GOP reacts to Mueller report. TRANSCRIPT: 4/23/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.
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
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
REID: As the White House openly defies House Democrats.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s called presidential
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
(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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
REID: The Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, appeared in New
Hampshire today, to generate buzz about a possible primary challenge to
(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
(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
(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.
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the