Senate to vote Thursday on two bills. TRANSCRIPT: 1/22/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Sherrod Brown, Jennifer Levi
Transcript:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you very much.  See you, Chris. 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”:  That is “ALL IN” for this evening. 

 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. 

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend.  Much

appreciated. 

 

HAYES:  You bet.

 

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 

 

George W. Bush was re-elected to a second term as president in November

2004, of course.  That means his second term in office started in 2005. 

And that first year of his second term, 2005, it is remembered mostly for,

well, escalating public outrage over the ongoing war in Iraq.  It is

remembered for the tremendously and fatally mismanaged national disaster

that was Hurricane Katrina and the failures thereafter. 

 

And although we don`t remember it as much now, looking back at it now, at

the time, one of the big bad things that took up a lot of space in the news

in 2005, alongside those other bad things was bird flu.  That`s what

happened in 2005, the international freak out around bird flu.  Deadly bird

flu found across Asia.  Bird flu in Turkey, deadly strain.  Lethal bird flu

found in Croatia.  Week after week after week of headlines like this,

particularly in the late part of 2005. 

 

Here is BBC in the lower right there hitting peak freak out on the subject

that was September 30th, 2005.  Bird flu could kill 150 million people. 

 

By Halloween that year, 2005, “NBC Nightly News” was running terrifying

packages like this one to inform you what all the freak out was about and

to let you know soberly that, really, you should be as freaked out as

everybody else because there is nothing you can do to protect yourself. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Among dozens of influenza strains, H5N1 is worrisome now because

it is spreading rapidly in birds and infecting a few humans, often fatally. 

If the virus mutates so it can spread easily from person to person,

millions around the world could be infected.  That is called a pandemic. 

 

How likely is a pandemic any time soon?  No one knows.  What can families

do now to protect themselves? 

 

Experts say that before a pandemic strikes, there is little individuals can

do, that`s why there is so much demand for preparedness plans from federal,

state and local officials. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Look at the imagery there, right?  I mentioned that this ran on

Halloween night, on “Nightly News” in 2005.  With the big word “pandemic”

shaking across the screen, the Hitchcock view of the birds at dusk, the

looming shaky “Blair Witch” cam footage of the hospital bed that waits for

you, right?  Halloween 2005. 

 

The next day, President George W. Bush went to the National Institutes of

Health to give a very sort of tense and uncomfortable speech about bird flu

and why you should freak out about it.  And he was there to announce that

there would be a new federal plan. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT:  My responsibility as the president is to

take measures now to protect the American people.  If a virus were to

develop the capacity for sustained human-to-human transmission, it could

spread quickly across the globe.  If allowed to smolder undetected, it can

grow to an inferno that spreads quickly beyond our ability to control it. 

 

REPORTER:  The president`s plan, early detection of any outbreak,

stockpiling and rapid production of vaccines, ready response from all

levels of government to contain the spread. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  All levels of government.  That was November 1st, 2005.  President

George W. Bush at a difficult time in his presidency, 2005 did not go

great, and he`s there announcing a new national effort to prepare for the

oncoming pandemic of bird flu that`s going to kill 150 million people.  And

that was 14 years ago. 

 

Nobody much remembers that now about that part of the George W. Bush

administration, but it turns out even things like that that do not loom

large in history, they sometimes come around again in ways that could be

helpful for our current round of presidential problems.  We are now in the

second month of the federal government shutdown over president Trump`s

demand that we build a wall between the United States and Mexico.  We have

never had a government shutdown this long.  So there is no existing game

plan for how to try to keep the essential functions of government running

while no money can be expended and the people who actually effectuate those

elements of the government are not being paid.

 

And the federal court house system in New York, so not New York state

courts, but federal courts in New York, the administrator of the federal

courts in the southern district of New York has just told “The New York

Times” and WNYC that among the strategies they`re employing in his federal

courthouse to try to keep administering the justice system while nobody in

it is being paid, among the things they are now starting to do is that they

have dusted off the old bird flu plan from the George W. Bush

administration. 

 

Bush gave that uncomfortable speech at the NIH November 2005.  It did in

fact set in motion planning across various agencies and elements of the

government to be ready, to have contingency plans in place in the event

there was a worldwide and nationwide bird flu pandemic that was going to

bring the United States and maybe even the whole world to its knees.  A

little bit over a year after the Bush administration presented that plan or

ordered that plan, after Bush gave that speech, the Justice Department and

its Bureau of Justice assistants, in fact, rolled out this nuts and bolts

plan.  They called it an emergency roadmap for the courts for continuing

operations in the event of a worldwide bird flu pandemic. 

 

Quote: While it may be difficult for court managers to envision the impact

of a pandemic on court operations and to plan for such a scenario, it is

imperative that such planning takes place before such an event occurs.  To

wait and see if such a pandemic will actually occur is to risk the future

operation of the court at a time when it would be most needed.  Should a

pandemic occur, the operation of the courts like all government agencies

will be seriously affected. 

 

It`s estimated that some 40 percent of the workforce will be unable or

unwilling to report to work.  Such a reduction of available human resources

could be catastrophic to the continuation of court services.  Courts will

need to develop mechanisms to ensure the continuity of vital court

operations in a manner that doesn`t jeopardize the health and safety of the

judicial workforce or members of the public appearing before the court.

 

This is what they were contending with.  This is what they were trying to

plan for.  I mean, if 40 percent of everyone has the bird flu, how did they

imagine in 2007 that the federal court system would be able to still stay

open if for no other reason they`d have to be ruling on all inevitable

draconian quarantine orders and all the other emergency actions the

government would have to take to deal with the gigantic bird flu pandemic. 

What did they think they could do? 

 

Well, they could fax.  Quote: The court`s pandemic emergency plan should

consider alternative methods of accessing employees` expertise and

abilities.  Computers, along with fax machines and other

telecommunications, should be considered to allow staff members to function

off site.

 

Quote: Public health officials are the court may deem to necessary to

restrict public and even court user access to the court facility to prevent

the spread of disease.  The court should carefully consider the nature of

such restrictions, employing technology such as televised court proceedings

may help remedy this issue.

 

So, what if you can`t let anybody in the courthouse because everybody`s got

the bird flu?  Or if you don`t yet have the bird flu, you might get the

bird flu if they brought it into the courthouse with them. 

 

This is the plan they came up with for the U.S. federal court system in

2007 in case judges or defendants, I mean, or any of the court staff

couldn`t come to the courthouse because of all of the bird flu killing

everybody everywhere. 

 

According to the administrator of the federal courthouse in the Southern

District of New York, right now, that is the exact plan they are dusting

off right now to try to cope with the crisis that we are in now, which of

course is manmade, not bird made.  The administrator of the court tells

WNYC today, quote: We have an old plan that was put in place many years ago

with the bird flu.  We`ll dust it off.

 

The basics of plan?  Judges would stay home, court staff would stay home,

attorneys would stay home, but when somebody`s arrested, they need to be

seen for a bail hearing in a certain amount of time.  The backup plan is

hearings by video. 

 

So, the bird flu pandemic plan formed after George W. Bush gave that

awkward speech in 2005, it was developed by 2007, sent around to courts

around the country.  In the federal courts of New York, they say it is

tested annually.  But according to this new report from WNYC, the old bird

flu plan will, quote, get a thorough workout this week in the Southern

District of New York.

 

Quote: Prosecutors and marshals accompanying defendants to hearings will

all participate with a camera link, as well as judges, lawyers and

prosecutors. 

 

So this is the plan now.  We will all just pretend that we have transgenic,

potentially fatal, communicable diseases and we`ll work that way.  And

maybe that will be cheaper.  And so maybe then we can keep going for

longer. 

 

That`s the plan.  That`s the only plan – that`s the closest thing we have

to a plan to deal with what we`re doing to ourselves right now. 

 

As we ended one month of the federal government shutdown last night, one of

the things we reported on here last night at the top of last night`s show

was the prospect that FBI agents and other federal law enforcement and

national security personnel could potentially be in trouble because of the

shutdown in terms of their security clearances if they continued

indefinitely to be put under serious financial strain by the shutdown. 

Serious financial strain is a red flag for security clearances because if

you`re under serious financial strain, the idea is that you might be more

susceptible to bribery or anybody else financially enticing you to give up

information or to do things you otherwise shouldn`t do, given the sensitive

and national security information that you`ve got access to. 

 

Well, today the FBI Agents Association held a press conference and they put

out a long sort of scary document warning about just those kinds of

threats.  Quote: FBI special agents are subject to high security standards

that include rigorous and routine financial background checks.  Missing

payments on debts could create delays in securing or renewing security

clearances and could even disqualify agents from continuing to serve in

some cases.

 

The head of the FBI Agents Association was also asked about that by

reporters today.  He had a stark response. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

THOMAS O`CONNOR, FBI AGENTS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT:  We have to go through

rigorous background investigations to become an FBI agent.  Annually,

agents have to do a financial disclosure.  Every dollar that is attributed

to us has to be documented, and if there are any defaults on loans, any

missed payments, your credit report history is extremely important because

it goes towards your ability to have a security clearance. 

 

This lack of funding to the FBI is hurting operations, it is hurting

personnel across the board, and it is going to hurt our recruitment and it

is going to hurt our retention.  FBI agents that are currently on board

have opportunities to go into the private sector and double or triple their

current salaries.  You tell me what you would do if your family needed

security financially and you`re not getting it. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The head of the FBI Agents Association was also asked today about

basically bottom line, how bad this gets in terms of public impact, in

terms of public safety as the shutdown keeps going, given the kinds of

impacts he was describing on the FBI for the month of shutdown that we`ve

already been through. 

 

So he gets ask that question.  Watch him try to answer that question here. 

Watch for the pause as he tries to figure out a way that would be OK to

answer that question. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  If the shutdown continues, what is the worst case scenario in

terms of public safety? 

 

O`CONNOR:  The FBI needs to be fully funded so that we can do our jobs,

stop terrorist attacks, prevent criminal activity, arrest bad guys.  That`s

what we do.  We need to do that to keep this country safe. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The FBI Agents Association, as I mentioned, they also distributed

this document, which is full of sort of granular information from

individual agents around the country about how exactly their work in law

enforcement and national security is getting screwed up by the shutdown. 

This, for example, is from an agent working both overt and undercover

counterintelligence matters against a top threat to national security. 

That`s how the agent is described. 

 

And these are the agent`s words, quote: The shutdown has eliminated any

ability to operate.  It is bad enough to work without pay, but we can only

conduct administrative functions while doing it.  The fear is our enemies

know they can run freely.

 

Another agent in the northeast region says, quote: The operational impacts

of this shutdown are immeasurable.  We have postponed the indictment of

subjects due to the shutdown. 

 

Another agent in the southeast region says, quote: With staff from the U.S.

attorney`s office, meaning federal prosecutors office, being furloughed,

approximately 20-plus grand jury subpoenas are not being delivered.  And

that actually turns out to be a recurring theme from these agents in

describing how the shutdown has basically stopped their work. 

 

Here is another.  Quote: I have been advised by our U.S. attorney`s office

that because of the shutdown, there are no funds allocated to pay for grand

jury subpoenas.  As a result, only emergency subpoenas are being issued and

any nonemergency subpoenas will not be processed until after the shutdown. 

This is causing affected investigations to be put on hold until the

shutdown ends.

 

I mean, this is the premier law enforcement agency on earth, right?  This

is where they are at right now, heading into month two.  Quote: We are out

of tires.  Our mechanics are cannibalizing out of service vehicles in an

effort to replace flat tires.  We are almost out of copy paper. 

 

Supplies needed for forensic processing are being expended and not being

replaced.  We are now almost out of trace evidence materials, casting

material, DNA swab kits, et cetera, with no ability to replenish them. 

We`re out of tires. 

 

So, when does this end?  The national head of the ACLU, Anthony Romero,

freaked me out on the show last night when she said as serious as a heart

attack that he fully believes that this shutdown is indefinite.  That there

is no reason to expect we will have federal governance in any foreseeable

future. 

 

This afternoon, there was a little flurry of excitement when “The New York

Times” briefly posted this headline.  Senate leaders agree to votes that

offer possible path to re-open government.  I say they briefly posted that

headline because they quickly took it down when it became clear that

actually the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is offering

no such thing, he just keeps putting up actually increasingly conservative,

increasingly hard-line versions of the bill that says the president wants

to build a wall between us and Mexico. 

 

And maybe he does want that and maybe Senate Republicans want that more

than anything, but just putting up that bill over and over again is not a

path that is ever going to end this shutdown.  Tomorrow, indivisible groups

across the country will host a call-in day, asking people to call their own

U.S. senators, just their home state U.S. senators, to urge them all, all

senators, Republican and Democrat, to vote for the bill that`s already

passed the House that would just cleanly re-open the government with no

other changes, with no other policy commitments. 

 

And we will see if that national call-in day by indivisible makes a

difference.  I don`t know.  But ultimately here, though, something will

have to happen, right? 

 

I mean, however much the president and congressional Republicans really

want to build a wall between us and another country, presumably they will

have to agree to re-open the government at some point while they otherwise

wage the fight to try to achieve that end, right?  I mean, logjams do

break.  Standoffs do end.  Straight lines curve and sometimes there are

surprise endings. 

 

Today, after an all-night negotiation session, the L.A. teachers strike

came to an end.  It was six days, more than 30,000 schoolteachers on

strike, the second largest school district in the country.  Those teachers

are now expected to be back at work tomorrow morning.  The strike will end

with the teachers having achieved a modest pay raise for themselves, but

also a start on smaller class sizes, a guarantee for nurses in the schools

and librarians in the schools and counselors in the schools. 

 

Many of the school kids who walked out alongside their teachers to support

them in their strike, the school kids wanted an end to the random search

policy in the L.A. school district, where kids at some schools were being

stopped and frisked like criminal suspects just for literally showing up to

school.  The number of schools where that sort of policy is in effect will

be significantly reduced because of the ending of the strike and the terms

on which it will now end. 

 

Standoffs do end.  Fights get fought and they get resolved.  And while we

try to figure out how this big one ends, I mean, our various crises and

conflicts and dramas persist, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on a whole

bunch of controversial issues today, including the ban on transgender

service members in the military and the mystery case involving a subpoena

from the special counsel`s office to some unknown company owned by some

unknown country.  We`ll get some expert advice to talk about the Supreme

Court actions a little bit later on this hour. 

 

Just tonight, in a blockbuster vote in the House of Representatives, the

House voted overwhelmingly, look at that vote, 357-22.  That vote tonight

in the House to express support for our most important military alliance,

NATO.  And to block any effort by President Trump to destroy NATO by

pulling the United States out of it unilaterally.  That is a policy outcome

he apparently made multiple runs at over the last year, if anonymous senior

Trump officials talking to “The New York Times” are to be believed. 

 

 

But that vote to support NATO and to block Trump from pulling out of it,

that includes every Democrat who voted in the House tonight and it includes

149 House Republicans who crossed over to vote with the Democrats and

against the president on that.  A hundred and forty-nine Republicans, only

22 Republicans voted no. 

 

That news arrived tonight along with word that in the House, Democrats have

just added a whole bunch of aggressive progressive members of Congress to

the crucial Government Oversight Committee.  The Government Oversight

Committee, if you want to picture this, that`s the committee that has

oversight over kind of everything.  It`s chaired by the estimable

Congressman Elijah Cummings, who will likely end up being one of the

highest profile, most powerful and most high-impact Democrats in Washington

once his Oversight Committee is up and running and firing on all cylinders. 

A key part of that is finding out who his members are. 

 

The new members of his committee, we can report tonight, will include high-

profile progressive freshmen like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida

Tlaib and Ayanna Presley, which means buckle up if you were not expecting

the confrontation this new Democratic House and the Trump administration to

come with fireworks worthy of any good Fourth of July. 

 

So, it`s far cry from, like, the Trey Gowdy Oversight Committee for the

first two years of the Trump administration, right?  I mean, cabinet

officials are dropping like flies and Gowdy like, yes, I don`t know that we

need to oversee this so much as we need to overlook this.  I just – 

 

But things do change.  Impasses get passed.  Old dusty plans that might

have seemed like misfires for a decade and a half come around and turned

out to be useful down the road.  Yes, maybe you`re imagining 40 percent of

your workforce couldn`t come to the courthouse because of the bird flu. 

And maybe that didn`t pan out that way, but if 40 percent of your workforce

or more can`t come to the courthouse because of President Trump, well,

maybe the same plan will still work, even without the infection. 

 

Things do change.  Logjams do break.  But even with all the imagination I

can apply to this particular problem, I still do not see how we get out of

this shutdown and I definitely do not see how we get out of this with

further damage to the most important things that the government does. 

 

That said, here tonight right here in the studio next is somebody who just

might know. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ADM. KARL SCHULTZ, COMMANDANT, COAST GUARD:  Shipmates, thank you for

continuing to stay on the watch.  The master chief petty officer of the

Coast Guard, myself, and your senior leadership team, as well as the

American public, stand in awe of your continued dedication to duty and your

resilience of that and your families. 

 

We`re five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse

and your non-pay.  You as members of the armed forces should not be

expected to shoulder this burden.  I remain heartened by assistance

available to you within the lifelines and by the outpouring of support from

local communities across the nation.  But ultimately, I find it

unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries

and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  That is Admiral Karl Schultz, who is the commandant of the United

States Coast Guard speaking tonight.  It was just posted this evening, to

service members in the Coast Guard, letting them know he finds it

unacceptable they`re having to rely on food pantries and donations, telling

them that their leadership has their back and, yes, they`re going to

continue to be unpaid week after week after week. 

 

This is the first time that U.S. Coast Guard Service members have ever gone

without pay through any of the shutdowns we`ve been through as a country. 

And this one appears to be indefinite.  This is now week five. 

 

Joining us now is Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.  He`s a member

of the Senate Finance Committee. 

 

Senator, it`s really good to have you here tonight.  Thanks for coming in. 

 

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  Thank you, Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  I am – I feel like the more I talk to people who have clear eyes

and can see the horizon on the shutdown thing, the more I am worried it

might have no end, that there might not be a way to end it, nor any

intention to end it on administration or congressional Republicans. 

 

BROWN:  I think that – I mean, it`s clear that Mitch McConnell has got to

do his job.  Donald Trump – he thrives on this.  We all know if he gets

the $5 billion, that he`ll do this again in six months and throw another

temper tantrum and shut down the government, a little like a 2-year-old

wanting another cookie and crying and give him a cookie and he`ll do it

again. 

 

I don`t see any question about that.  I mean, a majority of Americans

understand that`s what`s happening.  Mitch McConnell has got to stand up

and do his job. 

 

And when I go through the Cleveland airport, I mean, we have a lot of Coast

Guard people in Cleveland, Lorain, along the Long Lake area, and I see

their service and how important it is.  I talk to TSA agents at airports

all the time, particularly Cleveland and Columbus and Cincinnati, and they

– you know, they are worried about – they have to go to their bank or

their landlord or they – how do you do child care when you ask the people

taking care of your children?  Could you wait three or four or five weeks

until I pay you? 

 

You just can`t be – these families are under such stress they don`t show

it in the workplace much fortunately, but it`s so hard on them.  And, you

know, there is a group that we don`t talk about much, and those are federal

contractors that are making – that provide food service, that work in the

kitchens and do the security and do the custodial work at federal

facilities.  They`re making $10, $12, $15 an hour.  If they have a union,

they`re making a little more, if they don`t, they make a little less.

 

And they have not – in the past – they`ve lost their jobs, in the past,

and they haven`t gotten back pay.  So they are really let out of this. 

 

MADDOW:  So, you`re saying that federal workers who are being forced to

work without pay right now are in bad enough straits.  But if you`re a

federal contractor, if you`re working as a custodian or food service

worker, I mean, for the federal government, at least federal workers will

get their back pay, but people who work – the contractors won`t?

 

BROWN:  In the past, they never have.  So, these are $12, $15 an hour jobs,

or less.  They`re preparing the food in the kitchens and cafeterias that

serve the public in federal buildings or serve workers in the federal

buildings.  They keep the buildings clean.  They keep people safe, security

officials there, security officers. 

 

And they have been left out in the past and with those kind of wages, we

should know they are going to payday lenders and, you know, Rachel, when

you go to a payday lender, and you get a loan for two weeks, you go back

and have to borrow again and you end up in this downward spiral where

you`re playing 300 or 400 percent in interest only. 

 

And the president doesn`t – he clearly, I don`t think he probably knows

about those people and he sure doesn`t care about them.  That`s why Mitch

McConnell has got to do his job. 

 

MADDOW:  When you say Mitch McConnell has to do his job, though, let`s game

this out, because if right now, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer agreed

that they would just pass what the house passed, which is just cleanly

reopening the government, no policy changes, let`s just reopen this,

whatever we want to fight about, let`s fight about it after we get the

government back open. 

 

I am assuming that President Trump would not sign that bill.  That means

that you need to build a veto-proof majority in the Senate.  McConnell

would need to get all of the Republican senators on board essentially in

order to pass it by a large enough margin that the president can`t veto.

 

BROWN:  But –

 

MADDOW:  Is that what you –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

BROWN:  Yes, before the shutdown, every single senator voted for that

actual language, the House will probably pass again tomorrow or Thursday,

it will come back to us.  All of us voted for it.  Again, we vote – we all

just voted for it a month to five weeks ago before the shutdown, before –

when Pence promised Republicans at a lunch that the president would sign

it, then the president changed his mind when, you know, the right wing

machine went into over drive.

 

But if we do that, if the president vetoes it, maybe he would, maybe he

wouldn`t at that point, we could over ride it and I would think there is

enough pressure, enough House members, they go through airports, they talk

to TSA agents.  They stood in lines with their constituents – unless they

have some back entrance I don`t know about.  They stood in line for an hour

waiting to get through TSA because there are fewer agents now in many

cases, because they are overworked and not paid and they`ve got to arrange

child care, they have to take days off sometimes to arrange all that. 

 

So, I think the pressure builds.  I mean, it`s a democracy that they should

respond to.  And that`s really our hope here.

 

Because Trump is going to continue to use this to speak to the base, divide

the country to play into this phony populism that is – you know, I mean,

real populism isn`t anti-Semitic, it`s not racist, you don`t divide people,

you don`t push people down to lift others up.  That`s the game Trump is

going to continue to play.  That`s why the Senate, Mitch McConnell needs to

act like a grownup and do this, this week. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, will you stay right there for a

second?  There is another matter I need to ask you about. 

 

BROWN:  Sure.

 

MADDOW:  Senator Sherrod Brown is our guest.  We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BROWN:  He said this shutdown has a higher purpose than next week`s pay. 

Imagine that, a billionaire president living in this beautiful house paid

for by taxpayers, and having his estate in Mar-a-Lago, that he would say

this shutdown, this Trump shutdown has a higher purpose than next week`s

pay. 

 

Missing one paycheck, one two-week paycheck or two two-week paychecks, or

even if the president gets his way, three two-week paychecks, may seem like

a lot to the billionaire president and a multimillionaire cabinet with

their massive investment portfolios, but it means a whole lot to those

people.  Missing a paycheck is a big, big deal. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  When Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio gave that speech

back on January 9th, the shutdown was in its 18th day, which was almost

unimaginable.  We`re now at almost double that. 

 

Joining us once again is Senator Brown of Ohio.  Senator, thank you again. 

 

BROWN:  Thanks, Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  A lot of people want you to run for president and I know this

isn`t your favorite topic of conversation, but part of the reason why is

because of the way you are making that argument there, which has been the

kind of argument and the kind of way that you have spoken in public office

your whole life.  You winning reelection in Ohio, even as a lot of people

say that Ohio is going – becoming an increasingly red state, you winning

reelection fairly comfortably.  Your ability to communicate on issues that

are really paycheck issues and pocketbook issues for people of all

striations across this country is something I think people are hungry for

when they ask you to run. 

 

Does it stress you out that people are putting that on you or do you – how

are you dealing with those requests (ph)? 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

BROWN:  Sure.  I mean, it`s –

 

MADDOW:  It would stress me out. 

 

BROWN:  Yes, it`s not without some anxiety to think about any of this.  And

I – you know, Connie and I are seriously thinking about it. 

 

I – you know, I think whoever the Democratic nominee is if I run and I`m

it or any number of well-qualified people that announced or will announce,

the dignity of work really needs to be a central theme because I think in

their campaigns, I think that too many people sort of look at the

Democratic electorate and say you either talk to the progressive base or

you talk to working class voters, and you`ve got to do both. 

 

I mean, you`ve got to do both, not just to win Ohio or win the heartland or

win the Electoral College, you got to do both.  As a long-time progressive

and as an advocate for workers, it`s the way not just to win elections,

it`s the way to govern, and it really is at the core of who I am and who I

think a whole lot of American public and a strong majority of the

Democratic Party is. 

 

Do both.  Talk in terms of progressive issues and talk about what we need

to do for workers, on trade policy and tax policy and over time rule and

all of that. 

 

MADDOW:  I think a lot of people think of those as two different lanes

because they think to talk to the progressive base of the Democratic Party

such as it is, you have to talk about issues that essentially have been

turned into cultural wedges that are designed to alienate working people

from the image of the Democratic Party.  And you have really straddled both

of those lanes.  You have operated in both of the spaces your whole public

life. 

 

Why has that never been a problem for you? 

 

BROWN:  Well, you go to my hometown in Mansfield.  You go Zanesville, you

got to the city of Cleveland, or you go to Appalachia, and people have the

same hopes and dreams.  People think if you work hard, you ought to be able

to get ahead.  And if your love your country, you fight for the people who

make it work – whether you punch a clock or swipe a badge or raising

children or caring for an ageing parent or working on a salary or working

for tips. 

 

This expansive sort of expansive definition of work to respect work, to

honor work, I don`t think – I don`t think our government – I mean, you`ve

got a White House that looks like a retreat for Wall Street executives. 

They`re not listening to workers.  Whether it`s in the shutdown or it`s the

tax bill or it`s Trump trying to scale back the over time rule where

130,000 Ohioans, 5 million Americans were getting a raise that were working

50 and 60 hours a week.  We`re going to get time and a half for the first

time and the president tries to take it away. 

 

I mean, it`s this long-term betrayal of workers from this administration

from his time as a businessman to now when that`s why he doesn`t care about

those low wage workers or any of the 800,000 that are either furloughed, or

have lost their jobs, or working without pay. 

 

MADDOW:  You said that you and your wife Connie are thinking about whether

or not you might make a run.  When are you going to decide and will you

talk to me about it when you do? 

 

BROWN:  Sure, sure.  I`ll always talk to you, Rachel.  So, of course. 

 

We are going to the four early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South

Carolina.  We will - we are going to do a dignity of work listening tour. 

I`m not trying to have the largest rally or the biggest crowds. 

 

I want to listen to people and hear them whether – and when I talk about

the dignity of work, it`s – you know, it`s a barber in Cedar Rapids, it`s

a physical therapist in Concord, it`s a restaurant worker in Nevada, and

it`s in Florence, South Carolina, it might be a construction worker.

 

And just that – I mean, people in this country are working harder than

ever before.  They`re seeing corporate profits are up, executive

compensation is exploding.  Their productivity is up and their wages are

flattened.  And there`s something – there is something intrinsically wrong

with our economy, and it starts with respecting work and talking and

governing that way. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, thank you for talking to me about

these things.  And I don`t mean – I realize everybody is bugging you about

this whole question about whether or not you`re going to run.  I don`t mean

to bug you about it, but I am super interested to think what you might

bring to the debate and how you might – 

 

BROWN:  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  – your presence in the debate, whether or not you win, your

presence in the debate will drive the discussion towards those issues

because you`ve been so effective at talking about them all those years. 

 

BROWN:  Thanks.

 

MADDOW:  So, thanks.

 

BROWN:  Thank you.  Always, thanks, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  It`s good to have you here.

 

All right.  We`ll be back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  There were a bunch of big developments at the U.S. Supreme Court

today.  Two of which I think I basically understand.  And one of which

we`re about to have extra help to walk us through because I definitely

don`t get it. 

 

First thing to know, though, is that the justices agreed to take up a big

gun-related case for the first time in nearly a decade.  This will be the

first Second Amendment case the court heard since the instillation of Trump

nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  His appointment cemented what is expected to be a

fairly radical pro-gun conservative majority on the court.  This case the

court decided to hear in the fall is a challenge to a New York City gun law

which says if you`re licensed to have a gun in your home, the only other

place you can take that gun is to an authorized shooting range inside city

limits. 

 

“The New Yorker” is challenging the law want to be able to take their guns

other places like specifically to their second homes outside the city.  And

your level of sympathy may vary for New Yorkers demanding the right to

shuttle their firearms back and forth between their many, many homes. 

 

But this case does setup the Supreme Court`s five conservative justices

potentially to rule much more broadly on what kind of restrictions anyplace

in the country is allowed to put on where you can have your gun.  So, that

is something to watch. 

 

Another thing that happened in the Supreme Court today is new movement in

the mystery case we have been following that appears to involve special

counsel Robert Mueller.  This is a case that has been making its way

mysteriously through the federal courts in D.C. and I say it`s mysterious

because this case has been basically entirely under seal.  It concerns a

corporation of some kind owned by a foreign country, we don`t know which

one, and that unknown foreign owned corporation has been fighting a grand

jury subpoena from Robert Mueller special counsel office. 

 

Now, again, we`re not allowed to know what the company is or which country

it`s from.  We`re not even allowed to know the identities of the lawyers

arguing the case, which I find bizarre, but lower courts have repeatedly

ruled against this foreign corporation, lower courts have repeatedly ruled

that it does have to compile with the subpoena from Mueller. 

 

In fact, we learned in today`s Supreme Court filing that the company was

initially ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 a day as long as they weren`t

compiling with the subpoena.  At least that`s what the special counsel

wanted.  Instead, a federal court judge in D.C. said, no, $10,000 a day

isn`t good enough, let`s make it $50,000 today. 

 

So they are paying $50,000 in fines every day they don`t comply with the

subpoena.  Today, the Supreme Court allowed this foreign corporation to

file a petition again under seal.  It`s partially redacted, asking the

justices to take up this case and our best understanding is that it`s not

unheard of for the Supreme Court to allow petitioners to file anonymously

or semi-redacted petitions like this, but it is pretty rare. 

 

So what we now have on the public record is these redacted filings.  We did

learn from these redacted filings today the company is a wholly owned

agency or instrumentality of a foreign state.  So, it`s not partially owned

by a foreign country.  It`s wholly owned by a foreign country.

 

We also learned this company says it was subpoenaed as a witness in this

investigation, whenever the investigation is, and it also appears that

today, the secret foreign company lost yet another round in the lower

courts.  The D.C. appeals court today again ruled against this company,

something having to do with them having to comply with that subpoena.  That

came alongside the ruling from the release of their appeal to the Supreme

Court. 

 

Again, though, I can only tell you so much about what that D.C. circuit

court ruling was about because, again, it is sealed.  So, we will be

watching the Supreme Court to see what they do with this application from

this mystery corporation from this unknown foreign country but they appear

to be losing at pretty much every level of the court system thus far and

having to pay a pretty high price for it with each passing day, whether or

not the Supreme Court ultimately changes that course of events, we`ll find

out when we find out. 

 

So, that`s a couple of things that happen today at the Supreme Court.  But

I told you there was another development at the court today for which we

need expert help and that one is next.  Stay right with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  You partly saw the headlines about this today.  Ever since

President Trump tried to ban transgender troops from serving in the

military, the policy he issued by tweet, apropos of nothing.  That effort

has been blocked by federal courts as lawsuits over the proposed ban have

been argued. 

 

But today, there was a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in which the five

conservative justices on the court lifted some of the nationwide

injunctions that had kept this partial ban from going into effect.  Here`s

the part I can`t understand, though.  As far as I can tell, the court did

not lift all the injunctions.  As I said, multiple courts have blocked this

policy from going into effect. 

 

It certainly doesn`t seem like the justices have ruled on the merits of the

policy.  It seems they are setting themselves up for that in the future. 

But the question is, what`s the status right now?  Is the ban in effect? 

What does today`s order mean for service members and people looking to join

the military right now?  What does this mean going forward? 

 

I know enough to know I don`t get it yet.  But joining us now is Jennifer

Levi.  He`s the director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLAD, a LGBTQ

legal advocates and defenders, one of the groups that sued the Trump

administration over the ban. 

 

Jennifer, thanks for being here.  Much appreciated. 

 

JENNIFER LEVI, TRANSGENDER RIGHTS PROJECT, GLAD DIRECTOR:  Yes, absolutely.

 

MADDOW:  So, you hear my confusion here.  I don`t – I m not – A, I`m not

a lawyer, and B, I don`t think I was totally sure on the administrative

status of this proposed ban before today.  I`m definitely not sure right

now. 

 

LEVI:  Well, two things happened today.  One is that the court rejected the

government`s request to hear the case right now.  It would have been

premature for the court to hear it, and so, the government`s not going to

be able to leapfrog the ordinary appellate process and have the case heard

now. 

 

But the other thing the court did was to green light the ban, in terms of

it going into effect.  Although you`re absolutely right, that there are

remaining barriers that the government will have to challenge if it wants

to begin to implement them. 

 

MADDOW:  So, it cleared its way through some of lower court orders that

have blocked the ban for going into effect, but not all of them. 

 

LEVI:  Not all, that`s right. 

 

MADDOW:  So, when are those going to get adjudicated?

 

LEVI:  Well, the government is going to ask the district court in which one

of those barriers are still in place to lift that ban and we`ll have to see

how that goes forward.  It`s up to the government at this point.  I will

say there`s been a tremendous amount of – lack of clarity I would say from

the government about how it intends to proceed and that`s been true from

the minute the tweets were issued by the president. 

 

MADDOW:  Well, the tweets were issued by the president.  The effectuation

of what appeared to be his tweeted order at the Pentagon was itself a bit

of a morass. 

 

LEVI:  Absolutely.

 

MADDOW:  And so, now, given that murky origin story, given the path this

has taken through the courts, given this partial step by the Supreme Court

today, if you`re an openly transgender service member serving right now,

are you in fear of getting kicked – are you living tonight in fear of

getting kicked out because of this? 

 

LEVI:  Well, here`s what we know, that the military has said when this ban

goes into effect, there is a small group of individuals who came out in

reliance of the open service policy who will be allowed to continue to

serve.  They`ll be doing so under a policy that deems them unfit, and that

will have very concrete impact on their ability to continue to serve. 

 

MADDOW:  And they won`t be kicked out but considered unfit while still

serving. 

 

LEVI:  That`s right.  That`s right.

 

MADDOW:  That`s insane. 

 

LEVI:  It makes no sense and it really underscores how unprincipled the ban

is because it would allow transgender people to continue to serve,

recognizing that those individuals have met all of the very high standards

for continuing in military service, and yet would exclude other people who

have not come out yet and would exclude all transgender people who seek to

enlist.  So, it makes no sense.  All the ban would serve to do would be to

exclude people who can meet military criteria and qualifications from

serving. 

 

MADDOW:  When the justices do ultimately hear the merits of this case, are

you pessimistic about how they`re going to rule?  I mean, this is a 5-4

conservative ruling today.

 

LEVI:  That`s true.  But it did not speak to the merits of all, and it

really only put in place even temporarily the permission for the government

to put the ban into place.  I will say that I`m optimistic because I don`t

think that there`s any basis for the government to demonstrate that there

is a reason why transgender people who meet military criterion can`t serve. 

And we`re actually optimistic because in rejecting hearing the case now, it

allows us to go back down to the district courts and put on the evidence

that we think will absolutely refute the government`s statements that

transgender people can`t serve in the military. 

 

MADDOW:  So you think when you get your shot at the merits, you`re going to

win? 

 

LEVI:  Absolutely.  And we also think that, you know, the fact that

transgender people have been putting themselves, their lives in the line

every day in service to their country, it`s going to help to prove our

case. 

 

MADDOW:  Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLAD,

it`s really good to have you here.  Thanks.

 

LEVI:  Thank you so much.

 

MADDOW:  Nice to see you.

 

All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  To wrap up tonight, last night`s show we opened the show with a

long story about a Belarusian model, a woman named Anastasia Vashukevich,

who has been caught up in the saga about the Russian government interfering

in U.S. elections and she`s been caught up in what appears to be a very

dangerous situation for her in which she says that she has evidence, she

has video and photo and audio recordings which implicate to a certain

extent a specific Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska involved in the

Russian meddling. 

 

Last night, we focused on the fact she was arrested by Russian authorities

while transiting through an airport last week, and over the weekend she

appeared in court as you see in this video sort of scarily apologizing over

and over again to that oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, and saying there will be

no more recordings and she had no more proof and she had nothing else she

wanted to say about it. 

 

The update I have for you on that story tonight is that Anastasia

Vashukevich was released from custody in Russia today, but we know very

little about that.  By this time tomorrow, we expect to learn more.  Her

lawyer says there will be a press conference tomorrow in which they will

explain what they believe has happened in her case.  We will have that

update for you tomorrow. 

 

Tomorrow night, we will also have Senator Kamala Harris of California here

for her first live TV interview since announcing that she`s running for

president.  Tomorrow is a big night.  Stay with us.

 

We`ll see again then.

 

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”. 

 

Good evening, Lawrence. 

 

END

 

                                                                                                               

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