The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/10/2017
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 10, 2017
Guest: Adam Schiff, Kevin De Leon
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for joining us tonight. Happy Friday.
Nice to have you with us.
Look at this awesome picture from 1968. I love every single thing about
this picture. This is the central middle school band from Oroville,
California. This is the majorettes part of the band and they are marching
through downtown Oroville, California, on May 4th, 1968.
This picture is perfect. And this picture is the property of the
California Department of Water Resources.
The reason the California department of water resources had a photographer
on site taking pictures that day of the majorettes in Oroville is because
that day the governor of California and his wife came to Oroville,
California, to tour a really big awesome new piece of water infrastructure.
California governor at the time was Ronald Reagan. He and his wife Nancy
went to Oroville for the dedication of the brand new Oroville dam. It
looks kind of fun as these things go. They got to see all the giant
machinery. They got to go inside the dam.
See up there in the white sneakers in the sort of light-colored plaid shirt
with the super cute hair cut? That`s Ron, Jr. He got to go along, along
with an unnamed friend who was there with them. It looks like they were
having a good time. Looks like having a cool visit.
Ronald Reagan gave a speech. It was a hot day. You can see next to him
while he was giving the speech, they had the big cooler of water, just in
There had been a big parade downtown to welcome to governor and all the
dignitaries. They had not just the majorettes from the middle school.
They had the high school band, too.
Lots of people showed up to this thing. Look how many people were there.
Look at that. Thousands of people turned out for the dedication of the
I think we have one picture of the crowd that`s in color as well. Don`t we
have a color? Yes, look at that. 1968, who are the ladies in green? What
was their role in the dedication?
So, I mean, you look at photos like this, it makes you realize that being a
governor, it kind of has its ups and down, right? On the one hand, you get
to see some cool stuff. You got to take your family and go on cool behind-
the-scenes tours. The local middle school and high school bands will come
out to meet you when you do something.
But then there`s the little indignities, right? This, for example, is what
they gave Ronald Reagan as his souvenir from that day at the dedication. I
know it kind of looks like a snow globe or maybe like a polished piece of
granite or something. What that actually is, is a ball of dirt.
Specifically, it is dirt from this moment in history.
Ronald Reagan was there in 1968 for the opening ceremony of the Oroville
Dam, but this was the moment they ceremonially broke ground on the
construction. This was 1957. This was a previous governor of California,
Goodwin Knight. Everybody called him Goodie Knight, as in good night.
He`s got a shovel full of dirt there. This was 1957 at the groundbreaking.
Somebody at the ground breaking had the foresight to save that exact
shovelful of dirt they dumped it into like a bag or an empty fish bowl or
something. Saved it for the day the dam would be complete and up and
running. I mean, they could have saved a little of it but they saved a lot
of it. They saved this giant amount of dirt from that shovelful and then
they gave it to Ronald Reagan. They sent Ronald Reagan back to the
governor`s mansion that day with a giant jar of a previous governor`s dirt.
Thanks for visiting, Mr. Governor. Give it pride of place somewhere.
Like if you moved into a new apartment and the landlord triumphantly handed
you the vacuum bag from the old tenant. Here`s the original dirt from the
former occupants of these rooms. Congratulations. Pride of place.
But the Oroville Dam, they dedicated in the 1968. It`s a big deal. It`s
huge. It is taller than Hoover Dam.
It`s the tallest dam in the United States. It`s 770 feet tall. It was
completed in 1968, took them almost a decade to build. And it`s just one
of those unimaginably large things that we humans have made.
Again, the dam itself almost 800 feet tall. You can see here the giant
reservoir that was created when they built the dam. That`s Lake Oroville.
It`s one of the two biggest reservoirs in the state of California.
And that reservoir, Lake Oroville, it`s basically the central thing in the
grand plan that made California work as a state with a huge population and
big cities and tons of irrigated farmland. This is the centerpiece of the
whole system in California that moves water from the northern part of the
state the Sierra Nevada down into the Central Valley to irrigate the most
productive farmland in the country and further down to the cities and the
population centers in southern California. Lake Oroville is massive. It
is made possible because the Oroville Dam is massive, tallest dam in the
Now, in terms of sort of how it`s situated here, this actually gives you a
pretty good view, I think. You see below the dam, that`s the Feather
River. The Feather River, big river, flows into – I think the Sacramento
River which ultimately flows into the San Francisco Bay at the end of the
And what they do is they can release water from that giant reservoir into
the Feather River. They can do in the a few different ways. One of the
things they`ve got is a power plant that`s right at the base of the dam, so
they release water at great force to fire that hydroelectric power plant.
They can also release a little bit of water through tunnels that are at the
base of the dam.
They had a drama with that a couple years ago. They were trying to open up
the tunnels to let some water through to the Feather River and something
went wrong and there was a giant suction failure with the opening and
closing of the valves and two workers almost got sucked downstream and they
had to hold on to some broken piece of railing they were able to grab on
I mean, it`s a good reminder this is like a big piece of infrastructure.
This is a lot of water. This is a very, very powerful thing.
But in terms of the way it fits together, there`s a couple ways they can
get water from the reservoir to the Feather River below. They can move it
through power plant. They can move it through those little tunnels.
But if they really want to move water, out of the reservoir, down into the
river, what they do is they use this big gutter. They use this big
concrete spillway. Looks kind of like a Luge track or something, right?
Like a cross between an onramp and a ski jump.
But it`s a big concrete spillway and it does exactly what it looks like it
does. It takes water off the top of the reservoir and can shoot it down
that gutter into the Feather River and it`s really big. It`s about a mile
long. It`s made of concrete. It is a key part of this huge piece of
This is what it looks like in normal times when it`s dry, when they`re not
using the spillway. This is what it looks like in normal times when it`s
on, when they are putting water down that spillway, very dramatic, right?
But on Tuesday afternoon this week, this is what it looks like again,
normal times. Tuesday afternoon this week, something went wrong at the
Oroville Dam, and instead of the spillway looking like this, like it always
does, like it has since Ronnie and Nancy Reagan opened that up in 1968, for
the first time ever, this Tuesday, it did not look like that.
Instead it looked like – oh, wait, that`s not right. That`s not what
that`s supposed to look like. That was Tuesday afternoon. See it shooting
out the side there? See all the muddy – yeah.
Tuesday afternoon, they realized something was going very wrong on that
spillway. Water shooting out, all sorts of places where it`s not supposed
to be, scouring down that hillside, the water not confined to the gutter,
what`s going on?
They shut it off to have a look and what they saw is – oh, this is what it
looked like. This was Tuesday of this week. See the giant hole there?
That`s a problem.
Basically a giant sinkhole opened up in the middle of this that spillway.
And obviously, every second they`re going to put more water down that
sluice, it`s going to erode that sinkhole more and more. So, they shut off
the water initially.
Here`s the thing, though, they can`t keep that water shut off because even
though that giant hole has opened up in that spillway, they actually have
to run water down that spillway right now. They can`t stop, because like
Oroville at the top, it`s full.
As of midday today, it was 98 percent capacity. California is not having a
rainy season this year, they are having basically a monsoon season and, oh,
yeah, let`s see what that means for the drought. I know, I know big
questions about overall climate and weather and California`s drought and
all that stuff, right.
But for the immediate problem at hand, if they can no longer run water down
that spillway because the spillway is busted, if they can no longer run
water down that spillway to relieve the pressure in the lake, if the lake
fills up and overfills and overtops that dam, if that happens, the water
doesn`t run down the tidy little purpose built concrete chute into the
feather river below, if it overtops the dam, instead for the first time in
the history of this dam, where the water goes is what they call down the
emergency spillway which is not really a spillway at all, it just means the
water just comes down the hill.
And if all that water runs down the hill at force, it will at some point
bring the hillside down with it into the Feather River and eventually into
the Sacramento River and into the delta and out to the San Francisco Bay.
There`s the possibility that an uncontrolled flow could flood downstream
towns all along the way.
So, this is a heck of a choice, right? You either shut down the water down
that spillway, let the dam get overtopped and run instead down the hillside
all the way downstream and see what happens to California or you keep
thundering water down that broken sinkhole concrete gutter and see how long
You know, it started off as a 300-foot long gash. It has kept on spreading
and spreading, they – look. They say presumably it will split down to the
But what are you going to do? They have to keep running water down that
thing. They don`t have a choice. So, they`re just running the destroyed
spillway. They`re running it to complete failure. Hope for the best, the
best option. Pray for some dry days.
So, we have been watching this since Tuesday night. People all over
California had been watching this very closely. This happens to be the
drinking water source for more than 20 million people in the state of
Now, the dam itself, they say the dam itself is safe. The dam they say is
built into bedrock. They say even if that whole hillside gets scoured out,
continues to get blown apart the way it is, they say the dam will hold,
they`re confident of that, and that`s good, because it`s almost an 800-foot
tall dam, tallest dam in the country.
But I feel like grasping a story like this is almost a test of perspective.
It`s a test of whether or not you can appreciate the size of large objects
in the news. My dad, my dear old dad, has worked in the California water
system for years in various capacities, and he`s been texting and e-mailing
me about this all week. So, I`ve been, you know, looking at news coverage
all week, looking at pictures on the California Department of Water
Resources website all week.
And I could tell when I saw the pictures of the spillway something dramatic
was wrong. But I will confess to you – dad, I will confess to you right
now, I did not truly appreciate what a literally big deal it was. What a
large deal it was until I saw this one particular picture and at first
glance it looks like the same old picture of that hole in the middle of the
spillway until you realize that the tiny little yellow dot there is a full
grown man and that shows you the scale of this thing, right?
That`s people inside there. That`s how big that hole started out as. And
that`s – OK, now, I get it. That`s the massive size of the undertaking it
is going to be to fix this thing when it`s over even if they somehow avoid
catastrophic flooding or danger to the dam itself through this crisis.
It`s like in King Kong where you know you`re dealing with a big ape. You
know he`s big, that`s the plot of the movie. But then you see him on the
Empire State building and you`re like, oh! That`s how big he is!
So, we will keep an eye on this tallest dam in the country and its travails
through tonight and into the weekend. But I feel like that is not just a
story, it`s a bit of a news help. I feel like that lesson in watching the
story about the dam in California, that lesson about perspective, about
appreciating the full magnificent size of this story, I feel like that
principle is also at work in what is the biggest politics news of the day.
And we`ve got that story broken down into absolutely enormous bits, next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last night at the very end of the show, we reported some breaking
news that the “Washington Post” published a news story about national
security advisor Michael Flynn. It was very carefully written story, long,
had three bylines of three big deal reporters from the “Washington Post.”
At one point in the story, they mentioned they had nine sources for the
central claim in their reporting.
Today, “The New York Times” published their own version of the central
claims in that “Washington Post” story.
And you know, at one level, I can appreciate that this story just kind of
looks like – oh, I`ve heard something about this. Oh, the sinkhole is
spreading a little further, right? Seems like an incremental development
and the ongoing concerning news about the new administration and its ties
to Russia, right? Just feels like an incremental little shift in something
we`ve been watching for a long time.
But if you can step back from this story just for a second, if you can look
at it fresh, maybe array some news stories we already understand around it
for the purpose of gaining perspective on it, I think what this new
development is about the national security advisor is basically like an 800
foot tall dam that`s about to be overtopped. This is not a little marginal
development in a medium-sized story. This is like an, oh, my God, you
can`t possibly keep running water down this thing, what do you mean we have
no choice, she`s going to blow.
We`ve got Congressman Adam Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee.
He`s going to be joining us live in just a moment to give us his
perspective on this story. He said today, if this new development, if this
new report is true, then the national security advisor must be fired. So,
he obviously thinks it`s a big deal.
But let me break it down this way: basic revelation is sort of simple and
stunning when you boil it down. Right after Christmas this year, when
Barack Obama was still president, the U.S. government announced sanctions
against Russia in retaliation for them interfering in our presidential
election. You might remember they took back that waterfront compound that
had been used by Russian intelligence in Maryland and they kicked a whole
bunch of Russian diplomats out of the country immediately with no notice.
And at the time, we might also remember, we were advised to expect
retaliation, a tit for tat, right? Whenever we expelled diplomats or, you
know, seized property or do something like this, there`s always a tit for
tat reaction between either the Soviet Union and us, or now Russia and us.
It`s been this way for decades.
So, the Obama administration did their sanctions, kicked the diplomats out
on the 28th of December and we all braced on the 28th of December to hear
what Russia was going to do in response. But they did nothing on the 28th.
And then on the 29th, there was this entire day in which they also did
And then when they did announce their response on the 30th, their response
was, we`re not going to respond. It was weird. The Kremlin expressed its
disappointment that Russian diplomats and their families who had been
stationed in the United States would now have to be in transit over the
Christmas holiday and that`s so sad for the kids from those families.
President Putin further explained he wouldn`t be doing any tit for tat
retaliation. He would not be expelling any American diplomats from Russia.
And in fact, American diplomats and their families, their children in
particular would be welcome at the Kremlin to come to his Vladimir Putin
Christmas party. It was so weird.
But here`s where the “Washington Post” picks up the story, quote, “Putin`s
muted response took White House officials by surprise. It triggered a
search by U.S. spy agencies for clues.”
One former senior U.S. official tells “The Post,” quote, “something
happened in those 24 hours between Obama`s announcement and Putin`s
response.” Officials began poring over intelligence reports, intercepted
communications and diplomatic cables. They found evidence that Trump
national security adviser Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the
United States had communicated by text and telephone around the time these
sanctions were announced.
Now, one of the nice things about this reporting is we get this kind of
blunt admission that, quote, “U.S. intelligence and law enforcement
agencies routinely monitor communications with Russian diplomats.” OK. I
mean, I guess we guessed that, but that`s good to have bluntly in black and
One of the other nice things about this reporting is this blunt force take
it to the bank assertion by the “Washington Post” that their sources on
this story are, quote, “nine current and former officials.” Nine. Nine,
who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls.
“The New York Times” similarly cites multiple federal officials who, quote,
“have read transcripts of the call.”
So, we`ve got U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies bugging the
Russians, right? Listening in on this Russian official`s calls and what
they hear, according to these multiple and multiply corroborated reports is
the man who`s going to go on to be Trump`s national security advisor,
calling the Russian government and essentially telling them, “Don`t worry
about these sanctions that the U.S. government is putting on you.” He`s
calling Russia to undermine the sanctions that President Obama has put on
Russia for their attack on our presidential election.
He reportedly told them in essence, hey, you know what, don`t bother
reacting to these sanctions. Don`t worry about it. Once Trump is sworn
in, we`ll fix it. We`ll take care of it.
Now, working secretly with a foreign power to undermine the actions of the
U.S. government, that`s kind of a big deal. I mean, even the Trump folks
recognize somebody doing that would be kind of a big deal. They recognized
it enough that they took great pains to deny the heck out of this for weeks
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The subject matter of
sanctions or the actions taken by the Obama administration did not come up
in the conversation.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They exchanged logistical
information on how to initiate and schedule that call. That was it, plain
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did not discuss
anything having to do with the United States` decision to expel diplomats
or impose a censure against Russia. Those elements were not part of that
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: I can confirm, my credibility on the line.
So, this White House chief of staff, White House spokesman, vice president
of the United States personally confirming there`s no way Mike Flynn would
have crossed that line. There`s no way he would have undermined the U.S.
government with a foreign power. There`s no way he would have talking
about those sanctions and undermining the impact of those sanctions with
the Russians. No way.
As of Wednesday this week, Mike Flynn was still confirming to the
“Washington Post” that he absolutely did not speak about those sanctions
with Russia. But then when “The Post” went back to him with this nine-
source reporting all but explicitly quoting what we now know, transcripts
of the U.S. intelligence intercepts of that phone call, then, last night,
Mike Flynn apparently changed his mind, now says, “I know that I previously
said I definitely didn`t talk about sanctions. Now I don`t remember if I
talked about sanctions.”
So, bottom line, how big is this? Is this a marginal development in this
story that we`ve all been watching?
First thing to appreciate here is the lying. Either the White House
spokesman, the White House chief of staff and the vice president all
bluntly lied knowingly about Mike Flynn and what he was doing with Russia
or they lied inadvertently, unknowingly because they were saying something
they thought was true because Mike Flynn told them a lie and they passed it
on thinking it was true.
Either way, that can`t stand, right? That seems like a big deal for the
top people in a brand new administration. You`re going to lie to me and
have me take it to the American public and it makes it look like I`m lying
or you`re asking me to lie on your behalf and I do and get nailed for it?
Point one, the lying. Second point to appreciate is the direct bottom line
of this story which is that the senior national security advisor in this
new administration personally interfered in U.S. government efforts to
punish Russia for interfering in our election.
But in terms of assessing the size of this news, there`s one last point
that`s starting to feel almost unappreciably big. And that`s what I want
to put to Congressman Adam Schiff in just a moment because of his
experience on the intelligence committee and it is this. Buried in the
seventh paragraph of the “Washington Post” story and in the fourth
paragraph of the “New York Times” story, buried well below the lead is the
news that this discussion between Mike Flynn and the Russian government
undermining U.S. policy toward Russia, undermining the U.S. effort to
punish Russia, undermining these sanctions, it wasn`t stand alone thing.
It was not the first of many conversations that have continued since the
new administration was sworn in and he`s become national security advisor.
No, that wasn`t the start of them talking.
Both papers are now reporting again with this sourcing that is deep, both
papers where now reporting that Mike Flynn`s contacts with the Russian
government started during the campaign, not since he`s been national
security advisor. Not since the transition after Trump was elected when
the Obama administration was still technically there, but Trump was on his
way in. But while Trump was still running for president, during the
campaign, while Russia was interfering in the U.S. election to try to elect
Donald Trump president, his top national security advisor on the campaign
was in repeated contact with the Russian government at that time.
Look, this is from “The Post”. Quote, “The talks were part of a series of
contacts between Flynn and the Russian official which began before the
November 8 election.” Here`s “The Times,” “Current and former American
officials says the conversation about sanctions was only one in a series of
contacts that began before the election.”
During the campaign while Russia was interfering in the election, the Trump
campaign was in contact with the Russian government. We`re now confirming?
OK. Well, CNN reports tonight that American intelligence officials have
corroborated some of the disputed dossier that was assembled about Trump in
Russia by a former British spy who has now disappeared.
If you recall, this very controversial dossier which was published by
BuzzFeed News, it contained two main allegations. One was that the Russian
government had allegedly collected damaging compromising personal
information about Donald Trump that was of a salacious and personal nature.
The other main allegation in that dossier was that the Trump campaign
colluded with the Russian government while they interfered in our
Well, CNN reports tonight intelligence officials, U.S. intelligence
officials who have been investigating that dossier, they have now
corroborated parts of it. Again, the two parts are the salacious personal
stuff or Donald Trump`s campaign collaborated with the Russian government
while he interfered in our election. CNN reports tonight the part that has
been corroborated by U.S. intelligence is not the salacious personal stuff.
So that leaves –
We should note that the White House is disputing CNN`s reporting tonight.
They`re calling it fake news. But that`s where we are.
Is part of the reason we got this new president not just because some
foreign government tried to make that happen? Is part of the reason we got
this new president because his campaign worked with a foreign government to
influence the outcome of our election, to make that outcome happen?
If so, it feels to me like that`s not a sinkhole. That`s not a busted
spillway or an eroded hillside. To me, that feels like blowing the dam.
MADDOW: So, we`ve learned in the last 24 hours ago by reporting from the
“Washington Post,” and “The New York Times” and NBC News confirming that
despite repeated denials from him and other administration official,
National Security Advisor Mike Flynn spoke with the Russian government
about the U.S. sanctions on them for undermining our presidential election.
He reportedly undermined the impact of those U.S. sanctions on Russia by
communicating secretly with the Russian government before Donald Trump took
“The Times” and “The Post” are also reporting with multiple sources that
General Flynn was in contact with the Russian government during the
presidential campaign which raises questions as to whether or not the Trump
campaign may have been collaborating with a foreign government while that
foreign government was making efforts to interfere with and influence the
outcome of our election.
Asked about this blockbuster new reporting tonight, the president said –
I`m paraphrasing here – but he basically said, “The what now?”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know about it. I
haven`t seen it. What report is that?
REPORTER: “The Washington Post” is reporting that he talked to the
ambassador of Russia before you were inaugurated about sanctions being –
TRUMP: I haven`t seen that. I`ll look at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The question now is, once the president looks at that, do we
expect him to do anything about it?
Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff. He`s the ranking member of the
House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman Schiff, really appreciate you being here on a Friday night.
Thanks for your time.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It`s good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I`m sort of grappling with the size of this report. I feel like
it`s easy to see this as another incremental story in a slowly growing
thing that a lot of people are concerned about at the one level. On the
other hand, it feels like a very big bad story. What`s your assessment of
how damaging and worrying this is?
SCHIFF: It`s enormously damaging and worrying. I think you set up the
context so well and I have to say you do a marvelous job in putting it
together and letting the American people just see how big this is.
You know, from my perspective, the context is as simple as this – the
intelligence community found that Russia interfered in our election with
the purpose of helping elect Donald Trump. And having achieved that
objective you have one of Trump campaign`s foremost surrogates, General
Flynn, having a private conversation with the Russian ambassador around the
time that President Obama announces sanctions to punish Russia for that
very interference and Flynn reportedly says, don`t worry about the
sanctions on you for helping us win. Once we take office, we`ll take care
If that`s true, it`s absolutely staggering. It certainly ought to result
in his immediate removal from office and if the further actions are true
that this was part of a course of conduct throughout the campaign, then you
have very serious legal violations as well. And, obviously, that is
something that we are investigating on the intelligence committee and we
have to get to the bottom of.
MADDOW: Now, in terms of the legal issues here, some people have been
talking about the fact that General Flynn, when these contacts happen
during the transition, he was a private citizen although it was clear he
was about to be a public official, people who are talking about whether
that violated the Logan Act, which is a prohibition on individual private
citizens undermining the U.S. government with foreign contacts. That`s
obviously a law that`s never been prosecuted, even though we`ve had it on
the books since the 1700s.
Is that – when you say there may be legal issues here, is that what you`re
talking about or are there other potential illegalities here?
SCHIFF: No, it wasn`t what I was talking about. You know, the Logan Act
is certainly implicated here. But as a former assistant U.S. attorney
myself, that would be a very difficult statute to prosecute. I think there
would be very heavy burden to make that kind of case.
I think what may be more significant here in addition to the fact that the
General Flynn would be working against the U.S. national security interest
is the fact that he misled the country about it afterwards. In that case,
I think the cover-up may be the worst element.
But the illegality I`m talking about is if the Trump campaign during the
course of the campaign, including Michael Flynn, was collaborating with
Russia to interfere in our election, all kinds of laws were violated and
that will have very serious repercussions. That is among the most serious
allegations we`re investigating.
MADDOW: Is that espionage? Is that treason? Is that – I mean, are those
the kinds of categories of laws we`re talking about then?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, it`s possible that it comes out to that. I think
there frankly will be a number of statutes that would be implicated that
would be far easier to prove than those exceptional ones. But if
effectively the Trump campaign was colluding in the illegal hacking of
information, the illegal publication of information, the theft of data, was
receiving essentially in-kind support from a foreign adversarial power,
there are any number of laws violated. So, if those allegations prove to
be true, stepping down from office will be the least of worries from Trump
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff of California, thank you for – this is
very serious stuff. Thank you for being so clear and straightforward and
calm in your discussion about it. I get my hair on fire a little bit about
this stuff, but I feel like you are a beacon here. Thanks, sir.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Very busy night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Late Wednesday night this week, there was very dramatic, very
emotional news out of Phoenix, Arizona. It was late that night, people
putting themselves physically in the way of this van, they`re trying to
stop it from moving, they`re trying to prevent a local mother who was
inside that van from being taken to Mexico.
Her name is Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos. She`s 36 years old. She came here
from Mexico when she was 14 years old. She has two teenaged school age
kids who were both American born, American citizens. She herself has not
been to Mexico since she was a kid. She has lived here her whole adult
But after 22 years of living here, she was deported yesterday to Nogales,
Mexico. She`s being described as the first person deported as a result of
President Trump`s orders, his executive order that ICE should priorities
deportations for anyone with any kind of criminal record, no matter what it
In her case, her crime was using a made up Social Security number so she
could work at a local water park a decade ago. While appealing that case,
she`s been following the rules since then. She`s been checking in with ICE
every year, every six months, wherever they tell her to, she checks in.
But on Wednesday, when she checked in as she always has, they arrested her,
and these protests erupted while her husband and kids waited outside.
And now, it seems like her arrest and deportation may be the start of
something bigger. After we saw that really emotional footage on Wednesday
night, all day Thursday, we started hearing rumors and reports that ICE
officers, that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, started
rounding people up that they rounded up over 100 people in southern
California. That prompted big protests in southern California.
All day yesterday, people watching raids play out said this appeared to be
something new, it appeared to be a big coordinated action by Immigration
and Customs. All day, ICE pushed back saying these were false reports,
this was business as usual. They said it was an extreme exaggeration to
say they picked up 100 people in southern California.
Well, tonight, we`re learning it was more like 160 people in southern
California. “The Washington Post” tonight is reporting there were
immigration raids not just in southern California but in at least a half
dozen states. Home sweeps, officers going into people`s homes, and
workplace raids in places as far flung as Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Los
Angeles area, North Carolina, South Carolina. We`re also getting reports
of checkpoints set up in North Carolina and also in Austin, Texas.
And the difference between the government`s description of what it`s doing
and what`s apparent that`s really happening on the ground that itself has
lit up outrage among opponents of this new change in policy. One of those
appointed joins us next. You will want to hear this. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Despite official denials from the Trump administration, it appears
that there have been a sudden rush of raids, roundups of immigrants in six
states yesterday and today. Now, those reports had been circulating among
advocates and immigrant communities over the last 36 hours or so. Now,
“The Washington Post” is confirming what activists have been saying and
what ICE, what the Trump administration has been officially denying.
The leader of the California state Senate late tonight responded this way,
quote, “I appreciate that ICE finally disclosed details about their recent
raids, but stunned to learn that ICE`s public comments made yesterday were
blatantly false. When news first broke of raids happening across southern
California yesterday, ICE told the media that reports of 100 immigrants
being arrested were grossly exaggerated. Yet today, they admit they
arrested 160 people.
ICE told numerous media outlets that yesterday was a routine day, which it
most clearly was not. And they have yet to disclose the crimes each person
was convicted of to support their arrests. The disconnect between what was
coming out of the ICE regional office yesterday and what was publicly
disclosed today is deeply troubling and needs to be fully explained by the
Joining us now is Kevin De Leon. He`s the California Senate leader who
issued that strong statement tonight following these not just unannounced
but officially denied raids across his state.
Senator De Leon, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Appreciate
STATE SEN. KEVIN DE LEON (D-CA), SENATE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Rachel. I
enjoy behind here tonight.
MADDOW: So, usually, we turn the federal government for an explanation
about the scale, the motivation and the results of sudden actions like
this. In this case, it feels like we can`t trust what the government is
telling us about their actions. What do you understand of the facts of
what have happened in the last 48 hours or so?
DE LEON: Well, Rachel, it`s been difficult to get information out from ICE
authorities. Historically, even under the Obama administration, they have
always been somewhat forthcoming and transparent with who they are
detaining, who they`re deporting and the reasons why. But with the Trump
administration, there`s a new attitude. It`s overly aggressive. It`s a
new tone and tenor.
And we`re really concerned because we tried incessantly last night to get
the facts, to get the figures. And obviously, they were not sharing with
us the facts. In fact, I believe even worse, that they were misleading the
I find it quite galling that they attempted to lecture the public when it
came to a sense of public misleading of what was actually happening
yesterday. But it`s been very difficult given a new Trump administration.
They`re very overly aggressive with what they`re doing and they said they
did not arrest 100 individuals. In fact, we find out today it was actually
MADDOW: One of the things that we saw – we`re showing footage while
you`re speaking there, sir, about the spontaneous protests that happened
last night in Los Angeles. People reacting in anger and clearly in
surprise to what had happened.
One of the other things that we`re seeing is there`s, for example, a pledge
that people are taking called Here to Stay, where people are basically
pledging to bodily put themselves on the line to try to stop people from
being deported, to try to block arrests, to try to help people evade the
authorities or to put themselves in the way while these arrests are
Do you have any reaction to that? Do you understand the impetus for that?
Do you feel like that might drive confrontation here?
DE LEON: Well, I can tell you this, Rachel, that there is a lot of fear.
There`s a lot of panic throughout the community, not just in Los Angeles,
but throughout California and throughout the nation. There`s a lot of
consternation. The anxiety is extremely high, especially among children
who are fearful that they may not – no longer see their mothers or their
fathers. Children are being dropped off at school and are fearful that
come in the afternoon, that standing at the curbside waiting for their
mother or father, they may not actually appear.
The panic and anger is so high that there has been talk about human
shields, about ordinary U.S. citizens actually protecting nannies,
gardeners, people who clean our homes and take care of our children and
creating this sort of human chain to protect them. I don`t condone this
type of comportment, but I can – I understand why the anxiety, the
consternation is so high here in California.
MADDOW: State Senator Kevin De Leon, the California State Senate
president, thanks for your time tonight, sir. Keep in touch with us about
DE LEON: Absolutely, thank you.
MADDOW: We need good sources of information as this and I am as troubled
as you are that we can`t get it from the federal government. Thanks, sir.
DE LEON: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. The weekend has not officially arrived yet, and
already, I can tell you next week is going to be jam-packed. I can tell
you some of what`s going to be jam-packed into it.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK, the guy behind the camera here, who you don`t see, the guy
holding the camera, is the constituent. The guy in front of the camera,
the unhappy person right in the center of the frame, that`s the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you authorized to speak for Representative Zeldin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am speaking for him right now, letting you know –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So, the Affordable Care Act, one of the provisions
is that insurance companies have to dedicate 85 percent of your premium to
actually delivering health care. Does Representative Zeldin support or
oppose that part of the Affordable Care Act?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can get that information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. The Affordable Care Act guarantees that women
cannot be charged more for their premiums than men. Does Representative
Zeldin support or oppose that part of the Affordable Care Act?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, I can get you that information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. The Affordable Care Act guarantees that children
can stay on their parents` health care until they`re 26. Does
Representative Zeldin support or oppose that part of the Affordable Care
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can say is that –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know where I`m going with this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We do see where you`re going with this, staffer trapped in front
of the ladies` room there.
That`s what it`s been like with constituents expressing themselves toward,
in this case, New York Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin. Today,
Congressman Zeldin canceled a town hall two months in advance of when it
was supposed to happen in April because I think he is not particularly
liking what it means for him and his staff to hear from his constituents
But you know what? I wanted to show you that clip of that confrontation
over the Affordable Care Act. I think it shows that people in general are
getting very good, at being very articulate about Obamacare all of a
sudden, right? Whatever the fights in past had been about, right? With
the people on the right saying, oh, it`s socialized medicine and it`s death
panels and stuff, and people in support of it not necessarily being able to
be that snappy.
People, all of a sudden, are really good about articulating what`s good
about the Affordable Care Act when they`re talking to their member of
Congress, when they`re talking to congressional staffers. This, for
example, was last night in Tennessee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Jessie Belfont (ph), and I`m in your
district. It`s from my understanding the ACA mandate requires everybody to
have insurance because the healthy people pull up the sick people, right?
And as a Christian, my whole philosophy in life is pull up the unfortunate,
So, the individual mandate, that`s what it does. The healthy people pull
up the sick. If we take those people and we put them in high-risk
insurance pools, they`re costlier and they get – there`s less coverage for
them. That`s the way it`s been in the past and that`s the way it will be
again. So, we are effectively punishing our sickest people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was at a meeting last night in Tennessee with Republican
Congresswoman Diane Black. People are getting very good at putting their
member of Congress on the spot about health care right now.
And for people who want to save the Affordable Care Act, that skill is
about to become important. It`s about to become way more important than
it`s even been thus far, because last night at 2:15 in the morning, the
Senate confirmed Tom Price to be the new health secretary. Zero Democratic
votes. 2:15 a.m. seems about right for that vote. I`m sure it helps to
have zero attention, zero audience on a vote like that, particularly thanks
to Tom Price`s ethics problems, his lots and lots and lots of ethics
But if Republicans in Congress have had a hard time sort of getting it
together to start taking away health care yet – they haven`t even come up
with a way to explain it to their constituents yet – swearing in Tom Price
today is expected to put some steam in that Republican engine. So, Tom
Price has been sworn in.
In terms of what happens next in the cabinet, Republicans could be voting
tomorrow on Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, if they wanted to, but
they`re taking the day off instead. They said they would work through the
weekend. They`re not working through the weekend, so expect a Steve
Mnuchin vote on Monday.
Monday is the same day that we expect protests nationwide against the
president`s pick of labor secretary, the man whose CEO of Carl`s Jr. and
Hardee`s. His name is Andy Puzder. His confirmation week will begin in
Monday with protests at Hardee`s and Carl`s Jr. restaurants in over two
dozen cities, protesters highlighting the multiple labor violations and
discrimination cases at Puzder`s own company while he`s been CEO. Their
contention is he`s unfit to be in charge of labor laws for the country when
he`s been breaking them so badly as a businessman.
The following day on Tuesday, a court in Missouri will decide whether or
not to unseal his divorce records from back in the day. The government
watchdog is asking that those records should be unsealed because they
reportedly include claims of domestic violence made by Mr. Puzder`s ex-wife
toward him. Mr. Puzder has denied those allegations. His ex-wife now says
she takes them back.
But his critics argued that those claims, if they`re true, would make him
plainly unfit to be in charge of efforts like combating workplace
harassment and violence.
So, Monday, the protests at Carl`s Jr. and Hardee`s. Tuesday, we have the
court hearing on the domestic violence allegations in his divorce records.
And Thursday, we get Puzder`s confirmation hearing, the one that`s already
been delayed four times.
So, like the Senate, get some rest this weekend. You`re going to need it.
That does it for us tonight. See you again Monday.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD.” Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence
Good evening, Ari.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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