New calls for gun reform. TRANSCRIPT: 8/8/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Aitan Goelman, Jerry Nadler

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

appreciated it.


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

immigration invasion. 


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. 




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. 




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

history books. 


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





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. 




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

mean it. 


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

complete list.


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

state investigators. 


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

going on. 


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





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

made public. 


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

watching routinely. 


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. 






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 –




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

of impeachment. 


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

time frame. 


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



MADDOW:  Uh-huh.


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.


MADDOW:  Uh-huh.


NADLER:  And the NRA said, no, no, wait a minute, you`re not.  He said, OK,

I`m not.


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. 




Good evening, Lawrence.  I`m sorry, I`m in your real estate.






Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC.  All materials herein are

protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,

distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the

prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter

or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the