Schumer on White House meeting. TRANSCRIPT: 5/22/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Chuck Schumer, Jim Himes
Transcript:

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

appreciated. 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  You bet.  Absolutely. 

 

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Very happy to

have you with us. 

 

So, today was the day that a larger dynamic suddenly became very clear. 

But today I think was the culmination of something that started to happen a

few days ago.  A little bit under two weeks ago.  The first sort of crack

in the dam is something that we saw just less than two weeks ago.  It

actually feels like a year ago now. 

 

But it was May 9th, which is less than two weeks ago, and that was the

first one.  That was when the president and the Trump administration more

broadly started losing these battles that they have been waging now for a

while to try to lock down everything, to try to lock down every witness,

every document, every source of information about the president, to lock

down everything in the wake of the Mueller investigation, to block anything

from coming out. 

 

The first crack in the dam, the first one that they lost was when the judge

in the ongoing Roger Stone case issued an order commanding the Justice

Department to take out the redactions from the Mueller report that pertain

to the case against Roger Stone.  The judge ordered that the Justice

Department had to take out the redactions about the Stone case, also about

the dissemination of documents stolen by the Russians during the Trump

campaign.  Also about the potential involvement of the Trump campaign with

the entities that were feeding those materials out to the public to benefit

Trump`s campaign. 

 

The judge in the Roger Stone case less than two weeks ago ordered the

Justice Department to unredact all the material in Mueller`s report on

those topics, and she told the Justice Department that they needed to show

her that unredacted material. 

 

I really think that was the first crack in the dam.  I mean, the attorney

general saying, no, they won`t release the redacted parts of the Mueller

report, no way, no how.  Oh, wait, a court order from a federal judge? 

Well, yes, ma`am, right away, here you go, right?  That was the first one. 

That was May 9th. 

 

Then we got the next one.  Another federal judge.  This one was late last

week.  The judge in the Michael Flynn case ruled that the Justice

Department also has to unredact the parts of the Mueller report that have

to do with Mike Flynn. 

 

And in that instance, the judge in the Mike Flynn case, he doesn`t just

want to see the unredacted Mueller report himself, he actually ordered the

Justice Department to release that material to the public.  So by the end

of next week, despite the attorney general saying no, no, no, he won`t

release the redacted parts of the Mueller report, no way, no how, by the

end of next week, per federal order, those redactions are going to be taken

out and we the public will get access to that part of the report, hole and

uncensored by order of a federal judge. 

 

And then just today we got the next crack in the dam as the Justice

Department caved just a little and agreed that despite their earlier

stonewalling, now they will go ahead and they will release intelligence

information and counterintelligence information that was turned up by

investigators in the course of his probe.  The Intelligence Committee in

the House has frankly been entitled to this information all along.  They

should have been given this information as what matter of course, but in

the end it took a subpoena, which the attorney general first tried just

defying, just not responding to that subpoena. 

 

Then the intelligence committee scheduled a vote to hold the attorney

general in contempt for defying that subpoena, and finally, that apparently

was enough.  The department caved and agreed they would start handing that

stuff over, which just goes to show you, you don`t always win when you

decide to fight these battles, but you definitely can`t win unless you do

fight.  And sometimes when you do fight, you do end up winning. 

 

So, the redacted parts of the Mueller report, the attorney general said no,

no, no way, but those are starting to come out.  The underlying materials

for the Mueller report, the attorney general also said no, no, no way.  But

those are starting to be handed over too.  Then we got another crack in the

dam in another part of the Trump administration. 

 

This happened last night when someone leaked to “The Washington Post” the

internal legal guidance that had been prepared at the IRS, making sure that

the IRS itself knows that under law it must hand over President Trump`s tax

returns to the ways and means committee.  The IRS` own legal analysis says

this is not a discretionary thing.  This is not a judgment call for the

treasury secretary or for anyone else.  There is no wiggle room here.  This

is mandatory. 

 

And the leak of that internal IRS legal memo last night to “The Washington

Post,” that has not yet resulted in the IRS actually handing over the

president`s tax returns, as required by law, but the IRS and the Treasury

Department are now defying a subpoena to hand over those tax returns.  That

means their defiance of that subpoena will soon land them in court.  It

will not help them in court that the agency itself turns out to have put in

writing that they know they need to hand over those tax returns. 

 

I mean, incidentally, it will not help them that there are people inside

the IRS who are willing to provide that kind of utterly damning material to

reporters in order to blow the whistle on their own bosses. 

 

And meanwhile, the dam is still cracking, including in new and exciting

places.  Today, Albany, New York, the state legislature in the state where

the president lived his whole life and where he headquartered his business

interests, today, the state legislature in New York voted that they would

provide the president`s state tax returns to Congress if the tax-related

committees in Congress believe they need to see them. 

 

Now, there is no sign yet that the Democrats in Congress will take up this

offer from New York state, which is offering to give them the president`s

state tax returns.  But if the Democrats in Congress do ultimately decide

to go that route, it is expected that those state tax returns would likely

contain much of the same information as the president`s federal tax

returns, which he is fighting so hard to keep secret.  And all that has

happened in less than two weeks.  And it`s just the start. 

 

I mean, now today for the second time in three days, a federal judge has

ruled that financial institutions subpoenaed by Congress to hand over

materials related to president Trump, those financial institutions must

comply with those subpoenas from Congress.  On Monday, it was a federal

judge in Washington, D.C. who ruled valid the subpoena that the oversight

committee had sent to Mazars`, an accounting firm that the president and

his business worked with for years.  That subpoena directs Mazars to hand

over ten years of records of their dealings with the president and his

businesses.  That was Monday.

 

Today, a second federal judge, this one in New York, ruled from the bench

that a similar subpoena sent to Deutsche Bank by two other congressional

committees, that too is a valid subpoena, and Deutsche Bank must comply

with that subpoena.  And just like the ruling in the Mazars case on Monday,

this ruling today on the Deutsche Bank case, it is blunt and unequivocal. 

We just got in the transcript from this hearing today, including the parts

of the transcript where the judge reads his ruling from the bench. 

 

Part of that ruling, quote: The court concludes that plaintiffs have not

raised any serious questions going to the merits – the plaintiffs in this

case are President Trump and his family.  The Supreme Court has likely

foreclosed the path that plaintiffs ask this court to travel.  It is well-

settled that the committees possess the power to issue and enforce

subpoenas of the type challenged by plaintiffs.

 

Quote: The committees have alleged a pressing need for the subpoenaed

documents to further their investigation.  It is not the role of the court

or plaintiffs to second guess that need, especially in light of the court`s

conclusions that the requested documents are pertinent to what is likely a

lawful congressional investigation. 

 

Quote: In the committee`s words, plaintiff`s contrary argument ignores the

clear and compelling public interest in expeditious congressional

allegations into core aspects of the financial and election systems that

touch every member of the public.  The court agrees. 

 

So, the dam appears to have been poorly built if it has formed all of these

different cracks in less than two weeks.  But as always of that information

that the White House has been trying to block from coming out has

nevertheless started to come out, sort of all in a rush now, now we`ve got

this incredibly dynamic situation in our national government, right?  Where

the White House is pledging massive resistance. 

 

Clearly, it is not working.  Their approach is losing every day now.  This

thing is slipping away from them, including crucially on the issues the

president seems to be most emotional about, meaning his finances and tax

history.  They`re losing those battles, right? 

 

Meanwhile, Democrats are in flux and in very active discussion amongst

themselves as to whether or not they should open impeachment proceedings

against the president based on the behavior described in Mueller`s report,

and based on any number of potentially impeachable offenses they think the

president may have committed.  But as the White House starts losing all of

these battles in an accelerated pace now, right, as the courts, his own

agencies, as they start – as the conflict between Congress and the rest of

the Trump administration has Congress winning and the Trump administration

losing on all of these different fronts, right? 

 

And as the Democrats scramble amongst themselves and have discussions among

themselves as to how to best move forward, how to keep their heads, move

forward and make sure they are both taking seriously their responsibilities

as the governing body that runs the House of Representatives and also the

responsibilities to the Constitution to make sure this stuff is

investigated, as all that precedes all at the same time, here`s just some

perspective on how you might, you might expect this to go from here on out

if this were a more normal time, right? 

 

So much is remarkable and astonishing about this presidency and its

scandals.  But a president and a presidency being in serious jeopardy,

right, a president being at risk of impeachment, it`s not like this is an

unprecedented thing in our country, right?  We have been through that

before.  We therefore know a little bit about what American politics and

governance can look like in the midst of this kind of crisis, this kind of

scandal. 

 

I mean, just take a look at D.C. at the height of the Watergate scandal,

April 1974.  House Judiciary Committee had been conducting an impeachment

investigation into President Richard Nixon for months, seven of Richard

Nixon`s closest advisers and aides had been indicted, including his former

attorney general and former chief of staff.  Special prosecutor was about

to subpoena the oval office tapes, a fight that prosecutor would eventually

win at the Supreme Court. 

 

We now know looking back on that time, April `74, that Nixon was only four

months away from resigning the presidency.  But one night in April 1974,

“NBC Nightly News” had three different segments on three different aspects

of the investigation into President Nixon.  This is what the media

landscape looked like then. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The House Judiciary Committee expects some kind of

White House answer by tomorrow in its request for presidential tapes, and

there was more talk today about in the committee about subpoenaing White

House material. 

 

Senator Lowell Weicker said he has evidence that the Nixon administration

from its very first days used the Internal Revenue Service and other

government agencies to control its political and ideological opponents. 

 

In the New York trial of former cabinet members John Mitchell and Maurice

Stans, this is the week for the defense.  Former cabinet member Robert

Finch will be called as a witness tomorrow and another defense witness this

week will be W. Clement Stone, the multimillionaire insurance magnate who

gave millions to President Nixon`s campaign. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  That`s all the same newscast, right?  That`s what watching the

news was like in April 1974. 

 

It`s like disastrous scandal news about the president.  Other disastrous

scandal news about the president.  Furthermore, some disastrous scandal

news about the president.  Can we get – do we need to take a break? 

Right?

 

Multiple congressional investigations, looming impeachment, Nixon`s former

White House aides, the most senior officials in the government on trial,

right?  Things could not have been in more of a crisis mode in the spring

of 1974. 

 

But here`s the thing.  All of that that you just saw, all of those

different elements of the Watergate scandal that all made into it that

newscast, that one night in April 1974, none of those are what led that

same “Nightly News” broadcast that night.  What led the newscast that same

night, April 8th, 1974 was that President Nixon and the Democratically-

controlled Congress had just passed a big new piece of legislation.  They

just passed a new minimum wage increase that would put extra money into the

pockets of tens of millions of Americans. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good evening.  President Nixon today signed into law a

far-reaching increase in the federal minimum wage.  The measure will now

extend minimum wage protection to an additional 7 million or 8 million

workers, and ultimately about 54 million Americans will be covered. 

 

This is pretty much the bill which Mr. Nixon vetoed just seven months ago,

but he was in high spirits today when he signed it into law at the White

House.  The president put out a written statement saying he had some

reservations about part of the minimum wage measure, but on the whole, the

legislation contains more good than bad. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Nixon with a big grin, high spirits at the White House.  And you

know, on the one hand, on its own, that leading “Nightly News” that night,

that should be sort of unremarkable.  It`s basic politics, basic

governance.  Republican government and Democratic Congress disagree over

bill, negotiate anyway, sign a compromise into law, the American public

gets a raise, right?

 

But in context, think about that, this is at the peak of Watergate.  Nixon

and Congress are mortal existential enemies at this point.  And yet here

they are, enacting a broad minimum wage increase. 

 

And this wasn`t the only big legislation passed during this period.  A

couple of months after the House Judiciary Committee launched its

impeachment investigation and Nixon was forced to appoint a new special

prosecutor after firing the first one, in the midst of all that, Nixon

signed the Endangered Species Act into law, a law written in large part by

the White House and negotiated with the hostile Congress for nearly a year. 

 

In the summer of 1974, literally the day after the Supreme Court ruled

against Nixon and unanimously ordered him to turn over the White House

tapes, that day, he signed into law a bill creating the Legal Services

Corporation, which provides public defenders, provides legal aid to poor

Americans to this day.  That bill was a compromise that Nixon had

negotiated with the Democratic Congress.  This was barely two weeks before

he was forced to resign, and he is negotiating with the lawmakers who are

getting ready to impeach him, negotiating with him, and successfully

agreeing to this big new landmark super important federal landmark program

that survives to this day. 

 

Right up into the end, the business of legislating and governing went on. 

And that isn`t a Nixon fluke.  The same thing was true during the

investigations and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. 

 

October 5th, 1998, the Republican House Judiciary Committee voted to launch

an impeachment inquiry into President Clinton.  Just between then and the

end after that year, which is when the House actually voted to impeach him,

President Clinton signed over 150 bills into law.  And yes, some of those

were like naming post offices and stuff. 

 

But some of it was major legislation that he proposed and negotiated with

Congress, even while Congress was investigating him for possible

impeachment, and then ultimately impeaching him.  I mean, just two days

after the impeachment inquiry was opened into Clinton, Clinton signed an

education bill with new programs he`d proposed to get disadvantaged

students into college, to reduce student loan interest rates.  A few weeks

later Congress agreed to fork over more than $1 billion to hire 100,000 new

teachers nationwide.  A week later, he signed an expansion of the Head

Start early child education program. 

 

Remember, this is with a Republican-controlled House that was not keen on

government spending, even when it wasn`t preparing to impeach the

Democratic government who would have to sign anything they passed.  Oh,

also in the meantime, Clinton got Israel and the Palestinians to sign a

peace agreement, got 160 countries to sign on to a pact to fight global

warming.  And earlier that year he managed the Good Friday peace accords in

northern Ireland. 

 

I mean, neither of those presidents, Nixon or Clinton, while they were

being investigated, or in Clinton`s case actively impeached, neither of

them said you know what?  I`m not going to do anything else.  I`m not going

to work with any – I`m not going to work with this terrible Congress

unless these investigations into me end. 

 

Neither of them even tried that.  If anything, they seemed to want the

opposite.  Both of them understandably were eager to give the impression

that they were fairly unfazed by whatever scandal surrounded their

presidency.  They were unfazed by these investigations.  They remained

focused on doing the people`s business. 

 

That`s how it`s gone in the past.  Our current president, by contrast is

shall we say fazed and very, very willing to show it. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I just wanted to let you

know that I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer, Speaker

Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure.  I want to do it more than you want to

do it.  I`d be really good at that.  That`s what I do. 

 

But you know what?  You can`t do it under these circumstances.  So get

these phony investigations over with. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  I`m not going to do even the things I want to do unless you get

these phony investigations over with. 

 

And you know, who knows?  It is possible that this bizarre spectacle from

the president today was all planned out well in advance, right?  Maybe it

was on the secret White House calendar we don`t get to see.  Maybe on that

calendar today was always going to be Wednesday fake impromptu Rose Garden

speech demanding all investigations cease, or the American people`s roads

and bridges will get it. 

 

Maybe that was always what they had planned for today in the Rose Garden. 

They did have a preprinted sign on the podium today when the president

stood up there to make those comments.  I don`t know how long it takes them

to make those preprinted signs. 

 

That said, there is also reporting today that suggests that the president

was driven absolutely bonkers by Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats telling

reporters today that they believe the president is engaged in a cover-up of

Mueller`s findings and potentially impeachable behavior described in

Mueller`s report.

 

So, you know, maybe this wasn`t long planned today.  Maybe this really was

a spontaneous outburst from the president.  Maybe he really was driven mad

by this allegation that he has engaged in a cover-up.  It seems weird. 

 

 

Of all the things that Democrats have said he has done and that he has been

described of doing, cover-up is the one that really stings him, the one

that really bugs him for some reason?  You might expect to like being an

agent of a hostile foreign power would be the one that would really stick. 

But apparently he doesn`t mind that one. 

 

Cover-up. No, don`t say cover-up or the country gets it!  It`s so random. 

Maybe being accused of carrying out a cover-up is the thing that drove him

mad today and this is a spontaneous outburst. 

 

I think, though, it is also worth considering whether the Holy Grail is

sort of upon us now.  And the thing the president most cares about, his

financial history, his banking history, his tax history, whether that whole

financial history and everything that we`ll say about him related to the

scandal and not, that stuff is now getting pried open on multiple fronts

all at once, in two different multiple courtrooms in a state legislature

where he was born and where all his businesses are based.  At the IRS,

where the shaky ground they`ve been standing on and trying to avoid handing

over taxes, that shaky ground is quickly turning into something that seems

like quicksand. 

 

I mean, other presidents in times of crisis have tried to keep on carrying

on in terms of, you know, appearing to have a legislative agenda and in

fact carrying one out – finding common ground, moving forward, doing the

people`s work, looking unfazed, that is not how this one is going to go,

apparently. 

 

So what do you do if you have a job in this government, right?  What do you

do if you are trying to run Congress, or part of Congress?  If you`re

trying to think about legislation?  If part of your job is occasionally

needing to meet with this guy, when he has just declared government over

unless everybody leaves him alone and stops investigating him?  I mean, how

do you plan your work day around that? 

 

The Democratic leader in the United States Senate is Chuck Schumer.  He was

right in the middle of all of this today.  He said today that what he saw

from the president today would, quote, make your jaw drop. 

 

Senator Schumer joins us live next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  He came into the room, made a statement that he

made was – I won`t even characterize it.  He just took a pass, and it just

makes me wonder why – why he did that.  In any event, I pray for the

president of the United States, and I pray for the United States of

America. 

 

I`m pleased to yield now to the distinguished Democratic leader of the

Senate, Mr. Schumer. 

 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  Well, thank you, Speaker Pelosi.  And to watch

what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us now is Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.  He is the

leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. Senate. 

 

Sir, thank you so much for being here tonight.  I really appreciate you

making time. 

 

SCHUMER:  My jaw is back in place. 

 

MADDOW:  Well, tell us what cause you`d to say that today.  I mean, as far

as we could tell from out here, the president was supposed to meet with you

at the White House.  He walked in, got upset, walked out, and then he went

out into the Rose Garden and announced he won`t do anything else as

president unless all investigations into him are ended. 

 

It was a very weird thing to watch from afar. 

 

Can you tell us more what actually happened? 

 

SCHUMER:  Yes.  Well, first, you know, we started out with perfect good

faith.  We Democrats believe in infrastructure.  It`s so important to the

country.  The traditional infrastructure, roads and bridges, water and

sewer, green, clean infrastructure, building a power grid so we can then

build wind and solar in other parts of the country and bring the

electricity here, electric cars and the way to charge them, making homes

and hospitals more energy efficient, bringing broad band to rural America

and inner city America. 

 

I had a 35-page document that I was ready to give the president and show

him what we wanted to do, and we were just shocked by what happened.  The

president three weeks ago, we got him to say that he would be for $2

trillion of infrastructure.  And we said now, Mr. President, you better

show us how you`re going to pay for it, because in the past you haven`t

done that.  He said, sure I will. 

 

I think two things happened at once, Rachel.  First, they were just afraid,

unable to put together any infrastructure plan.  And they found a very

inelegant way to wiggle out of it. 

 

But second, these investigations are really getting under his skin because

the courts in the last two days, as you mentioned earlier, have gotten

right to the core of what Trump is most afraid of, people looking at all

the financial stuff, whether it`s being from the banks or from his

accountant.  And so, this was preplanned.  There is no question about it. 

He had that little sign out there in Rose Garden. 

 

The minute I walked out of the meeting after he threw his temper tantrum,

they had Fox News on and they were already talking about what the president

was doing.  And there was no way they could have found out unless they knew

ahead of time. 

 

So, the bottom line is that he had no intention of doing this, and he`s

just making – showing how incapable he is of being president.  He can`t

put together an infrastructure plan, which he couldn`t have done anyway,

and he is unable to face the truth. 

 

At the meeting he said to us, I`m the most transparent president ever. 

Well, Mr. President, if you are, release your tax returns tomorrow. 

 

MADDOW:  Mr. Schumer, one of the things that struck me as so strange today

is what the president was demanding, what the president was making this

public demand about is so impossible to grant him.  There is no chance that

the Congress is going to say oh, sir, we didn`t understand.  You will work

with us if we stop investigating you?  OK.  Then we`ll cancel all the

investigations. 

 

I mean, it`s sort of insane, and he can`t imagine that that`s going to

work.  But I wonder if he actually trying to effectuate that.  Like are

there – are there negotiations?  Are there entreaties being made to try to

wind back the negotiations in exchange for some deliverable from the White

House.  Are they actually trying to get that done? 

 

SCHUMER:  Absolutely not.  We can do two things at once.  In fact, the

Constitution empowers Congress to both oversee the executive branch and

pass legislation.  And as you point out, other presidents have done that. 

 

In fact, other presidents have had the good sense to say: See?  I`m not so

bothered by this.  I can function as president. 

 

What President Trump showed today is these investigations are so paralyzing

him that he can`t function as president and do something that presidents

have done since the early days, Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson and Teddy

Roosevelt.  And that is, build infrastructure. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of the motivation for what the president is doing right

now, you mentioned the prospect that the president is – that these

investigations are getting under his skin.  That potentially –

 

SCHUMER:  Yes. 

 

MADDOW:  – the taxes and financial information is particularly sensitive

matter for him. 

 

New York state legislature today passed this interesting law that would

allow the state to hand over his state tax returns if the tax writing

committees in Congress wanted to see them.  As New York`s senior senator, I

wonder what you thought of that and of the news that apparently the

Democrats in the House don`t seem ready to avail themselves of that offer

from your state? 

 

SCHUMER:  Well, I didn`t know the second part.  I think it`s a great idea,

and I think they should use it.  Every president, especially this president

with so many financial entanglements should be releasing their tax returns. 

 

You know, most members of Congress, the Senate, I`ve been doing it for

years.  That`s an obligation you have to the public. 

 

But when you think about it, these things hit home.  How do we know?  Well,

three weeks ago when we had our first meeting, the investigations were

going on.  The president didn`t throw a temper tantrum, make a brief

speech, and stomp out and say there are investigations going on. 

 

I think they – it`s risen, the level of concern and agitation in the

president`s own self has risen because of the last two days of court cases,

because this was totally, totally planned.  The night before he wrote us a

letter that he was going to discuss trade, he`s flailing around because he

didn`t know how to do an infrastructure bill and the hard right wouldn`t

let him pay for it. 

 

You know, we Democrats have proposed paying for it by reducing some of

those tax cuts that were made on the very wealthy, making them pay more and

putting that into American jobs.  That`s a great issue.  He couldn`t do

that because either right wing is totally – has totally have a

stranglehold on him, and at the same time, he is so agitated by these

investigations that he used that as the excuse today. 

 

But it was preplanned, but preplanned probably six hours or a day earlier. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Schumer, if you have a minute to stick around, there`s

other matter – 

 

SCHUMER:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  – that I want to ask you about.  You can stay with us. 

 

All right.

 

SCHUMER:  Right.

 

MADDOW:  Senator Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate,

is with us.  We`ll be right back right with him after this. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Any day now, the Republican governor of Missouri is expected to

sign into law another new abortion ban, and this is, again, another one

that would force even rape and incest victims to give birth against their

will by order of the government.  If Missouri`s governor goes there, and he

will, this will be the sixth Republican-controlled state in the past few

months to ban abortion. 

 

Here is the thing, though.  Here`s what I want to ask Senator Schumer about

why I asked him to stay over: as Republican-run states are in this stampede

to pass abortion bans now and to try to get a case to the Supreme Court to

overturn Roe versus Wade, the backdrop to all this legal wrangling is that

Americans really don`t want this.  They don`t want to overturn Roe.  They

don`t want to ban abortion, which is what all these Republican-controlled

states are now doing. 

 

And it`s not a close question at all.  CBS just did a new poll asking

Americans what the Supreme Court should do with Roe versus Wade.  Keep it

as is, meaning keep abortion legal in every state, or overturn Roe, asking

– which would allow states to ban abortion. 

 

Look at the results: 67 percent of Americans say keep it as it is.  Keep

abortion legal.  Only 28 percent want to overturn Roe and go back to the

days of illegal abortions, which is pretty strong, like overwhelmingly

strong national mandate against what Republicans are doing in all the

states they control right now. 

 

So, in that kind of environment where Republicans are really running away

with this thing right now, and women across the country are freaked out

because of it, what kind of counteroffer are we getting from the Democratic

Party on this as a policy issue right now, right? 

 

Republicans are charging ahead with super deeply unpopular plans to undue

46 years of legal precedent to recriminalize abortion.  It is causing

nationwide concern among women and among lots of Americans who don`t want

that to happen.  What is the Democratic Party offering as its

countermeasure or its answer to what`s going on right now in this part of

politics? 

 

Democratic leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer is still here with us. 

Senator Schumer, thank you for letting me kind of set that all up a little

bit.  Let me get your response to that question. 

 

SCHUMER:  Right.  Well, we have two steps in pushing our Republican

colleagues on this issue.  First, Patty Murray has put together a

resolution that says we support Roe.  We support a woman`s right to have

her own health care and to control her own body. 

 

Just about every Democrat has already signed on to it, and we are asking –

every day, we will be asking our Republican colleagues are you with Roe or

against Roe?  You have to state a position.  And the pressure will mount

from the states. 

 

Now, these senators who could control what happens are hypocrites.  Why? 

Some of them have said they don`t agree with the Alabama decision.  They

don`t agree with the Georgia legislation.  That`s with the one hand. 

 

And with the other hand, they vote every time for judges whose goal it is

to overturn Roe.  Here`s some of the judges they voted for.  I just want to

read you this, Rachel. 

 

Just voted for Leonard Grasz, who said, quote, he railed against the,

quote, moral bankruptcy.  That`s the legacy of Roe. 

 

They voted for Amy Coney Barrett who said Roe was erroneously decided and

called the ACA`s birth control provisions an assault on religious liberty. 

 

They voted for Wendy Vitter.  This is amazing.  She said Planned Parenthood

kills 150,000 people and contraceptives caused cancer.

 

And they just voted today on Stephen Clark, they all voted for him, just

about everyone, and he said Roe v. Wade and Dred Scott were similarly

awfully decided cases. 

 

So, we are putting the heat on them.  Hypocrites.  Oh, you don`t agree with

the Alabama decision – the, quote (ph), legislation?  You don`t agree with

the Georgia legislation?  Then why are you voting for judges that do it? 

 

And then we are asking them, where will they sign this resolution?  They

want to keep Roe?  Sign this resolution, and we can get a majority and get

it on the floor of the Senate.

 

We`re going to put heat on them.  And the good news is, there were 400

demonstrations across America to preserve Roe.  The women of America are

outraged that this hard right group, the Federalist Society is running the

courts at Donald Trump and all our Republican Senate colleagues` behest. 

And Leonard Leo, the founder of the Federalist Society`s goal is to repeal

Roe. 

 

America is rising up.  They will feel the heat.  They will feel the heat

ahead of time, and they feel the heat in 2020. 

 

They have made this issue an issue that Americans now are roused about

because they see the danger.  Once they got five justices on the Supreme

Court who are anti-choice, the hard right pushed in the legislatures, and

now America sees that Roe is actually in danger. 

 

MADDOW:  Do you think that the Supreme Court, when they get whichever one

of these laws they choose, when they get the chance, do you think that

within the next year, Roe will be overturned by the Supreme Court? 

 

SCHUMER:  They will either overturn it directly, that`s what they probably

want to do in their hearts, or they will so cut back and eliminate the

effectiveness of Roe that in effect they will have eliminated Roe.  They

will make it so hard for any woman to get an abortion that Roe will in

effect be eliminated.  So they will do it directly or indirectly, but I

believe they will try to do it. 

 

MADDOW:  Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, leader of the Democrats in

the Senate – sir, thank you for making time for us tonight.  I really

appreciate you being here. 

 

SCHUMER:  Yes.  We have to fight this.  Fight, America, fight back.  We can

win this fight. 

 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Today, a federal judge in Washington unsealed five search warrants

from the federal investigation into the president`s long-time personal

lawyer Michael Cohen.  Five search warrants that had been requested by

special counsel Robert Mueller back in the summer of 2017, right after

Mueller was appointed to the special counsel position. 

 

From these warrants that were unsealed today, we learned a couple of big

things.  First, we learned that as early as July 2017, special counsel

Robert Mueller was investigating Michael Cohen`s possible involvement in

getting a plan to lift Russian sanctions into the hands of senior officials

at the Trump White House.  Secondly, and perhaps relatedly, Mueller was

investigating foreign transactions with a Russian nexus in a bank account

controlled by Michael Cohen. 

 

So, he`s stovepiping a dropped Russian sanctions plan to the top of the

White House, and they`re looking at Russians paying him?  Hmm. 

 

That same bank account that`s described in the search warrants is the one

that Cohen used to receive half a million dollars from a company that`s

linked to a Russian oligarch with Kremlin connections.  We know from

previous reporting that the CEO of that company, the Russian oligarch

himself and Cohen met in Trump Tower less than two weeks before Trump`s

inauguration to discuss strengthening Russian relations with the United

States. 

 

Well, now these Cohen search warrants unsealed today show that starting on

Election Day, Election Day 2016, Cohen exchanged over 230 phone calls and

950 text messages with the CEO of that Russian-linked company. 

 

So, Michael Cohen is already in federal prison, and Michael Cohen was never

charged with anything from this part of the special counsel investigation,

but we now know because of these documents that were unsealed that in

making the case for searching Michael Cohen`s emails account, the federal

government specifically stated whether Russia was secretly paying Michael

Cohen to shop this plan to lift Russian sanctions to senior officials in

the new administration.  Quote: The United States continues to investigate

if any of the payments or financial relationship described were connected

to Cohen`s involvement in the distribution of a plan to lift Russian

sanctions. 

 

So, again, Cohen was never charged for that, even though they investigated

him for that.  Interesting question here, though, right?  Whatever the

special counsel got by way of the search warrants, it`s not included in the

Mueller report, right.  This stuff that they were after in Mueller`s

report, this question about whether Cohen might have been the target of a

Kremlin-linked operation to funnel money to somebody connected to the

administration in order to get a dropped sanctions plan stovepiped to the

top of the administration, I mean, whatever they were investigating here

would spell it out in the search warrants is not described in the Mueller

report. 

 

So it didn`t end up in Michael Cohen`s criminal charges either.  If

anything, it looks like this was sort of an intelligence matter, right?  It

looks like they were investigating whether this was run as an foreign

influence operation in this country, targeting our own government through

the president`s long-time personal lawyer. 

 

Well, if that was part of Mueller`s investigation, what happened to that

line of inquiry?  It didn`t end up in the Mueller report.  Did something

else become of it?  Who gets to see that part?  If that was chased down by

Mueller`s investigators, what do they find at the end of that road? 

 

Well, today, after threatening to enforce a subpoena against the Justice

Department by holding the attorney general in contempt if necessary, today,

the House Intelligence Committee announced that they had reached a deal

with the Justice Department to in fact receive information from Mueller`s

investigation that the federal government had relatively been unwilling to

hand over.  The Intelligence Committee now says they`re going to get 12

categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence material from

Mueller`s probe.

 

So, the Justice Department gave in.  What exactly are they going to provide

to the Intelligence Committee?  And will it answers some of the big sort of

spooky still open questions about the intelligence nature of what we all

thought Mueller was looking into?

 

Joining us now is member of the House Intelligence Committee, Connecticut

Congressman Jim Himes.

 

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.  Really appreciate your time.

 

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT):  Hi, Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  So, what are you going to get from the Justice Department?  What`s

in this agreement?

 

HIMES:  Well, I`m not sure we know what we`re going to get.  And the reason

for that is at least twofold.  There`s two reasons for that.

 

Number one, a lot of the redactions that we`re in the Mueller report, and

this isn`t a secret or anything.  It`s what the Justice Department said,

are there because they`re there to protect national security issues,

sources, methods, including any investigations that are ongoing about

counterintelligence. 

 

The second thing I would highlight for you is that when there is wrongdoing

that falls into the category of counterintelligence, that is often dealt

with differently than criminal wrongdoing is dealt with.  In other words,

when the FBI is looking at somebody who may have been compromised by the

Russians, and I want to be clear here, I`m not saying that that`s the case

with Michael Cohen, but when the FBI is looking at somebody who may have

been compromised by the Russians, they may not charge that individual,

because it may turn out – and this is an essential core of

counterintelligence, it may turn out that by looking at who compromise that

individual, the methods they use, who`s behind it, what sort of

communications they used that we can learn a lot more, of a lot more value

than we can get by charging an individual for essentially spying.

 

So, again, I think because of those two big questions, there is still a

possibility that there`s a lot of information out – well, I shouldn`t say

out there, but a lot of information that the public has not seen about

Russian attempts to compromise members, people around Donald Trump, or very

simply to worm their way into – into people close to the president. 

 

MADDOW:  Because that kind of information wasn`t in what we have seen of

the Mueller report, I think there is the sort of emerging revelation that

we really – we the public really don`t know what happened to the counter

counterintelligence investigation, what happened to – what we al expected

Mueller to be looking into which was whether or not there was foreign

leverage over the president or his campaign or other senior positions in

the government. 

 

When you get this information, do you expect that you guys will be able to

discern if that counterintelligence investigation, which at some point

started, we don`t know what happened to it, do you think you`ll be able to

discern if that`s ongoing, if that was resolved in some way, if there has

been any sort of conclusion as to those core questions about potential

leverage over our government? 

 

HIMES:  Yes, I do think we will – we will learn that.  That is to say the

intelligence committee and quite possibly other people in the Congress will

learn that.  The intelligence community is required to keep us apprised of

anything material that happens. 

 

And remember, the president, if he does one thing that`s really well, it`s

clouding the waters. 

 

This started as a counterintelligence investigation.  This didn`t start

because somebody decided to do a witch hunt against the president.  This

started, as we know because there were profound concerns within the FBI

about outreach made by the Russians to George Papadopoulos, to Carter Page,

and then it just went on and on.  It went to Michael Flynn.  It went to the

president`s son, Don Jr.

 

So, despite what the president would have you believe, this was always a

counterintelligence investigation, and it is still very possible that that

counterintelligence investigation continues.  Now, you`re asking an

interesting question.  Will the public know?  This is in the realm, of

course, of intelligence and attempts by the Russians to compromise.  And

so, my hope is obviously that we will know.  But it is quite possible, in

fact, likely that there is a lot more out there that has to do with how the

Russians try to compromise people in and around the president`s circle that

we still don`t, even in the intelligence committee, know about yet. 

 

MADDOW:  Although hopefully at least some of those edges will start getting

chipped away as you get material from the Justice Department as a product

of this fight that you guys just went through. 

 

Congressman Himes, Intelligence Committee – sir, thanks for your time

tonight.  It`s nice to see you. 

 

HIMES:  Thank you, Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  All right.  One more story ahead here tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Here`s something to keep an eye on.  In just a few hours, polls

are going to open up in Europe, starting in the U.K. and Netherlands as the

elections start up for the European parliament which is the law making arm

of the European Union.  These elections are huge, and they`re going to take

a few days. 

 

But by the end of this weekend, voters in 28 different countries will have

cast their ballots for the European parliament.  Now, grimly, almost

predictably, ahead of these elections, we have fresh reporting on Russia

using social media to try to undermine support for mainstream parties in

those elections, trying to bolster misinformation generally, trying to

bolster specifically the far right parties that want to destroy the

European Union from within. 

 

Just in the past few days, we`ve seen is the government of one E.U.

country, the government of Austria, we`ve seen that government collapse

over attempts by far right officials in that country to make secret deals

with the Kremlin and them getting caught doing it. 

 

The Austrian government basically collapsed today in the midst of that

Russia-related scandal, literally on the eve of the European parliament

elections. 

 

What happened to the U.S. in 2016 with Russia interfering in our election,

spreading misinformation, trying to spread distrust of mainstream politics,

trying to promote the extremes, that didn`t stand alone.  It`s not just an

American problem.  This is as ongoing global thing that Russia is doing. 

 

At a hearing in Congress yesterday, experts tried to warn the United States

that this is both scary stuff and we should see the American victimization

along these lines as in keeping with what`s going on globally. 

 

The elections kicking off tomorrow in the Europe are the next phase, next

show.  People who follow this stuff say that what we`re seeing happening

there is a preview of what Russia will try to do here again.  Tomorrow, in

the show, we`re going to bring you a special report on how this is

unfolding, and what we can learn from it. 

 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again for that show tomorrow. 

 

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”. 

 

Good evening, Lawrence. 

 

                                                                                                               

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