Interview with Senator Alex Padilla of California. New evidence found in basements of co-conspirators in Trump Organization fraud case.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" on this Monday 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 this hour. Happy to have you here.
So, it was supposed to start at noon. Noon sharp on Saturday. The plan was to have everybody in place in this very dramatic setting right in front of the Capitol for a big, bold, dramatic, loud statement that would start at noon sharp the whole world would be watching as they loudly demanded justice.
And as we got toward noon, as we closed in on go time on Saturday, a veteran reporter from "The Los Angeles Times" was there at the scene to witness the people streaming in, to witness the huge crowds converging, ready to make themselves heard.
That reporter, Del Quentin Wilber, from "The L.A. Times" was able to capture the scene as we closed in on that noon witching hour. He captured the scene this way at 11:33 a.m. Yeah. That was it.
And this isn`t just like a shot that was taken in the wrong direction or a shot taken of the sidelines. See what we`re pointing out there? That is the big screen and that`s the stage. That`s the center of the main event less than a half hour before the whole thing was supposed to kick off. Where is everybody?
Now, to be fair, this was 11:33 a.m. Things did fill out a little bit by the time noon actually rolled around. But not by that much. This was as big as the whole thing ever got on Saturday. This was around 1:00 p.m. about an hour into it.
When there is a big march or rally in Washington, a big gathering sometimes news outlets will use like, you know, crowd size experts or aerial views of the crowd to do a bunch of complicated math to try to approximate the size of the crowd.
In this case you could just literally just kind of eenie, meenie, miney moe, count them all up by hand. Capitol police said in total, there were around 400 people or so milling around that site at the front of the Capitol on Saturday, but most of the 400 were not actually protesters. If you actually zoom in on the crowd, this is what it looked like. It was a dozen or so people with nice cameras, dozen or so reporters all pointing cameras at like lone protester because there were many more members of the media at this thing than actual pro Trump protesters.
This guy was counted as two though because of him and his badger. Why wouldn`t you count the badger?
"The Washington Post" reported this weekend that the attendance was so small that reporters and TV crews actually lined up. They formed little queues pun intended to wait for their turn to interview individual protesters because there just weren`t enough protesters to go around. The ratio of reporters and photographers to protesters was way too high.
Because there were so few people there, there was enough room to have this little impromptu exercise class on site at the rally and also enough room for this guy to parade around his dog which is like a very cute dog but also appears to be the size of a small horse. He wasn`t selling rides. But it was like, dude and his dog.
The rally turned out to be such a nothingburger that the poor police horses didn`t really have anything to do either. It was a nice day for them to be out there. They all seemed to have gotten a little extra horsey kibble as a treat. I don`t know if you call it kibble when it comes to horses.
This rally on Saturday sort of turned into the easiest possible game of where is Waldo? There was a lot of space. There are literally more people currently being prosecuted right now for trying to violently overthrow the government than there were people at this rally arguing that all those people should be set free.
What happened? Did your invitation get lost in the mail? Did you accidentally print the wrong date on the flyers? Did everybody all the thousands and tens of thousands show up in Washington state by accident instead of Washington, D.C.? Common error, occasionally an expensive one.
The sad little trombone womp, womp, womp was supposed to be the triumphant return of Trump supporters to Washington, D.C. for the first time since they violently attacked the U.S. Capitol in January in an effort to try to physically stop the election results from being certified and thereby to block Joe Biden from becoming president.
They all stormed the Capitol on January 6th because Donald Trump said the election was stolen from him. This Saturday was the day Trump supporters were going to demand the release of all the people arrested for their alleged roles in that attack back on January 6th.
You know, including the people who smashed in the windows of the Capitol and beat cops with metal pipes and crutches and hockey sticks and sprayed police officers with bear spray and hit them with stun guns. The point of this rally on Saturday was to agitate for all of those people to be freed because obviously they`re just being persecuted for being Trump supporters. They didn`t do anything wrong.
That was the cause around which Trump supporters organized this rally on Saturday. But, like, no matter the size of the dog, it ended up being just like dude and his dog. Saturday ended up being a story of over preparedness by Capitol police thank God, which is better than the opposite. They did arrest a couple people on outstanding warrants, somebody else on a weapons charge. But the fencing going back up around the us you Capitol and the National Guard standing by turns out was not what was needed.
Man with dog and impromptu exercise class not with standing, nobody really showed up. That said, the cause is alive. The Republican legislators are busy pursuing their own efforts to overturn or try to discredit the presidential election results. The Republican investigation of the presidential election results from Wisconsin, they have now set up their own YouTube channel to try to make their investigation of the election results seem more official.
As we`ve been reporting here over the last couple weeks so far this investigation has been conducting its business using a random Gmail address and fake letterhead they made up. Now they`ve got a YouTube channel. And so Wisconsin Republicans are trying to make it all seem much more official.
Republicans in the Pennsylvania state Senate are going ahead with their review as well although now every single Democrat in the state Senate has sued the Republicans to try to stop them from subpoenaing personal identifying information from every voter in the state of Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Republicans, again they`re reviewing the election results in that state. They won`t even say how they are going to investigate the elections results or who is going to do the investigation, but, nevertheless, they have subpoenaed from every single voter in Pennsylvania your full name, your date of birth, full home address, your e-mail address, your driver`s license number, and a portion of your Social Security number.
What are they going to do with all that information? Democrats in the state Senate are now, all of them, suing to try to stop Republicans from getting that information on every voter in the state. And interestingly, two Democrats in Congress, Mary Gay Scanlon and Zoe Lofgren two Democratic members of Congress are asking the U.S. justice department to look at that subpoena and intervene if necessary to head off voter intimidation concerns as to what Republicans are going to do with all that personal identifying information from every voter in the state of Pennsylvania.
The original one of these audits is of course the one in Arizona. That one is supposed to release its purported findings at the end of the week on Friday. We`ll see. They started this in April and said it would take three weeks. It is officially now late September so who knows. But they say it`ll be on Friday.
With all of this election overthrow energy coursing through the Republican Party right now, you`d think the guy who ginned all this up in the first place would be happy to see it. Happy though he is not.
In the wake of nobody showing up for the Saturday rally, for the January 6th rioters, former President Donald Trump released a sweary, screaming statement that was a little unhinged even by his standards.
Said in part, quote: I have had the same fake BS. He actually spelled it out. Same fake bull -- going on for years with the witch hunt by the New York district attorney and the New York attorney general headed by Never Trumper lawyer who shockingly works for the DA`s office.
This is unprecedented. Over 3 million pages of documents have been examined by them. A record fishing expedition. Never Trumper lawyers and law firms are used by the DA and attorney general to get Trump in their prosecutorial misconduct witch hunt anti-Trump political campaigns are viciously waged by them to get elected and they have nothing.
I`m reading this verbatim. I`m sorry it doesn`t make sense.
Quote, this has been going on for years and the people of our country are not going to take it anymore, really? Some of that I don`t know how to make like make more sense. I don`t even know how to punctuate it. It is like Trump freak out mad-libs.
And when that happened I`m not sure anybody really knew what precipitated that freak out from him.
Was he sad that more people didn`t turn out on the mall to get justice for the people who attacked the Capitol in his name? Was he sad that nobody turned out? Was that what upset him?
Why is he going on about the witch hunt and the prosecutorial -- like where did this come from? Not sure anybody quite knew what to make of that meltdown from the former president until this afternoon.
We got the transcript of what happened in court today in the criminal trial of his business, the Trump Organization. You`ll recall June 30th, Trump`s business, the Trump Organization was charged with a string of felonies along with the chief financial officer from the Trump business, a man named Allen Weisselberg who was charged individually.
Today was the first day that Mr. Weisselberg and lawyers for the Trump Organization were back in court following the initial arraignment after charges were first filed in June. And today really should have been kind of a no news hearing. The point of this hearing today was basically for the lawyers just to ask for more time to prepare their defense.
They did ask the judge for that and they got it. The trial probably won`t be until almost a year from now, which is interesting. But in haggling over how much time they could try to get from the judge, the lawyers in the courtroom today particularly the defense counsel for Mr. Weisselberg made quite a bit of news, which may have had the side effect of melting down the former president in that statement.
Judge for yourself. Here is what happened in court today.
Defense attorney, quote: Your honor, the law clearly gives the court discretion to set a motion schedule in the interest and fairness of justice and I`m asking the court today to exercise that discretion, to set a motion schedule that, one is not practically impossible for Mr. Weisselberg to meet and, two, that is not patently unfair to his interests. Mr. Weisselberg was indicted only 80 days ago. Since that time, we received approximately 3 million pages of documents. Just today, we got 3 million more pages of documents. That`s over 6 million pages.
Now, to review those in some orderly schedule would still require us to review 25,000 to 30,000 pages of documents every day, day in and day out seven days a week. It is very, very difficult to imagine how we can do that. It is a Herculean task made all the more difficult by the fact that I know as I sit here today more documents are being produced by various parties. We don`t even know what we are shooting at. It is a moving target.
Then he says this, quote: Also, we have strong reason to believe there could be other indictments coming. Again, we are shooting at a moving target, so there is a real procedural issue and I just ask, what is the rush?
Okay. Whether or not there is a rush what is that he said at the end? We have strong reason to believe there could be other indictments coming. Really? Why do you believe that? Tell me more?
That was the defense attorney for the Trump Organization`s chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg speaking today in court in New York.
Now, more indictments coming? Really?
Allen Weisselberg as the CFO to the Trump Organization and the organization itself, they`re already facing multiple serious felony counts in this alleged tax scheme. Now, Weisselberg`s defense counsel said in court today that he has strong reason to believe more indictments are coming.
Again, this is just a scheduling hearing today. You`re not supposed to make news like that at a scheduling hearing. But wait. There`s more.
And the other part of the news here from this hearing came as the prosecutor was basically trying to refute the argument from the defense counsel that there is too much information to get through, that the defense is buried in paperwork. So the prosecutor and the defense counsel have an exchange here that leads to another revelation.
The prosecutor, quote: There is nothing unusually complex about this case. It is a simple case of executives hiding their compensation in order to avoid tax obligations. The core documents that are relevant to these charges were produced on July 1st at the arraignment. The defendants have all been in possession of those records for 80 days at this point.
We join in defense counsel`s request for a schedule that is fair and reasonable. I think we differ a little bit on what that means. In response to the arguments made I would note that Allen Weisselberg is no stranger to these documents. These documents are almost exclusively the overwhelming majority of these records are Trump Organization records. Mr. Weisselberg has been with the Trump Organization for 35 years. He is the chief financial officer.
And while he may not have technical access to certain of the Trump Organization records, with respect to relevant financial records, Mr. Weisselberg is the boss. Mr. Weisselberg is also not an innocent party being caught up as collateral damage here. He is an executive who stands accused by a grand jury of multiple felonies including fraud and tax evasion. It is the people`s right to proceed in our case against him and his obligation to abide by the schedule that the court sets.
And then the defense counsel. Back and forth a little bit with the judge. The defense counsel jumps in.
Your honor, may I give one additional data point?
The judge: Yes. Briefly.
Defense counsel: Thank you. When we were back in your chambers, it was represented to us by the district attorney this package includes documents that were found in coconspirators` basements that are tax documents that go directly to the issues. So the statement that all relevant documents were produced 80 days ago just is not accurate. There are additional relevant documents we received 60 days ago, a few weeks ago, and more in here. Holding an envelope while he says it.
And this package meaning the documents the defense was just given by the prosecutors today, according to the defense counsel he says those are documents found in coconspirators` basements. Coconspirators` basements. Which means presumably -- we`re going to get some extra help on this later this hour -- but that means presumably that in the ongoing, criminal case against Donald Trump`s business, against the Trump Organization, search warrants are being executed in the basements of various coconspirators that are turning up new tax documents relevant to the alleged felonious scheme, tax documents even today being handed to the defense counsel that are related to the multiple felonies Trump`s company and Mr. Weisselberg are already facing.
And so, yeah. I guess, you know, cue eruption of mount one term, right? All of this complaining about the millions of documents and the terrible lawyers who are working on this case and how all the misconduct by the prosecutors here. I`m assuming that is the cause of that eruption.
In the end, as I said, the judge did go along with the request by the defense for more time. Which means that former President Trump`s company and at least one of his executives are going to have their criminal trial play out in New York in court in like September of next year. Which, of course, will put that trial on the front page and in the spotlight right as voters are starting to go to the polls in the midterm elections -- in a year when, you know, the Republican Party unless things turn around sometime soon this will be a year when the Republican Party stands for nothing so much as its continuing devotion to Trump. The criminal trial in which the president`s business, his CFO, and maybe additional people or entities are under felony indictment for a sprawling, alleged, multimillion dollar tax scheme. That should be happening right as everybody goes to vote in the midterms.
And this is interesting. Separately, this was a surprise, unrelated indictment that was unveiled tonight. Two fairly well-known Republicans, a long time Republican activist named Doug Wead and a man named Jesse Benton who`s long been a senior political staffer in the Ron Paul/Rand Paul orbit, Doug Wead and Jesse Benton were just indicted in federal court today for allegedly funneling illegal foreign donations from a Russian national to a Republican Party PAC and to the Trump campaign in 2016.
Now, there`s no indication the Trump campaign knew it was receiving these allegedly illegal Russian funds during the 2016 campaign through this scheme allegedly carried out by Doug Wead and Jesse Benton. We also don`t know who the Russian national in question may have been.
But Jesse Benton was only just pardoned by Trump in December of 2020. Benton had been convicted in conjunction with what effectively was a bribery scheme in the 2012 Iowa caucuses in the Republican presidential primary. Trump pardoned him in December.
As Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney pointed out at politico.com tonight, this new invited today, charges that Jesse Benton was ginning up this alleged illegal foreign donation scheme to funnel illegal Russian funds to the Trump campaign, he was allegedly doing that working on that scheme at the same time he was being sentenced for his earlier conviction. This indictment tonight was filed just before the statute of limitations would have expired for these alleged crimes. We don`t know at this point the identity of the Russian national whose money was allegedly funneled to Trump by this scheme but this was a surprise today and we will keep our eyes on this one.
This was a surprise that revelation in court, that more indictments are coming in the Trump Organization case, the revelation from the defense counsel in the Trump Organization case that new documents were just handed over which were seized from someone`s basement and they were tax documents related to those crimes. All of this was new to us. So we`ll be watching all of that.
You know, meanwhile, away from the continuing crime spree surrounding the immediate former president of the United States, the real president, the current president, is busy planning to speak at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly tomorrow.
At home in Washington, both the House and Senate are in session for the first time since way back in the summer. It`s going to be a busy time. Senate Democrats say they want to pass their new voting rights bill as early as this week. You`ll remember that new voting rights bill includes rules about the way you`re suppose today treat elections equipment and records and ballots after the election. Hello, partisan audits being carried out in Republican controlled states.
The Democrats in the Senate also have to figure out how they`re going to pass legislation to keep the government funded and also to raise the debt ceiling. Senator Mitch McConnell the Republican leader in the Senate says Republicans will try to block both of those things which means Republicans want the government to default on its debt and they want the government to be forced no a needless shutdown, purely for neener-neener value. They are not trying to get anything for holding out on those things. They just want that harm to the country because they can.
Efforts by Democrats to get immigration reform tucked into their big $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill, those efforts we were covering all last week, the request to the Senate parliamentarian to ask if immigration reform could be done in that bill as well that request from the Democrats was rebuffed this weekend by a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian. She says that they cannot include immigration reform the way they were planning to in that bill which means they can`t pass immigration reform without running up against a Republican filibuster which means there isn`t hope for getting it passed. Unless there is some other way.
Interestingly today, Democratic senators who have been working hard on that issue say plan A was try to pass something through the Senate through normal order with Republicans pledging to filibuster everything. Plan B was to try to get it done with permission of the parliamentarian. Now that the parliamentarian has said no. They said today they`ve got a plan C and a plan D to get it done anyway. We don`t know what those alternate plans and proposals are but we`re going to talk with a key senator working on that issue and much more right here next.
MADDOW: After more than a week of waiting, we did finally get an answer but it was basically no. Try again.
It was ten days ago when Democrats first went to the parliamentarian in the Senate to present their case for including a big part of President Biden`s immigration plan in the $3.5 trillion bill they`re trying to pass which includes the president`s infrastructure priorities and climate stuff and much more. The immigration proposal they wanted to include would have meant a path to citizenship for millions of people already living in the U.S. including the Dreamers, people who were brought to this country as kids. Many of whom have lived in the United States ever since they got here as kids. They`ve lived their entire adult lives only in this country.
Now, Democrats are trying to get that big bill, that big budget reconciliation bill, including all of this stuff, passed with only Democratic votes. Under arcane Senate rules that means they have to go through the parliamentarian to get everything approved to basically get her permission to include what they want to include in the bill.
And we have been waiting all last week for an answer from that parliamentarian on whether the immigration stuff could be included in the Democrats` bill. Then this weekend she finally issued her ruling saying the Democrats` immigration proposal as it was presented to her, no, she is not going to let it be put in the bill. Basically said it was too broad and Democrats need to go back to the drawing board.
Now, even before the parliamentarian issued a ruling this weekend, Democrats said that they had other plans. If she said no, they would not give up, they would not take no for an answer, they would keep revising their plan and coming up with new proposals until it passed muster with the parliamentarian because they are going to pass something.
Today, the second ranking Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin reiterated that pledge and issued a joint statement with California Senator Alex Padilla which says, quote, we are deeply disappointed in the parliamentarian`s decision but the fight for immigration reform will continue. Senate Democrats have prepared an alternative proposal for the parliamentarian`s consideration in the coming days. Senator Durbin also told NBC News` Sahil Kapur that Senate Democrats have a plan B and a plan C and a plan D on putting immigration in the big reconciliation bill.
So I have questions. A lot of people do. What is plan B? Also what is plan C? What is plan D? What are these new proposals going to look like?
And if Democrats really are going to not take no for an answer, if they get through this plan B proposal and it gets rejected and they try plan C and they try plan D, could this reach a point where Democrats decide that they`re going to overrule the parliamentarian or replace the parliamentarian, both of which happened before because they care enough about this issue that they are going to get this passed one way or another.
Joining us the Senator Alex Padilla of California. He is a member of the Budget Committee. He is chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety. He`s one of the key figures pushing for immigration issues to be included in this bill.
Senator Padilla, it`s really nice to see you again. Thanks for being with us.
SEN. ALEX PADILLA (D-CA): Good to see you, Rachel. It`s been a while. But thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Indeed. Well, talk us through what we should understand about this. It does seem like the parliamentarian`s ruling was nobody`s idea of a sure bet. We`ve been assured by Senate leadership by the Senate Democratic leadership there is a plan B, an alternate proposal ready to go back to her.
Can you talk us through a little bit how this is going to go?
PADILLA: Sure. And, first and foremost is the parliamentarian`s ruling we learned of last night disappointing? Absolutely. Does it come as a complete shock? No. Because as you know in our business, you hope for the best, prepare for the worst. So, yes, we have been working on alternative proposals in the event we didn`t get a yes to our first proposal.
So, Senator Durbin is right. There is a plan B and if necessary a plan C or whatnot, but the fundamental goals stay the same, out of respect to the millions of immigrants that have been living in the United States for years and years and years.
Rachel, as you know adult undocumented immigrants have been in the United States on average for 18 years, 18 years of working, paying taxes, buying homes, raising families, contributing to the success of our country. They deserve to live without fear of deportation.
And so plan B, plan C, whatever it takes we`ll keep fighting until we get to yes and provide those protections and security for as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
MADDOW: When you say you`ll keep fighting until you get to yes I think I`m trying to understand, a lot of people trying to understand or set reasonable expectations for how this is going to go. I want to ask you about something that reportedly happened today involving Senator Menendez.
Today, Senator Menendez at an immigrants right group held a conference call with reporters where a leader from one immigration advocacy group said nobody gets to hide behind the parliamentarian this year. She is not an elected official. She serves at the pleasure of the majority leader, implying that the parliamentarian if she will never get to yes on this issue that it is Democrats` prerogative to replace her with somebody who views these matters differently.
Is that within the realm of possibility as far as you are concerned?
PADILLA: Look, I don`t think we`re there yet frankly, because we have thoughtful, second proposal, third proposal to get to yes as I mentioned and provide the much deserved, well-earned protections for millions of people in the United States.
So that`s what the task is at hand. We`ve got the answer last night from the parliamentarian on the first proposal we went to her with.
Clearly, the budget reconciliation process and the infrastructure package negotiations are not going be finalized in the next couple days. There is a little bit of time here and we`re very confident that one of the alternative plans that will be presented in the coming days will meet the threshold and the criteria the parliamentarian has laid out.
So, please stay tuned. This in the process but we are not giving up the fight. We know how important this is particularly for my home state of California. I want to make sure I make this point because representative of so many other states.
You know, California is home to more immigrants than any other state in the nation. It seems like it is a different topic, a different audience, different subject matter when people recognize California as the fifth largest economy in the world, right? If immigrants were a drag on the economy that wouldn`t be the case. California has the strongest economy of any state in the nation because of the contributions of immigrants as workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs.
And so, we`ll continue to evolve the presentation to the parliamentarian to recognize if that is just an -- it is not just an economic impact but a federal budget impact at the heart of what the reconciliation process is all about.
MADDOW: Senator Padilla, let me also ask you about an issue right now where the time really is short. That is this question of keeping lights on in the government, keeping the government operating, bumping up against the debt ceiling due to happen within weeks. We are in what appears to be not so much a stand-off as essentially a refusal sort of threat/promise from the Republican side of the aisle that they not only won`t help keep the government funded, they won`t vote to fund the government nor will they vote to raise the debt ceiling, but in fact, they may filibuster on those issues which would not only mean Republicans aren`t helping to do those things, but blocking Democrats from keeping the government going and from defaulting the government from defaulting if we do, are allowed to hit that debt ceiling.
How is that going to resolve? I`m struck by the fact that the Republicans aren`t making any demands, just saying yeah we`re going to hit both of those walls and you can`t do anything about it.
PADILLA: So it sounds like the question is, are we surprised that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are playing politics with the nation`s economy and the ability for a government to keep functioning when we start the next fiscal year?
Are we shocked and surprised that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are being obstructionist once again and trying to box Democrats in with their only lens the 2022 election? Of course not.
But we do have some time, ten days or so, have all the confidence in Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi for that matter to make sure that we get the agreements done on a timely basis to avoid any damage frankly to American families. Because they`re ultimately the people who get hurt the most if there is another government shutdown as there has been in the past or anything else.
So, we will be responsible and get done what needs to be done. I wouldn`t want to be a Senate Republican that votes by the way against emergency funding for the victims of the hurricane in Louisiana, I would not want to be a Republican that votes against emergency funding for victims of flooding in the Northeast. I certainly wouldn`t want to be a Republican that votes against the necessary urgent funding for victims of wildfires in the west. That is going to be the choice they will have to make.
MADDOW: Senator Alex Padilla of California, on the Budget Committee, chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Citizenship and the Border -- sir, thank you for making time to be with us this evening. I know this is a hurly-burly time in the Senate. Thanks for helping us understand.
PADILLA: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll tell you one other thing to watch for this week in Washington, as promised, with the House back in session, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said when they came back in session the house would take up the Women`s Health Protection Act, which is essentially a long standing piece of legislation sponsored by California Congresswoman Judy Chu that would codify in law the protections for abortion rights from Roe versus. Wade.
Because the Supreme Court allowed a Texas abortion ban to go into effect while the House was on recess, Nancy Pelosi said that would come right up as soon as they are back. They are bringing that up in the house right away. The Senate will then have to decide if they are also going to pass that legislation which is a harder, going to be a harder thing for them to do in the United States Senate. But the timing could not be more urgent on that.
This weekend, a San Antonio doctor came forward and said that he has deliberately broken that ban. That he provided an abortion after six weeks. That means the legal process has started in terms of the way that challenge is going to go whether or not actual legislation is passed on Capitol Hill to bolster abortion rights, again, another one of these things that could not be more timely. All -- all really just has to happen all at once.
All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Court hearings like this one are not usually very exciting. Today, if you were like penciling it into your calendar wondering if you should pay attention to it today was technically a scheduling hearing which means it was a hearing to schedule future hearings, right? Not generally gripping stuff.
But then in the middle of today`s hearing to schedule more hearings, the defense lawyer held up a manila envelope in hand in the courtroom and announced it was represented to us by the district attorney that this package includes documents that were found in co-conspirators` basements. Tax documents that go directly to the issues.
New, key documents just handed over to the defense today. Documents found in basements. Basements plural from co-conspirators plural. This is getting more interesting.
This court hearing today was the first court appearance by the top financial executive at Donald Trump`s family company. A man named Allen Weisselberg as the first court appearance by him since he and the Trump Organization were arraigned this summer.
Both he and the Trump Organization are charged with a 15 year multi-million dollars tax evasion scheme, if you want to boil it down. Weisselberg himself has pled not guilty as have lawyers for Mr. Trump`s business.
But as to the question of whether there is going to be more coming from prosecutors in this case, well, that same defense counsel who held up the envelope today and said these key tax documents were just recovered from co-conspirators` basements, the same counsel also told the judge today, quote, we have strong reason to believe there could be other indictments coming.
We don`t know why Mr. Weisselberg`s attorney thinks that or who those might apply to. New York prosecutors have reportedly been investigating other senior Trump Organization executives but who knows? Whatever is going on right now in case against Allen Weisselberg and the Trump Organization, the former president certainly appears to be quite upset about it, firing off an incoherent statement this weekend attacking the Manhattan district attorney by name and the New York attorney general by name, going after one of the district attorney`s lawyers by name, objecting to how many documents from his company they have examined, saying the American people will not stand for this. I think they will. We`ll see.
Joining us now is Dan Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan. He is lead counsel for the first House impeachment trial into President Trump.
Mr. Goldman, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for taking time tonight.
DAN GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Great to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: As you look at these revelations in court today, as a non-lawyer, I look at the assertion that new evidence has been found in multiple co- conspirators` basements and just handed over to the defense, the proclamation for defense counsel that there are likely more indictments coming. And I as a non-lawyer take those things on face value and think oh, looks like this case is about to get bigger and new search warrants must be executed.
Are those reasonable inferences to draw from what happened in court today?
GOLDMAN: You`ve hit the nail on the head, Rachel. I think you`re right. This wouldn`t ordinarily be a newsworthy conference but a lot of the statements made by Weisselberg`s attorneys to convince the judge to give them a longer time to review the materials and file motions, they revealed a lot. And, yes. When you start hearing co-conspirators` basements, to be very clear, you know, it would be one thing to say they got documents from co-conspirators. They could get those by voluntarily producing them. They could get those by subpoena. They could get those because the co- conspirators cooperate and give it to them.
When you start talking about specific locations where they came from that is a clear indication there have been search warrants and they talk about basements plural multiple search warrants. So, yes, I think there have been search warrants. It is clear that this investigation is not just about Allen Weisselberg. And there is a lot of speculation out there.
But there were a couple things that jumped out to me in the transcript that lead me to believe that Allen Weisselberg is at the top of the pyramid of this scheme. The first is that the assistant district attorney said that as to the financial records, Weisselberg is the boss. Obviously he is not the boss of the Trump Organization. That has been Donald Trump and, perhaps, his sons.
But the fact that he referenced him as the boss of the financial records indicates that he is the top of this conspiracy. So now we`re looking at a couple people either parallel to him or underneath him in the Trump Organization that may be implicated in this compensation scheme to avoid taxes.
And, so, the question is, do any of those people cooperate? Are they just cooperating to provide more evidence against Allen Weisselberg? Or do they have evidence of knowledge of people higher up than Allen Weisselberg?
So, there are still a lot of questions but it does appear that there will be more indictments of individuals. I would guess that does not include Donald Trump and that does not include any of his children.
MADDOW: Dan, when you look at the way this is proceeding, I was struck by the fact it is going to be nearly a year according to the judge today before the trial happens that just I think coincidentally has potentially sort of political implications in its timing since it is right before next year`s midterm elections if things proceed the way it looks like they are proceeding it will mean the president`s company is on criminal trial right before those elections.
The other thing that struck me is that former President Trump making these very belligerent statements about what is going on, naming the da, naming the attorney general, and then naming a specific lawyer who is working on the case in the D.A.`s office, is he running any risk by doing that, saying the American people won`t stand by this, calling it a witch hunt, proclaiming prosecutorial misconduct, naming these individual lawyers and prosecutors is he flirting with anything that might potentially get him in trouble or might be worse for the case against him by doing this in this public way?
GOLDMAN: Well, certainly, you know, his statements as the chief executive of the Trump Organization could in theory be used against the Trump Organization. So anything he says could be used at a trial against the Trump Organization.
And, yes. You cannot threaten prosecutors in any way, shape, or form. That is a crime. The question, you know, Donald Trump has for many years escaped a lot of liability or guilt because he speaks like a mob boss. And he doesn`t say things directly but he says things with enough of a hint or inference so that the people who are following him or around him understand him. Michael Cohen has talked about this at length.
So I don`t think that statement itself is chargeable but if it continues and gets worse, yes. You potentially have some degree of obstruction of justice or threats against state officials that is illegal.
MADDOW: Dan Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, Dan, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for helping us understand this tonight.
GOLDMAN: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is so well done. Here`s the headline on the editorial. An appeal to vaccinated "Detroit Free Press" readers. About 51 percent of Michigan`s 10 million residents are fully vaccinated against COVID. If you`re reading today`s Detroit free press, you`re probably one of them. The pandemic that`s extinguished 660,000 American lives continues, but you`ve done the most important thing ordinary citizens can do to slow its transmission and limit its terrible toll. We are all confronted a deadly problem, you`ve chosen to be part of the solution.
Now we need you to play a bigger part. The impact of your initiative will be significantly diminished unless a significant number of the approximately 3 million eligible Michiganders who are so far declined vaccinations overcome their reservations. And after nine months in which neither the manifest risk of death nor the pleas of epidemiological experts, elected leaders and mainstream media have turned the tide, it`s increasingly apparent that you, the vaccinated are the last best hope to overcome the hesitance and distrust of the unvaccinated minority.
We are seeking to enlist you in a benevolent experience, a team effort to persuade our unvaccinated friends, family members and work colleagues to join in the unfinished war against COVID.
"The Detroit Free Press" this weekend asking its readers to join a benevolent conspiracy of vaccinated people in the state to persuade the unvaccinated people in their lives to please get the shot. And alongside the editorial they published these really well-done articles.
One is the truth about COVID vaccines everything you need to know. The other is your questions about the COVID vaccine answered, questions like how do the COVID vaccines work. Why isn`t natural immunity just as good as a vaccine?
They provide detailed answers to common objections like I`m young and healthy. So I`m not worried about getting COVID, or I`m concerned the vaccine could affect my ability to get pregnant.
"The Free Press" is calling on vaccinated readers to use that stuff, use it to develop your skills for talking to unvaccinated friends and loved ones about getting the shot, and they`re enlisting the vaccinated in this as a campaign, but also giving their readers the tools to do that well. It`s beautifully done. A valiant effort by the Detroit Free Press.
Subscribe to your local paper. You should, really, seriously.
MADDOW: The new book "Peril" by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa has been making huge headlines for days now, since some of the eye-popping details in that book first started to emerge last week. The much, much, much anticipated book is finally going to come out tomorrow, but the first primetime interview with its authors is about to start here live on "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Congratulations and good evening, Lawrence. I cannot wait to see this interview.