Chief Justice Roberts joined court’s liberals. TRANSCRIPT: 2/8/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Right, and your reporting also said that the head of
security at Bedminster was actually told that there were workers
potentially working there in legal documents.
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: That`s right. So, one
of the things the Trump organization said in the last few weeks was we
didn`t know. We didn`t know there are all these people working for us.
They fooled us.
Well, we found this police report from back in 2011 where a Bedminster P.D.
cop is called to a hit and run at the course, the suspect is an
undocumented immigrant who works at Trump`s course. The cop discovers this
and tells the head of security, look, your employer here, I`m here because
you have an employee who was in this accident –
FAHRENTHOLD: – and was here undocumented. Nothing seems to have happened
REID: Wow. David Fahrenthold, great reporting. Thank you so much.
Really appreciate you joining me tonight. Thank you.
That is all for ALL IN this evening. You can catch me this weekend on
10:00 a.m. at Saturday and Sunday morning for “A.M. JOY.”
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Joy. Thank you very much, my
friend. Much appreciated.
Thanks to you at home for joining us. Happy Friday.
We`re going to start tonight with a big update on the story that we have
been covering since just about exactly this time last night. When we last
left the million-mile-an-hour on the blink wildly spinning out of control
carousel that is the news cycle now. The richest man on earth, Jeff Bezos,
the founder of amazon.com and the owner of “The Washington Post”, he had
just published what he says were the extortion threats from a supermarket
tabloid in the United States. This same tabloid, of course, that has been
named by federal prosecutors as a participant in a felony case involving
illegal campaign contributions to the president`s campaign in 2016.
The president`s longtime lawyer, of course, is about to start a fairly long
federal prison sentence in part for his role in those felonies. That
lawyers himself, Michael Cohen, and the federal prosecutors who worked that
case have put in writing in court materials and have said in court that the
president himself was not just the beneficiary of that illegal payment
scheme, he was the person who directed the commission of those crimes for
which Michael Cohen is now going to prison.
Now, the other party who prosecutors say took part in those crimes was this
supermarket tabloid, and that tabloid escaped prosecution and its
executives and officers escaped prosecution for their role in that felony
scheme because they cooperated with prosecutors, under terms that were laid
out in this non-prosecution agreement, which prosecutors have since made
And we can tell from this non-prosecution agreement that we can read that
this tabloid cooperated with prosecutors to help them build that felony
case that implicates the president and that is sending the president`s
lawyer to jail in order to participate with prosecutors in that, in order
to help them build their case, the tabloid itself had to come clean with
those federal prosecutors about its own illegal payments to benefit the
president`s campaign. And we can tell from the fine print toward the back
of that agreement that as a consequence of entering into this agreement
with prosecutors, the tabloid, that company, they are bound now, they are
legally bound by this agreement to stop committing crimes, to not commit
anymore crimes for a period of at least three years.
Otherwise everything the tabloid and its officers and its employees told
prosecutors as part of their cooperation in that felony case, everything,
including all details of the firm`s own confessed illegal payments to the
president`s campaign and everything else they had to tell the prosecutors
in order to get themselves that deal. If the tabloid commits any other
crimes, the non-prosecution deal is off and that would mean instantly that
everything they have confessed to and everything prosecutors came to learn
about that firm and its officers and its employees, all of it would lose
its shield from prosecution.
So, last night, as we reported, Jeff Bezos, owner of “The Washington Post,”
he published what he says is correspondents from that same tabloid. One of
their senior editors telling Mr. Bezos that the tabloid will publish
embarrassing naked pictures of him unless he does what they demand.
After Bezos went public and published that correspondence last night, after
that bizarre turn in our lives as Americans, which happened this time last
night, today multiple news outlets reported that, in fact, as we had
anticipated last night the federal prosecutors in the Southern District of
New York are now on this. The same prosecutors who did that deal with the
tabloid, with American Media, the parent company of that tabloid, the same
prosecutors who did that deal with them and secured that cooperation as
part of the – its prosecution of those felony charges involving the
president`s campaign, multiple news outlets report today that those same
prosecutors are now reviewing this alleged extortion attempt by the tabloid
and its executives to see if that effort constitutes a crime, constitutes
the sort of thing that would break the terms of that non-prosecution deal.
If that non-prosecution deal has been breached because the tabloid
committed a crime in this extortion effort or anything else they`ve done,
then the non-prosecution deal will be off and everything that tabloid, its
officers and its employees provided to prosecutors along the course of this
case will instantly become fair game for an indictment, an indictment of
that firm and/or its officers and/or its employees. And on top of that,
every piece of information they provided to prosecutors as part of that
earlier cooperation effort, every single thing they handed over. Every
single thing they told them will be presumed admissible in court against
So, you think about, like, being caught up in something like this. On the
one hand, you`re psyched to get a Cooperation deal. You`re psyched to get
a non-prosecution agreement. But the terms of those kinds of deals are
onerous, and if you break those deals, everything is against you. They –
the government, the prosecutors you make that deal withhold I with hold it
over you in a way that is almost impossible to fight against.
So, we could see this coming last night. But, again, this is a big deal.
Multiple news outlets now confirming that prosecutors in the southern
district of New York are now pursuing this. And today, “The Wall Street
Journal” also added some really important reporting on another big piece of
And this is the part of the story that I think a lot of people have felt
like, oh, that`s too hard to understand or that`s too complex or that`s
part of this that I don`t get. I`m going to sort of set that aside.
Today, “The Wall Street Journal” made it super obvious and plane because
today, “The Wall Street Journal” described efforts by the government of
Saudi Arabia to essentially buy themselves good Western media coverage, to
buy good Western media coverage for themselves and bad western media
coverage for their enemies.
“The Wall Street Journal” today describes how the Saudi government and
particularly the Saudi crown prince, who has taken over the Saudi
government, they`ve essentially been lining up really lucrative well-paid
media partnerships with a whole bunch of Western media outlets, including
Bloomberg and Vice and “The Independent” in the U.K. and others.
And that is really clarifying reporting today because there have previously
been accounts that AMI, the parent company of that supermarket tabloid
which is caught up in the Trump campaign finance felonies and all this
stuff, they`re now caught up in this Jeff Bezos thing, there have been
previous reports that that company, AMI, was working on a very sort of
similar expensive deal with the Saudi government, a very rich deal with the
That never made sense. What would the Saudis want to do with this tabloid?
What would the Saudis want to do with this “National Enquirer” company? Is
that all that valuable to the Saudis? It makes a lot more sense trying to
buy Western media partnerships of all kinds, with all different kinds of
media in order to improve their image in the West and hurt their enemies.
If AMI is just one piece of that effort by the Saudi government, that makes
more sense. And AMI`s efforts to pursue that kind of a lucrative
partnership deal with the Saudi government would explain why they started
publishing weird stuff like this, this booklet, this “We love Saudi Arabia.
It`s a magic kingdom” booklet that AMI inexplicably started putting on the
“National Enquirer” supermarket checkout lines in the United States last
I mean, random American supermarket shoppers who were used to looking over
at the “National Enquirer” thing by the checkout line and seeing terrible
photo shop jobs that make Angelina Jolie look like an alien or all caps
headline how Hillary Clinton has 40 different diseases and she`s definitely
going to jail. That`s what you`re used to seeing on the cover of the
“National Enquirer” at the supermarket.
Instead, there was this random gloss glossy booklet about how wonderful and
handsome the crown prince of Saudi Arabia is. Isn`t Saudi Arabia kind of a
So strange when they did this. There is no ads in this thing. It`s
literally just a gigantic brochure for how beautiful and wonderful Saudi
It was weird. But it makes sense. If what they were doing is
demonstrating the kind of product they could produce to promote the Saudi
crown prince and the Saudi Arabian government, if the price was right. And
one of the biggest problems that Saudi Arabia has in the Western world
right now, one of the biggest problems they`ve got in the western media
right now and the bipartisan and international outrage over the murder of a
“Washington Post” journalist named Jamal Khashoggi, who is a critic of the
Saudi government and he was murdered inside a Saudi consulate last year
under circumstances that indicate Saudi government involvement at the
And no news outlet has beat the drum louder or harder against Saudi Arabia
and the Saudi crown prince for that murder than the paper that employed
that murdered columnist, “The Washington Post”, which is owned by Jeff
Bezos, who has lately been threatened with naked picture, mass humiliation
by this tabloid. That is not only caught up already in a felony scheme to
do illegal political favors for the U.S. president, they`ve recently been
caught swimming backstroke in the lap of the Saudi crown prince, including
reportedly getting help from the White House to facilitate the Saudi
contacts and implicitly giving the White House`s blessing to an AMI Saudi
Bleh. That`s just – ick. Nice world we live in now, right? That`s what
this presidency is – covering our national politics now feels like
covering, like, arcane, historic, dark, nepotistic corners of some like
Malaysian kleptocracy scandal, right? This is our White House now. This
is the milieu of our national politics.
ABC News reports tonight that donors to Donald Trump`s re-election campaign
have, surprise, been paying for something they might not have known they
were paying for. The Trump re-election campaign has been tapped by Jared
Kushner, the multimillionaire son-in-law of the president, to pay for his
mounting legal fees, as he`s been caught up in various White House
scandals. I mean, presumably Jared Kushner could afford to pay for his own
lawyers himself, but why bother when you can have the little people pay
those bills for you?
Jared Kushner is the son and heir of the Kushner family real estate
fortune. He is also, of course, married into the Trump family real estate
fortune. But the people paying his legal bills right now are the people
who have been going online to buy red baseball hats that say “Make America
Great Again” and the people who have been inspired by pushy e-mails to
click the “donate $5” button where it says the president will build the
wall if you send him $5.
I mean, what those donations are actually going toward is, you know,
putting another car in the garage of Jared Kushner`s expensive lawyers,
buying them more office space, giving those partners at those law firms
bigger bonuses for working for Jared. That`s what Trump campaign donors
are paying for right now. That`s a very specific way of making America
great again. Would you like to make your donation recur every month?
And maybe that – maybe that`s better, actually, than what we learned today
about the Republican National Committee, the RNC, the Republican National
Party. CNBC reports today that RNC funds are being used in an ongoing way
to pay the president`s former longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller. $15,000 a
month, he`s getting and for no discernible reason.
Before the RNC chose the location for next year`s Republican National
Convention, the nominating convention, which is going to be in Charlotte,
North Carolina, Keith Schiller was purportedly on the payroll for $15,000 a
month because he was advising the RNC on security aspects of how they
should make their choice for which city and which site would be the most
appropriate for the Republican National Convention. But that decision is
done now. Charlotte was announced as the choice for the convention last
But Keith Schiller has apparently just been getting paid $15,000 a month
every month for nobody quite knows what now. I mean, at least for awhile
they tried to justify those payments with the whole RNC site selection
thing. But since then, how do they even – there`s not even a cover story.
And part of the reason this may end up being a problem for the RNC is that
Keith Schiller has been called to testify in the Russia investigation
before at least one committee in Congress investigating that matter, and
there have been reports that he`s also been called in to speak with the
special counsel. As somebody who was a body man and bodyguard for then
candidate and now – and then president Trump, Keith Schiller might be an
important witness. If the RNC is randomly paying him $15,000 a month now
in an ongoing way for no discernible work, why those investigations are
ongoing, there may ultimately be questions about whether he`s being paid in
conjunction with his testimony or lack thereof.
I mean, there is no inherent problem with somebody on the payroll getting
called as a witness, but there might be an inherent problem is somebody is
put on the payroll because they have been called as a witness.
Today, the president`s longtime political adviser roger stone made an
unusual plea to the federal judge who was hearing his case in Washington,
D.C. That judge is the same judge who has handled the case Robert Mueller
brought last year against a dozen Russian military intelligence officers
from the GRU. It`s not a coincidence that Roger Stone`s case is being
handled by that same judge who is doing the GRU case.
That judge, in fact, was assigned to Roger Stone`s case specifically
because when prosecutors indicted Roger Stone, they said in his indictment
that his case is explicitly related to this other case number, and that is
the case number on the indictment of all those GRU Russian military
intelligence officers. Prosecutors say these are related cases, Roger
Stone and the GRU.
And it sort of makes sense on the surface. I mean, this is not a legal
analysis, this is just observing it from a news point of view, but Roger
Stone is accused by prosecutors of lying to Congress about his interactions
with the entity that distributed the documents that were stolen from the
Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign by Russian military intelligence,
by the GRU. So it sort of logically makes sense that the judge hearing the
case about the GRU stealing all that stuff, that judge would also end up
hearing the case about any potential American involvement in disseminating
that stolen material or lying to Congress to try to obscure that.
Well, Roger Stone and his lawyers today contested that in court, arguing
that this shouldn`t be the judge on his case, and his case should never
have been linked to that indictment of all those Russian military officers
in the GRU. They argued that there`s no link between these cases. Quote,
there is no nexus of any kind between these two cases.
And, again, I am not a lawyer and I don`t have any special insight into
this case, but might I suggest that Roger Stone himself has previously
suggested that actually there is quite a nexus between himself and that
other case about the GRU. Like, for example, when the GRU indictment was
unsealed and he immediately volunteered to multiple news outlets at the
time of the indictment, hey, that`s me. Hey, I`m in that. I`m the U.S.
person who is mentioned in that Mueller indictment of all those GRU
Literally, when all those GRU guys were charged by Mueller, Roger Stone
came out to say publicly to anyone who would listen that he wanted everyone
to know that he`s in that indictment. That U.S. person in that indictment,
that`s him. I`m in that. I`m part of that.
Now that he`s been formally charged with multiple felonies and prosecutors
agree and say, yes, sir, you are in that indictment, you are related to
that Russian military intelligence case, now today his lawyers tried to
tell the court that he has nothing to do with it. There is no nexus here.
Why is he being mentioned in conjunction with that case?
What`s more interesting to me, though – today, though, despite all that
stuff involving Roger Stone, is another filing we got in federal court
today in the case of Maria Butina. Maria Butina, you`ll remember, is a
Russian citizen. She`s been charged with being a secret agent of the
Russian government operating in this country to influence the U.S.
conservative movement, and the U.S. Republican Party on behalf of the
Russian government ahead of the 2016 election. Maria Butina was arrested
in this country and charged last summer in July.
In December, she pled guilty and agreed to start cooperating with federal
prosecutors. Well, today – this is fascinating. Today, her defense team
and prosecutors, so both sides in her case jointly filed this request with
the court to delay her next appearance and to delay any move toward the
sentencing in her case. Both the prosecutors and defense jointly telling
the judge today, quote, the defendant`s cooperation is not yet complete and
the parties are not prepared to advise the court about potential sentencing
So, Maria Butina had been due in court next week on Tuesday. Her defense
team and prosecutors are now jointly asking the judge in her case to delay
that appearance to allow her further time for more cooperation,
specifically until February 26th, which is two and a half weeks from now.
It`s an oddly specific amount of time.
I`m not sure what they`re expecting to happen between now and two and a
half weeks from now, which will then allow her case to go forward, but I
will note they`re putting off her case until February 26th. House
Intelligence just put off Michael Cohen`s testimony to February 28th,
saying in the interest of the investigation they cannot have him testify
before then, but as of February 28th, it will be clear, he can go.
What`s going to happen between now and them 26th and February 28th? I
But, of course, all day long today, the acting Attorney General Matthew
Whitaker testified in open session before the House Judiciary Committee.
If you took six straight hours out of your day and glued your eyeballs to
the Whitaker hearing, you know what it was like. If you didn`t spend your
entire day watching that hearing, though, I will give you here a cool,
crisp refreshing taste of what that hearing was like today.
I don`t know if Matthew Whitaker was especially thirsty just today or maybe
he is always this serious and conscientious about hydration. I commend
him, though. I always forget to drink water. I wish I was this good.
One of our producers today on a lark pulled just the clips of him drinking
water and it goes on forever. It`s like a lullaby for your kidney health.
At one point, he had three different water bottles going on at one time.
Later on in the hearing, there was a brand change because he drank all
there was of one kind of water. So, they had to melt a new glacier for him
and that meant new label. If you were worried he was going to run out
entirely, he might have depleted his stash before the hearing. Whoop, up
pops another stash. That one is almost empty.
Don`t worry. There`s more. Situation is fine. He`s going to be OK. It`s
We also learned today why it took the acting attorney general six hours to
answer what should have been fairly routine questions before Congress,
particularly he has most of them ahead of time. Every time Mr. Whitaker
today was asked to give even a simple answer to a direct question, what we
found today was that a lot of extra stuff came out. The same stuff over
and over and over again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Chairman, thanks for that
Congressman, thanks for that question.
Congresswoman, thank you for that question.
Congressman, I`m not going to go into specifics of the briefing.
I`m not going to characterize that investigation.
I`m not going to comment about my conversations with the president.
Congressman, I can understand that this is an important issue to you.
Congressman, I can tell this is an important issue for you.
I really don`t have any visibility as I sit here today.
As I sit here today, I don`t know off the top of my head.
As I sit here today.
As I sit here today.
Congressman, I have no idea as I sit here today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Can you guess what was on his flash cards for his prep? As I sit
here today, I can tell you how he hoped to get out of answering any
questions that are important to you, Congressman.
We did get like a half cup of actual information from Mr. Whitaker today,
but to get to that half cup of information, you had to boil off a ton of
nonsense. So, here`s the reduction sauce version of what we actually
learned, what was actually new information in Matt Whitaker`s testimony
today. In order to get there, again, you have to cut out all the nonsense
nervous word salad and water drinking.
So what we did here is we just cut this down to the question Whitaker was
asked and what he finally got around to saying in answer to the question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Yes or no, since your appointment as
acting attorney general, have you been briefed on criticism or
counterintelligence matter within the special counsel`s purview?
WHITAKER: I have been briefed on it.
NADLER: At any point since that briefing, have you communicated any
information you learned in that briefing to President Trump?
WHITAKER: But to answer your question, I have not talked to the president
of the United States about the special counsel`s investigation.
NADLER: So the answer is no? Thank you. To any other White House
WHITAKER: I have not talked about the special counsel`s investigation with
senior White House officials.
NADLER: Have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be
taken by the special counsel?
WHITAKER: There has been no event, no decision that has required me to
take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the special
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, bottom line, Matthew Whitaker says he has been briefed on the
Mueller investigation. He says he hasn`t told the president about that
briefing, nor has he told other senior officials at the White House about
that briefing, and he says he hasn`t interfered with the special counsel`s
And other than that, he wouldn`t answer anything else. So, that`s it.
Here`s your six hours back.
That said, I should mention there was actually one other thing that we did
learn from him today. You might remember what Matthew Whitaker`s job was
before Trump named him acting attorney general, part of what he did to
prepare himself for becoming President Trump`s choice to be the nation`s
chief law enforcement officer, part of his preparation for that job he was
associated with a company called World Patent Marketing.
World Patent Marketing is recently ordered to pay a $26 million fine for
being a giant scam. It`s now reportedly the subject of an active FBI
investigation as a potential criminal fraud scheme. Today, Matthew
Whitaker confirmed for the first time that he is recused from any ongoing
DOJ investigation into that company that he was affiliated with. He said,
quote: I am recused from the investigation into that company.
So we learned that today as well. If hypothetically they end up arresting
everybody associated with that firm, he as attorney general will not be
called upon to sign off on his own arrest, we learned today. Good to know.
It`s basically been kind of a Rock `em Sock `em robots news day Friday.
There`s been a lot of develops. There`s been a lot of news breaking all
Tonight, of course, though, one of the things we are watching most closely
is the now exploding scandal in Virginia politics as the governor under
fire for a week now insists unequivocally that he will not resign the
governorship and as the lieutenant governor faces a second round of serious
new allegations against him and increasing and actually as of tonight
radically increasing calls that he must resign.
We`re going to have a live report from Virginia as this story is developing
quickly over the course of tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: All right. We just got this tape in tonight from Virginia. This
is from outside the public library in Arlington, Virginia. This is
Democratic lawmaker Patrick Hope, who is tonight calling for the lieutenant
governor of the state of Virginia, a fellow Democrat, calling on him to
step down or else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK HOPE, VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKER: The lieutenant governor is
facing multiple credible allegations of sexual assault. I believe these
women. He needs to resign immediately. Should the lieutenant governor
fail to do so, on Monday, I intend to introduce articles of impeachment on
Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This time last week, we were tracking the avalanche of calls for
the Democratic governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, to resign, in the wake
of those racist pictures in his medical school yearbook. There were
initial expectations that Northam would have to resign over that scandal,
but he thus far has not.
And tonight, Governor Northam has reiterated in no uncertain terms that he
will not resign and he will not consider resigning. And now, tonight, it
is Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, also a Democrat, also now buried
under an avalanche of calls for his resignation because today, a second
woman has come forward alleging that the lieutenant governor sexually
The first allegation against the lieutenant governor was from a woman who
says he sexually assaulted her in 2004 at the Democratic National
Convention. The second allegation today is from a woman who says he
assaulted her while they were both undergraduates at Duke University, four
years earlier, in the year 2000.
So, in terms of the landscape here, I mean, we spent the last week watching
these calls for the Governor Ralph Northam to resign, right? Widespread
calls. Both parties, Democrats in Virginia and across the country.
But until now, the issue on the Lieutenant Governor Fairfax was much more
scatter shot. It was much more fluid with the lieutenant governor being
completely firm in his public statements, denying any wrongdoing, not even
entertaining the idea of resigning or there being anything wrong with his
Very few people in the Democratic Party were coming out and saying outright
that Fairfax had a big enough problem here that he definitely needed to go.
That`s what it was before tonight, but that has now all changed tonight
because tonight there is a joint statement from the Democrats in the
Virginia House and the Democrats in the Virginia Senate calling for
Lieutenant Governor Fairfax to go. It is short and sharp and it lands like
a punch in the gut.
Quote: Due to the serious nature of these allegations, we believe
Lieutenant Governor Fairfax can no longer fulfill his duties to the
commonwealth. He needs to address this as a private citizen. The time has
come for him to step down. Full stop.
That is a big change in this story. With that joint statement from every
Democrat in the House and Senate, from every Democrat in the Virginia
legislature, that is a change. Add a growing list of Democratic U.S.
senators and the former governor of Virginia, Democratic governor of
Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, a member of Justin Fairfax`s own team who helped
him just get elected lieutenant governor.
We do not know what is going to happen in terms of the evolution of these
allegations against Fairfax who, again, continues to deny everything. But
the political landscape has changed a lot when it comes to his ability to
stay in office and we`re going to have a live report coming up from
Virginia next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Amid widespread calls for the governor of Virginia to resign over
racist photos in his medical school yearbook and the lieutenant governor
now today facing a second allegation of sexual assault, the first one from
a woman who says he assaulted her in 2004. Today`s allegation from a woman
who says he assaulted her in 2000 when they were both undergraduates at
college. Amid all of this turmoil in Virginia about the Democratic
leadership of that state, we`re still watching the reactions and the
responses roll in tonight.
Lieutenant governor himself has denied the latest allegations, like he
denied the first allegations. He`s calling this now a vicious and
coordinated smear campaign orchestrated against him.
Just in the last few minutes, Virginia Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott
has called for an investigation and says if the allegations are true the
lieutenant governor should step down immediately.
And this is just in, actually, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus just a
few minutes ago says this, quote: In light of the most recent sexual
assault allegations against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, the
Virginia Legislative Black Caucus believes it`s best for Lieutenant
Governor Fairfax to step down from his position. We remain steadfast in
our conviction that every allegation of sexual assault or misconduct be
treated with the utmost seriousness, while we believe anyone accused of
such a grievous and harmful act must receive the due process prescribed by
the Constitution, we cannot see it in the best interest of the commonwealth
of Virginia for the lieutenant governor to remain in his role.
As I mentioned, this is a fast-developing story tonight.
Joining us now is Charniele Herring. She`s a member of the Virginia House
of Delegates and the Virginia House Democratic Caucus chair.
Delegate Herring, thank you very much for joining us. I know this is a
difficult time in your state and this story is moving very quickly.
DEL. CHANIELE HERRING (D), VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIR: Thank you for
having me, Rachel. And it is a difficult time.
MADDOW: Let me just get your top line reaction. Let`s not talk about
Governor Northam for a second. Let`s talk about Lieutenant Governor
Fairfax today and the evolution of these allegations against him.
What`s your overall assessment about these allegations and how these
handled these allegations thus far?
HERRING: Right. My assessment is, you know, victims need to be heard.
They`re very serious allegations.
And while the lieutenant governor has due process, the question is whether
he can serve while that process is happening. And I think that remaining
in office is not good. It`s not good for the commonwealth and he needs to
step down, step aside because it`s just bringing harm to the commonwealth
and we – we have people who are still governing in our chambers and we`re
almost finished with session and we`re working hard in that House chamber
and this serves as a distraction and we need to get back to the task at
MADDOW: You are the Democratic caucus chair in the House of Delegates.
MADDOW: I wonder if you can give us any sort of window into the decision-
making process into what`s been happen among you and your colleagues to
come up with this decision today to put out this blunt short statement from
all Democrats in the House and the Senate in the legislature calling for
him to leave his post.
What was that process like? What were those discussions like?
HERRING: Well, I can just tell you this, is that we take the allegations
seriously and we want to also be consistent. Many of us have called out
Kavanaugh, right, when there were allegations, and, right, because we
believe in preserving the integrity of our government institutions, our
courts, or legislatures and that`s most important.
I also go back to the task at hand, where we`ve just passed a budget.
We`re working on a tax issue in the legislature. And so we need to focus
on the task and work ahead of us and looking forward for Virginians. There
is so much to do.
MADDOW: These – this story about Lieutenant Governor Fairfax is obviously
not happening in a vacuum. The controversy over the racist photos in Ralph
Northam`s medical school yearbook and the way that he`s handled the
revelation of those photos and talked about it since, of course, has not
softened the widespread calls for his resignation. He tonight is saying
that he absolutely will not resign, that he`s not entertaining that as a
How do you weigh these two things against each other? Do you think these
should be handled as separate matters that should be considered
independently without regard to one another? Are these one story to you in
terms of how to do what`s right for the state of Virginia?
HERRING: Well, they`re certainly separate issues, separate matters. One
is race and one is sexual assault. Each man has their own decision to
But I ask this of them, and I have – I`m glad I have this opportunity. It
is not what is best for you, but it`s what`s best for our commonwealth.
There are children who go to school who still need to be fed. They`re
facing food shaming in the cafeterias. They don`t have food at lunch.
There are Virginians who are working hard every day, and we deserve to give
them our best. So it is not what they want, but what is best for our
MADDOW: Charniele Herring, delegate in the House of Delegates in Virginia,
the chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Amid these fast-moving
developments tonight, thank you for helping us understand what`s going on
in your state. Much appreciated.
HERRING: Thank you so much for having me.
MADDOW: Again, we are following the breaking news tonight that the Black
Legislative Caucus in Virginia and the Democrats in the state legislature
in both the House and the Senate are now calling on the lieutenant governor
of Virginia to resign as he faces a second serious sexual assault
allegation. He is denying any wrongdoing in regard to either of these
allegations but it does feel like the walls are closing in on him in terms
of his political support in the state.
As of right now, both he and Governor Ralph Northam are resisting and
rejecting all calls for their resignation.
Much more ahead tonight. Very busy news night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The execution was scheduled yesterday for 6:00 p.m. at Home and
Correction Facility in Atmore, Alabama. Dominique Ray had one request. He
asked to have his imam by his side in the execution chamber.
Instead of the prison`s Christian chaplain, he wanted his imam there to
make sure he honored his Muslim faith as he died, to make sure the very
last words he uttered on earth were a testimony to his faith. The prison
warden said no to that.
Alabama`s prison policy is that, yes, you can have a member of the clergy
there with you when you die, when prison staff kill you, but by member of
the clergy they only mean a Christian chaplain. That`s it. Because the
only member of the clergy that allow in the execution chamber is the
Christian chaplain who is employed by the prison, and they argue that this
is for security reasons.
When Dominique Ray found out this would be the circumstances of his death,
his lawyer filed a legal challenge. Ray and his lawyer argued that by not
allowing the imam in the execution chamber and only allowing a Christian
chaplain, Alabama`s execution procedure treated inmates differently
according to their faith. It favored Christian inmates by allowing them to
have their faith leader with them but nobody else of any other faith.
The federal appeals court agreed, at least they staid that execution so
they could consider it. That happened on Wednesday of this week, two days
ago. But lawyers for the state of Alabama filed an emergency petition
asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in, specifically to let the execution
move forward, and last night in a 5-4 decision they did that. The justices
on the U.S. Supreme Court voted to let that execution go forward as
Justice Elena Kagan wrote a blistering very short three-page dissent.
Quoting from that, she says, quote, this court – excuse me. Quote: Today,
this court reverses that decision and permits Mr. Ray`s execution to go
forward. Given the gravity of the issue here, I think that decision that
Quote: The clearest command of the Establishment Clause, this court has
held, is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred
over another. But the state`s policy does just that. Under that policy, a
Christian prisoner may have a minister of his own faith accompany him to
the execution chamber to say his last rights, but if an inmate practices a
different religion, whether Islam, Judaism or any other, he may not die
with a minister of his own faith by his side. That treatment goes against
the Establishment Clause`s core principle of denominational neutrality.
That dissent from Elena Kagan in the Supreme Court last night. Dominique
Ray was executed by lethal injection in Alabama at 10:12 p.m. without his
imam in the execution chamber. Could have had a chaplain, though, because
only Christians get their faith leader there.
And last night, the Supreme Court blessed that. It was Alabama`s first
execution of 2019.
Joining us now is Dahlia Lithwick. She`s senior editor and legal
correspondent at Slate.com.
Dahlia, thank you for being here.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR & LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE.COM: Thank you
for having me.
MADDOW: I`m not a lawyer. I don`t know anything about the law. All I do
is talk about it on the news.
This strikes me as third grade level outrageous. Like a third grader
learning about the Constitution and the Establishment Clause and there not
being an official religion in the United States and there being no
discrimination allowed on the basis of faith, like this is what you would
invent as a case to show how that`s supposed to work in the Constitution.
LITHWICK: I have to say nothing shocks me, really. This shocked me. This
was stomach-churning because this is the Supreme Court that has held itself
out. When you think about Hobby Lobby, you think of the Little Sisters.
You think about the cake baker last year.
MADDOW: Religious freedom.
LITHWICK: Religious freedom. And the most important thing, the core sole
value that we care about is that nobody`s religious freedom gets quashed by
the state, no matter what the other third-party interests are.
Here the only third-party interest is that the prison wants to kill him
really fast. That`s it. That`s the value here, right? Not women`s
contraceptive health. Not gay couples in Colorado being allowed to marry.
No, the prison wants to go fast. That`s the value, the countervailing
value, and that`s good enough.
And this is not frosting a cake, Rachel. This is a person`s exit from life
wanting the pastor of his choice to be with him.
MADDOW: And having been advised by the prison, in terms of my reading
about this case, having been advised that he would be allowed to have a
member of the clergy with him at the time of his execution. Not learning
until just days before they were priming the chamber to kill him that in
his case, that would not include a member of his own faith. That would
include a member of a completely different faith and that was his only
choice. He didn`t know that until the end.
LITHWICK: He couldn`t have known that. In fact, the policy he was
afforded – he said, can I see the written policy? They wouldn`t show him
the written policy. To the extent he knew anything, he knew what you just
said is I get someone of my own faith.
He did exactly what he had to do at the end of January, which is file the
appropriate motions, and the court just said, you know what? Sorry, too
late. Should have done this in November.
MADDOW: That it was too late even though there was no way he could have
known about it before he filed this.
LITHWICK: They felt he should have known about it. It`s staggering.
MADDOW: It`s staggering.
I want to ask you about another major ruling in the Supreme Court, 5-4
decision. That was a bit of a surprise especially in terms of the way the
5-4 split fell on abortion rights and specifically a law in Louisiana that
was designed to make it very hard for any abortion provider to do business
in the state.
What do you make of this ruling?
LITHWICK: Well, it was another stay, right, so we don`t have any decision
on the merits, we have the same thing. We have an emergency stay
application that come up to the court and the court gives us a one-pager.
So, again, we don`t know anything on the merits.
What we know is in 2014, Louisiana passes this admitting privileges law.
It`s identical – Louisiana stipulates it`s identical to the one struck
down in whole women`s health.
MADDOW: The Texas law that the Supreme Court said was too much of an
infringement on property behind Roe v. Wade.
LITHWICK: Doctors need admitting privileges at a hospital 30 miles away.
This was the thing in 2016, the Supreme Court unequivocally said this helps
women not at all and it adds a tremendous burden and so go away.
And yet, Louisiana and the district judge in this Louisiana case 112-page
findings of facts establishing the same thing. This doesn`t help women`s
health. These doctors have tried desperately to get privileges. They
can`t get them.
Clinics are going to close. Probably two clinics are going to close.
There will be one doctor left – two doctors left, one clinic in the whole
state of Louisiana.
He says I`m going to enjoin this thing. It can`t go into effect. Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals, the appeals court that covers Texas and
Louisiana, this September said, no, we`re good with it. He was wrong.
This is really super different from Texas. And he`s sort of wrong on the
facts and actually those doctors didn`t try hard enough to get admitting
privileges, so we`re on.
And the Supreme Court I think surprised a lot of people. John Roberts
voting with the liberals to effectuate the stay. They didn`t decide to
take the case. They`ll probably have to take the case.
But at least the law is stayed and would have gone into effect this week.
MADDOW: Which may not say anything about John Roberts` views on Roe, may
not say anything about John Roberts` views overall on the merits, but it
did show they could cobble together a surprising 5-4 majority to at least
LITHWICK: It`s John Roberts saying don`t overrule me from beneath me. If
it`s time to get rid of Roe, we`ll do it at this court, not the Fifth
MADDOW: Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent at
Slate.com, great to see you my friend.
LITHWICK: You, too.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I know she`s already got an exploratory committee going, but
tomorrow, Senator Elizabeth Warren is expected to officially announce her
candidacy for president in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
The “Boston Globe” reporting tonight that Congressman Joe Kennedy will
introduce and endorse Senator Warren at the event, and that is interesting
in part because of how close Joe Kennedy is perceived to be to Beto
O`Rourke, who himself is still deciding whether or not he`s running. If
Beto O`Rourke does run and Joe Kennedy has already endorsed Elizabeth
Warren, well, then that is a thing.
Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Lori Trahan will also be at that Warren
event, rumored to be endorsing Senator Warren tomorrow.
But then the following day on Sunday, on Boom Island in Minnesota, Senator
Amy Klobuchar will be making an announcement of her own. She`s not yet
saying she`s going to announce a run, but it does sure feel like that`s
what we`re going to hear on Sunday.
The real feel temperature in Minneapolis on Sunday is expected to be a cozy
11 degrees. So whatever the senator`s going to say then, she is urging
supporters to bundle up and we should all probably buckle up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Thanks for being with us on a fairly wild Friday news night
tonight. That`s going to do it for us for now, but we will see you again
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” where Ari Melber is sitting in for
Good evening, Ari.
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distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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