Interview with Jerry Nadler, Judiciary Committee Chair. TRANSCRIPT: 3/4/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER, “THE NEW YORK TIMES” The most he`s
ever gotten is 40s, right?
ALI: He`s a weak candidate. He only won by 70,000 votes in three states.
So, they should be bold, they should be hopeful, they should communicate
that message and be unapologetic about it. And I hope Biden, whoever else
does not just court this mythical unicorn centrist voter. That would be a
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL OF POLITICS: Yes.
HAYES: I think perception is the president`s strength will actually end up
doing a lot about how people think about what kind of risk they can take,
which I think will be an interesting complex dynamic as it plays out over
the next two years.
Aisha Moodie-Mills, Wajahat Ali, thank you for joining us.
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
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Monday.
Jay Inslee, the governor of the great state of Washington now a brand-new
contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, Governor Jay
Inslee will be joining us live here in studio a little bit later on this
hour. This is going to be his first cable interview since announcing that
he is running for president. We are very excited to talk to the governor
and that is coming up in just a few minutes.
But I want to start tonight with the news that landed today like a set of
encyclopedias being dropped onto your desk from a great height. I print
this stuff really small, in two pages to a sheet, and this is just the
request for information that we`re talking about today. This is asking for
And, you know, we probably should have known this was coming, if not today
than at least sometime soon. Even before today, we knew investigations
were getting going in a way that was going to start leaving a mark, right?
By late last week, we had the reporting from NBC News that the Ways and
Means Committee in the Democratic controlled House was readying a request
for years of President Trump`s personal tax returns. A request that`s
expected to land at the IRS as early as the next few weeks.
The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee is Congressman Richard Neal of
Massachusetts. He is now starting the process of obtaining the president`s
tax returns as those tax returns pertain to a number of lines of
investigation that are now being pursued by a bunch of congressional
Even just last week the president`s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen
testifying that the president inflated his assets or deflated assets to
obtain better loan terms from banks or to try to lower his tax bill or
lower his insurance premiums. Democrats say any serious evaluation of
allegations of serious financial fraud like that, that would require them
to look at Trump`s tax returns, just as one example. And so they are
starting the process of pursuing the president`s tax returns.
On Friday night, we had Congresswoman Maxine Waters, chair of the Financial
Services Committee, breaking the news on air here on MSNBC with Chris
Hayes, telling Chris that her committee staff from the Financial Services
Committee were headed to the New York City offices of Deutsche Bank, to
work in person with employees of that bank on the document requests that
she and her committee have submitted to Deutsche Bank. Now, Chairman
waters had previously described Deutsche Bank, which is, of course, the
major Donald Trump lending institution in the world, she had previously
described Deutsche Bank as being cooperative with new requests from her
committee but this new announcement from her that her staffers are at
Deutsche Bank working on document production, that means Deutsche Bank is
no longer theoretically going along with this idea of Congress obtaining
records from them, now they are actually producing material.
And even if it was just those two things, right – I mean, the tax returns
and Deutsche Bank records, I mean, those alone are the two big book ends of
the president`s financial history and the question whether or not his
personal and business financial entanglements may be integral to getting to
the bottom of some of the scandals surrounding this presidency, right? If
it were just Deutsche Bank and tax returns alone, we would be bracing first
off this week, right?
But, of course, that`s just happening alongside all of this other stuff
that is getting going, right? We`re getting news even just based on the
Cohen testimony last week that that testimony may have opened yet more
doors for investigators. Michael Cohen`s attorney Lanny Davis told us here
on this show late last week that new information was developed in a closed-
door set of testimony that Cohen had with the House Intelligence Committee
after he spent the entire day on television in front of a different
When he was behind closed doors with the intelligence committee, he somehow
developed new information that caused the Intelligence Committee to
schedule yet another session of testimony with Michael Cohen for this week,
for Wednesday. He will be going back in order to talk to them about that
new material. After we learned that from Cohen`s lawyer, then, Congressman
Eric Swalwell who`s on that committee, he told us late Friday night that he
and his colleagues on that committee at that closed door testimony had been
quote, at the edge of their seats.
Then over this weekend, we got fairly blunt new reporting about what that
new information from Michael Cohen might be. According to “The Washington
Post,” that newly developing information from Cohen that caused him to be
called back for a second session before the Intelligence Committee,
according to “The Washington Post,” what that`s about is a potential
pardon. Michael Cohen reportedly being contacted about a potential
Now, Cohen said in his open testimony he wouldn`t seek or accept a pardon
from President Trump, but if a pardon was dangled to Cohen in conjunction
with the FBI raiding his home and his office or in congestion with his
congressional testimony about the president, if he was promised or offered
a pardon and it was contingent on the way he went along with that
congressional testimony, that raises the possibility a pardon may have been
dangled to him as part of an effort to obstruct justice, as part of an
effort to tamper with witnesses.
In his testimony last week, Michael Cohen appeared to hint that prosecutors
in the Southern District of New York might be looking into something like
that. If this “Washington Post” reporting is accurate as to what new line
of inquiry the Intelligence Committee is pursuing with him, that line of
inquiry would appear to lead toward the Southern District of New York.
Remember, it is prosecutors in the Southern District of New York who have
already named the president as individual number one. Essentially as an
unindicted co-conspirator in two of Michael Cohen`s felonies that he has
pled guilty to and going to prison.
One thread that`s still dangling related to that story are the reports that
the president may have pressured then-acting Attorney General Matthew
Whitaker to intervene in SDNY, to pressure prosecutors in that U.S.
attorney`s office as it pertained to the Michael Cohen case. There are
reports that the president may have contacted Matthew Whitaker by phone and
asked him essentially if a different prosecutor could be put in charge of
the Cohen case, if Whitaker could use his role at the Justice Department to
make that change in that U.S. attorney`s office. Now, those reports have
led to a number of sort of shoes waiting to drop because that`s a very
serious allegation for the president given what appears to be his own
potential legal scrutiny and legal jeopardy related to the U.S. attorney`s
While we`re sort of waiting to find out what`s going to happen there next,
today, we got the surprising news that Matthew Whitaker himself has left
the Justice Department. He left this weekend. Now, we knew he was no
longer acting attorney general because now we have a full-time attorney
general, William Barr, who is in place at the Justice Department, but Matt
Whitaker was supposedly going to stay on, until he wasn`t. He left
suddenly without an announcement this weekend and it`s not like he`s
leaving because he suddenly got offered some awesome new gig.
“The L.A. Times” reports that Matthew Whitaker, quote, has not settled on
what to do next in his legal career. So he left the Justice Department for
nothing and it was just a couple of weeks ago when the Justice Department
announced that Matt Whitaker would be staying on at the department. They
had found some job for him to land on after leaving his post as acting
The fact that he is suddenly gone is all the more intriguing given his
reported promise that he would come back and clarify his congressional
testimony to the Judiciary Committee. Clarify his testimony specifically
on the matter of whether or not he was in fact pressured by the White House
to lean on the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York about the
Michael Cohen prosecution.
So, that clarification to Congress over that testimony that he previously
had given on that issue, that is a live issue, and that is an increasingly
intriguing live issue with this now surprise news that Whitaker as of this
weekend is a former Justice Department official and not a current one.
And, and, and, I mean, that`s not even all. I mean, today was the deadline
for the White House to respond to a new urgent demand from the Oversight
Committee in the House for information about security clearance and the
security clearances and the security clearance process in the White House,
including now this new report that the president intervened to make sure
that his son-in-law Jared Kushner would get a security clearance.
Accompanying that reporting was news in “The New York Times” that there are
memos from the former White House counsel Don McGahn and from the former
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in which Kelly and McGahn expressed
their objections to the president ordering that Jared Kushner be given a
security clearance. At least the McGahn memo is said to express what the
concerns were about Jared that led to senior staff, excuse me, led to
career staff recommending against Jared getting a clearance.
Wouldn`t you like to see those memos? The Oversight Committee would like
to see them. They are making efforts to get those documents. They are
sort of implicitly threatening that they will send out subpoenas in order
to get information that they have requested about security clearances and
this White House. Information they have requested thus far and thus far
had no response from the White House about.
And today, the chairs of a whole bunch of committees, foreign affairs,
intelligence, and oversight, they all wrote jointly to the White House also
to demand information about President Trump`s communications with Vladimir
Putin. And I mean, that`s a remarkable thing that Congress might be able
to obtain, right? A president`s communications with a foreign leader.
It would be a weird thing for Congress to feel like they could get access
to that even except for the fact that with this president, he reportedly
took the – as far as we know historically unprecedented step of personally
seizing his translator`s notes from one of his meetings with Putin and then
swearing that translator to secrecy. The chairman today even raising the
possibility that the president may have actively lied about the content of
his communications with Vladimir Putin and so, this is not just run-of-the-
mill communications between the president and a foreign leader and in this
case, there is stuff to ask about and so these chairman are going after
So, all of these things are happening simultaneously. All of that stuff I
just described in the news today, that`s all stuff that we`ve known has
been in the works or coming to a point of confrontation for days, if not
weeks, if not months. So, some of this stuff we could see coming. But I
don`t think anybody saw coming what we got today from Congressman Jerry
Nadler`s Judiciary Committee, right? And this is again, these are the
requests for information from Nadler`s Judiciary Committee today. These
are just the questions.
And this is big, right? I mean, literally, this is big. The document
request sent today by the House Judiciary Committee going out to 81
different people and entities, and the 81 people and entities we see in
these document request run gamut from government agencies and the White
House itself, to current and former White House officials to executives at
the Trump Organization to Donald Trump`s adult sons, to marquee names of
the various Trump/Russia related investigations.
George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Felix Sater, WikiLeaks,
Concord Management, just the company that funds the Internet Research
Agency in Russia. But 81 different entities and what is striking to me
about these document requests, as you go through them and I`m sure you
will, what is striking to me about them is how comprehensive they are, at
least how comprehensive a portrait they paint of the Trump administration
and the kinds of levels of scandal we have been through thus far with this
I mean, if you have been following the ins and outs of the scandals over
the last couple years, you may be familiar with that feeling that there is
sort of just too much to keep track of, right? That on any given day, you
read an update about one scandal or one part of the investigation and yes,
you vaguely remember how that connects to the other parts but actually,
honestly, if you have to come up with a list at the top of your head, you
would have forgotten that existed. But here it is still developing, here
it is with new updates. I mean, that`s sort of what it feels like going to
this government request today from the Judiciary Committee.
I mean, today, we tried, just me and my staff, we tried to come up with a
basic back of the envelope list of all the things the judiciary committee
is looking into as of today with these document requests. And I don`t
suggest this as a complete list, but just if you look at the stuff they are
asking for information about from all of these other entities, it`s – I
mean, you need a big envelope in order to write this on the back of an
envelope. Starting back in the first weeks of the administration, the
Judiciary Committee is seeking documents related to the resignation of the
first Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn.
Also, the committee wants information on Flynn`s contacts with the Russian
ambassador during the transition. That`s what Flynn pled guilty to lying
to the FBI, and they want information on all the people in the transition
who are reported to have known about those contacts as they were happening.
That`s been a very interesting dangling thread. It doesn`t seem like Flynn
was acting alone when he was talking to the ambassador, why did everybody
lie about it besides just Flynn lying about it after he had those
communications given that so many other people were read in on what he was
There is also the Trump Tower meeting June 2016. There is the misleading
statement about the Trump Tower meeting, the one that Donald Trump Jr.
released when it was a statement – it was later revealed that statement
was reportedly dictated by his father.
The Judiciary Committee also wants to know about the firing of FBI Director
James Comey and various officials perceived as allies of James Comey`s who
were fired or pressured to resign or demoted. Also, the attempted firing
of special counsel Robert Mueller and others.
There is also the question of the president`s alleged communications with
Matthew Whitaker. That reported attempt to put pressure on prosecutors in
the Southern District of New York over the Michael Cohen case. There is
also the question of whether a pardon was floated for Michael Cohen or for
Mike Flynn or for Paul Manafort to try to influence their conduct during
these investigations, their comments to Congress, or their statements
otherwise to law enforcement. The committee is seeking documents on the
Cohen hush money payments he testified to Congress about last week, and
about his earlier false statements, his earlier false testimony to
Also whether anybody from the White House edited or approved his false
testimony. Oh, and the recordings Michael Cohen says he has of various
conversations, the committee would like any of those that are relevant.
The committee is also probing whether any improper foreign payments and
improper constitutionally prohibited emoluments were given to Trump or his
business or his family, whether there was any Russian financing for any
Trump business projects or those of his son-in-law and Kushner projects, as
There is also a couple of very broad categories where they are looking for
information like what sort of election data if any did the Trump campaign
receive from any foreigners or WikiLeaks or Cambridge Analytica. Are there
documents and contacts with Donald Trump, his campaign, his business,
various members of his campaign, outside figures like Roger Stone or Erik
What about contacts with these other countries like UAE, Qatar, Saudi
Arabia? No foreign countries are allowed to contribute meaningfully to an
American presidential election. What about these other countries beyond
Russia, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia? What about communications between Paul
Manafort and Rick Gates with Konstantin Kilimnik or other Russian contacts?
The committee is reaching back to the Republican National Convention where
Trump was nominated, to ask about this still mysterious change made to the
Republican Party platform. Remember that change – policy change about
Ukraine that appealed very much to the Kremlin but apparently to no one in
Republican politics and nobody would admit to shepherding that change
They also want to know about hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to
Michael Cohen in the first months of the Trump administration by a company
linked to a Russian billionaire. The committee would also like any
documents related to Trump`s meetings with Putin during his presidency, and
any attempts by the White House to pressure government officials to
downplay the Russia investigation in public. They are seeking documents
from the NRA and Paul Erickson whose girlfriend, Maria Butina, is currently
in prison for allegedly running a Russian influence operation through the
And speaking of parts of the story you may have forgotten about, the
committee is even requesting documents from the estate of the late Peter
Smith. Remember that story. A longtime Republican donor and activist who
said he attempted to make contact with Russian government hackers during
the 2016 campaign to try to get ahold of Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.
Oh, is that it? Is that all you guys are looking into? Is there anything
else on the list?
Honestly, that`s not even a comprehensive list. That`s just the 22 points
we came up with off the top of our heads when reading through these
requests for information that went out from the Judiciary Committee today.
So here`s my question. Is this too much for one committee? Are they
biting off more than they can chew? Imagine you are a congressional
staffer whose job is working on the investigative staff of Judiciary
Committee. Imagine it`s your job to receive all of the information that`s
going to be submitted in response to these document requests. It`s your
job to receive all that information, to digest it all, to fact check it all
and then to make sure it`s all chased down in terms of what leads it gives
Is this much – is this too much to ask about all at once? Well, the man
who is asking about this all at once is the chairman of the House Judiciary
Committee. His name is Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York and he`s here
live with us, next.
MADDOW: Joining us now is the busiest man in Congress. Congressman Jerry
Nadler of New York is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. His
committee today sent out to 81 different people and entities, requests for
documents and information related to a number of different investigations
that all touched on the executive branch.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for being here.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank
MADDOW: So, this is a big list.
MADDOW: Eighty-one people is a lot. Have you had any response already? I
realize this is the first day.
NADLER: Yes, we have. We`ve been having some very positive responses from
a number of the 81 people today.
MADDOW: In what sense?
NADLER: They have been saying they will give us documents, some started
giving us documents.
MADDOW: Do you anticipate that these letters and these requests that you
sent out today will be the first step towards subpoenas to some of these
people and entities if they don`t cooperate?
NADLER: Well, if they don`t cooperate, yes. But we don`t know that they
won`t cooperate. In the initial batch of requests we sent to these 81
people, we limited the requests to material that they already submitted to
other agencies, to the special prosecutor, Southern District, so that they
can be – so that they could respond quickly and there could be no question
We will follow up with some of them, maybe many of them with other document
requests for documents they haven`t submitted, but to get speedy compliance
to start the work quickly, the initial document request was for documents
they already turned over to other people.
MADDOW: So, and when I think about that in terms of your overall remit,
obviously, procedurally, that makes sense in terms of getting things fast,
because of those entities and people have already given these documents
over, that means that they can`t say that they have to be held secret
because of privilege with the president.
NADLER: That`s right.
MADDOW: But it also means that you won`t necessarily be getting anything
new, that other law enforcement or investigative entities haven`t seen.
NADLER: Well, not initially. But, remember, our job is very different
from other law enforcement agencies. The special prosecutor has a specific
mandate to investigate only the possible – only the Russian interference
with the election and possible collusion by the Trump administration or
anybody else with that interference with the election, and only to look at
The southern district of New York also only looks at crimes. We have to
look at a much broader question. We have to look – our job is to protect
the rule of law in this country. That means we have to look at the three
major threats to the rule of law that we have seen and that is corruption,
personal enrichment and violation of the emoluments clause. It means abuse
of power in terms of various things that have been done.
It means interference with elections. It means abuse of power, attacks on
the press, attacks on the judiciary, attacks on law enforcement agencies
and obstruction of justice, interference with the various investigations
that are going on.
MADDOW: And have you had – in preparation for sending out all of these
document requests today, did you have to go toward deconfliction process
with the Justice Department or even with other committees.
NADLER: We`ve talked to the Justice Department, Southern District and
special prosecutors to make sure that nothing we are doing would interfere
with them. Yes.
NADLER: And there are ongoing meetings between the staffs of the different
committees and every so often the chairmen to make sure we`re not wasting
time, that we`re not duplicating what we`re doing.
MADDOW: Are there lines of inquiry that you would be pursuing through
document requests like these or some other means that you`d like to be
pursuing but you aren`t specifically because of special counsel`s waved you
off or southern district waved you off?
NADLER: No, no. Not because of the Southern District or the special
counsel. We`re not pursuing the whole question of collusion with the
Russians, for example, because the Intelligence Committee is pursuing that.
MADDOW: OK. Let me ask about – talking about obstruction of justice.
There`s been a drama that you can see a lot more of and we can only see a
little bit of as a public, related to whether or not the president
pressured or contacted Matt Whitaker, and Matt Whitaker was acting attorney
general, essentially asking Whitaker to intervene in the Southern District
of New York, asking him. There have been reports that Whitaker was asked
if a different prosecutor could be put in charge of the Cohen matter, for
You have suggested in letters that have been made public that your
committee has evidence that the president did in fact ask Whitaker to lean
Can you talk to us about that at all?
NADLER: I can`t get into the specifics, but we have some reason to believe
that that is the case and that`s why we`ve – it`s one of the reasons we`ve
asked Whitaker to come back to our committee, which we`ll be doing shortly.
NADLER: I forget the date, but in the next couple weeks.
MADDOW: You have a specific date with him?
NADLER: I think so.
MADDOW: Is it important he unexpectedly left the Justice Department? The
NADLER: I don`t know. I just heard that for the first time on your show.
I don`t know what the impact of that is, or whether it has an impact.
MADDOW: Does it have an effect on whether or not you can get him to come
NADLER: No, it does not. He`s subject – first of all, he`s agreed to
come back. And second of all, he`s subject to subpoena like anybody else.
If the president did ask him why can`t the recused U.S. attorney that I
picked for that job be in charge, why are these Cohen prosecutions going
ahead – if the president was asking questions about that out of
frustration, is that necessarily improper, especially given –
NADLER: It would depend if it was pure – pure curiosity, it was intended
as such and it was understood as such, why can`t – why does this have to
happen? Well, Mr. President, it`s improper. Oh, OK. Then that wouldn`t
be a terrible thing.
If it was an open invitation or a coded communication, really issue change
the prosecutor, you should lean on them. That would be improper. That
would be abuse of power, maybe obstruction of justice, too.
MADDOW: Is that what you have you have – you have evidence of that kind
NADLER: That`s what we`re looking into.
MADDOW: When we read through all of these document requests today, we were
sort of looking for themes in terms of what various lines of inquiry you`re
pursuing, my general feeling about this is that you know what you`re
looking for. That there are maybe as many as 20 different things that
you`re looking into in terms of different ex – different occurrences you
want explained, different relationships that you want exposed. But my
sense is that you know what you`re driving at.
NADLER: We know about a lot of what we`re driving at. It`s not to say
that as more evidence comes to light, that we find out more of the other
subjects won`t reveal themselves.
MADDOW: Uh-huh. Can you tell us a little bit about the manpower or the
firepower that you have on your staff? I mean, this is a lot of material.
NADLER: We have – yes, this is a lot of material. We have our normal
staff, plus as has been reported, we`ve hired two very good attorneys on a
contract basis on the committee for this investigation, Berry Berke and
Norm Eisen. Beyond that, it`s our regular staff.
MADDOW: Are you worried –
NADLER: We`re also working on everything else like immigration and gun
control and you name it.
MADDOW: Have you bitten off more than you can chew here? I imagine this
is going to be a voluminous amount of stuff you`re about to get back.
NADLER: I don`t think so. I think we`ll be able to prioritize and know
what we`re looking for.
And, remember, we are talking about a situation where for two years, the
Republican Congress did no oversight than administration, none. They, in
fact, acted as shields for administration for whatever they wanted to do.
They tried to sabotage the Mueller investigation, for example.
But we must have – the Constitution contemplates a situation which
Congress has a check on the executive and – on the president and vice
versa. You must have that check and we have to protect the rule of law and
that means we have to investigate and hold hearings and layout for the
American people if the administration is involved in abuses of power or
obstruction of justice and certainly violation of the Emoluments Clause and
We have to know about that. We have to lay that out. People have to know
about it and we have then to see what we can do about it. There has to be
a check in the executive. We have to protect the rule of law, and that`s
what we`re doing here.
MADDOW: Mr. Chairman, Jerry Nadler, head of the Judiciary Committee in the
House – please keep us apprised. I know it takes a lot out of your
schedule to be here tonight. Thank you, sir.
NADLER: Thank you.
Much more to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: He was a Democrat. He won a seat in the state legislature that
had not been held by Democrats in 16 years. Then a seat in Congress came
up in his part of the state. He won that race. He went to Washington as a
brand-new congressman. In his first term ever, he cast a vote for the
assault weapons ban. That vote cost him his seat in Congress. He was out
at the end of just one term.
He told “Rolling Stone” recently about that. Quote: It was the right vote
then. It`s the right vote now. I knew it was going to be lights out, but
I vote on conviction, so I did.
That assault weapons ban vote cost him his seat. He went home. He and his
wife and their three boys moved to a different state.
A few years later, he decided it was time to run again, this time against a
Republican incumbent congressman. That district was currently held by a
Republican. It had only been represent by a Democrat once in a previous 46
years. But he beat that Republican, and went back to D.C. This time he
stayed for a dozen years.
And when he made national news in Congress over that dozen years, it was
usually because he was sticking his jaw out and planting his feet and
confronting someone from either party or special interests or someone just
not following through.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Nationwide, police departments complain that the higher level of
vigilance is draining their budgets, with big bills for overtime and
training and equipping specialized counterterror units. They want $3.5
billion bottled up in Congress.
REP. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: We appreciate the administration raising
the threat level to orange but we need to see green.
REPORTER: On Capitol Hill today, oil company executives were under fire
for failing to invest more in alternative fuels while earning a record $123
billion in profits last year. Democrats are threatening to cut off $18
billion in tax breaks passed by a Republican Congress.
INSLEE: If you were going to give awards for taxpayer abuses, this would
win the Heisman and the Oscar and the Nobel Prize.
SEN. BERNIE SANDER (I), VERMONT: You know what benefits from the estate
tax? The top three-tenths of one percent, 99.7 percent of families do not
benefit one nickel.
REPORTER: Today, the president held his ground, telling Democrats if they
don`t go along, the unemployed and middle class families suffer.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Americans would see it in smaller
paychecks. That would have the effect of fewer jobs.
REPORTER: But House Democrats demand new negotiations.
INSLEE: We would like to find a bipartisan way forward but our caucus will
not submit to hostage-taking and we will not submit to this deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That last fight there was over a provision to cut the estate tax
on the wealthiest people in the country. And incidentally, as you saw,
that was a fight with the president of his own party.
And now, I think because he`s a two-term governor and governors by
definition have to prioritize governing, so they are always seen as more
practical than any similarly situated politician who`s not a governor, now
his run for the presidency is being characterized by some as the start of
the arrival of the moderates into the Democratic presidential field.
And, you know, honestly, at this point, call any candidates anything you
want to, just make sure you spell their name right, but Jay Inslee – Jay
Inslee, I-N-S-L-E-E, Jay Inslee, has always been a progressive in the
Democratic Party. He voted against the Iraq war. He voted against the
bank bailout. He voted against the repeal of Glass-Steagall which set the
regulatory dominos falling that caused the Wall Street crash in the first
As governor, his state was the first to sue Trump over the Muslim ban. He
instituted a moratorium in the death penalty. The top court in his state
followed that up by abolishing the death penalty in his state. He signed a
statewide guaranteed paid family leave plan.
You get 12 weeks paid time off from work by state law for having a kid or
for a serious medical issue. He signed a statewide equal pay law for men
and women to get equal pay for equal work. He signed the first state net
He`s proposed a statewide version of the public option for health
insurance. The public option, you remember, got traded away at the
national level when Obamacare passed. But now, they`re going to do it in
his state. Public option for health insurance everybody can buy into.
He`s proposed statewide pardons for marijuana-related misdemeanor
convictions. His state`s minimum wage is 12 bucks an hour. It will be
$13.50 an hour by this time next year. And the state`s biggest city and
the state`s biggest airport, the minimum wage is at $16 an hour, actually a
little bit above that at airport and the state has one of the highest rates
of job growth in the country.
And with that kind of a record, you might build a progressive presidential
campaign around any of those things or all of them. But he has decided
instead to run on one issue, one issue that he has been working on all
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INSLEE: We have got to stop rewarding.
Everyone in this country knows.
Climate is changing.
Reduce carbon pollution.
New energy future.
(INAUDIBLE) climate change.
We need to defeat climate change.
That`s what I believe.
We`re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we`re
the last that can do something about it. We went to the moon and created
technologies that have changed the world. Our country`s next mission must
be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time, defeating climate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: People usually throw the phrase “one issue candidate” around like
it`s an insult. Like it`s some sort of epithet. Oh, you`re just a one-
Washington Governor Jay Inslee is running with that himself and he`s
running with it now, it`s also how he`s been governing. He blocked
construction of a huge terminal on the Columbia River to export coal to
Asia. He threw up roadblocks to stop a huge oil train facility that was
going to be built that was going to be built at the port of Vancouver. He
signed a tax on pipelines, putting pipeline operators on the hook for
funding oil spill response. He was a key co-sponsor on the last big
climate legislation that passed anything in Washington. It was the cap and
trade bill that passed the House in `09, but then died in the Senate.
Years before that, he was co-sponsoring, he was sponsoring, excuse me,
comprehensive legislation to cap emissions, switch us from fossil fuels to
renewables, and priorities making a gazillion new jobs on those new energy
sectors along the way.
It was in some ways the precursor to the Green New Deal that so many
Democrats are endorsing now. He was just doing it 15 years ago, waiting
for the rest of the country to catch up.
Joining us now for the interview is Jay Inslee, governor of Washington and
candidate for president in the Democratic primary.
Governor, nice to see you.
INSLEE: Yes, thanks for having me on. I kind of enjoyed that saga. I
like those –
MADDOW: This is your life.
INSLEE: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Well, let me – let me – I know that you are running your
campaign about climate change and I want to talk to you about that. But
let me ask you sort of the counterpoint right off the bat. One of the
things that you said in interviews when talking about that cap and trade
bill, the last thing that ever passed Washington on climate change in 2009
was that that was essentially an opportunity cost problem. The Democrats
under President Obama decided they wanted to do health care.
INSLEE: Yes, right.
MADDOW: That didn`t leave enough in the tank as it were to get cap and
If you run on climate change, what are you most worry that you are leaving
out? You`re trying to run as a single issue candidate. What are you most
regret thinking isn`t going to be on your agenda because you`re going to
one as this one-issue guy?
INSLEE: Well, fortunately, we don`t have to do that because what I`ve
demonstrated in my state that we can advance a climate action agenda while
doing all these other things.
First, net neutrality. Best paid family leave. We got rid of the death
penalty and pardoned people and we`ve legalized marijuana. We got great
transportation. We took on Trump on the Muslim ban.
So, we were able to do those things but the experience that we had in
Congress and my experience as a governor – look, to govern is to choose
and when you`re a governor, you learn to set priorities. And what I`ve
learned is, is that this is such an enormous lift, we have to make it a
commitment that we`re going to use our political capital first and foremost
in defeating climate change and building a new clean energy economy.
And I`m committed to that and I`m the only candidate who is committed to
that and has said so, because it will not get done unless we do have
presidential leadership to make it that type of priority. So, it needs to
We have to put our capital, political capital into it, in our intellectual
power and everything we have, because listen, this is not just a single
issue. It`s not just about the economy. It is the economy.
Our economy is getting ravaged by climate change right, like forest
products industry is burning down. We`re losing tourists dollars because
of floods. Houston flooded. Miami Beach, we have to invest money and
raising the roads instead of our schools.
So, this is an economic issue. It`s a health issue. The asthma our kids
are having is just traumatic for families. If you ever heard a kid
wheezing – you know, climate change is a health issue, it`s a national
You talk about national security and do a great job and we all appreciate
it, but it`s going to get a lot worse if we have mass migration due to
desertification, creating political stability around the world. And you
know what agrees with me on that, our generals and admirals in the
So, it really is an all-encompassing issue and we cannot solve our other
problems unless we do to fight climate change. So, I do believe it`s all
encompassing and this is the right priority.
MADDOW: I know that you have made this a priority before it was cool,
before people are talking about it for a long time, and you`ve worked on it
both in the legislature in Congress and in – and as governor. And I think
now we`re at a point where anybody is going to vote in the Democratic
primary for president will tell you that climate change matters to them.
MADDOW: They will tell you that it`s a priority for them and they want a
candidate and a nominee who`s going to be good on that issue. The other
thing they want more than that if they are voting in the Democratic primary
this year is to beat President Trump and make him a one-term president and
a big part of the narrative that Americans have told each other and told
ourselves about how Trump won in 2016 is that he won the coal states, that
he won states the Democrat used to win and he won them basically by going
in and saying, I`m going to revive the coal industry.
And so, what happens in Pennsylvania and Ohio and other states like that,
West Virginia even, where the president made that his point of a – made
that his point of attack.
INSLEE: Well, what I have shown is we can win Wisconsin, Michigan,
Minnesota, Illinois and Kansas because we won it this year. I was chairman
of the Democratic Governors Association and I worked with our candidates to
fashion an economic development message that will create jobs for people in
all kinds of industries, including manufacturing industries, in part around
clean energy jobs, and we flipped five seats right down the heartland of
Don`t say we can`t win in them (ph). We won in the Midwest big time with
my governors who I was associated with, because we came up with smart
messages, not just the Midwest. We picked up two governor`s seats not
Southwest where Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned on top of a wind turbine
and Steve Sisolak is going to be building solar farms.
So, this is a message that can connect to the economic anxieties of people
with whom we did not connect in 2016. Look, somebody who was challenging
me, you know, Senator McCain`s daughter was challenging me today on another
MADDOW: I`ve heard of that show.
INSLEE: And I point – she said, how can you have economic growth? I said
because we`re going to build a General Motors Volts, I`ve got a General
Motors Volt sitting in my driveway, built I think in Orion, Michigan.
Iowa has wind turbines like crazy. Nevada is building solar farms. In my
state, you can`t turnover a rock without seeing clean energy jobs.
This is not just a hallucination. The clean energy jobs today are growing
twice as fast as the average in U.S. economy. Number one fastest growing
job: solar installer. Number two: wind turbine technician.
So, this is a perfect way to connect with those economic anxieties and win
those states, which is critical to beating Donald Trump.
I think there is a deeper contrast with him. I really believe in contrast.
Look, he is a pessimist. He`s a fearful person with moronic ideas that
wind turbines will say you can never have a television set to work, what a
bunch of baloney that is. We are the optimist. We are can-do people.
We don`t fear the future, we build it. We don`t fear challenge, we embrace
it. We don`t fear the world, we create new worlds. That`s who we are as
So, I think that we hewing to the deeper character that was alive when John
F. Kennedy said we`re going to the moon. And I believe that America can
respond and they are responding, and we`ve had contributors from the last
day and a half from all 50 states. Proud to say we raised our first
million dollars. So, apparently, people out there share my passion for the
subject and confidence.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back with Governor Jay Inslee of Washington right
after this. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Back with us again is Washington Governor Jay Inslee who`s running
for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Governor, thanks for sticking with us.
INSLEE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about your state vis-a-vis the Trump
administration. I mentioned in the introduction that you were the first
state to sue over the Muslim ban. We got a question from a constituent of
yours today because we advertised the fact that we`re going to have you.
Her name is Mary Lockett Johnson (ph).
And she asked us about the lawsuit from 16 states challenging the president
over his national emergency for a border wall. Your state has not joined
that. She said curious why Washington did not join the lawsuit against
Trump`s national emergency declaration.
Is that related to the governor`s presidential bid?
INSLEE: No, we are going to sue the president as we have on at least 16
occasions or 20 by now and we`ve been very successful. I`m glad that we
were the first to shut down the Muslim ban. Bob Ferguson is a great
attorney general for us, and I`m proud to have been the first governor to
fight against it.
But in this case, we will sue him at the moment that he purports to take a
dollar out of our state. But that yet –
MADDOW: You want standing.
INSLEE: We want to have standing. We want to make sure we win. There`s a
concept in the law you have to have standing to be able to bring the
lawsuit. We want to make sure we win that.
When we have standing, the moment he says he`s going to take a dollar out
of this for his vanity bumper sticker project on the southern border, we
will sue. The complaint has been drafted.
So, Mary, be confident. We will continue to be very aggressive protecting
MADDOW: One of the ways that Republicans tried to rally other Republicans
to oppose the emergency on the national emergency declaration was by
saying, you let him declare a national emergency something like this,
you`re going to get some crazy Democrat in there somebody who`s going to
declare a climate emergency and that was supposed to be such a terrifying
idea that it would rattle Republicans –
MADDOW: – into abandoning the president on that. What`s your reaction to
that for –
INSLEE: Well, first off, listen, there is no national emergency on the
boarder. There is a political emergency, which is Donald Trump is in
trouble because of his multiple depredations, OK? It is a vanity project,
and we have better things to spend those billions on.
I`ve got kids that need college education who are trying to expand early
childhood education. We`ve got things to do with the money number one.
Number two, I do believe it`s unlawful and unconstitutional, and it is very
clear for this reason – look, the president went to Congress and asked
Congress for the money to build the wall.
The Congress on a bipartisan basis, both parties, his party and Democrats,
agreed we will not do that. That is a terrible idea. They rejected his
MADDOW: A resident Inslee who went to Congress and said, we need a moon
shoot for renewable energy, Congress said no, a President Inslee would not
declare a national emergency.
INSLEE: Not under the current – not under the current system that we have
in place today, not under our understanding of the law because we believe
that would be a violation of the separation of powers and it would be a
consistent refusal to honor the decision by Congress.
This is not like we all of a sudden had an emergency in Congress and hadn`t
had a chance to think about it. He went to Congress, Congress said no.
Now, if the rules changed, look, if the surprise court changes the rules,
all of the presidents have to follow whatever those rules are then.
And we know that climate is an emergency. If you go to Paradise,
California, as I did, a town of 25,000, and you walk through or drive
through like I did at dark, it looks like a neutron bomb went off. It
looks like an apocalypse, and 80-plus people died.
We have a true national emergency. It is climate change. It demands an
immediate response. But the best way to do it is to have Congress and the
president pass legislation and get this job done. I will be proposing very
specific propels on how to do that.
MADDOW: Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state, congratulations –
INSLEE: Thank you. Appreciate you having us.
MADDOW: – success thus far. Keep us apprised as this goes on.
INSLEE: All right. We`ll be around.
MADDOW: Thank you, sir.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One last piece of news you should know about tonight since we have
been on the air tonight, just within the last few minutes, “The Wall Street
Journal” has just posted this story.
As you can see from the headline: Lawyer for Michael Cohen approached Trump
attorneys about pardon. Possibility of presidential pardon was broached
and dismissed after April FBI raid on Cohen`s premises.
As we just discussed with Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, one of the
issues that is being pursued by that committee and potentially by others is
the prospect that pardons were dangled to Michael Cohen or potentially
other witnesses and other the subjects of the various Russia investigations
that may have been improperly offered as essentially a means of trying to
persuade those witnesses or subjects of the investigation to cast things in
the president`s favor in exchange for a pardon.
But this is the “Wall Street Journal” tonight reporting that one of Michael
Cohen`s attorneys, his attorney at the time, Stephen Ryan, himself
affirmatively approached Trump`s attorneys after Cohen was raided asking
about the possibility of a pardon. It`s just posted tonight by “The Wall
See you again tomorrow. That does it for us tonight.
Now, it is time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the