One on one with Amy Klobuchar. TRANSCRIPT: 5/9/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Jerry Nadler, Neal Katyal
Transcript:

CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY:  People say

that Chief Justice Roberts is very worried about the status of the court

and proceeds incrementally.  But I don`t think the others are there, and

I`m not really sure that he`s there.

 

I mean, we`ve already seen that they have indicated they are ready to undue

a decision they issued a couple years ago, which found law and

constitutional for putting some real constraints on women`s access to

abortion and I think it could happen any time. 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  And you only need four votes to take the case and

the wrangling begins. 

 

Laura Bassett and Caroline Fredrickson, thank you both for joining me. 

 

LAURA BASSETT, SENIOR CULTURE AND POLITICS REPORTER, HUFFPOST:  Thank you. 

 

FREDERICKSON:  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  That is ALL IN for this evening. 

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts now. 

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

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

appreciated.

 

HAYES:  You bet.

 

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

 

Today, I learned that President Trump`s campaign chairman is a lawyer, or

at least he was a lawyer until today.  You are forgiven if you never really

thought of Paul Manafort as a real legal eagle, but today, I learned he was

a lawyer when he was formally disbarred in the District of Columbia because

of his multiple felony convictions for crimes, quote, involving moral

turpitude. 

 

Paul Manafort turns out had been admitted to the D.C. bar in 1979.  He was

sentenced earlier this year to 7-1/2 years in federal prison for multiple

felonies.  Today, CNN reports that after his initial imprisonment in

Virginia, he was then moved to a prison in eastern Pennsylvania where he

was initially processed to start his federal sentence. 

 

CNN reports and we have confirmed that Manafort has now settled in to sort

of his forever home at FCI Loretto, which is the federal correctional

institute at Loretto, Pennsylvania, which is about halfway between

Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. 

 

Fun fact about FCI Loretto, used to be a Catholic seminary.  Now, it is

home to Donald J. Trump presidential campaign chairman inmate number 35207-

016.

 

Now, there is the possibility that Mr. Manafort will be moved out of FCI

Loretto so he can be closer to his next round of trial proceedings.  You`ll

recall that Mr. Manafort was also indicted on New York state charges right

after he got his federal sentence.  But for now, at least, he is at the old

seminary in Western PA, and today he was disbarred in the District of

Columbia. 

 

Of course, the president`s longtime personal lawyer also reported to

federal prison this week.  He also got his number.  Michael Cohen is now

federal inmate number 86067-054. 

 

I don`t know what kind of access Mr. Cohen has while he`s in prison to the

news of the world, but it`s interesting to think about him going to prison

this particular week, right?  I mean, we don`t know if Michael Cohen right

now is aware of the news that Donald Trump Jr. was just subpoenaed to

testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee.  He is reportedly planning to

defy that subpoena and face legal consequences for doing so. 

 

I mean, does Michael Cohen know that?  I mean, Michael Cohen has just gone

to prison and, remember, Michael Cohen has just gone to prison in part for

arranging to pay hush money to two women right before the presidential

election.  Donald Trump Jr. is one of the people who actually signed the

checks that paid for that whole hush money scheme. 

 

But Donald Trump Jr. is at large.  Michael Cohen is in prison.  Michael

Cohen is also in prison now for lying to the Intelligence Committees about

the Trump Tower Moscow real estate deal that he worked to arrange

throughout the campaign while the president was publicly maintaining that

he had no business deals in Russia. 

 

Well, this week, Donald Trump Jr. is facing that subpoena to come back and

testify again to the Senate Intelligence Committee, reportedly specifically

about Trump Tower Moscow because of perceived problems with his testimony

on that same subject before the same committees.  I mean, inmate number

86067-054, the man on your left, is in federal prison right now for

felonies that he committed that did not benefit itself, right? 

 

The lies about the Moscow real estate deals with the Kremlin and the scheme

to pay off the women before the election, those were crimes that did not

benefit Michael Cohen, those were crimes that benefitted Donald Trump and

the Trump campaign and the Trump family business.  The president`s son

literally signed the checks in the hush money scheme and his testimony on

Trump Tower Moscow appears to hue very closely to what Michael Cohen said

about the Trump Tower Moscow plan, for which Michael Cohen was sent to

prison. 

 

So, I mean, it has to be an awkward time right now in the president`s

closest circles right now, right?  One of the things that Michael Cohen

testified to Congress about before he went to prison were these financial

statements that he says were used by the Trump Organization and the

president himself when seeking loans from banks and as a means of

describing the president`s overall financial health while he was trying to

get favorable treatment in his various insurance policies.  Michael Cohen

handed over those documents to Congress and bluntly told Congress in his

testimony that these firearm statements were false representations of the

president`s financial status.  He told Congress bluntly that these

financial statements were used to commit bank fraud and insurance fraud. 

 

Well, today, interesting turn of events.  Back on March 20th after Michael

Cohen`s testimony, including about those financial statements, the

Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings followed up on Cohen`s

testimony biform ally requested a whole boatload of documents about Trump

from the firm that prepared those firearm statements on Trump`s behalf. 

The firm which is an accounting firm called Mazars, their initial response

is very measured and very cautious.  When they first got this big document

request from Elijah Cummings, they simply said Mazars believe strongly in

the ethical and professional rules and regulations that govern our

industry, our work and our client interactions. 

 

Soon, Mazars got their legal P`s and Q`s in order and sent this back to

Elijah Cummings, a lawyer letter from them telling Congressman Cummings, as

I`m sure you can appreciate, Mazars cannot formally turn over the documents

sought in the request.  Emphasis on voluntarily, because the firm went on

to helpfully point out that were there a validly issued and enforceable

subpoena tell them to hand over the documents, well, then they wouldn`t

have a choice.  Then they wouldn`t be voluntarily handing the stuff over. 

Then there would be no problem. 

 

And so behold, a subpoena was born.  And what happened upon the issuance of

that friendly subpoena to Mazars was interesting.  The president himself

hired a whole new boatload of lawyers who are specifically charged with

trying to keep his financial history and his taxes secret. 

 

And those newly hired lawyers got right to work.  They contacted Mazars,

the accounting firm and told Mazars that Mazars should not respond to this

subpoena from Congress.  Then, within a week, the president`s new lawyers

who`ve been hired to keep his finances and his taxes secret, they filed a

lawsuit by the president, the president personally suing his accounting

firm to try to stop them from complying with this subpoena, this subpoena

that orders them to hand over his financial documents, including the

financial statements that firm prepared that the president`s lawyers said

under oath he saw used to commit bank fraud and insurance fraud. 

 

The president sues the accounting firm to try to stop the firm from handing

over information about him and he sues Elijah Cummings, chairman of the

Oversight Committee, to try to stop him from demanding those documents. 

 

Now, that lawsuit the president filed here is not a thing of beauty, as all

by all legal accounts.  But Elijah Cummings did agree once that lawsuit was

filed that he would delay the subpoena`s deadline ordering that accounting

firm to hand stuff over.  He would allow for a delay.  They would not have

to meet the subpoena`s deadline to submit those documents while this

lawsuit was being heard.  So that`s what the president`s paying for with

all these new private lawyers, right, who he has hired at personal expense

to try to keep his taxes and his finances secret. 

 

I mean, that lawsuit that they filed at least buys Trump some time.  It at

least gets this thing into the courts.  It at least slows everything down,

right?  Maybe he can drag this out forever now, right? 

 

Maybe not.  Today, the judge that`s assigned to hear that case said, you

know what?  I actually want to go fast here.  Next week was supposed to be

an initial round of stuff on there maybe being a preliminary injunction in

the Mazars case and then maybe another round of stuff on maybe there being

a permanent injunction on the Mazars case and then after that another round

of stuff on the merits of the case.  That I eventually get to the merits

some day down the road. 

 

That had been the initial plan, but today the judge said, nope, there is no

need for that kind of a drawn out schedule.  Let`s do all those things all

together all on the same day all next week.  And then the judge said he`d

go ahead and rule right then and there that day. 

 

Quote: The sole question before the court is, is the House Oversight

Committee`s issuance of a subpoena to Mazars for financial records of

President Trump and various associated entities a valid exercise of

legislative power?  That sole question before the court is fully briefed

and the court can discern no benefit from an additional round of legal

arguments nor is there any obvious need to delay ruling on the merits to

allow for development of the factual record.

 

And so bottom line, there is not going to be another round of arguments and

weeks of competing motions and mish-mash here.  This is the judge in the

Mazars case saying, you know what, I`m ready.  Let`s do this thing.  Let`s

do the whole thing.  Injunctions, merits, let`s do it all. 

 

And you know what?  Let`s do it all on Tuesday, all that day.  And then

I`ll rule. 

 

Which means if the president`s best hope here was to slow everything down

as much as possible for as long as possible by getting it into the courts,

well, getting it into the courts doesn`t necessarily guarantee that it`s

gummed up forever.  Sometimes the courts decide they don`t want to go slow. 

 

I should mention that the president`s new raft of lawyers that are just

working to keep his taxes and his finances secret, I should mention that

they also filed a basically identical lawsuit trying to block Deutsche Bank

and another bank called Capital One from responding to their own subpoenas

that they got from the Intelligence Committee and from the Financial

Services Committee. 

 

According to “The New York Times,” were it not for that lawsuit that the

president filed against those banks on Monday of this week, Deutsche Bank

was poised to hand over to Congress, to the Intelligence Committee and the

Financial Services Committee, a huge trove of financial documents about

their dealings with the president, including years` worth of material from

his federal tax returns.  So, they were poised to hand that stuff over on

Monday.  They did not hand that stuff over on Monday because that deadline

and that subpoena was delayed because of this lawsuit that the president

filed, so the president`s private lawsuit, it did delay that at least for a

few days. 

 

Honestly, though, now that the twin to that lawsuit, the one at Mazars, now

that it just got put on warp speed by a federal judge who appears to not

want to play along with the delay of game strategy, I mean, we have to see

if that one blows up fast now, too.  I mean, we`re in this really

interesting moment, and I think it`s easy to get overwhelmed by following

every, you know, picayune detail of every different fight and the different

rhetoric on both sides, and I think it`s easy to get overwhelmed because of

the sheer scope of the conflict, the sheer number of points of

confrontation between, honestly, the White House and the Mueller

investigation, between the White House and congressional oversight, right? 

 

We entered into this Thunder Dome this week of the president and the White

House saying we will block all subpoenas related to Robert Mueller or

anything else.  We will block all testimony.  We will assert executive

privilege over everything Robert Mueller did, right? 

 

And each of these is its own interesting drama, but I think because there

are so many points of conflict right now, because the assertions by the

White House and by the president are so broad, this stone wall on

everything, I think it`s become common wisdom that, you know, however

unsustainable this posture might be for the White House in the long run,

surely they can use this posture to delay everything for a long time, for

months, for years, definitely until after the 2020 election. 

 

I understand why it`s tempting to feel that way because the amount of

things they`re fighting on feels so overwhelming but that may not be true. 

I mean, to the extent that stuff is headed to court, judges don`t have to

be slow.  Some of them are already saying they`re not going to be.  I mean,

today in the Roger Stone case, the federal judge in D.C. who was hearing

that case just walked right up to what otherwise looked like a big legal

knot and just cut right through it.  Roger Stone in his case had demanded

he be allowed to see the full, unredacted Mueller report to help him in

preparing his defense.  There are certainly elements of the Mueller report

that seem to pertain to the charges against him.

 

Well, the prosecutors in the Roger Stone case said they objected to that. 

They didn`t want him to get the unredacted report.  The judge who is

arbitrating in that case, right, the judge who is oversees that case in

those disputes said in order to decide this particular dispute, she`d need

to see the material that`s being fought over here.  She said she would need

to see the unredacted Mueller report herself, at least the parts that might

be relevant to Roger Stone`s trial. 

 

And the prosecutor said, no, judge, we wouldn`t be able to do that for you. 

We can`t give you the unredacted report, judge, to which the judge just

today said, oh, yes?  You can`t give that to me?  How about I give you a

court order that tells you to do that?  To which the prosecutors today

said, ah, well, in that case, uh, and so ordered. 

 

Now, the Justice Department has by Monday to give Judge Amy Berman Jackson

in D.C. the Mueller report including the bits that are redacted for her to

review.  Specifically she wants all the redactions revealed from, quote,

those portions of the report that relate to defendant Stone and/or the

dissemination of hacked materials, including but not limited to pages 41

through 65 of volume I of the Mueller report.

 

Now we know from what we can see of Mueller` report and the way the

redactions are coded, the redactions she`s going to get to see, blacked out

to us that will not be blacked out to her, it includes all the different

categories of redactions that they made.  The one that`s labeled

investigative techniques, which I think basically means intelligence

sources and methods, also personal privacy redactions, also grand jury

redactions, also harm to an ongoing matter, which in this case is probably

a bunch of stuff that relates directly to the case against Stone. 

 

I mean, we now know based on today`s court order from Judge Jackson that

this judge is about to become one of only a few people in the country who

have seen everything that`s in Mueller`s report on all of this stuff.  And

honestly, I have to tell you, this is likely only the first federal judge

who is going to get the unredacted Mueller report, another judge in the

same district in D.C. has signaled that he may also get the full report

minus all of its redactions as part of the Freedom of Information Act

lawsuits being fought out now by different entities that are trying to get

the whole thing. 

 

So, I mean, listen, all of these fights are interesting and you can – I

mean, you can follow any of them at any level of detail that you want. 

They`re all interesting.  They all, though, have two sides.  And the courts

may move faster than you think when it comes to blocking the financial

subpoenas from Congress, right, that are likely to produce tons of

financial information about the president and also tons of his federal tax

information. 

 

The Treasury Department deciding not to hand over the president`s taxes to

the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee despite a law that says they

have to.  That`s about to become its own legal fight.  We expect the Ways

and Means Chairman Richie Neal to announce tomorrow if he`s taking the

administration directly to court for defying that law that says the IRS has

to give him the president`s taxes. 

 

We`ve actually got some new news coming up on that in just a minute that

you`re going to want to hear.  I believe we`ve got this exclusively

tonight.  Nobody else has reported it. 

 

You should also know that the financial and tax materials that the

president is trying so hard to block with the standoff involving the IRS

and with these lawsuits in federal court, even all of those fights haven`t

stopped at least Deutsche Bank already, and we think also the president`s

insurance broker already from handing over subpoenaed financial documents

and potentially tax documents already to New York state authorities, even

as he`s fighting to try to keep that stuff secret through all the other

means he can.  Some of it`s already been handed over to authorities in New

York state. 

 

New York state legislature is moving ahead with legislation that will allow

them to convey all of the president`s state tax returns to congressional

committees, including his real estate and business taxes.  At least one

federal judge is now reviewing what was redacted from Robert Mueller`s

report.  A second federal judge may soon follow. 

 

I mean, nothing is stuck, right?  Everything is moving.  And just because a

fight has been declared does not mean that a stalemate is inevitable or if

there is a short stalemate that it will inevitability become a long one. 

 

But in the midst of all of this, and it is a real push me, pull you at this

point.  It is not stasis.  Stuff is happening.  In the middle of this, here

is my question, and I think it`s answerable.  And the House Intelligence

Committee chairman is here in part tonight because I`m hoping that he can

answer this. 

 

Regardless of whether or not you think President Trump should be impeached,

regardless of whether or not you think the U.S. Senate would ever vote to

remove President Trump, were he impeached in the House, regardless of

whether or not you think the Democrats would find it politically

advantageous and disadvantageous to mount an impeachment effort against the

president in the House of Representatives, regardless of what you think

about all of that stuff, specifically here`s my question: Would it help

congressional Democrats get some stuff that they otherwise couldn`t get if

they opened up formal impeachment proceedings in the House?  Would opening

an impeachment inquiry open legal doors for them to get stuff they

otherwise couldn`t get?  Would it give them a legal advantage in trying to

obtain some of the information that the White House is fighting them on

getting? 

 

The White House is asserting executive privilege in some blanket way over

everything that Robert Mueller did, right?  That`s one of the remarkable

revelations of this week`s news cycle, right?  It`s amazing that they are

trying to do that. 

 

Now in the long run are they going to get away with it?  I don`t know.  In

the short and medium term, they`re going to use that, it seems, to try to

block access to the rest of Mueller`s report that we haven`t seen, to block

access to the underlying evidence from Mueller`s report that nobody`s seen. 

They will use it to try to block not just Don McGahn but all Mueller

witnesses from testifying or from handing over documents related to

Mueller`s inquiry. 

 

They will use that assertion of privilege to try to block Mueller himself

from testifying.  OK.  Well, procedurally, would it help Congress defeat

those efforts by the White House?  Would it help them get those witnesses

and those materials and that testimony if Democrats in the House took the

formal step of opening an impeachment inquiry? 

 

Does having an impeachment inquiry open and ongoing give them more legal

leverage to obtain those things?  If so, why wouldn`t they just formally

open an impeachment inquiry?  Regardless of all the things that impeachment

down the road might mean, why wouldn`t you just start that proceeding? 

 

I mean, there is supposedly this political worry that the Republicans will

get some advantage in 2020 from saying the Democrats want to impeach Trump,

so therefore you can`t open up an impeachment inquiry.  Hey, surprise, you

know what?  Republicans are going to say that anyway whether or not the

Democrats are technically formally doing it. 

 

The Republicans are already trying to get political advantage.  The

president is already trying to get political advantage saying the Democrats

are coming after him, trying to impeach him.  So, that`s – that`s baked

in.  There is no way that you can avoid that attack from the Republicans by

not formally opening an inquiry.

 

But when legal observers say that opening an inquiry, opening an

impeachment inquiry would give the house more tools to actually get the

stuff they`re seeking, that it would disadvantage the White House in their

now ramped up ongoing efforts to block all forms of congressional

oversight, are those legal observers right?  And if so, is that the grounds

on which the Democrats might see clear to proceed to that step and open up

an impeachment inquiry, not because they`re sure that they`re going to

impeach Donald Trump let alone remove him from office, but only because

they need to start that inquiry in order to get access to the information,

testimony and documents that they would otherwise be getting where the

president and the White House not fighting them the way they are. 

 

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is now suggesting that may be

what is about to happen here and he joins us live next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  It`s barely a year ago that Congressman Adam Schiff, the top

Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, was writing in “The New York Times”

that Democrats should not be considering impeaching President Donald Trump. 

Well, this week, Congressman Schiff who is now chair of the Intelligence

Committee and who is now faced with an across-the-board fight all the

subpoenas stonewall effort from the White House, now, Congressman Schiff

tells “The Washington Post”, quote: These continued acts of willful

obstruction add new weight to those who have advocated impeachment.

 

In a fascinating interview with Greg Sargent at “The Post”, Schiff now says

the case for impeachment will be weightier still if starting impeachment

proceedings could allow Congress to break through White House obstruction

in a way they currently cannot, if Congress` legal right to the materials

they otherwise can`t obtained will be strengthened if they formally start

impeachment proceedings.  This is one of the questions congressional

Democrats are grappling with right now. 

 

Regardless of how anybody might feel about the ultimate task of trying of

impeach the president, literally setting that aside, is an impeachment

proceeding basically, procedurally the path they need to go down if the

White House is going to fight the way they are to block access to the

Mueller investigation and to block access to everything else on which the

Congress wants either to investigate or to exert oversight? 

 

Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House

Intelligence Committee. 

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for making time tonight.  It`s nice to see

you. 

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  Good to see you. 

 

MADDOW:  Am I right to characterize that shift in your position?  Over

time, you`d been very articulate in the past about why it was not an

appropriate time and it wasn`t appropriate circumstances to move on

impeachment.  The way I hear you now is that you may think that impeachment

proceedings might be sort of be sort of utile, might be helpful simply to

obtain information that you can`t otherwise get. 

 

SCHIFF:  Well, when I wrote that op-ed, and that was over a year ago, I was

urging that we wait and see what the results of the investigation are

before we form a judgment, and I did so because I thought we ought to know

what the evidence is, but also because if we had to take that extraordinary

step, we should communicate this is not something we`re eager to do, it`s

something that we`re, in fact, reluctant to do. 

 

Now we have the report and we are being prohibited from getting the

evidence behind that report.  We`re even being barred, at least at the

moment, from hearing from the man who did the investigation, Mr. Mueller,

and I think this does give weight to the – those calling for impeachment

because after obstructing the investigation in a potentially criminal way,

Donald Trump is now obstructing Congress. 

 

As a legal matter, there are a few discreet areas where it may make a

difference.  In most of the document demands it shouldn`t make a difference

whether it`s an impeachment proceeding or it`s an oversight proceeding. 

You know, the claims of executive privilege, for example, can be advanced

in either proceeding, but there are provisions like the grand jury

provision, the exception for grand jury materials that make reference to a

judicial proceeding.  That was the basis in which those materials were made

available to Congress during Watergate. 

 

But there is also language in that provision that says preliminary to a

grand jury proceeding, which I think applies here, but it`s possible that a

court might find otherwise.  To me, though, the Justice Department really

shouldn`t be able to maintain a position you can`t indict a sitting

president, you can only impeach one, and, by the way, we`re not going to

give you the evidence you need until you begin an impeachment without

knowing what the full evidence is. 

 

But if that argument were to prevail in court, I think, yes, it would

proceed strongly into initiating a proceeding, if that`s the only way we

can overcome the White House`s obstructionism. 

 

MADDOW:  There is a matter I want to try to disentangle with you because I

think it`s being discussed more and more in the media.  It`s being

discussed more and more in terms of this confrontation with the White House

over what`s happening to Mueller`s findings and I think it`s sometimes

being conflated.  You have now issued a subpoena to the Justice Department

for the unredacted Mueller report and for the underlying evidence and

intelligence information that pertains to that report.

 

But as I understand it, you have also made a request to be briefed on the

intelligence findings of Mueller`s investigation.  Now, should we see those

as two different requests and how should we expect those two tracks to

proceed if, in fact, these are two different things? 

 

SCHIFF:  You know, they really are two different things, although there is

a lot of overlap, but roughly you can look at what the Judiciary Committee

is doing as centered around the second article of the Mueller report, the

second section on obstruction, and we`re focused on the first section and

that is all of the contacts with the Russians, all of the potential

counterintelligence problems and threats.  This investigation, after all,

began as a counterintelligence investigation.  It then later became both

counterintelligence is criminal. 

 

We still don`t know what the counterintelligence findings are.  We know

from the Mueller report that he had imbedded counterintelligence FBI agents

in his team that wrote their own reports back to headquarters.  They`re not

in the Mueller report and we have a separate basis, legal basis to get that

information from the Judiciary Committee. 

 

There are statutes on point that say any intelligence matter must be given

to the Intelligence Committee upon request.  There are other statutes that

say we have to be kept currently informed of any significant intelligence

or counterintelligence activity.  There is a separate grand jury exception

that says you can provide foreign intelligence and counterintelligence

investigation to any counterintelligence officials that have responsibility

here as we do. 

 

So, we have an independent basis for getting much of the same mission and

then some that pertained to the counterintelligence findings. 

 

MADDOW:  And yet you haven`t been getting it. 

 

SCHIFF:  And yet we haven`t. 

 

MADDOW:  And so, is the remedy there to take them to court?  Is the remedy

there to pass a bill?  Is the remedy there to turn these requests into

subpoenas? 

 

It`s hard for me to see how the – how the – how the path here proceeds in

terms of what leverage you have to obtain these things that you`re saying

by right and in some cases by statute you already should have gotten. 

 

SCHIFF:  You`re absolutely right.  In fact we were getting

counterintelligence briefings up until when Comey was fired and then it

stopped.  That really is a violation of the legal requirements. 

 

You know, the remedies that we have are really the same as the Judiciary

Committee and the same as the Ways and Means Committee, they`re violating

the statute, we can enforce it in court but that takes time.  That really

doesn`t necessarily change in an impeachment proceeding where they can

fight us likewise, but there is another remedy that I think we really need

to consider that may be even quicker than an impeachment proceeding or the

court proceeding, and that is reviving Congress` inherent power of

contempt, something we utilized up until the 1930s, where we in effect do

our own judicial proceeding in the Congress, have a little mini trial in

the Congress and hold people in contempt and responsible and compel their

production without even going to court. 

 

Now, it used to be we imprisoned people, but we could also fine them

$25,000 a day until they comply or some other number.  That may be an even

swifter remedy if we need to embark on it and we may have to. 

 

MADDOW:  Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence

Committee, you make news every time you`re on this show, sir.  Thank you

very much for joining us.  I appreciate you being here. 

 

SCHIFF:  Thanks, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Still ahead tonight, Senator Amy Klobuchar is here. 

I`m very excited about that.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Do not sleep in tomorrow.  Set your alarms if you`re me. 

 

Tomorrow`s decision day for Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and

Means Committee.  Now that the Treasury Department has officially said no

to his demand for the president`s tax returns, the chairman told reporters

today he will make a decision by tomorrow about what he`s going to do in

response.  And the drama here isn`t just what`s in the president`s taxes

and why is the president turning himself into a gigantic pretzel to try to

block people from seeing them – I mean, the drama here now is also that

Chairman Neal`s request is not an optional thing. 

 

The Treasury Department is required by law to give the chairman of the Ways

and Means Committee anybody`s tax returns for any legislative purpose, just

because he said he wants to see them.  That`s why Chairman Neal has now

been signaling that he might even skip subpoenas, he might skip threats of

contempt, he might just fast forward straight to the courts to get this

settled and to get the president`s taxes, as he is legally authorized to

do. 

 

Well, while we wait for that potential court fight to start over the

president`s tax returns which, again, we`re going to hear about as soon as

tomorrow, there is one little piece of this that I think is worth sticking

a pin in.  This is Michael Desmond.  He is the head lawyer at the IRS,

chief counsel.  Chief counsel is the number two job at the IRS. 

 

In this case, he was hand-picked by the president for that job. 

Specifically, he was hand-picked and then he was also hand pushed through

his confirmation by President Trump.  “The New York Times” reported ahead

of this confirmation that the president personally intervened to push along

Desmond`s confirmation.  The president personally asked the Republican

leadership in the Senate to prioritize this guy`s confirmation vote, even

ahead of the confirmation for William Barr to be attorney general.  Wow. 

 

The IRS chief counsel not only handpicked by the president, but he is seen

by the president as more important, a bigger priority than even the

attorney general?  Hmm. 

 

Turns out, surprise, Michael Desmond previously advised President Trump`s

businesses on tax issues.  Oh, so maybe that`s why Trump wants him to be

the top lawyer at the IRS.  Well, now, at the time Michael Desmond said

that nobody should worry about any potential conflict or loyalty issues

there.  A spokesman for Mr. Desmond said during the confirmation process

that if Desmond was confirmed and, quote, something involving Trump came

up, Mr. Desmond would seek advice from ethics officials, right?

 

That makes sense.  He worked on tax issues for Trump`s businesses.  If

Trump`s taxes come up while he`s the lead lawyer at the IRS and the number

two official at the agency, that would seem like a conflict, he should

getting ethics advice. 

 

Well, now, Mr. Desmond is the IRS chief counsel.  He is in that job.  He

got confirmed.  Something involving the president`s taxes most definitely

has come up, right? 

 

The Treasury Department and the IRS have said, no, no, no, we`re not going

to hand over the president`s tax returns despite that law that says we have

to.  The question is, did the IRS chief counsel Michael Desmond ever

consult ethics officials like he promised?  Is he recused from matters

having to do with the president`s taxes given that he advised the

president`s business on tax issues before his confirmation? 

 

Has he been recuse from dealing with those things at the IRS?  If not, how

has he been involved in this decision-making process?  What kind of advice

has he been giving?  We don`t know.

 

So, we tried to ask the IRS on Tuesday.  For three days, we didn`t get so

much as a tumbleweed blowing our way from the IRS in response to our calls. 

We tried calling.  We tried emailing.  We were about to try sending smoke

signals this afternoon when we finally heard back. 

 

And this is what the IRS is finally willing to tell us about whether or not

their chief counsel who advised Trump`s businesses on tax issues, whether

he is recused from making decisions at the IRS about releasing the

president`s taxes.  They told us this, quote: Federal privacy laws prohibit

us from commenting on specific taxpayer cases or situations.

 

Which is not an answer to any of the questions we asked about the IRS and

their chief counsel and whether he`s working on this thing where he would

appear to have a very big conflict.  We tried following up to get an actual

answer to our question.  We never heard back. 

 

So, I mean, we`ve been asking for three days now.  Just stick a pin in

this.  The IRS and the Treasury Department are gearing up for what looks

like an unprecedented court fight over the sitting president`s taxes and

the Treasury Department and the IRS defying black letter law that says the

president`s taxes have to be handed over.  The IRS and the Treasury

Department saying, no, we`re not doing it. 

 

And the top lawyer at the IRS, we`re not allowed to know?  The IRS will not

give us a straight answer about whether or not their top lawyer is recused

from participating in that fight because he used to advise the president on

his taxes. 

 

We`ve been asking him for three days.  We`ll keep going.  We`ll ask do

more.  Watch this space. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us here now on person, in person, on set, on person, in

set is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.  She`s in the running to be the

Democratic nominee for president of the United States.  She also serves on

the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I fell in love with this week because

of its list of questions – 

 

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Oh, yes.

 

MADDOW:  – they published last night about things that should be asked

about Robert Mueller`s report. 

 

Senator, it`s great to see you.

 

KLOBUCHAR:  Thank you, Rachel.  Great to be here.

 

MADDOW:  How are you enjoying running for president? 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  I love it.  You get to talk to people.  You get to talk about

your ideas and it is really a moment in time as you know like we`ve never

seen before in this country. 

 

I was in Milwaukee last night talking to voters there and did a town hall. 

I did one in New Hampshire earlier, and I can tell you that people are

concerned about the rule of law in this country, but they still are asking

about those bread and butter issues as the president gloats about the

economy, people are worried about losing their health care.  I just put out

a proposal on mental health and addiction and lots of interest in that

because there`s just – a lot of people feel like they don`t know where to

go for help.  And then you got people that just simply are having trouble

getting by.

 

And this president seems to act like he should be celebrating every day

when in fact, there are so many people that still are having trouble in

this economy. 

 

MADDOW:  I saw the announcement today from your campaign.  You`re headed to

Puerto Rico soon, as well. 

 

I wondered if – what happened to Puerto Rico with Hurricane Maria is such

an epic tragedy in it own terms and the size of that tragedy compared to

the attention that it got as a matter of government accountability, that

ratio is unbelievable and is a moral stain on our country.  I wonder if the

presidential campaign might actually be a way to at least get some

accountability, at least have some oversight, at least have some attention

to what went so wrong with the government`s handling of Puerto Rico. 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, exactly.  And a lot of it is to do with this president

who continually wants to look at Puerto Rico in a different way when in

fact there are citizens there, there are people – this is a U.S. territory

and he is someone that just wants to look at them and let them go I guess,

when in fact you have people that need so much help, that lost everything,

that lost their homes, that lost their hospitals, that lost her schools.

 

And one of the things I`m doing there is to go to see some of the efforts

that are underway to make things better, but the help that they still need. 

And, of course, that`s why the House of Representatives combined this with

all of the other tragedies we`ve seen.  With the fires from California,

with the floods in Iowa and Missouri, and the help they need and, of

course, in Florida.  Not too far from Puerto Rico. 

 

And so, you have this combination which is what we do when a disaster

strikes our country people, and strikes our people.  We respond.  We don`t

just let them out there. 

 

We did it when New Jersey needed help, we helped them.  When North Dakota

needed help, with Grand Forks in that flood, we helped them.  We come

together as a nation.

 

And this is just one more example and I believe in the end, we will come

together.  I know Senator Shelby, Senator Leahy, Republican and Democrat,

are working valiantly on this from the appropriations side in the Senate,

and Senator Shelby is often getting in arguments with his own Republican

Party White House because we want to do it the right way. 

 

And this president just looks for divides, right?  He wants to blame people

in Puerto Rico.  He wants to blame immigrants.  He wants to blame people of

color.  Every day where there is a divide, he looks for it. 

 

MADDOW:  Literally – I`m sorry, I exclaimed for a moment.  I got upset. 

 

The president literally pulled out a piece of paper at his rally last night

to try to gin up anger in the crowd he was speaking to in Florida about

Puerto Rico getting too much aid.  He had this totally false graph that was

not true information showing Puerto Rico is receiving a disproportionate

amount of funds, trying to egg the crowd into being mad at that and booing

that, and talking about a zero sum game where Florida is being denied.  You

people here at this Trump rally are being denied because those Puerto

Ricans are getting everything. 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  When, in fact, we want to help both places, right? 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

KLOBUCHAR:  And when, in fact, there are so many Puerto Ricans that call

Florida home.

 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

 

KLOBUCHAR:  And the Florida representatives traditionally have tried to

help both Puerto Rico and Florida as have other people in this country. 

You just don`t treat your fellow citizens like this.  You just don`t do it. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes, and try to leverage anger about it in order to sow that

resentment in a way that is –

 

KLOBUCHAR:  That`s what he does. 

 

MADDOW:  I want to talk to you about a whole bunch of different things – 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  OK.

 

MADDOW:  – including some of the stuff that`s happening on the Judiciary

Committee right now. 

 

Can you stay with us? 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  Yes. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Amy Klobuchar is here. 

 

We`ll be right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Back with us now, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.  She serves

on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  She`s also running for president in the

Democratic primary this year.

 

Senator, thank you for sticking around. 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  Thank you, Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  You wrote a letter to Robert Mueller after the hearing in the

Senate Judiciary Committee where you questioned Attorney General Barr

pretty sharply, including about this very discreet issue about whether or

not Mueller looked at President Trump`s financial history and his taxes as

part of his investigation.  And he responded and said, I don`t know.  And

you asked if you could follow up with a written question. 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  It was worse than that.  He said, well, I don`t know. 

 

MADDOW:  That`s a better impression. 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  And I said, well, you don`t know?  I was surprised.  I thought

he might know that they looked at the president`s financial documents. 

He`s the attorney general, highest law enforcement officer in the country. 

 

MADDOW:  He oversees that investigation. 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  Yes.  And he`s not – and then he says, well, you`ll have to

ask Bob Mueller when he comes, and I go, oh, OK.  Well, that`s what I`ll do

then. 

 

And so, now, we have Senator Graham telling us that he`s not going to be

calling Mueller except for some very narrow things. 

 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

 

KLOBUCHAR:  So, we`re not going to be able to hear.  So, that`s why I wrote

the letter to Bob Mueller himself, asking for those tax returns and the

financial documents.  I haven`t heard back yet.

 

MADDOW:  Hmm.

 

KLOBUCHAR:  But we are waiting and as you know, proceedings are going on in

the House as well after – you just pointed out in your last segment, the

Mnuchin and the Treasury Department and everyone else decided not to

release these tax returns.  That is something that when you really look at,

it should be released. 

 

And I think when you step away from all this, though, as you so well

pointed out, this is really about the rule of law.  It is Thomas Paine and

common sense who once said in America, the king is not the law, the law is

king. 

 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

 

KLOBUCHAR:  And so, this is about the law and our country and holding the

president accountable.  But it is also about making sure that our election

is not invaded by a foreign power again.  And they didn`t use tanks, they

didn`t use missiles but they invaded our election all the same, and we have

an opportunity to protect it. 

 

And I will tell you one thing, when you talk to people out there, while

this is not the first issue on their mind when you`re in New Hampshire or

Nevada or South Carolina, it`s not the number one thing that they say.  But

when you start talking about the rule of law and having a president in the

White House that obeys the law and believes in the truth, that`s what they

want to hear, and that`s what they care about. 

 

And they understand that we can do two things at once.  We can pursue an

economic agenda that`s positive, and we can get to the bottom of what

happened here. 

 

MADDOW:  How do you think it`s going to resolve – I mean, let`s take the

microcosmic issue of that letter you wrote to Robert Mueller and you

haven`t gotten a response yet.  It`s a direct question.  William Barr said

he didn`t know.  I don`t know if he`s ever going to answer the question. 

 

So, a really interesting and important point, did Mueller ever look at the

president`s financials?  It`s a huge background issue –

 

KLOBUCHAR:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  – in terms of this fight over tax returns and all the rest of it.

 

KLOBUCHAR:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  How will you get that answer?  How will that be pursued?  How will

that resolve?  They`re trying to block access to everything Mueller did. 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, we know, first of all, some things are going on right

here in New York, where they`re trying to get it in other ways.  I think

that`s important. 

 

We also know that the House now has a case that can go to court to try to

get those taxes because they were denied access.  And the House also has a

lot of power. 

 

The Democrats will run the House.  They don`t as you know run the Senate. 

So, they have the ability to get that.  And I think that`s all important. 

 

But I think our job right now in the Senate is to push on this issue of

foreign interference in our election and make sure people understand what

happened.  This isn`t meddling.  This was an invasion by a foreign power,

and we now know as we look at all of this evidence that`s come out, and

that`s why we did all those questions, we know that we can`t ask Mueller

right now, and so, we have to do everything to get him before Congress, for

the American people. 

 

And at some point, he won`t be special counsel anymore.

 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

 

KLOBUCHAR:  And then, we`ll have another way to get him to testify.  But we

have to move forward. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Democratic candidate for

president – Senator, it`s always good to have you here. 

 

KLOBUCHAR:  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  Thank you so much.

 

We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  So this is an important announcement about this show and something

that`s going to happen here tomorrow.  You just heard Senator Amy Klobuchar

describe what Russia did to our democracy in 2016 as an invasion.  That was

the word she used. 

 

When it came to the investigation of that invasion and its implications,

the FBI general counsel at the time, James Baker, had a seat right inside

that from the very, very beginning.  James Baker was there from moment zero

as the top legal official in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

 

Now, Baker has been pilloried by Republicans and by conservative media for

taking on the responsibility of uncovering what Russia did to us in 2016. 

Thus far, he`s been all but unable to publicly talk about that experience

and to explain what he did. 

 

But now, he can`t talk about it.  With the redacted Mueller report out and

with House Republicans having released his closed door testimony, former

FBI General Counsel James Baker is going to be here tomorrow night as a

guest on this show.  He will be talking about a number of these issues for

the first time in any media environment.  This is a very big deal for me. 

James Baker is going to be here tomorrow night. 

 

That does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again tomorrow. 

 

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with the great Lawrence O`Donnell. 

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                               

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