GOP reacts to Mueller report. TRANSCRIPT: 4/23/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests:
Elijah Cummings, Chris Lu, Joe Conason, Dale Ho, Vanita Gupta, Rosalind Halderman, Marissa Malek, Tom Perez
Transcript:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  And Kennedy by the way just for memory, was

appointed as Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan.  And now with

Kennedy gone from the court, the key vote is expected to fall to as I said,

Brett Kavanaugh.  Will he continue Justice Kennedy`s legacy?  Will he carry

on the embrace of the LGBTQ community by the Constitution and bill of

rights?

 

That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  “ALL IN” with Chris

Hayes starts right now.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight on ALL IN.

 

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Any other person who had

engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted.

 

REID:  Impeachment talk continues.

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Its effects, the path –

the fact-finding takes us there.  We have no choice but we`re not there

yet.

 

REID:  As the White House openly defies House Democrats.

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It`s called presidential

harassment.

 

REID:  Tonight, Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings on his latest escalation

with the Trump administration.  Then –

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is he going to accept Russian help in the 2020

election?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don`t understand the question.

 

REID:  Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez on the Republican

indifference to the Mueller report.  Plus, the lawyer who argued today`s

census case in the Supreme Court joins me live.  Joe Biden`s big

announcement about his big announcement.  And is Donald Trump about to get

another primary opponent?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  People have asked me to give this serious

consideration.

 

REID:  ALL IN starts now.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Good evening from New York I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. 

Democratic leaders in Congress are resisting calls to open impeachment

proceedings after the Mueller report presented strong evidence that the

President committed obstruction of justice.

 

In a long and contentious conference call last night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi

and other House leaders urged their members to stay the course and stick

with the plan of investigating the president through the various committee

probes already underway.  That Democratic leaders say is how they`re going

to hold Donald Trump accountable.

 

While Democrats are doing business as usual, the White House is going to

warfighting every effort at oversight by the legislative branch.  To them,

it doesn`t seem to matter who has the law or the Constitution on their

side.  With every power play, Republicans are testing the proposition the

Democrats won`t have the guts to fight back.

 

Today was the second deadline from the House Ways and Means Committee for

the Treasury Department to turn over the President`s tax returns under a

law that explicitly gives the committee`s chairman access to any taxpayer`s

information.

 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is continuing to stall telling the

chairman he needs – he needs till May 6th to make up his mind about

whether to comply.  But this morning a White House spokesman said

compliance is not going to happen.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

HOGAN GIDLEY, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Look, as I understand

it, the President is pretty clear, once he`s out of audit he`ll think about

doing it.  But he`s not inclined to do so at this time.  He turned over

hundreds of pages of a financial disclosure form during the campaign. 

Everyone knows he`s a very successful billionaire.  He`s had a lot of

success in the business world.  But people see what he`s been able to

accomplish and there is nothing nefarious there at all.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  For the record, the IRS Commissioner testified a couple of weeks ago

that an audit would not bar someone`s tax returns from being released. 

Last night the House Judiciary Committee called its first major witness to

testify on the Mueller report sending a subpoena to Don McGahn, the former

White House Counsel, who gave key evidence in the obstruction

investigation.

 

Asked today about the subpoena, the White House would not rule out invoking

executive privilege to try and stop McGahn from testifying.  That`s just

one of the ways that they`re fighting congressional subpoenas.

 

Yesterday the President and his business sued Elijah Cummings, Chairman of

the House Oversight Committee to block a subpoena for financial records

from their accounting firm.  A move that`s without precedent in recent

history and now that withholding a key witness in the committee`s

investigation of White House security clearances.

 

The White House has told Carl Kline who reportedly overruled career staff

to grant a clearance to Jared Kushner not to comply with the subpoena

unless a White House lawyer could come with him.  So today when Kline was

due to give testimony, nobody showed up.  And now House Oversight is

considering whether to hold him in contempt of Congress.

 

The White House is waging a campaign of massive resistance echoing southern

efforts to resist school integration after the Supreme Court ruling in

Brown versus the Board of Education.  While Democrats are trying to uphold

the law “with all deliberate speed as the Supreme Court put it in 1955,”

Trump and his cronies are stomping all over the constitution and daring

anyone to try and stop them.

 

I`m joined now by the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Congressman

Elijah Cummings who was just sued by the president.  Chairman Cummings,

thank you so much for being here.

 

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD):  It`s good to be with you.

 

REID:  So first let`s get – let me get your reaction to this lawsuit, this

unprecedented lawsuit suing you, your committee for requesting Donald

Trump`s financial and business records.

 

CUMMINGS:  Well, Joy, first of all, I was not surprised because this

administration has done everything in its power and use every means

necessary to block the Congress from getting the information that we need

to do our job.  Not only are they blocking witnesses for coming forward,

Joy, but they have not given us one document upon our requests.

 

And so they basically you know, the American people said in the last

election, we want to hold Donald Trump accountable.  But, Joy, it`s

impossible to hold them accountable if we don`t get any information and

he`s trampling on the Constitution, no doubt about it.

 

REID:  And Josh Marshall, you know, I used the phrase massive resistance in

the opening, he does as well.  He says they`re flatly refusing the White to

comply with ordinary document production and testimonial requests across

the board.  It`s not a difference of degree but of kind.  In and of itself,

it`s an impeachment-worthy refusal to follow the constitutionally mandated

framework of American government.

 

Short of impeaching the president or the officials who are refusing to

comply with your document requests, how can Democrats cause this White

House to comply with the article one powers requests?

 

CUMMINGS:  Well, the number one thing that we`re going to do next with

regard to Mr. Kline who did not appear today is that we will hold a vote of

our committee shortly to hold them in contempt and then we will check with

House Counsel to Congressional Council to see where we go from there.

 

But the fact is that the Republicans really do need to cooperate with us to

make sure that this president does not trample on the Constitution.  And

the thing – the thing about it, Joy, is when we allow these things that

happen, basically what the Congress is doing is – and that is the

Republicans in the Congress – are allowing President Trump to take away

our power and in turn, take away the power of our constituents.

 

REID:  Well, the question I think that a lot of people have, Chairman

Cummings, is Democrats clearly want to hold Donald Trump to account,

Democrats are subpoenaing witnesses and documents and trying to do the

normal course of oversight.  Republicans have made it very clear that they

are not going to help you.  They are not going to defy this president even

to defend their own branch of government.

 

So I guess what the American people want to know is what else can Democrats

do?  What can Democrats do?  Is there something over issuing letters?  What

can Democrats do?

 

CUMMINGS:  Yes.  We`re doing what we have to do is what we are doing now. 

We`ve got to take that Mueller report which by the way is a roadmap for a

lot of investigations, and we`ve got to do what Chairman Nadler has already

done that is make sure that we subpoena the unredacted Mueller report, and

then bring in Mueller and Barr to hear what they have to say.

 

And I understand that he is also subpoenaed McGahn, but keep in mind the

recent articles this evening to say that the White House will be even going

against that.  In other words, they are doing a blockade.  But I –so we`ve

got to do our research.  We`ve got – and keep in mind there`s still 14

areas that Mueller referred to the New York U.S. Attorney`s offices.  And

so that very well and may involve the president – it may involve the

president.

 

Keep in mind we also have Trump`s testimony.  So what we`ve got to do is

get all of the information.  That`s one of the things that Speaker Pelosi

has said.  She wants us to be very careful.  We want to be transparent, but

we also want to do it, Joy, with integrity, so do the American people can

buy into it.

 

The American people have got to help us to force this issue to make sure

that the president is obeying the law.

 

REID:  Well, sir, you know, do you understand why a lot of Democrats, a lot

of people in the base say the Democrats are being deliberate and playing by

the rules but the other side has thrown the rulebook out the window and has

burned it.

 

I mean, President Andrew Johnson was impeached for violating the tenure of

office act in firing the Secretary of War.  One violation of that law and

he was impeached by the House of Representatives.

 

So do you understand why a lot of Democrats say what is the – what is the

Democratic House waiting for?

 

CUMMINGS:  Joy, I understand completely.  I think a lot of us are torn

because we realize that if this president continues down the path that we

are going, we won`t have a democracy.  We get – we understand that.  But

at the same time going back to Speaker Pelosi, what – all she`s trying to

do is make sure we get all of our ducks in a row.

 

Nobody is saying that this thing may not end up in an impeachment.  But we

realize that impeachment is a very serious thing and we`re going to do it -

- do whatever we have to do, but first, we`re going to have to do our

research and we`re going to do it exceedingly well.

 

REID:  Well, when will – when can the American people expect to see Robert

Mueller testify and will that testimony be public?

 

CUMMINGS:  That`s going – I expected that it will be public.  I`m not sure

exactly when Mr. Nadler, Chairman Nadler has that scheduled.  But again, I

– what I would expect though, is that the White House will continue to

fight anybody coming before the Congress.

 

In other words, they basically would do away with the Congress.  There

would be no Congress if we`re not – if it were this White House.  So what

we – but don`t – I want to say to the public, understand, we are – we

are laser focus on what we have to do.

 

We realize that that people are impatient, that they anxiously want to see

this president impeached.  But on the other hand, they have to understand

that we got to do that but we`re also going to deal with all of the issues

like the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs, the ACA, the Affordable

Care Act, pre-existing conditions, things of that nature, infrastructure.

 

We`re going to – we`re doing all of those things too.  But – so we`re

going down two lanes here, Joy.

 

REID:  And I know you had – the committee is working on things regarding

drug price.  I know it`s very important to the American people.  But is it

not possible to work on that drug price issue, things that you just

mentioned but also pursue the lane – the impeachment lane if that`s what`s

called for if as you say the White House is simply trying to negate the

existence of the United States Congress?

 

CUMMINGS:  Yes, no doubt about it.  We are – I`ve often said that we are

doing – in my committee, we`re definitely doing both, and I think all the

other committees are doing both.  In other words, we`re doing those things

that affect the American people, but we`re also dealing with the whole idea

of exposing this president as he takes apart our democracy and basically is

done I think harm to our country.

 

But again, Joy, keep in mind, we do not have – there`s no way that we`re

going to get 20 votes in the Senate.  We can indict him basically, but then

what does the Senate do.  But I also believe that there will come a point

in time possibly where the evidence will be so overwhelming particularly

when you look at the Mueller report that the public will say you know what,

this man, President Trump does not reflect our values.

 

We`re tired of the lies.  We`re tired of him instructing people to lie. 

We`re tired of the deceit, and then – and then I think they`ll look and

see what they`ve gotten from him, hired taxes for the middle class, and

they`re going to say wait a minute, all the things, a lot of the things,

most of the things he said he was going to do he did not do.

 

REID:  Yes.  And my final question to you, sir, that you know, Republicans

back in the 1990s believed that Bill Clinton who was a duly elected

president deserves to have the mark of impeachment on him, they were not

successful in removing him, but they wanted to put that mark on him.  Do

you believe that Donald Trump deserves to have the mark of impeachment as

you said of indictment whether or not he would be removed?

 

CUMMINGS:  I think – I think he does.  I think – if you just read the

model report in and of itself.  Joy, let me – let`s be clear.  When you

look at the Mueller report, the ten items that Mueller pointed out with

regard to obstruction, if you take any one of those, anybody in the United

States that I know of would probably already be indicted, except the

President of the United States.

 

REID:  Yes.  Congressman Elijah Cummings, thank you so much for your time

tonight.  I really appreciate it.

 

CUMMINGS:  Thank you.

 

REID:  Thank you very much.  And for more on what Democrats should do about

all the stonewalling, I am joined by Chris Lu former Cabinet Secretary to

President Obama and former Counsel to the House Oversight Committee, and

Joe Conason, Editor in Chief of the National Memo who covered the Clinton

impeachment as a Columnist for the New York Observer.

 

Thank you both for being here.  And Mr. Lu, you aren`t at a disadvantage. 

I`m going to go to you on this first.  If in fact the White House defies

subpoenas for the duly requested testimony of Mr. Kline regarding the

clearances issued to Jared Kushner, of Don McGahn for the former – he`s

not even currently White House Counsel, the former White House Counsel, if

they refused to allow those men to testify in front of Congress, what

legally can the House Oversight Committee do?

 

CHRIS LU, FORMER CABINET SECRETARY TO PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, Joy, we know

exactly what they should do because we know what the Republicans did to

Obama officials in 2012.  They held Eric Holder, then the Attorney General

in contempt of Congress in the course of an investigation in which the

White House produce 7,000 pages of documents and made witnesses available

for 11 different hearings.

 

So if Mr. Kline does not testify, he should be held in contempt of Congress

as should the White House Counsel.  And frankly, let`s add on to that the

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who today again defied an order to produce

the President`s tax returns, notwithstanding the fact that the statute

clearly says he shall furnish them upon the request of the chairman of the

Committee of Ways and Means.

 

REID:  Right.  And we`ve never had a president defy a subpoena in that way

before.  Richard Nixon at the end of the day produced the tapes when they

were subpoenaed.  He never forced the country to test the proposition that

a president could simply refuse to follow the law.

 

If Steve Mnuchin refuses to follow the law, if the IRS Commissioner refuses

to follow the law, what sanction can actually be applied?  Can these men –

can the sergeant-at-arms be sent over to go and get the tax returns?  I

mean, I think what people want to know is practically what can be done to

make them comply?

 

LU:  Well, I think the issue as Chairman Cummings has said, is one issue is

going to the House Counsel`s Office and purpose of pursuing legal remedies. 

Obviously, if somebody is held in contempt of Congress, that is then

referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.

 

As we`ve learned in the past, trying to prosecute a cabinet member for

contempt of Congress is very challenging.  But you raise – look, whether

you can ultimately succeed in this or not, Congress has to assert its role

as a co-equal branch of government.  And that`s not just about punishing

this president, it`s about establishing clear guardrails of democracy for

future presidents.

 

REID:  And so Joe Conason, I ask those questions to get to a point which is

that there may not be built into our constitutional framework a way to

cause the President of the United States and his cabinet to comply with the

law, because there`s no sanction.

 

The Justice Department is run by one William Barr.  Does anyone in their

right mind think that William Barr would prosecute for contempt of Congress

a member of the administration of the President for his – to whom he

submitted a job interview saying oh, that Mueller – the whole prosecution

is bogus?

 

JOE CONASON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE NATIONAL MEMO:  No, William Barr has

proved that he`s part of a conspiracy to cover up crimes by the president. 

I mean, that`s become clear in the last few weeks.  In spite of the fact

that he had a very good reputation, somewhat undeserved, but he had it up

until recently that`s gone now.

 

People understand that Bill Barr is a servant of the President and not of

the law at this point.  And so you`re right about that.

 

REID:  And what – then what is the reach of the law?  Because the

challenge here is that the Democrats are doing the right thing when it

comes to the system, the way that the system is intended to work.  They

subpoena documents, they issue letters, they issue requests, they ask

people to appear.  The White House simply says no, make me do it, and

there`s no – there`s no mechanism that I can think of in the law, that

there`s no mechanism to make them do it.

 

CONASON:  There isn`t a mechanism except that ultimately you may end up in

the Supreme Court with something like this because –

 

REID:  With John Robertson and the two FYDs of Donald Trump.

 

CONASON:  Well, again, John Roberts, some people believe is an

institutionalist who would want to protect the reputation of the court and

maybe he is.  He`s been sort of both ways on that.  When Nixon was

president – what Trump is doing now it should be clear is worse than what

Nixon did, OK, because when Nixon was president, he had first asserted

executive privilege over the testimony of John Dean who`s kind of the Don

McGahn of his administration, but ultimately gave up on that.

 

He stopped asserting executive privilege at a certain point which is how we

learned about the tapes.  Alexander Butterfield testified as you probably

know and Dean testified at great length.  So what Trump is doing is more

lawless than Nixon.  Nixon finally agreed that when criminal matters are

being investigated by the Congress, you could not assert executive

privilege on behalf of the president.

 

Ultimately, that case would have gone to the Supreme Court had Nixon not

given up.  So you know, that may be where we go with this.

 

REID:  End up, yes.

 

CONASON:  And then you may have a president which I would not put past

Trump at all who disobeys you know, a ruling of the Supreme Court.

 

REID:  And then what?

 

CONASON:  Well, at that point, you know, impeachment I think is really

unavoidable.  I mean, I think that – then you have somebody who has

discarded completely his oath to uphold the Constitution which in the view

of many of us Trump did a while ago but certainly in the view of really the

entire country.  And then you have a showdown with the Republican Party. 

Do they uphold the law or not.

 

They`ve always tell us that they do.  They usually want to uphold it when a

Democrat is president, not a Republican, but that I think would be the

ultimate test for them.

 

REID:  And that – therein lies the challenge, Chris Lu, is that where can

the American people get confidence that if this entire confluence events

were to happen, Donald Trump has ceded the courts with his adherence, he

has stacked the Supreme Court with two more of his adherence.  The Justice

Department is under his command and the Republican Party is under his

command.

 

Why should the American people have confidence that there is any mechanism

left in the law, in the Constitution or pragmatically in any of the

branches of governments that can make this President comply with the law?

 

LU:  Look, Joy, I think it`s easy to be cynical about where we are in

politics right now, but you fundamentally have to believe in the

foundations of our democracy.  The idea that we have three co-equal

branches, the idea that we have rule of law.

 

Look, we have a president who certainly wants to test all that but you have

to believe that the democracy will stand –

 

REID:  May I ask why we have to believe that?  Because Donald Trump has

already said the production of his tax returns will not be done.  There is

a law that says it must, that Don McGahn will not testify even though he

has been duly compelled to do so, that Mr. Kline will not testify even

though he`s been duly compelled to do so.  Why do we have to have

confidence in the law that Donald Trump controls?

 

I mean, I mean it in all seriousness.  Donald Trump controls the law. 

William Barr is the Attorney General of the United States, the Republican

Party decides whether he`s ever removed from power and the Supreme Court

has five conservatives on it.  Why should we trust the law?

 

LU:  You know, I am a cynic but look, the Constitution has withstood 230

years through a civil war, through depressions.  I have to believe that the

foundations to democracy will withstand this president.  But look, I mean

we are in uncharted territory right now.

 

REID:  And why should we believe that the Republicans at some point are

going to wake up and decide that want to uphold the Constitution rather

than do what they have been doing since 2016 which is to dutifully in some

might say supine fashion support Donald Trump in whatever he does?

 

CONASON:  There are a lot of reasons to doubt that they will, most of them. 

I think there`d be a few who might feel a twinge of conscience about

trampling over the Constitution along with Donald Trump, but it`s hard to

say.

 

REID:  And what if they don`t?

 

CONASON:  Well, that`s why we have elections for.  And by the way, that`s

what people go into the streets about eventually if you know, everything

else fails.  But you know, hopefully, this can be resolved in a – in a

peaceful way.  It should be, it must be by an election if no other way. 

Impeachment, we may get there.

 

I think it`s correct right now to walk this in the deliberative fashion

that the Democrats are doing.  It`s also good to have people pushing for

impeachment.  I think it`s fine to have both in the House, frankly, and I

think Speaker Pelosi has to navigate that.

 

I think it`s a good look for the Democrats to be taking their time,

investigating everything, educating the public as to what the Mueller

report and all the other negative information about the president is so

that they really understand why this is unavoidable and necessary and not a

political you know, lark for the Democrats.

 

REID:  Yes.  It`s not – it`s not a political lark if people are defying

subpoenas.  We shall see what happens.  Chris Lu, Joe Conason, thank you

very much.

 

LU:  Thank you.

 

CONASON:  Thank you.

 

REID:  I appreciate you both.  And coming up, Republicans seem utterly

united in their response to the Mueller report, just keep quiet.  DNC chair

Tom Perez on the silence from the right just head.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  The five conservative members of the Supreme Court appear poised to

allow the Trump Administration to add a controversial question on

citizenship to the 2020 census.  It`s controversial partly because as

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said during today`s oral arguments, “There`s no

doubt that people will respond less because of the census.  That has been

proven – that has been proven in study after study.”

 

The people who respond less to that question are non-citizens.  And when

people respond less, it skews things like congressional representation in

federal funding for the next decade.  And the question is this, is

suppressing that response from immigrants the very reason that Commerce

Secretary Wilbur Ross added the question to begin with?

 

Ross claims that the Department of Justice asked him to include the

question.  But as the Washington Post reports, e-mails and depositions in

the lawsuit showed Ross had discussed the issue with White House officials

urging a crackdown on undocumented immigrants.  Some show that he initiated

contact with the Justice Department officials, not the other way around.

 

For some reason, Chief Justice John Roberts and the other conservative

justices seem to move past why three federal district judges – district

court judges had banned the Trump Commerce Department from adding the

question, and seized on a pretty shocking and cynical justification to keep

it.

 

Reuters reports “Roberts told New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood

who states sued to block the question that citizenship data is critical for

enforcing the Voting Rights Act.  You`ll recall that in 2013, Roberts voted

to gut a key portion of the Voting Rights Act calling it unnecessary to

pre-clear southern states because racism is over.

 

And as Ari Berman wrote in 2015, John Roberts legal career has been a

decades-long crusade against the Voting Rights Act.  So the idea that he

would invoke it as a reason to twist the census to Donald Trump`s anti-

immigration aims is interesting.

 

And if the Supreme Court does allow a citizenship question to remain,

there`s little question that the voting rights of many Americans will be

undermined.

 

Joining me now are two people who are at the oral arguments today, Dale Ho

Director of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project who argued against at the

citizen question in front of the Supreme Court today, and Vanita Gupta

President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

and former Head of the Department of Justice`s Civil Rights Division.

 

Thank you all for being here.  And Dale, I`ll start with you.  How

surprising was it to hear John Roberts voice the idea that the reason to

add a citizenship question was to strengthen the Voting Rights Act?

 

DALE HO, DIRECTOR, ACLU`S VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT:  Well, it wasn`t all that

surprising.  The government has been saying from the beginning that that`s

the reason why they added this question.  But as you noted, they were

intent on adding it long before anyone ever suggested the idea that it

might be helpful for purposes of a Voting Rights Act.

 

And let`s be real for a second here.  The Voting Rights Act is not a

priority of this Administration.  They haven`t brought a single lawsuit to

enforce the Voting Rights Act.  So the notion that they wanted to change

the census to help enforce Voting Rights is really ludicrous.

 

REID:  Yes.  And you also in your oral argument hit back at their claim

that they wanted to do this because it makes things more accurate.  Please

explain.

 

HO:  Yes, that`s right.  I mean, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross when he

said we needed to add this question, he said that it wouldn`t harm census

responses.  That was false.  The Census Bureau predicted that 6.5 half

million people won`t respond to the census.  And what that means is the

data is less accurate.

 

So when they say that oh, we need this data for the Voting Rights Act,

well, you`re going to have a much less accurate census when 6.5 million

people don`t respond to it.  It`s going to harm efforts to protect voting

rights rather than help them.

 

REID:  Yes.  And Vanita, let me just read you a little bit from a

Washington Post piece today that talks about the potential undercount

should this citizenship question be added.  Experts calculated that adding

the question could meet an undercount of as many as 6.5 million people and

cause special harm to urban areas and states with large immigrant

populations.

 

California, for instance, worried it could lose as many as three

congressional seats.  Do you suspect that that`s what this is about,

stripping congressional seats and representation from blue states with

large immigrant populations?

 

VANITA GUPTA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN

RIGHTS:  Yes, I do.  I think that – first of all, I want to say that Dale

did a phenomenal job this morning in the Supreme Court.  But the nefarious

agenda behind the addition of this question has really been revealed

through the litigation that led up to the Supreme Court argument today.

 

You know, there`s little hiding the fact that Wilbur Ross was communicating

with Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach in the early days of the administration

to add this question and this back in rationale allegedly that the Trump

Justice Department under Jeff Sessions needed the sense of citizenship data

in order to robustly enforce the Voting Rights Act was so blatantly a ruse.

 

But the underlying thing, look, that every aspect of this administration

has been virulently anti-immigrant.  And the Steve Bannon and Kris Kobachs

of the world want to change how redistricting happens and how district

reimportionment happens.  They want only citizens to be counted in that

process.  And the Census, though, is written into the constitution. 

 

The constitution makes very clear that the federal government has a duty

every 10 years to count every single person in this country, not every

citizen in this country, but every single person in this country.

 

And the fact that study after study shows that the addition of this

question is going to undermine the accuracy of the count, and yet that

justices seemed – and even the Justice Department is conceding that fact,

is actually kind of striking, and it`s a signal of where we are today

around the politicization of these issues, and of core tenets of our

democracy.

 

REID:  Yeah, I think it goes without saying that when the Constitution was

written, the enslaved African population were not considered citizens. 

They were three-quarters of a person.  They weren`t even sort of people.

 

Dale Ho, is there any recourse?  Let`s say this goes through, because I

think the pessimistic out there believes that the five conservatives are

going to allow the Trump administration to add a citizenship question, what

then?

 

DALE HO, ACLU VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT DIRECTOR:  I just want to hold things

up on that prognostication here, because people who try to read the tea

leaves of the Supreme Court are frequently wrong.  And, you know, some

people thought the Affordable Care Act would to get struck down, and that

didn`t happen.  And I just think it`s a little early to say something like

that.

 

The evidence in this case is really strong that adding this question is

going to wreck the Census, which is a pillar of our constitutional

structure.  And I have to think that if the justices care about the

evidence, they are going to listen to that.

 

Now, as you note, we might not win, right.  That`s the case every time we

go in front of the Supreme Court.  And what we have to do is just double

down on our efforts to make sure that everyone gets counted.  You hear

sometimes people talking about how, well, we just might not respond to the

Census if this question is on there.  That is the worst thing that we can

do right now, because that`s exactly what Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach

want.  They want an undercount of communities of color.  They want our

communities to receive fewer political representatives and less recourses

and we can`t let them win.

 

REID:  Wow.  What a day.  Dale Ho, Venita Gupta, thank you both very much,

really appreciate your time.  Thank you.

 

And up next, DNC Chair Tom Perez on the troubling Republican response to

the Mueller report.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  There are no two people in the world who are more different than

1999 Clinton-era Lindsey Graham and modern-day Lindsey Graham during the

era of Donald Trump.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA:  So, the point I`m trying to make

is you don`t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this

constitutional republic.  If this body determines that your conduct as a

public official is clearly out of bounds in your role.

 

The verdict is in.  There was no collusion.  There`s no obstruct of a crime

that never occurred.  The obstruction thing was bizarre to me to begin

with.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  In fact, the Republican response this time around faced with

presidential lawlessness and open defiance of norms, and even of congress

itself, has been mainly silence.  As a damning new political ad by a group

of renegade traditional Republicans points out, do not adjust the volume on

your TV as you take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SUBTITLES:  Sen. Ben Sasse (R). Sen. Lindsey Graham (R).  Sen.  Ted Cruz

(R).  Sen. John Kennedy (R).  Sen. Tim Scott (R).  Republicans: Your

silence is deafening.  Our president attempted to obstruct justice. SPEAK

UP for the Rule of Law.

 

(END IVDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Democrats are now calling on Republicans not to repeat some of their

tactics from the last presidential election.  The Democratic National

Committee pledging to, quote – pledging not to, quote, “weaponize stolen

private data” with Chairman Tom Perez writing an open letter to the RNC

Chairwoman Rana Romney McDaniel, that, quote, “I`m calling on you to put

country above party and publicly pledge that the Republican National

Committee will do the same.”

 

Here with me now is Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National

Committee.  Thank you very much for being here, Tom.

 

TOM PEREZ, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  Always a pleasure, Joy.

 

REID:  So, the response from the RNC, per Buzzfeed from today, to your

pledge that the Democrats will not use hacked material in the upcoming

presidential election and asking the Republicans to do the same, the

Republican spokesman pointed to Rana McDaniel`s previous comment, saying

that McDaniel has made it very clear where she stands, quote, any breech of

our political organizations, regardless of parties an affront to all of us

and we should come together as Americans to prevent it from ever happening

again.  It`s important that we do all we can to safeguard our elections. 

She`s previously stated.  Is that good enough?

 

PEREZ:  Of course not.

 

If I were in a court of law, as I used to do, at the Justice Department, I

would say objection, your honor, nonresponsive.

 

This is a really simple proposition.  If a foreign adversary steals

information that`s private and

tries to traffic it, to anyone, you should say no.  Period.  This isn`t

about right versus left, this is about right versus wrong, Joy.  And that`s

the simple proposition here.

 

We know what happened in 2016.  The Russians hacked the DNC, they hacked

into John Podesta and others, and they used that stolen information,

because they wanted to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.  And

what we are simply saying is candidates shouldn`t participate in any such

activity.  This is about our democracy.  It`s a lay up, or should be a lay

up, but apparently not for Ms. McDaniel.

 

REID:  Well, or for Donald Trump`s TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who is also a

former United States attorney.  He`s a former federal prosecutor.  But here

is what he said on CNN regarding the very thing you were just speaking

about.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP PERSONAL LAWYER:  There is nothing wrong

with taking information from Russians.

 

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR:  There is nothing wrong with taking information…

 

GIULIANI:  It depends on where it came from.  It depends on where it came

from.  People get information from this person and that person.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Mr. Chairman, are you advising those who are running for president

in 2020 to be prepared to have information from foreign adversaries used

against them?  And what will be the plan of the Democratic Party and the

Democratic National Committee in the event that that happens?

 

PEREZ:  Well, we are at war right now.  It`s a cyber war.  And,

unfortunately, our commander-in-chief is emasculated in this, because he

was a beneficiary of that cyber war.  And so what we`ve done at the DNC is

invest more in cyber security than ever before.  We have just completed our

third

training of candidates to make sure that they understand the weaponization,

or the potential weaponization, of data.

 

We are absolutely preparing for a repeat of 2016.  Why?  Because there were

no consequences to the Russians from this administration.  They welcomed

it.  And then you saw all the obstruction that

occurred with this president.

 

And so I think it behooves us to absolutely have all hands on deck on cyber

security.  And that`s exactly what we are doing not only at the DNC, but

for the candidates.  And we`ve hired a top flight team of cyber experts and

others in the ecosystem, because this is our democracy that`s on the

ballot.

 

And the non-responsive answer of Chairwoman McDaniel and the absolutely

absurd statement of Mayor Giuliani who is a former prosecutor, who ought to

know better.  Heck, a 10-year-old would know better, Joy, that you don`t

traffic in stolen information.

 

REID:  Right, but it isn`t just data.  I mean, the cyber security aspect of

it is obviously important, but you had the chairman of the Trump campaign,

Paul Manafort, actually share good old fashioned polling data with a

Russian oligarch, handed over to him.  And that was data on crucial states,

three of which Donald Trump wound up winning – Michigan, Wisconsin,

Pennsylvania, also shared about Minnesota.  Is the party prepared that the

candidate, Donald Trump, will simply run the same playbook again?  It isn`t

simply about cyber security. 

 

The Mueller report found that they weren`t involved in the hacking portion,

but disseminating the information that resulted, the attempts to sow

discord on social media that were encouraged on the

right.  Don`t you just think that Donald Trump might just run the same

playbook again?

 

PEREZ:  Oh, there is absolutely that danger.  I mean, what`s clear from

this administration, and frankly what`s clear throughout the entirety of

his business practices, is that they will lie, cheat, and steal.  They will

do anything to win.  They have so eroded institutions of democracy, that is

why there

is health care on the ballot and we will continue to point out that the

Democratic Party is the party fighting to save your health care.  The

Republicans are fighting to take it away.

 

So many other things on the ballot – our democracy is on the ballot.  And,

Joy, you are absolutely right.  We have to be prepared for more lying,

cheating, and stealing, because they have an approach to undermining our

democracy that is shameful, and that is why we are preparing for every

eventuality. 

 

And we won in 2018 across this country in historic manners, but I am very

sober about the realities of the upcoming campaign.  And they will try to

suppress the vote wherever they can.  They will try to cheat.  They will

try to weaponize things.  And we will – that`s what we are preparing for

at the DNC.  And that is unfortunate. 

 

That`s why our democracy is truly on the ballot, and I`m confident we can

win.  But it saddens me to no end, Joy, because this isn`t who we are, this

is not the party of Lincoln.  The party of Lincoln has officially died. 

The party of Trump is not a party that represents our democratic values.

 

REID:  Tom Perez, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, thank you

so much, sir.  Thank you for your time.  Appreciate it.

 

PEREZ:  Always a pleasure.

 

REID:  Thank you.

 

And coming up, is there another primary challenger ready to take on Donald

Trump?  The Republican governor who could make things interesting.  Just

ahead.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  The Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, appeared in New

Hampshire today, to generate buzz about a possible primary challenge to

Donald Trump.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GOV. LARRY HOGAN, (R) MA RYLAND:  A lot of people have been approaching me,

probably since around the time of my inauguration in late January.  People

have asked me to give this serious consideration.  And I think I owe it to

those people to do just that.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Trump already faces one challenger, former Massachusetts Governor

Bill Weld.  And he could face another in former Ohio governor, John Kasich. 

Unlike those two, Hogan is a sitting Republican governor, and a popular

one, with a sky high approval rating in a blue state.

 

He derisively referred to Trump as, quote, Dear Leader, and criticized the

RNC for voting in January to give Trump its, quote, undivided support in

2020.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

HOGAN:  I`m for building the Republican Party into a bigger tent that can

appeal to more people.  And I think we are doing the opposite right now.

 

I think the Republican Party is shrinking the base down to only a certain

percentage of white

males.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Trump remains extremely popular with Republican voters, though he

does appear weakened in the wake of the Mueller report.  His overall

approval rating has tied an all time low of just 39 percent, and he has

never, not for one single day of his presidency, had the support of a

majority of Americans.

 

And while Trump is likely to survive any and all primary challenges, he

could have an impact even if they lose.

 

History shows that when a sitting president faces a serious primary

opponent, as Business Insider notes, the incumbent is often weakened and

ultimately loses to their opponent in the general election.

 

Trump could be forced to focus his fire on his GOP challenger or

challengers, especially if and when never Trump Republicans coalesce around

a GOP candidate.

 

Plus, in some states, Trump`s name might not even be on the presidential

ballot.  18 state legislatures have now introduced bills requiring a

candidate to release his or her tax returns if they want to appear on the

ballot.  And up next, breaking news from The Washington Post, the president

has just spoken to reporter Robert Costa, and he`s provided his rationale

for not cooperating with congressional

investigations.  And we will tell you all about it next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  We have breaking news related to our top story tonight, the White

House`s utter refusal  to cooperate with congressional investigations.  In

an interview with the Washington Post, Donald Trump said that he is opposed

to any current or former White House aides testifying before congress. 

Trump said that since the White House cooperated with the special counsel`s

investigation, quote, there is no reason to go any further, and especially

in congress where it`s very partisan, obviously very partisan.

 

Joining me now is Rosalind Helderman The Washington Post political

investigative reporter

and co-author of the new book “The Mueller Report.”  Ms. Helderman, thank

you very much for being  here.

 

ROSALIND HELDERMAN, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Thank you for having me.

 

REID:  So, the president has expressed his view that he doesn`t have to

comply or – and anyone associated with him does not have to comply with

congressional subpoenas.  What about the people to whom those subpoenas are

being issued, people like Don McGahn?  Are they in agreement with this idea

– and Carl Klein – that because he says they don`t have to, that they

don`t have to?

 

HELDERMAN:  Yeah, I think those people are trying to figure that out right

now.  We understand from someone close to Don McGahn that he`s going to

sort of let the process play out.  He`s going to hear from the committee,

hear from the White House, and then figure it out.  We were told by someone

close to Mr. McGahn that he does not want to be in contempt of congress,

but he also doesn`t want to be in contempt of the ethical and legal

obligations that accrue, because he`s a former White House official.

 

REID:  And are there obligations that you know of just in your reporting

that would prevent a former White House counsel from complying with a duly

issued subpoena?

 

HELDERMAN:  Well, if the White House objects, what they will say is that

his testimony is subject to executive privilege, and the president has

asserted his executive privilege.  That`s tricky legal argument, because

Don McGahn already testified to Bob Mueller, and the White House agreed to

allow

his testimony to become public with the publication of the report.

 

Ultimately, if the White House chooses to assert that privilege, this will

be decided by a judge, and we could be looking at a fairly lengthy court

battle.

 

REID:  And just to read from the report here that you co-authored, White

House lawyers plan to tell attorneys for administration witnesses called by

the House, that they will be asserting executive privilege over their

testimony, according to two officials familiar with the internal plans, who

spoke on condition of anonymity.

 

In his interview with The Post, Trump maintained that the White House

counsel`s office has not made  a final, final decision about whether it

will formally assert executive privilege or try to block congressional

testimony, but that he opposes cooperation with House Democrats who he

claimed were trying to score political points against him.

 

Do you know of any precedent for a president saying that because he

believes the opposing party to try to score political points, that he can

assert that anyone who has worked for him in the past or in the present

does not have to comply with the law or with a duly issued subpoena?

 

HELDERMAN:  Yeah, there`s actually a fairly recent precedent where Harriet

Meyers, who was a former White House under George Bush was subpoenaed by

congress and the White House tried to prevent her from testifying, that

case was litigated, and there was a ruling that went against the White

House, but the matter continued on appeal.  And ultimately, it wasn`t

really fully resolved prior to President Bush leaving office, and the new

administration settled the case.

 

So there isn`t a fully binding court precedent on this issue, but what

we`ve had so far is that suggestion from a judge that the White House may

not win on this front.

 

REID:  Rosalind Helderman, thank you very much for your time.  I really

appreciate you scrambling to get there to talk to us tonight.  Thank you.

 

And I`m joined now by Jason Johnson, MSNBC political analyst, and politics

editor for The Root; and Marissa Malek, former law clerk for Supreme Court

Justice Clarence Thomas.

 

And Marissa, I`m going to start with you.  The president of the United

States saying that he will

essentially oppose anyone in his administration, now or formerly in his

administration, from implying with any investigation of congress, or their

subpoenas.  That is rather unprecedented.  What do you make of it?

 

MARISSA MALEK, FORMER LAW CLERK FOR CLARENCE THOMAS:  It is unprecedented. 

Even Nixon gave up tapes when he was subpoenaed.  I think his aides are

going to

have some interesting times ahead of them while they work with their

lawyers to decide what their own obligations are.  It is sort of

interesting to say that there are now executive privilege when they

obviously waived executive privilege before with respect to being

interviewed by the special counsel.  So I`m looking forward to seeing how

it pans out.

 

REID:  You clerked for a Supreme Court justice.  Can you think of any

precedent in law that a president does not have to follow the law simply,

because he doesn`t like the other party?

 

MALEK:  There`s nothing that is obvious that comes to mind.  Of course, you

know, the president does have executive privilege, and what will be

interesting is, is the president asserting new

executive privilege, or is he trying to exert executive privilege over

issues that were already discussed with the special counsel, which were

made public already.  That will be the relevant question.

 

REID:  Jason Johnson, where do the Democrats go from here?  Because they

keep issuing subpoenas.  They keep issuing subpoenas, they keep issuing

letters, they keep asserting that they`re going to do the process of

oversight and they keep getting told, make me, by the way.

 

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  They need to subpoena some

backbone and then implant all throughout their party.

 

Look, if the subpoenas aren`t working, you need to start putting people in

jail.  IF the subpoenas aren`t working, you need to stop the funding that

goes to anything this president has to do.

 

All of this leads back to what we have been talking about since the Mueller

report came out last week.  This president exists to obstruct the normal

function and constitutional functions of this government.  If you allow him

to be emboldened by not holding him accountable for everything he`s done in

the two years up to this point, do you expect him to open up his doors and

allow himself to be investigated for the next two or three years?

 

The Democratic Party has to recognize if they`re not dealing with a normal

president, they`re dealing with a proto-dictator.  And this is that kind of

behavior.  If they do not become more aggressive, if they`re not willing to

shut down everything in this administration to get things done, Donald

Trump will win.

 

REID:  And Marissa, are there concerns among Republicans that you know in

your circles, that Donald Trump at a certain point will simply assert the

powers of dictatorial power?  That he doesn`t have to ever follow the law? 

Ever?

 

MALEK:  I mean, it does seem like he has been taking that stance, although

the Mueller report didn`t say that he would be eligible to be held guilty

or press forward on an obstruction charge, there`s

certainly a lot of evidence.  And my read of the report is just that,

frankly, it just would create sort of a constitutional crisis to indict a

president, but certainly you`ve seen from the report evidence that he will

try to obstruct justice.  He will try to assert himself in ways that are

unprecedented.

 

REID:  Yeah.  And Jason, has the Democratic response been adequate in your

view at this point?

 

JOHNSON:  No, no, it hasn`t been, and especially in a situation like this. 

Look, the president can`t just keep expanding his powers and snap his

fingers and make everybody incapable of testifying in front of congress.

 

REID:  Yes, but he seems to be doing so.  Jason Johnson and Marissa Malek,

thank you so much for joining us.

 

That`s it for this evening.  “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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