Wednesday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow hearkened back to her conversation with the former director of national intelligence who worked under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
James Clapper told Maddow President Donald "Trump would not be president if not for that attack." The attack he's speaking of is the cyber-attacks on the United States from Russia and the intrusion in the 2016 election.
"That seems like a really freaking-big deal," Maddow said Wednesday, after running a clip of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaking to Harvard about the failing state of the nation's capital.
"It puts a very different light on what Jeff Flake is amiably shouting about today at Harvard Law School and what Democrats are losing their minds about today and what the Department of Justice and the FBI are apparently being expected to do tomorrow," she said.
"I mean, if the director of national intelligence is right and this president is only in office because of an illegal foreign intelligence op that installed him in this office, then the law enforcement and counterintelligence effort to investigate that and to hold people accountable for that, that's not just some fight about ordinary crime and punishment, right?" Maddow asked. "That's not a typical Washington scandal, even. That -- that makes it a critical nexus between both the rule of law and national sovereignty, our ability to determine our own leaders without other countries messing with it."
She recalled a BBC story from Jan. 2017, just before Trump was sworn into office. It dropped a day following the public release of Christopher Steele's dossier. The story, Maddow called "a little woo woo" at the time, because it seemed like it was a long shot and filled with speculation.
"Most of what Mr. [Paul] Wood wrote about in that piece the day after the dossier was published, most of it has borne out over time. It's been proven out by other reporting," she said. "Paul Wood reported the day after the dossier was published in January 2017 that the CIA had been given information during the summer of 2016 by a foreign intelligence agency that had obtained some puzzling information about contacts between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. We didn't know that at the time, that Paul Wood reported it in January 2017, outgoing CIA director John Brennan would later confirm it."
She noted that Wood also reported in 2017 that the CIA and FBI had formed a working group with international intelligence services and "they had been looking at whether Russian money had made its way into the U.S. presidential election." That ended up being true as well.
"It's one of the things I ended up asking James Clapper about last night because that's in his new book too," Maddow explained. "He writes about that joint intelligence and law enforcement working group that met together in the United States during the presidential campaign just as Paul Wood reported last January."
Clapper's book describes the situation, "We all agreed that Russia was behind an unprecedented aggressive multifaceted influence campaign using cyber-theft and cyber-espionage, propaganda across the broadcast spectrum and all of the largest social media platforms, and an influx of Russian money, perhaps even laundered and funneled into campaigns."
Because Wood was the first to report all of that, it makes his latest report even that much more important. According to his recent reporting, Michael Cohen scored a secret payment of $400,000 by the government of Ukraine to get a meeting in the Oval Office with Trump. Up until that point, Ukraine had been speaking with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators and turning over information to them. They stopped handing over information and in the days that followed, Ukraine, indeed, was visiting the White House.
Cohen was brought in, according to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, "because Ukraine's registered lobbyists and embassy in Washington, D.C. could get Mr. Poroshenko little more than a brief photo-op with Mr Trump. Mr Poroshenko needed something that could be portrayed as 'talks.'"
After the meeting was set up, suddenly Ukraine stopped cooperating with Mueller and Cohen got his money.
Watch Maddow's full explanation below: