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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  January 15, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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senator chuck schumer, the leader of the democrats in the u.s. senate, is going to be joining us live here in just a moment. i'm very happy to have him here, especially on such a big day. a typical day in the news cycle, i tend to -- i think it's sort of akin to the weather on any given day. there is like a naturally occurring range of things that might happen on any given day, at any given time of year, depending on where you live, right? depending on the general constraints of the climate in which you are operating. so news days are sort of like that, you know? some days the sun shines, some days it snows, sometimes there is black ice or debilitating storms that brings everything to a halt. news days are like the weather. today was a stormy day in the news cycle, which is something we are getting used to in this
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political climate that surrounds this -- this unsettling presidency. but today, today was not just like a normal stormy day in the news in in the trump era. today was like a whole bunch of storms stacked up one after the other, plus there were ten earthquakes. there is an externality to what we usually think of of the realm of things that can affect the news cycle in any one day. today was just nuts. it started very late last night, actually, with "new york times" reporting that president trump repeatedly within the last year has told administration officials that he wants to destroy nato. that he wants to pull the united states out of nato, the north american treaty alliance -- the north atlantic treaty alliance, which is the most important western military alliance on earth and it has been for 70 years. and whether or not you think you care about nato, i think "the times" actually deserves credit for hopefully putting the importance of that kind of a
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decision really clearly in frame. let me just quote from some of "the times"' reporting. quote, there are few things that vladimir putin of russia desires more than the weakening of nato. the military alliance among the united states, europe and canada that has deterred soviet and russian aggression for 70 years. senior administration officials tell "the times" several times over the course of 2018 president trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying nato. he suggested the withdrawal of the united states from nato. an under-secretary of defense during the obama administration, a widely respected national security official, she would be a top tier candidate to be secretary of defense during any democratic administration and even some republican ones. she is then quoted in this piece by "the times." saying that a move to withdraw the u.s. from nato, quote, would
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be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to u.s. interests. she continues, quote, it would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, republican and democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in u.s. history. quote, and it would be the wildest success that vladimir putin could dream of. "the times" continues, quote, after russia annexed crimea in 2014, american national security officials believe that russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the u.s. and europe. its goal has been to upend nato. russian actions toward achieving that goal have included, quote, russia's meddling in america's elections and russia's efforts to prevent former satellite states joining the nato alliance. quote, with a weakened nato, putin would have more freedom to behave as he wishes, setting up russia as a counterweight to
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europe and the united states. senior trump administration officials discussing president's behavior with "the times" on the condition of anonymity. they tell the paper that an american withdrawal from nato would accomplish all that putin has been trying to put in motion. quote, essentially doing the russian leader's hardest and most critical work for him. so that was, like, midnight last night from "the new york times," and we don't know who these senior administration officials are who are talking to "the new york times" about what the president has been reportedly trying to do on this front. it is possible, of course, that these are senior trump administration officials who were concerned about these actions and these statements by the president last year, but they didn't feel the need to go to the press about them then, maybe because defense secretary jim mattis was in place then. i mean, there's been some noise, right, that mattis was preventing trump from taking the
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worst and most reckless of his pro-russia steps in national security and foreign policy. and, again, i do not mean to suggest that i know who these sources are from "the times" report, but you can tell from the substance and tone that these are very senior people who are somehow try trying to pull a fire alarm here and the timing, i think, has to be part of our understanding for why these administration officials are now coming forward and anonymously giving this information to "the times." the reporters on this piece put a sort of flashing red arrow on the timing here in their report. they say, quote, now the president's repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from nato is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about mr. trump's efforts to keep his meetings with president putin secret from even his own aides. so i guess, like, that's the progression. it's one thing to be a senior official in the trump
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administration and to be worried or upset by the prospect that the president wants to give away the store, right? that he wants to dismember nato. he wants to give russia every item on its most fantastical international wish list, even the ones that would previously have been dismissed as unthinkable in this country under any leadership. it's one thing to be opposed to that or be worried about the president's inclinations, right? but maybe you think that somebody like jim mattis at the pentagon is stopping trump from doing the worst of all those things so maybe you don't need to say anything to anybody about it, but it's apparently still another thing to realize that once jim mattis is gone, he's not there as a governor anymore and now we find out there's really no way to know if the president is making these decisions and trying to take these actions specifically because russia's president has been telling him directly face-to-face and person-to-person that this is what he needs to do. because now we've learned that
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there's no record of the conversations between trump and putin, and it's because trump has ensured that there are no records of those conversations. i guess that maybe is the trip wire, right? oh, we don't know whether or not putin has just been telling him directly to do this stuff and he's saying, yes, sir, how high do you want me to jump? maybe that's the trip wire when you swallow your pride and decide you're going to talk to "the new york times," maybe it's time to try to set off the alarm. it was just this weekend at greg miller at "the washington post" reported that trump has confiscated and destroyed his own interpreter's notes from his meeting with putin and had gone to great lengths to prevent others in his administration from finding out any details from what he and putin had talked about in multiple meetings. i mean, it may not be a coincidence that just two days after that report "the new york times" gets anonymous senior trump administration officials coming to them, telling them that trump has been trying to
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achieve putin's most important and most treasured goal, the destruction of nato. the most unimaginable thing in u.s. foreign policy. i mean, short of us dissolving ourselves, us dissolving nato is the most fantastical dream russia might imagine for itself, and trump's trying to do it? and putin, of course, is sitting pretty in a couple of different ways at this point, right? i mean, first of all, and apparently after some very careful and risky investment on his part, putin now has a president of the united states who performs backflips on expand. i mean, honestly, what else could they make him do? what else could they conceivably want from him other than shutting down the u.s. -- as president trump appears to have adopted every top tier russian objective in foreign policy at least as his own administration's position, but on top of that, the kremlin has to be further delighted this
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week, right now, that this same u.s. president who does tricks on command also keeps giving russia even more leverage over him all the time. i mean, think about it, think about that report from "the washington post," what the practical implications of that are from russia's perspective, from putin's perspective. trump may have taken, you know, confiscated and destroyed his own american interpreter's notes from his putin meetings, but there's no reason to think that putin did the same thing. right? i mean, he took notes, too. there's a guy taking notes right there next to putin. i mean, whether or not it's the russian government's notes on this meeting between putin and trump or whether they recorded those meetings as some senior foreign officials suggested that russia had a habit of doing. whether it's just notes or recordings or whatever, russia and vladimir putin know the truth about what happened in
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those one-on-one meetings between trump and putin. if they didn't know it before, now thanks to "the washington post," russia knows the truth of what happened in those one-on-one meetings between trump and putin, that's something that the american president, that trump has desperately been trying to keep from public view and even from the view of other officials in his own administration. so russia now knows that whatever happened in those meetings trump is desperate to keep it secret. and they undoubtedly have a record of the truth of what happened in those meetings. that's like -- that's like blackmail in a bottle, right? think about it. whatever happened between trump and putin in those meetings, russia knows. russia has a record of it. and now they've got that to wield against him in case they ever need to give his leash another little tug. and then on top of that today, just in case the u.s. and europe were not back on their heels enough with what appears increasingly to be the capture of the u.s. president by a foreign adversary and him wiring
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nato, russia's greatest adversary on earth, to explode of its own accord. i mean, today on top of that, the british government edged to the precipice and started to fall off in a freefall that appears increasingly destined to take much of organized western europe with it. >> order. order. the ayes to the right, 202. the nos to the left, 432. >> wow. >> the ayes to the right, 202. the nos -- order. the ayes to the right, 202. the nos to the left, 432. so the nos have it. the nos have it.
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unlock. on a point -- indeed, post traumatic stress disorder . point of order. >> the house has spoken and the government will listen. it is clear that the house does not support this deal, but tonight's vote tells us about what it does support. nothing about how -- >> the results of tonight's vote is the greatest defeat for a government since the 1920s in this house. this is a catastrophic defeat for this government. she cannot seriously believe that after two years of failure she is capable of negotiating a good deal for the people of this country. the most important issue facing us is that the government has lost the confidence of this house and this country. i therefore, mr. speaker, inform you i have now tabled a motion of no confidence in this
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government, and i'm pleased -- i am pleased that motion will be debated tomorrow. so this house can give its verdict on the sheer incompetence of this government and pass that motion of no confidence in the government. >> the failure tonight in the british house of commons on the brexit vote, that means that british prime minister theresa may is not empowered by her government to negotiate terms under which the uk will try to leave the european union. great britain, of course, is our closest overseas ally. this is not a normal disagreement within the government in great britain. their politics and government right now appear to be in a mix of, as i said, free-fall and also chaos. there will be a no confidence vote tomorrow, at which point we will learn the fate of theresa may as prime minister. we will also learn something more, something about how exactly great britain is going to be hacked out of the
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cornerstone role that it has played in western europe forever and in unified europe since the early 1970s. so this is sort of bigger than the day's weather, right? i mean, just unimaginably important news about europe and about nato shooting themselves today, and they are not firing blanks. these are the kinds of sort of proverbial earthquakes i'm talking about in today's news, things that are bigger than any one new development or one new scandal or poll or personality. but it is against that big world-changing roiling backdrop that the u.s. senate today tried to confirm a new u.s. attorney general, and it is against that same roiling backdrop today that something sort of bright and unexpected happened in the united states senate, alongside the confirmation hearings for the man who would be the new attorney general. in terms of the attorney general hearings, in terms of the william barr nomination, we're
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going to speaking live with senator amy klobuchar of minnesota in just a few minutes. she is on the committee that grilled william barr. if you caught any of the hearing today or the news about the hearing, you know that william barr was questioned repeatedly more than any other about -- questioned repeatedly and more frequently than on any other topic about whether or not he'll respect the independence of the special counsel's investigation into russia's interference in our 2016 election. and of course the related question of whether americans were confederates in that operation. william barr handled those questions about the mueller investigation today. for the most part he handled them by -- by saying nice-sounding, noncontroversial sounding things. but bottom line, he also didn't answer any of the hard questions about it. watch him wiggle out of every single one of these. >> will you commit to make public all of the report's
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conclusions, the mueller report, even if some of the evidence supporting those conclusions can't be made public? >> you know, that certainly is my goal and intent. >> will you commit that you will explain to us any changes or deletions that you make to the special counsel report that's submitted to you in whatever you present to us? >> i will commit to providing as much information as i can, consistent with the regulations. >> you said that a president deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence would be an obstruction, is that correct? >> yes. >> okay. and so what if a president told a witness not to cooperate with an investigation or hinted at a pardon? >> you know, i -- i'd have to know the specific -- i'd have to know the specific facts. >> okay. >> would it be appropriate to go against the advice of career ethics officials that have recommended recusal, and can you
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give an example of under what situation or scenario you would go against their recommendation that you recuse yourself? >> well, there are different -- there are different kinds of recusals. some are mandated, for example, if you have a financial interest, but there are others that are judgement calls. >> let's imagine it's a judgement call and the judgement by the career ethics officials in the agency are that you recuse yourself. >> then -- >> under what scenario would you not follow their recommendation? >> if i disagreed with it. >> and what would the basis of that disagreement be? >> i came to a different judgement. >> on what basis? >> the facts. >> such as? >> such as whatever facts are relevant to the recusal. >> under what scenario would you imagine that you would not follow the recommendation of the career ethics officials in the department of justice to recuse yourself from the mueller investigation? >> if i disagreed with them. >> okay. >> i think that william barr believes that he has enough votes to be confirmed as
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attorney general no matter what he says in these confirmation hearings, so that's why i think he feels confident rejecting these efforts to try to pin him down on exactly what his designs are for the mueller investigation and what he believes the president ought to be allowed to get away with when it comes to that investigation. again, we'll be talking about that with senator amy klobuchar in just a few minutes, but i as i mentioned right at the top here, senator chuck schumer is also going to be here, the top democrat in the senate. i'm very happy to have him here live on this very big and important day. we're going to talk to him about william barr, the ongoing shutdown. we're on day 25 of the longest shutdown in u.s. history. the other reason i specifically wanted to talk to senator schumer tonight is because of something unexpected he was able to pull off this this afternoon in the u.s. senate. let me show you something. today we got a new court filing from the special counsel's office from mueller's prosecutors. laying out for a federal judge
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in washington, d.c. the evidentiary basis of the claims from the special counsel that president trump's campaign chairman paul manafort lied to them during the course of his supposed cooperation with prosecutors after he pled guilty to multiple felonies. this is that filing. which landed on my desk today. you can see the size of it. landed on my desk today with a sort of remarkable thud. turns out, though, happy days, it does not take very long to read because the first part of it is this part, see, it's a little thinner. this is a narrative from an fbi agent who works at the special counsel's office and it is a narrative, so theoretically we should be able to read it, but all the good parts of it are redacted. this is a typical page, from page 19 of the declaration of the fbi agent. it says manafort was asked in the grand jury, redacted. manafort explained that he had not told, redacted. manafort was then asked what? redacted. after a lunch break, comma,
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manafort, redacted. oh, now i see, right? so this technically is a narrative declaration from an fbi agent explaining all the things that manafort has done wrong in terms of lying to prosecutors but the whole thing is like that. they also attached to that declaration 406 factual exhibits laying out their evidence that manafort told them all these lies. so that's the other big, fat part of it. and again when this landed on my desk today i was like, holy quack moly, how am i going to get through this in time for showtime with everything else going on in the world with the giant news earthquakes. watch this magic trick. turns out you can pull off all of this, all of it because every single one of these pages is either a black box or just the word "redacted." absolutely nothing. and the vast majority of the filing, it's all completely blacked out. the few remaining pages, the last thin remaining pages that
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remain in the stack is basically a handful of bank records, a whole bunch of pages of big black box the with nothing on them but a bank letterhead and a date. there are a couple of pages where manafort lays out -- prosecutors lay out what manafort offered them in terms of his proffer, his initial cooperation proposal, but most of that has already appeared in other court filings. so what's important about this big fat unreadable manafort court filing today? it's really big and fat and it's unreadable. and so the takeaway here from this criminal case involving the mon president's campaign chair, boy, there is still a lot blacked out, still a lot that we don't know about the criminal case against the president's campaign chairman. boy, is this still a live issue in the courts and one of the as yet explained things was that the president's campaign chairman was sharing internal
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polling data from the trump campaign with a guy associated with russian intelligence, who had also served as manafort's intermediary with a russian oligarch named oleg deripaska. for some reason, that same oligarch was offered private briefings by paul manafort during time manafort was running the campaign. deripaska had an extensive prior business and political relationship with paul manafort. he's had extensive financial dealings with him. federal prosecutors have said it may appears manafort owed deripaska as much as $10 million. and while this case against manafort continues, as it does today with all these redacted unreadable filings, that deripaska thing is still dangling. we still don't know how central oleg deripaska is or may have been to the russian interference effort that appears to have bought president vladimir putin his very own u.s. president. today in the united states senate, democratic leader chuck schumer introduced a measure that would block the trump
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administration from dropping sanctions on companies associated with oleg deripaska. and i know, i flknow, nobody thinks anything is possible in congress or the senate when it comes to constraining this president in terms of whatever has been going on between him and russia, but sanctions on russia, sanctions on russia specifically for interfering in our election, those actually are a thing that the republicans have sometimes been willing to speak up on, that republicans have sometimes been willing to defy president trump about. and i have been hitting this for the past few days and i know that nobody has believed me, but honest to goodness, today senator chuck schumer, the democratic leader in the senate, he put forward a bill to stop the trump administration from dropping those sanctions on oleg deripaska right now. and he did it, he got the votes, he got all the democrats and he got 11 republican senators of all different ideological
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stripes to break ranks with mitch mcconnell and vote to keep those sanctions in place. this was a procedural vote today. it is not over. we will talk with senator schumer about what lays ahead, but the vote was 57-42 would have been 58 if senator kirsten gillibrand had not been on the colbert report declaring she'll be running for president. last night we talked about this sanctions thing that schumer just did today as a sort of test vote for the country. a test vote for whether or not elected republicans might have some hidden depth. they might feel some compunction when it comes to this president and the scariest things about his relationship with russia. today, 11 republican senators broke ranks on this. i am telling you, do not lose faith. just because the ground is
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putin's russia continues to run rampant over international norms, meddle in democratic elections, destabilize the world. russia has violated the sovereignty of ukraine, interfered in our elections, the brexit vote, propped up the brutal assad regime and implicated in nerve agent attacks on the soil of our closest ally, and yet the trump administration proposes reducing sanctions on putin and his cronies. show me the behavior from vladimir putin that warrants such relief. i can't think of any. i'll bet 90% of all americans can't think of any. so let me be clear, a vote against this resolution, a vote to not allow us to proceed is a vote to go easy on president putin and his oligarchs. >> we knew that senator chuck schumer of new york had a plan
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to try to block the trump administration from dropping sanctions against companies connected with this putin-allied russian oligarch, oleg deripaska, who has been sanctioned in this country over russia's interference in our elections. we also knew that schumer could force a vote on this matter using a tiny little provision written into the sanctions bill that allows the minority leader, in this case the democratic leader, to put something like this up for a vote, even if the republican majority doesn't want to vote on it. what we didn't know today is how the vote would go once schumer forced it. the resolution only needed a simple majority to pass today, and it passed comfortably. it passed 57-42. 11 republicans broke ranks with majority leader mitch mcconnell and voted with senator schumer and the diplomats on this. they voted to keep sanctions in place against the wishes of the trump administration. now, it is not done yet. the next hurdle will be, we think tomorrow, and that will be a 60-vote hurdle, not a 30-vote
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hurdle. this is definitely not all done. this vote today is already a bipartisan rebuke of the trump administration's decision to drop those russian sanctions. joining us now is senator chuck schumer, leader of the democrats in the u.s. senate. sir, thank you very much for your time tonight. it's nice to have you here. >> thank you, rachel. always good to be on. >> so let me first get your reactions to how this went today on the sanctions vote. i was really interested to see a very heterogenius group of republicans who sort of crossed ranks to join you today. >> we were very pleasantly surprised that so many republicans joined us. now we're only two votes away from telling vladimir putin he can't run the show here in the united states, no matter what the trump administration does. you know, rachel, on the floor today, leader mcconnell said putin's a thug. well, i believe that. but if you believe that, if our republican friends believe that, they should be voting with us,
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but not just the 11, more, mcconnell himself. we cannot let putin go -- go just free here after all the bad things he's done. and one other thing that compounds this, this loosening of sanctions against putin -- against deripaska's companies comes right on the heels of it being revealed that the special prosecutor has new evidence of the relationship between manafort and putin, deripaska and manafort have a close relationship, deripaska and kilimnik, the fellow who was at the hotel meeting with jared and manafort and the others has a close relationship. the timing is not coincidental. so to make a strong stand here is really, really important. >> do you think that you've got another potential -- another couple of republican votes that might get you to that 60-vote -- that 60-vote threshold tomorrow? >> well, i know there were a whole bunch of republicans who wanted to vote yes, but mcconnell and some of his
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leadership put a lot of pressure on them to vote now. now that they've seen 11 others have voted this way, yeah, i think we have a real shot. >> you, the timing on this is remarkable. in the context of the mueller investigation, we have a lot of dangling threads when it comes to deripaska, the manafort case, the question of whether or not deripaska is an important part of manafort and the core question of whether there was collusion between the trump campaign and the russian government. we've also had a couple of really disturbing revelations in the open-source press in the past couple of days. "the new york times" reporting that the fbi opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether the president was working for the russian government, as president. "the washington post" reporting this weekend that the president went so far as to coffin skate the notes from his own translator when speaking with vladimir putin. "the times" last night reporting that the president has told administration officials over the past year that he wants to withdraw the u.s. from nato, which, of course, is putin's
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greatest dream. are those -- are those sort of creating a new climate in terms of the way both democrats and republicans are thinking about the urgency of this situation when it comes to the president and russia? >> well, i think it is creating a new climate. there is just so much. and it all seems to be woven into a web related to putin's manipulation of our own government, into trump's acquiescence and boot licking of whatever putin seems to want, and in terms of the mueller investigation because of the ties between putin, deripaska, manafort and kilimnik. so all of this seems to be part -- parts of one large piece and it is changing people's minds here in washington. i think that's absolutely right. >> and senator, to that end, do you think that the issue of the mueller investigation is being handled adequately, is being handled in a way that reassures you at all when it comes to the
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nomination of william barr to be the next attorney general? >> well, i have a lot of faith in mueller. i don't have much faith in barr. i've come out against him getting this job. why? because when you have a president like donald trump who has so little respect for the rule of law, so little respect for the justice department as a rule of law body and seems to want to manipulate justice to help him and hurt his friends, you need an attorney general who unequivocally will state certain things, and barr fudged them all. it sounded nice what he said, but there are a lot of loopholes in it. so for instance, he says he's for openness and he's for transparency. he didn't answer the question directly, will you allow the entire mueller report to be made public to the congress and to
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