TRANSCRIPT: But amidst all of that today there was the news broken by CNN tonight and
then bolstered later by Buzzfeed this evening about Russia. And on the
surface this looks like really red-hot stuff. I will tell you the amount
of it. It`s been verified by U.S. Intelligence agencies or by NBC news is
very thin. What we can tell you is that President Obama and the incoming
president and the gang of eight, leadership of both the house and the
senate, heads of the intelligence committees, they were all given a sort of
dossier of alleged dirt that the Russians allegedly say they allegedly have
on Donald Trump.
Alleged dirt that they allegedly used to allegedly cultivate him is
basically a Russian asset who would do what they want because he knew what
embarrassing stuff they had on him. Buzzfeed tonight then published what
is says are the 35 pages of raw material from which this dossier was built.
We have no way of knowing if anything in it is true or if this document
itself some kind of plant or dirty trick. The basic claim here though is
that all of these top officials, including the president elect have now
been given a summary of this information by the intelligence agencies.
Whether it`s true we don`t know.
Whether it is believed to be true by our intelligence agencies we don`t yet
know but I bet we`ll find out. If it is true, of course, and Donald Trump
is a Russian agent and knows he is one that`s the story of the century. If
it isn`t true, it`s nevertheless the biggest possible distraction at a time
when things are already really wobbly for the incoming administration and
this historically unpopular president-elect. Joining us now here in New
York is NBC News chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel. Richard?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Good to talk to you.
MADDOW: Might be the story of the century. Might be – we don`t know.
ENGEL: It is very, very strange. And this has been bouncing around for
several months now. There have been a lot of allegations. I would even
call them rumors at this stage that the Russians put together a file on
Donald Trump, compromising material, compromising him financially,
compromising him personally –
MADDOW: Stuff that they – that he did that was bad that they had
ENGEL: That they caught him on trips to Russia and neighboring states
doing nefarious things and that they have evidence to back it up and that
he effectively fell victim to a Russian trap. This is the allegation. And
that they have assembled this file of compromising information on him and
that they are just waiting at any moment to either use it or use it to
blackmail him so he is a sort of a puppet. I have heard these allegations
for a long time. I have heard very, very specific allegations, times,
places, amounts of money, specific activities, I haven`t been able to prove
any of it. These allegations –
MADDOW: You have been chasing the story to see if you can document it?
ENGEL: I have called people in Russia, I have called leading experts, I
have tried to chase it down in this country and I`m not the only one.
Other reporters have been given this kind of material and have been looking
in to it and haven`t been able to prove it. And I called some of the
sources who were sending this my way, they said, ok, you have this
material, you say it is compromising as it is, show me the proof. Show me
these tapes that supposedly exist, show me the records of the money that
was supposedly paid. All of these things that these allegations that if
true would be incredibly compromising. So far I haven`t been able to find
anything. What`s interesting –
MADDOW: Why is this coming out now?
ENGEL: So, that`s what the interesting thing. There are lot of rumors.
These rumors have been circulating for months. Why would the intelligence
community then today boil it down to two pages and drop it like a bomb on
President-elect Trump, on many senior leaders in Washington.
ENGEL: And on the president himself`s lap? Why do it right now? And
that`s the question. I was told by a senior intelligence source that the
reason they did it is the intelligence community is angry, the intelligence
community effectively wants to put him on notice saying, look, you are
saying all these things about Russia, be careful, there are all these
allegations out there. Are any of them true?
And I was told, “we can`t help you, Mr. Trump, unless you tell us more. We
need more input.”
MADDOW: These allegations are out there, we need to know if we need to be
taking care of this.
ENGEL: And lastly that there was a concern that these allegations just in
themselves could become a distraction and make it difficult for him to
MADDOW: Well yes. I mean you don`t have to – it doesn`t have to be true
for you to blackmail somebody with it, right? I mean I guess that`s –
ENGEL: I would treat them at this state with a lot of caution.
MADDOW: NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel. Richard thank
you for coming in to talk to us about this, weird news there, right man?
All right Brian Williams is up next for an hour of coverage followed