One on One with SC Dem Jaime Harrison. TRANSCRIPT: 5/28/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CORAL DAVENPORT, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You get very severe
impacts. Lots of warming.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: Right.
DAVENPORT: Severe drought, rising sea levels. And that`s what they`re
proposing essentially to eliminate, to just not show.
HAYES: Just make us blind out into the future past that when everything
really, really bad may start happening.
Coral Davenport and Dan Kanninen, thank you both so much.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Just back from the long weekend, from the Memorial Day holiday. You can
see where I missed my sunscreen right there. It`s like a smiley face right
here. Yes, can`t do anything about it. Makeup only has its limits really.
We`re just back from the long holiday weekend. Already, the news cycle is
cranked right back up again like it never happened. Today, Planned
Parenthood sounded the alarm that they think for the first time since Roe
versus Wade, an American state is about to go to zero abortion clinics.
Zero abortion providers.
The Republican governor of Missouri last week signed one of these draconian
new abortion bans that all the Republican-controlled states are passing
now. Missouri before that was already down to only one clinic that
provides abortions in that entire state. And that`s a big state. Well,
today that clinic announced that the state of Missouri also appears to be
denying them a renewal of their license, which they need to operate in that
state. And that means by the end of this week, Republicans for the first
time believe they may have succeeded in one American state in banning
Again, this is this week, the last clinic in Missouri may be shutting down.
They appear to have achieved an abortion ban in Missouri both in law with
the new law just signed by the state`s governor and also in practice, by
closing down this last clinic that the Republican-controlled government
there had allowed to operate and stay open.
So, the doctor who operates that last clinic, who believes her clinic may
be getting shut down in the next 72 hours, she`s going to be our guest here
tonight in just a few minutes. You will definitely want to see that
You should also know that at the end of this hour, we are going to South
Carolina, where Democratic presidential contender and U.S. Senator Kamala
Harris is going to be doing a live town hall tonight in Spartanburg, South
This Kamala Harris town hall is going to be moderated by the great Lawrence
O`Donnell. And again, it will start right at the end of this hour tonight.
I have made an unfortunate habit of frequently sloshing my show over the
top of the hour into the beginning of Lawrence`s show where I chat with him
about whatever`s going on in the news. Tonight, I have to be very
disciplined and remember that I cannot do that because Lawrence is there in
Spartanburg live in this big room full of South Carolina voters ready to do
this town hall with Senator Harris. We are all very, very excited about
Now, as part of my own show prep for that South Carolina town hall tonight,
we are also going to be joined this hour by the charismatic, ambitious,
smart young man who until recently was the Democratic Party`s chairman in
South Carolina. He`s going to be here tonight with sort of a preview of
the tooth-and-nail crucial Democratic presidential primary contest in South
Carolina. Also, Senator Harris`s big event in South Carolina tonight.
Jamie Harrison, though, is also going to be making some news of his own
right here live on this show in studio tonight. So you are going to want
to see that interview.
As I said, there`s a lot going on, particularly for the first day back from
the holiday weekend everything is just flat out already. And you should
expect that this is going to be a busy and newsy week all week long. One
thing to keep in mind is that by the end of this week, a federal judge has
ordered that the Justice Department has to make public some of the redacted
material from the Mueller report. This was the judge in the Mike Flynn
case, who set a deadline of this Friday, this week for the Justice
Department to unredact any portion of the Mueller report that relates to
the ongoing criminal case against Trump national security adviser Mike
That same judge has also ordered the Justice Department to release to the
public the transcripts of conversations that Mike Flynn secretly had with
the Russian government about sanctions during the presidential transition.
These are the conversations that the whole Trump transition team lied
about, everyone from Sean Spicer to Vice President Mike Pence to K.T.
McFarland to Flynn himself. They all lied about these conversations and
said they never happened.
We still don`t know why they were all lying about those conversations. But
those conversations between Flynn and the Russians did happen during the
transition. We know that in part because Flynn has since pled guilty to
lying to the FBI about those conversations.
Well, there are transcripts of what was said in those communications
between Flynn and the Russian government. We are going to get those
transcripts publicly released thanks to a federal judge`s order by the end
of this week, along with the stuff the attorney general redacted from
Mueller`s report that pertains to Mike Flynn and the case against him.
So, you know, expect things to be nutty this week and to get even nuttier
as this short week rolls forward over the next few days.
Tonight already, it has been a little bit upside down. In the great city
of Grand Rapids, Michigan – this is a photo from Jonathan Oosting, a
reporter from the “Detroit News.” He shot this at a town hall in Grand
Rapids for a very conservative member of Congress, a member of Congress
named Justin Amash.
You can see the signs there: Thank you for speaking truth to power.
Country over politics. Thank you. Thankful for your courage, Justin.
These are constituents of Republican Congressman Justin Amash from
Michigan, and they are thanking him for a lonely and increasingly high-
profile stand that he has been taking for the past few days. A stand that
his colleagues in Congress are attacking him for, that the president is
attacking him for, that his own party`s leadership is increasingly
attacking him for.
But he is sticking to his guns about it, and it`s interesting. As this has
moved on into what is now a second week of this lonely stand from
Republican Congressman Justin Amash, it`s becoming sort of a touchstone in
the country. I think it`s becoming an important touchstone in American
politics even for the Democrats who are running for president this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, every day
we wake up and there`s news. It`s not always good. Except I was just
going to say we actually got some interesting news late last night, and
that is Congressman Justin Amash – hold on – has read the Mueller report.
And he said once he read it, the only conclusion he could draw is that
Donald Trump obstructed justice multiple times and the House should
Now, I`ll be blunt. There`s not much that I agree with Justin Amash on.
He`s a very conservative congressman, a libertarian. We don`t always see
eye to eye.
But there are two things we agree completely on. And the first is that
every member of Congress should read the Mueller report.
And two, that the rule of law applies even to the president of the United
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Massachusetts Democratic senator and presidential candidate,
Elizabeth Warren, speaking recently in New Hampshire. Those comments from
Senator Warren were right after Congressman Justin Amash freaked out
everybody`s partisan expectations when he went online really without any
warning and – well, he posted this first. Again, no sort of warm-up, no
setup here. He just jumped right in.
Here are my principal conclusions. Number one, Attorney General Barr has
deliberately misrepresented Mueller`s report. Number two, President Trump
has engaged in impeachable contact. Number three, partisanship has eroded
our system of checks and balances. And number four, few members of
Congress have read Mueller`s report.
I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller`s redacted report
carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and
testimony and having discussed this matter with my staff. In comparing
Attorney General William Barr`s principal conclusions, congressional
testimony and other statements to Mueller`s actual report, it`s clear that
Barr intended to mislead the public about special counsel Robert Mueller`s
analysis and findings.
Now, at this point you`re reading along. Where`s this coming from? You`re
thinking this is going to be interesting. This is a conservative
And so, you know, number one, how long is he going to go on with this? Is
he really going where it seems like he`s going with this? I mean, it
signals – he`s giving signals here that he`s going right to the – yes,
that`s exactly where he`s going.
Quote: Contrary to Barr`s portrayal, Mueller`s report reveals that
President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that
meet the threshold for impeachment. In fact, Mueller`s report identifies
multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of
justice and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United
States would be indicted based on such evidence. Few members of Congress
even read Mueller`s report. Their minds were made up based on partisan
affiliation, and it showed with senators and representatives from both
parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report`s conclusions
within just hours of its release. America`s institutions depend on
officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system,
even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically
Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome. It deserves a government to
So, that`s how he started it. That was last weekend. Political backlash,
of course, was instant. The president himself got online and jumped all
over Congressman Amash and started insulting him. The leader of the
Republicans in the House went on Fox News and started trashing Congressman
Amash. Immediately, a pro-Trump guy in Amash`s district announced that he
would primary the congressman and run against him next year.
But despite that immediate backlash, Amash stuck with it. He went right
back online, right back to explaining what he read in Mueller`s report.
What he found so disturbing about it. And what he thinks the
administration is trying to sell the public about the investigation and the
report that isn`t true.
Two days after his initial blast he says this. Quote: People who say there
were no underlying crimes and therefore the president could not have
intended to illegally obstruct the investigation and therefore can`t be
impeached, those people are resting their argument on several falsehoods.
One, they say there were no underlying crimes. In fact, there were many
crimes revealed by the investigation, some of which were charged and some
of which were not but are nonetheless described in Mueller`s report. Two,
they say obstruction of justice requires an underlying crime. In fact,
obstruction of justice does not require the prosecution of any underlying
And then he goes on like that in that same vein. Tweet after tweet after
tweet, arguing that factually these obstruction of justice claims against
President Trump are really serious claims that appear to be quite well-
substantiated. And they are exactly the kind of conduct for which the
constitution prescribes impeachment of a president.
So, a second day of Amash doing this online. The president in response up-
scales his backlash, starts telling reporters how terrible Justin Amash is
and what a loser he thinks this Republican congressman is. And then more
of the Republican leadership in Congress start telling reporters how
terrible their own congressman is and how terrible this thing is that he`s
But even after that second round of backlash, he just keeps going. We get
another round from the congressman. Quote: Mueller`s report describes a
consistent effort by the president to use his office to obstruct or
otherwise corruptly impede the Russian election interference investigation
because it put his interests at risk. The president has an obligation not
to violate the public trust including using official powers for corrupt
purposes. For instance, presidents have the authority to nominate judges,
but a president couldn`t select someone to nominate because they promised
the president money.
This principle extends to all the president`s powers including the
authority over federal investigations, federal officials, and pardons.
President Trump had an incentive to undermine the investigation into
Russian interference in the 2016 election, which included investigating
contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. This investigation
threatened to uncover information including criminal activity that could
put Trump`s interests at risk.
Ultimately, the investigation did uncover very unflattering information
about the president and his family, his associates, his campaign, and his
business. It also revealed criminal activities, some of which were
committed by people in Trump`s orbit and some on Trump`s behalf.
The investigation began before the president was elected and inaugurated,
after Trump assumed the powers of the presidency, Mueller`s report shows
that he used those powers to try to obstruct and impede the investigation.
Amash then lays out in detail a bunch of the behavior by the president that
Mueller`s report lays out as potentially criminal obstruction of justice.
He goes through them one by one by one by one. And then he concludes with
Some of the president`s actions were inherently corrupt. Other actions
were corrupt and therefore impeachable because the president took those
actions to serve his own interests.
Quote: The president has authority to fire federal officials, direct his
subordinates, and grant pardons. But he cannot do so for corrupt purposes.
Imagine if every member of Congress read the Mueller report. I mean,
here`s one guy who actually did. Look what it did to him.
Today, after these remarkable few days we`ve had from Congressman Amash,
when he has come out as a member of Congress who has read Mueller`s report
and he`s willing to say that he finds it terrifically alarming, today,
Congressman Amash knew that he would be facing his constituents back home
in his Republican district in Michigan.
Now, we have covered town halls in Justin Amash`s district before. They
have tended to be feisty affairs. This is one we covered in January of
2017 when he and his constituents had one of the sort of gnarlier town
halls on the issue of health care and repealing Obama care.
But today, he knew he was going home to talk to his voters to do another
town hall in his district after he became the first Republican to say he
read Mueller`s report and he believed it was clear the president has
committed impeachable offenses and the administration is trying to cover it
up and Congress shouldn`t let them get away with it.
So, how did he prepare to meet his constituents to talk about this at his
town hall today? It seemed the kind of backlash he`s already had from his
own party and the president and the leadership of his own party, how did he
prepare for his town hall today knowing his constituents are going right
there with him face to face and he would have to explain exactly what this
whole controversy is about? What did he do to prepare?
He freaking kept it up. A new storm of statements today from Justin Amash
ahead of this town hall saying today that Attorney General William Barr
deliberately misrepresented key aspects of Mueller`s report and decisions
in the investigation which helped further the president`s false narrative
about the investigation.
Amash today said despite William Barr trying to create a contrary public
impression, quote, in fact, Mueller finds considerable evidence that
several of Trump`s actions detailed in the report meet the elements of
obstruction. He says today that Barr gave misleading testimony to Congress
and both in Barr`s testimony and in his public statements he, quote, used
further misrepresentations to help build the president`s false narrative
that the investigation was unjustified.
Quote: In truth, Mueller`s report describes concerning contacts between
members of Trump`s campaign and people in or connected to the Russian
government. It is wrong to suggest that the fact that Mueller didn`t
choose into diet anyone for this means there wasn`t a basis to investigate,
whether it amounted to a crime or collusion or whether it was in fact part
of Russia`s efforts to help Trump`s candidacy.
Justin Amash today then rips William Barr for saying that President Trump
cooperated with the investigation when Trump most assuredly did no such
And then he ends with this. Quote: Barr has so far successfully used his
position to sell the president`s false narrative to the American people.
This will continue if those who have read the report do not start pushing
back on his misrepresentations and share the truth.
Click, send. And then it`s time to go home to meet with his constituents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, I wanted to say a comment and then I`ve got a
question. First, I wanted to salute your courage.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI): Thank you. Thanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s coming from 50 years ago today me and six
other comrades were blown up in Vietnam and one was killed, 50 years ago
AMASH: Very sorry. Thank you for your service.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other – now my question.
AMASH: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question. Is there anything in the constitution or
can we amend it where the electorate gets a mulligan?
AMASH: So – no, I don`t – I don`t know if that`s a serious question. We
don`t get a mulligan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I don`t know if this is how Congressman Amash expected this to go
today. But he literally got a standing ovation from the moment he walked
in the room. And then he got another standing ovation, the one you saw
And the way this has gone tonight, he has just not backed down from making
this case. And it kind of seems like it`s going over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMASH: I think it`s really important that we do our job as a Congress,
that we not allow misconduct to go undeterred, that we not just say someone
can violate the public trust –
And that there are no consequences to it. And if you get a chance, I
encourage you all to read the tweets where it lays all of this out.
Mueller`s report lays all of this out.
And I`m confident that if you read volume 2, you`ll be appalled at much of
the conduct. And I was appalled by it. And that`s why I stated what I
stated. That`s why I came to that conclusion, because I think we can`t go
– we can`t let conduct like that go unchecked.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I appreciate your courage and I`m wondering what the
next steps would be to ask for an impeachment inquiry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our question is although we – it`s found in the
Mueller report that Trump has made impeachable offenses, we want to know,
because the impeachment process can take so long, that because of the 2020
election, if impeachment process is worth the time that it takes because
the election`s coming up and it takes – it`s such a lengthy process.
AMASH: Yes. So this is a great question. And it`s something that
everyone has to wrestle with. And, you know, I wrestled with this issue
quite a bit because to me the comment was obviously impeachable. So, the
question then was, do you then move forward with impeachment proceedings?
And my biggest concern, I thought about this for a long time. Like I said,
I spent a month reviewing, analyzing, thinking about it. And I am
concerned that we`ve gotten to the point where impeachment may never be
used in any circumstance. And I think that is a greater risk than the risk
that it will be used too often.
As an example, in the Mueller report, he asked the White House counsel to
create a false record. Things like that, to basically mislead people about
a statement he had made, things like that to me reflect incredible
dishonesty and really harm the office of the presidency. And I don`t think
I don`t think that you can just let that stuff go and say, hey, it`s no big
deal, we`re going to have an election in two years and just let it go. I
think you have to have proceedings to deter this kind of conduct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican Congressman Justin Amash at his home district tonight
in Michigan. That footage is just from a little while ago tonight.
Incidentally, I should tell you, for specific geographic context here, like
really specific geographic context, the room where the congressman is
holding this event tonight has a name. You can see it there on the brick
fascia. It`s called the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Arts and
Worship. It`s the DeVos Center at a local Christian high school, funded by
the DeVos family – as in Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education in the
Trump administration. Her family built this building.
The reason that`s important tonight is because since Congressman Amash read
the Mueller report and started speaking his mind about it and talking in
the terms that you heard him talk tonight, the DeVos family has announced
that they will cut him off and never give him another dime. They have been
major supporters of Congressman Amash in his home district. The very room
he`s standing in tonight to face his constituents is named for the DeVos
family and was funded by them just in case he needs another concrete
reminder of all the ways his own party and this administration is going to
try to shut him up.
But so far, it`s not working. And as of tonight, his constituents are
apparently prepared to hear that case that he is making.
I`m telling you, this is going to be a little bit of a busy week. Lots to
get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Behold the running of the interns. Every time a major Supreme
Court decision gets handed down, we get this arcane, almost sporty
spectacle where interns for all the news networks wait at the courthouse to
get hot off the presses decisions. They then physically run those rulings
from inside (AUDIO GAP) across the plaza where the networks` reporters are
standing by ready to speed-read the newly published rulings and then report
the verdicts live on the air.
The running of the interns. Everybody get your suits and your sneakers on.
Suits and sneakers.
That footage is sort of iconic when it comes to important Supreme Court
decisions. But, you know, you almost never get a vantage point from inside
the court. Today, though, we found some of that rare footage.
Look at this. These were all the runners waiting outside the Supreme Court
press room. Other members of the press are actually inside the press room
huddled in there five people deep. Once the clerk in that press office
gets the phone call from upstairs that the ruling can be officially
released, it`s on. In this case the clerk actually shouts “let`s go.”
And then the copies of the ruling fly out the door and they fleet-foot
their way down the steps. This actual footage, this rare footage from
inside the court is from June 29, 1992. The reason the reporters (AUDIO
GAP) in the Supreme Court press room that day and all the interns were
ready to run the rulings down the stairs, is because that day the court was
deciding on the biggest women`s rights case since Roe versus Wade, a 1992
case called Planned Parenthood versus Casey.
Planned Parenthood versus Casey upheld a woman`s right to get an abortion
in this country, but it upheld it by the narrowest of margins and it said
that Roe versus Wade could stand but states could apply restrictions on
access to abortion. They could restrict access to abortion, however the
states saw fit, as long as they didn`t cross the line by creating what the
Supreme Court called an undue burden on a woman`s right to get an abortion.
Well, what constitutes an undue burden?
In the decades since Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Republican-controlled
states have tried everything conceivable to test that national definition
of undue burden. They`ve tested it in every conceivable way, come up with
more and more and more elaborate and arcane restrictions that make it more
and more impossible for an American woman to actually get an abortion if
she wants one. Everything from mandatory waiting periods to state-mandated
pelvic exams, to banning widely used abortion methods, to targeting clinics
with arcane licensing provisions that are designed to make it impossible
for them to stay open as long as they`re providing abortions.
As a result, there are now six states in this country that have only one
abortion clinic in the whole state. One of those states is the great state
of Missouri. Ten years ago, Missouri had five clinics. Now, it`s down to
one. Ten years, five. Now it`s one.
And as of tonight, that state is at risk of losing even that one last
clinic. Missouri tonight is at risk of being the first state without a
functioning abortion clinic since 1973, when Roe versus Wade was decided 46
years ago. Last week, Monday of last week, the Missouri department of
health notified the one remaining clinic in the state, the Planned
Parenthood clinic, the state was about to take away its license.
The clinic`s license is set to expire this Friday, i.e. 72 hours from now.
Planned Parenthood`s already filed a lawsuit requesting a restraining order
against the state. They`re hoping to restore the license and avoid service
disruption. A circuit court judge is going to hear arguments in that case
But as of right now, if this goes the way the state of Missouri wants it
to, as of right now, we are looking at the very real prospect of by the end
of this week the first state effectively banning legal abortion in this
country. The first state to have done in the nearly 50 years since Roe
versus Wade supposedly protected access to abortion as an American women`s
Joining us now is Dr. Colleen McNicholas. She`s a board certified OB-GYN
and abortion provider at Planned Parenthood St. Louis, which is the last
remaining abortion clinic in the state of Missouri.
Dr. McNicholas, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate your
DR. COLLEEN MCNICHOLAS, PLANNED PARENTHOOD REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES:
Thanks for having me, Rachel. This is clearly a pivotal moment for
Missourians and for really most of the country.
MADDOW: I was struck by the language tonight from the Planned Parenthood
president Leana Wen, who was actually a guest of ours on the show not long
ago, who said this is not a drill, this is a real public health emergency.
How – on a scale of 1 to 100, how concerned are you that you will not be
allowed to provide abortion services in Missouri and no other doctor will
either by the end of this week?
MCNICHOLAS: Well, Missouri is certainly poised within the next 72 hours to
be the only state in our nation to not have access to abortion. And we
know just from history that that has dramatic effects on people`s health
MADDOW: In terms of the state`s game plan here, obviously, this was sort
of sent up as a flare today. You and Planned Parenthood letting the
national press know that this is happening and on a very, very tight
How long have you known that the state might be trying to essentially
unlicense your clinic? How long have you known that this week might be the
deadline by which time they were going to try to stop you from practicing
MCNICHOLAS: Well, I have to tell you, Rachel, this happens for us every
single year. We have been subject to inspections every year for as long as
I can remember, and each year, the sort of stakes get higher and higher and
the tactics get more aggressive. We certainly have found this year that we
are competing with what seems to be a never-ending, changing interpretation
of their own regulations, which really just make it impossible for us to
even be able to comply.
MADDOW: In terms of the services that you provide in Missouri, obviously,
if the state no longer has a facility that provides legal abortions, the
concern is that women who want to have an abortion will turn to illegal
means. Also, there is an expectation that`s been articulated by some of
the justices that are on the Supreme Court now, that they think that losing
abortion access in certain parts of the country is no big deal because
women can just travel, they can go elsewhere and if you can`t get an
abortion in Missouri, that`s no big deal, you can get an abortion in a
What`s your feeling about those arguments?
MCNICHOLAS: Well, that`s certainly an argument of the privileged for sure.
You know, we have seen across the states that have these most restrictive
laws that people who are most disadvantaged, people of color, people who
live in rural areas, people who struggle to make ends meet already have
limited or no access to abortion. Eliminating that care in states like
Missouri means that those women, those people are not going to be able to
access abortion at all.
It`s never been a problem for people of means to be able to access
abortion. But it is the most disadvantaged people that are going to have
the most trouble.
MADDOW: In terms of what may happen in Missouri this week, obviously, it
would be a very serious landmark for the first state in 46 years to become
a state where it is not possible to legally obtain an abortion. And
Missouri as you say is on the precipice of that.
When you are in contact with other abortion providers around the country,
is there a sense that people are worried Missouri`s first but this is about
to happen in other states too?
MCNICHOLAS: Absolutely. I mean, we certainly are leading the charge here
but we are not the only state that has been subject to sort of state-
sanctioned weaponization of the oversight and licensing process. You know,
the Department of Health is generally staffed by politically appointed
individuals, not elected officials. And so, this has long been a weapon of
the anti-choice movement, to try and shut down clinics.
MADDOW: Dr. Colleen McNicholas from the Planned Parenthood of St. Louis,
which is the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Missouri facing
a loss of its license this week as Missouri`s governor signs into law an
Doctor, I know this week is going to be an incredibly tense time. Please
keep us apprised over these next few days as the court fight makes its way
through the courts and as you and your colleagues are going to try to
figure out how to manage. Thanks for being with us.
MCNICHOLAS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Tonight, at the end of this very hour right here on this network,
U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, is going
to be doing a town hall in South Carolina. That is going to be live right
after me. Lawrence O`Donnell moderating that town hall in Spartanburg.
You are not going to want to miss it.
And that is an event that is important on its own terms. It`s also going
to be a really interesting sort of strategic window into the overall
presidential campaign right now because I`ve been pointing this out for a
while now but I can`t overstate how important it is that this is the sort
of insane primary calendar that the Democrats are using to pick their
nominee this year. Basically the whole process is all crammed into a
First week of February, Iowa votes. Second week of February, it`s New
Hampshire. Third week of February, it`s Nevada. Fourth week of February,
they`ll vote in South Carolina. Those are the four protected early states.
But then it`s three days after South Carolina when all of these other
states vote, including the gigantic states of Texas and California. States
in recent years that have held their primaries much later on in the
But now, boom, they`re right there at the end of that one month of voting
which means in all likelihood that once Democrats start voting with that
first contest in Iowa going on to those first four early contests, once
Democrats start voting, they`re going to pick their nominee really fast –
which puts an even hotter spotlight than usual on those four early states
And I think it particularly puts a spotlight on South Carolina, the fourth
of the four early states. The three – it`s just three days before that
huge Super Tuesday vote this year that again will include California and
And South Carolina is important on its own terms. It`s important because
it`s early. It`s important crucially because the African-American
electorate and the enthusiasm – the enthusiasm of African-American voters
to turn out in the primary and crucially in the general election, that is
an existential do-or-die question for the eventual Democratic nominee. And
South Carolina because of its demographics is really the first real test of
Unless you`ve got a Democratic nominee that absolutely excites and speaks
to and mobilizes the African-American community all across this country,
you are not going to have any chance of having a Democratic president in
the White House in 2020. The first and crucial test of that is going to be
So, South Carolina has to play this incredibly important role in this
squished 2020 primary calendar. Ever since we sort of realized what that
calendar was going to look like, there`s been somebody I`ve been really
very much looking forward to talking to about it.
If you`re a long-time viewer of the show, you might remember that ahead of
the South Carolina primary in 2016, which Hillary Clinton ended up running
away with by a margin of nearly 50 points, before that 2016 primary in
South Carolina, we took this show to South Carolina to talk to the
charismatic, young, and very ambitious Democratic party chairman in that
state. A man by the name of Jaime Harrison, who made an intriguing case to
me and to our show that although South Carolina looks deep red from the
outside, Democrats should see it as winnable for statewide votes including
for a presidential vote.
Jaime Harrison ended up serving two terms as state chairman. He went on to
make a run for Democratic Party chairman nationwide.
Tonight, he`s here for the interview. He has political news of his own
about South Carolina, which is sort of starting to feel like it`s the
center of the political universe again. The former Democratic Party
chairman from that state, Jaime Harrison, joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)
JAIME HARRISON (D), SOUTH CAROLINA DNC ASSOCIATE CHAIRMAN: My story is my
Lindsey Graham`s story is just comical.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Donald Trump, I think he`s a kook. I think
His policies are really bad for the country.
He`s not fit to be president of the United States.
He`s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.
SUBTITLE: A short while later –
GRAHAM: No, I don`t think he`s a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious
I like the president.
I am like the happiest dude in America right now.
I am all in. Keep it up, Donald. I`m sure you`re watching.
He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize and then some.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is a portion of a brand new campaign video that has just
become public today. In fact just become public tonight. It was created
by Jaime Harrison, who joins us now for “The Interview”. He`s the former
chairman of the Democratic Party in South Carolina.
Mr. Harrison, it`s nice to see you.
HARRISON: It`s good seeing you, Rachel. Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: So, we just let the cat out of the bag there a little bit.
HARRISON: Yes. So, the formal announcement will take place tomorrow
HARRISON: I`ll be back in South Carolina tonight and it`s going to be
tomorrow morning where I will formally announce that I`m running for the
United States Senate for South Carolina against Lindsey Graham.
MADDOW: Now, when I spoke with you in 2016 ahead of that remarkable 2016
Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina, one of the things we
spent a long time talking about was South Carolina`s Democratic bench.
MADDOW: The effect that it has on politics in that state that the state is
seen as a red state.
MADDOW: It`s seen as a Republican-dominant state. And so, people who
might – who are Democrats, who might be inclined toward political service
leave the state and seek it elsewhere.
MADDOW: It doesn`t seem like fertile territory. You`ve clearly decided
that that`s not true for you.
HARRISON: No, it`s not true for me. And you remember, I talked about a
Clyburn fellowship that I`d created that year. We have now trained 125
young people in every county in South Carolina, trained them to run for
So, now, we have newly elected members of the state house, school board,
county council, people who sit on boards of trustees. They`re Clyburn
fellows. And many of them now are running the presidential campaigns that
the 20-some-odd presidential candidates have in South Carolina.
So, we are really leading this whole new South as we talked about.
HARRISON: And I hope to be a part of that story with this campaign.
MADDOW: In terms of all those multitudinous Democratic presidential
candidates who are running this year, obviously, you`re being showered with
some attention in South Carolina. That does provide among other things
opportunities for Democrats in the state to latch themselves to national
Is it constructive thus far this year? Do you feel like the Democratic
Party gets South Carolina, that the candidates are talking to the right
people, making the right pitches, doing the right amount of listening in
the right kind of places?
HARRISON: They are, Rachel.
I am so proud of the campaigns that these candidates are running. They are
going to every part of South Carolina. So they`re not just going to
Columbia and Greenville and Charleston, the big cities. But they`re going
to small counties – Oconee County, Jasper County, Barnwell County. And
they`re talking to constituents about all types of issues.
Just in Denmark recently, I went there because they have a problem. I know
you did so much great work on the Flint water issue. We have a problem in
Denmark, South Carolina, a small town near my hometown of Orangeburg where
they`ve been putting this chemical in the water for ten years. People`s
hair is falling out and those types of things.
And so, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, a number of these
candidates donated water and supplies, and really are talking about these
environmental justice issues. And that`s really, really important.
MADDOW: In terms of the state`s overall political cast, I think Democrats
from outside the state look at South Carolina and they are pleased that
South Carolina is an early state because it really affords the first test
of whether or not candidates are mobilizing, speaking to, and learning from
HARRISON: That`s exactly right.
MADDOW: Which is such an important part of the Democratic electorate.
It`s existential, right? You either – you win if you have it and you lose
if you don`t.
I think the other thing, though, that`s interesting is the ideological
diversity in the Democratic Party in South Carolina.
MADDOW: You`ve got the complete range of very conservative to very liberal
HARRISON: Exactly right. Listen, and particularly in the African-American
So, you know, African-Americans will make up 60 percent up 60 percent of
the primary vote, but I could say in that community, there is a lot of
generational differences between older African-Americans and younger
African-Americans on a whole variety of issues, from the issues of the
environment to the issue about school and whether or not we should provide
it for free or not, to the issues about equality and rights.
I mean, there are a lot of diversity within those communities, and so, I
think the candidates are getting an opportunity to see that you can`t just
bring a canned message and think that that`s going to resonate in the
African-American community because the diversity that we see in the nation
is the diversity that you see within that community.
MADDOW: Now, when you think about running against Senator Lindsey Graham -
- obviously, he`s an institution in the state.
HARRISON: He is.
MADDOW: And he`s been in office for a long time. The Trump era has been a
little weird in Lindsey Graham years.
HARRISON: A little.
MADDOW: Do you think that the senator`s 180 degree u-turn on President
Trump potentially gives you the chance to earn some crossover votes?
HARRISON: Well, I do, Rachel. You know, you know my story. I grew up in
Orangeburg, South Carolina, small rural town.
My mom was 16 years old and dropped out of high school to have me. My
grandparents helped take care of me. They had very limited education. But
they taught me the value of hard work, the value of helping others, being
your brother and sister`s keeper. They also taught me about the value of
What we`re seeing with Lindsey Graham right now, it makes you question his
character. I used to this was a guy who was a statesman, right? A guy who
could stand above the fray and help solve the issues.
But I`m seeing that he`s what George Will called a political windsock.
He`s a chameleon that has changed his colors. We are on the verge, we saw
with Stacey, with saw with Andrew, we`re on the verge of a renaissance in
the South, a new South.
And I really hope people will join me in this effort. You know, go to my
Website, jaimeharrison.com. Jaime`s spelled J-A-I-M-E.
But we are really on the verge of changing something. And we`ve seen in
recent elections in South Carolina. We picked up a congressional seat. We
picked up a state Senate seat. We picked up a number of House seats when
the pundits in D.C. didn`t think we had a shot they think, oh, it`s ruby
red, South Carolina. They can`t win anything.
Well, we`re winning ion South Carolina. It`s all about investing and
MADDOW: Jaime Harrison. His name is spelled J-A-I-M-E.
HARRISON: Like Jaime.
MADDOW: Thank you, sir.
HARRIS: Rachel, thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Tonight, there is some interesting breaking news concerning
Democratic congressman and presidential contender Seth Moulton. If you
know anything about Congressman Moulton and his run for president, you
probably know that he is a highly decorated marine, a combat veteran who
served multiple tours in Iraq. Tonight, for the first time, Congressman
Moulton has said publicly that he sought help for post-traumatic stress
disorder following his combat deployments during the Iraq war.
He says, quote: I had some particular experiences or regrets from the war
that I just thought about every day and occasionally I would have bad
dreams or wake up in a cold sweat. It took me awhile to appreciate that I
was dealing with post traumatic stress and I was dealing with an experience
that a lot of other veterans have.
In 2009, Congressman Moulton told “Politico” tonight, that he started
seeing a therapist weekly. Congressman Moulton says even though he is
handling his post-traumatic stress now, he still sees a therapist at least
once a month.
In revealing all of this super personal stuff, in revealing this own
personal story of his own, Congressman Moulton is announcing he`s rolling
out a new proposal to expand health services for the military and for
veterans. His policy includes regular mental health checkups in addition
to physicals for active duty military and veterans, including a mandatory
counseling session for all troops within two weeks of returning home from a
There`s lots of people running in this election, but running on something,
running on an issue, that is the type of thing that sets you apart as a
candidate. And when somebody`s made it as personal and revealing as
Congressman Moulton has tonight, that will have an impact, both on the
issue and on his prospects.
I`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I promised I would do it and I`m doing it. I`m determined to
absolutely positively not step on Lawrence`s show time tonight because he
is all ready to start the MSNBC town hall in Spartanburg, South Carolina,
with Kamala Harris.
Lawrence O`Donnell is the moderator of that town hall and it starts right
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the