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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 7/13/21

Guests: James Clyburn, Nicole Perlroth


South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn is interviewed. At 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time last night, the Web site for REvil went poof, as did the blog where they would list their victims and publish embarrassing information or damaging information that they stole from their victims.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That story out of Tennessee and your guest tonight, Chris, is an unbelievable story, an unbelievable development. Republicans talking about abolishing the Health Department in the state and cutting off kids across Tennessee from all vaccines, not just COVID. It`s just -- it`s astonishing.

HAYES: Really mind boggling stuff. And also just really important, I think, to see, like, we keep seeing in this, the progression of this pandemic, these civil servants who are just doing their job with integrity and getting whipsawed by in nihilistic political movement and it`s really, really hard to watch.

MADDOW: Yeah, and it`s lives at stake. And not only careers at stake, literally livies at stake. Incredible. Incredible stuff. Well done, my friend. Thank you.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here tonight.

We start tonight in the beautiful state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma where the state song is "Oklahoma" and everybody knows how to sing at least part of it. Oklahoma is home to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Oklahoma is home to this giant pair of very veiny, anatomically correct praying hands that are over 60 feet tall. That`s at the entrance to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa.

Oklahoma is the birthplace of Will Rogers, of course, also Brad Pitt, also Woody Guthrie, and Alfre Woodard. It`s the birthplace of Elizabeth Warren and T. Boon Pickens and Wilma Mankiller, the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Oklahoma is how to this 76-foot-tall golden oil driller because. Oklahoma is the place where the state capitol grounds hold the worldwide distinction, we think, of being the only capitol anywhere that has an oil well drilled under it. The oil well at the Oklahoma state capitol, which actually goes under the capitol, is called Petunia Number One because they started drilling if from what was apparently a really nice flower bed that had petunias.

The Oklahoma Aquarium is home to the largest collection of bullhead sharks.

There is a lot to love about Oklahoma. I love a lot about Oklahoma. Oklahoma is home to the Flaming Lips, of course, and to the country`s most underrated, ought to be a national star singer/songwriter John Moreland, to lives in Tulsa and who I`m obsessed with.

Oklahoma is where Jody Woodruff is from and Bill Moyer. It`s impossible not to love Oklahoma.

And in the 2020 election last year, you know how they do those maps of the election results? Where each county is colored in red or in blue depending on which candidate that county voted for? Well, in 2020 in Oklahoma, here was what that map looked like for Oklahoma. Oklahoma has 77 counties. The map is really simple to make because all 77 of Oklahoma`s counties, all 77 of them voted for Donald Trump.

Trump won Oklahoma by more than 33 points. Only Wyoming and West Virginia gave Trump bigger margins in the 2020 election.

Oklahoma does have Democrats. They do. Great ones and smart ones and ambitious ones and the legislature, Oklahoma Democrats are really nice feisty. But come time for a statewide election, a presidential election in Oklahoma in, say, 2020, it was not competitive. It was not even particularly contested. I mean, Joe Biden didn`t even get 33 percent of the vote in Oklahoma.

But now today, NPR reporter Chris Polanski of Oklahoma was first to report on a new effort by pro-Trump Republicans in the Oklahoma state legislature. They are making a public contention making a public case that the presidential election results in Oklahoma in 2020 should not be trusted. There must be a forensic audit, of the Oklahoma presidential election results.

Because they think it was rigged for Joe Biden?


Oh, yes. Can`t you see, sure, of the 77 counties in Oklahoma, Donald Trump won all 77 of them, but if the Oklahoma election hadn`t been so obviously rigged for those Democratic cheaters, Trump would have won 200 of the 77 counties in Oklahoma, or something. Do the math, you communists.

But they say the election results should not be trusted. The pro-Trump Republicans.

Here is the press release, headline: Election Audit Request. State Representative Sean Roberts, Republican of Hominy -- Hominy, Oklahoma, incidentally, is famous for a big prison riot once -- Republican of Hominy today announced he is requesting that the state election board secretary call for a forensic and independent audit of the 2020 general election results.

Quote: Oklahomans have a right to know that their election results can be trusted, Roberts said, because Donald Trump winning by more than 30 points and winning every single county in the state, even that can`t be trusted. Biden still must have cheated. So there must be a forensic audit of Oklahoma`s election results.

They use the term forensic in this context because they want to create the impression that a crime has been committed in the election. So they are like crime scene investigators doing a forensic analysis.

There were, in fact, some Democratic votes cast in Oklahoma in 2020. Maybe some of them are crimes. We should look at that. Let`s investigate and then report our fabulous fantastic forensic findings. You fools! Fight!

The point of what they are doing with stunts like this, the latest one now in Oklahoma, is not -- the point is not to find anything wrong with any particular election or even to cast doubt specifically on places that Biden won. They just want to make it seem like there is no trustworthy results of any election anywhere. Like elections are all crime scenes full of fraud.

And if you just let Republicans have access to the ballots and the machinery, they can prove it. The overall aim is to effectively illegitimize election results anywhere they can, even in places Trump won, it doesn`t matter, as a way to cast doubt on all elections. They are trying to rewire Americans` brains and expectations so we no longer think of elections as things that have an objective knowable result that we can agree on whether or not we like that outcome.

Antrim County in Michigan where the Republicans pursued all of those crazy conspiracy theories about the election, Antrim County in Michigan is a county that Trump won by more than 20 points. But still that must be the seat of the fraud.

The election investigation, the Republicans in Pennsylvania are trying to pull off now, yes, they are targeting heavily Democratic Philadelphia, but also targeting two heavily Trump counties, counties where Trump won by a lot. But where presumably they think Republican officials are more apt to throw other ballot machines so they can do a hocus pocus forensic fraud investigation to make seem like Pennsylvania didn`t a knowable election result.

They just need access to the ballots and machines from somewhere or enough purported data from someplace to make it seem muddy. The idea is that they want us to not believe that any election result can be known, that it`s all subject to post facto manipulation and they would like to be the ones doing the manipulating.

Today, when President Biden went to independence to give his speech on voting rights, former President Trump put out a statement saying the only reason Biden was going to Pennsylvania specifically is because President Biden is desperate to stop the new audit that Republicans want to do of the Pennsylvania presidential election. Which is hilarious, right?

Here in Earth One where Joe Biden is president and the election that made him president has a settled result and a president giving a speech at the National Constitution Center in Pennsylvania right at Independence Hall where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were originally signed, actually, that`s a totally reasonable place for any president to give a speech on voting rights.

On Earth One, that makes sense. But on earth two, on earth two in Trump world, right, where Biden is only pretending to be president and all will soon be revealed as soon as Republicans prove that what you think was the election result was massive fraud, if you live on that Earth, if you live on Trump world Earth Two, I suppose you might think it`s possible that President Biden went to Pennsylvania for a speech because by doing so he is going to somehow out-fox the Republicans who are trying to do another audit because of their crazy conspiracy theories about the election.


I mean, maybe on Earth Two that would explain what President Biden did today.

Either or that, or he`s there to meet with his lizard people bosses, right, and Illuminati and Freemasons and the cabal of Jewish bankers, and, you know?

I mean, here`s a few things to know about what happened today and where it appears this is now going. First of all, on last night`s show, we covered that blockbuster federal court hearing yesterday where nine pro-Trump lawyers are facing sanctions. These are pro-Trump lawyers who brought a lawsuit based on crazy conspiracy theories about the election, including the junk in Antrim County, Michigan. Those lawyers are now facing personal sanctions and potentially disbarment for their trying to use the court system to advance these fact-free fantasies to undermine confidence in the elections.

We covered last night that hearing yesterday in a federal court in Michigan where the judge seemed to indicate that sanctions and potentially disbarment are on the table for all nine of those Trump lawyers. In addition to that, though, you should know that there is going to be a second one of those kinds of hearings. Another one, this time in Colorado, involving a different federal judge and more pro-Trump lawyers, they will also be going before a federal judge this week, on Friday. They are facing sanctions and potential disbarment for trying to push false Trump election conspiracy theories via the courts.

And the reason I think that`s important is because the people who have been really granular in enablers of this craziness in Republican politics, the ones who`ve been trying to push this junk into the actual court system, those lawyers, a lot of them are starting face consequences now, potentially career-ending consequences, for having done that. They are facing real accountability for having pushed these lies, using the court system to try to turn Americans way from the idea that elections are a legitimate way we decide our political decisions in this country.

As those enablers start to face serious consequences, that`s going to up the ante, that`s going to change the dynamics for people in Republican politics still trying to please former President Trump by pushing this nonsense, by continuing this fantasy about election fraud and trying to convince Americans that there was something wrong with the last election and all of the states where Biden won, even the ones he didn`t win, need to be reexamined. That`s an important, I think, human dynamic to watch.

Here is another thing to watch, though. In Arizona, right, where they have been doing this crazy cyber ninjas so-called audit of the Arizona presidential election, today, the Arizona Republican Senate president who arranged for that circus to happen with all the Arizona votes, she told local right-wing talk-radio in Arizona today that they have definitely discovered discrepancies in their audit.

"Arizona Mirror" covered this today. Basically indicating that the result of this Arizona audit clown show, whatever result they announce, which should be soon, that result will definitely be used by them to try to discredit the election result in the state of Arizona. We`ve known, of course, that that was coming. Today they started signaling that directly. So, get ready for that. Is going to up the ante and inject new dynamics here.

But it was interesting to see, and I didn`t expect this, but today at his big speech in Philadelphia on voting rights, President Biden pulled out the sort of big rhetorical guns on voting rights and the imperative to act, and I`ll play some of that for you in just a second. But he also called out some of this stuff that I`m describing, these efforts even now to undermine the election. He called out some of that stuff in stark terms that I didn`t expect.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With recount after recount after recount, court case after court case, the 2020 election was the most scrutinized election ever in American history. Challenge after challenge brought to local, state, and election officials, state legislatures, state and federal courts. Even to the United States Supreme Court. Not once, but twice.

More than 80 judges, including those appointed by my predecessor, heard the arguments. In every case, neither cause nor evidence was found to undermine the national achievement of administering this historic election in the face of such extraordinary challenges. Audits, recounts were conducted, in Arizona, in Wisconsin. In Georgia, it was recounted three times. It`s clear.


For those who challenge the results and question the integrity of the election, no other election has ever been held under such scrutiny, such high standards. The big lie is just that, a big lie.


2020 election is not hyperbole. It`s the most examined and the fullest expression of the will of the people in the history of this nation. It should be celebrated, an example of America at its best.

But instead, we continue to see an example of human nature at its worst, something darker and more sinister. In America, if you lose, you accept the results. You follow the Constitution. You try again.

You don`t call facts fake and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you`re unhappy. That`s not statesmanship.


That`s not statesmanship. That`s selfishness. That`s not democracy. It`s the denial of the right to vote. It suppresses. It subjugates.

The denial of full and free and fair elections is the most un-American thing that we can imagine, the most undemocratic, the most unpatriotic.


MADDOW: The must undemocratic, most unpatriotic.

President Biden speaking today really going full blast on the still expanding, still accelerating project on the political right, right now, to try to illegitimize the election result from 2020. It is in full swing in Arizona. We are expecting them to announce their supposedly scandalous results sometime soon.

Republicans even now are moving to also do it in Wisconsin, also in Pennsylvania, also in Georgia. Even also in Oklahoma where Trump won by more than 30 points, but still there must have been Democratic fraud.

In his remarks today, President Biden then turned to what voting rights advocates are desperate to hear from him, a full-throated unreserved call to act, to protect voting rights nationally in Washington, which is the only way to stop the state-by-state devastating attacks on voting rights that Republicans are now pursuing across the country. Watch.


BIDEN: Last month Republicans opposed even debating, even considering the For the People Act. Senate Democrats stood united to protect our democracy and the sanctity of the vote.

We must pass the For the People Act. It`s a national imperative. We must also fight for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore and expand --


To restore and expand voting protections to prevent voter suppression, because here`s the deal -- in 2020, democracy was put to a test, first by the pandemic, then by a desperate attempt to deny the reality of the results of the election, and then by violent and deadly insurrection on the Capitol, the citadel of our democracy.

I have been around a long time in public life. I thought I`d seen it all, or most of it all. But I never thought I`d see that for real. Look how close it came. For real, how close it came.

We`re going to face another test in 2022, a new wave of unprecedented voter suppression and raw and sustained election subversion. We have to prepare now.

We`ll be asking my Republican friends in Congress and states and cities and counties to stand up for God`s sake and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote.


Have you no shame?

Whether stopping foreign interference on our elections or the spread of disinformation from within, we have to work together. Well, hear me clearly. There is an unfolding assault taking place in America today an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections, an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are -- who we are as Americans.


For make no mistake: bullies and merchants of fear, peddlers of lies are threatening the very foundation of our country. It gives me no pleasure to say this. I never thought in my entire career I`d have to say it. But I swore an oath to you, to God, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. That`s an oath that forms a sacred trust to defend America against all threats, both foreign and domestic.


The assault on free and fair elections is just such a threat, literally. I`ve said it before. We`re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That`s not hyperbole, since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on January 6th.

I`m not saying this to alarm you. I am saying this because you should be alarmed. I`m also saying this, there is good news -- it doesn`t have to be this way. It doesn`t have to be for real. We have the means. We just need the will, the will to save and strengthen our democracy.

It requires us to unite on common purpose to declare here and now, we, the people will never give up.


We will not give in! We will overcome. We will do it together.

And guaranteeing the right to vote, ensuring every vote is counted, has always been the most patriotic thing we can do.

Just remember, our late friend John Lewis said, freedom is not a state, it`s an act. Freedom is not a state, it`s an act. And we must act and we will act for our cause is just.


Our vision is clear. Our hearts are full. But we, the people, for our democracy, for America itself, we must act.

God bless you all and may God protect our troops, and all those who stand to watch over our democracy. But act. We`ve got to act. Thank you.


MADDOW: President Biden today, we`ve got to act. We`ve got to act.

More than any other member of Congress, President Joseph R. Biden owes his election as president to his friend Congressman Jim Clyburn, dean of the South Carolina Democratic political delegation. As the de facto kingmaker in South Carolina, Congressman James Clyburn gave Joe Biden a crucial and very well-timed endorsement. A big public endorsement before the South Carolina primary, and that endorsement plucked Biden`s campaign out of the doldrums, set him on an inexorable path not only to win South Carolina but to win the nomination.

And now, Congressman James Clyburn has just given an interview in which he said specifically what now President Biden must do on voting rights. So Democrats can stop just giving speeches on this issue and lamenting what Republicans are doing against voting rights around the country so they are doing more than, for example, just praising and welcoming the Democrats from the Texas legislature who had to leave their state and come to Washington late last night as their last-ditch tactical last-hope effort to block new voter suppression laws in Texas that Republicans are going to pass.

This weekend, James Clyburn said in an interview with flit that president Biden must do one thing. He must endorse a carve-out in the Senate rules so Republicans can`t filibuster the national voting rights bill. So Democrats can pass it with just 50 votes.

Now, other people, of course, have made this case, but other people aren`t Jim Clyburn who frankly gets his calls returned, who gets his ideas listened to in the Biden White House because without him, there would be no Biden White House.

Congressman Clyburn is making that case for what the Biden/Harris White House must do specifically on voting rights. Change the filibuster -- endorse a change in the filibuster, a modification of the filibuster so that voting rights can pass with 50 votes. That`s what James Clyburn says the White House must do in order to get it done.

The White House must support that, push for that publicly. Privately, they must push for however they can.


That was James Clyburn`s public play to the White House this past weekend.

And look what`s happened since. Today, there is President Biden saying in Philadelphia in the big voting rights speech other and over again with passion, we must act to protect voting rights. We must act. We must act. This must be done.

And now tonight here is the headline at NPR: Vice President Harris hints that she has discussed filibuster changes with senators.

This is what movement looks like on an issue like this. Movement that appears to have been set in motion by Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina.

Congressman Clyburn joins us here live next.



REP. MARC VEASEY (D-TX): I want to be 100 percent clear. Now, not later, not sometime in the future, now we need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.


It needs to be signed into law and we also need to pass HR-1. Our citizens can`t wait any longer and I want to echo what our majority whip here in the U.S. House, James Clyburn, talked about when he mentioned a carve out for HR-4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

STATE REP. CHRIS TURNER (D), TEXAS: We really want to drill down on the importance of the Democratic Leader Clyburn`s comments about a carve out on the filibuster, with respect to voting rights. And if you can have a carve out for right wing Supreme Court justice, why can`t you have carve out to protect the fundamentals of our democracy?


MADDOW: Democrats from the Texas state legislature dramatically left the state of Texas yesterday to block Republicans from passing another draconian anti-voting rights bill in that state. More than 50 Democratic Texas legislators are now in Washington and plan to be there for reach out of the reach of Texas state law enforcement. As long as they stay away, the legislature back home in Texas can`t pass anything because there aren`t legislators there to have a quorum.

In the midst of that difficult standoff, Texas Democrats from the state legislature spoke at the U.S. capitol alongside members of Congress from Texas. They are basically begging for federal help, urging Democrats in Congress to carve out, to amend the rules of the United States Senate so the Senate can pass voting rights legislation with just the Democratic majority.

The Texas state representative you saw speaking there about changing the rules for a right wing Supreme Court justice, that`s true. The filibuster isn`t something that`s existed since the Constitution. It`s a relatively recent invention and it has changed a lot, including recent years as there have been carve-outs for all sorts of things, including judicial nominees, Supreme Court justices, cabinet nominees.

There`s all sorts of things that the filibuster used to apply to things that it doesn`t anymore. Why not voting rights? It`s within Democrats` power to make that change.

Now, you heard them name checking South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn there. This weekend, Congressman Clyburn very publicly called on President Biden to endorse this idea, to endorse the idea of a carve-out for the filibuster for voting rights. So Democrats can get a bill on his desk to protect the right to vote.

Congressman Clyburn said, quote: I don`t care if it does it in a microphone or on a telephone. Just do it.

Joining us now is James Clyburn, South Carolina congressman, the majority whip in the House of Representatives.

Congressman, it`s a pleasure to see you. Thank you so much for making time to be with us tonight.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Thank you very much for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: I know that you pick your fights carefully and that you don`t jump into every fight willy-nilly and you know your power with this administration and you know your power in Washington.

Can you talk to us about the decision to make this public call on President Biden that he needs to endorse a change in this rule so voting rights can pass with just 50 votes?

CLYBURN: Well, as you just mentioned, I said when I made my statement that you don`t have to get in front of a microphone in order to do the kind of negotiations, to make a kind (ph) of endorsement that need be made. You can do it on the telephone.

And I do believe that this is the kind of issue that needs to be going one- on-one with. I`m pleased to hear the vice president to whom the president has given this responsibility is, in fact, having those discussions with members of the Senate because we all know that the filibuster is not in the Constitution. It`s not a law. It`s a tradition.

And traditions means the past. In order for us to look to the future, we must begin to look at what is necessary for this great country to continue its movement towards perfection. That`s what we`re all about. Not a perfect country, but a country in search of perfection.

And we need to do that by voting rights via HR-1 and HR-4, the John R. Lewis Voter Advancement Act.

MADDOW: Congressman Clyburn, I know that you are close with the president and I know that you have said that you`ve spoken directly with Vice President Harris about this. I know you have also, over the course of this voting rights fight, spoken directly and done work with Senator Joe Manchin, the centrist West Virginia senator who has been such a fulcrum on this point -- the question of what he is willing to do and how he is willing to approach this is potentially determinative in terms of whether or not the Democrats in the Senate are able to actually act.


How open is the door that you are pushing on here? How much resistance is there to this idea? How strong are the arguments that are being made against the kind of reform that you`re talking about?

CLYBURN: Well, I have had extensive conversations with Joe Manchin. I like Joe Manchin. We`ve been friends for a long time.

We used to do a lot of these kinds of things together, just like I did with Joe Biden. So, both of us have developed a great deal of patience with each other. And so, I think that Joe has made me a little bit sensitive to the filibuster. I just wanted to get rid of the whole thing, but he has convinced me that there is a place for extended debate on legislative issues.

I am hopeful that I can convince him that we ought to treat constitutional issues the same way we treat budget issues. We move the budget forward without this filibuster application so as not to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America. And we ought to move forward on constitutional issues when it comes to the filibuster.

So, the filibuster I think has its place, but not when it comes to voting and other constitutional issues. So, we`ll see where we go from here. I am hopeful that Joe Manchin will do what I know that he is capable of doing and that is the right thing.

MADDOW: Hearing you say that you are hopeful about that is going to change a lot of people`s, I think, sense of despair on this issue. I think a lot of people worried about democracy, very worried about voting rights, have felt like there is no -- that this is an impasse, that there`s no way around.

Hearing you talking about those conversations, hearing you express hope in this issue, hearing you be specific in terms of what you`d like the president and vice president to do, it feels -- it feels like a path.

Thanks for helping us understand it tonight, Congressman. It`s always an honor to have you here whenever you can be here.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

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



MADDOW: Depending on the household, there are not technically a household name, but as far as Russian cyber organized crime groups go, the group REvil is probably as close as we get to a household name. You might remember REvil as the group that shut down the largest meat processing in the world, JBS last month. They made a name for themselves also by very publicly hacking everything from a law firm that worked with celebrities to big companies like Apple to energy companies to whole school systems. REvil is one of the big ones if the biggest Russian organized crime cyber group.

Last month in their meeting in Geneva, President Biden and President Vladimir Putin of Russia had a confrontational meeting about the U.S. insisting that Putin stop these sports of attacks. Biden told him that because these attacks are originating on Russian soil, because criminal groups have been operating essentially with impunity in Russia, he told him that he thinks Putin is responsible for the actions of these groups and that Putin will be held responsible for the actions of these groups. He told Putin if these attacks continue to happen, the U.S. will respond.

And then REvil did it again. Just over a week ago, they shut down up to 1,500 businesses around the world when what might be the widest reaching ransomware attack ever. President Biden called President Putin directly about that issue after last week`s attack. He said repeatedly since that he means it, that Russia will face consequences from the United States as these attacks continue.

Well, today plot twist, REvil disappeared. At 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time last night, the website for REvil went poof, as did the blog where they would list their victims and publish embarrassing information or damaging information that they stole from their victims. Also disappeared, the custom made sites where they would negotiate with victims to obtain their ransom payments.

REvil appears to have been or appears to have nuked itself. What does that mean? Did we do that? Did the United States do that? Did Putin do that to them? Did REvil do that to themselves?

Joining us now is "New York Times" cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth.

Nicole, it`s really nice to see you. Thanks for making time tonight.


MADDOW: First, let me ask if I got any of that wrong or if I explained any of that the wrong way around.

PERLROTH: No, you`ve got it right. And it`s still a mystery. We really don`t know what happened here.

We just know that at 1:30 am last night around Eastern Time, someone pulled REvil off line. The payment system went down. Their service went down.

One of their most renowned members claims to have been banned from cybercriminal forums.

So there are three options. This was either a Cyber Command operation, which so far it doesn`t appear to be because there is no indication that their servers were actually hacked. This could be Russian operation.

Or this could be REvil basically pulling the plug on themselves because they`re under so much heat right now. And really, the question is, A, how are all of these victims that are currently dealing with their REvil ransomware attacks going to get their data back?

And the other question is, is this just temporary?


Are they re-branding? Are they going to pop up at some other ransomware group in a couple of weeks?

MADDOW: You say that it does not appear that this was a U.S. Cyber Command operation, meaning a U.S. government offensive operation to take them down just because of the way it looks like the group was affected. If the U.S. Cyber Command had wanted to take them off line, kind of blow them out of cyberspace, do you think that U.S. Cyber Command has that capability?

PERLROTH: They definitely have that capability. Last year, just ahead of the elections, Cyber Command did this, something similar to a ransomware group. It was really a conduit for ransomware and they basically hacked into their systems and sent their control servers into this never ending busy dialing -- and they can`t receive any instructions from everywhere.

So, we know what a Cyber Command operation on a ransomware group would look like. This looks very different. It looks like someone basically told them, hey, you need to go quiet for a while. Or it looks like the group themselves basically pulled the plug.

And we know that Paul Nakasone was presenting options to Biden on what a Cyber Command operation on REvil would look like. We were expecting that later this week or possibly early next week. We were not expecting this today so that is another indication that this might not have been a Cyber Command operation.

We also know that there is the U.S.-Russian working groups that supposed to meet virtually either tomorrow or in the next few days to discuss ransomware and it`s very clear that this is top of the agenda for the Biden administration. But there is no indication yet that this is some kind of hack that brought them offline.

MADDOW: Nicole, you reported last week that REvil had hit a new target last Wednesday, one that was sort of alarming target in terms of the closeness between cyber warfare and warfare. You reported that they hit a defense contractor in Florida that sells space technology and weapons launch technology to the Army and the Navy and the Air Force and NASA.

Now, as you described it, we know that they hit that defense contractor because they posted about it on their blog, basically bragging about it. I wondered if that, hitting a defense company like that, might have upped the stakes in terms of the U.S./Russia negotiations on this, and what it says that they were willing to be public about even claiming that kind of a very provocative attack?

PERLROTH: Yeah. They are really known as being these braggarts among Russian cyber criminal groups, if that`s such a thing. They have their happy blog. They are often happy to claim their latest victim.

As you mentioned, they hit a defense contractor last week. It was one of several that they have hit over the past year. It was a small defense contractor in Florida that made launch technology for missiles and satellites and that kind of thing.

But really I think the big trigger here was a different hack that they pulled off, the one we discussed just ahead of Fourth of July weekend, where they basically went after a company that serviced thousands of other companies and the damage could have been cataclysmic.

MADDOW: First of all, I want to congratulate you on the fact that you are a cybersecurity reporter who clearly has a land line. First of all, I feel like everybody watching rights now, is like, mind blown.


As always, Nicole -- as always, Nicole, I want to thank you for helping us understand this. Thanks a lot.

PERLROTH: Thank you so much for having me, Rachel. Sorry about that. Not sure who that was.

MADDOW: It`s all right. You will find out soon enough. It will be everywhere.

Nicole Perlroth, "New York Times" cybersecurity reporter.

All right. We`ve got more to come here tonight. Stay with us.




PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I`m not active in the transition but I`m watching --

HOST: Well, are you talking to the president-elect is the question?

MANAFORT: I`m watching the transition. I`m not active and I don`t really want to talk who I`m speaking to, but I`m aware what`s going on.


MADDOW: I don`t want to -- that`s Paul Manafort the Trump campaign chairman in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Even though Manafort was fired as Trump`s campaign chair in the summer of 2016, we know he was quite active in the Trump transition after Trump was elected in November. Manafort was at least active in the transition in the sense that he was running a bribery scheme to sell interviews in consideration for top high ranking positions in the federal government in exchange for millions of dollars to be paid to himself.

Paul Manafort, of course, was convicted on multiple tax and bank fraud felonies, convicted by a jury on some counts. He pled guilty to other counts. As of today, we can add another name to the list of convicted Trump campaign officials. Today, Stephen Calk was convicted for giving Paul Manafort $16 million in questionable bank loans in 2016 and 2017.

After Calk`s first multimillion dollar loan to Manafort, Manafort put him on the Trump campaign`s economic advisory council. The second Manafort loan application looked dead at Calk`s bank and, to all of a sudden, it looked like Trump might win the election on election night. At which point, Stephen Calk revived that second loan application, shoveled the millions of dollars to Manafort and then sent him a list of Trump administration jobs he wanted to be considered for, starting with secretary of the United States Army. You get that by giving Paul Manafort money?

Prosecutors said Stephen Calk repeatedly ignored financial red flags and Manafort`s loan application because he desperately wanted to be secretary of the army, and thought that that`s how he could get it. In the end, Calk did give Manafort the money but didn`t get the job. He did get an interview for it. Maybe it wasn`t a complete waste.


It very much helped prosecution that Stephen Calk put all of his desired jobs in writing, in an email to Manafort during the transition, he listed in rank order his favorite, quote, perspective rolls, perspective role in the new administration. His number one choice was secretary of the army. If not that, he`d take, you know, secretary of commerce, deputy secretary of the treasury, 18 preferred ambassadorships, everything from the U.K. to the Vatican to Singapore.

The jury today deliberated for less than two hours before delivering their guilty verdict.

I should know that Stephen Calk`s lawyer close to his argument with an unusual defense. He said, quote: What really matters to Donald Trump is how you do on TV and Mr. Calk did well on TV. It`s not like the Trump cabinet was full of these, you know, government, you know, longtime government people. In other words, it was plausible.

Stephen Calk was convicted on both counts he faced, financial-institution bribery and conspiracy to commit financial-institution bribery. Paul Manafort, of course, is the unnamed coconspirator. Manafort pled guilty to multiple crimes related to these interactions with Stephen Calk, but that, of course, he was pardoned by Trump before Trump left office.

Stephen Calk now faces a perspective maximum prison sentence of up to 30 years for taking part in a bribery scheme in which applicants were clearly considered for the highest Trump administration posts including military and national security posts in exchange for millions of dollars in cash. The grift headlines will never stop, will they?

More ahead.


MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight. Thanks for being here with us tonight. I will see you tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.