Hillary Clinton reads the Mueller report. TRANSCRIPT: 4/29/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Would that be first cable news interview that
Beto O`Rourke has done since he announced that he was running for
HAYES: I believe it was.
MADDOW: That was very impressive. Thank you very much, Chris.
Congratulations, my friend.
HAYES: Thank you very much.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you with
There`s a lot going on the news today. It`s been a busy Monday and Monday
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has just submitted his letter of
resignation. He says he`ll be leaving the Justice Department in two weeks,
in yet another sign that the embattled deputy attorney general is perhaps
more likely to be remembered as a Trump administration figure than he will
be as a Justice Department figure.
Rosenstein`s resignation letter today went out of its way to compliment and
thank President Trump for the president`s demeanor and attitude and
courtesy toward Rosenstein during their, quote, personal conversations.
Don`t say that part out loud. For basically the entire duration of Rod
Rosenstein`s tenure as deputy attorney general, he`s been directly
overseeing a massive criminal investigation into this president and his
campaign. So that means he shouldn`t be having personal conversations with
the president at all, let alone multiple ones.
And for him now to be complimenting and thanking the president for how
awesome all of their personal conversations were while he was deputy
attorney general overseeing the investigation into the president, it
portraits a lack ever concern of even trying to pretend that Justice
Department objectivity was something that Rod Rosenstein specifically was
supposed to do take great care to protect while he was overseeing that
Rosenstein has now resigned. He says he`ll be out by the end of next week.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed attorney general, William Barr, is balking
now at the proximate cause of testifying before the Democratic-led
Judiciary Committee in the House. He`s supposed to testify before the
Judiciary Committee in the Senate which is led by Lindsey Graham now,
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Wednesday. He was supposed to testify
for the Democratic-led, Jerry Nadler-led House Judiciary Committee on
Thursday. He might not do that now.
And the terms of the fight between William Barr and Judiciary Chairman
Jerry Nadler, it`s interesting already. It`s actually been getting more
and more interesting as his Thursday testimony date gets closer and closer.
But honestly, at home right now, raise your hand if you would rather hear
from William Barr some more about the Mueller report at this point, or
whether you heard plenty from William Barr on the Mueller report, and at
this point since at least a redacted version of it is out, wouldn`t you
just rather hear from Robert Mueller about his report?
Barr said quite a lot already. Mueller said nothing. When Mueller`s
report was submitted, the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, chairman of
the Judiciary Committee, told Mueller that that committee would like to
hear from him, from Mueller personally in testimony before May 23rd. We`ve
since had no real further update on whether that testimony is going to
We heard from Attorney General William Barr that he wouldn`t object to
Mueller testifying. We heard Chairman Nadler today say that he hopes
they`ll have Mueller in sometime before the end of next month. I mean,
now, there`s all this energy being expended. We`ll see how that personally
Personally I have to say I`m much more interested to hear Mueller`s
testimony about the Mueller report. I`m even more interested in learning
the details about how that`s going to go. Is Mueller going to testify
alongside his investigators and prosecutors? Is it going to be Mueller
What`s the format going to be of that hearing? Is it going to be on TV?
Is it going to be behind closed doors? Is it combination with some other
committee? Are they going to use committee counsel to ask questions like a
professional-led committee might like they did during Watergate?
Will it just – I mean, I`m really interested in what`s going to happen
with the Mueller testimony. Barr may or may not testify this week. We`ll
Jordan Klepper at Comedy Central this weekend did a gag with Bill and
Hillary Clinton in which the premise was there was an online fundraiser to
raise money to get Hillary Clinton to voice the audio book version of
Mueller`s report, which is something – it`s sort of like, what do I want
to hear now? I want to hear from Mueller.
No. I want to hear from Mueller and all his prosecutors and investigators.
Then after that I want to hear from Mueller. After that I think I would
want to hear Hillary Clinton read the Robert Mueller report as an audio
The gag`s sort of premise was that Bill and Hillary Clinton were helping
Jordan Klepper out as he was trying to figure out what kinds of fundraiser
he should support and then they got to the supposed online fundraiser about
Hillary Clinton reading Mueller`s report out loud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The investigation
established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a
JORDAN KEPPLER, COMEDIAN: A couple notes.
KLEPPER: Like you mean it.
CLINTON: The investigation established that the Russian government –
KLEPPER: Secretary Clinton, feel it. Feel it. Just imagine, like, you
have a history with this.
CLINTON: OK. The investigation established that the Russian government
perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure
that outcome and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally.
The president`s slumped back in his chair and said, oh, my God, this is
terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I`m (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
KLEEPER: What do you think?
I`d listen to that audio book.
CLINTON: Yes, OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I know that is a joke premise, but honestly, I would pay to hear
Hillary Clinton read the Robert Mueller report. I would.
And I don`t think I`m going to get that, but I do have a Clinton-related
announcement of my own. Secretary Clinton is going to be here for an
interview on Wednesday night this week. We contacted Secretary Clinton`s
office after she published her op-ed last week in “The Washington Post”
About what she believes the country`s response should be to the Mueller
report, specifically what Congress ought to do in response to the findings
of the special counsel`s investigation. Hillary Clinton will be here
herself to talk about that in an interview with me on Wednesday night.
Looking forward to that.
Wednesday, of course, is also going to be the day that Attorney General
William Barr might give testimony to the Senate judiciary committee,
whether or not he ultimately backs out of his planned testimony to the
house the following day. For sure there will be plenty to talk about with
Hillary Clinton. But she`s going to be here in studio Wednesday night,
9:00 Eastern. I`m very excited about that.
I also want to update you on something that we covered late on Friday night
here on the show. It`s about the activist Group Indivisible that sprung up
after Trump was elected over Clinton in 2016. Indivisible is a group we`ve
covered – it`s not really a group as much as an effort.
We`ve covered Indivisible stuff a lot here on the show because they`re a
little bit different in their approach to activism and progressive politics
and they`ve been really effective. Indivisible is the group that developed
and promoted this intensely pragmatic approach to Trump-era politics in
which they train people and equip people and help people organize to
communicate effectively with their own senators and their own members of
Congress, specifically, people who represent you from your district only.
This Indivisible model, this sort of playbook for how to do activism in
this way was cooked up by former congressional staffers who know from
personal experience what it takes to actually move members of Congress and
get them to do stuff. So, you don`t, you know, contact the member of
Congress who has you mad at that moment. You only ever contact your member
of Congress, your senator, you focus on the people who have to listen to
And they have been very effective. It`s been really interesting to cover
them over the past couple of years. There are thousands of Indivisible
groups all over the country, including every single congressional district
in the country, red states, blue states, it doesn`t matter.
The basic idea is that it`s your representative who you need to communicate
with. It`s your representative who has to respond to you because you are
their constituent. That`s your only real leverage for this type of
political activism. And here`s how we can make it work.
So, we`ve been watching indivisible for the past couple of years organizing
events, having an impact in hundreds of congressional districts all across
the country. Well, now, having had pretty success with that model when it
comes to legislation in Congress and targeting specific members of Congress
and specific senators and getting them to change their behavior, now this
Indivisible Group is trying to take that same pragmatic, Trump-era ethic
and applying it not just to Congress but to the Democratic presidential
primary for 2020.
So, we covered this Friday night. There is a new we are Indivisible pledge
that more than 10,000 people have signed up for already. And there`s two
versions of it.
One is the grassroots pledge which is just for people who specifically want
Trump to be defeated for re-election in 2020. The grassroots pledge, the
regular people pledge is three parts.
Number one, make the primary constructive. That`s the headline. We`ll
make the primary election about our hopes for the future and a robust
debate of values, vision, and contest of ideas will remain grounded in our
shared values, even if we support different candidates. This is people who
want Trump to be defeated. We will support each other, even when we have
differences in opinion as to which Democratic candidate is the right one.
Number two, rally behind the winner. We hereby pledge to support the
ultimate Democratic nominee, whoever it is, period. No Monday morning
quarterbacking, no third-party threats.
And three, do the work to beat Trump. Again, they`re asking regular people
to sign on to this pledge, right? In this case, the grassroots pledge is
we`re the grassroots army that`s going to power the nominee to victory. We
will show up to make calls, knock doors, and do whatever it takes. It
means just don`t talk about the stuff. You have to pledge to actually do
So, there – those are – that is an effort targeting regular people to
sign the grassroots we are Indivisible pledge. But then they are also
asking all the Democratic presidential candidates to make what is
essentially the candidate`s version of that pledge. You see the main
points match here. It`s another three-part pledge.
And the headlines are all the same. Number one, again, make the primary
constructive. And the candidate`s pledge says, quote, I will respect the
other candidates and make the primary election about inspiring voters with
my vision for the future. I will respect the other candidates. So, no
tearing them all down, right? No tearing each other down, keep it a
Number two, again, same headline from the other pledge, rally behind the
winner, and the candidate`s version of that says I will support the
ultimate Democratic nominee, whoever it is, period. No Monday morning
quarterbacking, no third-party threats, immediately after there is a
nominee, I will endorse. So, this is a very specific thing they`re asking
all the candidates to pledge to.
And then, finally, number three, the same headline as other pledge, do the
work to beat Trump, but for the candidates, right? This is a different
kind of pledge. This is a very specific thing.
Quote, I will do everything in my power to make the Democratic nominee the
next president of the United States. As soon as there is a nominee, I will
put myself at the disposal of the campaign.
So, this is not, like, you know, airy fairy aspirational pledge. No
offense to airy fairies, or aspirations. I mean, this is a really specific
commitment for specific action by all of the Democratic candidates, right?
Immediately after there is a nominee, I will endorse.
As soon as there`s a nominee, I will endorse and I will put myself at the
disposal of the nominee`s campaign. I mean, that`s a lot, right?
Candidates often get asked to be positive and constructive in the campaign,
and they all say, sure and do whatever. But they don`t ask to you sign on
the dotted line that you will endorse by name the nominee as soon as he or
she is chosen.
I will put myself at the disposal of the campaign immediately after there
is a nominee. That`s what these candidates are being asked to do here by
Indivisible. And because this is such a specific request, because this is
such a specific testable thing they`re asking these candidates to do, I was
not sure that indivisible was going to succeed in getting any of the
Democratic candidates to sign on.
It`s very interesting to me that they`re having tremendous success with
this. They unveiled this thing on Thursday. And on Thursday, bingo, they
got their first candidate to sign it, Bernie Sanders. He was first,
And still at that point maybe you think, OK, maybe it`s only going to be
Senator Sanders. Maybe because of leftover feelings from 2016, maybe he
alone among all the candidates feels like he has the most to prove about
his ability to bring his supporters over to support an eventual nominee if
that eventual nominee is not him since he was the last man standing when
Hillary Clinton got the nomination, maybe that`s a hangover from 2016.
Maybe it`s just Bernie.
No. He was the first to sign on the day the pledge was unveiled on
Thursday of last week. But then on Friday, Cory Booker signed it, and then
Jay Inslee signed it, and then Julian Castro signed it, and then Pete
Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris. And then this weekend,
on Saturday, Amy Klobuchar signed, and then Tim Ryan signed. And now,
today, Kirsten Gillibrand signed, John Hickenlooper signed.
It`s getting to the point now where candidates are not just signing this.
They`re photographing themselves signing it. Putting their signature on
it, putting it out on social media, letting you know they have made this
Which means a majority of the candidates have pledged as soon as there is a
nominee, they will endorse immediately. They will completely put
themselves at the disposal of the campaign of the nominee, no matter who it
is, full stop. And I fully believe in the timeless adage in the primary,
you vote your heart, in the general, you vote your head.
It is almost always folly to try to game it out during the primary, to pick
a primary candidate who you vote for not because it`s the candidate you
like the most, but because it`s a candidate who you think will ultimately
be the most electable candidate in the general election at the end of the
day, the candidate who might think would have the best chance somewhere
down the line of unifying the party after the primary, and bring all the
disparate strands of the party back together and make a unified effort.
I mean, honestly, you can try that, but I think it is easy to over-think
these things, and I think in the primary, you vote your heart, and in the
general, you vote your head. But pragmatic as ever, here`s Indivisible
nevertheless taking this concrete effort and has thus far surprisingly
effort to put concerns to rest about whether the primary might be divisive,
about whether the whole Democratic Party will end up pulling together in
the same direction once a nominee is picked no matter who that nominee is.
It`s one thing to worry about, it`s another to do something about it.
Well, again, they`ve got more than 10,000 regular people signed on to their
grassroots version of this thing, but the candidates` pledge has 11 of 20
declared Democratic candidates signed on, and counting. And for now at
least, that means they`ve got a majority of the declared Democratic
candidates for president signed on, although mathematically that may change
with the denominator moves, right, when inevitably they have more
candidates get in. I mean, they`ve got a majority now because they got 11
candidates who signed on out of 20. We`re probably going to end up with
more than 20.
Politico.com reporting this morning that Montana Democratic Governor Steve
Bullock may be getting ready to join the race as well. He at least is
moving staff around and seems to be gearing up for something.
Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet may yet get in as well. He has
not been shy about talking about his interest in the race, but as yet, we
have not heard a declaration from Senator Bennet as to whether or not he`s
going to run.
The former Democratic leader from the Georgia legislature, last year
celebrated Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, Stacey Abrams,
says she will make an announcement about her political future by tomorrow.
That is widely expected to be an announcement about whether or not she`s
running for Senate in Georgia, but there is also an active betting pool
proverbially speaking, as to whether or not that announcement from her
might actually be a presidential announcement.
So I don`t know what number of candidates we will ultimately end up with on
the Democratic side, but it is getting to the point where it`s clear, you
know, we`re no longer in the pregame, right? The actually competition has
started. This thing is under way.
I mean, just a quick snapshot of what`s going on, it`s clear this is
happening now. It`s on. The fight is joined. This weekend, the Bernie
Sanders campaign held nearly 5,000 organizing kickoff parties. They were
in all 50 states. That`s an average of, like, 100 events per state.
Joe Biden today held the first rally of his campaign. Held at a union
banquet hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Biden starts his campaign at the
top of most polls, and with a big fundraising bang right out of the game.
He raised $6.3 million in her first 24 hours. Now, as of today, we get to
see Biden as a candidate. We get to see how he performs both on polls and
otherwise, not as a special contender, but as somebody who`s really. As of
today, he was really running, out to doing his first rally today.
Today, we learned that Kamala Harris just made a big and potentially
important hire for her campaign. She just hired Obama`s ad maker from both
the 2008 Obama campaign and 2012 Obama campaign, which means that Kamala
Harris has hired him, it means that ad-maker wanted to be working for the
Kamala Harris campaign at this point in the primary, which itself is
Mayor Pete Buttigieg today was in Harlem in New York city talking with
Reverend Al Sharpton at the Harlem Institution of Sylvias. We know from
intense reporting, some of which took place through telephoto lenses shot
through the window that Mayor Pete had fried chicken and collard greens and
macaroni and cheese, while Reverend Al, look, had dry toast because, oh, my
God, the will power.
God bless you, Reverend Al. There`s no way I could do that.
Julian Castro was in Las Vegas for an SEIU event, an union event this
weekend. It attracted a whole bunch of candidates. While Julian Castro
was there, look at this, he toured the storm drain tunnels under the Las
This is what he posted online. Quote: Many don`t know this, but beneath
the massive casinos Las Vegas is known for, hundreds of homeless residents
find shelter in a network of storm drain tunnels. People live in the storm
drain tunnels underneath the casinos.
He says: Yesterday, I toured these tunnels with local organizations working
to find them permanent housing and support. We must do more to end
homelessness in this country. On my campaign, housing will not be on the
Julian Castro, of course, was secretary of housing and urban development in
the Obama administration. So, he knows of what he speaks.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren by all accounts was very, very well-
received at that SEIU event in Nevada this weekend. We saw a lot of early
kind of facile Beltway punditry about Elizabeth Warren`s campaign, saying
that voters weren`t going to like her focus on policy and having concrete
diagnoses and proposals and plans on so many different issues. Voters
won`t like that.
And given how Elizabeth Warren is performing in the primary at this point
and how she is being greeted at big, important events like the she the
people in the event Houston where she brought the house down and the SEIU
in the event Nevada where she did the same, that punditry about how people
don`t want to hear about these plans of hers seems to have been off base.
The Warren campaign has, in fact, now updated their merchandise to reflect
the fact that the people do like that she still a plan for everything. See
the T-shirt there, Warren has a plan for that. ElizabethWarren.com.
New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker turned 50 years old this weekend.
He asked people who support his campaign for president to spend 50 minutes
doing some sort of service project to benefit their community as a birthday
present for him. Judging by the online reception that idea got, it seems
like lots people took him up on that this weekend.
Today, both Telemundo and Univision aired long interviews with Senator
Booker that he conducted in Spanish, which is not something people widely
know about him that he able to do Spanish language media now without a
translator in a way that`s going to be very helpful to his campaign both
early on and down the road.
Again, that is just a snapshot. That`s not even everybody and everything
that`s going on right now. But, like, this thing is on, right? The fight
is joined. This thing has started.
Other than that Indivisible pledge, which I just described with 11 of the
declared 20 Democratic candidates signs on to this pledge, that really does
lock each of them in to endorsing the eventual nominee as soon as the
nominee is chosen, putting themselves at the disposal of the nominee as
soon as that nominee is chosen. On top of that, which is I think is
fascinating seeing that thing take off, there`s really – there`s two other
things in today`s news about the 2020 field and how the election is shaping
up that are particularly interesting to me. One of them is actually just
Open Secrets just published this fundraising data about what proportion of
donations each candidate is raising from women versus from men. Again,
this is a snapshot. This is not all of the candidates. They just looked
at people who had declared in the first quarter and who had raised a
certain threshold of an amount during that quarter.
But it gives you a snapshot that`s really interesting and gives Democrats
room to grow. There was only one candidate among all of the declared
Democrats who thus far has raised more money from female donors than from
male donors, Kirsten Gillibrand is the only one. Her donors are 48 percent
male, 52 percent female.
Other than that, every other candidate in the race skews even slightly more
male in terms of the donations they have received thus far. I mean, most
voters are women. Most Democratic voters are women. Most Democratic
donors are women, right?
And so, this is interesting. In a race where you have a half dozen top-
tier Democratic female candidates who are running, all but one of the
candidates are raising more money from men than women.
And the other end of the spectrum, Kirsten Gillibrand`s doing the best in
terms of targeting female donors, but look at other end of the spectrum,
just strikes me as unsustainable. Right now, both Bernie Sanders and Pete
Buttigieg, they`re doing great in terms of donations overall and buzz and
polls and press. They`re doing great.
But look at them. Both of them are 2 to 1 in the gender balance of their
fundraising. Both of them are raising twice as much from males as they are
from female donors. Sixty-six and 67 percent of your donations are from
Bernie Sanders had a gender split in his fundraising when he ran in 2016 as
well. That split you`re seeing for him thus far for his first quarter for
2020 is worse than the gender split he had in 2016. That dynamic, which I
think is surprising given the central importance of female voters, donors
and activists in the Democratic Party in particular, that surprising data
in terms of fundraising so far. It relates to the other news that I find
absolutely fascinating and it really underscores why all of these
Democratic candidates are going to need to turn that around in terms of
appealing to women voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women are the majority of Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are the majority of voters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are the majority of grassroots volunteers and
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our government should look like us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only way we can make that happen is by standing
shoulder to shoulder.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With women who believe this too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe you fought for change for decades.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Demanding equality in your home, in your workplace,
from your government.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe you`re just getting started.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s work together because one of us can be
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two of us can be ignored, but together we aren`t just
the majority –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are a super majority. And we are unstoppable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is the announcement video for a new project which was
launched today which is called Supermajority. It was launched by three
superstar female activists, including Cecile Richards, who you know from
her 12 years at the helm of Planned Parenthood.
Super majority is the name of this organization that they launched. This
is a very different kind of thing that we`ve seen from Cecile Richards
before. But she is in pretty astonishing company in terms of the women she
is working with to start this thing up.
Cecile Richards joins us to explain next.
MADDOW: In 1996, Ai-jen Poo started organizing for domestic workers,
people who work in home environments. She went on to found the National
Domestic Workers Alliance, which has become just a powerhouse organizing
force for labor standards and workplace conditions for these workers who
were otherwise thought of as basically politically powerless. Ai-jen Poo
was awarded the McCarthy Foundation Genius Grants for that work.
This is Alicia Garza. She is the cofounder of the Black Lives Matter
global network. She was the one who rang that initial clarion bell on
Facebook when she wrote, quote: black people. I love you. I love us. Our
And then there`s Cecile Richards. For 12 years, she was at the helm at
Plant Parenthood. During her time there, she more than tripled the size of
the group to 11 million members. By the time she left, there are not many
organizations in this country that boast 11 million members.
Imagine what Ai-jen Poo and Alicia Garza and Cecile Richards might do if
they all decided they were going to do something together. Today, these
three women launched a new political group together. They`re calling it
In terms of activists, talents and experience at the helm, the fire power
here is almost a little overwhelming, but what exactly is this new group
going to do?
Joining us now is Cecile Richards. She`s the former president of Planned
Parenthood. She`s now the cofounder of Supermajority.
Cecile, it`s really nice to see you. Thank you for being here.
CECILE RICHARDS, SUPERMAJORITY CO-FOUNDER: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: You can tell by the way I`m talking about this that I`m impressed
that you guys are doing this together because I`m impressed with you all
individually, and you seem like sort of a superhero dream team in terms of
your skills and capacities and experience.
That said, I don`t really understand what Supermajority is going to do.
RICHARDS: So, first, thanks for having me. I spent the day with Alicia
and Ai-jen, two most amazing organizers and this is an organization built
It really came out of other own experience organizing women in various
fields, as you described. But a frustration that no matter how much
organizing we did that the issues that women care about fundamentally seem
to be absent in the political debate, by and large, even though women have
been – are the majority of voters, as you mentioned. They`ve been the
majority of activists. They`re increasingly donors in the political world
and are really the reason why people get elected.
And yet the issues that we hear about every day from women, whether it`s
equal pay, whether it`s access to affordable health care, reproductive
rights, whether it is being able to take care of their families, getting
affordable child care, these are issues that aren`t front and center, and
even in this election.
So, Supermajority is founded to actually create organization now a movement
of millions of women in this country to demand equity for all women and to
make sure this is front and center in any political conversation.
MADDOW: Is this going to be a membership organization?
RICHARDS: Yes, we launched today. In fact, we`ve already had thousands of
people join. I think women in this country – I mean, Ai-jen and Alicia
and I, Katherine Grainger, Deidre Schifeling and other great organizers
have been traveling the country the last few months. And the most
important thing – the thing I hear consistently across the board is women
raising their hand saying, I want to do more.
In fact, women want to do more than resist. Women have been leading,
whether it was the effort to keep Planned Parenthood open around the
country, keep the Affordable Care Act intact, whether it was going to the
border defending families that have been separated, whether it`s teachers
striking across America, 2/3 of whom are women, women are saying resisting
have been fine, but now, we actually want to make sure that our agenda is
And that`s why I think women are eager to work together across issues,
across race, across generations. That`s why that`s really the animating
idea behind Supermajority. And just based on the experience we`ve had
already today, women are signing up in droves.
MADDOW: In terms of people signing up and becoming a member, I mean, one
of the things I`ve been watching in the Trump era is people innovating
approaches to activism that seem right for the moment, that seem pragmatic,
inspiring in hopefully equal measures, but that gets stuff done in this era
at a time when Republicans are in control in important ways, but they`re
also different than they used to be as Republicans.
When you guys talk about signing up members and educating and training
people and building a movement and trying to achieve the things that you
just described, do you have an organizing principle in mind? Do you have a
trick or tactic or specific way you`re planning on doing this that`s
different than what we`ve seen from other groups before?
RICHARDS: Well, I mean, I don`t think it`s a trick or a tactic. I
actually think the truth is, Rachel, and you know this, is that women have
been leading all of the efforts to both fight back against the policies of
this administration. Also, they`re the majority of people volunteering on
campaigns and with candidates. And yet all of that work is often ignored.
And so actually, the first out of the gate, which we started today, will be
engaging millions of women across this country in advocating for a new deal
for women. One of the things women need to be actually successful in the
economy, in government, in our culture and in our society and demanding
that that agenda, wherever two or more are gathered together, at any
candidate campaign, rally, open forum, that women`s issues are heard.
You know, I spent years fighting for reproductive rights, and that is a
central issue and continues to be important. But women are saying other
things matter as well. Like the fact that women are still paid 80 cents on
the dollar. If you`re a woman of color, it`s much worse. We`re the only
industrialized country with no mandated national paid family leave, that we
have absolutely no child care planned in this country and it`s now the
second highest cost for most families.
These are issues that women are waking up every night and every morning
worried about, and it`s time they be part of this agenda, particularly
going into this presidential election.
MADDOW: Cecile Richards, cofounder of Supermajority, which launched today,
thank you for helping us understand. Keep us apprised. I don`t know how
this is going to be developed at all, but I know I want to keep talking to
you about how it works. Thanks.
RICHARDS: Thank you. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks. Good to see you.
RICHARDS: All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: There used to be a thing called the Trump Foundation. It was the
charitable entity run by Donald J. Trump and his family. In 2013, that
foundation cut a check to a PAC that was supporting Florida`s attorney
general, Pam Bondi. The foundation was not supposed to do that.
The Trump Foundation also made a habit of giving up Publishers Clearing
House`s gigantic checks to various interest groups during campaign events.
That also turned out to be legal trouble.
The reason it turned into trouble is named Barbara Underwood. During her
time as attorney general of New York state, Barbara Underwood investigated
the Trump Foundation for violating state laws about how nonprofits are
supposed to work, what a candidate can and cannot do according to the law.
New York`s A.G. got very serious about challenging the Trump Foundation`s
nonprofit status and holding them accountable for all the laws they broke.
She ultimately got the Trump Foundation shut down.
Now, there`s a new attorney general for New York state. She is actually
going to be here on this show tomorrow. And part of the reason why is
because she is now doing something as New York attorney general that also
has President Trump absolutely driven to distraction, along with his one of
his richest and most important political supporters. And that story`s
MADDOW: Letitia James is the new attorney general of the great state of
New York. She took her post at the beginning of this year. Since taking
that gig a short while ago, she`s made national headlines for among other
innings, issuing subpoenas to President Trump`s longtime learned, Deutsche
Bank. And Deutsche Bank has now reportedly started handing over documents
to her in response to those subpoenas.
Very excited to say that New York Attorney General Letitia James is going
to be a guest on this program here tomorrow night. One of the reasons I`m
looking forward to that conversation with the attorney general is because
of the most recent investigation that she has announced she`s opened as New
York state attorney general. It`s actually not directly related to
She`s announced that she`s opened an investigation into the National Rifle
Association. The NRA spent more than $30 million in support of Trump`s
candidacy in 2016. That`s nearly triple its previous presidential
spending. That`s never totally been explained.
Since then, the NRA interestingly has been operating in the red and
contending with growing accusations and increasingly flagrant accusations
of financial mismanagement and self-dealing inside the organization, not to
mention scrutiny over the NRA`s somewhat bizarre ties to Russia, including
its relationship with Maria Butina who was sentenced to prison on Friday
for her role and a scheme to infiltrate the NRA as an agent of the Russian
Letitia James as New York as New York attorney general is investigating the
tax exempt status of the NRA in New York. She has issued subpoenas. She
has sent letters telling the NRA and its charitable foundation and other
affiliated organizations that they need to preserve their financial
records. The announcement of that investigation by Letitia James comes at
a particularly nutty time at the NRA, and I say that with consideration.
I mean, earlier this month, the NRA filed a lawsuit against its longtime ad
firm saying essentially that NRA President Oliver North has been getting
millions of dollars for a no-show fake TV job from them. The NRA says its
ad firm is paying Oliver North millions of dollars to host an NRA TV
series, but they haven`t really been producing it. They`ve just been
Then, late last week, the longtime executive vice president of the NRA,
Wayne LaPierre, accused Oliver North of attempting to extort him. Wayne
LaPierre went public saying that Oliver North was threatening to take the
NRA`s board a bunch of accusations against him including financial
mismanagement and sexual harassment at the organization, plus apparently he
was going to blow the whistle on Wayne LaPierre`s ostensibly extensively
exorbitant wardrobe budget. What? Unless Wayne LaPierre resigned his post
and dropped the lawsuit against the ad firm.
If that was, in fact, Oliver North`s weird gambit, it didn`t work. This
weekend, Oliver North was ousted as president of the NRA, right in the
middle of the organization`s big annual conference.
The NRA appears to be falling apart right now. It couldn`t happen to a
nicer bunch. But that`s before New York`s attorney general even really
gets started with this new investigation that she has opened into them.
Joining us now is national correspondent for “The Washington Post,” Katie
Katie, thanks very much for being with us. Appreciate you being here.
KATIE ZEZIMA, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks for
MADDOW: So, the NRA story, I feel like if I close one eye and back up a
little bit, I can kind of tell what`s going on. But this story seems to
morph every day into something less and less believable. What do you think
is important about what`s changing or falling apart at the NRA right now?
ZEZIMA: So, this all actually happened during the NRA`s meeting which took
place in Indianapolis started Thursday until today actually. So, what is
important is they are really facing both internal drama and external
pressure. So, as you said, internally, they had this power struggle with
allegations of extortion, the power struggle between Wayne LaPierre and
Oliver North, which LaPierre won. He was unanimously chosen to stay on as
CEO today at the board meeting which was behind closed doors.
At the same time on Friday, you know, Letitia James announcing that she is
investigating their nonprofit status. You know, she issued subpoenas and
she issued letters to the NRA, its charitable organization and other
affiliates, essentially saying, you know, you need to preserve your
MADDOW: In terms of that investigation and the external pressure that is
putting on the groups, why is it that the New York state attorney general
has jurisdiction here or why is this something that a state law level would
potentially pose a real risk to the NRA which I think of is a national
organization and one that I don`t really associate with New York at all?
ZEZIMA: So, actually, a little bit of a history lesson. The NRA was
chartered in New York in 1871. So they are technically an organization
within the New York state and they are therefore under the jurisdiction of
the New York state attorney. They are also a nonprofit and New York has
very, very strict rules and laws that guide its nonprofits. And the
attorney general has a lot of leeway over that.
So they are chartered in New York, even though they`re based in Virginia,
that is where they`re registered as a nonprofit, that`s why Letitia James
is able to do what she`s doing.
MADDOW: And in terms of the relationship between that external pressure
from Letitia James and the internal fissures that are breaking open here,
and obviously, Oliver North is out now and Wayne LaPierre has emerged with
this thing in his teeth, are they substantively related to? I mean, it
seems like part of the fight between Wayne LaPierre and Oliver North and
what`s been going on inside the organization is about the group`s finances
and is about serious allegations of financial wrongdoing.
I`m guessing that those may ultimately turn up in a New York state
investigation about how the group`s non-profit status is being evaluated at
least by New York state. Does it seem to you from your reporting that the
substantive fight inside the organization is about the kind of stuff they
might get in trouble for with this investigation?
ZEZIMA: Well, you know, North said that in a letter that was read as he
was resigning he wanted to open up a committee essentially to look into
these allegations of financial mismanagement. Many of which were reported
in the press over the past couple months. Another factor here is that the
NRA is actually suing its long-time public relations firm Ackerman McQueen
which it paid $40 million in 2017 to according to the lawsuit. So, that is
another financial issue that`s happening within the organization right now.
So, you know, there have been – there`s been lots of talk about it. We`ve
spoken with rank and file members who said I would like to know a little
bit more what`s happening financially. So, it does all of these things are
coming to a head right now and they happened to come to a head over this
meeting this weekend in Indianapolis.
MADDOW: Yes, to have it happening while the convention is happening, while
President Trump is giving, forgive me, a blood curdling speech at that
convention, while Maria Butina is being sentenced to federal prison for NRA
mishegoss on behalf of the Russian government, I mean, it is – it`s all
things at once.
Katie Zezima, national correspondent for “The Washington Post”, thank you
for being with us. Appreciate your help.
ZEZIMA: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the things we`re watching tonight because it`s still
developing tonight is this now slightly bizarre standoff involving Attorney
William Barr and Congress.
On Wednesday, day after tomorrow, Attorney General Barr is scheduled to
testify before the Judiciary Committee in the Senate. Where Republican
Chairman Lindsey Graham will fluff the seat cushions before Mr. Barr sits
down. He`s expected to ask Mr. Barr tough questions about all the
different rhyming couplets he can come up with to describe the childlike
innocence, the beauty and all-around good nature of President Trump. For
that, Mr. Barr says he will be there with bells on, no problem.
But the next day on Thursday, that`s when Barr is supposed to appear before
the Judiciary Committee in the Democratic-controlled House. And that one
he is not excited about. That testimony as of now is still on the calendar
but Attorney General Barr is threatening to bail saying he doesn`t like the
planned format for his testimony. As planned, in addition to taking
questions from members of the committee, he will also have to take some
questions from staff lawyers which would allow for more follow-up from
interviewers often more skilled than members of Congress as “The New York
Times” delicately puts it.
If Barr backs out and bails on the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman
Jerry Nadler says they might issue a subpoena to the attorney general.
William Barr having this allergic reaction to having been questioned by
professional legal staff rather than just members of Congress – I mean, he
may not want to do it but it`s not like they`re asking him to do something
nobody else has done.
During Watergate, it was John Doar, the legendary chief counsel of the
House Judiciary Committee who led questioning like that. Iran-Contra,
House counsel John Nields lobbed questions even at then-Attorney General
Edwin Meese. The impeachment hearings for former President ill Clinton,
see that will sign that says counsel , counsel is asking questions,
including of Ken Starr.
During Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh`s hearings, you will remember
the female attorney who was hand picked to ask Dr. Christine Blasey Ford`s
questions on behalf of the Republican men of the Senate Judiciary
Having staff lawyers, having counsel ask a witness questions is – they`re
trying to treat it like it`s in outrageous proposition and Barr wouldn`t do
that. It`s kind of a standard thing.
Who blinks first here? Still don`t know if Barr is going to show up.
So, watch this space.
MADDOW: One day in, already this is a busy week. As I mentioned at the
top of the show, former secretary of state, former senator, former first
lady, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is going to be
here live in studio with me for the interview. Again, that`s Wednesday
night right here 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Even before that right here tomorrow night, we`re going to have New York
State Attorney General Letitia James. She has just announced a major
investigation into the NRA and CNN reports that as of late last week, the
president`s favorite lending organization Deutsche Bank has started handing
over documents about their financial relationship with President Trump to
Letitia James. She`s going to be here tomorrow to talk about it.
Busy week, exciting times. You won`t want to miss any of it. We`ll see
you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
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