tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC September 28, 2017 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
wonderful most people are and how much compassion there is out there. he was a lot closer to dying that day than anyone initially realized and he survived a lot of surgeries, one of them transited his pelvis side to side, tearing up organs, arteries. he compared himself to humty dumty, he's the man they put back together again. thank you for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters in new york. there is a lot going on tonight. tom price, the health security he may soon cover the second high-profile departure from the trump administration specifically because of a corruption issue. the first corruption related departure from the trump administration of course was carl icahn. the billionaire invester on whom
president trump bestowed the title president's special advisor on regulatory reform. that was a new job invented for carl icahn. nobody knew exactly what it was going to mean when first announced and regulatory reform. sought by mr. icahn they appeared to sbhes in lose business, the repinery to the tune of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars limits of new yorkers patrick publishing a dead to rights expo. resigned the resignation came in within minutes of the new yorker posting that. remarkably, once mr. icon resigned, he floated the idea that maybe he'd never actually had that job in the first place.
i mean, really, if you think about it a certain way, it's like he didn't have anything to resign from at all because maybe he didn't have that job. we may eventually get to see if that argument holds water with very serious prosecutors among the law enforcement that have jurisdiction is the new york state's attorney general office. because so many of the nation's financial markets are head quartered in new york city. the attorney general's office of the state of new york told us several weeks ago mr. icon resigned that his brief but but apparently market shifting tenure as a trump administration official was quote on their radar at the new york attorney general's office. so carl icahn was the first corruption allegation casualty in the trump administration. now tom price may be the second. when the new administration was first getting stood up, i would
say it was basically a tie between betsey devoss and jeff sessions in terms of whose trump cabinet nominations attracted the loudest objections. but even though there were more attention to betsey devoss, tom price was a special case because it was a matter of unsettle clear shocking public record by the time he was nominated he had a serious corruption scandal following his time in congress. as a member of congress while he chaired a key health subcommittee, tom price bought and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock in companies, in health companies while simultaneously taking action on his committee that affected the price of those stocks and again, this was not a subtle thing and not a small amount of money and not just once he did it.
tom price's defense against these allegations was rather, well, it was basically his defense was that it was his broker who did this stuff, not him personally. like he doesn't work the e trade in machine so you can't blame him. i remember talking with obama administration veterans at the start of the trump administration and even though tom price really wasn't the highest profile trump cabinet nominee or the most controversial one, i remember hearing more than once from obama administration figures they were amazed his problems weren't enough to keep him from getting nominated let alone confirmed. if only because of the prospect that he might some day get indicted for those trades and that prospect would hang over him as a cabinet official leading a major federal agency for the entire time that he held that office.
obama administration folks thought the trump administration would be reckless enough to put somebody in his situation in terms of corruption prospects. in a job like that. but sure enough on a party line vote republicans, they happily confirmed him and soon thereafter reported that yes, the u.s. attorney's office and southern district of new york had in fact been investigating tom price on that corruption issue about him trading stocks in companies whose stock price he was changing as a member of congress. that report about the southern district of new york was never confirmed by nbc news but tom price was confirmed to the cabinet and now just over the last couple weeks, a whole new flock of chickens appears to have come home to roost when it comes to tom price. it started with this report on september 19th. this was the start of a series of what appeared to be, i don't
have any inside knowledge of this, what appeared to be leaks from tom price's own staff at h.h.s. this was the first story in a series of these. they all appear to have come from leaks from his own staff and this information that has leaked from staffers really as of tonight has brought tom price to what is probably the point of no return in terms of him being able to keep his job. i can't afuse enough, i can't say enough how thorough and careful and damming the reporting on tom price has been in the series of articles from dan diamond at politico.com as this scandal has started to grow and blow up around tom price but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that this comes from a very specific place. the first and the latest and the most damming of these reports about tom price have all been from them at politico.
the first to report in the first article on the 19th of september secretary price was quote breaking press i dent in terms of his use of private jets. that first report was he five times in one week charged to fly instead of commercial like other public officials have previously done. the next report is that tom price didn't just do it that one week, turns out he was charging taxpayers to fly on private jets quite a lot. that first report had been about five flights in a week. the second report was about 24 private jet flights that he took all on the taxpayer's dime. the third report was tom price charging taxpayers to do things like have lunch with his son and have nice weekends away at places where he and his family had nice places to stay. so these reports about tom price cashing in on his government job
kept getting more detailed and more flagrant and the new reporting as it came out kept making it worse and not better. there was the fact that he kept flying on even more private jet flights, even after his staff at h.h.s. started leaking about this habit of his basically to try to blow the whistle on it after the first reports came out, he kept taking more private flights. again, charging them to the taxpayers instead of flying commercial. new reporting today while tom price was advocating a huge cut to the budget of his agency while he was promoting cuts to federally supported health care with tens of millions of americans off their health insurance, he was simultaneously arguing up the chain in the trump administration that he would really like to reopen the executive private dining room at h.h.s. so in addition to all his private jets, he could also have a private executive chef. seriously.
en for this administration, the story was unsustainable. today they unsuccessfully tried to stop the bleeding. by having tom price issue an apology you might have heard the house secretary issued this apology. did you actually see it? did you see the text of it? if you had laid eyes on what his actual apology said, you might have had an early inkling right away maybe this wouldn't be the end of this story. real apologies when you really mean it? you know, you're actually humbled by your mistake. those types of apologies tend to seem humble, maybe even object. abject. tom price's apology instead sounded like this. quote, all of my political career i have fought for the taxpayers. it's clear to me in this case i was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer. i was not sensitive enough to my concern.
in other words, tom price is sorry he offended his own sensitivity today and he's sorry if you feel bad but also everything he did was fine and approved. still, he will stop doing it because people care for some reason. marsha, marsha, marsha. by 4:00 eastern time, tom price issued that apology. by 6:00 he was on fox news with the bret baier trying to explain what he meant when he said in his apology that he would reimburse the taxpayers for the cost of the private jet flights he had been taking. tom price said in his apology, quote, today i will write a person check to the u.s. treasury for the expenses of my travel. on private charter planes. the taxpayers won't pay a dime for my seat on those planes. that sounds awesome like he's totally making the american taxpayers whole here, right? bret baier quickly ferreted out of him was that he really specifically meant it when he said he was going to pay for his
seat on all those private flights he took. tom price decided that what he will pay back to the taxpayers is about $50,000. which he says covers his seat on all of those dozens of private plane trips that he took. here is the thing, though. he's talking about like he chartered a 30-seat jet and he's going to pay 1/30th of it because he only sat in one seat when he says the taxpayers aren't going to pay a dime. the taxpayers didn't just pay for his seat on the planes. that's the thing about the private jet. you get the whole thing. when you charter a plane, you have to pay for the whole plane. that's how you keep the riffraff off. so taxpayers' expense is not like $50,000, it's more like $400,000. so we apologize. at 4:00. at 6:00, things were continuing to fall apart for him on fox
news with good ol' bret baier and at 7:00, boom. at politico.com dropped it on him. turns out there is more. i mean, starting at the beginning, turns out it wasn't just a week's worth of private jet flights. it wasn't just dozens of private jet flights. charged to the taxpayer. it wasn't just private jet flights he charged to the taxpayer that he took to see his family. turns out he was also chartering military flights for his own use. do you know how expensive military flights are to the u.s. taxpayers? for context here, kathleen was president obama's health secretary and she was obama's health secretary for the first term and second term. she never once flew on a military jet in her role as health secretary over six years. tom price has been health secretary for eight months now
and so far he's taken chartered military aircraft at taxpayer expense total germany switzerland, china, vietnam, japan, and liberia. and he brought his wife on the trips. again, like the domestic private jet stuff he got in trouble for, those are little short hot -- hop flights that end up being $25,000 for the plane. when you fly on a military aircraft, it's $25,000 an hour. and again, for context, it's not weird he would need to visit another country on business. that's a good thing. they fly commercial. again, tom price tried to get out of this growing mess that he's in at about 4:00 this afternoon by saying he was sorry he offended his own sensitivities and the american taxpayers wouldn't pay a dime for his seat on all of these
flights according to the calculations, that meant he needed to pay the american taxpayers back like $50,000 and he said he would. just the flights we know about and we're guessing there might be more. but just the private jets in the united states and the military charters he took, as well, just the ones we know about, the actual taxpayer cost from what tom price has been doing calculate by reporters who have been tracking at politico.com, the price is well over $1 million. is he going to pay that back? when he said taxpayers aren't going to pay a dime, is he going to pay that much backseat to the taxpayers? the one thing i can say tom price does have going for him is hey, he did make bank on the stock trades back in congress. so we're on resignation watch for the health and human services secretary tom price tonight and i say that not just because of the severity of the mess but administration has been happily floating names what they are thinking about to replace him.
so that is unfolding tonight. and it's unfolding tonight against kind of a stereo vision backdrop that is something beyond bad optics for this administration. i say stereo vision has two components. one component is them unveiling the tax plan today. the one top line p.r. assurance they made about the tax plan today as they unveiled it is it will not be a tax break for rich people. they released very few details about the tax plan today but the ones they did release conclusively confirm that this will definitely be a big tax break for rich people. the one thing if they conclusively proved is not true, it definitely a gigantic tax break. for rich people "new york times" tonight used two pages of donald trump's 2005 tax returns which david k. johnston first revealed in march
and everyone was so mad because it turned out it wasn't damming information. it was real information and using the two pages from that one return from donald trump, the times was able to calculate tonight what they unveiled is the administration's new tax plan would save the president personally tens of millions of dollars in a single year and quote, could cut the tax bills by more than $1.1 billion overall. remember, the thing you're supposed to say about this tax plan is it doesn't cut taxes for the rich. reforming the tax code was supposed to be the hard thing republicans would try to tackle after they did easy stuff like repealing obamacare. so whether you like this new plan or hate this new plan that again, could cut $1.1 billion out of the president's tax bill, his personal tax bill, there is healthy and wide-spread skepticism tonight as to whether or not republicans and congress
will get anywhere near passing this thing. in part because the likelihood of them passing this thing is so slim. to me, it remains politically, optically astonishing they would choose today to unveil their massive tax cut for the rich on a day when they may be losing their health secretary to a private jet scandal and 3.5 million americans are entering their second week with no electricity, no running water and a botched federal hurricane response that's failed to provide the barest first humanitarian relief to hundreds of thousands of american citizens stranded in towns and communities across puerto rico that are left to fend for themselves. today, the u.s. army was finally put in charge of recovery operations in puerto rico at the start of the second week since this storm. the size of even this new military mobilization still, though, doesn't appear to be
matched to the scale of the problem. retired general who led the military effort in louisiana after hurricane katrina told npr for his effort, he commanded 40,000 national guardsmen and 20,000 federal troops. right now the total number of u.s. military personnel and guardsman involved in the relief effort in puerto rico is about 5,000. even aside from the isolated towns and villages yet to receive any aid at all. even if you just look at san juan, the capital city like a metropolitan large american city, the biggest dots in the map in san juan in terms of the centralized relief effort, those places themselves are symbols of the disorganization and red tape and basic failure that appears to be the reason why the relief effort has been so important thus far. at the airport in san juan, thousands of people have been camped out for days at the airport trying to get a flight to anywhere.
while the limited passenger flights that do take off have empty seats on them because nobody can organize an effort to match would be passengers to available airline seats, even when the passengers and the planes are both there at the same facility and both sides are willing. at the main shipping port in san juan, it's become a main symbol of the failure of this response that there are thousands and thousands of shipping containers in tact, shipping containers loaded with food and water and medical supplies stockpiled at the port sitting there waiting to be distributed to people who desperately need the stuff but nobody can get it together to organize trucks to get that stuff out into the places where people are, where the people are that desperately need access to that stuff and as we heard from gaudy schwartz last night, the epicenter of disorganization appears to be at the place that's supposed to be the command post running everything.
the convention center in san juan where he says all week long there is a bizarre disconnect on display between an air conditioned convention center with clean people shaking hands and exchanging business cards and talking all day long while and just outside an increasingly large scale urgent and life-threatening humanitarian crisis continues to unfold and get worse day after day. and where in many places the main relief thus far, even know has been neighbors doing what they can for each other. as to the far flung puerto rico towns well outside san juan, the daily beast has a devastating report about the genius plan to connect far flung towns to relief efforts by having the mayor's of those towns personally travel themselves from wherever it is their community is to that convention center in san juan. they are making the mayors cross the island from wherever they are to personally get them
receives to san juan e. to convention center where they can apply in person for sup pipes and -- supplies and resources in the place they had to leave to participate in the system. they are making the mayors, all of them travel in person. the mayor where the hurricane first made landfall explained exactly what this means to the "daily beast today ". he said quote getting here it's about a three-hour drive that i can't afford because while operates are running out of fuel i'm driving my car around like i have gas to waste. do i really need to show up here? this is the mayor, 2600 people are homeless in his town because their homes were destroyed by the storm. he toll the dafl beast fema came twice to the town. but nothing has been done. they collected all the
information they wanted but still we're waiting for their help to finally arrive in any form at all. reporter talking to him said the mayor struggled to keep his composure, quote, the mayor blasted with so much anger that the veins in his neck started to bulge. live report from puerto rico coming up next. to those who know
tonight, thousands of shipping container, many filled with supplies sit at san juan's main port, a distribution bottleneck stifling the relief effort. >> it is extremely heartbreaking. >> reporter: he says it doesn't make a difference that today the trump administration temporarily waived the jones act a nearly century-old federal law that requires american ships carry goods between u.s. ports. >> the supply change from the domestic carrier isn't the problem. we deliver. the problem is the distribution on the island. >> the problem is the distribution on the island. that was gabe gutierrez reporting from puerto rico.
because of large-scale man-made logistic failure, cities and towns are really not getting supplies, which is getting to be a desperate situation for these americans as they start week two of no power and no water and in many cases, no relief. pablo is an individual journalists based in san juan who has been reporting from the "daily beast." thanks very much for your time tonight. appreciate you taking time to be with us. >> hi, rachel. thanks for having me. >> one of the reasons i wanted to talk to you, pablo, not only because i found your work compelling but i know that you have been looking into some of the medical concerns on the island. residents who are in need of regular medical care like dialysis. can you tell us anything about
how people need dialysis, those patients and clinics are coping? >> clinics are having it the worst. i was speaking with a clinic director today and they had to close two clinics because they wanted to keep the field -- the fuel running, keep the power plant running and didn't have enough fuel. they are running low on diesel so they decided to close two of them to keep one working and the problem that we're having today was trying to communicate through their patients that these centers were being closed just because another one was being opened and since the communication on the island has been tough, only 30% of the people can communicate, only 30% of the towers work. patients are wondering around working to get their treatment. >> pablo, we have been starting to hear reports about some hospitals and some other medical facilities, as you say, shutting
down essentially places trying to consolidate their overhead expenses for things like not just the overhead resources for things like fuel and the other things they need to keep going. as that starts to happen, i mean, ultimately the solution has to be the medical clinics and hospitals are fueled and reopened and powered and able to see patients. there is going to be incredible medical need particularly as more people are able to move away from their damaged homes. do you see any relief effort progress in terms of getting generators into hospitals? getting fuel to clinics? systemly trying to manage the medical resources puerto rico has. >> it's been -- we've been reestablished really slow. just today, the center medical, one of puerto rico's main hospitals was back running and with power during the last weeks
it relied on power generators and although the island is suffering from communication. loss, patients are also having a difficult time telling their doctors what is their history >> right. >> because the system does not work. does not internet. there is no way of letting the doctors know needs at the moment. last week, i was going through the emergency room had more than 100 patients. the hospitals are running out of fuel. they're sending their patients to the main hospital, the only one that has fuel. >> you were able to report on the strange decision to tell mayors from across the island to personally come physically from
their towns and get themselves physically to the place. the convention center in san juan you interviewed one mayor in terms of getting him to san juan. do you have any insight as to why they did it that way? >> well, they are not working diligently. the command center told me in particular about the measure is they spoke to him and giving him the help he wanted but as he left he said i'm not going to distribute this. because i need a guard with me. people are so desperate for water and food if i let them know i have this water and food we have this chaos.
if maine wanted to succeed, the slogan could be ciao, maine. i know, takes a second, right? same idea works for ore-gone and gone-tana. pushing a related idea can get you only no-vada and colora-don't and if you want to be racy, you can try hellnoklahom a & m inusippi. doesn't make sense but so good. if you ever wanted to run a fake secession campaign, there are a lot of good campaign slogans waiting to be snapped out. so good. last night we settled on four possibilities as we try to make our own choice as a tv show for which fake american says is he session campaign we'll run online to try to see if it attracts russian
government support. the reason we're doing this is because just this week russia is supporting kurdish secession in iraq and in spain and we know they actively built and supported texas secession and california secession movements targeting our country. on theory they will support any secession anywhere in the west. anything that helps break apart the west we're going to see if we can get them to show themselves in support of manhattanistan or the formation of the ari-zone or connecti-cut. these are the poll results for awhile. you can see new mexit is still running with it. you can still vote. if you want to. once we got a winner, our plan is to start at least some version of a fake online secession movement with a slogan to see if we can lure russia trolls out to help support that particular american breakup.
today executives from twitter came to congress to talk about the russian influence effort on the election last year and what twitter knows about how the russian efforts played out on their platform. senate intelligence top democrat mark warner said after twitter left the senate intelligence briefing, said the briefing was deeply disappointing in terms of the amount of insight they handed over to congress about the attack. but you know, there was another way lower profile effort underway in washington today. where real russian interests directly did great and that story is very low profile and i'm not sure anybody else is covering it tonight but i think it's a huge deal and that's next.
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and i would always answer hispanic. so when i got my ancestry dna results it was a shocker. i'm from all nations. it puts a hunger in your heart to want to know more. heads up, i think this is potentially a big deal even though it's not getting very much beltway press yet but relates to another big russian bank, a russian bank closely linked to vladimir putin. a bank called alpha-bank. not compared to the other russian banks we had to learn about in politics where russian banks keep turning up and we're a senior members of the administration here keep forgetting their contacts with them. that was the case with veb bank, a sanctioned large russian bank controlled by the government whose chairman is hand picked by putin. jared kushner forgot to mention
his meeting -- his during the transition. veb bank not to be confused with vtb bank, another putin linked bank also sanctioned, also state controlled. vtb bank is who felix sater says he had lined up to finance the trump tower moscow project, the one the president neglected to publicly mention while running for president. but this story today out of washington is about a different rushing ton -- russian, alpha bank. it is not u.s. sanctioned like other russian banks but alpha is linked to vladimir putin and been subject to a bunch of good investigative reporting and reportedly also subject to the fbi investigation under the special counsel's probe into russia interfering in our election. the interest is because of still unexplained heavy and at times exclusive computer server interactions during the heat of the campaign between servers for
alpha bank in russia and trump organization in trump tower. this was first reported by slate.com in october just before the election and after the election during the transition in january, there were further allegations about alpha bank being involved in the russia influence campaign to swing the election for trump. those allegations turned up in the dossier, the so-called dossier which was published by buzz feed in january. alpha bank sued buzz feed for publishing the dossier. and then they also made a very eye bro raising higher here in the u.s. when they decided to put together a high-powered legal team to defend themselves against news reports and investigations into that thing with their server and the trump organization. alpha bank decided the guy they would hire to defend themselves against these allegations concerning them and the trump campaign, the guy they would hire would be a guy from the trump campaign. a guy from the trump campaign and transition who had been the
guy in the trump transition in charge of setting up the justice department for trump and jeff sessions. he's the guy that over saw the handover of the justice department from obama to trump after his time on the trump campaign. alpha bank hired the trump transitions point guy at the justice department to be their lawyer, to build them a defense against this reporting about whatever was doing on between their server and the trump organization server during the campaign. and from an american perspective, that seems like a slightly shady way to approach this, right? it's like alpha bank doesn't know hiring somebody from the campaign to clear you and the campaign of any wrongdoing -- [ laughter ] >> -- that might be how you do things in moscow but not how you're supposed to do things here or maybe it is now. because today on a party line vote, republicans on the senate judiciary committee voted to confirm that exact guy from the trump campaign and the trump
transition, the guy that went to work for alpha bank to help clear alpha bank of the allegations they were involved with the trump organization from the campaign and republicans and judiciary committee voted to confirm him to run the criminal division at the justice department. which is a really big job at the justice department. the alpha bank guy. and it's not like all the unresolved questions about this got settled before they held the vote on him. >> i want to make sure that you understand what has not been answered as of this moment when we're being asked to vote. i asked is alpha bank under federal, criminal investigation by the justice department? mr. rosenstein said i won't answer that. second question, what is the view of the intelligence committee on the server communications between alpha bank and the trump organization during the 2016 campaign? again, mr. rosenstein said we won't reply to that. we won't answer that.
fellow members of the committee were being asked to chose one of the highest ranking individuals in the department of justice that will make hundreds if not more decisions on prosecutions that could involve as we know this whole question of the russian involvement in the last campaign. he comes to it having made what i think are really poor judgments as to his personal involvement with this. >> all the democrats on the judiciary committee voted against this lawyer who left the trump campaign to defend the russian bank, alpha bank. all the democrats on judiciary voted against the nomination to run the criminal division at the justice department. the senator focused on the bank issue and feinstein focused on the fact that it's strange in its own right to be appointing somebody to the important job who has no prosecutor experience and no courtroom experience which is true of this nominee. but republicans were apparently
undetoured by that. the nomination will go to the senate floor. absolutely mind boggling to think that the lawyer for alpha bank could be running the criminal division at the justice department while these russia investigations are going on about what happened between the trump campaign and russia including the thing with alpha bank that is still not answered. that's the road we started heading down today. party line vote. over the course of 9 days...
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the first obama inauguration 2009 biggest inaugural celebration ever. biggest event in the history of d.c. the obama folks knew that inauguration was going to be giant and they prepared accordingly and seat record for inauguration fund raising this year, $53 million. the trump inauguration more than doubled that record with $107 million raised. still not clear why they needed that much money. i'm not being snarky about this. it's the truth. trump inauguration lower crowds and fewer balls, shorter parade. less big, less pricey, less everything. so that that gigantic fund raising they did for the compare bring small event, that was strange about the trump inauguration from the outset. and we knew it was strange early on. we knew as soon as early january that they had already outraised the record obama inauguration. they were on pace to more than double the record. it was a mystery then why they were stockpiling the cash and
figured it would be clear soon enough. within a few months, get the accounting. right? they'd have to report. you'd get how much it costs, what the money went to, leftover funds. inaugurations aren't thing that is go on forever. it is a single day. maybe a weekend and then you do the accounting. here's how the head of the second obama inauguration put it, they're not complicated. you know what you're left with when it's done. but for the trump folks this has gone on for more than eight months and we have no idea what happened there financially. we don't know what happened to all that money they stockpiled. the inaugural committee stopped returning our calls altogether and tried to tell the ap there's an independent audit of the spending on the inauguration. they may say that but nobody has seen hide nor hair of this audit. no firm admits to having done one and two sources the ap
described as familiar with efforts the sort out the financing told the ap flat-out, actually, no, there wasn't an audit done at all. they have also come up with one laugh out loud explanation to believe they spent the money on. inaugurations with concerts now and at that giant obama inauguration in 2009, the we are one concert. "the washington post" reported at the time the crowd was over 400,000 people for that concert. the performer list like an encyclopedia of the biggest acts in the world at the time. bruce springsteen, bonn jon bo vi, garth brooks, u2. beyonce. so many a-list musical acts they doubled and tripled them up. shakira and stevie wonder and usher performed together. james taylor, meet john legend. you will be together. okay? that thing broadcast all over the world. hbo made a double dvd set of it.
you can buy it if you want to. huge deal. mega concert. that cost the obama inaugural committee over $4 million to put that on. the trump folks say their inaugural concert cost $25 million. so the beyonce springsteen wonder concert cost less than $5 million but the trump concert was $25 million? trump concert featured and i mean no offense, the american tap dance company and deejay ravi drums fresh from the las vegas act and the piano guys. that's what they're called. piano guys. the front men of country. the trump inaugural's trying to say their event cost $25 million an they have four sources going on the record with the ap to that affect. getting the stories straight. that's how we explain away $25 million. of this supposed spending, okay? are you on board? makes no sense whatsoever. we thought for sure this would
be settled by now. they're clearly cooking something up that is not at all plausible to explain away whatever really did happen to that money. so, why did the trump inaugural committee raise all that money, first off? even if we're naive or generous enough to believe they spent the same amount for the smallest inauguration in decades as was spent for the largest inauguration ever, even then, there's likely considerably $50 million as yet unaccounted in terms of where all that money went. so we have been trying to figure this out for a few weeks now. last week the administration admitted some of the money and used it to redecorate mike pence's house which is not what that money was for but okay. yesterday, the trump inaugural announced that they would send $3 million to three charities. okay. but that should be a drop in the bucket coming to what ought to be tens of millions of dollars here. what are they using that money for? what did they build the slush
fund up for in the first place? here's what the chair of the inauguration says will happen now. he says, quote, the committee will continue to cue rate worthwhile causes and make further contributions that serve america's agenda and will conclude in accordance with the charter in the next few months. we do not know what it means to act in accordance with its charter. we don't know because they won't provide their founding documents including their charter. so, we don't even know what their supposed point is to guide their donations. joining us is greg holman, government affairs lobbyist for watchdog group public citizen. thank you for talking to me about this thing that continues to confuse me. >> glad to be back here, rachel. >> what would it mean for the inaugural committee to act in accordance to the charter in do they have the same charter like from the irs? >> it would be similar to what we have seen for other inaugural
committees. they set up -- they set up the organization with the irs. and so, we do know that its main purpose is to facilitate the inauguration of the 45th president. that's its purpose. the rest of the charter even though i have not seen it, i have been trying to get a hold of it myself, but would very likely read something like, and the funds won't be used in violation of the tax code. so they won't be used to set up a for-profit corporation, for example. so, what they're talking about when they're saying in compliance with the charter is exceedingly ambiguous and there is room to do almost anything at all with those funds. you've seen that. and you have documented that. some of the funds have been spent on renovation of mike pence's house. we now know some of the funds, $3 million, have been given to charity to facilitate some of
the hurricane events. i mean, there's no rhyme or reason going on there. so when they're saying in compliance with the charter, all they're saying is it won't be used to set up a for-profit corporation. >> and one of the things that's been very helpful from your expertise in terms of me getting this is that the vagueness of the laws that regulate this stuff obviously create a huge range of possibilities in terms of what they can do with this money and terms of what they're explaining about themselves and the expenses, explaining about just the basic transparency factors related to this, are they being -- are they behaving markedly different than other inaugural committees have? in terms of how much we know about this stuff? >> oh, it's absolutely baffling. let me emphasize this. i mean, every other inaugural committee would -- you know, spend the funds almost all the funds on the inauguration. and then, they account for what's left over and there would be a little left over to give to
a presidential library fund or something. and that's been it and usually in a few months after the inauguration. we have never, ever before seen an inaugural committee i believe has anywhere from 50 million to more money in surplus just not do anything with it. just sit on it. and not tell us what's happening. you know? almost anything could be going on with those funds. and the fact that they're just chipped out $3 million now for charity which is good, i medium glad they're doing that, but that's just a little fraction of what should be those surplus funds. it really makes me wonder what happened to that money. is that money still there or has it been squandered away somewhere? >> has it been squandered or did they build it up, in a way so outsized to the needs because they wanted to have a pile of money that they knew there
wouldn't be much accountable for? that's what part of what we're trying to figure out. whether or not they overraised and when they stopped raising money for this very hard to figure this stuff out. greg holman, thank you. i appreciate you being here. now "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." good evening. >> good evening. you know what you left there. >> what do you mean? >> there's hooks there, how am i supposed to -- something more worthy than -- but the inauguration fund awakens you at night. >> i would just say that -- >> question mark. >> a, i have a bad back soly that's what wakes me up. i work on stuff i like to keep secret and i sometimes lie about that to make people think i'm more interesting than i am.