. It`s how those votes could be manipulated by the machine. And then the -- the calibration or the certification of those ballots is covered up by the machine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Was covered up by the machines. The machines are covering up the Crayola markers. Calibration, certification, what, what?
This is the best case that can be made for the election was stolen, right? This is all the investigation that he`s done in Arizona. This is testimony in Congress.
By the end of it, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, chair of the Oversight Committee who is presiding while Mr. Gosar gets to explain himself here, by the end of it, she`s like, yeah, what are we going to do with this? Watch the look on her face as he wraps up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOSAR: And provide different mechanisms, so they allow a full canvass. They didn`t have access to the routers. They didn`t have full access for voter signature acuity and documentation and accuracy.
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): The gentleman`s time --
GOSAR: There`s troubling problems here and hopefully I`ll be able to get some time yielded to me so I can explain even more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, yes, sir, hopefully you`ll get much more time so you can explain even more. It`s going great. We`re all right there with you. Just following right along. Tell us more about the amalgamator Crayola certification with the what about me?
That`s the state of the argument. That`s also a sitting congressman. Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar, leading the charge for the election was stolen from Trump cause at the House Oversight Committee`s hearing this week on Arizona`s so-called audit. They held an oversight hearing on Arizona having reviewed its election results with this partisan, weird, QAnon-promoting Cyber Ninjas Trump audit.
And Congressman Gosar, yes, this is the same guy who claimed last week that somebody from the CIA fraud department reached out to tell him how hundreds of thousands of votes were stolen from Trump in Arizona.
The CIA fraud department? What`s their phone number? Who runs the CIA fraud department? Tell me that.
This is the state of the argument for this central tenet of the Republican Party now.
Meanwhile, at this same hearing, again, oversight committee looking into what exactly they did in Arizona based on these claims that Congressman Gosar is explaining so clearly, two other Republicans testified. And these were elections officials, county officials from Maricopa County, Arizona. They testified as to what they have been experiencing as public officials ever since this so-called audit mishegoss got going there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL GATES, VICE CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF SUPERVISOR, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Senators, they threatened to jail me and my colleagues on the board of supervisors. The Senate then hired the cyber ninjas. They chased conspiracy theories. They threw out false claims.
And worst of all, they accused our good elections workers of committing crimes. They said that they deleted files, that these were files that the Cyber Ninjas just couldn`t find. Now, this was either an out and out lie or a level of incompetence by the Cyber Ninjas that was staggering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A level of incompetence that was staggering.
That was local Arizona official, Maricopa County official, Bill Gates, not that Bill Gates. He`s a Republican. Telling the House Oversight Committee this week how Republicans in Arizona, Republicans in the state Senate in Arizona, threatened to put him and his colleagues in jail for not handing over more materials to the Cyber Ninjas who they had hired to do this ridiculous review of the presidential election results in that state.
I should note now that the guy who is the head cyber ninja, the QAnon promoter who is the CEO of the Cyber Ninjas company that carried out this audit, he was also asked to testify at this hearing this week. He refused to testify. Instead of testifying to Congress, he spent that time he was supposed to be in Congress instead doing a conspiracy theory podcast hosted by the guy who started the conspiracy theory that Dominion voting machines were a secret Antifa plot. That`s what he spent his time doing instead of testifying to congress, because he was very, very busy with the Antifa plot Dominion voting machines guy.
But this ridiculous audit thing, as laughable and increasingly incoherent as it is to the rest of us, it is still picking up steam in the Republican Party. It is becoming more and more central to how they are moving forward as a party and what they are working on. And it`s in multiple states now.
You will recall, our reporting recently that the My Pillow guy, N Mike Lindell, CEO of the My Pillow company who is a key player in the nonsense elections around the country, last month, he told Idaho, a state Trump won by 30 points, that he had proof, proof, that there was massive fraud and computers were hacked in every single county in Idaho to move votes from Trump to Biden and he demanded a state investigation. Even in the counties where there aren`t computers involved in the voting process at all. Still, computers were hacked, it was every county.
The Republicans in the Idaho secretary of state`s office decided for whatever reason that they were going to take this seriously enough to follow up on his allegation and they actually did recanvass two counties in Idaho. The recanvass of those two counties in Idaho actually gave Joe Biden I think it was eight more votes than they thought he had had in the previous certification.
Idaho, interestingly, though, has decided they`re not happy that they went ahead and did this. Now they`ve asked Mr. Lindell to pay for the recanvassing that they did because of his allegations. The chief deputy secretary of state in Idaho saying today, quote, we will be sending him a bill. He also said his office is considering legal action against Mr. Lindell for him having made these false allegations.
Okay. He made false allegations. But did you have to follow them up and go check? Them, really, did you?
The craziness is not letting up, though. The Mr. Pillow guy is claiming he has discovered that one of the people whose vote was recorded in the 2020 election was 850 years old. And doesn`t that seem suspicious? Now, he won`t say in which state this 850-year-old superhuman voted. But he is sounding the alarm that that was definitely not kosher.
Someone from the year 1170 stayed alive for nearly nine centuries just to cast a ballot -- for Trump? I don`t know -- in the 2020 election. He really is alleging that. That`s next.
Remember, he also says Trump will be back in the White House as president by Thanksgiving. Okay. The Republican audit circus, as ridiculous as it is, continues to spread around the country, though. Wisconsin, the Republican leader of the state assembly in Wisconsin hired a former Wisconsin judge, a former judge who spoke at a stop the steal rally in November alleging that Donald Trump had secretly won the election. They hired him to oversee a very, very objective audit in the state of Wisconsin as the Wisconsin legislature`s official special counsel to investigate these matters.
This is an audit that is set to cost Wisconsin taxpayers nearly $700,000. The man who is in charge of this audit has made sure to keep conspiracy theories directly in the orbit of what he`s doing. He attended a symposium put on by the My Pillow guy, the guy who says that an 850-year-old person voted in the election.
He`s also apparently been consulting with a former political candidate who also was part of the Arizona audit. This is a guy who says the election was stolen from Trump and he can tell you that because he has found it by reading between the lines of "The Hitch Hiker`s guide to the Galaxy," that`s where he got the numerical algorithms that prove what votes were stolen and when.
It`s against that backdrop that the guy who is running the Wisconsin audit decided to randomly show up at a Green Bay, Wisconsin council meeting this week, and answer questions in public for the time about what it is he`s doing in Wisconsin.
When he was asked to explain his comments that education there had been election irregularities in Wisconsin, this was him sort of struggling to explain himself.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ALDER RANDY SCANNELL: You said that there was information to indicate that there had been some inappropriate action taken by district. Is that public information or is that private information?
GABLEMAN: Oh, yes. I mean, please look at controversies, if you have -- I see you have a laptop there. The Internet I suppose you have. If you look at issues concerning the Wisconsin election, a plethora, a plethora of issues will come up.
ALDER SCANNELL: In that plethora of information you believe there is some in there that is valid? You have --
GABLEMAN: I`ll find out. We`ll find out and I will share them with you.
ADLER SCANNELL: So as of right now, then, you don`t know if there is?
GABLEMAN: I think there are indications that there may be which is why the legislature has authorized this investigation.
ADLER SCANNELL: That`s what I`m trying to get at. What indications? Because from what I can see, all there is are a plethora of accusations, but I see no evidence supporting those, so --
GABLEMAN: Okay. All right. No, no. I`m happy to answer your question. You got a few hours?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You got access to the interwebs? You`ll find a plethora of information. Give me a few hours, and ooh, boy, I`ll just bore you with it. I don`t have it at hand but I`ve got hours of it ready to go some other time, with my plethora, which has an remora, which is heartbreaking.
This was the headline from "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" this week, on that former judge who`s been running the audit. Quote, former Supreme Court Justice Gableman, head of Republican review of Wisconsin election, says he does not understand how elections work. This is not the onion and this is not a hyperbolic headline. The paper quotes this judge telling them in an interview that he, quote, like most people, quote, does not have a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work.
He says he has no understanding of how elections work. He is running the election audit for Wisconsin Republicans, at taxpayer expense.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sort of comedy of errors that are surrounding this election audit that he`s trying to do. Last week, the same guy issued subpoenas. This is the first time Wisconsin lawmakers have issued subpoenas from the legislature in nearly 50 years. He sent out subpoenas to election officials and county officials across the state, subpoenas that were riddled with mistakes.
In one subpoena to Green Bay, the Green Bay city clerk`s name was misspelled. And the subject line of the email issuing the subpoena, also misspelled the legal phrase related to producing the documents. And a subpoena sent to the city clerk of Milwaukee who is not even responsible for elections in Milwaukee, this guy asked for documents related to the elections in Green Bay. Why would the Milwaukee clerk have election information about green bay, especially when the Milwaukee clerk doesn`t work on elections at all?
These subpoenas directed officials they should come meet with this guy at a rented office suite in a co-working space that is also listed as the address for a liposuction clinic. Sure, seems legit, turn up, we`ll give you a Johnny, it opens up in the back.
This all follows the special counsel, this guy reaching out to city clerks asking them to preserve election materials. He reached out to them from a Gmail address that populated everybody`s emails as John Delta. Nobody knows who John Delta is.
This request also included an attached PDF with this blurry clip art logo that appears to have been a copy and paste job from a website. This is what he says his letter was.
The metadata from that document telling election clerks what they needed to hand over to him, that document wasn`t even authored by this guy, Michael Gableman, who is supposedly overseeing the election audit. It wasn`t authorized by John Delta, whoever that was. It was apparently authored by an Andrew Kloster. We chased down, trying to figure out who that Andrew Kloster was.
There is an Andrew Kloster who worked as a lawyer in the Trump administration, in the Trump White House. We didn`t know for sure of it was him. We asked him for comment. We never heard back from him. But, today, "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" confirms that yes, that Trump White House lawyer has been hired by this guy to work on the Wisconsin audit of the election results.
Oh, yeah, that seems totally fine. You`re auditing the election results, you`ve put in charge of the audit a guy who says it was stolen from Trump, who can`t tell you anything he`s actually investigating, who says he has no idea how elections actually work, and he`s hired a Trump White House lawyer to help him with it.
That John Delta Gmail address email was sketchy enough and concerning enough to Wisconsin`s clerk that it prompted some of them at least to reach out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for guidance on if or how they should comply with these demands.
The demands are -- in terms of the breadth of what this guy is demanding from the city clerks, it`s just bewildering. Here is what those subpoenas asked for from all the county clerks in the state. Quote, all documents contained in your files and/or in your custody, possession, or control pertaining to the election. All? All?
That`s asking for every single thing in any way related to the election that has ever passed through any county clerk`s office in any capacity. Really? You want all of that? And should we send it to John Delta`s Gmail address or do we just drop it off at the liposuction clinic?
The guy running the audit said this week he is also going to subpoena the mayors of five of the largest cities in Wisconsin. Again, planning to request everything in any way related to the election that`s ever passed through any of their offices for any reason at any time. And he said this week that those subpoenas were going out to the mayors of the five largest cities in Wisconsin.
But then last night, "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" reported that this guy, the counsel who is overseeing the audit, he changed his mind. And even though he announced that he was going to subpoena and demand testimony from all of these mayors, he changed his mind, he`s backing off those requests, he`s cancelling all the interviews at the co-working space that he shares with the liposuction clinic.
He no longer wants to do the interviews and he`s backing off all the new subpoenas, the ones he just announced, he doesn`t know what he`s going to do there. He said, quote, they could simply provide him with copies of records they`ve already made available under the state`s law. Again, not the onion.
That was last night, this guy doing an about face, walking back the subpoena requests, walking back these subpoenas that he announced in public apparently before sending them out. Today, he reversed course again. Today, he said never mind, about 180 that I did yesterday, today I`m doing another 180, which results in me doing a 360 which means I`m still going.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HOST: So you haven`t cancelled scheduled mayors or anything like that?
GABLEMAN: Absolutely not.
HOST: So this is a 100 percent fake story.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: One hundred percent fake story.
That same interview with a conservative radio host, this guy decided to attack "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel," the paper who broke the news yesterday that Gableman was reportedly walking back the demands. This was the way he chose to attack the newspaper.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HOST: You will never hear me call "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" a straight news organization without a political agenda.
GABLEMAN: This is the last time I`m going to respond to their propaganda. You keep in mind, Joseph Goebbels, who was Adolf Hitler`s head of propaganda in Nazi Germany, Goebbels said, you give me control of a country`s media, I will turn any people into a herd of pigs. That, there, you know what, what they`re doing over at the journal would make Joseph Goebbels blush.
HOST: That`s a pretty strong comparison.
GABLEMAN: Do you disagree with it?
HOST: I mean, I don`t think it`s entirely appropriate to compare "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" --
GABLEMAN: Why not?
HOST: I generally shy away from comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis. I understand the point, please don`t misunderstand. I would say they`re more like a Pravda from the Russian government.
GABLEMAN: Okay, Pravda, we`ll settle on Pravda. I retract my statement about Joseph Goebbels and you and I agree on Pravda.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why do you disagree with my Nazi comparison? You`re wussing out? You`re wussing out? You make Goebbels blush?
This is the guy who was leading Wisconsin`s nonpartisan objective audit to just make sure there`s a, you know, sincere and unbiased look at those very troubling election results in Wisconsin.
It really seems as if the Wisconsin audit might be even more ridiculous than the one they did in Arizona. Arizona got lots of national attention for their ridiculous Cyber Ninjas thing and what happened, right? But the Wisconsin one is also, again, taxpayer funded, organized and put in motion by Wisconsin Republicans in the state legislature.
Not getting any national attention thus far, but they are trying to use it in just the same way. That guy leading it, to put some sort of spotlight on the Wisconsin presidential election, is to make it seem like Biden didn`t really win.
Today, a Wisconsin judge in response to a lawsuit filed by the watchdog group American Oversight ordered the Republican state assembly speaker in Wisconsin to hand over records and documents related to this election investigation. Maybe we`ll finally find out what exactly led to this and what exactly Republicans in Wisconsin are up to with this. As much attention as Arizona got for what they did, they are doing the same thing in Pennsylvania, they are doing the same thing in Wisconsin, and it`s worse. They just tried to do it in places like Idaho, they`re trying to do it in Texas.
This is what the Republican Party stands for right now. Paul Gosar is the captain of the team at this point. If you pretend it is otherwise, you`re missing that because it is too ridiculous to believe, but it is what we are doing now.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: To be perfectly clear from the outset, this is not a martini. What this appears to be is a wine glass, maybe a red wine glass, filled with ice, some clear-ish murky liquid, and a sad little abused olive plopped into the bottom there. This meets zero of the physical properties of a martini.
But it was in fact sold as one, for $15, to a reporter who ordered the martini from the Trump grill in New York City, in the Trump tower, in 2016. Ordering a drink at Trump`s restaurant was one reporter`s sideways attempt to try to get a closer look at the inner workings of Trump`s business empire after he was elected president.
In a way, that sorry excuse for a martini turned out to be a pretty good scene setter for what it would be like over the next couple of years for reporters trying to learn more about what the president`s business really was, what it was he was selling, and what it was people were buying.
The lesson being that once you start peeking under the hood, a lot of what Trump said made his businesses so successful appeared to potentially be the product of fraud. During Trump`s presidency, reporters at "The New York Times" published a series of deeply reported investigations into Trump`s business and private finances. Much of their reporting was based on the access to Trump tax documents.
"The Times" found Trump appears to have engaged in a series of tax schemes, tax evasion schemes, instances of what appeared to be outright tax fraud in order to boost his bottom line. Prosecutors are currently investigating the Trump business and his close associates for similar allegations of fraud that Trump`s business potentially hid the truth about his finances in order to con financial institutions into giving him money he otherwise wouldn`t have been able to get. That`s of course in addition to the felony charges currently pending against his company for tax fraud.
But there`s also the unique example of the president`s hotel in Washington, D.C. Trump`s D.C. hotel is actually an old U.S. Post Office building. So, it`s owned by the federal government. Trump`s company pays the government to lease that building so he can then rent it as a hotel to make money off of it. That arrangement, importantly, gives Congress oversight of this particular slice of his business, because the building is federal property.
The House Oversight Committee has been investigating whether or not Trump`s lease of that federal building constituted a conflict of interest given that while he was president, he was leasing that building from the federal government that he himself was in charge of.
Today, the committee released new findings based on hundreds of pages of financial documents that tell an incredible story. What they`ve turned up appears to fit the other patterns we have seen from hard-won investigative reporting about potential fraud and obfuscation and financial slight of hand, the things that have become synonymous with Donald Trump`s businesses.
According to the oversight committee today, Trump, quote, concealed certain debts from the federal government when he applied to lease the post office. The committee says he omitted hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, essentially to make himself look like a more qualified applicant to take over that lease. Once the hotel was up and running, Trump posted that the hotel was a huge financial boon for his business. He said he made more than $150 million off that hotel during his presidency.
But based on financial reports obtained by the committee, they say Trump`s dc hotel actually lost more than $70 million during the course of his presidency. We also learned from the committee today about the existence of a sort of inexplicable and until now, secret multimillion dollar favor paid to the president from a foreign owned bank called Deutsche Bank.
In order to actually turn the old post office into a luxury hotel, Trump`s business borrowed $170 million from Deutsche Bank. Under the terms of that loan, Trump was due to start repaying the principal of that loan in 2018. But look what the committee found out. Quote, in 2018 the terms of the loan were changed to allow Trump to defer any principal payments on the loan by six years.
Under these revised terms Deutsche Bank allowed the Trump hotel to make just interest payments for an additional six years and delayed any principal payments to 2024. That`s a multimillion dollar handout to the Trump hotel and to President Trump personally, who personally guaranteed those loans. And that was never previously known before.
Why is a foreign owned bank doing a multimillion dollar personal favor to a sitting president while he`s president?
These revelations today are the latest in a string of revelations. Every time somebody takes a slice of the Trump business world and puts it under the microscope, it`s not like good gin and vermouth. It`s like water-down who knows what in the wine glass and I would not need that olive.
Is it profit as a result of fraud and accounting tricks and careful omissions? Is that what this is? If so, is that legal? Does the D.C. hotel and its revelations portray a different portrait than what we`ve seen is it more of the same?
Joining us is Susanne Craig. She`s an investigative reporter for "The New York Times". She`s one of the lead reporters on "The Times" Pulitzer Prize- winning investigation into the president`s finances. She obtained Trump`s tax information regarding the D.C. hotel as part of her reporting.
Susanne, it`s nice to see you tonight. Thanks for making time to be here.
SUSANNE CRAIG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Good to see you.
MADDOW: Is the Trump hotel a meaningfully different thing than the rest of the Trump empire? It seems like some of these revelations laid out by the committee today are troubling in terms of potential legalities here and in potential consequences for the president, both in business terms and in criminal terms.
CRAIG: No, I don`t think it`s any different at all. When I think of it, I was reading it today, it sounds like a money pit. It reminds me a little bit of that movie from the 1980s. This is just costing him a huge amount of money to keep this going. Not only is he losing money, he`s plowing his own capital into it.
We`re seeing this in other properties. You sort of wonder the code names inside the Trump Organization for these properties, like money pit number 1, money pit number 2. Even Doral, he`s lost millions and millions of dollars, he`s had to put in hundreds of millions of dollars in his own capital to keep it going, that`s just one example.
These businesses are under a lot of pressure. We`ve had visibility in his taxes up until 2018, so we saw 20 years of personal and corporate tax returns. We haven`t seen the last two. But I can imagine what`s there.
He`s gone through COVID, he runs a very hospitality-centric business. Today with these numbers, we got a sense that it`s not getting better. The old post office is a flagship property of his and it`s not getting better.
MADDOW: Now, presumably it`s not a crime to lie to the public about your financial status or to brag about money that you say is coming in that`s not really coming in. But if you lie about your financial status in order to get a lease from the federal government, if you lie about the income that you say you`re getting from property like this when in fact you`re dumping tens of millions of dollars into the property, not getting any of it out, if you lie about those things on an ethics disclosure as a public official, presumably there could potentially are problems for the president here.
CRAIG: There could be. There could be. And -- and there`s a lot of public documents out there now that we`ve seen because he`s had to release them as part of his obligation when he ran for president and what he calls -- or what we call income, he would call revenue. He was putting in a very high figure that didn`t -- that didn`t account for any expenses, for example, that he might incur.
So, you know, we`ve seen that, we know that -- we`ve been able to match up his taxes. We know that trick he does just to make it look better than it is.
MADDOW: Susanne, one of the more baffling revelations out of these House oversight disclosures today was I think this information about how Deutsche Bank appears to have done Trump a multimillion dollar favor while he was president, letting him delay the repayment of this loan that he took to renovate the hotel. Those payments, he was supposed to start making them in 2018. They apparently gave him a deferment on those payments for six years which had the effect of letting him keep tens of millions of dollars in his pocket that he otherwise would have had to lay out.
What do you make of that, how do you see that?
CRAIG: I think on its face it looks like potentially that the terms of the loan could have been changed. There was a lot of pushback today from Deutsche Bank on that. And another theory could have been simply that the Trump Organization filed something potentially incorrect before and then corrected it and the loan actually didn`t change.
The problem with these things, and it`s so frustrating, you can imagine, it`s just -- we don`t know, because there`s just so little disclosure about this. It`s maddening, because Deutsche Bank is saying, well, there`s a lot of things wrong, but won`t tell us what. Same with the Trump organization. You know, if this loan was changed, I think we should know about it. It`s a foreign bank involved in, you know, a huge loan to the president.
And these loans, he`s going to have hundreds of millions of dollars, 400 plus million dollars of loans coming due in the next several years that he has personally guaranteed. $300 million of that is owed to Deutsche Bank. This is a fellow who is now -- his organization has been indicted.
Once that happens, there`s collateral consequence. He may not be able to -- Deutsche Bank has indicated that they don`t want to do business with him anymore. But he may not be able to get any bank to do business with him because of this indictment.
This is serious stuff. The disclosures matter. As you can tell, I`m frustrated by it because we don`t know what`s wrong or, you know, all these things are being said, and it gets frustrating to watch.
MADDOW: Well, it`s frustrating but it`s also of huge public consequence, particularly if he`s going to run for president again, the idea that somebody would be running for president while owing hundreds of millions of dollars to mostly foreign entities with no evident way to pay it back, and it all coming due, like that`s not somebody who you would want in charge of parking meters in your little town let alone a major country.
CRAIG: There`s one way you can stave off the loss, you can start selling assets, and we`ve heard the old post office is for sale. But these are things -- yeah, he`s running for president once again, his finances to most of the world are not clear. And you have these things happen today where something pretty serious was alleged about Deutsche Bank, that they had secretly changed the terms of a loan to a sitting president that was a great deal to him.
And, you know, and then they`re all saying, it`s not right, but they won`t tell us what`s not right about it.
MADDOW: Yeah, it can`t stand. This is -- this is -- this has to be unsustainable. Susanne Craig, investigative reporter --
CRAIG: Multiply the Old Post office where we actually have a window, because the government is the landlord, multiply that 40 or 50 or however many things he owns. It`s not that many, but go one after the other, and you incur the same problem, the same losses and the same opaqueness for most people.
Unfortunately I`ve seen the tax returns, we`ve reported on it, we`ve done a lot of work on it. I think people deserve better from this from president, they deserve disclosure on his finances so we can understand the pressures that the sitting president is under.
MADDOW: The pressures that he`s under and the potential blackmail that he`s open to, yes.
Susanne Craig, investigative reporter for "The New York Times" -- Susanne, thank you for being here, much appreciate it. It`s good to see you.
Since we`ve been on the air in this segment, I have to tell you we have breaking news to get to. Just moments ago, as I mentioned at the top of the show, just moments ago the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated Texas` abortion ban. Now, as I mentioned at the top of the show, we knew there was a decent chance that conservative federal appeals court would do that. Now it has. We`ll have more on what that means coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So we do have breaking news tonight. Now, I mentioned at the top of the show we were watching for this and that this might be happening. It has, in fact, how happened.
The way the United States federal court system works, you got the Supreme Court on top. You got circuit courts, appeals courts below that and district courts below that. The Fifth Circuit Court is the most conservative circuit court in the country. The Fifth Circuit includes Texas.
The state of Texas today appealed to that Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking them basically to reinstate Texas`s abortion ban. The Fifth Circuit has now said yes. That means Texas`s draconian abortion ban is as of right now back into effect.
This is a law that was passed by Texas earlier this year. It outlaws abortion after six weeks, a point which most women wouldn`t know they were pregnant. The U.S. Justice Department had sued Texas to block this law after the Supreme Court allowed it to go into effect. The Justice Department asked a federal judge in Texas to block the law while the justice department`s case could be heard in court. That Texas judge this week agreed to block the law in a 113-page blistering ruling, putting the abortion ban on ice.
But tonight, the Appeals Court, the fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has undone that and put law back into effect. The order tonight gives the Justice Department the chance to reply by Tuesday, that means the Texas abortion ban is now in effect, at least until Tuesday.
There are options for the U.S. Justice Department, including potentially appealing directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, although nobody thinks they`re going to be a particularly hospitable venue for anything related to abortion rights with this Constitution of the court right now.
Joining us now on the phone to react to this news is Molly Duane. She`s senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. They filed their own lawsuit to block the Texas ban.
Molly, thanks for joining. I know it`s short notice to get you. Appreciate it.
MOLLY DUANE, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS (via telephone): Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So I`m explaining this sort of ad-libbing, explaining this as a layman, how I observe this. Let me ask you if any of that I explained seems wrong to you or this is basically how this has happened?
DUANE: No, you explained it correctly, unfortunately.
MADDOW: Does this mean that Texas`s abortion ban is in effect as of now, as of this hour?
DUANE: That`s exactly what it means. And so, you know, what we saw was judge pitman issue a thoroughly reasoned 113-page order laying out clearly why this law was unconstitutional and needed to be enjoined immediately. And what we saw was providers across the state resume services. And now what we know and while it is expected, it is still disappointing, but what we know now is that the law is back in effect.
MADDOW: For women in the state of Texas who may have gotten an abortion while the law was temporarily on ice while providers were temporarily, you know, day and a half, two days able to start providing services again, are they at risk for retroactively being sued, retroactively being pursued for having provided abortions or helped women get abortions during that brief period when that ban was enjoined?
DUANE: Yes. The providers and people who assisted those providers in providing pregnant women and pregnant patients with critical abortion care during those two days were fully aware of the risks that they were taking. But they took oaths to their patients, to their field of medicine to provide that care, and so they provided that care, consistent with the court`s order.
And so, what happens next is as good -- is up to really what happens in the state of Texas. But what we know is that our attorneys will be standing behind our providers, as we have for decades, and behind the pregnant people of Texas who are harmed every day this law is in effect.
MADDOW: Molly, in terms of the Justice Department`s options here, obviously, this was the U.S. Justice Department`s case against Texas which resulted in judge pitman`s ruling that put the ban on ice for a couple of days. It`s back in effect. Does the Justice Department have any other option rather than waiting until the end of the day on Tuesday to file its own papers with the Fifth Circuit and seeing things through? Or could they leapfrog this right to the U.S. Supreme Court and try to resolve this there instead?
DUANE: Based on the order we just received from the Fifth Circuit, yes, the Department of Justice could go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court. That is what we did a couple weeks ago when the exact same thing happened, so that is an option.
MADDOW: Would you advise them to do it? Do you think they ought to?
DUANE: Well, what I would advise them stood what they`re already doing, which is everything they can to protect the constitutional rights of pregnant people in Texas. And so I have communicated with them, obviously, and I urge them to continue in that fight. It`s far from over.
MADDOW: Molly Duane, senior staff attorney at the center for reproductive rights at the forefront of these legal battles, thanks for joining us on short notice. This is going to mean a lot of work for you tonight and in the days ahead. Thanks for helping us understand.
DUANE: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Again, we`re covering the breaking news tonight that the Texas abortion ban having been put on advance with a federal court ruling a couple of days ago in Texas, the Texas abortion ban is back in effect with a ruling tonight from a very conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals tonight. As you heard there from the senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, this is not the end, this is the beginning of this fight. But the ban is back in effect. Roe versus Wade is, in effect, dead in this country.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: That is going to do it for us for tonight. I`ll see you again on Monday.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD," where the great Zerlina Maxwell is in for Lawrence O`Donnell tonight.
Good evening, Zerlina. It`s good to see you.