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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  March 13, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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defines of u.s. requests is the latest sign of the world's growing distrust of the united states on aviation safety issues. they cite as evidence the u.s. regulators who were insisting through today that these jets didn't need to be grounded, even as possible evidence to the contrary was starting to come in. well, that is our broadcast on this wednesday night. we thank you so much for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. man, this day! this day was only one day, even though it feels like it was ten, ten, ten days in one. but, you know, only one way to get through it is to just start getting through it. let's just jump in. all right? here we go. this is how it started when the judge came back from recess. before the recess she had heard arguments from the prosecutors from the special counsel's office.
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she had had quite a lot of back and forth with the defense counsel. she had heard an apology from the defendant, who spoke from his wheelchair, and then she took a break. so deep breath. everybody collect yourself, and then when she comes back from that recess, it's time for everybody to see how the cookie crumbles. all rise. the courtroom deputy says, quote, your honor, recalling criminal case number 17-201-1, the united states of america versus paul j. manafort jr. and then the judge begins. quote, the sentencing briefing, and to a lesser extent the argument this morning in this case, has been marked bay great deal of passion and a fair amount of hyperbole and overstatement on both sides. this defendant is not public enemy number one, but he is not a victim either. i also want to make clear from the start that the conclusion of this particular prosecution with
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the imposition of sentence today will not be a vindication of and will not incriminate anyone who was involved in or the subject of the ongoing investigation by the office of the special counsel. not withstanding the many references that pepper the sentencing memo, the question of whether there was or was not any coordination or conspiracy or any collusion between anyone associated with the presidential campaign and anyone in russia was not presented in this case. period. therefore it was not resolved one way or the other by this case. she continues, "also, this sentence will not be an endorsement or an indictment of the mission or the tactics of the office of special counsel. that question is not before the court either. then she says -- nor does it fall to me today to pass judgment on paul manafort as a human being, or decide, as his daughter asked me to, if he is worthy of forgiveness under god. his life is not over, and he is going to have the opportunity to
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make something positive of this, as he has suggested he is going to do, and that is a question left for a higher authority at another time. the issue today is what is the appropriate sanction in this world for certain things he did deliberately over a considerable period of time and in violation of a number of federal laws." and at that point, judge amy berman jackson from the bench out loud, orally, she goes into a detailed verbal recitation over paul manafort's crimes, specifically, what he's being sentenced for today. after she describes all of his crimes, the judge goes on to talk about in more general terms manafort's disregard for the facts, his dissembling in this courtroom, his, quote, belief that he had the right to manipulate these proceedings and the court orders and the rules didn't apply to him. she said that, quote, a significant proportion of paul manafort's career has been spent
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gaming the system, but she said, quote, court is one of those places where facts still matter. so a bunch of detail of the crimes. at one point she goes into a lot of detail about what is so dangerous to american democracy that he committed the types of crimes where he did, where he kept secret the people who were paying for lobbying efforts so that our democracy functioned in the dark, essentially, without the facts about who was trying to influence us. she goes into detail. and at that point, the fate of the president's campaign chair paul manafort is sort of starting to become clear, right. we're starting to realize at least that this judge is going to give him some prison time. but there is also a crucial question about how his fate, how his personal fate relates to the rest of the russia investigation, and that was really set in motion, or at least really advanced today by the sentence that paul manafort ultimately got in this courtroom today. but right before the moment when
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she sentenced him, right at the very end of the proceedings today, while she is going through manafort's crimes and talking about what she thinks about him and talking about the case, we got from this judge today sort of an anger. we got her telling us what we the public should know and what she basically contends is bs untrue spin about how the conviction and imprisonment of this man, the president's campaign chair, fits into this whole scandal. so this is the last piece of this transcript i'm going read here, this is -- i mean, this judge knows how high profile this case is. she is obviously addressing the matter at hand, but i think she is also telling us something here, and i did not expect this from this judge today at all, but it is worth hearing exactly what she said. all right. last bit. manafort's, quote, core argument ahead of this sentencing, she says, echoed by his defense
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lawyer mr. downing this morning was that, quote, but for this special counsel investigation, manafort wouldn't have been charged in the first place. that argument, she says, falls flat. quote, it is certainly not unusual that investigators uncover crime x when they're looking into crime y. and the perpetrators who get uncovered that way do not get a pass. saying i'm sorry i got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency. then she says, first of all, it's entirely relevant to the question before the court -- excuse me, first of all, it's entirely irrelevant to the question before the court. the number of times the argument was repeated notwithstanding -- excuse me. first of all, it is entirely irrelevant to the question before the court. the number of times the argument was repeated, not withstanding the fact that it didn't have any bearing on the question at hand, suggests that it wasn't being repeated for the benefit of the person you were trying to persuade he had accepted responsibility, but it was being repeated for some other audience. so forgive my missteps there.
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that is the judge saying that the fact that it was the special counsel who is prosecuting paul manafort was irrelevant to the question before her. the fact that the special counsel was the prosecuting agency here she's suggesting kept getting brought up in court by manafort's defense not because it mattered to her, not because it would have any influence on the way she was going sentence paul manafort, but it was being repeated for some other audience, meaning it was being repeated for a public audience who might be more inclined toward paul manafort because specifically he's being prosecuted by this no-good very bad special counsel. and then this is how she finishes up. quote, finally, the no collusion refrain that runs through the entire defense sentencing memorandum is similarly unrelated to the matters at hand. the defense told me over and over importantly or it is notable that the defendant has not been charged with any crimes related to the primary focus of
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the special counsel's investigation, and the sentencing memorandum suggests without foundation that the individuals who received relatively short sentences for lying during the investigation received those sentences because, as the defense put it, courts recognize that these prosecutions bear little to no relation to the special counsel's core mandate of the investigation, allegations that the trump campaign colluded with the russian government to influence the 2016 election. the judge says, quote, it is hard to understand why an attorney would write that. that sentence, like the others, has no citation following it because not one of the judges involved stated at the time they imposed sentence that they considered that to be a factor in their sentencing decisions. the no collusion mantra the judge says is simply a non sequitur that does not bear on the question of the appropriate sentence, and it is not clear whether it's even accurate since the investigation is as yet unfinished and no report has been issued. it's also not particularly
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persuasive to argue that an investigation hasn't found anything when you lied to the investigators. so that was judge amy berman jackson today. the judge saying explicitly right before she sentenced paul manafort, look, i wasn't asked to look at russian collusion in this case, so you guys are bringing it up not for me, and this repeated -- what she calls the no collusion mantra from manafort and his defense team, she says it is a non sequitur, but then remarkably she says it's not even clear whether that no collusion mantra is even accurate since the russia collusion investigation is as yet unfinished and no report has been issued. so she is saying i was not asked to look at russia collusion. you keep bringing this up. that is not about this case. and why you saying no collusion? i didn't even look at it, and it's not clear to me that won't ultimately be charged. and remember, she's seen stuff we haven't.
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i mean, ultimately, in paul manafort's life, the most important thing that happened today will be the length of the federal prison sentence that judge jackson gave him. but for all of us as a country, this diversion that judge jackson took at length in manafort's sentencing hearing, in the transcript here, this no collusion, no collusion diversion, that may end up for us being the most important thing in terms of understanding the historical importance of the manafort case and the historical importance of paul manafort's prison sentences, and the impact of this case and all of these other criminal prosecutions on the presidency of donald trump and the president's own liability and potential criminal exposure in this ongoing scandal, because what this judge says there about the no collusion mantra being, quote, simply a non sequitur, i mean, that is -- that is literally and exactly true in this case. i mean, just -- just think about
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this for a second like with your child mind, right? let's just take this outside the context of old paul manafort sitting there in his wheelchair and outside the context of donald trump and all the drama over the past couple years, over the duration of the russia scandal. just imagine this in the abstract. imagine, just for the sake of argument here, imagine, let's say that you are the hamburglar. remember the hamburglar? you wear black and white stripes. you wear a weird little fedora and a mask. you are known for having such an insatiable appetite for hamburgers that you steal them all the time. you're terrible. you're a hamburglar. also, surprisingly you are a terrible driver. you're an insanely bad, criminally bad driver, and a cop totally caught you crossing double yellow lines, smashing into a guardrail, knocking down a street sign, causing other cars to crash in your wake. you're awful. now maybe it's because you were
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ravenously gobbling down purloined hamburgers, i don't know, but you were reckless driving, and you got caught for it, and you got prosecuted for it. and you, in court, get convicted for reckless driving. now imagine that upon you being convicted of reckless driving, your lawyer walks outside to the courthouse steps and says "i am the defense lawyer for the notorious hamburglar. and i'm here to tell you that we feel vindicated today, because, yeah, i know, my client just got convicted on all these reckless driving charges, but this court turned up absolutely no evidence that my client burgled any hamburgers. no verdict on intent to still any hamburgers. he is not a beef thief. he is not a burger burglar. and yes, he is going to prison for a long time on this reckless driving thing. but he is vindicated. he is a hamburglar in name only. this is a terrible smear. it has been disproven in court.
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that would court that would be ridiculous on a whole bunch of levels, even beyond your outfit. but that is an allegory for what just happened here now twice in one week with the president's campaign chair paul manafort. because, i mean, as the judge explained today, when she absolutely didn't have to, but as she explained today as she was about to sentence paul manafort, manafort really has been putting on this weird display, this kind of performance by his lawyers that's running alongside his criminal trials in which he publicly claims vindication for something he was not actually tried for at all. i mean, even as he is convicted of lots of other felonies and sent to federal prison for years, his lawyer's out on the courthouse steps saying manafort is vindicated. today the president's campaign chair was in fact sentenced to federal prison for two felony conspiracy counts, one involving financial crimes, the other one involving witness tampering.
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but upon the handing down of that multi-year prison sentence on those felony counts, paul manafort's lawyer walked out on to the courthouse steps and said this -- >> for anyone who was in the courtroom today, what i'm about to say will not be a surprise. judge jackson conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any russian collusion in this case. and that makes two courts. two courts have ruled no evidence -- >> traitor! liar! >> of any collusion with any russians. point number two -- >> that's not what she said! >> manafort's a traitor. >> you guys are liars, man. you're not lawyers, you're liars. >> you're not lawyers, you're liars. that was manafort's defense lawyer immediately after being sentenced to federal prison today.
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you can hear all the people yelling over him. that's not what she said, right? i mean, manafort's lawyer says judge jackson conceded there was absolutely no evidence of any russian collusion. people -- that's not what she said. that's not what the judge just said in court. i mean, this is manafort's lawyer on the courthouse steps lying what that judge just said in court. the people who were shouting him down, whatever you think of the fact they were shouting him down, on the facts they were correct. because we know what judge jackson actually did say on the russia collusion issue today. i mean, just moments before, we got that performance from manafort's lawyer outside her courtroom. she could not have been more clear, right? the question of whether there was or was not any coordination or conspiracy or any collusion between anyone associated with the presidential campaign and anyone in russia was not presented in this case. period. therefore it was not resolved one way or the other by this case. manafort's lawyer hears that and then goes outside on the courtroom step and says the john
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the judge conceded there was no evidence of russian collusion in this case. this is not subtle, right? this was not hard to grasp from the judge. this is not some little nuance in manafort's criminal case. this is the judge bluntly saying what has been true from this case from the beginning, which is that this case, this court, this judge did not consider the issue of russian collusion. that's not what the charges against manafort was about. this is about different stuff. this is not about your hamburglaring. this is about reckless driving, whether or not you're a dastardly hamburglar. but given that, given that manafort's lawyers had just heard the judge say that moments before, they know that to be the truth about their client's case, why did manafort's lawyers still walk outside that courtroom today and say this lie about the judge, to say the judge confirmed in this case that there is no evidence of russia collusion? well, presumably, they said that today for the exact same reason they said it outside manafort's other federal trial where he was sentenced on other felony counts in virginia less than a week ago.
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>> what you saw today is the same thing that we had said from day one. there is absolutely no evidence that paul manafort was involved with any collusion with any government official from russia. thank you, everybody. >> well, at least you could hear him there. as far as i understand it, the virginia courthouse setting last week was a little harder for folks to navigate logistically. so last week when manafort's lawyers said the weird no collusion thing on the courthouse steps then, there weren't people standing around him in that moment, shouting him down, saying he was lying about that point. but he was lying about that point. just like in d.c. today. what manafort's lawyer said on the courthouse steps both last week and this week were both lies. i mean, in virginia, it was just as explicit as it was today in d.c. the judge in virginia didn't consider the issue of russia collusion one way or the other. the judge didn't collect evidence on russia collusion and
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then weigh it in that courtroom and then decide, oh, okay, in fact i rule there was no russia collusion. just like in that d.c. courtroom today, in virginia last week that virginia judge was blunt and explicit and unmistakably clear about the fact that collusion wasn't something he looked at all. it wasn't an issue in the case. quote, manafort is not before the court for anything having to do with colluding with the russian government to influence this election. so today -- today is a historic day. you will always be able to tell your kids and your grandkids what you remember what you were doing that day, the first day in u.s. history that the campaign chair for a sitting president was sentenced to multiple years in federal prison for felonies. with the partially concurrent and partially consecutive sentences handed down by judge jackson in d.c. today on top of the sentence that manafort got last week in virginia, also factoring in credit for the time he's already served in federal lockup, factoring in the good-time credits that he will get if he is in fact good during his prison time, people who have
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experience in these things say they expect manafort will ultimately do about seven years roughly in federal prison before he is released. the closest thing we've ever seen to something like this in u.s. history was when president nixon's campaign manager john mitchell served 17 months in federal prison starting in 1975 before he was ultimately paroled out on medical grounds. but, again, john mitchell's 17 months is nowhere near the seven years that paul manafort is going to do. and at least in mitchell's case, the president who he got elected, richard nixon, was no longer in the white house when mitchell had to go to the crowbar hotel. nixon was long gone by the time mitchell was convicted and had to start serving his time. so manafort breaking this historical ground, it's not the way you like to go down in the history books. he is doing something that's never been done before in u.s. history, but i'm sure this is the type of infamy he is not happy to have achieved in american history. that said, there is one logistical advantage paul
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manafort has gained by being the first presidential campaign chairman in history to ever find himself going to prison in these circumstances. and that is that the guy who he got elected president, the guy whose campaign for president he ran just a couple of years ago, that guy is still president now, and as such, that president has the constitutional power to issue a pardon for manafort or to commute manafort's seven-year sentence if he so chooses. i mean, john mitchell never had that benefit, right? nixon was no longer in a position to pardon him by the time john mitchell started serving his term. nobody who ran a presidential campaign has ever been in this circumstance before. but that prospect for manafort, that the president who he helped elect could undo all this legal trouble for manafort, could undo manafort's prison sentence with the stroke of a pen, that presumably is why manafort's lawyers keep popping up outside courthouses saying hey, the judge just said conclusively no collusion, no collusion. it was proven in this courtroom.
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the judge agrees, no collusion. when in fact the judges in those courthouses never considered that question at all, let alone what evidence might support that prospect or not. and so i don't know if those lawyers get in trouble for that performance, and honestly, in the broader context here, whatever paul manafort may know about that subject or not, he didn't cooperate with prosecutors to give them truthful and useful information about it. remember, prosecutors in both courthouses told the judges that manafort should get no credit whatsoever for his supposed cooperation because he wasn't in fact cooperative with them. and in this d.c. court today, the judge affirmed her earlier ruling that manafort in fact deliberately lied to prosecutors about his connections during the campaign with a russian guy who is tied to russian intelligence. she also ruled in the manafort case that manafort deliberately lied about his dealings with the guy who produced detailed polling information for the trump campaign. one of the collusion allegations
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that has arisen about the trump campaign is the prospect that the trump campaign provided russian sources with internal detailed technical polling information that could conceivably been helpful to russian intelligence while they were mounting that foreign intelligence campaign to try to tamper with the election to benefit trump. well, manafort in his d.c. case was found to have lied to prosecutors about his contacts with the russian intelligence guy, and he was found to have lied to prosecutors about his dealings during the campaign with the guy who handled the trump polling. well, lying to keep those things covered up and then lying to a sea of reporters and tv cameras to say, hey, these judges found there was definitely no collusion, well, if there was collusion and there are worries that this president might use the powers of his office to cover it up, to quash any investigation that might turn up evidence of russian collusion, if there are worries that this president might use his pardon power to protect and reward
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people for lying to prosecutors about russian collusion, if there are worries that this president will use his pardon power to protect and reward people for lying to federal judges about russian collusion, if there are worries that he will use his pardon power to protect and reward people who know stuff about russian collusion and either don't tell it all or tell lies about it, that's why there is a substantive concern about the president possibly pardoning paul manafort or commuting his sentence. right? concern about that is not just about manafort's life and the prospect that manafort may not face justice for his crimes. concern about president trump pardoning manafort, commuting his sentence, that has to do with the prospect that such an act by the president would show every other witness and every defendant in this case, current witnesses and defendants and future witnesses and defendants that if they stick to the no collusion, no collusion mantra, despite the facts, if they stick to that mantra, even to the
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point of lying to investigators about it and lying to federal courts about it, those people, even if they get caught for lying, they will still have nothing to worry about, they'll still get off because the president will get them off. that is the worry about a manafort pardon that has been the worry all along. it is particularly the worry now, now that manafort is facing seven years in federal prison after, among other things, repeatedly lying to prosecutors about his contacts with russian intelligence. and you have heard a lot of discussion in the news and legal circles recently about the prospects of a manafort pardon. trump was asked about it today by reporters a the white house soon after manafort received his sentence. all of that discussion, yes, it is of interest in terms of manafort's personal fate, but it is also about the fate of the whole russia investigation. it is about the prospects for the entire investigation. it's about the whole kit and caboodle. and the crucial question of whether the president can use his powers as president to wire the russia investigation to
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explode by using his pardon power to protect people who agree to lie about it in order to protect him and in order to prevent the truth from coming out. and that is why new york prosecutors today, not federal prosecutors, but state prosecutors in new york threw a huge wrench in the works for the white house today when they unsealed a brand-new 16-count felony indictment against presidential campaign chairman paul manafort just minutes after his sentence was announced in court in d.c. obviously the immediate revelation everybody had upon seeing that indictment is that whatever the president may be considering in terms of using the pardon power, and whatever the president might be thinking about whether he's going to spring manafort, either getting rid of his convictions all together, just getting rid of the federal prison time that manafort is about to do, the immediate revelation from that
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new york indictment today was, well, as we all know, there is no such thing as a presidential pardon for state crimes. there is no way a president can commute your state prison sentence. the president can't get paul manafort out of new york charges. and that is one important thing to consider about the new new york indictment against manafort today, but i think there are a couple of other things that are worth figuring out here about this indictment given the importance of this development today. again, not just for the fate of manafort himself, but for the whole proverbial kit and caboodle that is the russia investigation and the question of the president's ability to stop it. and i actually think with the right advice, we can figure some of the stuff out during this hour during this show tonight, so that's what we're going to do. stay with us. that's next. feel the clarity of non-drowsy claritin
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that's next. right after the president's campaign chair paul manafort was sentenced to prison today in a d.c. courtroom, we got news that he'd been indicted on 16 state charges in new york. now one of the things i think is worth trying to figure out here is how the mechanics of the state prosecution work vis-a-vis the two federal cases against manafort that have just wrapped up. obviously, the big picture perspective here for the whole country in terms of how manafort fits into the russia investigation amounts to a lot of concern about the president's ability to pardon manafort or commute his sentence so that manafort is essentially excused for having lied to prosecutors about, among other things, his
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contact with a guy linked to russian intelligence during the course of the campaign. so the potential success of this prosecution in new york is important to the whole big picture of how manafort fits into all this and how the president fits into the russia investigation broadly. and under the constitution, of course, you can't be tried twice for the same crime. that's called double jeopardy. that said, generally speaking, you can be charged, even if it is for the same or similar conduct, you can be charged with different crimes in different jurisdictions in different kinds of court. even if you only did one bad thing, you could be charged for it for one crime in federal court. you could be charged for it for a different crime in state court. prosecutors just have to be very careful and specific in the way that they do it so as to avoid double jeopardy concerns. so, for example, manafort was charged in federal court in
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virginia for bank fraud for some real estate shenanigans he pulled involving new york properties. in a generally speaking way, that same set of facts, those same shenanigans by manafort around new york real estate, those were charged today in state court in new york as, quote, residential mortgage fraud in the first degree. now, there's no federal crime of residential mortgage fraud in the first or any degree. that's not a federal crime. and so on its face, this is not an instance in which manafort is being charged again for a crime which he's already been convicted. this is a whole new crime under state law that wasn't available to federal prosecutors had they wanted to pursue it, because that crime is only a new york crime. so, again, i think there are questions here that we can start to answer tonight about how these prosecutors, these state prosecutors try to navigate this prosecution so as to avoid double jeopardy concerns, trying to avoid some state judge throwing out this indictment by saying manafort has already been
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convicted of these crimes in a different court, in federal court. but honestly, the facts laid out in this 16-count, 11-page indictment today against manafort in new york, it didn't give us any new alleged facts about manafort. i mean, they're charging him in new york based on the same evidence that was brought to bear against him in his federal cases. and remember, in his federal cases, paul manafort was convicted on eight felony charges. he plead guilty to an additional two felony charges. as part of pleading guilty, he admitted guilt to all the other charges that had been pending against him. that means that he's already formally in writing admitted guilt to having committed crimes when he did all these things that are now described in this new indictment that was just brought against him today in new york. so i understand the delicacy of what the prosecution is trying to do here. what about the defense? how does manafort's defense deal with the fact that all these charges he has just been hit with in new york, these are all things for which he has already
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admitted guilt. how do you even mount a defense when you've already said yeah, that stuff, ooh, yeah, i did all that. joining us now is joyce vance, former u.s. attorney for the northern district of alabama. joyce, thank you so much for being here. i'm really looking forward to talking to you about this stuff tonight. >> glad to be here. >> first of all, let me ask you about whether i'm asking the right questions when it comes to this new york indictment. what i see as important about it, other than manafort's fate, is how it really calls the question as to whether or not the president can free him from legal liability in the prospect of prison. that said, it seems to me like the prosecutors have to be careful in how they pursue this, given that he has already been charged in two different federal courts. >> i think you're exactly right. the first thing that manafort's defense lawyers will likely do is file a motion to dismiss the indictment, alleging that it subjects him to double jeopardy, and then all of these legal issues will be teed up and argued, most likely all the way
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to new york's highest appellate court. >> joyce, in terms of the d.a. bringing these charges, that double jeopardy concern obviously, i'm also having a hard time imagining how a special counsel would approach this. just awkwardness as a layman looking at the plot here that manafort has already said he did all this. all the factual allegations laid out in the indictment is something manafort has already admitted he's done. this is the state of new york admitting he's admitted to as crimes. it seems for the defense almost impossible. >> it's really a double-edged sword. it will make the legal defenses very important to manafort, because he would have difficulty surviving a jury without being convicted given what he's admitted to factually, but i'll say something very unpopular, i suspect, rachel, and say that we have this important notion of double jeopardy in our
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constitution, and we should think carefully. we don't really need rabid masses in this country chanting lock him or her up. >> mmm-hmm. >> and so it's important that this double jeopardy issue be very thoroughly vetted. i know that cy vance runs a very good shop in manhattan, and i suspect that some of the best minds in that office considered the double jeopardy question and the implications of it, and it will of course play out in front of state court judges. >> what do you expect to be the timeframe on this? before this presidency, i knew very little about federal criminal procedures. i know even less about state criminal procedures, let alone these ones specifically in new york. do you have any sense of the kind of timeframe that this will proceed on? >> this is an issue that will have to be decided before there would be any kind of trial for this quirky little procedural question in law that says double jeopardy attaches when a jury is impanelled. in other words, the minute that you get a jury in the box, then
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it's too late to consider double jeopardy questions. so this will have to happen early. i would say that once he is -- manafort is arraigned in new york custody, which will take some time, because the federal marshals will have to put him on their bus and ship him up there. but once he's arraigned, his lawyers will begin to file procedural motions, and this will be one of those early motions. >> joyce, if you don't mind sitting with us, i have another aspect that i feel like seems clear to me as a layperson, but i definitely need some expert advice on it. you hold on just a moment for that? >> sure. >> all right. we'll be right back as we try to get through to the meaning of this stuff. gosh, what a day. all right. we'll be right back. stay with us. sarah's last tuition payment, sent off. feeling good? oh yeah. now i'm ready to focus on my project. ♪ ♪ this is why we plan. ♪ ♪
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when the president's campaign chairman was hit today immediately after his federal sentencing with an indictment for 16 new felony charges in new york state, here's my question. did that indictment include a little bit of a shot across the bow for the president himself? because to me, as a nonlawyer, it looked that way. let me show you what i mean, and then we'll actually talk to somebody who will know for sure. you remember that federal prosecutors in new york already named the president as individual number one in two campaign finance felonies that were charged in federal court in new york. according to prosecutors, individual one, aka president trump, is the person who directed michael cohen to commit campaign finance felonies when he directed the hush money
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payment scheme to two women right ahead of the presidential election and the cover-up thereafter. since those federal prosecutors described the president's conduct that way in court documents, the question that has loomed over the trump presidency like king kong hanging off the freaking empire state building is whether or not those prosecutors intend to bring felony charges against individual one in regard to those crimes, or indeed the question of whether they might have already wrought felony charges against individual one, aka president trump, in some sort of sealed indictment that we the public have not yet seen. in that campaign finance felony scheme, it is not just the president who was personally implicated as the person directing the scheme. the president's business, the trump organization also appears to be implicated in that felony. in those felonies i should say. among other things, they falsely described those hush money
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payments in the trump organization's own books as tax services or a legal retainer. prosecutors explicitly say that those descriptions in trump organization records are false. they explicitly describe the trump organization sort of cooking their own books that way, using their own business records to disguise the true nature of those payments which were illegal payments. and after prosecutors went out of their way to describe the trump organization having done that, you know, you ask former prosecutors, you'd ask experienced defense attorneys, hey, why are these sdny prosecutors going out of their way to show and describe these false bookkeeping entries at the trump organization? and lawyers would tell you, well, yeah, theoretically, that could be a crime, too. falsely recording those records as something they're not, that could be a felony called falsifying business records. well, to you and me who aren't lawyers, that's not a very famous crime. falsifying business records? that's not like bank robbery or
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reckless driving or even hamburglaring. i mean, falsifying business records, does anybody ever actually get charged for that? well, remember i said it is a 16-count indictment today against paul manafort in new york. count 8, falsifying business records in the first degree. count 9, falsifying business records in the first degree. count 10, falsifying business records in the first degree. count 11 and count 12 and count 13 and count 14 and count 15, 8 of 16 felonies manafort is charged with today in new york state are falsifying business records in the first degree. and falsifying business records is what the trump organization is effectively accused by prosecutors already of having done in the felony campaign finance case that is sending michael cohen to prison in a matter of weeks and in which the president is also alleged to have directed the entire criminal scheme. and it's true there is a federal justice department policy that arguably constrains any federal
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prosecutor from indicting and prosecuting a sitting president. but that federal justice department policy doesn't bind state prosecutors whatsoever. and neither state prosecutors nor federal prosecutors are barred from bringing any sort of prosecution against the president's business or against people who work for the president at his business, whether or not they're his children. is this today new york prosecutors showing the president how to expect this will be done? joining us once again is joyce vance, former u.s. attorney in alabama. joyce, thank you for sticking with us. i'm wondering what you think about this idea that the state prosecutors are sort of taking aim at the president here and showing the way that state law might produce a prosecution even out of those felony campaign finance charges we already saw against cohen. >> it's very interesting that we're talking really about three different prosecutors' offices, at least three, the southern district in new york. that's federal prosecutors.
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today we've got charges filed by the manhattan district attorney. that's a second office. and then the third office that also appears to be quite interested in the functioning of both the trump organization and the foundation is the new york attorney general's office. these are the folks who've previously caused the foundation to dissolve and who issued subpoenas that were reported yesterday for information about trump organization deals with deutsche bank. so i think it's a safe assumption. i don't know anything specific about this particular case, that these three offices would have some level of communication and contact, that it's not impossible that federal prosecutors, for instance, would use established mechanisms for sharing evidence that they obtained in the grand jury with state prosecutors, that the offices would talk with each other about theories, and that we would see an indictment today on charges that might later be echoed in work being done by another office, which i think is the long-winded way of saying
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it's entirely possible that this is a signal of something to come in the future. >> joyce vance, former u.s. attorney from the great state of alabama. joyce, thank you for being here tonight, and thank you for helping us over the course of the day trying to understand the legal significance of this stuff that happened today. thank you so much. >> thanks, rachel. >> all right. lots more to come. it was one of those days. stay with us. ♪ - [woman] with shark's duo clean, i don't just clean, i deep clean carpets and floors, so i got this. yep, this too, and this, please. even long hair and pet hair are no problem, but the one thing i won't have to clean is this because the shark's self-cleaning brush roll removes the hair wrap while i clean. ♪ - [announcer] shark, the vacuum that deep cleans now cleans itself. you get the price match guarantee. so if you find your room at a lower rate, hilton is like... we're gonna match that rate and give you an extra 25% off.
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a hot minute, matthew whitaker, he was back on capitol hill today where lawmakers invited him to meet with them to clarify some testimony that he gave last month. matt whitaker told the judiciary committee in an open session that president trump never exerted any pressure on him over the mueller investigation or any other investigation, including the federal prosecution of the president's longtime former lawyer michael cohen. at that february hearing, mr. whitaker flatly denied public reporting that the president had lashed out at him on at least a couple of occasions after cohen pled guilty to multiple felonies when he was prosecuted in the southern district of new york. whitaker's testimony that day in congress denying that he'd been the recipient of any such pressure, denying that he'd had conversations like that with the president, that was soon thrown into doubt when "the new york times" reported that the president had, in fact, called matt whitaker late last year and asked him if somebody else could be put in charge of the cohen investigation at that federal prosecutor's office in sdny.
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well, matt whitaker was called back to the hill today to try to clear up whether any of that was true. the meeting was closed doors, so we didn't get to hear exactly what happened, but here's what the chairman of the judiciary committee, congressman jerry nadler, told reporters thereafter. >> i think there were three main takeaways that we take away from today. one, unlike in the hearing room, mr. whitaker did not deny that the president called him to discuss michael cohen -- the michael cohen case and personnel decisions in the southern district. two, while he was acting attorney general, mr. whitaker was directly involved in conversations about whether to fire one or more u.s. attorneys. three, while he was attorney general -- acting attorney general, mr. whitaker was involved in conversations about the scope of the southern district of new york u.s. attorney berman's recusal and
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whether the southern district went too far in pursuing the campaign finance case in which the president was listed as individual number one. >> oh. so according to jerry nadler, whitaker doesn't deny talking with president trump about cohen's case in the southern district of new york. also, the president was directly involved in conversations about whether to fire one or more u.s. attorneys and he was involved in discussions about whether federal prosecutors in new york went too far in pursuing campaign finance charges against cohen. yes, that's the case where the president himself is personally implicated and called individual one. oh. that would be the biggest scandal for any president since watergate if it wasn't just another scandal in this administration. we pressed for more details tonight with chairman nadler's office. his office told us that he stands by his description of what happened in that meeting. obviously we do not know where this inquiry is heading, nobody does, but the idea that the
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president weighed in with the attorney general of the united states on the cohen investigation in which he himself is named and implicated, that's a -- that's a big deal. that's a big deal. it's not the kind of deal that just goes away, particularly when the chairman of the judiciary committee appears to have evidence on it and be on to you. we'll be right back. at&t provides edge-to-edge intelligence, covering virtually every part of your healthcare business. so that if she has a heart problem & the staff needs to know, they will & they'll drop everything can you take a look at her vitals? & share the data with other specialists yeah, i'm looking at them now. & they'll drop everything hey. & take care of this baby yeah, that procedure seems right. & that one too. at&t provides edge to edge intelligence. it can do so much for your business, the list goes on and on. that's the power of &. & when your patient's tests come back... i've got a lot to look up to. for a while there, mom was a little worried about my growth... so she tried everything, including pediasure.
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so at this point, the judge had addressed the convicted
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felon before her for 8 1/2 pages already. addressed the man himself and what she laid out as his objectionable conduct in her court. quote, all this appeared to reflect -- excuse me. all this appeared to reflect his belief that he had the right to manipulate these proceedings, that court orders and the rules did not apply to him. the judge said the defendant, quote, has now admitted that he engaged in attempts to influence the depiction of this case in the media in direct contravention of a court order. then she added 3 1/2 years to the nearly four years he was already looking at in prison. it is that same judge from d.c. today, that exact same judge who is going to hear roger stone's argument tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. in that same courtroom. stone's argument about whether he too has been manipulating the criminal proceedings against him by violating that judge's gag order in his case. has to be a little intimidating stepping back in there today where the last guy got absolutely stapled by this
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ask your gastroenterologist about entyvio®. entyvio®. relief and remission within reach. tomorrow, among all the other news and drama going on, tomorrow we expect the u.s. senate to vote down president trump's declaration of an emergency, which is what he tried to use as a way of going around congress to take funds from the military to build his wall on the southern border. that declaration has already been voted down in the u.s. house. he is also due to lose tomorrow in the u.s. senate. the white house has promised a veto, but even then we will be in uncharted territory for this president. something more to look forward to. that does it for us tonight. see you again tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. good evening, lawrence. >> good evening, rachel. and the president lost an important vote in the senate today on that saudi-led war in yemen, senate voting to eliminate support for it basically.

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