Vice President Pence to visit Miami Tuesday. TRANSCRIPT: 6/24/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Veronica Escobar, Brigitte Amiri
Transcript:

HAYES:  Michelle Goldberg, Tiffany Cross, and Michael Tomasky, thank you

all for being with me tonight. 

 

That is ALL IN for this evening. 

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. 

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

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

appreciated. 

 

HAYES:  You bet. 

 

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 

 

You might have heard the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020

election will be held this week in Miami on Wednesday night and also on

Thursday night, which is why I am in Miami tonight.  I`ll be here all week. 

Tip your waitress.  Try the veal. 

 

We`re starting to get reports about people setting up debate watch parties

all over the country for Wednesday night and Thursday night.  We are

certainly seeing all the candidates roll out big bunches of new plans and

new statements and new parts of their stump speeches as they get ready for

this big doubleheader of ten-sided competitions that we are about to

attempt to put on television. 

 

I say we are attempting to put it on television because it is exactly as

hard as you might expect to prepare for this kind of debate.  There`s a

reason you don`t put ten people onstage at once unless they are dancing in

a coordinated fashion. 

 

Nevertheless, we shall do it.  And, you know, it is hard not to sense that

the White House and the Trump administration might not be almost as focused

on this first debate as the Democratic candidates are.  Tomorrow morning,

for example, Vice President Mike Pence will be here in Miami, of all

places, and spare thought for Vice President Pence at this difficult time,

when you consider what exactly he has been tasked with doing here on his

Miami trip tomorrow, the day before all the Democratic candidates start

debating here. 

 

I kid you not, Mike Pence is coming to Miami tomorrow for a Latinos for

Trump kickoff event.  To be followed quickly by a vice presidential trip to

the National Hurricane Center for a photo op.  Given the almost

unimaginable catastrophe of the Trump administration`s response to

Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and their unrepentant blame everybody else

response to the deaths of nearly 3,000 American citizens in that disaster,

you might not expect the Latinos for Trump kickoff event to be punctuated

by a visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the National Hurricane Center

for a trip down memory lane, as to how the Trump administration fatally

botched that hurricane response in Puerto Rico. 

 

But then, again, you might not expect the vice president to be dispatched

to the Latinos for Trump kickoff event.  Just days after President Trump

promised that he was dispatching federal agents to go round up millions of

immigrants in this country, men, women, and children, whole families. 

President promised the nationwide raids were coming. 

 

Then this weekend, not just presidential chest pounding but actual Homeland

Security Department plans to round up about 2,000 people, mainly – mainly

families on Sunday of this weekend, that was reported first by the

“Washington Post” and then soon confirmed by other news organizations.  No

sooner was the roundup all the immigrant families on Sunday morning plan

confirmed. 

 

And the president, himself, got back online and announced that actually he

had called off those raids.  Quote: At the request of the Democrats.

 

So, over the last few days, the president has crowed to the country and in

particular to all the millions of immigrants living in this country that

the house-to-house, church-to-church, school-to-school, mass roundups are

about to begin and maybe it`s going to be for millions, maybe it`s going to

be for thousands but then, no, whiplash, he`s only staying his hand in

stopping that for now because the Democrats asked him to.  And now, Vice

President Pence, would you please go to Miami and kick off the launch of

Latinos for Trump. 

 

I mean, presumably, the thinking here is that they would like to goose the

Democratic presidential field in expressing more outrage over the

Republican Party`s treatment of immigrants and president Trump`s ever

intensifying performative cruelty toward immigrant families in particular,

right?  The more shocking the better in the Trump era Republican Party.  I

think the calculation is that the more upset and vocal Democrats get in

defending immigrants, and denouncing the Trump administration`s treatment

and demonization of immigrants, the more the Trump Republican Party and the

Trump White House can excite his base and solidify this idea that

Republicans stand with white people against immigrants and the Democrats

are for people who aren`t from here. 

 

I mean, that seems to be the calculation, particularly, around the

political timing of their performatively cruel policy announcements. 

 

And I don`t know if Vice President Pence shares President Trump`s instincts

and inclinations on this as a great wedge issue, as a great way to, you

know, troll the Dems and make them mad and make them, thereby, play into

your own political strategy.  But that will be Vice President Pence`s task

here in Miami tomorrow, and it comes at a time when the human costs of this

political strategy in the Trump era are becoming quite impossible to

ignore, because whatever the political calculation around this as a – as

a, you know, horror movie that is designed for political advantage on even

the entertainment of people and politicians who can benefit from it, on the

actual border, in our actual country, this horror movie is real, and it is

real lives and real. 

 

This is Veronica Escobar.  She is a new Democratic member of Congress from

El Paso, Texas.  When Beto O`Rourke gave up his seat in the House to run

for Senate against Ted Cruz, a race he came close to winning which launched

his presidential bid, it was Veronica Escobar who ended up running as the

Democratic nominee to succeed Beto O`Rourke for that seat.  It was a six-

way Democratic primary for Beto O`Rourke`s seat and Veronica Escobar won it

running away with 61 percent of the vote. 

 

On election night in 2018, she became the first woman to ever represent

that district in El Paso.  District is majority Hispanic.  It`s right on

the border, in El Paso. 

 

When she was campaigning to win her seat in the summer of 2018, you might

remember a national – a moment of national attention during that campaign. 

Then-candidate Veronica Escobar helped lead the protests in Tornillo,

Texas, where the Trump administration had started holding kids in tent

cities, kids that they had taken away from their parents, in the Trump

administration`s zero zero-tolerance policy. 

 

Now, that zero-tolerance policy of taking kids away from their families,

taking kids away from their moms and dads, that supposedly was ended by the

Trump administration, but as we all now know, even though they named –

they ended that policy in name, they kept taking kids away from their

parents.  The ACLU obtained documents in court as recently as last week

that showed that the Trump administration did discontinue that policy in

name, but they have absolutely kept separating kids from their moms and

dads. 

 

And the physical conditions in which the Trump administration is holding

people on the border, and holding kids on the border, if you`re somebody

like Victoria Escobar representing Greater El Paso, I mean, it`s impossible

not to see.  I mean, obviously, this is a national interest.  This is

something we will all have to answer for one day to our makers, right? 

 

But in her case, taking care of her district means dealing with some of

these facilities and people being treated this way in the part of the

country that she represents in Washington.  For example, there was this

report last month from the inspector general of the department of homeland

security, report about a facility called the Paso del Norte processing

center which is in El Paso, and what the inspector general reported was

that that facility has a maximum capacity of 125 persons. 

 

When the I.G. sent people there to look at the facility, though, they were

not at their maximum capacity of 125 people.  That facility, instead, was

holding 900 people.  Capacity for 125, holding 900. 

 

One cell, alone, a large cell that was designed to hold 35 people, it was

stuffed with 155 people instead.  To get air, to get breathing room, people

were standing on the toilets in that facility because, of course, the

toilets are out in the open in that facility, or at least they`re out in

what would have been the open had there been room for open space at all

between all of the bodies crammed into it. 

 

Congresswoman Escobar responded bluntly to that I.G. report.  Quote:

Today`s report is alarming.  It publicly confirms what I have witnessed

firsthand for months.  The conditions of our processing facilities stripped

migrants of their dignity and represent a serious danger to the health and

safety of migrants and agents.

 

Well, that I.G. report was last month.  Now, over the past several days,

another facility near El Paso, this one is just outside Escobar`s district

in the city of Clint, Texas, it has become the source of just unimaginable

reports from witnesses, from lawyers, who along with doctors and

interpreters, have been able to get inside.  These are lawyers who all but

stumbled upon a brand-new Trump administration crisis when they found a

facility holding kids that nobody had said was holding kids.

 

The border patrol station in Clint, Texas, is not designed to hold kids. 

Historically, it has been an adult facility and everybody thought that`s

what it still was.  But when lawyers trying to monitor compliance with

government rules about how kids are supposed to be treated in border patrol

custody, when those lawyers learned that there were kids being held at this

border patrol station that wasn`t designed to hold kids, that was only

designed to hold adult men.  And those lawyers followed that news and they

got themselves in there to see the conditions, what they found was both

almost describable and something they felt needed to immediately be

described to the public because we needed to know this was happening. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

WARREN BINFORD, WILLAMETTE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF LAW:  Well, we saw

children who were being forced to live in horrendous conditions that no

child should ever have to live in.  You`ve mentioned the influenza outbreak

where children were put into isolation.  You`ve mentioned the lice

infestation in one of the rooms that resulted in the border patrol guards

moving all bedding from the cell that the children were being kept in and

forced to sleep on the cement ground.  Many children reported that they

regularly were forced to sleep on the cement including infants and toddlers

and preschoolers. 

 

We heard about – we saw the children who were dirty and some of them

smelled.  We saw their clothes were stained.  There was no soap.  They were

infrequently allowed to brush their teeth or take a shower.  Even then, it

was only for a moment or two. 

 

They were being fed Franken food that isn`t suitable to give children

especially on a daily basis and given the same breakfast, same lunch, same

dinner day after day.  We`re talking about instant foods.  We`re talking

about Kool-Aid.  We`re talking about frozen burrito burritos.  It is not a

way to care for children who are our responsibility as a nation. 

 

We did not even into this border patrol facility on our radar when we were

planning our trip, this inspection.  We had heard the week before we left

that there were children that were in recent weeks being moved to this

facility so we showed up in not sure how many children were going to be in

this facility with maximum capacity of 104. 

 

There were over 350 children, Chris, and we scanned the list and

immediately we saw zero, zero, one, two, four, five.  They were all ages. 

They were infants, toddlers, preschoolers and we couldn`t figure out where

they were keeping them. 

 

So, we talked to the chief officer and he indicated they had recently

expanded the facility but we couldn`t see an expansion.  So after we were

done with interviewing on the first day, we drove around the facility and

the only thing that we could see that appeared to be new was a metal

warehouse with no windows and we couldn`t fathom that the American

government would truly be keeping hundreds of children in a metal

warehouse.  And, yet, in fact, when we came back the next day and we asked

the border patrol and we asked the children, that was, in fact, where many,

many of the children were being kept. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  One of the lawyers who has become now for us as a country one of

the key witnesses describing what has been happening under the Trump

administration on the border, which we otherwise wouldn`t know had these

lawyers not been able to get in there.  I mean, that we are hearing about

these conditions at this facility, I mean, again, you can – you can tell

there from the way the lawyer`s telling the story, that happened because of

a few different things coming together that very easily might not have come

together.  I mean, by happenstance, the lawyers reviewing compliance of

government rules, holding kids in border patrol facilities and facilities

like this, they happened upon this facility where nobody knew kids were

being held. 

 

By chance they discovered, basically followed leads as they could find

them.  This discovered this undeclared, undisclosed new warehouse where

apparently hundreds more kids have been held – again, a facility that

nobody knew about.  The lawyer we just heard from on my colleague, Chris

Hayes` show, she told NPR the reason she and her colleagues have witnessed

conditions, have been able to speak out, is because they essentially

decided amongst themselves that they had to, even though they never speak

to the media about their site visits, they decided that in this instance,

this is a life-threatening situation. 

 

This is such an emergency that it has to be addressed separate from ongoing

litigation about the conditions in these places.  People need to know this

is happening now.  And so they have come to the press.  They never go to

the press.  In this case, they decided they needed to. 

 

So, that story, in particular, about that border patrol facility in Clint,

Texas, that has broken over just the last several days.  As I mentioned,

that facility in Clint is just outside El Paso, just outside the bounds of

Veronica Escobar`s congressional district. 

 

Today, Congresswoman Escobar was the first to let the world know that

presumably in response to this burst of publicity, the Trump administration

has now quietly started taking all the kids out of that place and moving

them somewhere else. 

 

Quote: This morning, my office was informed that only 30 children remain in

the Clint border patrol station in El Paso County.  Last week, lawyers

found 255 kids in beyond alarming condition in the same station.  Many

questions remain to understand what happened and the Trump administration

should answer. 

 

How many children in Clint were separated from their parents?  What is the

administration doing to reunite these families?  Who will be held

accountable for these atrocities? 

 

Children do not belong in detention and Donald Trump`s failed policies are

only harming children and promoting needless and cruel family separations. 

This must end.

 

Joining us now is Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of Texas. 

 

Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us tonight.  I really

appreciate it, especially at this busy time. 

 

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX):  Hi, Rachel, thank you for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  Let me first just ask you if I accurately summarized what we have

come to learn over these last few days and let me ask you if we have any

further news as to how this is developing tonight. 

 

ESCOBAR:  Well, we have no further news.  This morning, as you mentioned,

we learned that many of the kids in that facility had been moved from the

Clint facility probably to another station in El Paso, maybe other places. 

But we are doing our best to keep on top of all of this information.  These

atrocities are shocking and horrifying and really should be a wake-up call

for the country. 

 

And you mentioned it during your summary of what was going on, but family

separation is still happening in the United States of America.  And the

Trump administration its in efforts to criminalize asylum seekers and to

erode the protections that asylum seekers have, looks for other ways to

criminalize people and when they do criminalize adults with children,

frequently, they separate children them and that`s why in part family

separations are still occurring. 

 

MADDOW:  One of the things that was so horrifying and so I think morally

wrenching to the country when we first learned that the Trump

administration had gone ahead with this policy of taking kids away from

their mothers and fathers and instead holding them alone, one of the things

that was so, I think, disturbing in an ongoing way is when we learned in

detail including in much later detail in court cases down the line that the

Trump administration hadn`t really made any effort whatsoever to track

parents, to track family members and kids after they were separated.  They

hadn`t created databases.  They hadn`t linked these kids administratively

at all to their families, making it essentially a matter of luck and

extraordinary effort by advocates to try to get these kids reunited. 

 

Them not setting up a system when they were taking these kids away was just

horrifying.  Do we know if they learned at least that lesson, if kids are

still being taken away now, and you`re reporting that they are and we`ve

had these reports that they are, do we at least know if they are tracking

them? 

 

ESCOBAR:  We don`t.  And we don`t know what the plan is for reunification

and that`s what I ask in part in a letter that I sent late last week after

the news broke to the CBP commissioner and to the Border Patrol chief, what

are they planning on doing to reunite these families?  Many of these

children, Rachel, should not have, been separated in the first place.  Many

of them have family members.  They shouldn`t be in these conditions at all. 

 

In some respects, things are worse today than they were a year ago when it

comes to the conditions for these kids because a year ago, the country was

paying attention.  The country thought at some point that it was going to

end.  And then as the news broke that families were starting to be

reunified and that lawyers and activists were helping track folks, I think

for a lot of the country, people thought, OK, it`s over, now we just need

to reunify them. 

 

Well, it`s not over and we don`t believe that the system has gotten any

better.  And part of what is also really heart wrenching about this is that

many of the separations are absolutely needless.  They don`t have to

happen.  It`s a decision by the Trump administration to do it. 

 

MADDOW:  Do you think that – I mean, my sense in reading this stuff, my

sense in looking at the footage of these lawyers trying to basically alert

the country, saying it is not our job to do this, we don`t make public

reports on our site visits, we`re breaking our own rules in order to tell

you because we`re so horrified.  Looking at the news coverage first in the

“Associated Press,” NPR, “Washington Post,” ABC news has done amazing

reporting on this, seeing this start to build as a national story that`s

getting bigger and not smaller, over the course of these last few days, I

feel like America`s moral conscience has been hit again by this and that

people are worked up and upset about this. 

 

Do you foresee that people are going to be out protesting at these

facilities again?  I mean, I know you helped lead protests at Tornillo when

we first learned kids were being taken there.  I know that in El Paso,

there has been marches in support, and demonstrations. 

 

Do you think that`s where this is going? 

 

ESCOBAR:  I do, and I have to tell you, we need to sustain that outrage. 

We need to sustain that sense of desperation because this is not changing. 

It`s not getting any better. 

 

Part of what is happening that`s so deeply troubling is that as – as HHS,

the health and human services agency, runs out of bed space, the border

patrol is having to hang on to kids longer.  And I do want to say, Rachel,

that it is not just incredibly heart wrenching and horrific and atrocious

for the children, but I do want to say, I have heard from many agents who

are distraught, overwhelmed, just completely beyond themselves, with what

is happening.  And what they are being tasked to do. 

 

And so I do want to say that.  That it`s impacting absolutely everybody. 

The communities, my community has been generous and kind but is absolutely

worn out, the fact that we face this day in and day out. 

 

But, you know, I get asked frequently from other folks, what can we do? 

Should we protest?  What – how do we react to this?  And we really – we

have to figure out as a country how we deal with this. 

 

Congress is going to do everything we can, every step of the way, in the

House, where we have a majority to be a check and a balance on this

administration.  My colleagues and I are constantly working, looking for

ways to prevent the administration from doing what it`s doing, to, you

know, I passed an amendment to end zero tolerance.  Colleague after

colleague after colleague is working on legislation. 

 

But the general public needs to stay in tuned with what`s happening, not

lose our sense of humanity and compassion and have to demand change.  Keep

pushing on Congress.  Keep pushing on the administration.  Do not let these

lives, especially the lives of the most little and vulnerable among us, go

unnoticed as they have to live through what they`re living through right

now at the hands of the American government. 

 

MADDOW:  Congresswoman Veronica Escobar from Texas, from the great city of

El Paso – thank you so much for joining us tonight. 

 

ESCOBAR:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  Keep us apprised in the days ahead.  You played a really important

role today in letting us know about those kids being moved out of that

Clint facility to the extent that they`re letting you know things, please

let us know, too. 

 

ESCOBAR:  We will.  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you. 

 

All right.  Much more ahead tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  There`s a lot of other odd stuff going on in the news right now, I

will admit, but I hereby contend that nothing else in the news today was as

weird as this rat.  Actual rat.  I prefer to think of this as a sleeping

rat, but we called the reporter who got this picture, Josh Gerstein at

politico.com, and he confirms to us there were, like, flies and stuff. 

 

I think there`s no escaping this is actually a dead rat.  And this dead rat

appeared today on these steps just outside the courthouse where Trump

national security adviser Mike Flynn was in court today for only the second

time since he pled guilty a year and a half ago to lying to the FBI. 

 

Now, the reason Mike Flynn was at court today was so his new lawyer could

ask for yet another delay before Mike Flynn is finally sentenced.  Flynn`s

lawyer is a professional anti-Robert Mueller pundit and author who can be

found at any time of day or night on the Fox News Channel opining about

Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation and the Justice Department

being a whole bunch of terrible criminals and corrupt traitors.  She has

said that the judge in Mike Flynn`s case doesn`t know what he`s doing and

that Flynn should withdraw his guilty plea and stop cooperating with the

government. 

 

So when Flynn recently dumped his previous legal team and hired her

instead, just as he`s heading toward finally being sentenced, it gave rise

to the expectation that, perhaps, Mike Flynn might be about to back out of

his cooperation deal.  He might back out of his guilty plea.  He might,

instead, try to get a pardon from President Trump.  Frankly, if you`re

asking me, I would – I would be surprised if that still isn`t where this

is going.

 

But today in court, on this weird news day, today in court, we learned that

Mike Flynn isn`t going there yet.  He is apparently still a cooperator with

the government, including in a case against his former business partner. 

 

This is what happened today in court.  Quote, the judge: I have a question. 

At this point, my understanding is that your client intends to testify for

the government in a proceeding before Judge Trenga in Virginia.  Sidney

Powell, Mike Flynn`s new lawyer: Yes sir.

 

The judge: Is that still the plan although the attorneys need more time to

get up to speed to represent him?  Is that still the plan?  Flynn`s lawyer:

Oh, yes, sir, yes, sir, that cooperation is fully ongoing. 

 

The judge: All right, is it anticipated your client will testify in that

matter?  Flynn`s lawyer: Yes, Your Honor.

 

So, Mike Flynn will still cooperate with prosecutors.  He will still

testify for prosecutors in their case against this former business partner

of his, a Trump transition official, a man named Bijan Kian who`s been

charged with acting as an illegal foreign agent.  Bijan Kian was Flynn`s

business partner.  Today at Flynn`s hearing, we learned that despite Kian

having been his business partner, despite his new lawyer that says Robert

Mueller runs a crime family and Flynn is innocent and he should withdraw

his guilty plea and stop cooperating, despite all that, we learned at

today`s court hearing with Mike Flynn that she says he`s going to keep

cooperating to the point where he`s going to testify at that trial and she

wants another 60 days.  She asked for 90.  She got 60 days to read in while

Flynn keeps cooperating with prosecutors. 

 

And then leaving the courthouse, they stepped over the dead rat lying on

the steps outside the courthouse.  And the subtle art of metaphor died in

that moment. 

 

Honestly, there`s a lot that is a little bit weird right now in the court

cases and investigations that have sprung from the Mueller investigation. 

For example, on Friday, Felix Sater from the Trump Organization, the guy

who took lead on the Trump Tower project, on Friday, he ghosted the House

Intelligence Committee, just didn`t show up for his testimony. 

 

He later cited an unspecified health reason for not showing up but said he

definitely shouldn`t be subpoenaed to appear.  What`s the big deal?  I just

couldn`t make it. 

 

Today, the House Judiciary Committee was supposed to get testimony from

Annie Donaldson, who was chief of staff to White House counsel Don McGahn. 

But they didn`t get their witness either.  For some reason, the fact that

Ms. Donaldson is pregnant, the fact she is, in fact, in the third trimester

of a pregnancy, that apparently snuck up on everyone.  Whoa, where`d that

come from? 

 

And for some reason, being that pregnant means you get a five-month delay

in which you don`t have to comply with a subpoena for testimony in

Washington.  They now say they won`t even try to get her to testify in

person until November. 

 

Meanwhile, we await the start of trial on state charges for Trump campaign

chairman Paul Manafort.  Paul Manafort has now been moved from a federal

prison in Pennsylvania to a New York facility instead to facilitate him

facing an additional trial on state charges in New York on top of the

federal crimes for which he`s already been convicted.  It is possible that

we will get Paul Manafort`s arraignment on these state charges in New York

quite soon, possibly this week or next week. 

 

Bizarrely, the resolution of Manafort`s federal case has now resulted in a

federal court publishing this wild string of hundreds of text messages and

calls between Paul Manafort and a Fox News host who appears to have been

coordinating not only Fox News` coverage with Manafort, but also sort of

coordinating Manafort`s legal strategy including the possibility of

Manafort giving prosecutors incriminating information about the president

and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also the threat of Rick Gates, Trump`s

deputy campaign chairman turning states evidence.  That`s all been

coordinated between the White House and Paul Manafort with the

intermediary, the conduit being this Fox News host who was covering these

matters every night on TV without ever disclosing his roles in making them

happen, these things. 

 

The icing on that particular cake is the declaration by Manafort to this

Fox News host that he can`t wait until he starts working on the Trump re-

election campaign.  Paul Manafort saying, my text messages, quote: Plus I

plan on helping on the real act. 

 

You know, who knows, maybe that dream isn`t dead.  Maybe Paul Manafort

could still help with the re-elect from prison.  I don`t know. 

 

But a lot of stuff in these investigations in these court cases just seems

a little bit – a little bit nuts end unpredictable right now.  I mean,

House Intel says they may subpoena Mueller, himself, as soon as this week. 

Mike Flynn is stepping over a dead rat outside the courthouse today while

he continues to cooperate despite every other signal from the universe that

he`s going to stop cooperating. 

 

The committees now have to figure out how they`re going to deal with all

these no-show Trump witnesses, each one of them has a fantastic new excuse

for why he or she doesn`t show up. 

 

Trials are ahead for both Bijan Kian and Paul Manafort in New York and

more. 

 

Stay tuned.  Stay tuned. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  For a three-week-long sort of adventure, maybe just an experiment,

seeing if they could do it, for three weeks covering most of this month, a

Republican-led state government in the great state of Missouri decided that

they would start forcing the last abortion provider in that state, a

Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, to subject every woman seeking an

abortion at that facility to a mandatory medically unnecessary internal

pelvic examination. 

 

We have been covering this story here on the show ever since it first

broke.  When the last Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri went to renew

their license this year, the state government told them that in order to do

so, they would have to start doing this extra pelvic exam.  An extra

internal vaginal examination at least three days before a woman could

actually get her abortion from the same clinic. 

 

This was the first time the state had ever asked the clinic to do such a

thing to their patients.  It was based, they said, on a new interpretation

of existing state law.  So, it wasn`t a new legal requirement, there wasn`t

the legislature passing this and signing it into law.  This was just the

state health department looking at the existing law and deciding that from

here on out, clinic, you`re going to have to start doing these extra ones. 

In order to keep the clinic open, these doctors at Planned Parenthood in

St. Louis, they agreed to it, they felt they had no choice.  The state made

it a condition of their keeping their license and keeping their doors open. 

 

And so, for three weeks, the doctors at that clinic were forced to give

women an internal vaginal probe for no medical reason as basically the cost

of getting an abortion in Missouri.  But once the state government in

Missouri started forcing them to do that, they could not force the doctors

to stay quiet about it at the same time. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

KAWANNA SHANNON, ST. LOUIS PLANNED PARENTHOOD DIRECTOR OF SURGICAL

SERVICES:  We`re not satisfied with the fact that we do the pelvic exam

when it`s medically necessary.  They want us to do the pelvic exam three,

four, five, six, seven, days before they even get the procedure.  They want

us to do pelvic exams on medication abortions.  None of that is medically

necessary. 

 

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

 

DR. COLLEEN MCNICHOLAS, ST. LOUIS PLANNED PARENTHOOD REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

SERVICES:  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:  Since we first started covering this story, it`s been interesting

to see the outcry over this policy.  This anger over what the state was

making these doctors do to their patients – anger, expression of outrage

and objection coming not from just the doctors having to perform these

procedures but from the patients, themselves, from medical professionals

across the country. 

 

But then eventually, it broke.  After 21 days of being forced by the state

to subject their patients to what these doctors considered to be a state-

sanctioned, state-mandated, sexual assault, the physicians at that clinic

finally decided, you know, we`re not going to do this anymore.  They said,

you know, we`ve done this for three weeks, we are no longer going to give

our patients a medically unnecessary vaginal exam three days before their

abortion.  We`re no longer doing this. 

 

We had the medical director of the clinic here on the show that night to

explain how he and his colleagues came to that decision and what they

thought the state might do in response.  Well, that was Wednesday of last

week.  The doctors standing up to the state government saying we`re done,

we know you`re making our license contingent on this as a clinic and you

want to shut us down but we`re not going to make our patients go through

this unnecessary, uncomfortable, inhumane thing just because you say so. 

 

How will the state respond?  Nobody knew. 

 

On Friday, something unexpected happened which is that the state basically

said, well, okay then.  They basically said, all right.  On Friday, the

Republican-led state health department in Missouri took back its new rule

that all women in Missouri must get a second unnecessary pelvic exam before

they`re allowed to have an abortion three days in advance. 

 

They reversed course.  They changed their mind.  The health director in

Missouri, a man named Randall Williams, he, himself, is a doctor.  He is

actually an OB/GYN.  Oh. 

 

He is the one who decided that women had to get this second pelvic exam in

the first place.  On Friday, he talked to reporters about why he changed

his mind.  He said, quote: In looking at what they`re doing and the fact

that they think it causes a burden for patients to do the pelvic exam

twice, as a clinician who practiced for 30 years, I`m sensitive to that. 

 

He`s sensitive to that.  It took state health director Randall Williams

more than three weeks to develop a sensitivity to that.  To doctors

practically shouting themselves hoarse about how the new vaginal probe

mandate might be hurting their patients. 

 

But after three weeks of medically unnecessary pelvic exams and lots of

publicity about them, Randall Williams and the health departments, they did

come around.  He decided to tap into his 30 years as a trained medical

professional and listen to those doctors at the clinic. 

 

Planned Parenthood says because of that pelvic exam rule, because it took

the state thee weeks to change their mind about it, more than 100 women

were forced through that.  More than 100 women forced by the state to have

an internal exam they didn`t need.  More than 100 women had to take off

their clothes, let a doctor insert an instrument inside their body because

of a policy the state now reversed.  They`ve now taken it back. 

 

More than 100 women forced to undergo the vaginal exams because of what the

state admits now is kind of an oops moment.  We`re sensitive to it now. 

 

Planned Parenthood is calling for the state health director of Missouri,

Randall Williams, to be fired, over what happened to those hundred-plus

women on his orders, which he now says was a mistake.  The state says,

broadly pictured, it`s all over now.  If you are a woman trying to get an

abortion in Missouri today, you don`t need to get a second medically

unnecessary pelvic exam anymore before you`re allowed to have your

abortion.  The state says they`re cool with just the one now. 

 

That said, the state is still trying to end all access to legal abortion in

Missouri and we`ve got an update on that tonight as well. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us now is Brigitte Amiri.  She`s deputy director of the

ACLU`s Reproductive Freedom Project. 

 

Ms. Amiri, thanks very much for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate

you being here

 

BRIGITTE AMIRI, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ACLU`S REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM PROJECT: 

Thanks for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  So, we`ve been covering this situation in Missouri pretty

intensively over the past few weeks.  We started covering it because of the

in threat from the government there that they were going to put the last

legal abortion provider in that state out of business.  That story when we

got to Missouri it figure out how that was playing out quickly became the

story of this effectively a new mandate from the state government for this

extra medically unnecessary pelvic exam that the state was insisting women

now had to go through. 

 

Over the past few days, the state has backtracked on that.  They`ve stopped

requiring that.  But the effort to close down the clinic remains.  The

state court fight in Missouri at this point, the status of that is that the

injunction, the preliminary injunction that`s keeping the clinic open,

expires on Friday. 

 

As somebody who`s fought these fights nationwide, I wanted to ask you about

this just to see how you see the Missouri situation right now. 

 

Do you think that Missouri is actually in its last few days of there being

a legal abortion provider in the state? 

 

AMIRI:  I don`t have any way of predicting that, but I think Missouri is

the perfect example of how a state can push abortion out of reach without

banning it explicitly.  The nation`s attention has been focused on this

wave of abortion bans that have been passed in several states, but what has

always been true is that states have been piling restriction upon

restriction and using different ways to try to close clinic doors, and that

is what could happen in Missouri if the courts don`t intervene. 

 

MADDOW:  Because of the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision, American

women all have a constitutional right to access abortion services if they

want it.  As you describe with those restrictions, that right is not often

practically in place.  There`s no de facto right if there are too many

restrictions in state law that prevent you from being able to access it

including financial restrictions and all the rest. 

 

But I wonder if, you know, in the 46 years that we`ve had Roe, we haven`t

had a state go completely dark in terms of access to abortion.  We haven`t

had a state lose every provider.  Is there some sort of federal failsafe

from the federal courts that kicks in that has prevented that from

happening in the past that might kick in here in Missouri or in Kentucky or

any of these other states that are down to their last clinic and under

pressure? 

 

AMIRI:  The federal courts have protected the last clinic from closing in

Kentucky, in Mississippi, for example.  So there is the federal

constitutional protection that says that states may not ban abortion,

whether it`s outright or in the de facto way. 

 

But the Trump administration and President Trump has vowed to appoint

Supreme Court justices that would overturn Roe versus Wade.  So, the anti-

abortion movement is banking on and they`re emboldened by that promise. 

And they are trying to get cases to the Supreme Court that will either

undermine Roe versus Wade or eviscerate it entirely. 

 

MADDOW:  What we`ve seen in Missouri over these past few weeks has been

surprising on a number of different levels.  I will admit to being

surprised that the state health department backed off what they were trying

to do with this new sort of punitive pelvic exam they were putting women

through. 

 

I wonder exam they were putting women through.  I wonder if there are any

sort of lessons from the road, anything in terms of what you`ve seen about

whether publicity, public outcry, attention to the difficulties that the

states are putting women in does have a track record of rolling some of

this stuff back. 

 

AMIRI:  Well, absolutely.  Everyone should be making their voices heard. 

This is absolutely no time to sit on the sidelines.  Abortion, the right to

abortion access, is hanging in the balance right now. 

 

And so, we`re encouraging everyone to speak out, hold their elected

officials accountable, let them know where you stand on the right to

abortion, and ultimately we hope that everyone`s voices will be heard and

that the courts will also protect the right. 

 

MADDOW:  Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU`s Reproductive Freedom

Project, Brigitte, I appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks for coming on.

 

AMIRI:  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  Al right.  We`ve got still more ahead here tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  The Shanna Key Irish pub and grill is located in Key West,

Florida, which is about 150 miles southwest of here, but so close I swear I

can smell it.  Its claim to fame is that it`s home to the southernmost pint

of Guinness in the United States.  That, of course, makes the Shanna Key a

natural choice if you`re in Key West and you`re looking for a place to

watch this week`s presidential debate Wednesday and Thursday night. 

 

Florida Keys Democrats are going to be hosting debate watch parties at the

Shanna Key this Wednesday and Thursday.  Here in Miami, She the People and

the new Florida majority are hosting a discussion on race and social

justice ahead of the first debate, then that`s going to be followed by a

big community watch party. 

 

Former Democratic nominee for governor in Florida, Andrew Gillum, he`s

teaming up with the Florida Democratic Party for a different watch party

event on Wednesday night.  Some of the biggest unions in Florida say they

were going to hold rallies outside the debate venue before also hosting

watch parties nearby. 

 

According to their campaigns, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete

Buttigieg, they each have hundreds, literally have hundreds of watch

parties lined up in cities and towns across the country.  Bernie Sanders

supporters also have a ton planned, including one in Belgrade, Serbia, of

all places.  Yes, in Serbia. 

 

We also got this one from Virgin Islands Democrats.  Virgin Islands

Democrats, I want to go to your watch party.  Alas, I cannot. 

 

In a lead up to these debates this week, it`s very exciting, lots of

candidates put on new policy proposals.  Joe Biden just outlined an

immigration plan in the Miami Herald today.  Good choice of publications

given the debate location. 

 

Beto O`Rourke today called for Congress to enact a war tax aimed at

expanding care for military veterans.  Senator Sanders unveiled a plan to

cancel $1 trillion of student loan debt nationwide.  Senator Elizabeth

Warren just put out a ban private prison and private detention facilities. 

 

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has released his campaign`s fourth specific

policy on climate change.  This one would end fracking nationwide. 

 

So, there is all this substance, there`s all this flood of important new

policy stuff being churned out by the candidates ahead of this debate.  But

you know what they say about best laid plans.  You should know ahead of all

the prep these Democratic candidates are planning for, the Supreme Court is

also likely to issue big controversial rulings on gerrymandering and the

Census citizenship question on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. 

 

So until they hit the debate stage, the candidates are preparing for that. 

They`re, you know, preparing for their own platforms and what they think

will be the likely questions, right? 

 

Plus, there`s the start of the G-20, plus there`s whatever is going on with

Iran, plus there`s the border news, plus there`s the debate stage with ten

people on it.  How do you prepare for a debate stage with ten people on it? 

Who knows?

 

It`s all very exciting.  But honestly, think about it, their prep schedule

must be murder right now. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Last story for you tonight.  If you work for the government, you

are prohibited by law from campaigning in the course of your duties.  Can`t

take taxpayer money to campaign for partisan election results. 

 

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway has recently laughed off suggestions

that she is a serial, even gleeful violator of that law, which is called

the Hatch Act.  But this month, after Justice Department Ethics Office

recommended that the president should fire her for being a repeat offender

for breaking that law, the president, of course, has said he will not fire

Kellyanne Conway for breaking that law.  And now, tonight, the White House

counsel has blocked Congress or tried to block Congress from even asking

Kellyanne Conway about any of this. 

 

White House counsel now telling the House Oversight Chairman Elijah

Cummings that no way will Kellyanne Conway be answering their questions on

this point.

 

We don`t know yet whether Congressman Cummings and House Oversight

Committee will subpoena Conway in order to try to get her testify.  If they

do, you can add it to the other list of subpoenas of other staffers that

the White House won`t respect.  But that`s the next one.  We`ll see. 

 

That does it for us tonight.  See you again tomorrow. 

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence. 

 

                                                                                                               

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