Lee Merritt, the attorney for the family of Ronald Greene is interviewed. Susanne Craig, investigative reporter for "The New York Times", who won the Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on two decades worth of Trump`s tax filings, is interviewed.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. Dr. Peter Hotez, thank you for making the time tonight.
That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour.
You know, whenever something comes up in Washington that has to do with the U.S. Capitol police, the police force that guards the Capitol grounds and that complex, you`ll often hear about it first from a congressman from Ohio named Tim Ryan. The reason he`s very tuned in to what`s going on with them is that Congressman Ryan runs a subcommittee in Congress that specifically has responsibility for overseeing and funding the Capitol Police. So, Congressman Tim Ryan is sort of the closest thing that Congress has to a point person on that issue, on that police force.
And today, as that point person, with that expertise and experience, Congressman Tim Ryan basically lost his mind a little bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): I want to thank the gentleman from New York and the other Republicans who are supporting this and thank them for their bipartisanship. To the other 90 percent of our friends on the other side of the aisle, holy cow. Incoherence. No idea what you`re talking about.
Benghazi, you guys chased the former secretary of state all over the country, spent millions of dollars. We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol police with lead pipes across the head, and we can`t get bipartisanship.
What else has to happen in this country? Cops -- this is a slap in the face to every rank and file cop in the United States. If we`re going to take on China, if we`re going to rebuild the country, if we`re going to reverse climate change, we need two political parties in this country that are both living in reality. And you ain`t one of them.
I yield back the balance of my time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Say what you really mean, Congressman Tim Ryan. We need two political parties in this country that are both living in reality and you ain`t one of them.
Those sharp words today coming from him as the House actually did vote to approve a bipartisan commission to investigate what happened in the January 6th Trump mob attack on the Capitol. That vote took place tonight, all Democrats voted for it which itself is enough for it to pass with a majority vote in the House since Democrats are in the majority in the House, they alone vote for something it will pass.
But on the other side of the aisle, only 35 Republicans saw fit to vote for it, the vast majority of Republicans in the House voted against it. This coming after the Republican leadership in the House whipped their membership and told them all to vote no. It`s interesting that there are 35 House Republicans that defied the whip vote and voted yes anyway despite what their leaders were telling them what to do, but most House Republicans voted no.
And this legislation to create the January 6th Commission will now go to the Senate and Republican leaders there will also tell all Republican senators to vote against it, Republicans, in fact, will filibuster the thing which means that it will require 60-vote majority to pass the Senate which means that ten Republican senators would have to cross over and vote with the Democrats in order to make it happen. That will not happen. That will not happen on this, it won`t happen on anything.
That could not happen on a vote to declare Wednesday the day that proceeds Thursday, it couldn`t happen on a day to declare apple pie is a nice thing to eat. There is no circumstance in which ten Republican Republicans are going to cross over and vote with Democrats. Especially not when their leadership in Congress and former President Donald Trump is putting out a statement telling them not to vote with the Democrat on this.
And because that, most House Republicans voting against it, and now most if not all Senate Republicans will vote against it, it means that there won`t be a commission, a bipartisan commission to investigate how the Trump mob came to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6th to try to stop the certification of the presidential election results.
Now, if Republicans won`t even vote for that, if they won`t even vote to have a bipartisan, half Democrat, half Republican investigate this attack on this own workplace -- I mean, even Mike Pence is brother, Congressman Pence, voted no to create this commission. The mob that attacked the Capitol was literally hunting for his brother because they wanted to murder him, they ran through the halls, smashing stuff yelling, hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence. Vice President Pence hid under the stairwell with the Secret Service until they could spirit him out of there, ahead of the mob braying for his blood.
Mike Pence`s own brother is not interested in any sort of to look, see, to what happened there. OK. So, if that`s where the Republican Party is on that issue, if they won`t even supported a bipartisan commission to look into that, what are the odds that Republicans are going to come around in a significant number to, I don`t know, support President Biden`s $4 trillion comprehensive infrastructure bill? What are the odds of that?
You think the Republicans are going to negotiate in good faith and try to contribute constructively to that legislation and agree that most of them, if not perfectly satisfied with it, at least satisfied enough to give it a try, do something for the country -- really?
What are the odds of them -- they won`t even vote for the January 6th Commission. What are the odds of them voting for the infrastructure bill? I`ll tell you, it`s impossible to divided by zero, so don`t try to do the actual math on those odds.
The bottom line answer is that it is not going to happen. Today that led to my favorite twin set of headlines in the news. Stacked on top of each other like an under sweater and an over sweater at Politico.com this afternoon, were these two headlines.
First one, clock ticking on Biden as second Republican infrastructure meeting yields little progress. Followed by this one: Liberals to Biden: ditch the infrastructure talk with Republicans. Yes.
If the clock is in fact ticking, and it is, and now weeks have been wasted while the Democrats and the Biden administration talk with Republicans about infrastructure with no meaningful progress made toward anything that Republicans will vote for, let alone in large enough number to actually make a difference toward the final vote, then why are you doing this? Continuing to spend time meeting with them and talking with them is just throwing away the time that you have to get stuff done and making it less likely that you`ll be able to get anything done at all.
Ezra Levin from Indivisible.org telling "Politico" today, quote: The best case -- the best case scenario is that Biden`s party gets a few Republican votes for things the Democrats could`ve just passed on their own. The worst-case scenario is that the Republicans successfully waste enough time that they scuttle the whole effort.
Adam Green from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee saying, quote, the only two scenarios for Democrats are go big or get nothing.
Get nothing by continuing to waste time talking with Republicans about their ideas to make the legislation weaker and worse, while they stretchy these things out as long as possible to try to run out the clock when in the end, they`re not going to vote for it anyway. Certainly not insignificant enough numbers to make a difference.
Honestly, they`re not even going to vote for the commission to report on what happen on January 6th, right? A mob was running through their workplace, smashing things and looking to kill folks. They`re not even interested in looking in that, they`re not going to vote for infrastructure.
And now, liberals both the progressive caucus in the House, individual liberal senators and progressive groups on the outside are all speaking on that, basically with one vote -- with one voice, saying, stop wasting time.
And we will see if this adjusts the focus at all for the Biden White House and for the Democratic leadership, but the progressives, at least, are loudly and uniformly pushing to stop wasting time with the Republicans and instead get some stuff done with Democratic votes only.
Now, among Democrats, there is lots of interesting other policy fights right now. There is an interesting question right now as to whether it might be possible for progressives in Congress to scuttle a long planned $700 million arms sale to Israel`s military, given what`s Israel`s military is doing right now to the Palestinians with the weapons that you have.
The United States government remains in this untenable place when it comes to the Israeli airstrikes and attacks that have now killed hundreds of Palestinian people including lots of kids. The White House says that in its fourth call in almost as many days with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Biden told Netanyahu that he expects Israel to start the escalating now, today, on a way to a cease-fire.
Israel shows no signs of doing that and indeed is saying publicly and insistently that they won`t do any such thing.
To the extent that they`re influenced at all by what the U.S. president or the U.S. government purports to want, it`s hard to believe that Israel sees any real oomph behind President Biden`s supposed tough talk to Netanyahu when the White House is pressuring Democrats in Congress to not scuttle that arm sale to Israel, which looks like it will be going forward even in the middle of the crisis about what Israel is doing with its military force already.
The U.S. is also providing massive cover for Israel at the United Nations. It has now been for attempts by the U.N. Security Council to put out some kind of statement calling for an end to the use of force, and end to these two weeks of crisis and death in Israel in the Palestinian territories.
The reason the Security Council hasn`t been able to release a statement like that even after what is four tries, even after hundreds of airstrikes, even after hundreds dead, is because of one simple thing. Security Council statements have to be unanimous, and the United States government alone, won`t allow it to happen. The U.S. government standing alone at the Security Council blocking that body from calling for an end of the fighting, basically because of the perception that a statement like that might be seen as calling on Israel to do something they do not want to do.
So the world, rightfully, judges us by what we do not just by would we say, that`s a good principle in general. But that means that even if the White House keeps telling us that President Biden is speaking sternly with Israel about this massive use of force against the Palestinians, our actions speak larger than any of those words might indicate. The U.S. position remains basically half hearted and therefore basically pointless. And the fighting continues.
The Republicans are essentially absent in any important way from that discussion and debate as well. The thing to watch here is the progressives versus the old school Democrats as the White House tries to figure out whether it is going to try to pursue a more coherent policy, one direction or the other, saying one thing, saying your words mean one thing while you`re acting a totally different way isn`t going to move anybody in either direction.
So we`re watching all of these things develop, these are all developing stories. We`re watching of course for developments in the bombshell store that broke right at the end of our show last night, the news that New York`s attorney general, that office is investigation into the company run by former President Trump, that investigation is no longer just a civil investigation, it`s now a criminal one.
There`s been a lot of speculation in the 24 hours since that news broke late last night. A lot of speculation about what that means for President Trump `s personal legal exposure, what it means about how quickly this case is moving, this would now count, effectively, as the third known active criminal investigation into former President Trump.
But as with all active criminal investigations, you never really know what is happening until prosecutors get far enough that they bring charges, get a warrant for an arrest and turn up in court to lay out what they`ve got to make their case. In this instance, the closest thing we can get to understanding with this new criminal probe for former President Donald Trump is, what it is based on and how serious it might be, the closest thing we can get to that, I think, is to get as clear as we can about the evidence that is available to the attorney general in this case. What has the attorney general`s office been looking at? What has her office had to work with in terms of evidence about the former president and his company that led them to switch this from just a civil case to now also a criminal case?
Well, the investigative reporter who got much of that material, who knows more than anyone outside of the prosecutors office what`s exactly they`ve got to base their case on, that Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter joins us here exclusively tonight, I am very much looking for to that discussion. We`re watching all of that.
But we`re also watching a breaking news story tonight that I have to tell you is disturbing. I will warn you now that what I am about to describe, some of it will be hard to hear, I would also warn you that I`m going to play some tape in a couple of minutes that some people will find hard to watch, I certainly did.
But when this story broke today, even though there are stories of this type that breaks of the time, this one seems to stop the news in its tracks, certainly for everybody who works in this show, it stopped us in our tracks. You can`t really move on when you`ve seen something like this.
What this is about is something that happened in Louisiana just over two years ago, it happened in the early hours of May 10th 2019. And in West Monroe, Louisiana, there`s a hospital there called Glenwood Regional Medical Center. And that night, May 10th in 2019, the emergency room at the hospital received an ambulance in the ambulance held a 49-year-old man who was handcuffed to a gurney, he was already deceased when the ambulance pulled into Glenwood Regional Medical Center and they wheeled him into the ER. The ambulance was accompanied by the Louisiana state police.
And the police that night told the emergency room doctor who was attending this ambulance at the man who was dead in the ambulance had died on impact when he crashed his car into a tree, that was the explanation for why this man was dead when he arrived at the ER and the doctor examined the body, examine the man who`s been run in the ambulance and noted in his doctors notes that the man was covered in blood and covered in bruises. But he also noted that the man had to Taser prongs hanging out of his back.
Wait a minute? This is supposed to be a car crash casualty. What? They`re saying he crashed into a tree and died on impact. But did the tree tase him after he hit it?
The ER doctor noted all of this in his notes and actually wrote in his notes that night. He wrote quote, does not add up. Because right, it did not add up.
And yet, that really was the official explanation that Louisiana state police try to go with for how a 49-year-old barber in West Monroe, Louisiana, a man named Ronald Greene, that`s the story they try to tell about how he died that night. Louisiana state police told Mr. Greene`s that he died when he crashed his car during that chase, and said, trooper said they had tried to pull him over for some sort of unspecified traffic violation, shortly after midnight, about 30 miles south of the Arkansas state line, outside Monroe. They said he died on impact when he crashed into a tree.
It took the ER doctor pointing out the freaking teaser prongs still hanging out of his back. It took Mr. Greene`s family filing a wrongful death suit for police to admit that yes, okay, something else might have happened. They can`t come up with an explanation for how the tree fired those taser prongs into him.
Police released a one page new report with a new explanation that said, Greene was taken into custody after resisting arrest. And he struggled with troopers. And then inexplicably he became quote, unresponsive. Became unresponsive and died on his way to hospital.
The report did not describe any use of force by the troopers in this instance. And that was literally all the Louisiana state police said about the death of Ronald Greene. That`s all they have ever said. To this day, more than two years later, the Louisiana state police have given no further explanation of Ronald Greene`s death in their custody.
And crucially, for all of this time they have refused to release the troopers body cam footage from that night.
It took 474 days after Mr. Greene died for the state police to even open an internal investigation into what happened. And that was only when their hand was forced. A summer of police over the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, had put the spotlight back on cases like Mr. Greene`s.
Perhaps more presciently, in terms of seeing what impact it might have, Mr. Greene`s family also took the radical step of releasing graphic photos to the public. In an effort to demonstrate to the public that the police explanation of what killed Ronald Greene was a ridiculous explanation. They released photos of the condition of the body when they received it. They showed deep bruises, deep cuts to Ronald Greene`s face and scalp.
They also showed his vehicle. They released a photo of his vehicle. It`s the car he had been driving the night that he died. It showed that the car was only mildly damage. The airbags hadn`t deployed. This was in a car that had been involved in a major crash that had mortally wounded its driver.
And amidst all of this, the Justice Department announced they opened up and civil rights investigation into Ronald Greene`s death. Can you imagine how bad a case has to look for the Trump Justice Department to open a civil rights investigation, really, do they even do that?
And still, the Louisiana state police would not say anything else about Ronald Greene`s death. Wouldn`t release body cam footage, wouldn`t afford any other explanation of what happened.
Last September, they finally decided to fire one of the officers that was involved in Mr. Green`s death, although they would not see why they were firing him. Tragically, that officer died in a single vehicle car crash just hours after he was told that he was fired.
Days later, "The Associated Press" obtained audio of that same officer describing how he beat and chokes Ronald Greene the night of his death. On a recording from his body cam microphone, that officer who was in the car crash was her telling somebody very matter-of-factly that he quote, be the ever living F out of Ronald Greene.
He said, quote, choked him and everything else. He was spitting blood everywhere and all the sudden he just went limp.
After that horrifying reporting, Ronald Greene`s formally, was finally after a year and a half, allowed to see the body cam footage from the night he died. The family`s attorney said that Mr. Greene`s mother and sister wailed like they were a funeral, when they finally saw the footage. He said it was damning footage that showed the troopers choking and beating Ronald Greene, repeatedly jolting him with Tasers, dragging him face down across the pavement.
The attorney, Lee Merritt, who also watch the footage, told "The Associated Press", quote, this family has been lied to the entire time about what happened. The video was very difficult to watch. It is one of those videos like George Floyd and even Ahmaud Arbery, where it`s just so geographic.
Well, today, what happened is that today we learned to our collective horror, that the attorney for the Greene family was right when he described it that way, because today "The Associated Press" obtained and published edited excerpts from the Louisiana state troopers body cam footage from the night that Ronald Greene died.
And I will tell you that they stopped the news today for a reason. I`m going to show you some of what the "A.P." published today. As I said, it is not a pleasure to watch. That is a grave understatement. It is a understood it is disturbing to watch.
And the nightmarish nature of the video of this incident is compounded by how long all of this was kept secret, how blatantly state troopers lied about what really happened. There is something even worse about the fact that we are only seeing this footage more than two years after the fact, and not because the police finally decided to release it. But because a dogged reporter from "The Associated Press" was finally able to get it, and that`s the only reason it has come out. Again, it is more years than two years after it happened, and they have had this all the time.
So here`s the first bit of video we`re going to play tonight. This is when police approach Ronald Greene`s car. They have been chasing him. This is -- the chase has come to an end.
I`ll tell you again, this footage is excerpt and edited by "The Associated Press". We don`t have the rotate. The full footage they obtained is 46 minutes long. The say there is long stretches where Mr. Greene is not on camera. The trooper whose body camera footage it is appears to cut the microphone off about halfway through. That makes it hard to discern what`s going on in some moments.
We don`t have footage from other troopers at the scene. "The A.P." itself is cautioning that can be difficult to piece together what is happening at all times. But in some of it, it is clear.
Like in this clip were police foot first approach Ronald Greene`s car. It certainly appears that he is not resisting and in fact is pleading with the troopers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER: Let me see your hands! Come here --
RONALD GREENE: All right. All right.
GREENE: OK. OK.
Oh Lord Jesus.
OFFICER: Let me see your hands!
GREENE: OK, I`ll do it. I`m sorry.
Oh, I`m so sorr -- I`m scared. I`m scared. Officer, I`m scared. I`m your brother. I`m scared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It says at the end there, officer, I`m scared, I`m your brother. I`m scared.
We also have another portion of the body cam video after the troopers get Mr. Greene out of the car. And you`ll see Mr. Greene on the ground here appearing motionless while an officer tases him again. The officer then handcuffs him.
Mr. Greene is clearly bloodied at this point. The officers, part of the reason we can confirm that, is that the officers commenting about the amount of his blood that they`ve got on them. And the fact that they are wiping it off themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLPI)
OFFICER: Get on the ground. Get on the ground.
OFFICER: Taser, Taser, Taser!
OFFICER: Put your hands behind your back.
OFFICER: Whoa, (EXPLETIVE DELETDED) damn it, get up here. Get that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) arm!
OFFICER: Blood all over. Hope this ugy ain`t got (EXPLETIVE DELETED) AIDS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: "The A.P." tonight has posted one of the portion of the video. This portion doesn`t have sound. We believe the trooper turned off the microphone on his body. But can you can see here, Ronald Greene handcuffed on the ground. "The A.P." reports that later, after several minutes stretch on which Ronald Greene is not seen on camera, he appears again, limp unresponsive, bleeding from his head, leading from his face. He`s unloading on to an ambulance gurney. His arm is cuff to the bed real.
But here, what you will see is an officer putting leg shackles on him. And I`m not going to show this part, but what you can see in part of this video is the officer dragging Mr. Greene by those leg shackles across the ground, face down.
Again, his handcuffs are on him, behind his back. His legs are shackled. He`s faced down and limp, and they are dragging him by the leg shackles, face down, across the ground.
Now, the Louisiana state police tonight would not comment on the content of these videos, except to say that the release of the video was not authorized. Yes, tell us about it.
They said the release of these videos, quote, undermines the investigative process. How is that investigative process going?
Well, the officer who dragged Ronald Greene on his face by his leg shackles, he was suspended from duty for 50 hours for that offense, 50 hours.
Another of the troopers is now on unpaid leave, but not for Ronald Greene`s death. He and several other troopers from the same units were arrested a few months ago for beating up other black men in their custody. They were also discovered to be bragging to each other over text messages about the violence they have inflicted on black men they have arrested.
But there`s also the federal investigation into Ronald Greene`s death. There`s also the families lawsuit against the state police.
Does publication of this gut wrenching video today, get Ronald Greene`s family any closer to justice?
Joining us now is Lee Merritt. He`s an attorney for Ronald Greene`s family.
Mr. Merritt, thank you so much for being here tonight. I know this has been a really intense day.
LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR RONALD GREENE`S FAMILY: Thank you so much for having me.
MADDOW: I know that this has been a long haul for the Greene family already. It has been more than two years since Mr. Greene was killed. What sort of justice are they seeking?
MERRITT: Well, criminal accountability for every officer involved. And they also want to point towards a system, and, Rachel, I really appreciate that you`ve done a very good job of pointing out these failures on every level of accountability -- supervisors, district attorneys, prosecutors, who are supposed to look at this evidence, over the past two years. They have completely failed to take any serious actions to hold these officers accountable (AUDIO GAP).
This behavior has been allowed to continue to terrorize other members of the Louisiana community. And the family of Ronald Greene has gotten no closure. So the release of this video moves us just a bit closer.
MADDOW: Now the state police responded to the release of this video tonight by saying it was an authorized, which, yeah, to state the obvious. Part of what is difficult about this case is that they have added access to this for so long and consistently refused to release it.
But let me ask for you to respond to their assertion that the release of this tape is going to undermine ongoing investigative processes, that will compromise any fair and impartial outcome of those investigations. Is there any risk of that?
MERRITT: No, they`ve had this (AUDIO GAP) opportunity to perform their investigation for two years, without any real oversight from the public, as the system is designed. Transparency is an essential part of the system where officers who taxpayers pay are held accountable to the constituency that they are supposed to serve.
By releasing this video, it gives other members of the community an opportunity to identify the officers, to identify with the actions, to report other instances of abuse. We have found there are ample from this political trooper at the Louisiana who had been notorious. The release of this video doesn`t compromise the investigation. It`s the first the investigation is probably going to see an honest attempt at doing justice and brings us a step closer to closure for this family.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about one aspect of this that is deeply and disturbingly reminiscent of the video footage of George Floyd`s death, which, of course, lit up the world, beyond just later got the country in outrage over the way that he was killed. I didn`t show it at length. We are again are relying on what "The Associated Press" has released.
But what they described and what these videotapes show is apparently an incident that lasts more than nine minutes. Where Mr. Greene is faced down, shackled, handcuffed, unattended and basically unresponsive. That`s part of what is going on for the time that the officers are spending time wiping his blood off of themselves, and talking to each other about the hope that the he doesn`t have any infectious diseases, given the amount of their blood that -- the amount of his blood that they are bathed in.
What should the officers have been doing during that nine-minute stretch of time? If he was dying during that nine-minute stretch of time, what were the officers trained to be doing at that time?
MERRITT: Hypothetically, every officer in the Louisiana state police department knows -- and we all learned on the national level from the Chauvin trial that you can`t leave a suspect who`s been injured the way Mr. Greene had been injured and a prone position. They had a long time.
As you mentioned, his legs and his arms were shackled behind his back. It`s impossible to breathe and get in that position, given the repeated tasering that he has endured, the brutal beatings toward his head and body that he endured, and the mace that had already taken place.
So, they left him in a position where he was -- where they have been trained to know that his ability to breathe is limited, and what they should`ve been doing, of course, is rendering emergency aid, assuming that he suffered injuries in the car accident which ,of course (AUDIO GAP) brutal assault. They should have been giving him emergency aid for the vicious assault that they had just released on him.
MADDOW: Lee Merritt is the attorney for the family of Ronald Greene at this incredibly dramatic turn in the case, more than two years after he was killed by Louisiana troopers -- Mr. Merritt, come back and keep us apprise as this case develops. I know this is a live issue both in terms of the family`s lawsuits and in terms of the federal investigation. Incredibly disturbing footage that we`ve seen tonight, please keep us apprise as to how this progresses.
MERRITT: We`ll do, thank you so much, Rachel, for covering this and keeping the family in your prayers.
MADDOW: All right. Indeed.
All right. We`ve got much more to get to here tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Just before 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time last night, we got this startling news from the attorney general of New York state. That attorney general for the last two years has been leading an investigation into the conduct of former President t Donald Trump`s company, the Trump Organization. It`s been a civil investigation meaning that the outcome of the organization had to worry about there was that the attorney general might, at the end of that investigation, choose to bring a lawsuit against Trump`s company, if the A.G. won that lawsuit and the company lost, the company and the executive including potentially President Trump himself, worst-case scenario, they could be subject to some civil penalties. Like fines and stuff.
Well, that horizon of possibility has changed considerably for them late last night, when the attorney general`s office confirmed in a statement that that investigation of the Trump organization is no longer just a civil matter. Some aspects of that civil investigation continues in the attorney general`s office but there`s at least some part of it that they have now converted into a criminal investigation. Of course, criminal penalties are a different things than civil penalties.
The way the attorney generals office put it succinctly is that the Trump Organization investigation is, quote, no longer purely civil in nature. Quote: We are not actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan district attorney`s office.
That last bit is interesting. Again this broke last night, CNN was first to break the news. We confirmed it ourselves at the New York attorney general`s office moments later. It has gone the full core treatment by all the major news outlets. And some of them have contributed additional new details.
"The New York Times" clarifying that the A.G.`s office is not conducting its own independent criminal investigation. They`ve handed the criminal part of it off to New York state prosecutors, at the Manhattan district attorney`s office. That office already has an active investigation of Trump underway but now they`ve been referred something else. They`ve been given some other piece of it that came out of the civil investigation into Trump`s business.
Two prosecutors from the attorney generals office are reportedly moving over to that D.A.`s office instead to help them with that criminal prosecution of whatever it is the A.G. found.
"The Washington Post" for their part either that the Trump Organization was given a heads up about this criminal penalty in a written notice late last month which makes it interesting that the president himself, the former president himself put out a long rather unhinged statement today reacting with outrage to this news about the criminal investigation. Apparently, his business was told about it a long time ago.
According to "The Post", that notice, quote, suggested that criminality could apply to actions by current and former company executives and employees.
Of course, news of an escalating criminal probe of the former president is a dramatic thing, right? We`ve never had a former president under criminal investigation before, ever. Let alone a former president under criminal investigations simultaneously in multiple jurisdictions all for different things, it`s wild.
But it is also I think worth being specific about how this story just advanced. Honestly, all we know for sure is that in the course of its civil investigation into Donald Trump`s business, the New York attorney general`s office appears to have found something that looked criminal, to them, and so, they handed that part of it over to the Manhattan D.A.`s office to prosecute.
That`s all we know for sure. But given that, we can tell more about House years that might be. We first learned about the attorney general civil investigation into Trump`s work through "The New York Times" reporting in March of 2019. Since then, through public court filings and for the public source reporting, we`ve been able to figure out a little more about what the investigators may have been looking at, potential bank fraud, potential tax fraud.
And we`ve learned some specific details about how the investigation has been going. We know in October, former President Trump`s son, Eric Trump, the blond one, sat for a deposition with the attorney general`s team.
Following month in November, we know the office issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization, seeking records related to consulting fees paid to President Trump`s daughter, Ivanka.
We know those subpoenas were issued as a result of groundbreaking investigative reporting done by Susanne Craig, and other reporters at "The New York Times" who basically got the story of the year when they got access to Trump`s long secret tax records.
If the New York attorney general`s office has now decided that they have found something potentially criminal in the evidence that they are looking at, something that ought to be prosecuted criminally, instead of just being prosecuted with a civil lawsuit, what could that be? How serious could the criminal charges be that come about as a result?
Outside of the investigative offices themselves, the one person, I know, who knows the potential evidence here better than anyone else is the person who dug it up. It`s "New York Times" investigative reporter Susanne Craig who, along with her Pulitzer Prize-winning team with "The New York Times" have made public more information about Donald Trump and his business finances than anybody else.
Susanne joins us live here next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Since we`ve been on the air, CNN has just reported that the New York attorney general`s office has opened a criminal tax investigation into the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, a man named Allen Weisselberg. Allen Weisselberg has worked for Donald Trump for decades and for President Trump`s father before him.
CNN reporting, quote, the tax investigation into Weisselberg `s personal finances by New York Attorney General Letitia James was open several months ago and it`s been handled by a small unit within the office that has authority to bring criminal charges. That`s interesting, the idea of a criminal probe, at least if that Trump Organization executive being handled by the attorney general`s office.
Because this news arrives as the attorney general`s office last night has confirmed that some element of the offices ongoing civil investigation into the president`s business has been converted to a criminal matter, "The New York Times" reported today that that part of the prosecution, whatever was converted from civil to criminal, will now be handled by state prosecutors in the Manhattan D.A.`s office. CNN reporting tonight raising the prospect that civil -- that, excuse me, criminal investigations related to the Trump Organization may now be simultaneously operating out of both offices?
Joining us now is Susanne Craig, investigative reporter for "The New York Times". She won the Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on two decades worth of Trump`s tax filings.
Susanne, thank you very much for being with us tonight. Nice to see you.
SUSANNE CRAIG, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Good to see you.
MADDOW: I want your big picture perspective of this story. Since the news broke last night, there`s been a lot of debate and speculation about what it means and how serious it is.
Given what you know of Trump`s tax documents and financial documents -- what you and your team have reported on, how serious do you think this is? What do you think is the most important thing about it?
CRAIG: As you are reading that latest development, I just thought, wow, it sure is getting hot over there at the Trump Organization. I mean, there`s a lot going on. It`s an escalation, the fact that they are now bringing it in a criminal aspect.
You know, the state is going to continue on a civil track, but they`re also now going into a criminal area. And then separately, you know, Allen Weisselberg is of interest to investigators both at the Manhattan D.A.`s office and at the state level. I mean, you can kind of see this case is on track and heading towards something.
MADDOW: What kind of timeline do you anticipate here? I mean, part of the reason we`re all speculating is because prosecutors haven`t shown up in court and filed very many public documents that we can see. There`s certainly been no indictments that we can see, that would give us a public sense of what they are doing.
That said, on the political timeline, the Manhattan district attorney, the state prosecutor who appears to be handling this -- in New York, he is not running for reelection and will be in office through the end of the year. It seems unlikely he would expect the case this began important to be handed off to his successor after he and his team have done years of work on it.
Does your affect your thinking in terms of how quickly this might move?
CRAIG: It absolutely does. And I think the Manhattan D.A., barring anything, will make a decision whether to go ahead. And I think will probably see charges coming in the fall, before Cy Vance, the Manhattan D.A. leaves office. I mean, there`s a lot riding on this for him and I think they are working full-time since they got -- even before that. But particularly since February when they got not just the tax return information, but also tons of other documents that they got from the accounting firm, financial information, financial statements, accountants notes.
I think they`re just trying to piece it together. But I think they`re working around the clock on that sort of deadline. And I think the state as well, you`re looking -- it just feels like, I don`t know, but it feels like they are at the end of something just with what they`re doing. I mean, they`re just making moves that would suggest there is at least a civil stuff is progressing. And they`ve been working on it for a year or two know as well.
MADDOW: And, Susanne, given what you know, what you have reported about the financial behavior of President Trump and his business -- and given what you are describing about what it seems like is happening in this investigation, what would a criminal indictment mean of a corporate entity, right? If the New York attorney generals office civil investigation turned up something that looked like a criminal matter and they handed that to the D.A. now to prosecute. Maybe they`ve kept some of the criminal element of themselves. I knew a criminal ops prosecution of a person can be on tax fraud, bank fraud, insurance fraud, any of those kinds of things.
I don`t necessarily know what it means for an entity, a corporate entity, to face a criminal indictment.
CRAIG: Well, we don`t know yet. What it looks like, if it is against a corporate entity, if it is, I mean, it`s devastating to a corporate entity. And for individuals, it could mean a trial and possible jail time.
We don`t know what track they are heading down and looking at and working at the food chain right now, of individuals inside the Trump Organization and hoping I think at a certain point, they`re going to have pressure on them to get them to talk about Donald Trump. That seems to be where it`s going. And they`re in that phase now.
There`s a lot of pressure on Allen Weisselberg, who`s the longtime CFO of the Trump Organization, and possibly others within the Trump Organization. The accountant, main accountant that handles Donald Trump`s tax stuff is also of interest of Manhattan D.A., and then they also had at least Eric Trump in for an interview.
So, there`s a lot going on and we don`t know where they are heading with it, and who they may -- who maybe of interest and who`s just being interviewed. But there`s certainly a lot of heat on a lot of people there.
MADDOW: Susanne Craig, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for "The New York Times", who has known more than anyone to shed light on what is now evidence in this ongoing criminal probes, Susanne, thank you for helping us understand this tonight. It`s great to have you here.
CRAIG: Great, good to see you.
MADDOW: You, too.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Couple of nights ago, we led the show with some really unsettling ground-breaking new reporting from Pulitzer Prize-winning Carol Leonnig from "The Washington Post".
Carol Leonnig just yesterday published a new book about the United States Secret Service. It`s called "Zero Fail". The book went, I think, to number one on Amazon in the wake of that interview here on Monday night.
It`s an important book. And one of the most bone chilling details in what is already a very scary book about the failures of the Secret Service, is Carol`s reporting on the prospect that the Secret Service has been politically corrupted.
She writes about how the former President Donald Trump removed the head of his Secret Service detail from his job and instead made him a political appointee in the White House. He put that guy inform in charge of organizing all of President Trump`s campaign MAGA rallies last year.
That same guy who he left the Secret Service behind to become a pro Trump political operative turns out he now works at the Secret Service again. In fact, as assistant director, after running the MAGA rallies as a Trump political operative. He`s now assistant director of the agency that`s assigned to keep President Biden and Vice President Harris alive against all threats.
Ms. Leonnig also reports in her book that some Secret Service agents publicly praise and cheered the January 6th Capitol attack, and said that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president.
The Secret Service has not responded to the reporting that Carol Leonnig`s new book in writing, responded specifically about these claims about the political corruption of the agency. Here`s what they said on that point.
Quote: The American people can rest assured that the U.S. Secret Service isn`t a political and nonpartisan agency. Our focus is not on politics, but on uncompromisingly excellence and continual improvement, protecting national and world leaders and the security of our nation`s financial system. Fantastic.
The Secret Service just flatly asserting they have nothing to worry about. They`re apolitical and nonpartisan, without addressing at all the meticulously documented new pile of evidence pointing to the opposite conclusion. They just don`t address at all.
As far as we know, there`d been no consequences for the any of the active duty Secret Service agents who publicly praised the January 6th attack, and who have said that Joe Biden isn`t legitimately the president. There Secret Service agents.
Also as of right now, they still have an assistant director whose last job was organizing MAGA rallies for Donald Trump, assistant director of the Secret Service. Are we really okay with that? Are they really not going to answer those questions?
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Thanks for being with us here tonight. I will see you again tomorrow night. You know tomorrow night is? It is Friday eve, I`ll see you them.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.