Flynn’s Turkish client surfaces. TRANSCRIPT: 6/7/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Before we go, a quick reminder about this week’s
episode of our podcast “Why is This Happening”. It features one of the
founding members of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alicia Garza, really
interesting discussion about the movement’s origins, its evolution and
where it stands today. Go and listen, subscribe wherever you get your
That’s ALL IN this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Much appreciated.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday. Good to
have you with us.
So, last night, we led this show with a special report on the state where
not only has a Republican-controlled state legislature passed legislation
to ban abortion, as several Republican-led states have done this year. In
Missouri, the state government is closing in on the last clinic left in the
state that’s still allowed to provide abortion services at all.
In our special report last night, we spoke with staff at that facility who
say that within the past week as the state government has closed in on them
and tried to pull their license and shut them down, the state has also
instituted a new requirement that any woman seeking an abortion at a
facility from here on out must submit herself to an extra invasive
medically unnecessary pelvic exam, literally an internal vaginal
examination on orders of the state government as the price of requesting an
abortion at that last clinic.
That is a new requirement that is being enforced in the state of Missouri.
That was our special report last night. Tonight, we’re going to have part
two of that special report which is about who’s doing that. Who made that
happen? Who in the state government decided to order these doctors to do
these medically unnecessary mandatory vaginal expectations?
The answer we found is very specific and it may surprise you. We’ve got
the second part of that special report coming up tonight. I hope you will
stick with us for that.
That said, because it’s Friday, the news gods are pitching stuff to us
tonight like they’ve got eight arms throwing all at once all with terrible
aim. It’s been hard to field it all today.
First of all, a federal judge in D.C. tonight has ordered the Justice
Department to remove a bunch of the redactions from the James Comey memos.
You may remember the James Comey memos were part of the way the whole
existential Trump presidency started to break open in the first place.
When we first learned early on in Trump’s few weeks in office, we learned
that FBI Director James Comey had kept contemporaneous memos of his
interactions with President Trump, including that the president had told
him to end the criminal investigation into Trump national security adviser
Michael Flynn, and then the president fired James Comey after Comey agreed
to do no such thing.
When we learned that Comey had contemporaneous memos documenting his
interactions with the president leading up to his being fired, that was one
of the things that opened up the whole scandal, led to the hiring of the
special counsel, led to the whole obstruction of justice investigation.
That’s part of what started the whole kit and caboodle.
Well, now, in a court ruling tonight, a federal district court judge in
D.C. has ordered that the FBI must show the public more of what was in
Comey’s memos than we have been able to see thus far. Now, this ruling
tonight is a win for CNN, which was the plaintiff in this case. They were
suing the government to try to make them release more of this stuff. It’s
a loss for the FBI, which was fighting to keep this stuff secret.
That said, we don’t know exactly what’s going to be redacted from the memos
and when, but the judge did single out in his ruling stuff like this
section of Comey’s memos. And the judge basically said that the FBI is not
justified in keeping these block boxes in this section of Comey’s memo
blanked out. You know, we’ll see it when we see it, but if the judge is
telling us this is the kind of stuff that’s about to get unredacted, I
mean, just this one section, I would love to see this without redactions,
frankly, we all would.
This is all from Comey’s memos with redactions. Imagine if we got to fill
in all the blanks. Comey memo says, Trump explained that he has serious
reservations about Michael Flynn’s judgment and illustrated from a story in
that day in which the president apparently discovered during his toast to
Theresa May that blank had called four days ago. Apparently as the
president was toasting Prime Minister May, he was explaining she had been
the first to call him after his inauguration and Flynn interrupted to say
that, actually, blank had called first.
It was then that the president learned of blank’s call, and he confronted
Flynn about it. Flynn said the return call was scheduled for Saturday,
which prompted a heated reply from president Trump that six days was not an
appropriate period of time to return a call from the blank of a country
This isn’t blank we’re talking about, he said. He said if he called blank
and didn’t get a return call for six days, he would be very upset. I mean,
presumably what Comey was writing up there – I mean, I’m just guessing,
but presumably that is President Trump freaking out that he didn’t take
Putin’s call right away.
Oh, god. What will he think of me that I didn’t take the call and then I
didn’t call right back. You idiot, Flynn, do you know how important this
is? Somebody get me a phone. I need to call him right away. Let’s send
chocolates. Let’s flowers. Let’s send Crimea.
With this ruling from Judge James Boasberg tonight, we will get to see for
ourselves who, in fact, is behind all of the intriguing blanks in that
redacted portion of Comey’s memos.
Also in another nearby federal court in the eastern district of Virginia
today, an informal adviser to the Trump White House and apparently quite a
key adviser to the Trump campaign, George Nader tried to make his case to a
judge today that he should be released on bail ahead of his trial on
charges of transporting child pornography. George Nader is cited multiple
times in Mueller’s report as a witness who was involved in multiple high-
level meetings during the transition and White House meetings as well
during the campaign we know that he met with people including Mike Flynn
and Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon and Donald Trump Jr.
Mr. Nader reportedly attending a meeting in which the Trump campaign was
offered a foreign-run social media manipulation campaign to try to tilt the
election in Trump’s favor. Imagine that. Now, the Trump campaign says
they did not buy what was being offered to them at that meeting, but soon
after the election, George Nader nevertheless did pay $2 million to the
foreign firm that had been pitching the Trump campaign that particular
service, which has always been a source of intrigue. Nobody knows what
that payment was for.
Now, according to Mueller’s report, George Nader was also a key
intermediary between the Trump transition and the Kremlin, including
arranging a meeting between a Kremlin-connected Russian banker and Erik
Prince, as a representative of the Trump transition. That meeting set up
by Nader was reportedly intended to establish a secret back channel for
communications between the new administration and Vladimir Putin’s office.
But now, George Nader is in custody and awaiting trial on child pornography
The judge in his case in Virginia today ordered that Nader must stay in
jail until his trial despite George Nader’s generous offer in court today
that he would not only pay $1 million cash bond, he was also happy to pay
for round-the-clock security guards for himself who surely would not let
him go astray or flee the country. Again, prosecutors told the judge today
that in addition to the child pornography, Mr. Nader had on his phones, he
also had direct phone numbers for the ruling princes of both the United
Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
So, yes, even apart from the seriousness of the charge he’s facing, the
charge requires a 15-year minimum federal prison sentence if he is
convicted, a minimum sentence. I mean, separate and apart from the
seriousness of the charge he’s facing, when this arrest warrant was pending
for a year a still phone numbers of the two richest people in the world on
his personal phone, that makes it hard that you’re going to stick around
for your trial.
And so, George Nader will stay in jail until the trial starts as decided
today by the federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.
But there’s always rest of the news tonight that also pertains to more
cases against more people involved in the Trump campaign, including Trump
national security adviser Mike Flynn. For some of that news today, we need
to go back to a weekend in May 2017 and a conference on U.S./Turkey
relations. The 36th annual conference on U.S.-Turkey relations, to be
exact, held in Washington, D.C., by a Turkish business lobbying group.
You know, nothing particularly notable about that on its face,
international business lobbyists host conferences in D.C. all the time.
But here what was notable about this one. First of all, the event was
being run by a Turkish businessman who had paid Trump national security
adviser Mike Flynn over half a million dollars to lobby for the Turkish
government. That’s while Flynn was the top security official in Trump
campaign and then the Trump transition.
So, the guy who had Trump’s first national security adviser on a foreign
government’s payroll, he was running this conference in D.C. about U.S.
relations with that foreign government. He was holding that conference at
Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel, of course, because, of course, he
was. He had put over half million into the pocket of Trump’s first
national security adviser, but that guy got fired. So why not start
putting money directly into Donald Trump’s pocket through his hotel?
That was May 2017. If may 2017 rings a bell for you as an important time,
that’s probably because just four days before that Turkish lobbying
conference got under way at Trump’s hotel, Robert Mueller was appointed
special counsel to look into the Russian attack on the 2016 election and
any potential involvement by the Trump campaign. Not to mention all
Well, here’s what we now know as of today. Apparently, that Turkish
businessman, the guy who paid Mike Flynn to lobby for the Turkish
government, after Robert Mueller was appointed, that guy’s lawyers
contacted Mueller, contacted the special counsel’s office. They called up
Mueller and said, hey, our client, who paid the Trump national security
adviser to work secretly for the Turkish government, our client’s going to
be in town this weekend for a conference at the Trump hotel, would you like
to speak with him?
Robert Mueller was just appointed less than a week earlier. I mean, he
probably hadn’t even gotten his nameplate on the office door and didn’t
have a trash can yet. But this Turkish guy’s lawyers call him up out of
the blue, hey, our client would love to talk with you just in case you have
any questions for him.
So the special counsel’s office apparently did take that meeting. They did
that interview with this Turkish businessman literally one week after
Mueller was appointed and that businessman walked in and, according to
federal prosecutors, he sat down with Mueller’s team and he told them whole
bunch of porky pies. He lied to Mueller’s investigators after having
volunteered that he wanted to and in talk to them.
Yes, that’s as terrible as an idea as you think it is because that guy, the
Turkish businessman guy, is now under indictment for, among other things,
lying to the FBI in that interview. If you were going to lie to them, why
did you volunteer yourself for that purpose?
Also, he’s now on the lam. There’s a warrant out for his arrest. Nobody
knows if he’s ever going to face trial in a U.S. courtroom, along with this
other guy associated with Mike Flynn who was indicted with him.
This is another one of these dangling threads at this point, but when it
comes to sort of proximity to Michael Flynn, all of the dangling threads
seem to be twisting in unusual and unpredictable ways right now. I mean,
that Turkish guy is the lam, he’s in the wind, but he does have lawyers who
for the first time have turned up in federal court in Virginia to object to
the government’s case. Even though they also basically say their client
has no intention of showing up to actually answer the charges against him,
their filings late yesterday are how we learned about their client calling
up Robert Mueller, the moment he was appointed and him making time in his
busy hotel conference schedule to go to the special counsel’s office and
commit felonies allegedly by lying to the FBI.
We have not heard from that guy since he was indicted six months ago, but
here he is. He just popped up. He has lawyers representing him even
though he doesn’t plan on being here to face trial.
And that odd turn comes at the same time as several other sort of
unsettling developments over the last couple of days in the case of this
guy’s business associate, right, the case of Michael Flynn. In Flynn’s own
criminal case, we’ve just gotten released a less redacted version of the
FBI’s notes for their own interview with him in January 2017. That’s the
FBI interview where Flynn lied to the FBI about his conversations with the
Russian government during the transition.
Those interview notes give us a bunch of additional details about Mike
Flynn and Russia we didn’t have before. Part of his plea deal with the
government when he pled guilty to lying to the FBI was admitting he was an
unregistered agent of Turkey, right? He’d been covering up and lying about
his Turkish lobbying scheme. That’s what his two associates including the
guy who paid Flynn $500,000 and is still at large, that’s what his
associates are indicted for as well, all stuff related to that unregistered
lobbying for Turkey.
But Flynn’s relationship with Russia and his contacts with Russia, that has
always raised some pretty significant, forgive me, red flags about him. I
mean, even before we knew about the turkey thing. What we get from these
newly unredacted FBI interview notes pertaining to Flynn was his contacts
were more extensive than we thought. And we already thought they were
In this newly unsealed interview, newly unredacted parts of this interview,
we learned that Flynn talks about his visit to the Moscow headquarters of
Russian military intelligence. He visited Russian military intelligence
headquarters, headquarters of the GRU in 2013.
Now, he was the first he had of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency to
ever make such a visit. He described the FBI agents viewing him that the
head of the GRU he believed was, quote, someone the U.S. could work with.
So we learned he was enthused to work with the GRU as early as 2013.
We learned that in 2015, right before his fairly infamous trip to Moscow
where he sat next to Vladimir Putin at a celebration for a Russian
propaganda network, we learned newly from these newly unredacted documents
that Flynn took a meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States
ahead of that trip to Moscow. Flynn went to the Russian ambassador’s
residence for a meeting before he jetted off to go sit next to Putin and
Jill Stein while they all celebrated Russia’s propaganda network.
A year later, during the Trump transition, Flynn and the same ambassador
discussed setting up a video conference between Trump and Putin on Trump’s
first full day in office after he was sworn in. Don’t want to waste any
time getting that relationship up and going. Flynn did not ultimately make
that happen, but according to James Comey’s contemporaneous memos, we think
that Putin probably was the first to call Trump after his inauguration and
Trump was super mad at Flynn for not telling him.
You didn’t put me through on the phone with Putin. He’s going to be so
mad. Oh, god, what’s going to come out now? Guess Flynn should have made
that day one video conference happening. Falling down on the job, Mike.
I mean, there’s always been this sort of biographical element in the room
when it comes to Flynn and his appointment at national security adviser,
right, which is that weird stuff has happened between him and Russia. Yes,
he was working as angle emissary when he went over to meet with the GRU in
2013, but he did a lot of stuff with the GRU that has never happened
before. He did sort of oddly collegial things with our most aggressively
competitive long-standing international intelligence foe.
And then soon thereafter, after he was fired by the Obama administration,
he really did go over to Moscow to attend this event celebrating one of
Russia’s state-controlled propaganda TV networks. Happy to be here. This
is all super inspiring celebrating your state-controlled propaganda
network, sitting right here with Putin.
I mean, that trip gave rise to a memorable exchange with investigative
reporter Michael Isikoff who tried during the campaign to pin Flynn down on
whether or not he was actually paid by Russia to do that. Flynn, of
course, insisted that he had not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Last December, you flew over to
MIKE FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Yes.
ISIKOFF: – to participate in the 10th anniversary celebration of RT,
Russian Television, a propaganda arm of the Russian government, and you sat
next to Vladimir Putin at a celebratory dinner. Were you paid for that
FLYNN: You would have to ask the folks.
ISIKOFF: I’m asking you. You know if you were paid?
FLYNN: Yes, I went over there as a speaking event. It was a speaking
event. What difference does that make? Oh, he’s paid by the Russians.
ISIKOFF: Donald Trump made a lot of the fact that Hillary Clinton has
taken money from Wall Street.
FLYNN: I didn’t take my money from Russia, if that’s what you’re asking
ISIKOFF: Then who paid you?
FLYNN: My speakers bureau, ask them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I didn’t take any money from Russia. This is the part of the
documentary where the deep voice narrator comes in and says, in fact,
Michael Flynn did take money from Russia as Michael Isikoff would soon
report, it was, in fact, Russia that paid him tens of thousands of dollars
for that report – for that trip, plus a three-day long all expenses paid
trip to Moscow, including business class and round trip airfare and
accommodations at a five-star hotel, and not just for him, but for him and
his son, Mike Jr. Must have been awesome.
And, you know, then getting closer to the scandal that led to Flynn’s
curtain lot in life as he awaits federal sentencing, I mean, there’s the
sequence of events that followed after him going to Moscow for that event.
I mean, this is a guy who was career military, but he is a registered
Democrat. Registered Democrat, no affiliation with any politicians
whatsoever, other than having worked for Obama. He’s fired by the Obama
administration, like in 18 months later, he makes a weird three-day jaunt
to Moscow to celebrate their propaganda network while denying that they’re
Then just a few weeks later after he gets home from Moscow, he signs up
with the Trump campaign. I mean, it’s always been weird. And now as
Flynn’s legal case seems to be coming to its end, assist more stuff starts
getting released by the judge in this case who apparently wants this stuff
put out there in the public record, it’s unsettling about Flynn, but there
seems to be something sort of hot about what Flynn knew about the president
and what he might tell prosecutors about the president.
I mean, the president was trying to end the investigation of Flynn when he
fired the FBI director, right? That’s what led to the firing of James
Comey. Will you go easy on Flynn? Comey would not go easy on Flynn and
so, Comey had to be fired. Firing Comey because he wouldn’t ease up on
Flynn, that’s what gave rise to the appointment of the special counsel, the
whole obstruction of justice investigation, all of it.
Why was it so important to shut down that investigation of Flynn? And now,
as Flynn’s case approaches its end, as he approaches he’s sentencing,
Michael Flynn suddenly fired his lawyers who represented him all of this
time. A week before Flynn’s next status update in his case, we’re
expecting a sentencing date. Boom, he’s fired his lawyers.
This is just sort of track now. Whatever the track was here before, this
feels off track now when it comes to Flynn. And we still have no
confirmation about who Flynn’s new lawyers are or why he might have picked
them. There’s explanation that he dumped his lawyers in the hopes of a
totally whole new strategy, which is a lot of people are on sort of pardon
watch when it comes to Flynn.
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut warning explicitly about that
possibility now since these events have started to unfold over the last
couple of days.
Senator Blumenthal joins us here live, next.
MADDOW: Get your rest this weekend. We got a big week coming up next
On Tuesday, the full House will vote whether or not to hold Attorney
General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt
over their refusal to cooperate with congressional subpoenas related to the
Also next week, we’re expecting an important court deadline for Trump’s
national security adviser Mike Flynn. Both the prosecution and defense
will outline how Flynn’s cooperation is going. We’ll find out if they’ll
tell the judge they’re finally ready to move ahead to sentencing for Flynn.
Whatever’s going on with the Flynn case right now, Flynn did just fire his
longtime lawyers in a surprise move. We don’t know who his new lawyers
are. There’s also been a steady drip of new details released to the public
by orders of the judge in the Flynn case, including auto voicemail from
President Trump’s lawyer John Dowd right before Flynn flipped and started
cooperating with the government. Dowd telling Flynn’s lawyer that he
wanted a heads-up if Flynn was going to provide information to prosecutors
that would implicate the president saying that that might have national
We don’t know what Flynn might have been able to say about the president
that would implicate him and have national security consequences, but that
voicemail got a lot of people’s attention this week, including Senator
Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut who said this. Quote: Hearing the
striking audio in the tapes released yesterday actualizes the pardon the
president’s lawyer dangled in front of Flynn. Americans did he need to
hear and see more, all of the evidence making clear of the case for
Joining us is now Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut. He’s a member of the
Judiciary Committee in the Senate.
Sir, it’s great to have you here tonight. Thanks for being here.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: So, what do you mean when you say this voicemail from John Dowd
actualizes the pardon that was dangled to Flynn? What do you mean?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, you quoted a part of what he said, which was not only
that national security interests might be implicated in what Flynn would be
offering to Robert Mueller by cooperating, but also there’s a quote that he
needed a heads-up to protect, quote, all of our interests, not just
national security, and the president, and he said, remember what our
feelings are about Michael Flynn. Those feelings are still the same after
the president on repeated occasions said had a nice guy Flynn was, what a
good man he was.
And that sort of dangling the pardon in the voice that was projected in
that tape was deadly serious, even a bit desperate, and will be very, very
powerful to Americans if they ever see and hear John Dowd himself as a
witness in a House or Senate hearing.
MADDOW: Why is it damning and potentially obstructive for a president’s
lawyer conveying to a witness who’s about to turn state’s evidence, about
to start working with prosecutors? Can you spell out why that is
potentially obstructive, potentially inappropriate or criminal to have that
expression? The president likes you, the president wants you to remember
how much he likes you, that’s still in effect? What is the implication of
BLUMENTHAL: Really important to break it down and understand it. And the
best explanation of it really is in the Mueller report, because he presents
it as one of those potentially obstructive acts that the president of the
United States committed. And he says he can’t really attribute it to Trump
because he doesn’t know whether Trump knew everything that Dowd was saying,
and he declined to interview Dowd because of the attorney/client privilege.
But basically, here it is. The witness, Michael Flynn, knows all this
stuff about Trump, and Dowd is saying give us a heads-up, meaning tell us
what he’s going to tell Mueller to protect all of our interests, and
remember what a good man we think you are, and the pardon is dangled so
that, in effect, Flynn will be playing both sides of the street. There’s
no longer the joint defense going on, but the two of them can still work
together if Dowd is informed and protect Donald Trump’s interests.
MADDOW: As Flynn’s case appears to be heading towards sentencing,
something is going on in the case that’s hard to discern from the outside.
He’s fired his lawyers, the initial sentencing plan in December went
haywire when clearly there was a big disconnect between the lawyers in the
case and the jungle who basically told Flynn, you don’t want me to sentence
you right now. Why don’t you see if you can cooperate more because –
essentially signaling he was going to throw the book at him.
Something’s going on right now. A lot of people have speculated that Flynn
may be in line for a pardon right now, and maybe that’s why he’s replacing
his legal team and the president might be heading toward that now. Would
that be potentially problematic in terms of the president being liable for
BLUMENTHAL: I think it would be very problematic. A pardon under these
circumstances would raise all kinds of questions of obstruction. The
Mueller report alludes to the possibility that the president can be
prosecuted after he leaves office in volume one, pages one and two, talks
about preserving evidence, and not only documents, but also memories and
And so, what the president may well be doing is trying to stop that
prosecution after he leaves office. And that’s not only problematic, it is
deeply concerning from the standpoint of Americans seeing justice, holding
the president accountable, and eventually making sure that he is brought to
justice as he would be if he were not president of the United States. I’ve
written a letter with a thousand other prosecutors saying if he weren’t
president, he would be in handcuffs and indicted right now.
MADDOW: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, member of the Senate
Judiciary Committee – sir, thanks for being here especially on a Friday
night. Really appreciate it.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We’ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The first rule of presidential polling at this time of year is,
it’s way too early. I mean, at this stage presidential primary polls
really do not matter at all. If they did, we would have had Presidents
Rudy Giuliani, and Joe Lieberman and Gary Hart, and Jeb Bush.
The second rule of presidential polling at this time of year is that it’s
super, super matters, it’s really important, in part because it’s how the
candidates get into debates. Tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m., “The Des Moines
Register” is going to release its poll of the Democratic field. The Iowa
poll is really the gold standard of polling in Iowa.
In addition to providing an authoritative snapshot of Democratic voters’
preferences, this poll is one of the polls that’s going to be used by the
DNC to determine which Democratic candidates nails down a slot, one of the
20 available slots in the first debate.
And all of that put together is why this weekend, I kid you not, 19
different Democratic candidates are all going to be in Iowa at the same
time. There will be no room for Iowans in Iowa this weekend. It’s going
to be Democrats running for president. Nineteen of them all at once. Pray
for good weather, right?
One of the 19 has decided to start living in Iowa. Marianne Williamson has
just signed a lease on a Des Moines condo. I kid you not.
Now, the one conspicuous absence from this weekend’s Democratic
presidential candidate action in Iowa is Joe Biden. He will not be there
this weekend. He’s the frontrunner right now. But even so, he will be
there Tuesday, right after all the other ones have left, or at least most
of them have left.
If you’re in Iowa this weekend, there’s a good chance you’re going to bump
into a Democratic hopeful or three. And in a coincidence that you couldn’t
cook up if you tried, just look at today’s “Des Moines Register”. Right
next to the story about this weekend’s all-important Iowa poll, we learned
that the world’s biggest bounce house has just arrived in Iowa just in time
for 19 different candidates to start bouncing around the state all at the
same time, trying not to bang into each other, each one hoping this weekend
will be the proverbial polling bounce they need to get into the first
I mean, here comes an honest to goodness bounce house, the largest one in
the world in Iowa, specifically, at the time the 19 candidates were all
converging, with their polling bounce on the line.
Iowa, you are amazing. You always are.
MADDOW: So, last night, we brought you a special report about the state of
Missouri, which is on precipice right now of becoming the first state to
eliminate all legal abortion access since Roe v. Wade in 1973.
As we are still waiting for a judge to rule on whether the state government
can shut down that last remaining clinic in the state, we found that the
Republican-run state government in Missouri this week started directing the
doctors at this last clinic to subject their patients to new medically
unnecessary manual vaginal exams as the price of asking for an abortion.
This is a new thing the state of Missouri is doing that they were not doing
before. But as they got the clinic on the ropes trying to shut them down,
this a new thing they’re making those doctors do before women are allowed
to get an abortion.
Now, there’s one aspect of that story we’re going to follow up on tonight
which is how this is happening in Missouri right now. This was not part of
the state’s new abortion ban that was debated by legislators or signed by
the governor. This new policy that they’ve instituted in the past week was
instituted on the orders of a specific guy in state government.
And it turns out he’s a really interesting case here. And that story, part
two of our special report, is next.
MADDOW: To this is a coal-fired power plant in Belmont, North Carolina.
It’s called the Allen steam station and it is run by the Duke Energy
Now, one of the problems with running a coal-fire power plant like Allen –
I mean, don’t get me started. I could go on. There’s a lot of problems.
But one of the problems with a coal burning power plant like that is that
after you burn the coal to fuel this plant, it produces leftovers. And the
leftovers after you burn coal is something called coal ash. From a plant
like this, the leftover coal ash is voluminous, there’s a ton of it, and it
is dangerous. It’s toxins and heavy metals like arsenic, known
Well, Duke Energy stores that marvelous stuff in coal ash pits like these
ones. They’re basically man-made little ponds designed to hold all of this
toxic sludge from the coal-burning power plants.
Oftentimes, those pits aren’t even lined, which means there’s an increased
chance that the toxic materials from the coal ash will leak into not just
the ground, but into the local ground water. And that’s what many people
believe happened in areas surrounding Duke Energy’s many coal-fire power
plants, including those in North Carolina, power plants like the Allen
In April 2015, North Carolina officials issued letters to people who owned
wells, 330 wells that were near the state’s coal-burning plants, and those
letters notified those people that their well water was contaminated.
Wells showed us carcinogen levels higher than the state’s warning level.
You were at risk of getting cancer if you drank from that contaminated
water. That was the notice that homeowners and land owners got from the
state in April 2015.
But within a couple of months, by July of that same year, something
interesting happened in North Carolina. The governor of North Carolina at
the time was a longtime Duke Energy executive and a Republican, a guy by
the name of Pat McCrory, and he hired this man, a new state health director
for the state, a man named Dr. Randall Williams.
Now, although Williams did not conduct any new testing of ground water or
these wells near coal ash pits and all this stuff, despite the fact that he
conducted no new scientific inquiry on the subject, the new state health
director, Dr. Williams, decided not long after he started at his new job,
he decided that the state had been not thinking clearly when it sent out
those do not drink orders, when it declared that well water unsafe.
And as a new health director of the state of North Carolina, he decided to
rescind those orders. Remember that do not drink order you got about the
contamination in your well? Never mind. Never mind that. I’m the new
health director. I say it’s fine.
The story did not go away as quietly as Dr. Williams might have hoped
however. In a lawsuit later filed against Duke Energy, the state’s
toxicologist, a guy by the name of Kenneth Rudo (ph), testified that state
officials knowingly told people that their water was safe when we knew it
wasn’t. Rudo had been the state’s toxicologist for nearly 30 years and he
blew the whistle on this specifically calling out the new health director,
Dr. Randall Williams, in this 220-page deposition saying the state’s health
director was to protect public health but in this specific instance, the
opposite occurred. The state toxicologist called the reversal of the “do
not drink” advisory, quote, “highly unethical and possibly illegal.”
The following month, his boss, the state’s epidemiologist, resigned in
protest, saying she could no longer work for a health department and an
administration and a new state health director that, quote, deliberately
was misleading the public.
So, state toxicologist blowing the whistle on what’s going on here. State
epidemiologist resigns in protest, sends this blistering resignation letter
about how the public is being misled, this is wrong, this is unsafe.
They’re saying this possibly illegal.
But the new state health director, Dr. Randall, had a job to do and he
maintained that the epidemiologist and toxicologist, these people were
nuts. He was sure the well water was safe to drink. Why is everybody
being so hysterical?
Dr. Randall Williams ended up testifying in the resulting controversy that
he rescinded the “do not drink” warning noticed because he thought that
they were stirring up unwarranted fears. Getting people all freaked how
the about safety issues where plainly there is nothing to worry about as
far as he’s concerned.
Dr. Randall Williams lasted about 18 months in that job. The one thing
he’s remembered for in his short stint running are the health department in
the state of North Carolina hired by the Duke Energy executive who was
governor at the time, the one thing he’s remembered for is his decision to
rescind the “do not drink the water” orders, you know, and all of the
The state epidemiologist quitting in protest, the state toxicologist
blowing the whistle, announcing that the state health department was
deliberately lying to the public and telling them their water was safe when
it was not. I mean, that’s the scandal that he created in a very short
period of time running the state health department in North Carolina.
That’s what he did in his year and a half as the state health director in
North Carolina. Whoo, and then he was out.
But then he got a new job. May have been sort of a scratch and dent sale
kind of thing but for whatever reason, right after that debacle in North
Carolina, the new Republican governor of Missouri decided to hire him to
come up to Missouri and become that state’s new health director. He was
appointed by the state’s Republican governor before that governor
ultimately had to resign in a big spooky scandal but he was confirmed by
the state’s Republican legislature.
And it is this same guy, Dr. Randall Williams, who is now the man who is
shutting down Missouri’s last remaining abortion provider in the whole
state. And it is he this guy, who has insisted himself that as that last
clinic fights to stay open and he is fighting to shut them down, it is he
who has decided that the doctors in that clinic must now make their
patients get unnecessary internal pelvic exams when they ask for an
abortion, on his orders.
Republican-controlled states are of course, trying to ban abortion all over
the country right now. They all want to get their state’s abortion ban
before the Supreme Court because they all think with Justice Brett
Kavanaugh on the court now, the court will overturn Roe versus Wade. They
all want their state to be first to make abortion illegal.
And that’s what’s going on in Missouri, too. They’ve got their Republican
legislature. They’ve got their new Republican governor, replacing the old
one who left in scandal. It the new one is Mike Parson. He signed their
abortion into law a couple of weeks ago.
And now, today, the Republicans in Missouri state government are taking
further action to stop Missouri voters from getting to have a say on
whether or not that abortion ban will go into effect. So, what’s happening
in Missouri in some ways parallels what’s going on in all these other
Republican-controlled states across the country. They’re all trying to ban
But there is one aspect of the fight going on in Missouri that is
different, which is the active and very close to successful effort right
now by that state government to shut down the last clinic in the state that
is still allowed to provide abortions, in the last clinic in the entire
state of Missouri. And it is a crucial thing to understand here that the
state is not using a new law to try to shut Missouri’s last abortion
provider. This is not part of the abortion ban they just passed which is
going to be tested by the federal courts now. They’re not using the
legislature to revoke the last Planned Parenthood clinic’s license to
perform legal abortion.
What they are doing as they try to shut down that last clinic and stop the
last place in Missouri where a woman can get a legal abortion, what they’re
employing to try to do that is they’re using this guy, Dr. Randall
Williams, Mr. Drink-the-cancer-water. He’s the one who is selectively
enforcing state regulations newly as of this week to try and get abortions
shut down in Missouri. He is the one specifically who lit on this idea to
force Missouri women who still want to go to that last clinic to having an
unnecessary invasive, medically pointless pelvic exam as the new price of
asking for an abortion at that the last clinic.
As of this past week, he is the one requiring doctors in that clinic that
they must do that to their patients. Fresh off his last job making
national news for rescinding the do not drink the water noticed around the
cancer-causing coal ash pits in North Carolina, Dr. Randall Williams says
the reason he is fighting so hard to shut down the last abortion clinic in
Missouri is because of his grave, grave, overriding concern for patient
safety above all else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RANDALL WILLIAMS, MISSOURI HEALTH & SENIOR SERVICES DIRECTOR: What all
us Missourians expect me to do in a regulatory fashion is to enforce the
law, enforce the regulations and keep people safe. It’s just our goal that
it’d be done in a safe way.
Our purpose in all of those is to protect health, keep people safe. We can
never sacrifice safety for that access. We just can never sacrifice safety
for that. We can never do that at the expense of safety.
As I’ve testified in court five types now is that we can never sacrifice
safety for access. We have to have both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We cannot sacrifice safety says Randall Williams. One of the
producers of the show, Kelsey Desiderio, was at the press conference with
Dr. Williams, the state’s health director. She asked Williams whether
shutting down the last abortion provider in the state might actually lead
to an unsafe situation in the state, whether it might actually lead to a
rise in women seeking illegal abortions if he succeeds in getting rid of
the last legal abortion provider in the entire state of Missouri.
I mean, since he’s the guy who is really superworried about women’s safety,
is he at all concerned about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRMS PRODUCER: Are you worried that the lack of access will jeopardize
women’s safety because they’ll be forced to seek an illegal abortion, which
puts them in danger?
WILLIAMS: I do not believe that be true that you see an increase in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why would that happen? I’m not worried about that at all.
If Dr. Randall Williams succeeds, if he gets the last abortion provider in
Missouri shut down, we’re waiting on a judge’s ruling right now to find out
if he’s succeeding in that, if he succeeds, Missouri will be the first
state in the country to go dark in terms of access to legal abortion since
the passage of Roe versus Wade in 1973. But he really does not mind that.
You know, big whoop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Missouri is contiguous to eight states. We in Tennessee share
that distinction. The idea that we are a desert for any type of health
care is one that already doesn’t ring true. I’m sure that there are many
people from all eight of those states who come to our wonderful health care
centers in St. Louis and Springfield and Kansas City all the time. So,
people crossing the state lines to get health care is not an unusual
REPORTER: Abortion advocates say that’s a huge barrier that it’s a burden
for many people in rural areas to get services outside the state. They
have to drive hours to get child care, they’re low income.
WILLIAMS: Well, again, I believe that there are facilities in Illinois
that are 12 miles from her.
REPORTER: From here but not from parts of rural Missouri.
WILLIAMS: Exactly. So, once again, it gets back to the point that I made
earlier, that access is incredibly important. We can never sacrifice
safety for that access.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We are waiting for a judge to make a decision any day now.
Anytime now as to whether or not the last clinic in Missouri will be
allowed to keep its doors open to women in that state, even the one who
have to traverse the entire large state in order to get there.
But meanwhile, any woman who makes it there will have to take off her
clothes and submit to a medically unnecessary vaginal exam on the orders of
Dr. Randall Williams as of this week. Despite her wishes, her doctor’s
wishes, that’s his wishes as state director. He’s the one who came up with
that. And so, women have to do it.
Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We’ll see you again on Monday.
Now, it’s time for “THE LAST WORD” where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence
tonight. Good night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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 content.>
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