Trump downplays cost of July 4th event. TRANSCRIPT: 7/3/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Andrea Senteno, Tom Udall
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That is ALL IN for this evening on the eve of our

commemoration of this country`s independence.

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.  Good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  It`s Fourth eve.  It`s July 4th eve.

 

HAYES:  It`s Fourth eve.

 

MADDOW:  Thank you, my friend. 

 

HAYES:  Enjoy your weekend.

 

MADDOW:  Will do.

 

HAYES:  Thank you at home as well for joining us this hour. 

 

It is July Fourth eve.  It is July 3rd.  And you would usually expect it

this to be a sleepy news day. 

 

But what have we learned about the eve of things in this Trump

administration?  What have we learned about, for example, like your typical

Friday night in the Trump administration? 

 

Well, holiday eve works the same way it turns out.  This is another one of

those days where is we had to take the show we were planning and ball it up

and put it in the circular file, which is actually a file that we just save

for other days because these things do keep coming around. 

 

Breaking news has one again blown up our show planning, with something just

sort of incredible that just happened in federal court with no warning, out

of the blue.  It just blew up something that everybody thought was quite

settled.  And it is coming from this remarkable and dramatic soap opera of

a thing that has to do with this administration and with something that the

president feels more strongly about than anything else in his presidency. 

 

You might have seen a few days ago that Chuck Todd from “Meet the Press”

had an interview with President Trump right before the Democratic debates

last week.  And there is bunch of news in that interview.  There`s always

news when somebody outside the conservative media sphere gets to actually

ask the president questions that involve follow-ups and not just him like,

you know, screaming over helicopter noise and all that stuff.  We knew

there was going to be news in that interview.

 

And in fact one of the things that made news was that Chuck Todd asked

President Trump what his biggest mistake was.  What was his biggest regret

from his presidency thus far?  The president`s answer to Chuck Todd was

that his biggest mistake, the one thing he has done wrong as president is

Jeff Sessions. 

 

Think about everything that has happen and gone wrong over two and a half

years, really the biggest problem is Jeff Sessions?  As far as the

president is concerned that, is his one mistake.  The only thing he

regrets. 

 

Now, we know from huge, big chunks of the Robert Mueller report that the

president`s anger towards Jeff Sessions, his feelings about Jeff Sessions

are not lightly arrived at.  This is not a personal thing or a passing

fancy.  We know from Mueller`s report that Trump expressed vehement

resentment and anger towards sessions over a long period of time.

 

And he ultimately fired sessions for a very specific reason, because the

president believed that as attorney general of the United States, Jeff

Sessions should have done much more to use the Justice Department and to

use the U.S. legal system to serve Donald Trump, to serve the wishes and to

serve the personal interests of Trump. 

 

Trump was mad at Jeff Sessions for not locking up Hillary Clinton.  He was

mad at Jeff Sessions for not firing the special counsel.  He was mad at

Jeff Sessions for not shutting down the investigation into Russia attacking

our elections. 

 

The president thought the Justice Department should just be ordered to do

those things for him, because he wanted those things.  And Jeff Sessions

didn`t give him those things.  I mean, Jeff Sessions to a certain extent

this thwarted the president`s expressed desires in terms of what he wanted

from the Justice Department.  And so, he now believes Jeff Sessions was his

biggest mistake. 

 

Well, part of the reason Robert Mueller`s report had so many direct quotes

and so much color about the interaction between Trump and Sessions and what

Trump was demanding of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, part of the

reason Mueller had so much detail in that is because Jeff Session`s chief

of staff, a man by the name of Jody Hunt, he gave testimony to Mueller`s

inquiry. 

 

And Jody Hunt, for the entire duration of Jeff Sessions` time as attorney

general, he basically had a front row seat to this bizarre dynamic between

the president and his attorney general, to all the wild demands that Trump

was making of the attorney general.  Jody Hunt was there to see and hear

and witness all of the crazy bleep that Trump demanded from his attorney

general and expected from his Justice Department.  Jody Hunt was chief of

staff to Sessions.  So, he was there for all of it.  He saw it all happen

when Trump made those demands, when Trump implored and berated Sessions for

not agreeing to those demands. 

 

I mean, Jody Hunt was there front row seat when Trump ultimately fired

Sessions for the crime of not doing what the president wanted.  Now, Jeff

Sessions, of course, is gone as attorney general.  Incidentally, Trump says

he`s much happier with his new guy, he`s getting much more of what he wants

from his new guy. 

 

But even after Jeff Sessions was fired as attorney general, Jody Hunt

stayed on at the Justice Department and, in fact, he`s had a big promotion

at the Justice Department.  Jody Hunt is now assistant attorney general of

the United States.  And in that role, he runs the whole civil division of

the Justice Department, which is a huge part of – it`s like the big part

of the Justice Department. 

 

And in that job, Jody Hunt today showed what he has learned over these past

couple of years from that front row seat he had to the whole Jeff Sessions

dynamic.  He showed what he has learned over the past couple of years about

how President Trump expects the Justice Department to do what he wants and

to do what serves his interest, no matter what, no matter how crazy it is,

no matter how contrary it might be to the normal processes of the Justice

Department and a basic understanding of the rule of law. 

 

I mean, Jody Hunt, maybe more than anybody still in government, has seen up

close how even the highest-ranking person, the most powerful person at the

Justice Department, can be not just fired, but attacked and demeaned and

publicly blamed, if that official has the temerity to not employ the

Justice Department to give the president things that he wants. 

 

And he saw that happen to his boss, Jeff Sessions.  And now Jeff Sessions

is gone, but Jody Hunt is still there and he is now a senior Justice

Department official himself and today Mr. Hunt showed, I think, again, what

he learned. 

 

In what was just a remarkable turn of events in a federal court today, on

July 4th eve, in a hastily-called court conference, in which the judge

summoned both sides on very short notice to try to figure out what the heck

was going on, because what had been maintained to the court was apparently

not happening in the real world and federal judges tend not to like that. 

 

What this is about is the Supreme Court case of the Trump administration

lost last week.  You might remember, late last week, the Supreme Court

turned back the Trump administration`s efforts to tack something new onto

the census, to change the census in a way that was expected to result in an

undercount of Latinos and an overcount of white people and Republicans,

specifically.  They have been trying to change the census that way for the

past couple of years and multiple federal judges in three different

jurisdictions have ruled against the Trump administration, they`ve ruled

that the Trump administration basically had made up their proposed reasons

for changing the census in that way, and so it wasn`t proper for them to

change the census. 

 

Last week, it went to the Supreme Court and in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme

Court told the Trump administration, basically, that the lower courts were

right.  And their purported reasons for why they said they wanted to change

the census, those reasons, plainly, weren`t true.  And so, the Supreme

Court told the Trump administration late last week they couldn`t go ahead

with it.  At least not under the terms they had been trying to go ahead

with it under. 

 

So, this last time night on this show, we reported that the Justice

Department had conceded, basically, that they lost that case.  That it`s

over.  They had told the court already over the course of the litigation on

this issue that they were up against a hard deadline.  That they needed to

start actually printing the census by July 1st, which was Monday of this

week. 

 

And so, even though they might have tried to, they might have wanted to go

back to the court again and come up with some new justification for adding

this question some other way, frankly, they`re out of time.  And so, they

notified the court that they were giving up on trying to do this for the

2020 census.  They were starting to print the census already without

tacking on that extra question. 

 

They didn`t just say it in a press release.  The reason we were able to

report it last night on the show is because they formally put it in writing

to the court. 

 

Quote: Counsel, we can confirm that the decision has been made to print the

2020 decennial questionnaire without a citizenship question and the printer

has been instructed to begin the printing process.  Signed, specific trial

attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division. 

 

Civil Division at the Justice Department, again, is now run by Jody Hunt,

Jeff Sessions` former chief of staff.  And so, as of last night, this is

how the Justice Department, this is how the Civil Division of the Justice

Department had left it.  They`re telling the court, OK, we`re out, it`s

over. 

 

But then today, on Twitter, President Trump expressed his displeasure with

this eventuality.  He insisted on Twitter that no, this is not what his

Justice Department is doing.  This is not what his government is doing. 

You heard that we`re not putting on that census question – we certainly

are. 

 

And Jody Hunt, who has seen this movie before, Jody Hunt, who has been

fried by this particular proverbial electric fence in his recent past, he

rears up and basically panics today in public on a hastily called court

hearing on the phone with a federal judge.  We have the transcript of it. 

And I have never seen or heard anything like this before. 

 

But – I mean, presumably, in the mind of the head of the civil division at

the Justice Department, presumably, you know, he was reliving President

Trump beating the ghost of Jeff Sessions all over again, for Sessions

refusing to do what he wanted the Justice Department to do.  And this is

how it all came out at this hearing today.  Just remarkable. 

 

So, the judge starts off and says good afternoon.  And he asks the

attorneys of the plaintiffs to introduce themselves.  They do so.  Then he

said, for the government? 

 

And the lawyer for the Justice Department says, for the government, your

honor, Josh Gardner and Jody Hunt, assistant attorney general for the civil

division. 

 

The judge says, Mr. Gardner, I know you`re on vacation, so I hated to

interrupt that. 

 

That`s the way they start.  Right away, it`s a sign that something is

unusual here, right?  Josh Gardner is the Justice Department lawyer, career

lawyer who has been handling this case for the Justice Department,

defending what the Trump administration was trying to do with the census. 

He just lost that case at the Supreme Court last week. 

 

I mean, the Justice Department has conceded, as of last night, that it`s

over, that the Trump administration won`t be adding this new question to

the census.  They`ve notified the court of that fact.  That – it`s done,

right?  The guy has been handling the case for the Justice Department lost

the case and told the court they are conceding and it`s done.  So now that

it`s done, that dude has gone on vacation. 

 

So, why is he back in this hearing today, phoning into this emergency

hearing?  Well, he has to call in from vacation because apparently this

isn`t done.  And if you want to know why he has to call in from vacation

because this isn`t done, it`s because of the other guy from the Justice

Department who has always phoned in with him.  The big boss, the head of

the civil division, the guy who was recently Jeff Sessions` chief of staff

and who has therefore seen what happens to senior Justice Department

officials in the Trump administration when they don`t give Trump what he

wants, no matter what it is. 

 

So, you`ve got the trial attorney phoning in from vacation and the head of

the civil division phoning into this hearing himself.  Because that guy

knows what you are supposed to do, right, because the president has yelled

jump, and that guy, of all people, knows that the answer when the president

says jump is how high, sir?  How high? 

 

So, the judge says – starts things off.  Quote: I guess the reason I

wanted to have this call, obviously we had our call I guess yesterday.  It

feels like awhile ago, but I think it was yesterday. 

 

And then this morning I saw a tweet that got my attention.  I don`t know

how many federal judges have Twitter accounts, but I happen to be one of

them and I follow the president. 

 

And so, I saw a tweet that directly contradicted the position that Mr.

Gardner has shared with me yesterday.  I think I even indicated yesterday

and I`ll indicate again today that Mr. Gardner and every government

attorney who has appeared in this case has been nothing but professional

and candid with the court.  But then the tweet that I saw, which I suspect

we all know the tweet I`m referring to, then caused me to think I hadn`t

gone far enough in terms of pinning the government down on where things

stand. 

 

So, now, we have a court reporter here.  I`m going to ask the same question

I asked yesterday to Mr. Gardner.  Is the government going to continue

efforts to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census? 

 

Josh Gardner: Your honor, this is Mr. Gardner.  I want to back up just a

step and say I`ve been with the United States Department of Justice for 16

years through multiple administrations and I have also endeavored to be as

candid as possible with the court.  What I told the court yesterday was

absolutely my best understanding of the state of affairs. 

 

The president`s position on this issue like the plaintiffs – excuse me. 

My best understanding of the state of affairs.  I do not have a deeper

understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the

president has tweeted.  But obviously, as you can imagine, I am doing my

absolute best to figure out what`s going on. 

 

I can tell you that I have confirmed that the Census Bureau is continuing

with the process of printing the questionnaire without a citizenship

question and that process has not stopped. 

 

The judge says, all right.  Well, I`ll hear from plaintiff`s counsel.  And

the lawyer for the plaintiff speaks. 

 

Your honor, I think this underscores, obviously, the need for a stipulated

order, as we talked about yesterday, that makes clear not only that the

government is printing the questionnaire for the 2020 census without a

citizenship question, but that there will be no further effort to inquire

about citizenship status as part of the 2020 census in any manner.  I think

it also suggests that we may need a further provision of that order that

makes clear the defendants won`t communicate to the public anything to the

contrary, suggesting that the 2020 census is inquiring about citizenship

status.  And further, that they will counter, public counter any such

misinformation that comes from government officials. 

 

The misinformation from government officials here, as described by the

plaintiff`s lawyer, would be misinformation from the president.  The

president saying, we`re putting that on the census, even though they`re not

and they`ve maintained to the court that they`re not. 

 

So, at this point, they have sort of a long back-and-forth discussion

between the plaintiff`s lawyers and the judge about whether the judge

actually can block the president from publicly saying untrue things about

what the government is doing on an issue like this. 

 

At one point, the judge says, quote, I assume the parties aren`t suggesting

I can enjoin the president of the United States from tweeting things?  Your

honor, don`t assume anything at this point. 

 

But there remains this basic question here, which is that the Trump

administration tried to do a thing.  They lost in court.  As of yesterday,

they conceded that they would therefore no longer try to do that thing. 

But then the president went online today and said, yes, I`ll still going to

do that thing. 

 

So, what`s the remedy for that?  What`s going to happen here?  Well, queue

the poor guy who was supposed to be on vacation as of today, who has spent

16 years at the Justice Department and perhaps under the impression that

this was still a normal government and that`s how he should behave. 

 

He says – this is Josh Gardner.  Quote: Your honor, to back up, this is a

very fluid situation, which we are trying to get our arms around, and

obviously once we get more information, we will communicate that

immediately to the court and the parties.  I do want to address a

preliminary issue, though, and that is that the current status quo is that

plaintiffs are fully protected.  Meaning the new question is not going to

be tacked on to the census, as far as he knows, regardless of what the

president said on Twitter today. 

 

Quote: I recognize this is a fluid situation and perhaps that might change,

but we`re just not there yet, and I can`t possibly predict at this juncture

what exactly is going to happen.  But as of now, the basis for the

citizenship question is firmly enjoined, vacated and does not exist.  I

think the current fluidity of the state of play suggests the status quo is

– we need to see how these things develop.  And at that juncture, your

honor, if you have additional questions, I can turn it over to the

assistant attorney general, Mr. Hunt. 

 

Now we get to find out why Jody Hunt is there.  Why the boss is there, why

Jeff Sessions` old chief of staff has also inserted himself into this case. 

 

Mr. Hunt: Your Honor, this is Joseph Hunt, assistant attorney general for

the Civil Division.  We at the Department of Justice have been instructed

to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme

Court decision, that would allow us to include the citizenship question on

the census.  We think there may be a legally available path under the

decision.  We are examining that, looking at near term options to see

whether that is viable and possible. 

 

Viable and possible, both kinds.  We have been instructed to – presumably

from the president`s Twitter feed – we have been instructed to not do what

we told the court what we would do yesterday and we have no idea what that

means we should do, but here I am telling you what Donald Trump`s Twitter

feed told me to do, regardless of what it means and regardless of what it

means for the Justice Department.  Regardless of what it means for the

lawyers, including the career lawyers whose reputations in federal court

depend, in part, on whether or not the court can believe them when they say

things. 

 

And here`s how the judge decides to end this.  It`s just brutal.  The judge

says, OK.  Here`s where we are.  And then if either side has a different

view, I`ll hear that.  But here`s where we are. 

 

By Friday at 2:00 p.m., I want one of two things.  I either want a

stipulation as we`ve been discussing, indicating that the citizenship

question will not appear on the census.  Or, I want a proposed scheduling

order for how we`re going to go forward on the equal protection claim

that`s been remanded to this court.  I want one of those two things by

Friday at 2:00.  Any questions as to that? 

 

Josh Gardner: Your Honor, this is Mr. Gardner.  The one thing I would

request, given that tomorrow is the Fourth of July and the difficulty in

assembling people from all over the place, is it possible that we could do

this on Monday?  The judge: No. 

 

Mr. Gardner: And again – oh, OK.  The judge: No, because timing is an

issue.  Timing is an issue and we lost at week at this point.  And this

isn`t anything against anybody on this call.  I have been told different

things and it`s becoming increasingly frustrating. 

 

If you were Facebook and an attorney for Facebook told me one thing and I

read a press release from Mark Zuckerberg telling me something else, I

would be demanding Mark Zuckerberg appear in court with you the next time,

because I would be saying, I don`t think you speak for your client anymore. 

I think I`m being really reasonable – excuse me, I think I`m actually

being really reasonable here and just saying I need a final answer by

Friday at 2:00 p.m. or we are going forward.  That is where we are. 

 

Oh, that is where we are.  Does the Justice Department speak for the U.S.

government?  Who is the client?  Does your client know that you speak for

the U.S. government?  Or do you not? 

 

I mean, this is a bunch of things, all of which are astonishing, right?  I

mean, this is, at base level, this is the Trump administration trying to

change the census to systematically undercount Latinos and Democrats, A. 

It`s them being blocked from doing that by the courts.  It`s the Justice

Departments conceding they`ve been blocked from doing that. 

 

And then it`s the president himself telling the Justice Department to do it

anyway because he says so.  And it`s the Trump appointee who runs that part

of the Justice Department who is literally himself personally an important

fact witness to the president`s potentially criminal obstruction of justice

and threatening the last attorney general and ordering the last attorney

general to do things he could not do. 

 

It`s that fact witness, that guy is now in power himself with the Justice

Department who is jumping into this case saying, yes, sir, I am here for

you, sir.  I am jumping in with both feet and will tell the court to forget

everything the Justice Department has previously said and done and averted

to the court as recently as last night because instead of everything that

has gone before us in this case, now, the president has tweeted and – I

know what happens if I don`t obey the tweet.  I`ve seen it happen. 

 

So, forget everything.  The president has tweeted.  That`s what we`re going

with. 

 

I mean, a policy dispute is not a constitutional crisis.  A bad actor

holding public office is not a constitutional crisis.  A constitutional

crisis would be like, for example, a president choosing to defy a lawful

court order.  That is what we are edging at here. 

 

All this obstruction of justice stuff about the Mueller report and how the

president was pressuring the Justice Department, ordering them to do things

to serve his own interests, and the Justice Department was moderately

resisting to the extent that they could, all of that stuff laid out in the

Mueller report as potential obstruction of justice by the president, it

wasn`t only laid out so we could decide whether or not the president maybe

committed those crimes.  It was also laid out so that we could see the type

of constitutional pressure the president was using to try to pull apart

these threads that make us the country that we are. 

 

The president defies a lawful court order and instructs the Justice

Department to do so.  That`s no longer a normal dispute.  That`s

constitutional crisis territory.  That`s where he`s pointing. 

 

Can you count on people at the Justice Department being the right people

and the upstanding people to stop it from happening?  I mean, you can`t say

you didn`t see this coming, right? 

 

More ahead.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  First it was on, and then it was off, and now, it`s apparently on

again, but it depends on who you ask. 

 

The Justice Department, at a very high level, making a stunning reversal in

a court hearing today to try to add a citizenship question to the census,

despite being blocked by the Supreme Court from doing so and despite the

fact that they conceded just last night to the court that they would no

longer try to do that. 

 

Joining us now is Andrea Senteno.  She`s regional counsel at the Mexican

American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is the firm that`s

representing several of the plaintiffs in the case where the Justice

Department just has started doing these remarkable back flips today. 

 

Ms. Senteno, thank you very much for joining us.  I appreciate you being

here. 

 

ANDREA SENTENO, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND:  Thank

you for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  So, I have seen the transcript of this call today which I found

almost like science fiction.  I know you were on this call trade today with

Judge Hazel.  The way I read it, as somebody who is just reading it and not

hearing it and somebody who is not a lawyer, the two Justice Department

lawyers on the call were really contradicting each other.  One of them was

saying the census is already being printed without the citizenship

question.  The other is saying he had been instructed to find a way to add

that question back in and he was trying to do so. 

 

Do you – do you think the judge in this case has any clarity as to what is

logistically happening right now with the census? 

 

SENTENO:  I don`t.  And I think that`s why he made the deadline that he

did, the force the Justice Department to come back on Friday, by 2:00 p.m.,

and make that clear not only to the court, but to the public.  Is the

government going to move forward by trying to add the citizenship question

back on the census or not? 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of what happens here next and forgive me, this is a very

elementary question.  But part of what seems really important to me about

this in terms of the way it`s going to evolve is that the courts have

already said that the president and the administration can`t add the

citizenship question to the census without coming back with a new reason

for it.  What happens if they try to do it anyway?  What happens if they

try to add that question anyway and just assert that it`s their prerogative

and never mind what the courts say?  What would the enforcement mechanism

be here from stopping them from doing that? 

 

SENTENO:  Well, you`re right.  The Supreme Court was very clear.  You can`t

lie to the court about why you`re taking the action you`re taking.  So, you

can`t lie to the court about why you wanted to add the citizenship question

to the 2020 census. 

 

The fact is, we know why they wanted to add the question to the 2020

census.  They wanted to discriminate against Latinos and immigrant

communities of color and if the government is not willing to come back on

Friday and say that it`s going to abandon this effort, this unwise, illegal

effort, we will move forward in court to prove that the addition of the

question was intentionally discriminatory. 

 

M ADDOW:  And if you are able to do that, if you were able to prove that

it`s intentionally discriminatory and the court sides with you on that, the

reason I`m sort of pressing this and I know this is an elementary school

level question, forgive me.  But I`m concerned that the president is

showing small C contempt here for the idea that he`s bound by the courts in

terms of what he`s able to do with this policy.  And if the courts continue

to try to intervene and he directs the Justice Department and, in fact, the

census department, to not follow the court`s direction, what are additional

remedies, I guess? 

 

SENTENO:  So, the government deciding to defy a court order certainly would

be a constitutional crisis. 

 

MADDOW:  OK.

 

SENTENO:  However, at least even on the record today, and you see it in the

transcript, the government, while it said it was reviewing the Supreme

Court`s decision and whether or not there was a path forward, it did make

clear that at least at present, the Census Bureau is moving forward with

the process to print the forms and to conduct the 2020 census without the

citizenship question.  So, at least at present, we haven`t had an

indication that there is going to be an attempt to violate court orders

here. 

 

MADDOW:  This is remarkable – I mean, as a matter of substance, this is a

remarkably dramatic thing the Trump administration is trying to do, but the

way it`s playing out in the courts is just head-snapping.  Just

unbelievable. 

 

Andrea Senteno, regional counsel of Mexican American Legal Defense and

Educational Fund – I really appreciate you helping us understand.  I know

this Friday hearing is going to be very important.  Please keep us

apprised.  We would love to have you back. 

 

SENTENO:  We certainly will.  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Thanks very much.  Much more to get to this busy,

unexpectedly busy July 4th eve.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  So, like I said, had a whole show planned for tonight, but once

again, best laid plans, you know, steamrollered when the president, you

know, ends up upending something that everybody thought was settled.  But

you know, this is kind of the dynamic that we`ve been living with from the

very beginning – from the very, very beginning.  Like from swearing in

day, from the Trump inauguration. 

 

But that was – there was a lot of strange things about the Trump

inauguration.  The inauguration of President Trump somehow managed to be

one of the smallest and least ambitious inaugurals ever, while

simultaneously costing more than both of the Obama inaugurations combined,

blowing the record for most money spent on an inaugural out of the water. 

 

There was the, like, you know, not totally top flight entertainment that

still inexplicably cost millions and millions and millions of dollars. 

There were the empty bleachers along the parade route.  There was the weird

fight over the factually much smaller crowd size of Trump`s inaugural

versus President Obama`s inaugural and the president ordering various

people within the federal government that they should tell lies about that. 

 

The whole thing had a lot weird about it, from day one.  And the finances

of the inaugural committee continue to be shrouded in quite a lot of

mystery.  I mean, how did they spend over $100 million on that? 

 

There are reportedly not one or two but three different U.S. attorneys that

are investigating elements of the inaugural, including subpoenas that went

to the inaugural committee from the southern district of New York.  Plus,

attorneys general in at least two states looking at other aspects of the

inaugural. 

 

We`ve already had the president`s deputy campaign chair say in court that

it`s possible maybe he siphoned inaugural funds off for himself, maybe. 

He`s not sure.  We have another guy admit in court that he illegally

funneled foreign money from a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch into the Trump

inaugural using a straw donor. 

 

I mean, all of this stuff is still out there, presumably, there`s still

more to know.  There is more we will find out from the mysterious depths of

the strange Trump inaugural in January of 2017. 

 

But here is one live wire left over from that inauguration, which is now

sparking anew for this Fourth of July we`re about to have in 2019.  The

night before Trump`s inauguration, there was an interesting report in “The

Huffington Post.”  “The Huffington Post” spoke with sources who described

as involved in the Trump inaugural preparations.  And what those sources

said was that the Trump administration had started making inquiries at the

Pentagon about having military equipment at Trump`s inaugural, about

rolling tanks into Washington, D.C. as part of the inaugural parade. 

 

They inquired, you know, tanks, missile launchers, what else you got? 

Quote: During the preparation for Friday`s transfer of power, a member of

Trump`s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile

launchers in the inaugural parade.  The source said, quote, they were legit

thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade.  That quote from a Trump

transition source. 

 

I mean, this is a source involved in the inaugural planning, like, sounding

the alarm.  You have to know this is happening.  They want freaking missile

launchers and tanks, you guys.  They are seriously trying to do that. 

 

When “The Huffington Post” asked the White House about these plans they had

learned of to use military equipment during Trump`s inaugural, quote, a

Trump aide refused to address the matter on the record but offered a have

he off the record denial.  Oh, no, don`t be crazy, we were never

considering that. 

 

Well, that “Huffington Post” reporter stuck with that story, that reporter,

Jessica Schulberg, stuck with the story.  She filed a Freedom of

Information Act request, smartly, not with the White House because you

can`t FOIA the White House, she filed the request with the military because

her reporting had been that these requests had been floated to the

military.  Well, the military is susceptible to FOIA requests and thanks to

her FOIA requests, we learned that, in fact, yes, the Trump folks, the

Trump inaugural planners, had, quote, been seriously considering adding

military vehicles to the inaugural parade. 

 

Quote: The conversation startled as, can`t you send us some pictures of

military vehicles we could add to the parade?  The Defense Department

official said to his or her colleague, quote, I explained that such support

would be out of guidelines.  Quote: I`m extremely reluctant to produce an

improvised list of military vehicles that we might be held to. 

 

So the Trump inaugural`s attempt to roll freaking tanks and missile

launchers down Pennsylvania Avenue behind the piano guys and the baton

twirlers, right, they – they denied they asked for those things, but they

did ask for those things.  And we know, from open source reporting, that

that caused a Pentagon freak-out, which probably explains why, in, that

never happened for the Trump inauguration. 

 

But the president really liked this idea of parading big military equipment

in his own honor.  So, they tried again last year.  The president last year

ordered the Pentagon to start planning a grand military parade, a show of

American military might, for the Fourth of July.  Or, maybe for Memorial

Day or for Veterans Day or any day that ends in Y when Trump can be in

town.  Just get me tanks. 

 

Ultimately, that 2018 plan fell through when the Pentagon estimated it

would cost $92 million to do this for the president.  They decided that was

too expensive.  The president announced he wouldn`t do it. 

 

Well, now they`ve learned their lesson and their lesson is, well, the

president still wants it, and based on how it didn`t work out the last

couple of years, maybe this time there shouldn`t be any cost estimates at

all.  This time, third time`s a charm, President Trump is going to get his

military flyover and his display tanks and this time, the strategy is just

to not say what it`s going to cost.  Other than the $2.5 million that the

Park Service has had to admit it is diverting from taking care of the

National Parks to instead do this for the president. 

 

Partly, the Trump administration is keeping the cost secret by just not

answering questions about it.  Partly, they`ve kept it secret by just

waiting until the last minute to plan this event.  Quote: They started this

too late, even Trump officials and allies anxious about July 4th fest.  The

White House called the Pentagon less than a month ago to tell them to start

drawing up a plan to get the president his tanks.  No time to draw up a

cost estimate, just do it. 

 

And so, yes, this military display the president has ordered up for

tomorrow, it is causing anxiety for lots of Americans, for reasons beyond

its cost to the taxpayers, right?  CNN had this headline today.  Military

chiefs have concerns about politicization of Trump`s July 4th event. 

 

This is the headline in “The New York Times” today, quote: Leave thanks for

Red Square.  Trump`s July 4th celebration unsettles military.  Quote: Some

retired and active duty military officers and some Defense Department

personnel said the participation of the military in president Trump`s

salute to America appears to politicize the armed forces on a day when the

nation traditionally toasts its independence in a nonpartisan environment. 

 

Quote: Put troops out there so we can thank them.  Leave tanks for Red

Square, said General Anthony Zinni, a retired four star marine general and

the former head of U.S. Central Command. 

 

And it is inarguably true that taking over the country`s national July 4th

celebration, making himself the centerpiece with a big speech and ordering

tanks to roll into the Capitol for him at his insistence, right, that`s –

that`s a nice pencil sketch of the president`s affinities and tendencies. 

And, of course, he loves how much anxiety and outrage this is causing,

right?  He lives for this.

 

But there is also this very basic and fundamental quell about the money,

right?  It was the money, it was the cost to taxpayers that stopped this

whole plan the last time.  Apparently, the strategy this time is to just

keep the money thing quiet.  Not say anything about it. 

 

There`s one key member of the U.S. Senate, though, who is trying to make

sure that part of it is not kept quiet, and he joins us next. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Yesterday, “The Washington Post” got a scoop about the president`s

planned Fourth of July event.  The headline was, Park Service diverts $2.5

million in fees for Trump`s Fourth of July extravaganza.  Fees that the

National Park Service were supposed to go for improving the national parks,

but instead, they are diverting them to give them to this Trump event. 

 

That news was not well received in many corners.  Here, for example,

Senator Tom Udall`s reaction.  Quote: This is beyond the pale.  The

American people pay fees to make improvements at the National Parks and not

to boost President Trump`s campaign.  The National Mall is not the place to

hold a de facto political rally. 

 

And joining us now is Senator Udall of New Mexico.  He has a key role on

the appropriations committee in oversees things like the National Parks

Service and the Department of the Interior. 

 

Senator, sir, thanks very much for being here.  I really appreciate your

time. 

 

SEN. TOM UDALL (D-NM):  Thank you.  Thank you, Rachel.  Great to be with

you this evening. 

 

MADDOW:  So, the president talked about having military equipment, for

example, be part of his inaugural parade.  Last year, he wanted the big

extravaganza involving military equipment and lots of troops for the Fourth

of July or maybe Veterans Day or maybe Memorial Day celebration. 

 

But when he was told it came with a price tag of over $90 million, he

backed off.  This year, I`m struck by the fact that as he is getting this

thing he`s asked for for so long, we`ve seen no estimates at all of how

much it will cost. 

 

Has your committee been able to get any clear view how many taxpayer

dollars this will entail? 

 

UDALL:  We haven`t at all.  And actually what has happened here, the top

Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy, myself, the top

Democrat on the Interior Subcommittee of Appropriations, several weeks ago

asked for all the details, a very extensive letter on where the money was

coming from, how much was going to be spent.  Very detailed letter. 

 

We have been absolutely stonewalled.  We haven`t gotten any information

from Secretary Bernhardt, from the Department of Defense, from the White

House.  It`s really disturbing and an extraordinary situation, really. 

 

MADDOW:  Presumably those numbers will eventually come out.  I can

understand why the White House might be interested in keeping those numbers

from you and from the public ahead of this event happening.  I can even

understand them pressuring the military or pressuring other elements of the

administration to slow down any of those responses, but ultimately, given

the oversight responsibilities of your committee, you will, in the end, be

able to guess those numbers, won`t you? 

 

UDALL:  Yes, we will be able to get those numbers.  I mean, we have a good

idea of roughly what was in the budget to be spent.  And so, when the final

numbers come in, we`ll have an idea as to where they`ve got that money

from.  As you suggested earlier, they are going to take money from the

National Parks infrastructure in order to put on what looks like a

political rally.  We`re going to have to see how that turns out. 

 

But I am going to ask for a GAO investigation into if there were laws

broken and we`ll find out how much money will be spent.  And believe me,

officials that appear before the appropriations committee in both the House

and the Senate will be asked about these numbers and we will get those

numbers. 

 

MADDOW:  You mentioned that there are appearances of what is planned makes

the crossover to political rally territory, and you`re expressing some

concern about that.  Obviously, it`s illegal for public funds, for any

taxpayer money to be spent on the president`s re-election campaign, any

partisan political activity whatsoever. 

 

We have seen reports that the White House has given tickets to this event

to the Republican National Committee to distribute to their donors.  The

president`s campaign has hyped this event, and talked about it essentially

as a campaign event.  How does that sort of thing get policed?  Who

enforces that as a matter of law or policy if, in fact, taxpayer money is

being spent on something that effectively is designed to boost the

president?

 

UDALL:  Well, after you have a GAO investigation and there has been a

determination that there is a violation of the law and money shouldn`t be

spent, then it will have to come from the political sector of his campaign

or the Republican committee, which it basically have been merged together

at this point, but they`ll have to pay that money back. 

 

As you know, there`s a real tradition on presidential trips, if it`s an

official trip and he`s doing something political on the trip, then there`s

an allocation as to what the taxpayers pay and there`s an allocation of

what you pay politically.  That`s the tradition, that`s the way it`s been

followed.  We expect the law to be followed here. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, thanks for joining us, sir.  I

know it`s a busy time.  I really appreciate you being here.

 

UDALL:  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  Thanks.

 

More to come tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  As we head into the holiday, here`s something to keep an eye on. 

The Trump White House is now promising that right after the Fourth, right

after tomorrow`s holiday, so, some time this holiday weekend, they say they

are going to launch nationwide dragnet-style raids targeting immigrant

families in large numbers across the country. 

 

If that rings a bell, it`s because massive predawn raids targeting

immigrant families, something that was originally announced and promised by

the president a couple of weeks ago.  He then announced he would delay them

for a little while, but now the Trump White House is saying it`s right

after July 4th.  And who knows if they mean it anymore this time than they

meant it the last time, but of course, these are real people`s lives in the

balance.

 

“The Daily Beast” now reporting that over these past two weeks, advocates

have been frantically coaching immigrant families around the country about

how to brace themselves and prepare for the possibility of these raids by

ICE.  They describe it as being like natural disaster planning except the

disaster here is a predawn roundup by armed federal agents and your

disaster plan is that you need to know who might be able to look after your

kids when ICE takes you away. 

 

Last night on this program, we reported on a new creative Trump

administration plan to inflict pain and suffering on immigrant families. 

They floated the prospect of deporting the family members of active duty

serving U.S. troops. 

 

We got a big reaction to our mentioning that proposal from the White House

on our show here last night.  I do need to tell you that this is just one

in a series.  They seem to be rolling these out, seeing what kind of

outrage they can stoke. 

 

The Trump administration has today floated another little shop of horrors-

style plan designed to stoke outrage and inflict maximum fear, starting in

the next couple of weeks, starting mid-July, the Trump administration now

says they plan to do away with interpreters for immigrants at their court

hearings.  So, when the judge is explaining their rights and when the next

hearing is and what steps they need to take in the interim and, you know,

generally making sure the immigrants understand what`s happening and do you

have any questions, the Trump administration is now saying there will be no

interpreters for those hearing. 

 

Now, instead of an interpreter, all of that life and death stuff will be

explained in a video recorded in multiple languages that plays before the

hearing that explains basic rights.  And if the immigrant or the immigrant

family has any questions or the judge just wants to make sure everybody

understands, no interpreters, everybody is out of luck. 

 

Now, the backup plan for when this inevitably causes disaster in multiple

courtrooms across the country is for the judge to rely on any interpreter

who happens to be in the building for other purposes, or to call a

telephone service for on-demand translation.  Judges should start calling

1-800 translator on-demand and see if there`s somebody there to help with

their hearing.  But otherwise, there won`t be translators anymore for

immigrant hearings.  That`s the new plan from the Trump administration. 

 

And the family members of active duty service members and the punctuation

of the Fourth of July fireworks with nationwide roundups of families. 

 

None of this is happening by accident.  This is what they want him to run

for re-election on. 

 

We`ll be right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  I have three favorite holidays. 

 

New Year`s Day, because I love the numerological simplicity there.  It`s

like when you car ticks over to 10,000 miles.  I love all the zeros.  I

like 1-1.  I like that.

 

Also, I like Susan`s birthday because in our family, Susan`s birthday lasts

a month.  It`s awesome.

 

And I love the Fourth of July.  I love every single freaking thing about it

and there is nothing that we can ever do as a country that would make me

not love our birthday.  Because our birthday is one of the single best

things we ever did, celebrating independence, celebrating the Declaration

of Independence is something that is for absolutely, everybody.  I hope you

have an excellent Fourth. 

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence. 

 

                                                                                                               

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