Shanahan withdraws from consideration. TRANSCRIPT: 6/19/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
David Cicilline, David Eisenberg
Transcript:

DANIEL WEINER, SENIOR COUNSEL, BRENNAN CENTER DEMOCRACY PROGRAM:  You know,

what I worry about where you asked before, though, is again, what`s going

to be – what are we going to be left with when Donald Trump is not in the

political scene anymore? 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Yes.

 

WEINER:  And that – this is a model for campaigns that could persist long

after he`s gone. 

 

HAYES:  Michelle Lee (ph) and Daniel Weiner, thank you so much for sharing

your time. 

 

That is ALL IN for this evening.

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. 

 

Good evening, Rachel. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  It`s OK, Chris. 

 

HAYES:  You know I did that, because I call him Weiner, I didn`t know if he

was Winer or Wiener, I said Weiner.  That was all in my head about whether

– anyway. 

 

MADDOW:  That`s going to be on your mind all night, my friend. 

 

HAYES:  Follow me on my commute home.  I should probably just e-mail on

what his name is –

 

MADDOW:  You can call me anything you want. 

 

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Happy to have you here. 

 

And, you know, this is one of those days.  I have to tell you, actually,

it`s getting to be a little bit nuts.  This time last night, we were

working on the story of the Trump administration having nominated someone

to be secretary of defense, despite the fact that that nominee was trying

to keep secret a bloody and terrible domestic violence situation in his

family, one that was known to police.  It was starting to be investigated

by the FBI, but that nominee was hoping he would be able to keep it secret

anyway and maybe it wouldn`t come out and he would be able to be the

secretary of defense and nobody would know, right? 

 

It is amazing enough that the White House had been reckless enough to put

somebody who was in that compromised position at the Pentagon at all as

acting defense secretary for six months, let alone they nominated him to

try to confirm him for the position on a permanent basis.  I mean, it`s –

whatever you think about the circumstances of what happened in his family,

the fact that he was trying to keep it secret, I mean, that`s the danger,

right?  That`s the potential liability to black mail or somebody trying to

leverage that secret against him while he`s running the Defense Department. 

 

It emerged after “USA Today” and “The Washington Post” broke that story

yesterday and Patrick Shanahan withdrew his nominations for – to be

defense secretary.  It emerged that U.S. senators on the Armed Services

Committee were especially aggrieved that they had never been notified about

that very serious situation in Shanahan`s background that he was trying to

keep under wraps.  Senators were angry because Shanahan had gone through

the Senate confirmation process actually for a lower level job at the

Defense Department in 2017. 

 

As part of that confirmation process, the administration should have turned

over vetting materials and background check information that provided

senators with that kind of information about that nominee before they held

his confirmation hearings and voted on him.  So, in the Patrick Shanahan

baseball bat beating grim history involving his wife and his son and his

own involvement after the fact in trying to manage the consequences of that

crime. 

 

I mean, when that all came out yesterday, senators were mad that they were

learning about that like all the rest of us were for the first time in the

pages of the “Washington Post.”  They were mad because they had just gone

through Senate confirmation with that guy as the nominee the previous year. 

And none of that stuff had been flagged for them. 

 

So, that`s what we were working through in terms of the news this time last

night.  That was just yesterday.  Well, now I see your acting secretary of

defense vetting disaster conflagration and I raise you Vice President

Pence`s national security adviser. 

 

OK, this is Maria Butina.  See the red-haired woman asking a question

reading off her notes?  That`s Maria Butina.  This is a conservative confab

that happened in Las Vegas in the summer of 2015. 

 

The very first time any presidential candidate running in the 2016 election

weighed in on the issue of Russian sanctions.  It was when this red-haired

woman, Maria Butina, walked up to a microphone at the audience Q&A thing

with then-candidate Donald Trump and she asked candidate Donald Trump about

sanctions on Russia.  And Trump responded with this long soliloquy about

how he liked Vladimir Putin very much and didn`t think he would need the

sanctions and, no, he was against sanctions on Russia.  He`d get rid of

them. 

 

And so, that was July 2015, very early on in the 2016 race.  And, of

course, overtime, the odd dynamic between Trump and Putin and Trump and

Russia and the Trump campaign`s secret discussions with Russia about

dropping sanctions on them, I mean, that would all end up becoming a huge

deal, right?  It became such a big deal.  We still haven`t sorted it all

out.  We are still not over it. 

 

But the very first time, the whole idea of Russia sanctions came up in the

campaign for any candidate, it was through that question at that

conservative confab in Las Vegas in July 2015, a question from the floor

for candidate Trump that elicits the statement from him, I am against the

U.S. government having sanctions on Russia. 

 

And it turns out that woman who asked that question who injected the whole

Russia sanctions thing in the campaign in the first place, it turns out she

would later be indicted as a secret foreign agent running an influence

operation in this country on behalf of the Russian Federation.  The Maria

Butina story is just nuts, right?  I mean, when she was ultimately arrested

and indicted and put in jail, she was described by prosecutors as a secret

agent, basically, working on behalf of the Russian government, regularly

reporting home to her Kremlin handler about how things were going and her

efforts to make contacts and meet influential people inside the Republican

Party, particularly through conservative organizations like the NRA. 

 

But in the charging documents in her case, in an FBI affidavit filed with

the court, the government also described a different person who was

involved in the scheme.  The person named by prosecutors as U.S. person

one.  If you piece it together through various documents and reporting,

U.S. person one in the Butina case appears to be her American boyfriend,

who according to the government, worked closely with her throughout the

duration of her influence operation to try to influence the Republican

Party in a way that would, quote, advance the interests of the Russian

Federation. 

 

There also has been a ton of public-facing report about Maria Butina and

her American boyfriend, including this seminal “New York Times” piece that

broke the news that Paul Erickson, the boyfriend, had during the campaign

in 2016, he had sent to the Trump campaign an e-mail that literally had the

subject line, Kremlin connection.  He was offering in that e-mail to set up

a connection to Donald Trump with an emissary from Vladimir Putin`s office. 

He said he could set Donald Trump up in a meeting with somebody who set an

emissary from Putin, and you can do it at an upcoming NRA event. 

 

So, today, Maria Butina is still in jail.  She pled guilty.  It`s expected

she will be deported back to Russia as soon as she finally gets released

from prison. 

 

Her boyfriend, U.S. person one in Butina case, according to prosecutors, he

helped her throughout with her illegal influence operation that she was

running here on behalf of the Russian government.  He has meanwhile been

indicted himself on financial fraud charges in his home state of South

Dakota.  He`s facing several charges there.  He`s pled not guilty.  He is

awaiting trail. 

 

But the saga of those two, right?  The story of these two even before their

indictments, it`s been like the made-for-TV Technicolor spy movie dramatic

subplot in this whole scandal and the whole investigation and all of it,

right?  I mean, all of this stuff around the Russia scandal is interesting

to a certain degree.  It`s incredible, right, that we are looking at

Russian influence in a U.S. election, and potential leverage over the

campaign and the candidate.  I mean, it`s all pretty cinematic, pretty

cinematic.

 

But when it comes to Maria Butina and Paul Erickson, her American

boyfriend, I mean, that`s the stuff that definitely makes like the trailer

for the movie, right?  What are all these Russians doing with the NRA?  And

why did all those NRA people end up in Moscow at the same time Mike Flynn

was there doing that gala dinner celebrating the Russian propaganda TV

channel where he sat down with Vladimir Putin and is that Jill Stein, the

Green Party candidate there, too?  What?

 

I mean, Maria Butina sends a message to her Kremlin handler the night that

Trump gets elected.  She says, I am ready for further orders.  Then she

immediately sends word to her handler that she has heard that a specific

person is going to be nominated by Trump to be secretary of state and she

sends word of who that person is because she tells her handler, basically,

our people in Russia should have a heads up about that choice, the Russian

government`s opinion on that choice will be taken into consideration.  So,

please, you know, circulate the name and let me know what I should tell

people here about it. 

 

I mean, this is crazy stuff.  The Russian government being consulted on who

Trump is going to pick as secretary of state?  What? 

 

I mean, the Butina and Erickson stuff is the most sparky, most lurid and

therefore I think some of the most heavily covered part of this – the

whole scandal. 

 

Well, Josh Rogin at “The Washington Post” reports tonight that Maria Butina

also turned up at the wedding of Mike Pence`s national security adviser. 

What?  Yes, this was June 2017. 

 

Mike Pence`s national security adviser, a woman named Andrea Thompson, she

got married that summer of 2017, first summer of the Trump administration,

right?  She`s got that awesome new job.  She`s getting married and Maria

Butina was at the wedding. 

 

And why was Maria Butina at that wedding?  Because U.S. person one, her

boyfriend, Paul Erickson, he was officiating the wedding.  Oh. 

 

It also turns out that the man who Mike Pence`s national security adviser,

the man who Andrea Thompson was marrying at their wedding that day, he had

recently given Paul Erickson $100,000.

 

Now, just a quick looky-loo at the timeline here, right?  Trump

administration comes into office the beginning of 2017.  The summer of

2017, Vice President Mike Pence`s national security adviser gets married

and her wedding is officiated by Maria Butina`s boyfriend. 

 

By the end of 2017, there is news reports about Maria Butina and her

boyfriend, including her boyfriend offering to be the Kremlin connection

setting up secret back channel meetings for Trump with people from Putin`s

office.  I mean, this news is like the front page of “The New York Times”

in December 2017.  December 2017, that`s the front page of “The Times”. 

 

Thereafter, in the spring of 2018, Mike Pence`s national security adviser

gets put up for a big new job.  And so, the Senate holds confirmation

hearings to decide whether Andrea Thompson will become the new U.S. under

secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs. 

She goes through that whole confirmation process in the spring of 2018,

knowing that her new husband had given $100,000 to Maria Butina`s boyfriend

and Maria Butina`s boyfriend officiated their wedding. 

 

And he had since been named as one of the people secretly trying to set up

the back channels between Putin and Trump that by then were widely

understood, widely known to be the subject of a major FBI inquiry, the

special counsel`s investigation, and a whole country having its hair on

fire over what happened between Trump and Russia during the campaign, and

what were guys like Maria Butina`s boyfriend doing during the campaign,

offering to set up all these secret back channels to the Kremlin?  Why

would a campaign need that?

 

She knew all of that when she was put up for this top job at the Department

of State, going up for Senate confirmation.  But, apparently, none of it

came up.  Did not mention it. 

 

None of the senators who voted on her confirmation had any idea of any of

that because she didn`t say and nobody told them.  Well, you do want to

know what the job she was up for is really like?  What you have to do on a

day to day basis if you in fact are Senate confirmed, as she was, to be

under secretary of state for arms control and international security

affairs?  You want to know what that job actually is?  What you actually do

when you have that job? 

 

You negotiate with Russia.  You negotiate with the Russians on arms control

treaties.  That`s your job. 

 

So, Josh Rogin spoke with a senior Trump administration official in

response to this scoop today.  That senior administration official told Mr.

Rogin, quote, when the person who marries you gets into trouble with the

Russians and your job is to negotiate with the Russians, you have to

disclose that.  Everybody within an intelligence clearance knows that. 

 

But as Josh Rogin reports today at “The Post”, not only did Andrea Thompson

not report any of this when up for confirmation to be the top negotiator

with Moscow.  Not only did she not disclose it, she never disclosed it to

anyone inside the government.  According to three administration officials,

quote, Thompson never disclosed these ties to her superiors until

approached this week by this columnist. 

 

So that`s what`s going on in the Trump administration tonight.  I mean, we

are trying to get our heads around new and unprecedented stuff from them

all the time, but it is remarkable, right?  We now in the space of 24

hours, we`ve got this twin revelations that the guy who they had working as

acting defense secretary for the last six months, he the whole time was

sitting on an incredibly potent disturbing family secret that he was trying

desperately to keep anyone from knowing about while he was running the

Pentagon.  That is a national security intelligence risk in terms of his

vulnerability to blackmail and leverage.  That is almost impossible to

overstate. 

 

Now, tonight, you can add to that the chief high ranking official

negotiating on arms issues with Russia had a really big Russia-related

secret that she had been sitting on as well, not disclosing it to her

superiors, not disclosing it apparently to the FBI for her background

checks or her clearances.  She can surmise that because it was not

disclosed apparently to the Senate when they voted to confirm her to this

post more than a year ago. 

 

I mean, that`s like – this is like a plot you would invent in a shiny

cover airport novels – airport spy novel, right?  I mean, high level U.S.

government negotiator secretly linked to Russia`s undercover agent.  Russia

knows it.  But the American public doesn`t.  What can Russia do with the

information now they have the top official over a barrel as they head into

arms negotiations and they know that she knows?  I mean, it`s just insane. 

 

And that news breaking tonight as Russian military intelligence is being

called out internationally for this catastrophe which happened five years

ago next month.  If you think back to the summer of 2014, you will remember

this.  This was the shoot down of MH-17, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. 

 

This was not the plane that disappeared.  This was the commercial airliner

full of civilians that was shot out of the sky.  Two hundred ninety-eight

souls aboard, most of them Dutch citizens.  The flight originated in

Amsterdam, was heading to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

 

As that plane was flying over Ukraine, over eastern Ukraine where Russia

was waging basically an undeclared war at the time, that passenger plane

was hit with a sophisticated military anti-aircraft missile.  Everybody on

board was killed, 298 people killed.  Their bodies and debris from the

crash strewn over a large area of rural eastern Ukraine. 

 

Investigators from the Netherlands and from Malaysia and from Ukraine, also

from Australia and Belgium who also had their citizens on board, they

formed an international group to jointly investigate this and have

diligently and aggressively investigated the circumstances of that crash,

right?  How could it be that 300 civilians could be shot out of the sky on

a well-marked commercial plane, on a civilian passenger airliner, on a

normal. not off track flight? 

 

What they determined over the course of this five years of investigating is

that the plane was definitely shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air

missile.  They figured out where it was fired from.  They figured out which

Russian anti-aircraft missile brigade it to be traced to.  That kind of

missile is shot from a big bulky unmistakable anti-aircraft system that is

not a little thing.  It`s not a thing that you cover up in the back of the

truck.  You can`t move it in a subtle way. 

 

As Andrew Kramer reports for “The New York Times” today, quote: Western

analysts have said it was improbable that anyone other than a senior

Russian military commander if not President Putin himself could have

ordered the bulky anti-aircraft system mounted on a tracked vehicle to be

deployed across an international border. 

 

Well, today, the Dutch-led international investigative team announced

charges – criminal charges against four suspects in these 298 murders. 

The suspects announced today, charged today, include a colonel from the

FSB, the Russian spy service, and two officers from the GRU, the same

military intelligence agency that ran the Russian attack on our 2016

election, the same military intelligence agency that`s alleged to have

carried out the nerve agent poisoning of a Russian dissident and his

daughter in Salisbury in the U.K.

 

Russia, of course, still denies having anything to do with the shoot down

of MH-17.  But in addition to these charges announced today, the

international prosecutors also named and implicated a senior aide to Putin

himself for having been involved at the highest level in organizing the

transfer of military equipment that made the shoot down possible.  And so,

Russia doesn`t want to admit it.  They do not want to have to answer for

this and I think their denials are good enough. 

 

But this has been, I`m sure, an emotional day for the families of the

victims of that disaster five years ago.  It is astonishing that Russia is

still denying all responsibility for it.  But now, these guys are going to

get charged and I`m sure Russia will not extradite them.  And so, they will

be charged in absentia when their trial starts in the spring.

 

Prosecutors, though, they do say they`re going to seek international arrest

warrants and they say they`re looking for still more witnesses to

potentially charge more people.  That happens today, also today. 

 

And because the news gods have basically been humming the same theme all

day, this afternoon, we also got word about a newly reported U.S. federal

criminal investigation involving a major international bank that has been

implicated in billions of dollars in Russian money laundering.  It`s a bank

called Deutsche Bank that has also come under scrutiny by law enforcement

and congressional investigators not only for that Russian money laundering

problem they are on the hook for.  They`ve also come under scrutiny for the

bank`s somewhat inexplicable, long financial history with President Trump

and his businesses. 

 

Just yesterday, the president`s lawyers filed this lengthy argument in the

Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals trying to block Deutsche Bank from

handing over records related to Trump and his businesses, records that have

been subpoenaed by congressional committees.  One federal judge has already

ordered that those subpoenas are valid and Deutsche Bank has to comply with

them.  Trump and his lawyers are trying to get this appeals court now to

stop that ruling, to block that subpoena, to stop Deutsche Bank from

handing over his records. 

 

But now, David Enrich, Ben Protess and William Rashbaum at “The New York

Times” report that  what started as a Russian money laundering

investigation at Deutsche Bank has been an investigation into something

very specific and related to high ranking White House officials.  It is

become an investigation into whether Deutsche Bank broke money laundering

laws or committed other crimes in their handling of what are called

suspicious activity reports, quote, that its employees prepared about

possibly problematic transactions include being some linked to President

Trump`s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. 

 

Both the Kushner family real estate business and the president and the

president`s businesses have been deeply involved in financing deals with

Deutsche Bank.  “The Time” had previously spoken with whistleblowers who

alleged that Deutsche Bank employees had flagged transactions involving the

Kushner family business and also Trump business entities, had flagged them

as potentially suspicious transactions, but higher ups at Deutsche Bank had

sat on those reports and not submitted them to the government for

investigation. 

 

Now, “The Times” reports that those whistleblowers have been contacted by

the FBI and “The Times” reports there is an active criminal investigation

underway involving the FBI, the Justice Department`s money laundering and

asset recovery section, and the U.S. attorney`s office in both Manhattan

and Brooklyn. 

 

You will recall that the U.S. attorney`s office in Manhattan is the one

that has already named the president as individual one in multiple campaign

finance felonies to which the lawyer is now serving a prison sentence. 

 

And all this news breaks on the day that Congress for the first time today

took testimony from a Trump White House official on the issue of the

Mueller investigation and Russian interference in the election.  They had

their first witness from the Trump White House. 

 

Former Trump Organization employee, former White House communications

director Hope Hicks testified behind closed doors to the Judiciary

Committee today.  She was there for seven hours.  One of the members who

questioned her joins us live, next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  The former White House communications director Hope Hicks spent

seven hours with the Judiciary Committee today in the House, behind closed

doors.  The White House has made clear they will try to prevent any White

House official from testifying about time working in the White House. 

 

But in addition that, on the eve of Hicks` testimony, last night, we got

this rocket from the White House claiming that Hope Hicks not only couldn`t

testify about her time in the White House, but they were also giving her a

cloak of invisibility covering her whole life, giving her absolute immunity

so she doesn`t have to answer anything.  The committee`s chairman wrote

back to the White House, rejecting that voodoo out of hand.

 

But heading in today, nobody really knew how this would work.  Nobody knew

what would happen when Hope Hicks showed up.  The testimony, as I said, was

behind closed doors, so we can`t show that to you.  We couldn`t see it for

ourselves. 

 

But members of the committee did talk to reporters today about how it was

going and they sounded – well, they sounded like this. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Were you satisfied with her response about hush money payments? 

 

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX):  I think we will have to move towards a

court proceedings to delve into those questions. 

 

REPORTER:  What about her knowledge of the campaign – the knowledge on the

campaign of hush money payments?  Were you satisfied with what she said

about them? 

 

LEE:  Well, since they are still questioning, I said I would just say that

this is a building block and there are a lot of unanswered questions. 

 

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA):  I`m watching obstruction of justice in action.  You

have the White House asserting absolutely immunity, which is not a thing. 

It doesn`t exist.  And you have to ask a question, what are they trying to

hide from the American people. 

 

REPORTER:  So, they are preventing her from talking to anything? 

 

LIEU:  Anything related to her tenure in the White House, absolutely.  Even

something as simple as where was your office located?  Objection.  It`s

ridiculous. 

 

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  It`s proceeding.  The witness has been

directed by the White House and the president not to answer questions. 

This is an ongoing effort, I think, by the president of the United States

and the White House to prevent Congress from getting to the truth and

getting the answers we deserve. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us now is Congressman David Cicilline, who you just saw

there, from the great state of Rhode Island.  He was on the committee.  He

was in the room for today`s interview with Hope Hicks.  She is the first

Trump White House official to be questioned by Congress since the release

of the Mueller report.

 

Sir, I thank you for being here.  Appreciate your time. 

 

CICILLINE:  My pleasure. 

 

MADDOW:  So, your frustration, I don`t know you that well, but I talked to

you a few times, I feel like I can read your body language a little bit. 

And I felt like you were seething with frustration there. 

 

CICILLINE:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  Am I right to read that? 

 

CICILLINE:  You are right to read that.  This is a very important witness

to hear from.  She was a member of the president`s inner circle.  She was

there when the president directed the outside individual, Corey

Lewandowski, to directing the attorney general of the United States to

order the special counsel to limit his investigation to future campaigns

and not look at the current presidential campaign. 

 

She was there when Don McGahn was directed by the president to fire the

special counsel and then lie about it and prepare false documents to

support that lie.  She was there when Director Comey was fired. 

 

So, she`s a very important witness.  However, throughout her testimony

today, she was directed by the White House counsel and the lawyers there

for the president not to answer questions.  They objected to any question

that posed to Hope Hicks that had to do with anything she observed or did

during the course of her employment in the White House, claiming absolute

immunity which doesn`t exist. 

 

This idea that you are immune from ever being asked anything about your

service simply because you worked for the president doesn`t exist.  They

know that.  A court rejected it. 

 

This is an effort for the president to make sure that witnesses do not

share valuable information to the committee to continue in this ongoing

cover up to prevent the American people from knowing the full truth.  This

is all put before the committee.  It`s on the record.  The next step will

be for the committee to go to court to compel the testimony of this witness

and to kind of strike down this claim of absolute immunity. 

 

We don`t have a king.  No one has absolute immunity in this country. 

Everyone is subject to the law of the land and these witnesses will be

ordered to testify. 

 

MADDOW:  If court proceedings are next, as you just says, as we saw Sheila

Jackson Lee today, as we saw Chairman Nadler talked about today, what does

that mean for Hope Hicks?  Is this a lawsuit against her?  Or is this a

court order that she would be in personal legal jeopardy if she chose to

defy it or chose to evade it in some way as a witness, as an individual? 

 

We`re going to have Annie Donaldson, there`s going to be other witnesses

that are going to be put in the same position by the White House.  How much

trouble can they get in when you start taking these matters to court? 

 

CICILLINE:  Well, the issue will be settled first in the litigation that we

brought to enforce the subpoena against Don McGahn.  If you remember, he

made the claim with absolute immunity.  In fact, he said he didn`t have to

show up. 

 

So, that will be litigated first.  The court will then decide whether or

not this doctrine which they have created is valid.  We all expect that

they will reject it and say there was no such thing. 

 

That will apply to all the witnesses that claimed absolute immunity and

require them to come back and provide testimony.  If they don`t, then that

will require separate action to compel them.  But the first instance, I

expect, will be Don McGahn.  I think that will be the first litigation. 

That`s the witness that didn`t appear at all and claimed absolute immunity. 

 

MADDOW:  Is this going to be the kind of thing where there`s a legal fight

that stretches beyond the amount of time that Donald Trump is president and

we`re going to finally have this stuff resolved years down the road? 

 

CICILLINE:  No – 

 

MADDOW:  Or are these proceedings that you think are meaningfully going to

work functionally to get testimony and soon? 

 

CICILLINE:  I think they absolutely are going to meaningfully work.  I

think the court will give expedited consideration to this.  This is very

clearly a tactic by the White House and by the president to delay and to

impede and obstruct Congress from getting to the facts and continue to

behave like somehow he is above the law.  I think the court will respond

quickly to this and render a decision that will allow the committee to

continue to collect evidence and do our job. 

 

MADDOW:  Briefly, Congressman, I know that you and a number of other

members today said that we should wait for the transcripts of what happened

today with Hope Hicks, that the transcript will be released soon. 

Obviously, you are expressing the frustration and talking about next steps

in terms of the question she wouldn`t answer.  We know she did answer some

things, including about her time on the campaign. 

 

When do you expect we will get that transcript from you? 

 

CICILLINE:  The transcript should be available within 48 hours.  So, in

very short order. 

 

MADDOW:  Congressman David Cicilline from the great state of Rhode Island,

Judiciary Committee member – sir, thank you.  Much appreciated. 

 

CICILLINE:  My pleasure.

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Actually, we got some breaking news coming up next on

a story that we have been covering very closely on this show, a story on

which we did a special report a couple of weeks ago.  There is considerably

important breaking news on that story tonight.  We are going have that for

you right after this break. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  It has been 21 days.  Right now, the state of Missouri has just

one abortion provider at Planned Parenthood at St. Louis.  We have talking

about how they are trying to shut down the clinic by threatening to yank

their license, to stop them from providing abortions. 

 

As of now, that last clinic, the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis is

hanging on by a thread, and Missouri is close to becoming the first state

in the country with zero access to legal abortion.  The clinic`s fight to

stay open has been tied up in court.  The judge has given both sides until

Friday, Friday of this week, to decide whether or not the clinic can stay

open, whether women can still get a legal abortion in that whole state. 

 

And as you know, access to abortion has been under attack in Republican-

controlled states and in Missouri in particular, for the better part of a

decade and in an accelerating way since President Trump got to put two

nominees on the U.S. Supreme Court.  But something specific changed in this

fight 21 days ago.  Every year, that Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri

has to renew their license with the state government.  They have to show

they are complying with all the health rules and regulations in the state

of Missouri to be allowed to stay open and keep performing abortions.  If

they check all the boxes, if they follow all the rules there, they are

supposed to get their license.  It`s a pretty simple thing. 

 

Well, this year when Planned Parenthood went to renew, there were no new

laws they had to newly start following.  There were no new rules or

regulations that had been put on the books that they had to newly start

following.  It was the same set of working instructions as all the times

before both in terms of laws and regulations. 

 

But starting 21 days ago, the state told Planned Parenthood that now, in

order to stay open, now, in order to keep their license, the state says

that clinic must subject every woman who seeks abortion to a mandatory,

medically unnecessary internal pelvic examination.  I mean, doctors already

administrator a pelvic exam right before an abortion.  That is medically

necessary.  That is fine with them.

 

But when Planned Parenthood went to renew their license this year, the

state told them they had to start doing this extra thing, another pelvic

exam, an extra one.  An extra internal vaginal examination that is

mandatory, at least three days before the woman actually goes to get her

abortion.  She has to do this first, three days ahead of time. 

 

She doesn`t want it.  Doctors don`t want to do it.  The state health

director now says you have to do it. 

 

The state is citing the same rules and regulations that have been on the

books for years as the reason they were making Planned Parenthood start to

do this to their patients.  But the state had never interpreted any state

laws or regulations in this way before.  This is new. 

 

For whatever reason, the state decided they would enforce laws a new way

this year and put patients through this extra vaginal exam that they don`t

need, that they didn`t have to get before.  They said that now for the

first time, Planned Parenthood has to start asking women to take their

clothes off and submit to an intrusive vaginal inspection that they don`t

need before they`re allowed to even start the process of getting an

abortion three days later. 

 

Either do that or the state said the clinic would be shut down.  All

abortion services will be shut down in that clinic.  Missouri will no

longer have any legal abortion provider. 

 

And so, the doctors at that Planned Parenthood clinic facing this new

ultimatum from the state, they said OK.  They said they would start

performing those extra, medically unnecessary pelvic exams.  The patients

don`t need them.  Doctors don`t want to give them, but if they said no, if

they refused, then the clinic would be closed, leaving the state of

Missouri without a single abortion provider in the whole state. 

 

That was the situation we discovered when we went to St. Louis a few weeks

ago to talk to the staff and the doctors of that clinic, right after they

had to start complying with this new interpretation of the law.  They told

us how traumatizing it was for their patients and honestly for the doctors

too who had to administer these exams by orders of the state government. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

KAWANNA SHANNON, ST. LOUIS PLANNED PARENTHOOD DIRECTOR OF SURGICAL

SERVICES:  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 that

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 that this is not our doing.  We do not

want to violate your rights.  We do want to make you do unnecessary,

invasive procedures that we wouldn`t do at this moment. 

 

And most women are quite disturbed at that, but they are pretty remarkable

because they are actually apologizing to my doctors, saying, 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. 

 

The state continues to put us in a position where we are 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 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 Missouri. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The physicians from that clinic describing this as state-

sanctioned sexual assault. 

 

So, that all started 21 days ago in Missouri.  State government enforcing

the law in way they have never done before to force patients, force these

women to withstand a medically unnecessary vaginal probe before they can

get an abortion.  For 21 days, the doctors of this clinic had to tell their

patients to take off their clothes for no medical reason, newly mandated by

the state. 

 

For 21 days, they had to insert instruments into their patients` vaginas

for no medical reason, duly mandated by the state.  For 21 days, they

performed what they considered to be state-sanctioned sexual assaults on

their patients, newly mandated by the state.  For 21 days, the doctors put

up with it. 

 

Well, tonight, the doctors say enough is enough.  Quote: Planned Parenthood

of St. Louis, Missouri`s last remaining abortion clinic, says it will no

longer conduct a second pelvic exam that state regulators have recently

mandated.  Planned Parenthood doctors say the examination is unethical and

they stand by the decision even as it moves the clinic one step closer

toward losing its license. 

 

CBS News was first to report this tonight.  I should tell you, there was

some confusion in the first version of the story.  CBS initially reported

that the Planned Parenthood was defying a state regulation by refusing to

administer this second unnecessary pelvic exam.  They since corrected that

part of the story, but that is not what`s happening here. 

 

The state government moved the goal post this year, right?  The state

government changed the rules of the game and reinterpreted existing laws

and regulations as a new way to force Planned Parenthood to perform this

invasive, unnecessary procedure on women who want an abortion.  A lot of

people have I think guessed or surmised that the state was trying to bully

the doctors by making them do this to their patients, that they were trying

to get the doctors themselves to throw up their hands and say, no, shut us

down. 

 

The Planned Parenthood is not rejecting anything in state law in Missouri. 

They are not defying the law.  They are not defying regulations.  They are

rejecting the state`s brand-new reading, brand new interpretation of the

law which is what is making them force women to take off their clothes, put

their feet in stir ups and get a pelvic, invasive exam that they don`t need

as the cost of asking for an abortion in Missouri. 

 

Planned Parenthood, as of tonight, says enough.  We have been doing this

for 21 days and we are not going to do it anymore. 

 

The medical director of that clinic joins us next.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us now is Dr. David Eisenberg.  He`s the medical director

at the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic that is the last abortion

provider standing in Missouri. 

 

Dr. Eisenberg, thank you so much for being here.  I know this is a

stressful and busy time for you. 

 

DR. DAVID EISENBERG, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, ST. LOUIS PLANNED PARENTHOOD:  It is

and I really appreciate the opportunity and for you to tell our story so

well in the national media and explain what`s been happening for women in

Missouri. 

 

MADDOW:  Well, thank you for saying that.  I wanted to start off by giving

you the opportunity to correct me if I have been getting any of this wrong. 

Honestly, some of this really feels like dystopian fiction, so I would be

delighted if I have any of this wrong.  But basically the way we`ve been

telling the story is accurate as you understand it? 

 

EISENBERG:  It is perfectly accurate.  As a physician who`s been the one

taking care of women in the state of Missouri for the last three weeks at

the our Planned Parenthood and health center forced to do things that seem

unthinkable, as you said, dystopian.  It has been a difficult reality for

me and my patients. 

 

And, you know, we do everything we can to provide the highest quality

patient-centered care that Planned Parenthood has been known for for over

100 years.  We take that really seriously.  And the idea that we`ve been

having to put women through something that`s totally unnecessary,

uncomfortable, inhumane, just because the state has reinterpreted the

rules, just doesn`t seem fair. 

 

Abortion care is health care.  And we don`t ask to be treated differently,

we ask to be treated the same as every other health care provider.  And the

patients who come to us for care don`t want to be kicked around like a

political football by Governor Parson or Department of Health here in

Missouri. 

 

MADDOW:  When the state decided to newly interpret regulations and state

laws to require you to do this new exam that you didn`t have to do before,

the one that you`ve just described in those vivid terms, did they warn you

they were making this change in interpretation?  Did they tell you why they

were doing it?  Did they give you any indication as to what they think this

is for? 

 

EISENBERG:  You know, I honestly don`t have a good explanation for why. 

There`s no medical or legal justification.  The American College of

Obstetrics and Gynecology, which I`m a member of, the American College of

Physicians, all support the idea that having a pelvic exam is an invasive

and uncomfortable experience for patients, but it`s justified when there`s

a medical need for it. 

 

If a patient`s having a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer, STD

testing, for instance, or just before a surgical abortion procedure so I

can understand her pelvic anatomy before I perform her abortion.  Abortion

care is health care.  A patient who`s about to have a colonoscopy has a

rectal exam done by their physician just before the colonoscopy, but not

three days in advance. 

 

MADDOW:  Dr. Eisenberg, I know that you and your colleagues have made a

remarkable decision as of today that you are going to stop going along with

what the state government of Missouri has been making you do for the past

three weeks.  If you could stay with us for another few minutes, I`d love

to talk to you in detail about how you arrived at that decision and what

you think will happen as a consequence. 

 

Can you stay with us?

 

EISENBERG:  I can.

 

MADDOW:  Great.  Dr. David Eisenberg, who is the medical director at

reproductive health services of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, Missouri,

he and his colleagues have decided to stop complying with what the state

has been making them do for the past 21 days.  We`ve been covering the

story extensively.  We`re going to hear the story about that decision by he

and his colleagues when we come back. 

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  CBS News was first to report tonight that the doctors at the last

Planned Parenthood clinic, the last abortion provider in the state of

Missouri, who have recently been ordered by that state to provide basically

punitive, medically unnecessary pelvic exams to their patients as a new

requirement for getting an abortion in that state, CBS was first to report

tonight that that clinic, the physicians at that clinic, have decided to

stop complying with that order, that new order, from the state government. 

 

Joining us again is Dr. David Eisenberg.  He`s medical director at the St.

Louis Planned Parenthood clinic that just made this decision. 

 

Dr. Eisenberg, can you just tell us about you and your colleagues and how

you arrived at this decision tonight, and what you think the consequences

will be as you fight to keep your clinic open? 

 

EISENBERG:  So this is not the first time that the state has redefined

already existing rules around abortion care to try to limit access to

abortion care in Missouri.  Last year, they forced us to start doing pelvic

exams for women choosing pill abortions in Missouri.  Most women who choose

pill abortions all over the country don`t have to take their pants off.  We

can determine if they`re an appropriate candidate for a pill abortion with

an ultrasound on their abdomen, on their lower tummy, you know?

 

And the fact is, they might have to unbutton the top of their high-waisted

jeans, but that`s really as invasive as it gets.  They get to administer

medications, then pass the pregnancy at home.  It`s a very common process. 

 

We were forced last year to make an impossible decision as to whether we

choose to do pelvic exams for women wanting a pill abortion knowing there`s

no medical utility when the state redefined that their interpretation.  And

we said, you know, it`s not going to compromise access because we have a

health center in Illinois where women can get a pill abortion the same day

without a three-day waiting period. 

 

And our physicians said, we`re not going to do those pelvic exams for those

women because they can get that care elsewhere.  This year, despite all

that conversation, and the fact that the state watched me do pelvic exams

prior to the procedure, on the procedure day, when it`s medically

appropriate, they said, this year , we`re going to reinterpret the rules

again and say, you know what, you`ve got to do a pelvic exam as part of

that informed consent. 

 

I don`t have an explanation for why.  But what I can tell you is I work

with some of the most highly trained, highly qualified, and compassionate

health care providers, physicians, nurses, medical assistants, front desk

staff, who work as a team to ensure the best quality of care for our

patients.  That`s patient centered and that respects our patients` values. 

 

And for the last three weeks, we felt like we had to make an impossible

choice between ensuring access to care and compromising my medical ethics. 

And I`ve been the one to do it.  I`ve said to patients, I am sorry, more

times than I can count the last three weeks. 

 

And I have to say, I`m tired of doing that.  I cannot justify the harm that

is being inflicted on my patients for the last three weeks just so they can

get one of the safest types of medical care provided anywhere in this

country.  The fact that Missouri is holding women`s access to care hostage

and threatening the last bit of abortion access we have left in this state

at my health center, I think it`s time for us to stand up and fight back. 

 

MADDOW:  Dr. David Eisenberg, medical director of reproductive health

services at Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, Missouri, I know you have an

important court date this week as you fight to keep this clinic open, as

you wrestle with these ethical issue and the position the state has put you

in, please keep us apprised. 

 

EISENBERG:  We`ll do the best we can and we`re going to be here to take

care of patients not matter what. 

 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  That does it for our show tonight.  We will see you again

tomorrow. 

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence. 

 

                                                                                               

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