New calls for gun reform. TRANSCRIPT: 8/8/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for joining us. That is “ALL IN” this
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Today`s news brings us yet further support for the contention that you can
get a heck of a lot more information about our federal government now by
watching what they do rather than by listening to what they say. It is
always, always, always true every single day that this administration is in
place but maybe never more so than today.
In today`s news, a new example. Regardless of anything the president said
or says from here on out we now know from watching what they do that what
will go down in history books about this time in American history is that
four days after the worst terrorist attack ever against Latinos in the
United States and on the actual day the president was in El Paso, the site
of the massacre, supposedly comforting that city that just had 22 innocent
people gunned down in cold blood because the gunman said he wanted to stop
a Hispanic invasion of immigrants and save the white race from a Hispanic
On the day the president did make his trip to El Paso, he did say words.
And the Trump White House said more words about what that visit meant and
why the president went there and how it should make us think or feel about
the president`s reaction to that crime. Yes, there were plenty of words.
If you ignore them, though, which I strongly suggest you make a habit of
doing, if you look instead at what they did, we now know what they did in
response to that massacre is that the president`s campaign affirmed that in
fact they`re still going to leave out their millions of dollars worth of
Facebook ads that rail about an invasion of immigrants at the border just
like the El Paso shooter`s diatribe said.
That`s one thing they did in response. Yes, we`re going to leave up those
ads, that rhetoric that the campaign shooter quoted as his justification
for killing those 22 people. And in addition to that, we now know that
regardless of whatever they`ve said, whatever the administration wanted us
to think about what they did in the wake of that massacre, what they
actually did in the wake of that massacre, what we can see now that they
did is that they chose the moment when the president would be visiting El
Paso in response to this anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant terrorist attack
there. The Trump administration chose that moment to do something, to not
just say something, to do something.
They chose that moment to launch the biggest anti-immigrant raid in U.S.
history, descending in force on meat processing plants in Mississippi and
arresting nearly 700 men and women without warning, leaving among other
things the kids of those people who they arrested in school or at day care
or at home or wandering in the streets with no idea of what to do or where
to go with their parents suddenly taken away. Little kids our put up in a
community center in Forest, Mississippi, when that town realized what had
happened and they turned their community center into a makeshift emergency
shelter for these kids from their town who suddenly had no parents.
A local 24-hour gym turned itself into a shelter as well, when nobody knew
what else to do. And people in that community came forward to the gym to
donate food for the kids so that at least while they were holed up in the
24-hour gym in town, they could have dinner. The only reason they have
that place to go is because the owner of the gym decided he would let them
stay there for a while.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC REPORTER: Immigration and Customs Enforcement
handcuffed hundreds of immigrant workers and loaded them onto buses as
coworkers and family members watched in disbelief.
Kids left not knowing where their parents were being taken. This 11-year-
old says her father was among those detained.
Jordan Barns (ph) opened up his gym to children with nowhere to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kids should be the main priority. If we all put
the kids first and do what we can to help them to make this less painful as
possible for them.
GUTIERREZ: Tonight, this woman tells us her husband is among those still
detained. She says she`s been in the U.S. for 24 years.
This church now a sanctuary for those in limbo like this 1-year-old girl.
The priest tells us her mother is in custody. He`s taking care of the baby
as the father tries to find his wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s Gabe Gutierrez reporting tonight for “NBC Nightly News”.
After these mass raids that were launched yesterday while the president was
in El Paso, these mass arrests, the Trump administration eventually
released a few hundred of the people they had arrested and taken away.
Which of course raises the question as to whether they had any idea who
they were arresting in the first place, why they swooped in and arrested
those particular people in the first place, particularly when it`s evident
they had zero plan for what would happen to those people`s families, their
homes, even their babies and their little kids.
But, again, regardless of whatever they say and whatever comes out of the
president`s mouth, this is the story of how our government responded to an
anti-immigrant massacre committed by someone who quoted the words of the
president`s re-election campaign about needing to stop an immigrant
invasion. Our government`s response to that, the Trump administration`s
response to that mass killing was to leave up the president`s re-election
campaign ads that decried immigrant invasion and the administration mounted
their biggest show of force yet against immigrants, including literally
leaving kids crying in parking lots looking for their parents because the
Trump administration just wanted to make a big show of taking their parents
away, whether or not they even wanted to keep them.
So that is how this will look in history. I don`t know that anything said
by this administration or spoken by this president will ultimately make it
into this generation`s almanac of what happened in our country in our time.
But the government and the president`s campaign responding like this to
this terrorist attack against Latinos and immigrants, this will make the
The administration responding with the biggest ever anti-immigrant raid to
the first ever anti-Latino, anti-immigrant gun massacre in this country,
this will be history. This will go down in history as what our government
did. And, of course, whatever we are all doing right now as citizens in
our own lives will also be our own personal history of what it was we were
doing at this time in our country`s life, when our country was doing this.
It`s absolutely astonishing.
It was 45 years ago today that President Richard Nixon resigned as
president of the United States. It was something no president had ever
done before, and, of course, it is something that no president has done
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Therefore, I shall resign the presidency
effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as
president at that hour in this office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I was 45 years ago today President Nixon resigning. And, of
course, he resigned because he had lost in the courts in his effort to keep
secret both from Congress and from the public the evidence that would
ultimately show him obstructing justice in the Watergate scandal. Not only
his complicity in the Watergate and related crimes, but more importantly
his key role in orchestrating the cover-up of those crimes and his efforts
to stymie or – or elude or divert the investigation into those crimes.
The courts breaking the seal on that evidence against Nixon, that in turn
broke the seal on what had been a fairly impenetrable defense around
President Nixon in the Congress formed by members of his own Republican
Party. When the courts let the evidence against Nixon be heard, the
Congress heard it just like the public did. The Republican wall in
Congress that had been defending and protecting Nixon for so long, that
finally started to crumble, and at that point, Nixon knew that he wasn`t
going to have a future as president. And so, he left on his own terms,
resigning 45 years ago exactly.
Now, today coincidently on that 45-year anniversary, the prospects of
impeachment proceedings against our current president, President Trump have
just taken a great leap forward. Over the past week, you may have heard
the news when we crossed the numerical threshold that meant the majority of
Democrats in Congress now support at least opening impeachment proceedings
on President Trump.
By one count posted by CNN tonight, there are now 120 Democrats who say
they support an impeachment inquiry into the president`s behavior. Some
other accounts have it at 119, or 118 or 120 or 121. But it`s where we`re
at. In any of those cases, it`s a majority.
But more than this numerical majority of Democrats saying they`re
theoretically interested in pursuing such proceedings, the more important
that has now happened is that the actual wheels of the process, of
potentially impeaching Donald Trump, that – those wheels are now rolling.
That process has now started.
And there`s a few different things going on here. We`re going to go
through them tonight one by one. Tonight, I have to tell you as well we`ve
got two key interviews stacked up ahead with two absolutely central figures
in this fight and in this story. So, tonight`s going to be sort of an
important show on this important thing that is happening right now.
I hope you can stay with us for the whole hour tonight in large part
because I really want you to see both of these interviews. You know I
don`t say things like that very often. So when I do say it, you know I
So we are going to get to those two very key interviews. But you should
know all these things that have suddenly stacked up and including a couple
of very important things that have happened today. The first thing to know
about in terms of what`s going on here, the dam seems to have broken a bit
when it comes to a central investigative issue, maybe the central
investigative issue that the president appears to be most concerned about
and something he`s been trying to hold back, that he`s been trying to keep
secret, that he`s been trying to keep private. But he is now losing that
One of the surprise revelations from the Mueller report and from Mueller`s
testimony to Congress was that Mueller and his team didn`t do a financial
investigation pertaining to the president, his business, his family.
Although Robert Mueller repeatedly asserted unequivocally that financial
entanglements, particularly secret financial entanglements, are a primary
means of foreign governments compromising U.S. persons, gaining leverage
over Americans including people in U.S. politics. Mueller asserted any
such investigation into the president, into whether President Trump might
have had those kind of compromising financial ties, that was viewed in the
special counsel`s office as outside their remit. They saw that as a
counter intelligence matter and not what they were doing, and so they
didn`t do it.
If there were illegal or illicit or even just secret dealings involving
foreign entities that could be traced through the president`s personal and
business finances, that obviously would be of serious national security
interests, serious counterintelligence interests. It would be a very
important thing to know particularly if it involves any foreign entity that
involved in the election, whether or not the president had secret financial
ties to that entity which might explain why they were so interested putting
him in the White House and why they have – right? I mean, a serious
potential compromise involving the president of the United States and a
hostile foreign power that inexplicably tried to elect him, I mean, that
would be important to know about.
But we now know that Mueller and his team didn`t go there, didn`t look at
it. Having had that clarification from Mueller about what his team didn`t
do, Democrats in Congress promptly said that, oh, well, if Mueller didn`t
do this, they will do it. And now, they are doing it.
And the president of course has been pulling out all the stops to do
anything and everything that he can to block that, to try to stop his
financial records and his banking records and his tax records from being
handed over and examined. I mean, the president literally hired a whole
new legal team just to fight to keep his finances secret, just to keep his
taxes and his banking records and his financial records under wrap.
And that team, that`s all they`re working on for the president. They have
been really racking up the billable hours. I`m not even sure this is
But off the top of my head we know the president has sued New York state to
try to keep his tax returns and financial records secret. Just this past
week, the president has sued the state of California to try to keep his tax
returns secret. The president has sued the Ways and Means Committee in the
House to try to keep his tax returns secret. The president has sued the
chairman of the Oversight Committee to try to keep his tax returns and
financial records secret. He`s even sued his own accounting firm and his
own bank and a whole second bank all to try to keep his tax returns and
financial records secret.
He`s sparing no expense here, right? That is lot of lawsuits. And again,
I`m not even sure if that`s the full list. There might be others I`m
But whether or not he`s going to win every single one of those cases and
statistically speaking that might be difficult, it`s possible we now know
that none of those lawsuits in the end may matter the way the president
wants them to matter. Because today, “The Wall Street Journal” reports
even if the president won every single one of those myriad lawsuits that
he`s filed trying to keep secret his taxes and his financial records, even
if he won all those suits, those materials he`s trying to keep secret might
have already flown the coop, they might already be out there.
Quote: Major Wall Street banks have given congressional committees
investigating President Trump thousands of pages of documents related to
Russians who may have had dealings with Mr. Trump`s family or business.
Banks are also giving documents related to Mr. Trump`s business to New York
Quote: Wall Street firms, including Bank of America, Citigroup, Deutsche
Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo have all provided
documents to congressional investigators. Deutsche Bank has turned over e-
mails, loan agreements, and other documents related to the Trump business,
the Trump Organization.
Quote, although President Trump has filed several lawsuits seeking to block
lawmakers and states from getting access to his bank, accounting and tax
records the documents being provided by the banks could give investigators
some of the same information Mr. Trump is trying to block.
And again what this “Wall Street Journal” report is saying today is not
just that congressional committees and some states are seeking these
materials about the president`s finances from major banks. What this
report from “The Wall Street Journal” today says is that they sought them
and they`re now getting them. And this includes information on loans and
mortgages and applications for financing and also reportedly specifically
includes information on Russian business people potentially connected to
the president and his businesses. So, as I said there`s a number of things
going on here. That is one important thing that is going on here.
Whatever is happening within the president`s financial history, whatever is
happening that is evident in his banking and financial and tax records that
he seems to be so freaked out about, that he seems to be willing to go to
any lengths and any expense to try to keep secret, it appears that those
records by and large are not staying secret. That stuff is underway. That
horse is on its way out of the barn and mostly out. So that`s one thing
Second, we have also just had a big leap forward in terms of testimony and
evidence about the president potentially being unblocked by the courts. As
we reported here on this show last night, the Judiciary Committee has now
filed a really important lawsuit to compel the testimony of the most cited
key witness in Mueller`s investigation, former White House counsel Don
The committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, is going to be here live tonight in
just a couple of minutes. He`s one of those two interviews we`ve lined up
for the show tonight. You will want to see my interview with Chairman
Nadler tonight. Mr. Nadler and his committee clearly see this lawsuit they
have just filed concerning Don McGahn`s testimony, they clearly see this as
kind of their big kahuna, as the thing they have been building up to.
They believe this effort to force McGahn to testify not only will succeed,
but they think that if it does, it`ll essentially be the key that unlocks
all the other witnesses they want to talk to. And that will thereby setup
all the hearings they want to hold about the president`s behavior. So
those things are both happening sort of now all of a sudden.
But one of the other things you should know about, what they`ve just done
with this lawsuit is that for all the huffing and puffing and barrels of
ink spilled and pointless punditry panel conversations about whether or not
Trump will be the next president to face impeachment, right, all the breath
expended on whether or not the Democrats will try to impeach Trump, that
question has now pretty much been answered. It`s like we spent so much
time asking the question no one noticed when the answer finally came. But
that question is now answered in the plain language of this lawsuit about
Don McGahn`s testimony. Even more so than the language we saw from the
Judiciary Committee and their lawsuits a couple of weeks ago when Nadler
and committee asked a judge to release to them the rest of the Mueller
report for the purposes of their potential impeachment investigation.
I mean, that was a pretty good sign. But even more explicitly than that,
Chairman Nadler and his committee now say they are looking at potential
articles of impeachment against the president. They have started
impeachment proceedings against the president. It`s happening. It`s on.
Quoting from the lawsuit: The Judiciary Committee is now determining
whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the president based on
the obstructive conduct described by the special counsel. It cannot
fulfill this most solemn constitutional responsibility without hearing
testimony from a crucial witness to these events, namely former White House
counsel Donald F. McGahn.
Just in case that`s not clear enough from the introduction to the lawsuit.
They get it – they put an even finer point on it. Here, quote, the
judiciary committee is conducting an investigation to understand the scope
and extent of misconduct by President Trump. And that investigation
includes consideration of whether the committee should exercise its Article
I powers to recommend articles of impeachment.
In asking the court explicitly to intervene, to compel Don McGahn to
testify, the committee puts an even finer on it. Quote: Each day McGahn
refuses to testify, the Judiciary Committee is deprived of its ability to
carry out the significant Article I task to recommend whether the president
be impeached and potentially removed from office.
So, we`ve got them getting the financial records despite everything Trump
is doing to help them not get the financial record. We`ve got them going
to court to compel the testimony of all the witnesses they want to hear
from about the president`s potentially impeachable behavior.
And, you know, we`ve had all of these months of all this blah, blah, blah,
do you support impeaching President Trump or not, should the Democrats try
it, is it risky if Mitch McConnell is not, blah, blah – after all the
blah, blah, blah for what is it a year? It`s happening now, it`s under
way. There is an impeachment investigation of President Donald J. Trump
under way right now based on large part on the findings of Robert Mueller`s
And you might have expected this was coming given a majority of Democrats
in the House say they support such an inquiry and the chairman of the
Judiciary Committee which would conduct such an inquiry has said all along
he`s happy to follow the facts wherever they lead. But, I mean, stick a
pin in it, it is now happening. It is now under way.
And in addition to all of that coming together this week, there now today
is one final piece of this which is totally unexpected but pulls in exactly
the same direction. And that story is next.
MADDOW: The House of Representatives is now moving forward with an
impeachment investigation of President Trump. That fact confirmed in court
filings yesterday and now confirmed explicitly by Judiciary Committee
Chairman Jerry Nadler tonight. We`re going to be speaking live with
Chairman Nadler about that in just a moment.
Separate and apart from those proceedings, though, there`s a set of
separate potent allegations that have just been made against the president
which could open up a whole new can of worms for this administration.
These allegations come by two private lawsuits that have been just brought
by senior FBI officials who incidentally were key figures in the
investigation into Russian interference in the election, two senior FBI
figures who were key to that investigation, who were subsequently vilified
and hounded and publicly attacked by the president until they were
ultimately fired by the FBI while the president both demanded for it – by
the president both demanded it and cheered for it. Those two officials
have now brought lawsuits against the administration in part to get their
job back, to establish what ought to be obvious which you shouldn`t be able
to be fired like that for those reasons in that way.
But also they`re making serious allegations about the president`s behavior
in each of their cases. Andrew McCabe, he`s former acting director of the
FBI, he became acting director after the president fired James Comey.
Peter Strzok was the senior counter intelligence agent at the FBI. Now,
within two days of one another, this week, they have both brought lawsuits
saying they want redress, they want reinstatement. In Peter Strzok`s case,
he wants a jury trial to air out what happened to him and when and why and
what he thinks it means.
What McCabe and Strzok are each alleging in these lawsuits is a similarly
described pattern of behavior by the president that they`re not saying
this, but it is my analysis that that sort of behavior by the president
could very well find its way into its own article or articles of
impeachment if in fact the House draws up such articles and if these are
substantiated by these cases brought by McCabe and Strzok in court.
Listen to this from Peter Strzok`s complaint. Quote: The decision to fire
Special Agent Strzok was the result of unrelenting pressure from President
Trump and his political allies in Congress and the media. The campaign to
fire Strzok included constant tweets and other disparaging tweets by the
president as well as direct appeals from the president to then Attorney
General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray to fire Strzok.
The concerted public campaign to disparage and ultimately fire Special
Agent Strzok was enabled by the defendant`s deliberate and unlawful
disclosure to the media of texts intended to be private from an FBI system
of records in violation of the Privacy Act. The FBI fired Special Agent
Strzok because of his protected political speech and violation of rights
under the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The Trump administration has consistently tolerated and even encouraged
partisan political speech by federal employees as long as this speech
praises President Trump and attacks his political adversaries. For
example, President Trump rejected the recommendation of the Office of
Special Counsel that advisor Kellyanne Conway be removed from her job for
repeatedly violating the Hatch Act, by attacking former Vice President
Biden and publicly advocating for and against various Senate candidates.
Although Mrs. Conway may be the highest profile Trump administration
employee to enjoy the right to violate the Hatch Act with impunity, she is
far from the only one. While Special Agent Strzok and others who express
negative opinions of President Trump have been subject to administrative
punishments of various degrees of severity, no actions have been taken
against FBI agents who expressed harsh criticism of Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, or those in the
field office of the FBI who leaked negative information about Secretary
Clinton to the Trump campaign in the weeks before the election.
This viewpoint discrimination is part of a broader campaign against the
very principle of free speech underlying the First Amendment initiated and
led by a president who has repeatedly attacked the press as the enemy of
the people, urged censorship of opinions which he deems insufficient
flattering, and the withdrawal of security clearance of clinics, including
Special Agent Strzok who present no risk to national security.
That`s the lawsuit just brought against the Trump administration by Peter
Strzok who you may remember was the go-to counter Russian intelligence
agent at the top of the FBI who played a key role in the Russia FBI
investigation. He was run out on a rail and had his career and reputation
destroyed by the Trump administration. It remains one of the largest
scandals of the whole Trump presidency, the scandal that`s hiding in plain
sight that the president reached down into law enforcement and intelligence
agencies, and one by one by one singled out and peeled off and destroyed
basically all the leaders and key agents who played key roles in
recognizing what Russia was doing to try to get Trump elected and who tried
to investigate Trump`s own knowledge of or role in that plot.
In addition to Peter Strzok who suffered that fate at the FBI, so did
Andrew McCabe who was deputy director and acting director of the agency.
Today, he filed his own lawsuit. His suit if anything is even more pointed
about the president.
Plaintiff McCabe is the former deputy director of the FBI and career civil
servant. He believes the U.S. government remains a government of laws and
not of men. And he`s brought this case to remedy defendant`s unlawful
retaliation of his refusal to pledge allegiance to a single man.
Impeachment proceedings for all intents and purposes have begun. The
evidence about the president`s conduct is being freed up and made available
despite the president`s best efforts to keep that stuff secret. And now,
separate and apart from that in a totally separate sphere, the acting FBI
director and the top counter Russian intelligence officer who played a role
in the Russia investigation within two days of each other, they have both
gone to court signaling that they are going to get the story told of what
happened to them, of how the president came after them and why.
It`s all happening all at once. All systems go.
Joining us now is Aitan Goelman, who`s an attorney for Peter Strzok
throughout this ordeal and in this new case.
Mr. Goelman, I know you`re not super eager to do media at any time. And I
really appreciate you making time to be here tonight. Thanks for joining
AITAN GOELMAN, PETER STRZOK`S LAWYER: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, your client Mr. Strzok served in the FBI for more than 20
years. Can you talk to us at all about the decision-making process and
what it was like when he decided he would sue that institution that he
called home for so many years?
GOELMAN: It wasn`t easy for him. I mean, he`s devoted his entire adult
life to protecting this country from its foreign enemies and he has an
incredible amount of affection for the institution. So this runs counter
to some of his instincts, but he`s doing this for the other men and women
who serve this country faithfully in the FBI and who should not have their
constitutional rights lightly overwritten by somebody who is determined to
turn the entire executive branch into his personal weapon to use against
his political adversaries, real and imagine (ph).
MADDOW: Does the president have the right to reach down into law
enforcement agencies including the FBI and pluck out individual officials
or agents who he believes are biased, who he believes have political views
that will affect their work?
GOELMAN: Well, there`s an act passed by Congress that governs what kind of
political speech federal employees can and cannot exercise. And Pete`s
political speech in this case falls squarely within the permissible kind.
But even if, you know, the president could do something like firing members
of the executive branch, there`s a process for that in each agency. The
FBI has its own process.
In this case, Pete Strzok actually engaged in that process, and we went
through it, and there`s a woman who is the assistant director in charge of
Office of Professional Responsibility who`s known throughout the bureau
actually as kind of a hard ass. And she made the decision that Pete
shouldn`t be fired. That he should be – be demoted from the senior
executive service. They should have a two-month suspension.
And that`s something that Pete accepted. He was willing to take that
And then after we`d already had a decision from the assistant director,
after we already had a signed agreement, then the deputy director stepped
in last minute and overruled that decision and reversed it and said Pete
had to be fired, something I don`t know of ever happening before. And
certainly not unrelated to the, you know, dozens of hate tweets that
President Trump directed at Pete`s way.
MADDOW: One of the other serious allegations in your lawsuit is that the
texts which Mr. Strzok expressed his political opinions about President
Trump but also criticizing people like Bernie Sanders and Eric Holder and
other people in politics, those texts were improperly and perhaps illegally
Do you know who in the Justice Department or who in the FBI chose to
release those materials to the press either unofficially or with what was
ultimately essentially an overt publication of those materials?
GOELMAN: We don`t know, but we intend to find out. It`s clear that those
texts were unlawfully leaked, violated the Privacy Act. The media got them
before even the jurisdictional committees of Congress got them, and there`s
no exception under the Privacy Act allowing for that kind of record to be
leaked to the media.
MADDOW: One brief last question for you. Is there any connection between
your client`s lawsuit, Peter Strzok`s lawsuit and the lawsuit that makes
some parallel claims, it has the same defendants listed from former Deputy
Director McCabe. It was filed within a couple of days, and I think myself
and a lot of people are reading a lot of similarities in terms of what`s
alleged by misbehavior by the administration in the two cases.
GOELMAN: There are definitely similarities but there`s definitely no
connection until today. I didn`t know that Andy McCabe was filing this
MADDOW: OK. Aitan Goelman, attorney for Pete Strzok, thank you so much
for joining us tonight. Please keep us apprised. We`re going to be
GOELMAN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: It is one of the tastier euphemisms in politics, I think just
because it`s so shameless. They call it the district work period, which is
hilarious. Really, in August, you must go do lots of work in your
district. Really, that`s your work period?
What the district work period really is the gone fishing sign for Congress.
They hung out that sign and left town on July 29th expecting to be gone for
the end of July, the entire month of August and a good chunk of September.
Nice if you can get it, right?
Congress does get lots of breaks throughout the year. But this district
work period, their summer vacation is their longest break. That said,
though, Congress might be coming back sooner than expected, in part to
address potential gun reform after this week`s mass shootings.
And it seems like that same committee that could soon be handling gun
reform may also be talking about something equally dramatic in the very
near term and the chairman of that committee joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You`re saying this is exactly the same as what
we all call formal impeachment proceedings by another name?
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): This is formal impeachment proceedings. We are
investigating all the evidence. We gather the evidence and we will at the
conclusion of this hopefully by the end of the year, vote to – vote
articles of impeachment to the House floor or we won`t. That`s a decision
we`ll have to make. But that –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is formal impeachment proceedings, according to the man who
gets to say whether or not that is so – the chairman of the Judiciary
Committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York – who joins us here now
live on set.
Mr. Chairman, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for coming in.
NADLER: Good to see you.
MADDOW: So, you said earlier this evening this should be seen as what we
colloquially describe as impeachment proceedings. Why has there been
fuzziness or confusion as to whether or not that inquiry is under way?
NADLER: I don`t know. We`ve made that clear. I don`t think we should get
hung up on semantics. We`ve made it clear that the committee is holding an
investigation. We`re looking into the various charges of malfeasance,
obstruction of justice, abuse of power by the president. And we will – we
are considering what to do about it including possible voting of articles
MADDOW: When you said that you expect there will be a vote before the end
of the year on whether or not to approve articles of impeachment?
NADLER: Well, if we decide to do articles of impeachment, we`ll have a
vote. If not, we won`t have a vote.
MADDOW: Why is the end of the year your time frame then?
NADLER: Well, that`s just approximate. It`s an assumption as to when –
as to how long these court fights will take and hearings with various
witnesses. We`ll spend I assume September and October on hearings with
witnesses that we don`t have to get through compulsory process in court.
Hopefully, the court proceedings will get us the witnesses like McGahn and
others after the end of October. And if that is correct, then that`s an
approximate time frame.
MADDOW: And this lawsuit that you filed this week to try to compel Don
McGahn`s testimony, to try to make him respect your subpoena, I have been
describing this – and I realize I`m describing this on the basis of other
people like me describing this way, and I should check it out with you –
but the way that I look at this is that this is about getting McGahn`s
testimony but it seems to me through this lawsuit, you were essentially
trying to unlock what has been blocking other witnesses from testifying.
NADLER: That`s exactly right, that`s exactly right. The legal issues in
McGahn are exactly the same legal issues for Hope Hicks, Annie Donaldson,
and all the other witnesses. So when hopefully we win the McGahn lawsuit
all the others will follow.
The White House is asserting absolute immunity for presidential appointees
which is an absurd claim and that`s essentially what they`re asserting, and
we have to break this. If the courts, God forbid, were to up hold such a
claim, then never mind the impeachment, there`d be no congressional
oversight of the executive at all because you could simply say anyone who
deals with the president, anyone in the administration doesn`t have to
testify at all. And that would destroy the separation of powers. It would
essentially make the president unaccountable to Congress and therefore to
the people and make him a king, which is exactly what the framers of the
Constitution did not want to do.
MADDOW: Do you know what the – what you are hoping for in terms of the
time frame on a resolution of this McGahn case? If this is so key to
getting his testimony, if his testimony is key to your inquiry and on its
own terms but also in terms of unlocking other witnesses so that you could
hear from –
NADLER: We don`t know the time frame. We`ve ask that be expedited and one
thing – and we said in our papers, in an impeachment proceeding, which we
said this is in our legal papers, you`re entitled to the highest degree of
expedition because obviously of time considerations that aren`t present in
normal oversight. Hopefully, we get a decision from the lower court, I
don`t know, a number of weeks, and from the court of appeals in a couple of
months and hopefully it doesn`t go beyond that.
MADDOW: Within a couple of months, it`s already August, so it`d be
September, October, if you`re looking at hopefully trying to be voting by
the end of the year, if you decide to proceed with articles, that`s a quick
NADLER: Yes, it`s a quick time frame. But again, I`m not saying the end
of the year, could be sooner, could be later. We have to do what we have
to do. By the way, we`re not limited nor will we be limited by McGahn and
the other people I mentioned are very key to consideration of an
impeachment for obstruction of justice and abuse of power, all of the
things in the Mueller report.
But we have other grounds we have to look into, too, and we`ll be holding
hearings. The violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, and
just the fact of withholding or opposing congressional subpoenas, that was
article 3 of the Nixon impeachment. And here, he`s gone way further, even
to the extent of saying we`ll oppose all subpoenas, which is another way of
saying we don`t recognize the separation of powers and we are going to
aggrandize power to the executive branch, which is core impeachable, and
there are others, too. So, we`ll be looking at all of these things.
MADDOW: Have you made decisions in your committee or have you as chairman
made decisions as to what those various grounds are? I mean, you just
described several. Has that been the process?
NADLER: No. People obviously are suggesting various different grounds and
we`ll have to prioritize which we look into and investigate and make
decisions as the next few months go on.
MADDOW: And how does that process work in your community? How do you run
your committee from making important decisions like that?
NADLER: Well, the members of the committee and staff will talk to each
In terms of this being a point of discussion and consternation on having a
lot of political impact, apart from the substance of these potential
articles of impeachment that you may be looking at, there`s been so much
discussion as to whether or not this is politically wise for Democrats and
whether there`s political appetite for it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has
been broadly described as being against this as a step, and she`s described
herself that way, broadly speaking.
Can you tell us about your discussions with the speaker on this and whether
she supports what you`re doing?
NADLER: All I think I should say is that every court filing we`re making,
every assertion that we need this information for impeachment
consideration, et cetera were signed off on by the speaker. The House
counsel is bringing these lawsuits. The House counsel reports to the
speaker not to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I mean, we asked
the House counsel what to do, but I can`t tell them what to do.
So, the speaker is going – the speaker wants to vindicate the Constitution
and she`s been very direct in that, and so do we. I mean, political
consideration aside, we must protect the Constitution. This is probably
one of the worst crises we face in the constitutional loss since after the
Civil War, in terms of aggrandizing of power to the executive, in terms of
denial of congressional power and separation of powers, in terms of the
president asserting powers he doesn`t have and using them.
We have to have limited government. We have to have constitutional
government and we – and only Congress can do this. So, we have to do this
and the speaker understands that, and we will have to pursue it, regardless
of the political consequences, although, obviously, we have to take
politics into account.
MADDOW: It still sort of flummoxes me that the analysis that the president
getting impeached would be good for the president. But that`s –
NADLER: I don`t think so. I don`t think so.
NADLER: If – again, you – if we do our job properly, if we get the
evidence, if we have very convincing evidence and convincing hearings and
people understand what`s at stake, I don`t think there will be negative
consequences for protecting the Constitution.
MADDOW: If you can stay with us, Mr. Chairman, I was just making fun of
you for your colleagues for the long summer vacation, but I understand
there`s a possibility it might be ending early. I like to talk to you
about that when we come back.
We`ll be right back with Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re back now live with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler who
at this point is the man of the hour.
Sir, thank you for sticking with us.
In addition to this impeachment discussion that we`ve been having, we have
heard some reports that your committee may cut short the planned recess
that you`re in right now in order to talk about potential gun reform
Can you tell us anything about that?
NADLER: Well, remember, our committee voted back in February and the House
passed back I think in February or March very substantial universal
background check legislation for guns and something called the Charleston
loophole, plugging up some loopholes in the background check laws, and it`s
been over 160 days that it`s been sitting in the Senate and Mitch McConnell
has not committed a vote. We hope they will.
But what we did back in February was we took what we thought were the very
easy bills, and we sent them over to the Senate. We ought to add now bills
we always thought we would do such as we wanted to give them the easy stuff
first, but we`re very actively considering calling the committee back into
session before – during the district work period to consider bills on
banning high capacity magazines, banning assault rifles, certain provisions
to make sure that people convicted of hate crimes or domestic violence
can`t get guns and various suggestions have been made by our members and
So, I think we – more likely than not we`ll have – we`ll have a committee
meeting to vote some of these bills before the end – before Labor Day.
MADDOW: Obviously, gun policy has been stuck –
NADLER: Before the end of district work period.
MADDOW: Has been stuck for so long in the Republicans not wanting to do
anything about it in this current moment of crisis in the country.
Republicans, particularly in the Senate, have suggested that they really
want White House buy in on something and that would allow Republicans to
vote for something. Are there any bipartisan discussions even within your
committee on some of these – some of these lower hanging fruit measures
related to guns?
NADLER: Well, there has been – remember the Republicans, the president
and Mitch McConnell I think, the president certainly said after Parkland
that he was – he was for universal background checks.
NADLER: And the NRA said, no, no, wait a minute, you`re not. He said, OK,
And now, I think we`re doing the same thing again. But the pressure is
really building up. You know, for years, people were afraid of gun control
legislation. If you went against the NRA, expect in key – very solid
Democratic districts, you were toast.
And yet, we had a couple people – we had a number of people elected last
year by campaigning specifically for gun control, Lucy McBath in our
committee, various other people campaigned for gun control, for strong
legislation, for bans on high capacity magazines and so forth. And if you
poll these things, background checks polls at 90 percent, the assault
weapons ban polls at 70 percent. So, I think that is breaking.
There is a limit, you know, the president talks about mental health and
other things. The fact of the matter is, no other industrial country in
the world has gun deaths more than two, 300 a year. We have 39,000 a year.
You can`t tell me we`re several thousand times more mentally ill than Great
Britain or France or Germany or Japan. That`s a slander on the American
There is one difference and that`s easy availability of guns without
checking and I think people are finally with mass shooting after mass
shooting after mass shooting, people are finally beginning to say enough
already and I think even Republicans at some point have to cave in.
MADDOW: House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler, thank you for your time
tonight. This is an unexpectedly busy time, given that it`s supposed to be
your work period. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.
NADLER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Oops, that does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it is time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence. I`m sorry, I`m in your real estate.
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prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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