McConnel refuses to bring gun bills. TRANSCRIPT: 9/12/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Stay with MSNBC tonight for our special
analysis and coverage of the third Democratic debate here in Houston, Texas
tonight. coverage starts at 11:00 p.m. Eastern here. I`ll be back then or
earlier from the spin room. Check with us about 20 to 11. I`m going to be
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris
Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, on ALL IN.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): This investigation will allow us to determine
whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President
VELSHI: The Judiciary Committee moves forward on an impeachment
REP. NANCY PELOSI: Legislate, investigate, litigate, that`s the path we
have been on.
VELSHI: As Republicans challenged Democrats to bring a vote to the House
REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R-CA): I dare you to do it. In fact, I double-dog
VELSHI: Tonight, what happens next in the House and exactly what Democrats
are planning to investigate starting next week.
NADLER: Allegations of corruption, obstruction, and abuse of power against
VELSHI: Then, the chance of a record-breaking opioid settlement with the
makers of Oxycontin and why 20 states say it`s not enough. Plus –
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Senate Republicans have made it clear they`re
not going to do anything without President Trump`s blessing on guns and so
we`ve got to work through the White House.
VELSHI: The wait for the President to do something about guns. And the
guy who once sung the praises of asbestos.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people in my
industry think asbestos is the greatest fireproofing material.
VELSHI: Is now gutting clean water protections.
TRUMP: There`s a whole debate about asbestos.
VELSHI: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Good evening from New York I`m Ali Velshi in for Chris Hayes. It
may not seem like it but today was a historic day on Capitol Hill. Today,
House Democrats officially began an impeachment inquiry into President
Trump. The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to approve
the rules for “investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of
impeachment with respect to President Donald J. Trump.”
It is the first impeachment inquiry opened into a president since Bill
Clinton and only the third in the last 150 years. House Judiciary
Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said the new rules will take effect next week
when Trump`s first campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is expected to
testify. Here`s how he explained the scope of the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: This committee is engaged in an investigation that will allow us
to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to
President Trump. That is what we are doing. Some call this process and
impeachment inquiry, some call it an impeachment investigation.
There`s no legal difference between these terms and I no longer care to
argue about the nomenclature. But that – but let me clear up any
remaining doubt. The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our
democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat and we are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee fought back against
today`s vote complaining about Hillary Clinton`s campaign calling Robert
Mueller`s testimony a flop and falsely arguing that Democrats were
violating House procedure with this vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCLINTOCK: In the 206 years that this committee has said, it has never
conducted an impeachment proceeding without first being authorized to do so
by a vote of the full House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That is in fact not true. When Democrats began impeachment
proceedings against President Nixon in October of 1973, they did it in
exactly the same way with a House Judiciary vote laying out the ground
The New York Times described it this way 46 years ago. “The resolution
itself finally passed on 3rd roll called division along party lines. Thus
began the second formal inquiry in the nation`s history.” Republicans also
questioned whether Democrats were serious about impeachment or just trying
to satisfy their base. Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline left little
room for misunderstanding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GUY RESCHENTHALER (R-PA): So can I ask, are you conducting an
impeachment inquiry or not? If you are, just be honest with the American
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Will the gentleman yield so we can answer his
question? So the answer is, yes. We are engaged in impeachment
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: We are engaged in an impeachment investigation. The Washington
Post reports that a group of House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee has
begun privately mapping a list of possible charges against President Trump
sketching out the contours of potential articles of impeachment even as
House leaders publicly resist taking such action.
I should tell you, a Judiciary Committee spokesman told NBC News in a
carefully worded statement, “Any suggestion that such articles have already
been drafted or that the committee`s work is already concluded is
categorically false. But the Train has now left the station and there`s no
longer a question about if congressional Democrats will hold an impeachment
inquiry, the question now is what happens next.”
Joining me to help answer that question is one of the Congresspeople
leading this impeachment inquiry, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of
Maryland. He`s a member of both the Judiciary and Oversight Committees.
Congressman, thank you for being with us tonight.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): And thanks for having me.
VELSHI: Tell me and tell our viewers what today means. What has happened?
What makes this different than yesterday?
RASKIN: Well we just set the rules forward for the hearings. The Chairman
of the Committee Mr. Nadler will be able to designate certain hearings as
part of the impeachment investigation both at the committee level in the
And then there will be 30 minutes of questioning by staff after the
traditional five minutes each for each of the members, and President Trump
will have a chance to essentially reply to anything that he wants so that
they`ll he`ll have a chance for his fair ups. We`re trying to make it as
even as we go forward.
So and now we can put behind us this whole debate about internal
congressional process that the public doesn`t really care about and focus
on the question of presidential misconduct and what`s been taking place in
the White House. And I think that the critical substantive change that`s
going to happen here is we are broadening out considerably from what was
detailed in the Mueller report to look at a whole series of other charges.
And my own personal focus at least for the next several weeks is going to
be the question of the President`s use of the office as an instrument of
self-enrichment and the self-dealing which violates the domestic emoluments
clause in the foreign government emoluments clause as this president has
pocketed millions of dollars from foreign government agents and actors like
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Indonesia, and so on.
VELSHI: What do you think that this investigation can achieve that hasn`t
been achieved by the Southern District of New York, the Mueller
investigation other than the obvious impeachment, what do you hope you
uncover that hasn`t been uncovered?
RASKIN: Well, the Mueller report was sharply limited on its own terms to
an investigation into the 2016 massive and systematic interference in our
election by the Russians and then the President`s repeated attempts to
obstruct the investigation into the role that his campaign played in
welcoming the Russian interference.
But that`s a very small part of the overall picture and I think it also
leaves the public somewhat befuddled as to what motivated that. And I
think the critical clue was offered by the President himself when he said
that if the Mueller investigation looked at his finances, he would blow the
whole thing up. And that tells us precisely where we need to start.
This has been a money-making operation from day one. The president has
steered millions of dollars into the hotels, the office tower, and other
business ventures around the world with engagements with foreign
governments, and he`s also steered millions of dollars in taxpayer money
into the hotels, and resorts, and golf courses where he`s spent one-third
of his days since entering office.
Imagine if Barack Obama had spent one-third of his days in Martha`s
Vineyard in the Secret Service and the Department of Defense and the FBI
and everybody had to pay on the government`s tab to stay at the Barack
Obama hotel. The Republicans would have been calling for impeachment you
know, months and months ago, and it`s all they would be talking about.
VELSHI: Let me ask you about this.
RASKIN: They`re still talking about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails, so –
VELSHI: Let me ask you about this. I know you say we can put behind us
the machinations of Congress that a lot of people are not interested in.
There are some people including Nancy Pelosi who think this is a dangerous
road to go down. She has articulated that. Tell me where we are today.
Has Nadler just sort of ignored that and is moving ahead?
RASKIN: No, because it`s never dangerous in a democracy to find the truth.
And I think Speaker Pelosi is totally with the program. Our caucus is
completely unified in trying to expose and counter all of the lawlessness
and corruption emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We`re all together
Now, everybody has a different inclination as to what`s going to happen as
an endgame, but I think there are very few people who feel certain about
what should be done. And remember there`s a whole range of responses here.
I know that the media has tried to cast it as just do you impeach or do not
impeach, but there are a lot of other things that can happen. And the
major thing is for the truth to come out because democracy needs to have a
foundation, and that foundation is the truth.
VELSHI: Congressman, good to talk to you. Thank you for joining me
tonight, Congressman Jamie Raskin. Joining me for more on what the
Judiciary Committee will be looking at Joyce Vance former U.S. Attorney for
the Northern District of Alabama and Jill Wine-Banks former Assistant
Watergate Special Prosecutor, both are MSNBC Legal Analysts.
Jill, let me start with you because you were a prosecutor during Watergate.
The Republicans have gone out of their way to say this is not authorized,
it`s not the way it`s done. But in fact, on the merits, it looks very
similar to the way it was done during Watergate.
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It not only looks similar it is
similar. And I would add to what Representative Raskin said that one of
the big differences in where we are now is that the Office of Legal Counsel
has prohibited any indictment.
So the Southern District of New York and the federal government`s
Department of Justice cannot proceed. That leaves only one alternative and
that is impeachment. So it is really as far as I`m concerned, a
constitutional responsibility of Congress to do the investigation and to
find the facts.
I agree with him completely. During Watergate, the approval rating for
Nixon before the hearings was about 60 some percent. He was overwhelmingly
favored. He had won 49 out of 50 states and the popular vote.
By the time the hearing started, his approval ratings sank down into the
teens and settled around 21 percent. And that was because facts matter and
the truth makes a difference. And I think that even the Republicans in the
House may start to see the facts and could support impeachment.
Also, the difference is that impeachment is not the same as a criminal
case. You don`t need to have all the elements of a crime established. You
need to show that democracy is at risk, that our national security is at
risk, that the Constitution is at risk. And that`s where I think we are,
and that`s why they need to do this for the emoluments as well as the
VELSHI: You know, Joyce, what Congressman Raskin said to me at the end is
people get obsessed with do you impeach or do you not impeach but that the
process is more important. That`s similar to what Jill was just saying.
What are the options for a lot of Americans in impeachment inquiry leads to
something that looks like an impeachment or a vote about impeachment but in
fact there`s more to it than that?
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s a complex question because it`s a
political sort of a process not a legal one. It`s not an investigation
where at the end you decide to indict or not to impeach or not. Instead,
here, there are nuances in large part because we know that over on the
Senate it`s very unlikely that an impeachment bill would be brought to the
And so I think it`s correct to view this much more as a truth-finding
process and something that the American people have been starved for since
this administration began is the truth. Now they`ll have an opportunity to
These rules today bring about an important new procedure which will permit
questioning by professional counsel on both sides in the House Judiciary
Committee. So for each of the witnesses, that`s called from here on out,
they`ll be approximately an hour that will be devoted to this questioning
We`re used to seeing the Congresspeople, the members ask questions in five-
minute bursts and that can be very illuminating but it also doesn`t tend to
give us a consistent timeline like this process will. So next week we`ve
got a few witnesses coming in including Corey Lewandowski and Rick
Dearborn. He ran the transition team and then went to the White House and
the American people will have a chance to hear a linear progression of
VELSHI: Jill, let`s talk about the idea that this President has put
forward that his people, people under executive authority will not
cooperate with Congress in any meaningful way. How does that change with
these hearings? Can the president prevent people from testifying?
WINE-BANKS: I think that the extent that the courts will go increases by
the declination – by the decision to call it impeachment. Once it`s an
impeachment, it is definitely a judicial proceeding and that allows the
courts to enforce these subpoenas without a question.
I think there are a lot of options that can follow that even if we can`t
get a vote in the Senate. Number one, the impeachment could happen at the
House side and then there`s at least an asterisk, there`s at least some
And when people go to vote, they will know that the president has been held
accountable, that he has done certain things that deserved to be countered
as an impeachment, as an impeachable offense. And so I think it`s
important to go with that.
He could be censured. He doesn`t have to have a vote of impeachment. It
could just be a censure. So I think there`s a lot of reasons for going
ahead just to have an informed electorate in 2020. Let people vote knowing
what the facts are.
VELSHI: That`s an important point, Joyce. Does this process – we`re a
year and a bit away, a year and two months away from an election. Can this
process be completed in that fashion?
VANCE: Well, certainly, they can make a good start and the endpoint may
matter less than the process itself, but the real perplexing issue that
Democrats have to confront is how do they focus. Part of the difficulty
here all along has been that there are so many potential issues to look at
with this president and this administration.
So did they go back to the Mueller report and focus on Russian – really
everything that happened with Russia and then the effort to obstruct
justice to try to keep it from coming to light? Do they focus on
emoluments clause and focus on what`s currently going on in the White House
and this legacy of corruption? Do they go back and look the transition?
It`s sort of an abundance of riches. It`s almost too much. And given this
short timeline, I think the most important decision Democrats will make in
the coming weeks is where do they want to focus. Do they want to have this
broad let`s look at everything sort of approach or do they want to find
what they believe to be the most troubling examples of this president`s
behavior and limit their inquiries into those sorts of issues?
VELSHI: Joyce Vance, Jill Wine-Banks, I couldn`t ask for a to better
people to lead us into this as this impeachment inquiry begins. Thanks to
both of you for joining me tonight.
WINE-BANKS: Thank you, Ali.
VELSHI: All right, next as the White House vows to take immediate steps to
address the dangers of vaping, many are left wondering what about guns?
Well, there might be some news on that. The latest after this.
VELSHI: There have been at least six deaths and hundreds of illnesses tied
to vaping in the United States. And it seems like that number got to the
president so much so that yesterday the President and the Health and Human
Services Secretary Alex Azar convened in the Oval Office to announce that
they plan on banning the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes.
Six deaths, six more than there should have been, and may be the tip of the
spear, but there are more than 33,000 gun deaths in America every year,
more than 250 gun deaths in the United States last week alone. But we`ve
seen no similar action when it comes to guns.
Trump is vowing to finally do something to address the epidemic though he`s
made a promise like that before with little result. Last month he
reportedly assured the NRA he will not sign universal background checks
into law despite overwhelming support among the public.
But amid continuing negotiations between the White House and some Senate
lawmakers, there are some small reasons for optimism. Today, Republican
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina signaled that he would be open to
supporting an expanded background check bill citing the nation`s most
recent mass shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I don`t know how you get around the idea that
a man who was adjudicated mentally ill was denied a gun purchased when he
went to a gun store wound up buying a gun from a man who sells guns on the
side and there`s no background check.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, after Graham said that, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut
pointed to Graham`s words and tweeted, “A lot of pieces are in motion right
now. Keep paying attention.” I`m joined now by the other Democratic
Senator from Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. Senator, good to see
you. Thank you for being here.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Thank you.
VELSHI: You just told me in the commercial break that you actually think -
- you`re feeling better about this. You think we`re closer to something
being done than we have been in a long time.
BLUMENTHAL: I am more hopeful than ever before. I think we`re closer than
we have ever been. I`ve been working on this issue for –
VELSHI: I know.
BLUMENTHAL: – 2-1/2 decades, and working with Lindsey Graham on an
emergency risk protection order statute. He has been extremely diligent
and serious, a wonderful partner in this effort. And we virtually have a
bill that we have been negotiating with the White House on. And it`s part
of a comprehensive plan including universal background check.
The goal is to do both and they are really two sides of the same coin, both
aim to save lives as many lives as quickly as possible. Both aim to keep
guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And so far as that risk
protection order –
BLUMENTHAL: We know it works. We know –
VELSHI: Is that like a red flag? Is that – is that similar –
BLUMENTHAL: It is exactly the red flag statue emergency risk protection
order. Connecticut was the first to have them. We know it works in
Connecticut. Not only it prevents the mass shootings but also suicide.
VELSHI: Well, most shootings are not – most gun deaths are not mass
shootings, most or suicides.
BLUMENTHAL: 60 percent are suicides and a lot of them are also domestic
violence cases. Women are five times as likely to die from domestic
violence if it`s a gun matter.
VELSHI: The trick is that in many of these cases both domestic violence
and suicides, someone might have had a clue. And this system these red
flag laws I think are in place in 16 or 17 states now and they don`t
compromise anybody`s Second Amendment rights to own a gun.
BLUMENTHAL: That is really an important point. There is due process.
Police can seek a warrant much as they do now with an arrest warrant or a
search warrant from a judicial officer, and then there is the opportunity
for anybody who`s gun is taken away to seek a hearing and regain the gun if
the facts warranted, but there is due process.
And one of the points is really important. Keeping guns away from
dangerous people involves police officers learning as they did in Parkland
that someone is going to kill people whether it`s herself or himself or
someone else in domestic violence or suicide.
VELSHI: Let me ask you about background checks. The president alternately
says we need better background checks and we`ve got great background
checks. He`s actually sort of right in both cases. We have systems in
which background checks can be done thoroughly but people can get around
If the FBI is backlogged or the background system is backlogged and they
don`t get back to in a certain amount of time, you can get the gun. And as
Lindsey Graham pointed out, you can get the gun offline, somewhere else
from a private seller, or a gun show. One doesn`t have to be a lawyer to
understand that`s a stupid loophole.
BLUMENTHAL: The current background check system is riddled with
significant loopholes. The internet sales, the gun show sales, other kinds
of loopholes like the Charleston loophole so-called because the shooter
there and the church was able to get a gun simply because the time expired
when he made the purchase.
But here`s the point there. It`s simply a means to enforce prohibitions
against already defined categories of people who are dangerous from buying
those guns. And they already supported the law that defines those
categories of people. So Lindsey Graham is absolutely right. It makes
And here`s the other important point. You know, the American people are
really saying enough is enough. There is a seismic movement that now is
determining the 90 percent of people who want background checks and red
flag or emergency or is protection orders and that political dynamic I
think is driving business. And Mitch McConnell ought to put these bills on
the floor. There`s no law –
VELSHI: But he says he can`t until he knows what the president is going to
sign. That strikes me as odd considering you`re a co-equal branch of
government. Why should the Senate be waiting for the President to decide
what he`ll sign before introducing legislation?
BLUMENTHAL: There is nothing in the Constitution that says the United
States Congress should pass laws only that the president says he`s going to
sign. In fact, on the contrary, the Congress has an independent
And we have a historic opportunity, so does the president. It really is a
presidential moment here where we should seize this opportunity and save
lives which is really what the purpose is here of both background checks
and the extremist`s protection order statutes as well as ban on assault
weapons and high-capacity magazines. The groups have made such a
VELSHI: Yes, they really are.
BLUMENTHAL: The Moms Demand Action, Every Town for Gun Safety, Students
Demand Action –
VELSHI: The March – yes.
BLUMENTHAL: March for Our Lives, Giffords, Brady, they have created a
political movement here.
VELSHI: Yes, they really have. Senator, good to see you. Thank you for
being with us.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
VELSHI: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. All right, coming up,
a landmark moment in the opioid crisis as the makers of Oxycontin reach a
tentative deal to settle thousands of lawsuits but many states say it
doesn`t go far enough. I`m going to talk to one of the attorneys general
who rejected that deal next.
VELSHI: The pharmaceutical company behind one of the most notorious drugs
fueling the opioid epidemic across the country, Oxycontin, has reached a
tentative deal with more than 20 attorneys general and 2,000 local
governments over its role in the crisis.
The company is Purdue Pharma. It`s reportedly offering to settle for $10
to $12 billion, which would essentially settle thousands of those lawsuits
instead of going to trial in federal court.
As part of the settlement, the owner of Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family,
would reportedly pay $3 billion in cash over seven years.
If the deal goes through, that would make it among the largest pay outs by
a drug company in the ongoing opioid crisis, but it`s far from clear that
the tentative settlement will actually go through. The reason is nearly as
many attorneys general are against the deal with some saying it just
scratches the surface of the problem the company allegedly had a big hand
Purdue Pharma, one of the four biggest sellers of opioids in the country,
played a significant role in the two-decade narrative of the nation`s
opioid epidemic, because of his signature drug, OxyContin, which was
introduced to the market in the `90s. The company aggressively marketed
the drug and down-played the addiction risks according to lawsuits.
So now a number of attorneys general are saying this deal is not nearly
since the tentative deal reportedly does not include an admission of
Joining me now, one of the attorneys general who has rejected the
settlement as offered. Josh Kaul, attorney general of Wisconsin. Attorney
General, thank you for joining me tonight.
What, in your opinion, is wrong with this deal?
JOSH KAUL, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF WISCONSIN: Well, Ali, this epidemic has
been devastating across the country, and we have alleged, and a number of
other states have alleged, that Purdue Pharma contributed to the opioid
epidemic by engaging in false and deceptive marketing practices. And while
there has been an offer now that has been made, we don`t think it goes far
enough, that there`s enough money that`s been offered so far to get
VELSHI: All right, let`s talk about the amount of money. Some of the the
attorneys generals with whom I`ve spoken have said they`re not even sure
that this $10 to $12 billion is real, it`s not a $10 billion to $12 billion
payout that will go to all the plaintiffs.
KAUL: That`s right. I can`t comment on the specifics of the offer, but my
view, and I know the view of others, is that the amount that has been
reported is not a reflection of the amount that`s really at stake here. We
believe that members of the Sackler family need to make a larger
contribution if we`re
going to resolve this case, because this is about getting funds that can
then go to cities and counties and help to provide access to treatment,
help provide prevention efforts and help with enforcement efforts so we can
work to beat this epidemic.
VELSHI: So this deal does not call for anybody to acknowledge wrongdoing,
least of all the
Sackler family. I`ve spoken to attorneys general of Pennsylvania and North
Carolina today both of whom who said they`re going right for the Sackler
family. They believe that the family took money out of that business and
made it a shell of a business and that the money resides with the family
and that there`s a legal basis for going after them. Do you share that
KAUL: The Sackler family made billions and billions of dollars as a result
of Purdue Pharma`s
efforts. And what we have alleged, and others have alleged, is that there
was a concerted effort to mislead the public and providers of health care
about the benefits of opioids and about the dangers of opioids. And we
think that not only Purdue Pharma, but also members of the Sackler family,
need to make a significant contribution to redressing the harms that have
resulted from the epidemic.
VELSHI: There seems to have been some motivation to get this deal done,
because of, I don`t know if you want to call them threats or suggestions,
that Purdue Pharma could simply declare bankruptcy and then everybody would
have to sue a bankrupt company. What do you know or think of
that or think of that?
KAUL: Well, I think if Josh Stein, the attorney general from North
Carolina put it best that if Purdue goes bankrupt, good riddance. But
what`s important is that members of the Sackler family not be able to
escape liability and get out of this having made billions and billions of
dollars in profits
by using the bankruptcy mechanism. We think that members of the Sackler
family either need to face trial and – or they need to make a better offer
so that more money will go to redressing the problem.
VELSHI: So you believe there is some merit in this offer? In other words,
it can be improved to the point that attorneys general like you might say,
OK, now we`re getting somewhere?
KAUL: If we can reach an agreement that is going to get money to
communities around the country sooner rather than later, I think that`s
something in everybody`s interest, but we are not at a point yet where I`m
willing to reach that deal nor are a number of other AGs.
VELSHI: But there is probably no amount of money that you could get from
the companies or the Sackler family that will make up for the damage this
epidemic has caused in this country.
KAUL: The damage from this epidemic has been enormous. We have lost
thousands and thousands of lives in Wisconsin and far more families have
been impacted by it.
What we`re focused on is getting justice to the extent we can and getting
funds that can go towards communities so we can help to address this
VELSHI: Josh Kaul is the attorney general of Wisconsin. Sir, thank you
for joining me tonight.
KAUL: Thanks for having me.
VELSHI: All right, up next the Supreme Court just made it a lot harder for
asylum seekers trying to enter the United States. ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt
is here to break down what happened
VELSHI: The Trump administration has made it very clear they don`t want
migrants coming into this country by any means, even by asylum. And this
week the Supreme Court helped them by allowing to make migrants apply for
asylum in the first new country they cross into, even if that country is
unsafe or doesn`t have a fully developed asylum process. For many Central
American migrants, that means they`d have to apply for asylum in Mexico
before they can apply for asylum in the
United States, even while the new rule continues to be challenged in court.
Here with me now, the lead attorney arguing against the Trump asylum rule,
Lee Gelernt, is the deputy director of the ACLU immigrant`s Rights Project.
Lee, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.
LEE GELERNT, ACLU: Thanks for having me.
VELSHI: Lee, lets just explain – because Donald Trump has done a
remarkable job of confusing immigration and asylum in the minds of people.
They are actually different things. And asylum is a treasured and
important thing that allows people who are facing some sort of persecution
to seek refuge. That`s why we call them refugees in some cases.
So, this country has had a proud tradition of welcoming people. And right
now, you know, it`s Central Americans who need our help. And everyone
says, oh, we need to help. But people need to think about the history of
this country and their own families and maybe ask their grandparents did
you ever need asylum?
We`re down a dangerous path where we`re going to turn our back on people
who genuinely need protection. And I think one thing that people need to
be clear about is we`re not saying everyone is entitled to asylum, but
there has to be a process. This rule shuts down the process automatically.
And everyone says what`s so bad about applying in a another country? And
nothing in principle is so bad. We have that with Canada, but you can`t
tell people to wait in dangerous countries and then try to apply for asylum
in Mexico or Guatemala when they don`t have fully functioning asylum
The administration knows very well that these people can`t wait around in
those countries and be safe and then apply for asylum. This is effectively
just a way to end asylum at the southern border.
VELSHI: So, just to be clear for people who come in seeking asylum from
Central America who have been able to go through a process, in other words
they say at the border crossing, or to a border guard, that they`re seeking
asylum. They are then adjudicated. Most times historically, they`ve been
led in to be adjudicated at a second point, but the overwhelming majority
of people don`t get asylum, just to be clear, the overwhelming number of
applicants, if you`re worried about it being overrun by asylum seekers in
America, that`s not actually what the record indicates.
GELERNT: That`s true. But by the same token, which I think you`ve pointed
out, is there are are many people with meritorious claims. So, if you shut
the whole process down…
VELSHI: You miss those people.
GELERNT: Exactly. And so all we`re saying is that there has to be a
Now, the administration wants to make the process more efficient, great,
make it more efficient. They can put more asylum officers there. What
they`re doing is channeling money to different things like the border wall
instead of making the process more official, but you can`t just shut the
VELSHI: So, we have muddied – again, we have muddied a couple of issues
in this whole discussion about asylum, because there are meritorious claims
and this administration says lots of the claims are not meritorious. So
their answer to that – the logical answer to that would be, OK, what is
broken about – what do you think is broken the system? What`s letting
people who don`t have meritorious claims to remain here as asylum seekers
and fix that?
But instead they`re making it harder for 100 percent of asylum seekers.
GELERNT: Exactly. And the other thing people need to understand is the
very fond of saying, well, once you let an asylum seeker in the country
they won`t show up for their hearing. The statistics show absolutely
that`s not true, that 97 percent of asylum seeker families show up for
hearings. So, it`s simply not true.
We really need to understand that these are people fleeing horrible danger.
And a lot of them are fleeing the gangs that this administration says they
detest, which we all should detest, but then when you get a parent and a
child who stand up to the gang and say we`re not going to join and they try
to come to the United States and say give us shelter from these gangs,
because if stay there and don`t join we are going to be killed, we send
them right back.
VELSHI: The way these gangs work is that it`s economic pressure, right,
you`re not working if you don`t align yourself with a gang or do what
they`re going to do. You may be subject to sexual assault or the kind of
labor – it doesn`t meet everybody`s standard of what oppression or danger
looks like. There`s a lot of people who say, hey, that you don`t earn
enough money or that you are sort of economically controlled by gangs. It
doesn`t qualify you for asylum.
GELERNT: Right, well the difference between these gangs, it`s just not
regular criminal activity. These guys sort of operate as a quasi
government, control the whole city. So, this is not where you can just
avoid a single person in your neighborhood who might be a bully, this is
gangs who control the town, they set curfews, they tax you. And so this is
very much in a classic sense persecution.
VELSHI: I want to go to bigger conversation you and I were having in the
break. Justice Sotomayor had a dissenting opinion on this in which she
said it is especially concerning, moreover, that the rule the government
promulgated topples decades of settled asylum practices and effect some of
the most vulnerable people in the western hemisphere without affording the
public a chance to weigh in.
That`s an interesting point, because granting of asylum I think is in the
GELERNT: It actually is kind of at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty,
too, right, it is what we believe to be good.
VELSHI: I think your argument that it`s a process issue, 100 percent of
Americans would agree with, right? There must be a process by which you
evaluate someone`s claim.
But Justice Sotomayor is saying we`re not being consulted. We are changing
something very, very fundamental about this nation of immigrants.
GELERNT: Right. So, I think there`s two critical points, and congress
controlled the asylum laws for 40 years has made it clear that just because
you go through another country doesn`t mean you can automatically denied
asylum unless there is a determination those countries are fair. This
administration didn`t try to determine that those country have safe and
fair processes, because they couldn`t.
But not only did they have a sea change of 40 years of asylum law, they did
it without what`s called notice and comment, a standard practice where you
give the public and experts the right to weigh…
VELSHI: …might be hearings and testimony…
GELERNT: And that`s what Justice Sotormayor is saying that, look, there
is sea changes here and no one is weight in, so that they`re based on the
administration`s facts and no expert facts.
VELSHI: Lee, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining me.
GELERNT: Thanks for having me.
VELSHI: Lee Gelernt from the ACLU.
All right, coming up, the Trump administration`s latest regulatory roll
back that could affect a third of all drinking water in America. We`re
going to tell you what Trump`s EPA is up to after this.
VELSHI: Take a look at this, this is the Houston Ship Channel that
connects the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Houston and is one of the
busiest waterways in the country, and it`s America`s largest fossil fuel
Now, last year 700,000 barrels of oil traveled through this channel every
day. And if you want to get your Texas Tea through the Houston shipping
channel, there are pretty good odds that your oil tanker will have to pass
right underneath the Fred Hartman Bridge to get out into the Gulf of
Mexico. And that`s why Green Peace activists chose the Fred Hartman bridge
for the scene of a pretty dramatic protest. Take a look. You`ve got to
Eleven protesters repelled off the side of the bridge this morning and
suspended themselves more than 100 feet above the water. Green Peace said
they intended to remain in place for 24 hours
with the goal of blockading the channel preventing oil and gas from being
transported through the waterway. They`ve had some success there. A
portion of water traffic has been stopped.
Green Peace chose this day and this location for the demonstration because,
of course, the Democratic presidential candidates are in town tonight`s
debate. As one of the activists told the Houston Chronicle, quote, “we are
in a climate crisis. The next president has the opportunity to lay the
groundwork for a world without fossil fuels. We need to act today.”
I should tell you earlier today local sheriff`s deputies said they would
not force the activists to move unless they became a health or safety
hazard, but a couple of hours ago, as you can see, sheriff`s office began
an operation to remove the protesters. As far as we know, most of them are
now in police custody.
Just a reminder, by the way, climate change is going to be the subject of
our 2020 forum
starting one week from today, where Chris Hayes and I will be asking
presidential candidates about their climate change plans and they`ll be
fielding questions from young voters on climate issues. The forum will air
live on NBC News now and parts of it will be featured right here on ALL IN.
Again, that`s September 19 and 20. And we hope you`ll join us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In New York City, we have a lot of asbestos buildings. And there`s
a whole debate about asbestos. I mean, a lot of people could say that if
the World Trade Center had asbestos it wouldn`t have burned down, it
wouldn`t have melted, OK? A lot of people think asbestos – a lot of of
people in my industry – think asbestos is the greatest fireproofing
material ever – ever made. And I can tell you that I`ve seen tests of
asbestos versus the new material that`s being used and it`s not even a –
it`s like a heavyweight champion against a lightweight from high school.
But in your great wisdom you folks have said asbestos is a horrible
material so it has to be removed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You might ask yourself, what would happen if the man who spoke very
highly of asbestos at a Senate hearing back in 2005 became the president of
the United States?
Since taking office, Donald Trump has rolled back 85 environmental rules
and regulations, according to The New York Times, the latest of which came
today, and it`s a big one. When the Trump`s EPA announced it is getting
rid of regulations on clean water put in place under the Obama
administration in 2015, which was, quote, “designed to limit pollution in
about 60 percent of the nation`s bodies of water, protecting sources of
drinking water for about one-third of the United States,” end quote.
Joining me to talk about the impact this could have on the nation`s water
supply is Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post senior national affairs
Juliet, thank you for joining me. The question I have been asking all day,
when it comes to climate regulations in general, but specifically things
to do with water, who wins from these things? I can tell who loses. We
have two municipalities in this country that do not have safe drinking
water. What does somebody get out of this?
JULIET EILPERIN, WASHINGTON POST SENIOR NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In
the case of what we`re talking about in terms of this water rule, what you
have is kind of a coalition of farmers, home builders, and developers. And
in fact, one of the reasons
why Donald Trump had been focused on this rule is because it was something
that he disagreed with as a developer, that these are the constituencies
who generally have to apply for permits before they undertake acts that,
say, drain a wetland or might affect a stream, things like that.
And so the argument that these groups had been making is that the 2015 rule
President Obama was too stringent. It overlapped with state regulations in
some cases, and essentially it wasn`t clear enough about when they needed
federal permits, and that added to the cost of doing business.
VELSHI: So that, as you articulated, seems a reasonable complaint that
might be addressed by better legislation or better regulation. But when
you put it in the context of the – it being the 85th regulation that this
administration has pulled out of including the Paris Climate deal, which
isn`t one of the 85, because it`s an international agreement, it smacks of
something else, right? It smacks of not having a commitment or an
understanding of climate matters and environmental matters.
EILPERIN: Well, certainly the argument of top Trump officials, including,
for example, the Environmental Protection Agency`s chief Andrew Wheeler,
who my colleague Brady Dennis and I interviewed for this piece, their
argument would be that there is too much regulation, and that yes, they
have an outlook that they are trying to finish as many of these rollbacks
as they can ideally by the end of this year, but if not by the end of next
year so that regardless of what happens in the election they have made
And so that certainly is part of their orientation by the EPA`s own
estimate, it`s already rolled
back roughly 46 rules at this point. And so saving, they say, over $13
billion in regulatory burdens on the private sector and individuals. And
so this is certainly a focus of theirs. And yes, it transcends some of
these individual issues.
VELSHI: The EPA, the head of the EPA Andrew Wheeler, has expressed that
the concern about climate change is overblown and that this is not a
problem we`re going to deal with for 50 or 75 years.
We have – again, it`s something that`s come up many times. He does say
that human activity is helping drive some of climate change but, yes,
rejects the idea when he was asked, you know, whether it is a crisis, that
is something he disagrees with. And broadly speaking, and something that,
again, we`d raised just recently with him, his argument is that plenty of
these companies including oil and gas companies have an incentive to
restrict their greenhouse gas emissions.
And so while there`s a certain level of action that the federal government
should take it is certainly not an overarching driving mission of the
federal government to require a number of these companies and industries to
curb greenhouse gases linked to climate change.
VELSHI: And in fairness to a lot of our viewers who are wondering about
Scott Pruitt and why he was able to hang on to his job in the face of such
criticism of things he was doing at the EPA, it`s because in the mind of
some people he was doing god`s work, he was helping to deregulate an agency
that Republicans were very fond of in decades gone by, that`s the
EILPERIN: Yes. And it really does reflect the views of President Trump,
and in fact, you know, his top aides in these agencies, including Andrew
Wheeler, one could argue, is really pursuing
the same policy priorities as Scott Pruitt, but he`s a more experienced
Washington hand and is working hard to try to make sure that some of these
regulations are getting across the finish line and to the
extent they can be defended in court.
VELSHI: Juliet, good to talk to you.
Thank you for joining me. Juliet Eilperin is with us tonight. All right,
that`s ALL IN for this
evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” begins 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