Chief Justice Roberts joined court’s liberals. TRANSCRIPT: 2/8/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Charniele Herring, Dahlia Lithwick

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. 



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 – 


REID:  Yes.


FAHRENTHOLD:  – and was here undocumented.  Nothing seems to have happened

after that. 


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 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

magic kingdom? 


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

Arabia is. 


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

highest level. 


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

Arabian deal. 


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

don`t know. 


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. 







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. 




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. 




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

counsel`s investigation. 




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

day long.


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. 





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. 




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

assaulted her. 


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

conduct whatsoever. 


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. 



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

profoundly wrong. 


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 


Dahlia, thank you for being here. 



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

slow it. 


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, great to see you my friend. 


LITHWICK:  You, too. 


MADDOW:  Thanks. 


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

on Monday. 


Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” where Ari Melber is sitting in for

Lawrence tonight. 


Good evening, Ari. 







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