Some 2020 candidates calling for impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 6/6/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The great city of St. Louis sits right up against the Mississippi River.
The city basically hugs the western bank of the Mississippi for this big,
long, bend in the river.
And during the Industrial Revolution, that geography presented a
fundamental logistical problem for St. Louis because in the Industrial
Revolution, yes, it was still very handy for a big city to have all that
frontage on the Mississippi for the purpose of, you know, conveying things
by river, by water, but when it came to not going north/south on the
Mississippi, when it came to going east/west across it, well, the
mightiness of the Mississippi became a problem because you can`t lay
railroad tracks on top of a river.
And so, in the mid-19th century, as new American railroads were spreading
out from sea to shining sea, all over the United States, St. Louis found
itself kind of geographically cut off from the future of commerce and the
future of transit that would be defined by all those new railroad tracks.
And so, the city of St. Louis hired somebody to fix that. His name was
James Buchanan Eads. E-A-D-S. He was a self-taught engineer. He had
never built a bridge before in his life, but in 1867, St. Louis hired him,
anyway, and he built the city a lifeline.
What Eads built St. Louis was the first steel trust bridge anywhere in the
world. It carried trains, had train tracks on it and horses and people in
wagons. It made it a technological marvel at the time. There was no
bridge like this anywhere else on earth.
That bridge that Eads built, it took seven years to build. It cost $10
million, which you can think of in today`s dollars as basically the price
to go to Mars, plus a bag of chips. But they did it.
And on the Fourth of July in 1874, on the day the United States of America
turned 98 years old, the Eads Bridge opened up to bridge St. Louis across
the Mississippi, to bridge St. Louis and Missouri to the rest of the
country, to bridge St. Louis to the railroads. For a nickel, they would
even let you walk across it.
Well, that bridge is still there today, still in use. She can still take
the train across or drive across it. You can still walk across it if you
want to. Although there are no more tolls so if you walk it now, you can
keep your nickel.
The Eads Bridge has since been designated a national landmark, a living,
working monument to the ingenuity and the effort and the expense that it
took to literally bridge that divide across the Mississippi between
Missouri and Illinois on the far bank.
And now that bridge, the Eads ridge, is about to become a lifeline again
for a reason that feels both very, very modern and also if you`re a woman
in St. Louis, if you`re a woman in Missouri, this may well also feel sort
of ancient at the same time.
Over the last few weeks, the Republican-controlled government in Missouri
has come very close to ending legal abortion access in the entire state of
Missouri. With a new conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court,
Missouri is one of a whole bunch of Republican-controlled states where
Republican governors have recently signed laws that effectively ban
abortion. Missouri`s new abortion ban is slated to go into effect in
August, if it`s not blocked by the courts by then.
But in Missouri, they`ve also got something else going on that is a little
special. Even before the new ban that was just signed by the governor,
over the course of the last decade, Republican lawmakers in Missouri have
all but canceled access to legal abortion in their state through a series
of cuts. They have – they have passed targeted laws aimed at shutting
down abortion providers and those laws have led to clinic after clinic
after clinic shutting down. Sort of the death by a thousand cuts.
Missouri now has only one abortion provider left in the entire state, at
Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. And now, the state government is on the
cusp of shutting that last clinic down as well which, of course, has become
national news because that means Missouri is closing in on its ultimate
goal of becoming the first state since Roe versus Wade in 1973, the first
state in America to go totally dark in terms of legal abortion.
Now, Planned Parenthood is currently fighting it out in the courts to try
to stop the state government from revoking that clinic`s license. So they
can keep that clinic`s doors open. We`ve been covering that all this week,
in particular, because that court fight is live. It`s still up in the air
right now tonight. We are still waiting for the judge`s ruling on whether
the clinic is going to be allowed to keep its license which the state
government is trying to take away.
If Missouri`s sole abortion provider is forced by the state to go dark,
women in Missouri will have to leave the state. They will have to cross
state lines in order to access a legal abortion. From St. Louis, the next
closest place for Missouri women to get an abortion will be across the
Mississippi at this, the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Illinois.
Hope Clinic is across the Mississippi River. It`s about 10 miles east of
St. Louis. They provide legal abortions to more than 3,000 women every
And even though Missouri`s last clinic still as of this moment can keep
their lights on with their license hanging by a thread, the staff at Hope
Clinic across the river in Illinois, they tell us they`re already feeling
the effects of that fight in Missouri, from their spot all the way across
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTINA GOODBRAKE, HOPE CLINIC FOR WOMEN MEDICAL SECRETARY: A lot of
people have been calling for Missouri asking if we`re still open, if that
they have to be under eight weeks to get the procedure. Are they going to
go to jail if they come over here to get the procedure? If they have to be
an Illinois resident.
TRMS PRODUCER: Are people scared?
GOODBRAKE: They are very scared.
TRMS PRODUCER: What do you tell them?
GOODBRAKE: I tell them as of right now, Illinois is a safe place to have a
safe abortion and we`re going to be open as long as we can and they`ll give
us a call if they need us.
ARYN HANEBRINK, HOPE CLINIC FOR WOMEN MEDICAL SECRETARY: I`ve had girls
break down in tears when I told them they can still come over here. I
mean, they are traveling quite a bit, but for the most part, it`s relief.
It`s usually very relieving for them. When they find out that they can
still get this access here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Right now, more than half the patients that are coming through the
Hope Clinic are coming from Missouri. The Hope Clinic is not a clinic in
I mean, that`s with the last abortion provider in Missouri still up and
running for now. If Republicans in the Missouri state government succeed
in outlawing abortion in that state all together, the number of patients
coming over the river to the Hope Clinic is likely to jump way up which, of
course, would put a huge amount of pressure on the one abortion provider in
southern Illinois that`s already serving a majority of women who are
fleeing restrictions in Missouri which have made abortions hard enough to
get there already even if one clinic still stands.
And so, the Hope Clinic in Illinois has been carefully, quietly, gearing up
in case that break-glass moment comes and it may come at any time.
The Hope Clinic tells us in preparation for the expectation that Missouri
will shut down its last provider, they have doubled their number of doctors
and nurses. They have increased hours. They have added appointment times.
They`ve even increased the number of people answering the phones, which
they say have been ringing off the hook over the last few weeks.
The staff at that Hope Clinic in Illinois is already feeling that pressure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ERIN KING, HOPE CLINIC FOR WOMEN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: This is a crisis
situation. This isn`t just something that could happen, might happen,
people are kind of being all crazy about. This is actually a real
situation and we are seeing patients all day long, every day, both calling,
coming to our clinic in tears because they just can`t get the care that
they need at that time.
If the last clinic in Missouri were to close tomorrow, it would be very
difficult to suddenly accommodate every patient that needed us right away.
Within a month or two`s time, we could, but when you`re talking about a
pregnancy in a crisis situation some of these patients are in, they don`t
often have that much time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, as of tonight, we`re waiting for that judge`s ruling about the
last clinic standing in Missouri. It could come at any time.
And the health care workers and volunteers and doctors in the state next
door, a state that happens to be Democratic controlled in Illinois, we can
report tonight that they are scaling up this fairly massive effort to try
to serve the women of Missouri who may very well be the first American
women to be totally cut off from legal abortion for the first time since
Roe. That Illinois clinic is scaling up rapidly but worried they will not
have the capacity to meet demand if the Missouri governor, Missouri
government, succeeds in shutting down that clinic across the river in St.
So, this is worth watching as that clinic in Illinois tries to scale up,
right, in the realization that they may soon be the constitutional haven
for women from that neighboring state.
That bridge from 19 – from 1874 – forgive me – is about to have a whole
new chapter in U.S. history if that happens.
But it`s interesting, this is why we`re doing this special report tonight.
While we have been reporting on this story, and we`ve been covering the
situation in Missouri and the situation with that last clinic for a while
now, while we were reporting that out, we came into some information that
we did not expect about what is happening in Missouri as this last clinic
is trying to keep its doors open.
Specifically the information that we came into was about something new that
the Missouri state government is ordering must be done to any woman who
seeks an abortion at that last clinic now, as that last clinic fights to
stay in operation in that state.
Now, as I mentioned, already in Missouri, there have been a whole series of
laws designed to make it all but impossible to provide abortions in that
state. They`re down to their last clinic for a reason. Targeted laws
designed to shut down clinics, to make it impossible to work as an abortion
provider in Missouri. Penalties and obstacles that the state government
has put in place to try to make it too hard and too expensive and just too
awkward and difficult and uncomfortable for a woman to get an abortion if
she wants one, despite her constitutional right to do so.
Well, one of those provisions in Missouri is a three-day waiting period.
Now, there`s no medical reason for this at all, but the Republican-
controlled legislature in Missouri decided they would make you take three
full days. So, you have to show up at the clinic and meet with the doctor,
sign a consent form, and then for no medical reason, you then have to go
home or go to a hotel if you`re far from home, and there, you have to wait
for three or more days before you are allowed to then come back and actual
get the procedure done.
So you want an abortion? Go sit in the penalty box for three days first.
Oh, do you have is to travel a long way to get to the clinic because
there`s only one in your entire state?
Is it difficult for you to take triple the time off work, double the drive,
double the childcare to make this trip twice? Good. Good. That`s the
idea. That`s part of the way we want to make you pay.
So, the waiting period already is a medically unnecessary obstacle designed
to make it impossible for some women to access abortion in Missouri and to
punish all the rest of them. That was in effect in Missouri already.
But now, here`s something new. The Republican-led state government in
Missouri has decided that as long as they`ve got the state down to one last
clinic and as long as they`ve got the clinic on the ropes as they try to
yank its license and shut it down, the state government in Missouri has
decided that maybe this is an opportunity for them to do something else to
women that they`ve never tried before.
This is what`s brand-new. Are you ready? What we have discovered is that
as of Thursday last week, as of a week ago today, we can now report that
every woman seeking a legal abortion in the state of Missouri is being
subjected to a mandatory, medically unnecessary pelvic examination by order
of the state government.
Just going to say that one more time: As of last week, every woman seeking
a legal abortion in Missouri is being told by the state that she must have
a mandatory, medically unnecessary vaginal examination by order of the
state of Missouri.
Now, doctors at this Missouri clinic, they do perform pelvic exams right
before they do an abortion, which is standard medical practice which is
fine. But now as of this week, what the state has started doing, what the
state government is now doing, is that they`ve told the doctors at that one
remaining clinic that they must do a second medically unnecessary invasive
pelvic exam on every woman before she was – before she is allowed to start
the punitive three-day waiting period that is required of all women who
need an abortion in Missouri.
I mean, at that point, you`re literally just going in to sign a consent
form and meet with the doctor before they have to send you home to wait for
three days. Only now, before they let you go from that first appointment,
you must, by order of the state, take off your clothes and submit to an
intrusive vaginal inspection that you do not need and your doctor does not
want to give you.
This is the latest thing the state of Missouri is doing as of this week as
they`re trying to force the last clinic in the state out of business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAWANNA SHANNON, ST. LOUIS PLANNED PARENTHOOD DIRECTOR OF SURGICAL
SERVICES: I`ll tell you this, what the women are mostly upset about these
last few days is having to get a pelvic exam that they don`t need.
Thursday was the first day last visit, first day that we had to start doing
mandatory pelvic exams. We`re not satisfied with the fact that we do the
pelvic exam when it`s medically necessary.
They want us to do the pelvic exam three, four, five, six b seven, days
before they get the procedure. They want us to do pelvic exams on
medication abortions. None of that is medically necessary. My doctors
have spoken to that over and over again and will continue to speak to that,
how that`s not medically necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One doctor who works at that clinic tweeted this on Monday of this
Quote: Today, I was forced by the state of Missouri to perform an
unnecessary pelvic exam on a patient terminating her pregnancy for a fetal
anomaly. She is heartbroken over her situation and I was forced to do an
invasive, uncomfortable, exam. It broke me as a physician to do this to
So, they`re basically daring the doctors at this clinic, oh, you don`t want
to do that to your patients? Oh, you don`t want to do this? You don`t
think this is good medical practice?
Well, that`s the new cost of staying open. You sure you want to keep
fighting to stay open?
We sent one of our show`s producers, Kelsey Desiderio, to Missouri this
week, just as this new rule from the state was being implemented.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHANNON: These women Thursday and on Monday were traumatized at the fact
that they had to get undressed to get a pelvic exam to get an ultrasound.
TRMS PRODUCER: How do you explain that to a patient who is so traumatized?
SHANNON: Well, basically, we let them know that we do not agree and the
state of Missouri is requiring us to do this to them and they have every
right to contact who they feel they need to contact to voice their
opinions, but we make it very clear this is not our doing. We do not want
to violate your rights. We don`t want to make you do an unnecessary
invasive procedure that we couldn`t do at this moment, and most women are
quite disturbed at that.
But they`re pretty remarkable because they`re actually apologizing to my
doctors, said, I`m sorry you have to do this to me. And that`s shameful.
DR. COLLEEN MCNICHOLAS. ST. LOUIS PLANNED PARENTHOOD REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
SERVICES: And really, it is just so inappropriate to subject somebody to a
pelvic exam which includes putting your fingers and other instruments in
the vagina when really that gives no medical information. It doesn`t do
anything to help the patient or myself choose what is the best approach for
their abortion care.
And I can say that of the physicians who`ve had to do that in the last few
days, they have just been devastated – first, to have to explain to
patients that this is the requirement. To explain that they don`t feel
that there`s any medical relevance to the exam, and then to ultimately end
up with but if you want to continue with care, we have to do it. You know,
for patients who`ve had a history of trauma, for example, I mean, it`s just
retraumatizing them all over again.
The state continues to put us into a position where we are really choosing
between what we know is medically and ethically appropriate, and I would
put avoiding unnecessary pelvic exams squarely in that box. Or making the
choice to then say, well, we can`t provide abortion care at all.
And so, obviously, now that`s an impossible choice for us, right? We
either have to ask patients to subject themselves to a state-sanctioned,
essentially, sexual assault, or they can`t have an abortion here in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A doctor calling state-sanctioned, essentially, sexual assault.
State-sanctioned sexual assault as the new price that the state of Missouri
is extracting from Missouri women if they try to get an abortion.
Now, why would the state government do that? What is the benefit to the
state of doing that?
I mean, I suppose it`s possible that the state government in Missouri just
seems, sees value in absolute terms of punishing women like this. Maybe
the governor sees value in making women have unwarranted vaginal
examinations on his orders. It`s hard to get your head around. It`s hard
to even talk about.
But, of course, the secondary benefit to the state government in Missouri
is that this is intolerable for these doctors, in addition to being
intolerable for their patients. I mean, the doctors having to do this, you
heard the woman from the clinic there describe how the patients are
apologizing to the doctors for the state making the doctors do this to
them. I mean, this is intolerable for these doctors, for them to be forced
to do unnecessary, invasive vaginal exams on their patients who don`t want
them, who don`t need them, and that the doctors don`t want to do.
So maybe the state is hoping that these doctors faced with this impossible
imperative, maybe the state is hoping the benefit to the state here is that
they`re hoping that the doctors will give up and stop providing abortions
all together, which, of course, would leave Missouri with no providers
since they`re down to that one last clinic. Well, that is not what`s
For now, at least, the doctors in Missouri are reluctantly and against
their will complying with this new rule, though they are clearly distraught
over it. As you heard them explain, it runs counter to what they see as
their ethics and duty as doctors, but they are doing it, as of this week,
so that abortion doesn`t go away entirely in the state of Missouri.
They`re also fighting it by talking about it, by telling their patients and
also by now telling us, telling the press, what is happening, what the
state of Missouri is making them do.
Now, this is not the first time a Republican-controlled state government
has hit on the idea of forcing women to have unnecessary vaginal
inspections on orders of the state as a sort of punishment for seeking an
abortion. Virginia Republicans tried to pass a mandatory vaginal
ultrasound law back in 2012. You may remember that.
Even though the legislature had already passed that, and the Republican
governor, Bob McDonnell, had already said he would sign it, there was
massive national outrage once the country figured out that`s what they were
trying to force on Virginia women. There was massive national outrage.
There was backlash in the state. It almost ultimately forced the governor
to back down and they stripped out that mandatory vaginal ultrasound
requirement from the Virginia law.
That`s how Bob McDonnell first got famous. Remember? Ultrasound Bob.
Before he ultimately left office under the cloud of a giant corruption and
But when it came to that forced vaginal ultrasound attempt by Virginia
Republicans in 2012, public pressure really did work to stop it. They were
on track to do that and they were turned back.
It remains to be seen if anything like that will happen in Missouri this
year. I mean, back in Virginia in 2012, that was elected officials. That
was the legislature and the governor who were behind the effort to force
doctors to perform invasive, unnecessary, procedures on women.
In Missouri, we are just learning this is happening now. We are reporting
this nationally for the first time because they`ve been doing this sort of
under the radar. They`ve been doing this by surprise. This was the
governor`s appointed state health director in Missouri who ordered this
change. This has not happened through the legislature.
It`s been through this much less visible process, right? Newly selective
enforcement of state regulations. It`s also happening in the context of
the state using those regulations to try to shut down the last clinic
providing abortions in the whole state. That is a substantially different
kind of battle to be fighting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCNICHOLAS: States like Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama,
Mississippi, we have been fighting these fights for a really long time, and
I will say the thing that has changed, at least for us in the last year, is
really this weaponization of the regulation and the licensing process.
It`s not just passing abortion bans. It`s not just the work of the
legislature. It really has become a tool of political appointees in the
departments of health to really try and push and shut down clinics through
a different mechanism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Folks who are trying to keep open the one last clinic in the state
of Missouri that can provide abortions, while that is hanging on by a
thread, they are now, as of this week, trying to figure out how to fight
back against not just antiabortion lawmakers, who are elected in their
state, who are trying to ban abortion by legislation, they are now trying
to figure out how to fight back against a new effort imposed by the state,
a new enforcement of state regulations, that makes Missouri women pay with
their bodies – pay with vaginal exams that they don`t need and that their
doctors don`t want to give them. That`s how they have to pay with their
bodies if they want to access a procedure that they have a constitutional
right to access.
Now, we are the first to report this, but in Missouri, this policy of
forced vaginal probing by order of the state health department, by order of
the governor, it`s already being implemented. For the women who had
appointments at the last clinic late last week or early this week, they
have already paid this latest penalty for any woman who dares try to get an
abortion in that state, but now the doctors at that clinic are letting it
be known that this is what the state is forcing them to do to their
patients as they fight to keep the doors open at all.
We`ve got more ahead on this tonight. We`ve got a second chapter of this
story for you tomorrow night.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHANNON: I`ll tell you this, what the women are mostly upset about these
last few days is having to get a pelvic exam that they don`t need. I`m
hoping abortion do not become illegal in the state. If Missouri goes dark,
we will still find a way to service our patient in whatever capacity that
we can service them in.
It would be a very sad day if Missouri goes dark. But I hope it doesn`t.
I hope that whoever is reading the case and looking at the case sees the
bigger picture. It`s not about whether you agree with a woman right to get
an abortion. It`s a right – it`s the point that you agree that she`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Our special report tonight from the state of Missouri, where the
Republican-controlled state government there has become a point of national
focus as they try to not only ban abortion in that state, but they try
aggressively to close down the state`s last remaining clinic where
abortions are provided.
Well, while we await a judge`s ruling on whether that clinic is going to be
allowed to stay open, we are reporting tonight that the state government as
of this week has started forcing doctors in the state to perform medically
unnecessary pelvic exams, vaginal examinations, on any woman who wants an
abortion in Missouri. Just in the last week, you are newly subject to what
amounts to a punitive, intrusive vaginal examination as the price of
wanting an abortion in that state.
Joining us now is Katherine Spillar. She`s executive director of the
Feminist Majority Foundation.
Kathy, thank you for being here tonight. I`m really glad you were able to
KATHERINE SPILLAR, FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: No,
MADDOW: Let me just – obviously, we`re reporting this for the first time.
This has not been publicly discussed I think in part because it`s brand-
new, also because the Missouri state government appears to have done this
very quietly through new selective enforcement of state regulations rather
than passing this as a special law.
What do you make of what they`re trying to do in Missouri?
SPILLAR: Well, it almost, frankly, feels like political extortion by
politicians who are opposed to abortion, trying to literally dictate the
type of medical practice that health care providers who are providing a
very common, safe, and simple procedure, are now mandated to follow. We`ve
seen this kind of regulatory harassment in a couple of other states as well
that have been very hostile to abortion providers. And the clinics have
fortunately in those other states been able to fight back.
And I hope that this restriction will be challenged. It clearly is an
overreach by politicians through the regulatory process to literally
dictate the health care procedures and practices of what is a very solid
clinic, a very safe and common procedure.
MADDOW: I am neither a doctor nor a lawyer, and I don`t even try to play
one on TV in either case, but it strikes me that the specific regulatory
overreach, as you put it here, is – is disturbing on a level that it
wouldn`t be if it was in any other kind of thing that they were mandating
here, because what they`re forcing these doctors to do is an invasive exam,
literally a physically intrusive exam, an internal exam of these women that
is not related to their medical care at all. They`re setting this as a new
barrier to care.
And, obviously, this Missouri clinic is locked in litigation right now with
the state as the state is trying to shut them down. The state`s ban that
was just passed by the legislature and signed by the governor will be
reviewed by the federal courts because it obviously contradicts Roe versus
Do you think that there should be a new course of legal action basically to
try to block this part of it specifically? Do you think this just gets
factored in to all those other fights?
SPILLAR: Well, I do think there should be a challenge to this. You know,
we`ve got to challenge these overreaches by political appointments as in
this Missouri case. So I think it needs to be challenged as overreach, and
frankly, I – it appears that they`re playing from the same playbook as
some of the antiabortion extremists.
Operation Rescue out of Wichita, Kansas, has done this kind of regulatory
harassment, working with health officials in other states or with attorneys
general, in an effort to get clinics prosecuted or shut down or required to
take unnecessary measures that increases the cost of the health care to
So I think we`ve got to be alert to this strategy which now is so obvious
in Missouri. And I got to tell you – I mean, this is an effort by
antiabortion politicians to punish women, and if anything has happened in
the last year or two, especially in the wake of these bans that have been
passed, and Missouri`s one of them, is that it`s very now clear to people
that this is an effort to punish and shame women.
But I got to tell you, I think they`re overreaching. I think they are
overplaying their hand, and it`s going to come back and get them.
You know, you were talking about Virginia and what happen there with the
transvaginal ultrasound requirement and how it was beat back by not only
public opinion but what happened in the next election there? The
Republicans lost the governorship. They lost the entire top thee of the
And then in 2017, they almost lost control of the House and the Senate, and
that`s because women are now furious. We`re fighting back. And we`re
taking this to the voting booth. And I think they`ve overplayed their hand
and they`re going to suffer losses, politically, if they keep this course
MADDOW: Kathy Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority
Foundation, also executive editor of “Miss” magazine – Kathy, thank you
for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.
SPILLAR: Thank you.
MADDOW: As I mentioned, this was our special report tonight in terms of
what`s happening in the Missouri state government. Over the course of the
past week, the state government has started forcing the last doctors at the
last clinic that provides abortion in that state to provide unnecessary
vaginal exams to women as a cost of trying to seek an abortion at that
clinic. We`re reporting that for the first time tonight. We`ve got a
second chapter in our special report coming tomorrow night.
There`s one other piece of news on this subject though that you should
know. One of the things that`s been discussed on the 2020 campaign trail
over the past few days is the question of the Hyde Amendment, which is a
longstanding federal restriction on any federal money, including money
spent on Medicaid and Medicare being used to pay for abortion services for
any women who use those as sources of their health care.
Well, tonight, Vice President Joe Biden suddenly reversed himself on his
position on the Hyde Amendment. This has been discussed intensely over the
past few days. Biden said tonight that while he used to support the Hyde
amendment, he no longer does.
His campaign had affirmed his support for the Hyde Amendment just this
week, just a couple days ago, but tonight, Biden, himself, has said he
changed his mind. He specifically cited Republican governors working to
close down clinics that offer free or subsidized care. He said that`s why
he is changing his mind now.
I had said last night that I had thought that the vice president`s position
on the Hyde Amendment would not survive the Democratic primary. I`m not
sure I expected that it wouldn`t survive 24 hours. But there you go.
Lots more to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today, we got some interesting new reporting on what top
congressional Democrats are saying about impeachment behind the scenes in
private leadership meetings. The chair of the House Judiciary Committee
where impeachment proceedings would start, Jerry Nadler, he has avoided
coming out publicly in any sort of unqualified the support of starting an
impeachment inquiry. But privately, it`s apparently a different matter.
“Politico” now reporting that in leadership meetings for the second time,
Nadler this week has pushed Pelosi to allow him to open impeachment
proceedings. He`s now arguing that doing so would give him more leverage
to obtain witness testimony and documents that he`s otherwise unable to get
right now for his committee`s investigations.
Why those discussions play out in Congress, on the campaign trail, this
whole issue is becoming less and less controversial with each passing day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a
constitutional responsibility here and that`s to start this impeachment
BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should begin impeachment
proceedings against Donald Trump.
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think this president should
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that the
Judiciary Committee should begin impeachment inquiries.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that the president
deserves to be impeached.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I feel like we have a
moral obligation now to investigate this president. Impeachment
proceedings will give us more legal leverage.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to begin
impeachment proceedings and we need a new commander-in-chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, as you and I and everyone have been watching all of the
Democratic candidates talk like that about the necessity of opening an
impeachment inquiry and now, I have said a few different times on the show
here that the Democratic presidential candidates are approaching unanimity
on this issue. I am wrong about that in a way that I hope is very
interesting. And that is our story next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we go down the road
tomorrow and impeach President Trump, we`re actually giving him a favor.
That`s what he wants, to be able to say he was railroaded. And then to
have the impeachment from the House go to the Senate where I guarantee you
Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are not going to convict Donald Trump.
They`re going to acquit Donald Trump and then he`s going to run for
president saying he was acquitted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now here on set is Michael Bennet, senator from
Colorado, candidate in the presidential primary this year.
Sir, it`s great to see you. Thanks for coming in.
BENNET: Nice to see you. Thanks for letting me come by.
MADDOW: I wanted you to come by when I found out you were in town in part
because you have proven me wrong. I have been saying Democratic candidates
are approaching unanimity on wanting to open impeachment inquiries. But
BENNET: Well, I`m not sure that – I couldn`t hear myself on there.
BENNET: But I –
MADDOW: I could quote you.
BENNET: I don`t think that`s right, actually. I was asked the other day,
following what Bernie said, what I thought about what Bernie said. I
agreed completely with what Bernie just said on your program which I heard.
What you were quoting, which I think it`s critical for us to begin
proceedings and the House decides to call them impeachment proceedings,
it`s fine with me.
MADDOW: It is –
BENNET: What I think what`s important by the time this all ends, the
American people have better concluded that Donald Trump was guilty of what
we`re impeaching him for, and that`s critical because either we need
McConnell to do the right thing in the Senate at the end of the day, which
I think he`s very unlikely to do, or we need to win this election. What we
can`t do is impeach Donald Trump and create a view in America that he`s not
guilty of what he`s being impeached for. That`s my only point.
MADDOW: And that happens how?
BENNET: I think that happens by having hearings.
BENNET: Which is actually what I said on CNN. I think we should have the
hearings. I`ve said that I think he committed impeachable offenses. I`ve
read the Mueller report. It`s pretty clear to me that he obstructed
justice. And that`s really important.
But we need to do it in a way either where he`s removed or he`s beaten at
the polls. The alternative, which is he`s in an aggrieved victim somehow
here then wins re-election, is totally unacceptable to me.
MADDOW: Although somewhat out of control, out of the control of House
Democrats who have to make the decision now as to what to call their
inquiry, whether to make it an impeachment inquiry or not.
BENNET: Well, that to me, as I understand it, what that comes down to is
what the subpoena power is of a committee that`s not called an impeachment
committee and one that`s not – I`m not in the House, so I don`t know.
BENNET: All I`m saying is that this has to – we need to – we – as
people that are committed to the rule of law, and by the way, this isn`t
because I`m trying to protect Donald Trump. This is because I think it`s
important for us to protect the democracy by not having him re-elected
again. We need to make sure the American people are coming along with this
It`s not enough for Democrats just to talk to Democrats when you`re talking
about something like impeachment. We need the country to be following it
just as they did with Watergate.
You know, the other night, I watched – you know, there`s a compilation on
YouTube of the Watergate hearing.
BENNET: Which, first of all, will make you cry because there`s a bunch of
people doing their jobs without respect of political party. But it took a
while for the American people to change their mind about whether Richard
Nixon should be impeached or not, took a while for the public sentiment to
catch up to where the politicians were. And I think that`s important for
MADDOW: And the way the public was brought along was by the public nature
and the revelatory nature of those hearings.
BENNET: Exactly, and that the revelatory nature of those hearings are the
incredible thing. I mean, here was Congress not just doing their job but
discovering the tapes. Nobody had found the tapes until Congress had the
hearing that that guy, Butterfield, or whatever his name was said the tapes
were there, and who knows what we`re going to find out about this president
by conducting these hearings.
MADDOW: When you talk about, though, the public – I`ve seen you talk
about how the fact that, you know, the public hasn`t read the Mueller
report, most people in the public don`t know what`s in the Mueller report,
even though you`ve read it and increasing numbers I think of politicians
are starting to read it now, how do you bring people along? Do you have
confidence that the way that we run Congress now and the way we might run
the Judiciary Committee during this kind of proceeding would tell a
compelling narrative that people would learn from?
BENNET: I think that`s a very good question. I think a lot of the times
people turn on the Congress and they see a bunch of people grandstanding
and trying to get headlines and maybe trying to come on your show. This
has to be – this can`t be that.
BENNET: This can`t be some game of gotcha. It`s no reason for it to be
This should be a dignified set of hearings that makes the American people -
- gives an opportunity for the American people to be reminded why the rule
of law is so important. What it means to be a co-equal branch of
government. Why we have separation of powers. Why it`s not acceptable to
have a president who doesn`t believe in the rule of law, or freedom of the
press, or the independence of a judiciary.
What an amazing opportunity to be able to reconnect with those enduring
values that Trump has smashed with a hammer.
MADDOW: Do you think that it is hard to decide on a day-to-day basis as
you`re running for president and all your other colleagues in the Senate,
all these other people –
BENNET: I know, half the people are gone all day.
MADDOW: It`s a – it`s a busy little work project that we`ve got going on
Do you think that it is a hard on a day-to-day basis to figure out how to
talk about the president versus how to talk about the country? I mean, is
it a zero-sum game? Do you have to run against Trump now in the primary?
Do you put it off until the general election? Is it hard to make those
decisions about how to run?
BENNET: I think you have to decide what you think is at stake. For me,
this isn`t just about getting rid of Donald Trump, which we have to do.
It`s essential to do that. It`s about the ten years that the Freedom
Caucus and Mitch McConnell have tyrannized this country.
The reason we got nothing done on climate really is because of Mitch
McConnell. The reason we have nothing done on guns is Mitch McConnell.
The reason why, you know, he`s been able to be so successful on judges,
it`s Mitch McConnell.
I mean, Donald Trump is, like, this is a three-ring circus every day. He`s
spinning the plates. He loves to do it. The stuff`s dropping all around
The ringmaster in all this is McConnell. And I don`t think we can go
through this with another ten years of Mitch McConnell preventing the
public sentiment in this country from being heard in Congress. And so how
we beat Donald Trump is really important to me.
MADDOW: Sounds like you might think it`s more important to take Democratic
control of the Senate than even to take the White House.
BENNET: I think both are vital. I think both are vital and we can`t take
our eye off the Senate. Some people say, well, it`s a really tough map.
It is a tough map, but we need a majority of Democrats in the Senate and we
need to win the White House and I think, people say you`re so naive when
you say this, but I believe it, I think we need a broad coalition of
Democrats, Republicans, independents, to reassert America`s view of what
our government should be doing, a set of priorities that actually reflect
what the American people need or the kids in my old school district. I
used to be superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, care about.
They`re totally unrepresented in Washington and they will not be
represented in Washington unless we figure out a way to close over the
Freedom Caucus. We just can`t – we won`t succeed. And Mitch McConnell –
I don`t think there`s any way by doing that other than having a set of
policies that are broadly popular and broadly understood by the American
people and bring not just Democrats along but other people as well.
MADDOW: Senator Michael Bennet of the great state of Colorado, thank you
BENNET: Thank you. It`s a great state. Come visit.
MADDOW: See you soon.
BENNET: Thank you.
MADDOW: I`ll be there tomorrow, actually.
BENNET: Will you really? Good.
MADDOW: Sort of –
BENNET: Stop by, say hello.
MADDOW: Getting frustrated.
All right. Up next, the curious case of Trump national security adviser
Mike Flynn today even got more curiouser. That story is just ahead. Stay
MADDOW: So something is going on right now in the criminal case involving
Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn. I`m not sure exactly what is
going on with Flynn but for starters, Mike Flynn fired his lawyers today.
These are the lawyers who have represented him the whole near and a half
he`s been cooperating with prosecutors. He`s at the very tail end of his
case and about to be sentenced.
But, boom, today, his lawyers were gone. I don`t know if these things are
connected but today, also, by order of the judge in his case, we got a
release of the audio recording of a voicemail that President Trump`s lawyer
left for Mike Flynn`s lawyer right before Flynn pled guilty to lying to the
FBI and started cooperating with prosecutors. This voice mail was about
how the president`s lawyer needed to know what Flynn had to say to
prosecutors that would implicate the president.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN DOWD, TRUMP`S LAWYER: Hey, Rob, this is John again. Maybe, I`m
sympathetic; I understand your situation, but let me see if I can`t state
it in starker terms. If you have – and it wouldn`t surprise me if you`ve
gone on to make a deal with and work with the government, I understand that
you can`t join the joint defense, so that`s one thing.
If, on the other hand, there`s information that implicates the president,
then we`ve got a national security issue or maybe a national security
issue. I don`t know. Some issue, we`ve got to – we`ve got to deal with,
not only for the president but for the country.
So you know, then – then you know, we need some kind off heads up. And if
it`s the former, then you know, remember what we`ve always said about the
president in his feelings toward Flynn, and that still remains.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Well, we had seen the transcript of this before. Now getting the
audio of it it`s much more clear what the pressing question is here. What
is it that Mike Flynn had to tell the government about the president and
why would it potentially have national security implications as John Dowd
says? If there`s information that implicates the president then we`ve got
a national security issue or maybe a national security issue. I don`t
know, some issue we`ve got to deal with not only for the president but for
Why this upset call from the president`s lawyer to try to get a heads up on
what Flynn might be about to tell the prosecutors about the president? Why
does he need to know and why is that something that might have national
security implications, implications for the country? I don`t know.
But this came out today and today Michael Flynn fired his lawyers. There`s
a status update scheduled for his case next week. We`re expecting a
sentencing date to be set for him soon. So, this all seems like a very
weird time to fire your lawyers.
It also seems like the firing today may have been a little bit shambolic.
The judge actually initially rejected Flynn`s effort to fire his lawyers
today because they didn`t even file the paperwork properly. Presumably
that would get sorted out.
But something is causing them all the hassle at this point. Something is
going on here. We don`t yet know what it is.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: We started this show tonight with the first part of a special
report on what`s happening right now in the state of Missouri. The
Republican government there as we reported tonight has begun over the
course of the last week requiring women who want to get an abortion in that
state to first undergo a new invasive, medically unnecessary pelvic exam –
an internal vaginal examination that is not medically required but that is
being politically required by the government of the state as of the past
week as the state tries to shut down the last clinic in Missouri.
Well, tomorrow, we`re going to bring you part two of that story, the way it
took a turn that I did not see coming before we started reporting this out.
I cannot wait to tell you about that. That is tomorrow night.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again then.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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