tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC March 2, 2019 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
surprising person. i had a great pleasure to interview her live. you can find all of those episodes wherever you get your podcasts. that is all for this evening, the rachel maddow show starts right now. >> good evening, chris vhave a great weekend. >> happy friday. since it's friday that of course means ten pounds of news in a five-pound bag as usual. we should get a bigger bag for this day of the week. we got a lot to get to tonight, including the still expanding, still developing story first broken in the "new york times" last night that president trump overruled career national security officials and ordered that his son-in-law jared kushner be given a security clearance despite whatever it was that turned up in kushner's fbi background check and in a cia review that led to him being denied a permanent security clearance until his father-in-law had to intervene. the president, the president's daughter and mr. kushner's very
famous lawyer all appear to have made direct, detailed and very false public statements about this matter before now. we're seeing tonight some sort of confused and to my eye, slightly desperate efforts tonight to clean up some of those false statements, but the story is still developing tonight. we're going to have more on that ahead. we're going to start tonight, though, with a little bit of breaking news. this document has just been filed tonight in the criminal case involving the president's campaign chairman paul manafort. paul manafort as you know, is due to be sentenced next week, thursday next week be iy a fede judge in virginia. this new filing tonight is manafort's best effort with his defense team to argue for lenience in that sentence from that virginia judge. quote, defendant paul j. manafort comes before the court for sentencing after having been convicted at trial of five counts of subscribing false
income tax returns, one count of failing to file a foreign bank account report, and two counts of bank fraud. mr. manafort acknowledges that he received a fair trial before this court. he accepts the jury's verdict. he is truly remorseful for his conduct. mr. manafort submits this snntsing memorandum to aid the court in determining an appropriate sentence. quote, the u.s. probation office has calculated under u.s. sentencing guidelines an advisory sentencing range of roughly 19 1/2 to 24 years. this range is clearly disproportionate to the conduct for which mr. manafort was convicted. the defense submits that a sentence substantially below the range calculated by probation is warranted. and that's how it starts. thereafter we've got 40 or so more pages of how what paul manafort is really no big deal, and we get lots and lot of letters of support from his relatives about what a good guy he is. on page 11 of this new filing
tonight we literally get a reference to paul manafort being an alter boy. there's the inevitable mention of his humble beginnings. there is that odd clanging assertion that paul manafort, quote, has spent his life advancing american ideals and principles. that was in the other sentencing memo his defense filed in the other court where he's facing charges, too. but here's the thing that i think is really going on here. here's why i think this sentencing document is actually really important here. i think it explains a whole bunch of what we have been seeing recently in this case, and i think it explains something important about how this whole thing with the president's campaign chairman, how it may end up playing at the white house. this manafort case in virginia is basically done now, right? all that's left in this case is for the judge to pass sentence. that's where this document tonight is manafort's lawyers telling the judge that their
client should get a very light sentence because he was an altar boy. you'll remember that case in virginia, remember what he was convicted for, tax fraud, bank fraud, stashing money overseas in overseas bank accounts without reporting it to the irs. those were the crimes in this case. nevertheless, throughout their argument to the judge tonight in this new filing, manafort's defense team makes one argument to the judge over and over and over again about why manafort should not get a long prison sentence, and it is not an argument about tax fraud or bank fraud or foreign bank accounts. the argument they keep making over and over again to the judge tonight is no collusion. it's not even in the case, but that's what they're arguing to the judge. quote, in october 2017 unable to establish that mr. manafort engaged in any such collusion, the special counsel charged him in the district of columbia with crimes unrelated to manafort's work in the 2016 campaign. quote, several months later
manafort was charged in this district, allegations, again, that were unrelated to the 2016 campaign or to any collusion with the russian government. and just in case that's not emphatic enough in this filing tonight, both of those sentences i just read you, they both have footnotes, and the footnotes to those no collusion sentences also say no collusion. the first one says quote, mr. manafort's guilty plea in the district of columbia case includes no charges that he colluded with the russian government. footnote 2, the special counsel's strategy in bringing charges against mr. manafort had nothing to do with the special counsel's core mandate russian collusion. and then, again, later on in the filing, your honor, let's come back to our main point. the prosecution in this case did not charge him with anything related to russian collusion. and did we mention that he was an altar boy who did no collusion which is an even better way to do no collusion. i mean, this judge, this federal
judge in virginia who's weighing paul manafort's sentence, he's not supposed to be sentencing paul manafort on whether or not paul manafort colluded with russia. that's not in this case. this is tax fraud, bank fraud and foreign bank accounts. there's no reason to believe that the no collusion, no collusion argument is going to have any impact on how the judge interprets the sentencing guidelines in this case, and figures out how manafort's conduct and these crimes might map onto those sentencing guidelines. because of that, because they're making this argument, this no collusion argument, that is totally external to this case, i think it is worth recognizing, at least worth considering that the real idea here from paul manafort's defense is that they are now aiming their arguments not necessarily at this judge. they are now aiming their arguments at the public, at the press, and ultimately at the white house. it appears that their idea here
is that it would be more politically palatable for paul manafort to get a presidential pardon if paul manafort seems like a grown-up altar boy who became just a poor old, you know, normally corrupt guy who had gotten away with all his financial crimes for years, and who only got caught this time this year because of his unfortunate turn at the helm of the trump campaign. poor old corrupt guy never would have otherwise been caught, just getting away with his normal corrupt stuff. how could he know that the spotlight might eventually fall on his foreign bank accounts and his bank frauds and tax cheating just because he ended up running this presidential campaign. oops, paul manafort tripped. i think the idea here may be that that kind of guy is a more palatable target for a pardon from the president than a guy who was running the president's campaign while russia was interfering in the campaign to benefit trump and simultaneously this guy running the campaign was meeting frequently with a
russian guy linked to russian military intention among other things delivering messages back and forth between trump's campaign chairman and a putin-linked russian oligarch who is tied to russian active measures campaigns in other countries to affect other elections not to mention suspected of gigantic russian money laundering plots. right? i mean that guy is maybe not as attractive a target for a presidential pardon, not at least in this environment with all of these dangling threads still out there in terms of the president's own potential implication in the russia scandal. so in this new filing tonight, in this sentencing memorandum from manafort's defense tonight to the judge in virginia, i mean, this judge in virginia is being bombarded with this no collusion, no collusion message. it is somewhat inexplicable if you're looking just within the four corners of what that case was about, but in the larger context, it might make sense. i also think it may explain what's been going on in the
other jurisdiction where paul manafort is set to be sentenced soon as well. this document that we got tonight, again, this is for the virginia case. manafort's due to be sentenced there next week on thursday. the week after that, manafort is due to be sentenced in federal court in washington, d.c., and like the virginia case, that d.c. case is also technically over with. manafort is guilty, the filings are in. the judge is deciding what he's going to get. nevertheless, there has been otherwise sort of seemingly inexplicable furious fighting over the past week or so in that d.c. case, and it seemed inexplicable. it's now starting to make a little more sense in terms of what it looks like manafort might be after here. you'll remember that in the d.c. case, that's the judge that ruled that paul manafort broke his cooperation with prosecutors when he lied to them intentionally about a few different matters. that determination by that judge in the d.c. case is going to have a my jor impaajor impact o
of paul manafort's life. just as one example, one ramification of that, her ruling that paul manafort broke his plea agreement. that ruling preclude's manafort's defense from even trying to argue in her courtroom that manafort should get less than the sentencing fwiing guid when she sentences him in d.c. they can't even ask for that because he signed away the right to even ask for that when he entered into that plea agreement, which he later broke when he lied. when the judge ruled that manafort lied to prosecutors intentionally about three separate matters, he really did seal his fate in a serious way in that d.c. case. that said, there was a little bit of a curve ball thrown on that point this week when the special counsel's office surprised everybody by notifying that d.c. judge earlier this week that they had actually turned up some new evidence. they had turned up some new exculpatory material on this issue of whether or not manafort
had intentionally lied. when i say exculpatory material, even though the stuff was being shown to the judge, what prosecutors told the judge is that this new material that had shown up helped manafort's case, didn't help their own side, helped manafort's side. we don't know what this new material was that the prosecutors turned up and dutifully handed over to the judge. we got some filings on it. as you can see, it looks like mad libs, right? it's more redactions than words. nobody's been able to quite put it together, but we do know that the material the prosecutors handed over to the judge, it appears to be about paul manafort's relationship with con stan tine ka lem nick. he's the russian guy who worked for manafort for years. he's the guy who prosecutors say has been assessed by the fbi to be linked to russian intelligence. this week manafort's former co-defendant the guy who served as deputy campaign chair on the trump campaign, rick gates, gates apparently saw news coverage about manafort's ongoing legal case and him
heading towards sentencing and the litigation over what manafort lied to prosecutors about, and something about that coverage made rick gates contact mueller's office to tell them, hey, i've actually got something for you on that issue, and whatever it was that gates had, he brought it to mueller's office. mueller's office this week turned around and brought it to the judge in d.c. and told the judge, hey, judge, this may be exculpatory for manafort. this is new information we just got from gates. we didn't have it before. it is apparently about kilimnik and the issue of manafort lying about his relationship with kilimnik. the judge this week considered that new material that she got from prosecutors and late tonight she just issued a ruling on it. this is that ruling in its entirety. it's a minute ruling so it's a minute order so it's not one of these long ones. and even in this short little minute order, it's still got a bunch of redactions. in short, though, what the judge says in this ruling is that she quotes, appreciates the clarification of the record.
however, this new information that has clarified the record, quote, does not alter the court's determination that the defendant, paul manafort, intentionally made multiple false statements concerning his interactions and communications with konstantin kilimnik. this is the judge tonight saying hey, thanks, for handing over the stuff that you thought might help manafort's case. it doesn't help manafort's case. dude still lied. still lied about his interactions with konstantin kilimnik. why is this kilimnik stuff being fought out so hard to the very end? this kilimnik issue turns out to be a very key area of focus. i mean, this is the last thing that manafort appears to be fighting to the proverbial death over as all of his criminal cases come to an end, and as he literally waits to find out if he's going to die in prison, this kilimnik thing is the last thing that he is trying to do, right? no collusion, no collusion. he's arguing with the virginia judge. with the d.c. judge, he's arguing everything he possibly can about kilimnik. over the course of this past
week, manafort's lawyers have been fighting specifically in the d.c. case to get tough about constanti konstantin kilimnik unredacted from transcripts in the manafort case and unredacted from court filings in that case, and again, remember, that case is done. it's over. why are they fighting to unredact all this stuff in the d.c. case? the d.c. case is over. i mean, whether or not the stuff is redacted is not going to make a difference to the judge in the d.c. case. nothing's redacted to her. she's seen everything that's behind every black box. why do they care whether or not this stuff is unredacted to the public and made available to the public? well, they may be trying to have an influence on that other judge in virginia who's going to rule on manafort's sentencing there first. they may also be trying to influence public opinion about paul manafort and his links to russia, more specifically his links to russian intelligence, and they may specifically be trying to say something to the
white house about whether or not pardoning paul manafort would make it look like the president was pardoning the guy who was the link between the trump campaign and russian intelligence during the russian attack on the campaign. i mean, the special counsel's office has said in court filings and there are prosecutors who have said in open court that this guy kilimnik, manafort's right-hand man, right, he is assessed by the fbi to have active links to russian intelligence. this big redactions fight that's been happening over the past week in d.c. is that manafort's defense has been insisting that other stuff about kilimnik needs to be unredacted. it needs to come out from behind those black boxes in order to balance out that assertion from the prosecutors that kilimnik is russian intelligence. specifically what they've been fighting to unredact in these public facing filings and transcripts are their own assertions from the defense side
that kilimnik is known to have met with u.s. personnel at the american embassy in ukraine. okay. this is the last big fight of manafort's case in d.c.? yeah. his defense fighting tooth and nail to get these references out from behind the black boxes so we the public can see that information. the judge in d.c. appears mystified by why they're fighting so hard for this. this is from the judge, quote, we have on the record the assertion that kilimnik has connections to russian intelligence. i think there's a desire on the part of the defense that i understand to have on the record the defense assertion to say he was providing information to the u.s. government. quote, they were definitely -- excuse me, there were definitely communications that kilimnik has with people in the state department. the judge says i don't think it relevant, but he's not denying it, so if that's something you want to say publicly, it's said. is that enough? the judge continues. to the extent you want the public record to reflect the fact he talked to the state department, okay, it's in there. the judge says, quote, i do
think that this is just not relevant to what i have to do. it may be relevant to something, but it wasn't relevant to what i had to decide, to which paul manafort's defense lawyer says, well, then, it seemed to be relevant to the office of special counsel. otherwise they never had to say it. they never had to put it in one file. if it's obviously relevant to the special counsel, it's relevant to mr. manafort the judge says, quote, you're still acting like these two things, that one disproves the other. i don't find that. i know you don't, your honor, that's clear, but it is important there's no reason for this to be redacted. we think it's very important that the allegation for the prosecution on more than one occasion about his being known to have connections to russian intelligence, it needs to be countered on the public record. it's very important. it is very important to mr. manafort skpr manafort, and that's why we raise the issue again. we do think it's very important for that allegation of his known ties to russian intelligence to be countered and to be countered in a balanced manner.
and again, the way they are trying to balance that out is by letting it be shown in the public record in unredacted court filings that kilimnik, yes, is assessed to be linked to russian intelligence. the fbi assesses him to be actively linked to russian intelligence, but they want it to be known that kilimnik has also had conversations with people at the u.s. embassy in ukraine. the judge as i say appears bewildered that this is so important and that this is even a defense to the charge that kilimnik is linked to russian intelligence. i mean, i think that's key, that point where she says, quote, you're still acting like these two things, that one disproves the other, i don't find that. but as unimpressed as the judge is by what manafort and his defense team are trying to get in the public record about konstantin kilimnik, it's clear that they are trying to this point harder than anything else they are trying at the end of manafort's rope, at the very end of his journey through the criminal justice system in the
district of columbia. and we don't know exactly why they are doing it, except perhaps to try to create some sort of impression that maybe the issue of kilimnik being linked to russian intelligence is fuzzier than it seems. maybe that means that manafort shouldn't be seen as the person who was linking the trump campaign to russian intelligence during the russian intelligence attack on the election. i mean, that is not an argument that is likely to matter to either judge within the four corners of these cases. but that's how they're finishing up. that means the audience for that is you and me and donald trump. so these legal cases continue. as of today it is now march, remember when the mueller investigation was definitely never going to make it to march? it'd be all over? it's march. and the mueller investigation is intact and proceeds and all of these different legal cases attached to it and related to it
continue. i mean, the manafort case is taking this very interesting public sort of inexplicable no collusion turn at the very end, trying to make the case all about no collusion and konstantin kilimnik isn't a russian spy? the judges in the case aren't considering that, but they're nevertheless trying to make that their last public case. i think the audience for that is the white house. also, robert mueller and the special counsel's office this past week, they won one of their big cases in federal appeals court. a former aide to roger stone had been trying to get out of responding to his grand jury subpoena from mueller arguing that mueller's appointment was somehow unconstitutional so he didn't need to respond to the subpoena. a federal appeals court one level below the supreme court ruled in mueller's favor on that one. we got unsealed filings this week that make it look like mueller's probably winning his other big appeals court case as well. this is the case about the mystery corporation that's owned by a mystery foreign country. we still don't know the country or the company, but newly
unsealed filings this week show that the courts at every stage have been very skeptical of that challenge to mueller as well ruling at every turn that the company does have to respond to mueller's subpoena and, in fact, they do have to pay $50,000 a day in penalties until they comply with that subpoena. both of those appellate cases show that not only the special counsel's office and mueller's investigation appear to be on very strong legal ground, also as a practical matter, both of those cases mean that the grand jury that mueller has convened is likely going to get new evidence from both of those entities that have received mueller's subpoenas, both of those entities were fighting those subpoenas. both of them have lost or are losing their fights to not respond to those subpoenas. that means more information to the grand jury. also this week, there was another surprise in the maria butina case. her sentencing was put off for at least another month because federal prosecutors say she is continuing to cooperate with ongoing investigations. also the roger stone case
proceeds at pace. the judge in that case being told by prosecutors that they expect the stone trial to take five to eight days in court. the judge in that case ruling late tonight just before we got on the air that stone once again appears to be banging his forehead into the low hanging gag rule that that judge has imposed on him and his counsel in the roger stone case, apparently from her ruling it appears that stone is somehow involved in a book that is coming out shortly and the judge was never advised of that book, and the book may somehow violate the gag order that stone can't make public comments about the case. i don't know, we'll find out more on monday when new filings are due to address that issue with the gag order in roger stone's case. that order, again, just coming out late tonight just as i sat down here tonight. so all of these legal cases are preceding a bapace. i want to put one other thing on your radar in terms of what's happening in the court and what might happen next because of it.
you might remember headlines a few weeks ago about buzzfeed, buzzfeed prevailing in a libel case. buzzfeed published the christopher steele dossier. buzzfeed was sued by a russian guy whose name appeared in unredacted fashion in that dossier, that libel case against buzzfeed made headlines recently in december because that case, the libel case was not successful. buzzfeed won the case. the case is over, but now the judge in that case appears to have just ruled that a whole bunch of information and proceedings that were part of that case are going to be unsealed and shown to the public within the next two weeks. among those things that are going to be unsealed is apparently the deposition that was made in that case by christopher steele himself. the former british spy who collected those intelligence memos that became the famous/infamous christopher steele dossier.
steele gave a deposition for that case. he has been fighting legally to try to keep that deposition under wraps. he has cited potential danger to himself and his family were that deposition made public. nevertheless, looks like that federal court in florida is going to make the steele deposition public anyway soon this month. so these legal cases are humming. after michael cohen's testimony this week in congress, in addition to all the legal cases that are humming, congressional investigations have just had a fire lit under them as well. cohen himself will be due back before the house intelligence committee next week on wednesday. that same committee is now saying they will solicit testimony from trump organizations cfo allen weisselberg whose name was sung like a hymn throughout the cohen testimony. it was mentioned more than two dozen times. now as of tonight massachusetts's democratic congressman richie neil tells nbc news that although he had initially planned to wait for the conclusion of the mueller investigation before making any
decision on whether he would seek president trump's tax returns, he tells nbc news now that, well, given what's happened recently, they've decided to go ahead with it. quote, ways and means committee chairman richie neal has asked the committees to prepare the request for years of donald trump's personal tax returns. according to two aides involved in the process that request is expected to land at the irs as early as the next few weeks. oh, they kept telling us this thing was winding down. you thought this thing was wi winding down. turns out we're just getting started. stay with us. . intuit is here to change this story... with giant solutions like turbotax, quickbooks and mint that give everyone the power to prosper.
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xfinity, the future of awesome. . and what did he or his agent communicate to you? >> unfortunately, this topic is actually something that's being investigated right now by the southern district of new york, and i've been asked by them not to discuss and not to talk about these issues. >> the committee understands that you've been in contact with this other district of new york, is that true? >> i am in constant contact with the southern district of new york regarding ongoing investigations.
>> constant contact with the southern district of new york regarding ongoing investigations. you are? that was somewhat of a surprise from the president's long-time lawyer michael cohen this week for this specific reason. as recently as december that federal prosecutor's office in the southern district of new york told a judge in writing that they were recommending a substantial prison term for michael cohen in part because cohen was notes a helpful to them as he might have been. quote, to be clear, the prosecutor said, cohen does not have a cooperation agreement, and therefore is not properly described as a cooperating witness as that term is commonly used in this district. so that was in december when he got his three-year prison sentence. that's sdny saying cohen had helped them out a little bit, but not enough that he should be seen as a cooperator. not enough that the court should see him as qualified for a sentence reduction as a cooperator. now this week he says he is in constant contact with those prosecutors, constant contact regarding ongoing
investigations. well, that made us wonder if something might have changed between december and this week. does michael cohen have a new arrangement with prosecutors? has he finally after the fact become a formally cooperative witness in sdny? well, we think we now have an answer to that, and it's interesting. despite michael cohen's assertion this week that he is in constant contact with sdny on ongoing investigations, two sources close to michael cohen have now confirmed to us that cohen is still not working under a formal cooperation agreement with sdny. he is not, therefore, a cooperating witness in a formal sense, even though he is meeting with them frequently and assisting them with multiple ongoing inquiries. after three straight days of testimony before congressional committees this week, next week michael cohen has somewhat unexpe unexpectedly been called back
for a second round of testimony before house intelligence. cohen's attorney lanny davis told us here on our show last night that that second invitation to cohen for him to come back for another day of testimony, that invitation was extended to him last night after, quote, new information developed. new information, quote, that really could be game changing. he told us, quote, the development of this new information is the reason cohen is coming back next wednesday. what does that mean? what new information, and how is it developing, and what do you mean by game changing? joining us now is congressman eric swalwell of california. he's on both the intelligence and judiciary committees. sir, thank you very much for being here. >> of course, good evening, rachel. >> last night mr. cohen's attorney told us it wasn't the original plan to have michael cohen return next week for another session with your committee, the intelligence committee. he said that became necessary after cohen developed new information. he characterized it as potentially game changing, and i know you can't tell us what cohen said behind closed doors,
but can you tell us if his lawyer is spinning us? can you tell us if there is new information or broadly what it's about? >> he's not spinning, and we truly were at the edge of our seats listening intently as mr. cohen told us information that he certainly did not tell us in october 2017 when we interviewed him, and he certainly did not testify to during the open hearing, and that was the arrangement was that he was going to make sure that when he testified to the intelligence committee he wouldn't talk about anything that could, you know, compromise any other agreements he had or any ongoing investigations, but we did take a deeper dive into what mr. cohen knows, and we expect him to come back on wednesday with corroborating documents to see if it's true. >> he contends that he has corroborating documents to back up whatever it is he told your committee behind closed doors? >> he does, and you know, rachel, i found him to be a liberated man. i watched him for about ten
hours in october of 2017, and he seemed like someone who had, you know, an interest in protecting someone else as he did. he wasn't straight with us. there were a lot of i don't recalls if it was convenient to protect the president, but here he was very careful in his testimony. you could tell he wanted to understand the question. he didn't want to give an answer where he would be called to speculate, and you could tell that he's put his hand on the hot stove, and he learned not to do that again, and i also think as much as he talked about his family, that he does care to not spend the next ten years or the rest of his life in prison. >> and part of that may not just be his hope. part of that may be his effort. one of the reasons that we were trying to chase down whether or not he has a formal cooperation deal with sdny right now is because even though he's been sentenced in the southern district, if he provides prosecutors with information that's good enough for them to use it in the investigation or prosecution of another person at the judge's discretion, and at prosecutors' discretion, that
could be used to reduce his sentence, and i think mr. cohen was coy about that when he was -- or wasn't coy about that when he was speaking in that public session with the oversight committee. does that factor into how you assess his credibility, and do you have to factor that in in terms of not stepping on the toes of any ongoing law enforcement matters? >> well, it's really interesting, rachel, because he's a man without, you know, a life jacket if that's what he's doing. because without a cooperation agreement, there's no assurances with the prosecutors as to what they would do or recommend, and so you know, that's why i think if he is indeed telling the truth, you know, he is risking telling a lot more about the trump organization and mr. trump than he had agreed to do, and he may not even benefit from it at all, and that's why i think you have to even, you know, lend more credibility to that. and when i worked as a prosecutor with people who had broken away from the gang as mr. cohen has, you know, sometimes just doing the right thing is
what motivates them more than anything. i'm not naive, i know that he wants to see his family as soon as possible, but it's important for us now to take this information and fill it in by looking at other corroborating evidence that's out there, and a lot of what he's told us matches other pieces of evidence that we had but now we're getting the color that we didn't have before. >> we've had reports congressman, that allen weisselbe weisselbe weisselberg, the cfo of the trump organization, and felix sater who's a former trump organization employee or executive, we've had reports that they are both going to come before your committee hopefully soon. can you confirm that they have been invited, and can you tell us if anybody else is on your list already? >> they are invited. mr. seder will come on march 14, and you know, it's long past time that we take an mri to every organ and tissue in the trump organization to understand, one, whether the president and his team and his family are financially compromised, and two, to understand if even today as he serves in the oval office, if
he's making decisions that affect our national security to just benefit himself financially. there's reason to look, so those are certainly the, you know, two witnesses we have announced publicly, but there are others that we are learning about in these investigations who will help us better protect our democracy and the american people from a potentially compromised and corrupted president. >> congressman eric swalwell of california from the intelligence committee and judiciary committee, thank you for being with us. >> my pleasure. >> still got a lot to get to tonight, stay with us. oh yeah. now i'm ready to focus on my project. oh yeah. ♪ ♪ this is why we plan. ♪ ♪ you never cease to amaze me, maya. see how investing with a j.p. morgan advisor can help you. visit your local chase branch.
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you will recognize this top white house staffer as jared kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to the president. here we have jared kushner and his super lawyer abbe lowell who has been representing mr. kushner in his dealings with congress and the russia investigation and so on. these are the leading news reports over the past 24 hours that say jared kushner got a top secret security clearance last year only after the president ordered that jared be given one. over the objections of intelligence officials who review these kinds of things for a living. but now check this out. this is new tonight, if you know somebody who says they don't believe in evolution, show them this. here are the changing statements from abbe lowell, mr. kushner's very well-regarded lawyer, about how exactly his client jared kushner got his stop secret security clearance.
statement to the "new york times," this is the first one, quote, in 2018 white house and security clearance officials affirmed that mr. kushner's security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone. regular process, no pressure, no story here. that's statement number one. then tonight we got statement number two from abbe lowell, quote, whatever the accuracy or not of recent news stories we were not aware of nor told of any request for or action by the president to be involved in the security clearance process. that's statement number two. we were wondering who was included in the "we" there. yet another statement came in from jared kushner's lawyer abbe lowell, the third one of the last 24 hours, and this third one is notably focused on abbe lowell himself. quote, whatever the accuracy or not of recent news stories mr. lowell was not aware of nor told
of any request for or action by the president to be involved in the security clearance process. again, officials affirmed at the time that regular process occurred without any pressure. they told me it was regular process. i mean, abbe lowell seems to be saying there, don't ask me. ask them. ask the white house. mr. lowell was not aware of nor told of anything the president might have done about ordering up a top secret clearance for jared kushner over objections. can we actually -- i don't know if we can do this graphically. did we try to cram all of that evolution onto one page, can we do that? tiny print. in 24 hours jared kushner's lawyer has had to go from no, dad didn't intervene to get jared a cleerarance. two, okay, maybe dad did intervene to get jared a clearance, but if so jared had no idea about that. to statement number three, okay, maybe dad did intervene to get jared a kushner, but if so jared
didn't tell his lawyer about that. in fact, his lawyer might have been lied to about this, which is the only reason his esteemed lawyer might have ever lied to the public about it unwittingly. jared might have known, but abbe lowell super lawyer, he was in the dark. don't blame him. that's 24 hours, one guy, all statements on the same thing, and as reporting has continued on exactly this point, this is looking bad in terms of how the white house is handling the story. it's also raising questions about whether jared kushner gets to keep his super lawyer. lawyers do tend to break up with their clients if and when they discover their clients are lying to them, especially if those lies cause the lawyer to make false statements to the public that they then have to put out multiple evolving corrections for all in one night, and that little part of that story is jared kushner's to figure out right now. the bigger problem for the rest of us is just ahead. stay with us.
now that i'm chairing that committee and the democrats are in charge of the house, they have said they will cooperate. we have people that are going up to new york to sit with his people and to go over our document request. >> so you have staffers that are coordinating with i imagine attorneys at deutsche bank on document production right now? >> yes, i do. >> wow. that's news. actually, there's two pieces of news tonight for which i feel like we need some presidential scandal perspective. number one is that breaking news that just happened with chris hayes here on msnbc last hour, congresswoman maxine waters announcing that her committee staff are going to deutsche bank offices and are now coordinatoricoordinatoing with deutsche bank to begin producing documents related to the committee's request about the president's finances. that's a big deal. has that ever happened before with a sitting president?
similarly there is the developing story from the "new york times" that the white house chief of staff and white house counsel wrote memos it file, which are apparently somewhere inside the white house right now expressing their concern and their objections to the president overruling national security officials to give his son-in-law jared a security clearance, despite whatever turned up in jared's background that led national security officials to not clear him before the president intervened. has that ever happened before, and b, does history tell us whether or not we ever get to see those white house memos that explained what happened and explained the objections? joining us now is nbc presidential historian michael bes lash. it's great to have you here. thanks. >> thank you, rachel. >> let me ask you about the breaking news we just got from chairwoman maxine waters. she says that congressional staffers are basically obtaining financial information about the president's finances that he himself refused to give. is this historically
unprecedented territory? >> not a bit. congress is now doing its job, which it should have been doing for the last two years. in 1973 richard nixon, there was a report that nixon had seriously underpaid his $1,000. each of those years. congress investigated. they found it was absolutely right. nixon had taken illegal tax deduction, backdating a gift of his vis presidential papers to the national archives. he owed $475,000 which he had to pay up, half of his net worth. in the process, nixon voluntarily gave his tax returns to congress so that they could track this down. >> and that relates to the other breaking news story we had tonight from chairman richie neil from ways and means who said that although he had previously planned, the previous plan in his committee had been to wait until the end of any
mueller investigation before they started talking about wanting to obtain the president's tax returns. it now sounds like they have tasked staff attorneys on that committee with pursuing them. >> that's right. >> i'm struck by the president's reported sensitivity, specifically on the issue of deutsche bank. his relationship with this bank, his personal finances, his business finances. for maxine waters to that deutsche bank is handing over materials when we know what they've asked for -- that seems like, i mean, banking materials, financial stuff that the president wants hidden that he's very sensitive about, that seems to me almost closer to him than his taxes. >> well, yeah, you were quoting the word "game-changer" earlier in this hour. i think we may be seeing that right now. >> on the issue of these security clearances, michael, there are these reported memos by former chief of staff and former white house counsel john kelly and don mcgahn that according to "the times" object to the president overruling national security career staff in order to give jared kushner a clearance. and the issue of giving somebody
a clearance in this -- in this way is one thing. that's a -- that's a whole kettle of fish. i actually -- i'm very -- my interest is piqued though by the existence of these memos. as a historian, what can you tell us about whether we might ever see those memos? >> well, number one, mcgahn and kelly would not have written those memos saying they objected to the security clearance unless it was pretty bad and they wanted to get on the record that they were opposing a decision that was being made that they thought was damaging to national security. the problem in term of your and my finding out what was in those memos, in terms of actually seeing them, unless someone decides to leak them, you know, these might be said to expose sources and methods. let's say the objection of the security clearance was bad information on kushner that had been learned through interception of let's say a conversation between two russian officials. so the government would say to release that, would expose
sources and methods and, you know, the precedent is, for instance, jay oppenheimer famously had a security clearance withheld by dwight eisenhower in 1954. some of the documents pertaining to that took 60 years to come open. i hope we don't have to wait that long. we may get a leak. we may get people talking about what's in them. >> nbc presidential historian michael beschloss, i knew you would know. really appreciate you being here, michael. thanks. >> my pleasure. always. >> all right. more to come. stay with us. stay with us (mom) it sure is. (mom vo) a lot of everything. over all the years, (mom) we'll have cake soon. (mom vo) we trusted it to carry and protect the things that were most important to us. (mom) good boy. (mom vo) even those years we had no idea what we were doing. [baby crying] (mom vo) our forester helped us build a life
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you may have seen this week amid all the news going on that there was finally an arrest and an indictment in that botched/stolen congressional election in north carolina. here's some slightly jaw-dropping news about how exactly that went down this week. mccrae dowless is the operative in question. he worked in this election for republican congressional committee mark harris. dow lass was the guy arrested and indicted this week. he ran the same illegal election scheme in races up and down the ballot in that part of north carolina for years. but this week when mccrae dowless got arrested, the guy who turned up to bail him out is an elected county commissioner in north carolina. who maybe doesn't care so much about his reputation in this matter. local station wral asked why he did that. >> the reason i've got him out and other people have assisted is with him being out, we can
have legal people contacting him to get to the bottom of the true source of what has been going on with elections in bladen county for a long time. >> mccrae dowless denies any wrongdoing and is expected in court next week. watch this space. the path to prosperity is not easy for everyone. half of small businesses fail within 5 years. and more people than ever struggle with debt. intuit is here to change this story... with giant solutions like turbotax, quickbooks and mint that give everyone the power to prosper. intuit. proud makers of turbotax, quickbooks and mint. since i'm a truck driver, sometimes i'm gone for, like, three weeks at a time. even if i'm 3,000 miles away, i'm connected with my boys. just pull on over, see my son's game,
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