THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW for September 3, 2019, MSNBC

Guests:
Guest: Hubert Minnis, Mahsa Khanbabai, Tom Hamburger
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That`s ALL IN for this evening. 

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. 

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

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

appreciated.

 

HAYES:  You bet.

 

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

 

We`re going to be joined by phone in just a moment live by the prime

minister of the Bahamas, a country that has been and right now continues to

be just absolutely pummeled by Hurricane Dorian. 

 

The Bahamas, of course, are a nation of about 400,000 people, about 700

islands in the Bahamas.  The devastation there from Hurricane Dorian is not

evenly spread, to say the least. 

 

The focus for rescue and recovery now is on the places in the Bahamas that

have been hardest hit.  It`s all just almost impossible to visually take in

what you`re looking at here, but this is what it looks like as of now in

the Abaco Islands, which is part of the northern Bahamas.  This is less

than 200 miles off the Florida coast. 

 

Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco on Sunday as a category 5 hurricane with winds

that reached more than 185 miles per hour.  This is the most powerful storm

to ever have been known to have hit the Bahamas. 

 

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced just in this past hour that the

known death toll in his country has risen to seven.  Before tonight, it had

been five.  Now, it is seven.  It is feared that that toll will further

rise for the reasons you can see on your screen right now. 

 

This widespread devastation in the Bahamas as aerial photography is finally

able to get in there and people are finally able to get in there to see the

results of what has happened with that storm.  I mean, beyond the

hurricane`s sheer strength, the death and destruction in Abaco and on the

neighboring island of Grand Bahama are in part the result of how static

Dorian has been, how slowly it has been moving. 

 

The storm basically stalled over grand Bahama for 41 straight hours.  To

get a sense of what that means, “The Washington Post” described it as the

equivalent of a strong tornado and a flash flood happening at the same

time, but roaring on and on and on for more than a day and a half. 

Tornadoes don`t usually last a day and a half. 

 

For a visual perspective, I know that some of these images are sort of hard

to place.  In part, this looks sort of like a boat out on the ocean – out

on the open ocean, like maybe you`re looking from a vessel here.  This is

actually a view taken at the international airport.  This is the airport in

Freeport in the Bahamas, which is the nation`s second largest city. 

 

This is not a boat out on the ocean.  This is the land or what used to be

it.  This is the international airport. 

 

This is the town of Marsh Harbor on Abaco, just entirely underwater.  The

fact that Dorian wouldn`t move, the fact that it was stuck there for so

long, has meant it took a long time to get these images.  It was basically

impossible to get a sense of what happened there and to get relief efforts

under way until the eye of the storm finally moved off Grand Bahama, which

only happened this afternoon.  As “The Washington Post” reports tonight,

emergency responders are now conducting, quote, targeted rescues.

 

Quote: On the Facebook page of the prime minister`s office, the government

asked people stranded on Grand Bahama to send their GPS locations via

WhatsApp.  One user posted, quote, Freeport gospel chapel multipurpose

building, meaning I`m trapped there, I need rescuing there.  Another person

posted, quote: Hi, struck by grand central four-way in plot – excuse me,

grand central four-way.  Please send help.  Holding on to a wall. 

 

People sending live reports with their GPS coordinates WhatsApping them to

the Facebook page of the prime minister.  When you have to try to save

people however, you can in circumstances like this.  But, again, this is

the strongest storm to have ever been known to hit the Bahamas. 

 

Joining us now by phone from Nassau, from the capital of the Bahamas is

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis. 

 

Mr. Prime Minister, sir, I know this is an incredibly difficult time.  I

will not keep you long, but thank you for taking a moment to talk to us

about what`s happening there. 

 

HUBERT MINNIS, PRIME MINISTER OF BAHAMAS (via telephone):  Thank you very

much. 

 

MADDOW:  I know, sir, that you were able to survey the damage in the

Bahamas among other places from the air today.  You were able to get up in

a plane.  Can you tell us what you`ve been able to see? 

 

MINNIS:  Yes, we were able to survey Abaco, one of the islands that was hit

by this monster hurricane, and the damage is less in the southern area of

the island and more progressive as you move north.  As we entered the

airport area, the international airport in Marsh Harbour, we find that the

runway and the adjoining areas are underwater, and therefore, no aircraft

can land to bring any form of relief. 

 

And as we move further north, we note that the Marsh Harbour area has been

decimated.  I would estimate that at least 60 percent of the homes in Marsh

Harbour have either been destroyed or damaged.  The – an area that we call

the mud where many of the Asian nationals live, that area has been

completely destroyed.  And as we move further north heading into the

Cooperstown and other northern areas, we find that the roadway is flooded

and in some aspects the roadway is broken, and therefore, there is no

roadway transportation network between the north and the central of these

different communities. 

 

And the airport in the Treasure Cay area, that is one of the northern

settlements, that airport, though the runway is useable, there is no access

between the main road and the airport because that adjoining area is,

again, flooded underwater.  And there was a community, the homes within

that community were gravely damaged, partially destroyed, and there were at

least about 30 individuals who were standing outside the home on dry

ground, what would be considered relatively high ground. 

 

Those individuals as we passed by were waving yellow cloth, any type of

clothing that they had available to them, trying to point out to us that

they were still alive and needed some form of assistance.  Fortunately,

that exact location was mapped and information was sent to a helicopter in

the nearby area and those 30 individuals would have been rescued and

transported to safety.  So that`s basically what we`re seeing with – Abaco

at this particular time. 

 

We have not yet surveyed Grand Bahama.  It`s not an all-clear yet.  So we

cannot survey Grand Bahama.  But we expect to find quite a bit of

devastation there and damage as a result of flooding.  As you know, the

storm essentially we would say fell asleep on Grand Bahama, which would

have caused even more damage. 

 

You can imagine being battered by 180 to 200 miles per hour wind for in

excess of almost two days.  That can be very devastating. 

 

MADDOW:  Mr. Prime Minister, sir, that amount of devastation that you were

describing on Abaco as you were able to get up and see that today from the

air, when you describe neighborhoods, you know, with 60 percent of homes

destroyed or damaged, other neighborhoods that appear to be entirely

destroyed, coupling that with what you were describing about the

infrastructure in terms of roads and airports being inundated and unusable,

I have to ask if you feel the evacuation orders were successful?  Will

there be large numbers of people that need rescue efforts in Abaco or were

people largely evacuated from the areas that were most hurt? 

 

MINNIS:  I think Bahamians are a resilient group.  What you will find that

even if evacuation after asking them to leave, et cetera, you find that the

average Bahamian would want to stay in their community and rebuild.  We

face challenges not as bad as this before.  We`ve faced many hurricanes

where areas and communities were devastated, and communities tend to come

together and rebuild. 

 

Our homes are built at a very great standard.  Our building codes were

built to withstand about 150 miles per hour wind.  We never expected that

we would one day encounter wind velocity as high as 180 to 200 miles per

hour.

 

But we will take that as a lesson and we will even build our – strengthen

our codes even more to ensure that we are protected and protect ourselves

and prepare as best we can in the event that storms approach our shores

with even greater velocity.  But we are resilient people and we will stay

and we will rebuild.  We will not leave our islands to move to another. 

 

MADDOW:  Sir, in terms of people who may still be there and who may need

help, either on Grand Bahama or anybody remaining in Abaco, especially as

the storm now moves away from the Bahamas and people start to emerge and

realize what`s around them and realize that they may not be able to travel,

is there communication?  Are cell towers down?  Are people able to

communicate who may need help? 

 

MINNIS:  As we passed through the Abaco area, several of our towers are

down.  And communication is limited.  We`re using satellite phones to

communicate with the various areas. 

 

MADDOW:  OK. 

 

MINNIS:  Still in some areas, we`re getting WhatsApp messages going

through.  So we`re communicating via that.  But as soon as the all-clear is

given, you can be assured that vessels and international community will be

there and Bahamians will commence rebuilding their lives immediately. 

 

We`re happy that – we`re grateful, I should say, that the storm has not

hit our economic engine of the Bahamas, which is New Providence.  This is

the main tourist destination.  And I can say that New Providence was not

touched at all and the hotels, our airports, our streets, our

infrastructure, telephone systems, everything is still 100 percent

functional, just – just as was before the hurricane. 

 

Those islands that are hit – that were hit does not necessarily affect New

Providence. 

 

MADDOW:  OK. 

 

MINNIS:  Our economic engines still function and the economic engines will

use its power and resources to help rebuild those two islands. 

 

MADDOW:  Prime Minister Hubert Minnis of the Bahamas – sir, thank you so

much for giving us some of your time tonight.  People around this country

and the world are obviously expressing concerns and prayers for the people

of the Bahamas.  Thank you for helping us understand what`s happening

there, sir.  Good luck. 

 

MINNIS:  Thank you very much. 

 

MADDOW:  A live report there from the prime minister of the Bahamas.  He

just completed a press conference earlier tonight.  We were able to get him

on the phone.  I`m grateful for his time. 

 

As I mentioned earlier, Hurricane Dorian`s eye wall did finally move off of

Grand Bahama this afternoon.  The prime minister saying there that it was

as if the storm went to sleep over Grand Bahama Island. 

 

It is, I mean, to talk about – hear the prime minister say, listen, we

build to 150-mile-an-hour wind standard here.  We didn`t expect to have

180-mile, 200-mile-an-hour winds for that sustained a period.  Right. 

 

Again, strongest storm to ever – ever known to have hit the Bahamas.  Now

that the eye wall has moved off of the Bahamas, it is still moving slowly

toward the U.S. coast and it is still a hurricane. 

 

Dorian is now a category 2 hurricane.  It`s gone from tropical storm to 1

to 2 all the way up to 5.  It`s now back down to 2.  Right now, the winds

are topping out, as you can see there, at about 110 miles per hour. 

 

According to the National Hurricane Center, they expect the storm now to

move what they call dangerously close to the Florida coast and the Georgia

coast, late tonight through tomorrow and into tomorrow night.  Then they

expect it to be near or over the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina

through Friday morning. 

 

Florida`s east coast is already getting rain from the outer bands of Dorian

right now.  There are hurricane warnings and storm surge warnings in effect

for most of the Southeast coast.  There are mandatory evacuation orders

along coasts of Florida and Georgia and South Carolina.  We expect North

Carolina`s mandatory evacuations to begin tomorrow morning. 

 

So, again, we will continue to track Dorian as it threatens the United

States.  Those scenes from the Bahamas are absolutely devastating. 

Interesting to hear the prime minister there talk about the economic engine

of the Bahamas being alive and being relatively untouched by the storm. 

He`s talking about that as being key to be able to mount rescue and

rebuilding efforts in Abaco and Grand Bahama that were hit so badly, but

we`re just starting to get the first images off the islands because the

storm stayed there for so long. 

 

So, again, we will stay on that over the course of the night. 

 

I also want to give you an update on a story that we covered pretty

intensively last week.  This was a story first broken by WBUR, a public

radio station in Boston and by “Commonwealth Magazine” in Massachusetts. 

It was also picked up thereafter by the “Boston Globe” and the “Miami

Herald”, and ultimately by “The New York Times”.

 

But when the story first broke in Massachusetts, it was based on a couple

of cases that centered around Boston Children`s Hospital.  Boston

Children`s Hospital, really elite children`s hospital. 

 

It was almost an unbelievable bit of news when this started to emerge in

the Northeast last week.  There had been no announcement about this from

the Trump administration.  The only way anybody learned this Trump

administration plan was unfolding was when individual families started

receiving letters from the Trump administration that they had no warning

of.  They couldn`t believe them when they received them.  They didn`t know

what to make of them.  They started to turn to doctors and lawyers and

advocacy groups for help with understanding what this could mean. 

 

But the long and short of it, the cartoonishly evil caricatured bottom line

of it as it emerged last week and as we reported here on this show last

week is that the Trump administration had somehow figured out a way to zero

in on kids with life-threatening illnesses – kids with cancer, kids with

cystic fibrosis, kids with rare diseases for which they need specialized,

delicate, advanced medical care of the kind that you can only get at elite

children`s hospitals. 

 

The Trump administration in their wisdom figured out a way to find those

kids and those families in America and target them, target them in some

cases for death.  The Trump administration with no warning started sending

families of those kids in those situations letters telling them that even

though those kids were here in this country legally to receive lifesaving

medical care, the Trump administration had decided in its wisdom that that

was no longer a reason for those kids to be allowed to stay here.  So,

those parents needed to stop getting lifesaving medical care for their

children and they needed to get them and their families out of this country

within 33 days. 

 

They all got the same boilerplate letter.  This policy, this program no

longer applies.  You need to be out in 33 days.  No appeal.  No referral. 

That`s it. 

 

And as I said, this started as a local story in Massachusetts.  I think it

took a few days to boil up into a national news story, in part because who

could believe this was really happening, right?  This was so indefensible. 

This was so morally repugnant, you know, literally they`re targeting kids

with cancer now? 

 

I think the national press corps may not have been able to fully sort of

grok that this was what the Trump administration had decided to do next. 

But this is real news, this is a real thing they`ve been doing and they`re

targeting these kids actually extended to kids and families who were

literally invited to come to this country by America`s best children`s

hospitals.  You know, invited here not as charity cases, not as, like,

heart strings cases where America was being generous.  Literally, these

families and these kids were invited here simply because American medical

researchers needed access to these kids to try to develop cures to rare

diseases. 

 

I don`t know if you ever wanted to be a doctor when you were growing up.  I

was always really squeamish about needles and blood and everything, so I

knew I could never do it, so it was never one of my fantasies ever.  But I

know for all of the people who do end up becoming doctors and, you know,

medical researchers in this country, there are thousands more Americans who

grow up having this kind of superhero fantasy about how cool it would be to

become a great doctor, right?  How cool it would be to become a

groundbreaking medical researcher. 

 

It`s an understandable, like, childhood fantasy, right?  One of the great

super heroic conquests you can imagine for yourself as one of the world`s

great doctors, as one of the world`s great researchers would be if you

could come up with a cure or a treatment for a previously untreatable rare

disease.  Like imagine what that would mean.  How meaningful that would

make your life if that was your life`s work, right? 

 

There are real doctors.  There are real super heroic doctors who do that

kind of work at the best children`s hospitals in the world, many of which

are in the United States.  But that work doesn`t just happen by genius

alone, right? 

 

It doesn`t happen with, you know, capes and superpowers.  In order to

develop cures for rare diseases, what you need is the ability to work with

patients who have those rare diseases.  And by definition of the word rare,

there are not all that many of those patients. 

 

And so, doctors, for example, at the UC-San Francisco Children`s Hospital

in northern California, doctors who are looking to test a potential

treatment for a devastating rare disease called MPS VI where kids are born

without an enzyme they need to live.  Doctors wanting to develop a

treatment for that rare disease.

 

Well, they found a little 7-year-old girl named Isabel, Isabel Bueso, who

lived in another country.  She had that rare disease.  At UCSF, they

recruited her and her family.  They asked her family to please come to this

country so she could be part of a clinical trial that was testing an

experimental treatment for her rare disease. 

 

They need patients to be able to test these treatments, to be able to

develop these treatments, to be able to cure these rare diseases.  There is

no other way to do it, and so, they need to find these patients wherever

they are in the world and bring them here.  And because Isabel was able to

come from another country to California to be part of this clinical trial,

that clinical trial finally had enough patients to be allowed to go ahead. 

 

And the clinical trial went ahead and it was successful.  And that

treatment for that rare disease is now FDA-approved, thanks to her and her

family. 

 

And then last week, we learned that the Trump administration had decided it

was time for her to die.  She gets weekly intravenous infusions of that

experimental treatment which is not approved for distribution in her home

country.  Nevertheless, the Trump administration sent her family a

boilerplate letter, a phone letter telling them they needed to take Isabel

off treatment and get out of this country, go back to where they came from. 

 

And so, that letter going out to Isabel`s family and other families like

Isabel`s led to this initial coverage at WBUR, “Commonwealth Magazine”. 

Follow-up coverage from the “Boston Globe,” including a devastating

editorial from the “Boston Globe.”  We picked up this story here on this

show.  The story also started getting covered in Florida, “The Miami

Herald,” “The New York Times” ultimately front paged the story with this

headline: Sick migrants undergoing lifesaving care can now be deported.

 

The oversight committee in the House noticed what was happening.  They

announced an emergency meeting at which the head of the U.S. Citizenship

and immigration services and acting head of ICE were both told to appear. 

Then this letter went out signed by 127 members of Congress, remarkably

every single one of them a Democrat.  Apparently Republicans don`t care

about this. 

 

A hundred twenty-seven members of Congress, all Democrats, sent this letter

to the Trump administration demanding a reversal of this policy, demanding

that they don`t kill these kids, but also demanding answers to a bunch of

very direct questions.  Like this one, essentially, who did it and why? 

 

Quote: What was the rational for the policy change?  Please provide any

emails, memoranda, guidance or other documents discussing the rationale for

the policy change. 

 

Also, who were the most senior officials in the White House and the

Department of Homeland Security who approved this change?  Why did you not

provide advanced notice to the public or to Congress before this change was

enacted?  For that matter, what formal notice at all has been provided to

the public or to Congress that this change has been enacted?

 

In other words, we, the Congress, are only learning about this from the

press.  And the press is only learning about it from the families you have

taken aim at.  This is a major policy change.  Were you just not going to

mention it? 

 

The groundswell of disbelief and criticism and outrage over what the Trump

administration is doing here just kept building steadily over the course of

last week.  The story started to make network TV news.  The anchors like

Gayle King at a CBS morning show expressing on the air that surely, surely

this must be an error.  Surely something could be done to fix this. 

 

“Boston Globe” ran a second editorial, a blistering one.  The headline,

“The most inhumane of Trump`s immigration policies.” 

 

Here`s the lead of that editorial, quote: President Trump`s most outrageous

immigration policy has become a bureaucratic hot potato – an attack on

sick immigrants seemingly so cruel that seemingly no part of the federal

immigration system wants to implement it.  And really, why would they? 

Unless the administration takes the hint and withdraws the proposal, it`s

asking officials to take actions that ought to haunt their conscience and

the country`s. 

 

And then, finally, after a week of this we have been watching this story

break in Massachusetts and slowly build and slowly get flushed out and

Congress start to notice and editorial boards start to pick it up and it

become a national news story.  We`ve seen a week of this growing disbelief

and outrage at what they`re doing, and now Trump administration has changed

their mind.  They have reversed the policy, sort of. 

 

That`s next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  You might have seen some of these headlines over the last 24

hours.  This is from “The New York times”: Faced with criticism, Trump

administration reverses bankrupt end to humanitarian relief.

 

From WBUR in Boston, which did some of the first reporting on this story:

After public outcry, feds agree to re-open certain medical deferment

process.

 

At “Commonwealth Magazine” in Massachusetts, which also did great reporting

on this story from the very beginning, quote: Trump administration changes

course on immigrant parents.  Those told to leave the country will be

allowed to stay for now. 

 

But that “for now” is doing a lot of work there because even though the

Trump administration appears to have caved on this, they appear to have

reversed themselves on this, they will at least now consider the

applications of kids who are already currently here in this country

receiving lifesaving medical treatment.  They will consider the

applications of those kids to stay on, which is a reversal.  It appears

that the bigger picture of what they`re doing here is not so much a

reversal of this astonishing policy they were trying to get away with, it

appears to be more of just a temporary reprieve to try to cool down the

heat of the spotlight that has been burning into them about the course of

the last week. 

 

And, you know, we should have expected that.  We have seen this before when

it comes to the Trump administration`s anti-immigrant policies, that they

want to crow about to their base for political purposes but they really

don`t want to defend on the merits.  We saw it, for example, when the Trump

administration was initially found to be taking little kids and babies away

from their moms and dads at the border, forcibly separating families

against their will.  You might remember that the Trump administration

initially claimed that that wasn`t their policy at all. 

 

Then they admitted, OK, it was their poll icy, but it wasn`t a new policy. 

Everybody had always done this, hadn`t they? 

 

Then in a nationwide convulsion of outrage over their policy, they made a

big show of announcing that they were stopping the policy.  Well, of

course, we have since learned that despite that big showy announcement and

despite court orders telling them that they can`t separate kids from their

parents anymore, the Trump administration has actually just gone ahead and

continued taking away little kids from their families at the border, even

to this day.

 

And it looks like that may be sort of what they are trying to pull off with

this new announced apparent reversal of their new policy targeting kids

with cancer and kids with cystic fibrosis and kids with rare diseases who

are undergoing lifesaving medical care. 

 

 

The New England chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association has

multiple clients who have been targeted by the Trump administration in this

latest dystopian turn.  She tells “Commonwealth Magazine” in Massachusetts

today, quote: They created a problem and are now pretending to solve it. 

They are not solving the problem with this new pronouncement.  They are

just punting it to be dealt with later. 

 

Joining us now is that immigration attorney, Mahsa Khanbabai. 

 

Ms. Khanbabai, thank you so much for joining us tonight.  I appreciate you

making time to be here. 

 

MAHSA KHANBABAI, AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS NEW ENGLAND CHAPTER CHAIR: 

Thank you so much for having me, Rachel, and drawing attention to this. 

 

MADDOW:  So we`ve seen all of these headlines suggesting that the Trump

administration has backed off, that maybe this was an error, that maybe

they didn`t necessarily know what they were getting into when they started

telling all these families that they were going to have to stop lifesaving

medical treatment and leave this country.  But you`re suggesting at least

from the way you understand it that this may not be a reversal.  They

essentially may just be sort of hitting pause? 

 

KHANBABAI:  Yes, definitely this seems to just be a temporarily –

temporary step back from their policy change and that they`re going to no

longer retroactively apply this policy, which is what one would have

expected in the first place.  But going forward, any application that was

filed after August 7th will no longer be accepted or reviewed, and instead,

they will have to go through the deportation process as the government, you

know, recently stated. 

 

MADDOW:  So the people who have been profiled in the press reports about

this policy change from the Trump administration, some of them are people

who had applied for this status and received this form letter in response

saying, no, we`re no longer considering that.  We can sort of imagine what

will happen now, now that those applications will be reconsidered.

 

But you`re saying anybody else who is in this similar situation, who is in

this country who is receiving life-threatening – lifesaving medical care

here, who can`t get that lifesaving medical care in another country, while

that previously would have been the basis for applying to stay in this

country, they`re not planning on looking at any of those applications in

the future? 

 

KHANBABAI:  Correct, right.  So, essentially, they`re continuing with this

gratuitously cruel policy.  So if someone were to apply on August 8th or

today saying, I have a very rare heart condition, for example, like my

client who did not have arteries connecting to her heart and had to come to

the United States for this treatment.  If she tried to apply today, they

would not take her case.  And instead, she would have to go into the

deportation process, which would use tremendous government resources from

ICE to having to process these individuals to going to an immigration court

where they have to see a judge and use the resources of an already

overburdened immigration court and the trials court system.

 

And then, finally, when they get a deportation order from an immigration

judge, only then could they ask the Immigration and Customs Enforcement

office, ICE, saying, please don`t carry out this deportation order.  Let me

apply for a stay of my deportation. 

 

MADDOW:  Wow.  It`s, I mean, a very key distinction there that this is a

legal status being taken away.  These are not people who are here in an

illegal status.  These are people who have legal status now and it`s being

removed, putting them in a totally different part of the enforcement

section. 

 

Let me just ask you briefly, you mentioned your 14-year-old there.  We talk

about her the last you were here, Ms. Khanbabai.  She`s 14 years old.  She

has had heart surgery from this rare condition.  She`s expected – she`s

recovering from that.  She`s expected to have further heart surgery in the

future. 

 

Can I ask what this has been like for her and her family, having received

this word that she would have to leave and now going through this apparent

reprieve? 

 

KHANBABAI:  Right.  They`re obviously so thankful that she will no longer

have to worry about this in the near future, but we`re not sure yet how the

government`s even going to look at these applications. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

 

KHANBABAI:  When they put their statement out, they seemed to bring in a

new condition, a higher standard or burden to be met comparable to what

individuals have to do when they`re applying for a visitor visa at a U.S.

embassy. 

 

So, frankly, I`m still concerned about how her application and all the

others will be looked at. 

 

MADDOW:  Mahsa Khanbabai, who`s chair of the New England chapter of the

American Immigration Lawyers Association, representing several people who

have been caught up in this new nightmare from the Trump administration –

ma`am, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Please keep us

apprised. 

 

KHANBABAI:  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks. 

 

KHANBABAI:  Thank you so much, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  Appreciate it. 

 

All right.  Much more to get to tonight.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  The great un-winnowing. 

 

So the next Democratic presidential debate is next week.  It`s 10

candidates, Thursday next week in Houston.  The DNC set tougher criteria

for qualifying for next week`s debate.  That cut the field in half, right? 

 

So the previous two debates had 20 contenders competing back-to-back over

two nights.  The next one, the third debate is just going to be 10

candidates all on one night.  In other words, the winnowing of the

Democratic presidential field begins. 

 

But now, let it also start unbeginning because why not, Democrats?  The DNC

just this weekend confirmed the qualifying criteria for the fourth debate,

the one that happens in October, next month, under the rules just announced

by the DNC, all of the candidates who qualify for next week`s debate are

definitely already in for October, but people who don`t qualify for next

week`s debate, people who don`t hit their marks, either in polling or fund-

raising in time for next week`s debate, will get another month to try. 

 

So, the criteria for getting into the next two debates, the one next week

and the one in October, criteria`s the same.  But the window for qualifying

for the second one is longer.  So, same start debate for qualifying for

both debates, that means you get a longer time to try to get into the

October one. 

 

That means even though the September debate is going to reduce the

candidate numbers down to ten, the October debate is probably going to open

them back up.  The October debate will end up being an un-winnowing, which

is the opposite of trying to zero in on the strongest candidate to

represent the party, right? 

 

But that`s where Democrats are.  With one night of debate set in September

and as they announced over this Labor Day weekend, possibly two nights

again in October for a newly re-expanded field.  People who got cut from

this next debate might be there next month.  Oh, Democrats. 

 

That said, we also learned about something else that is likely to have

significant political impact that could be happening at the exact same time

of that weird un-winnowing debate and that story is next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  “The Washington Post” today broke some surprising news, that as

soon as next month, as soon as October, the House Judiciary Committee is

preparing to hold hearings and call witnesses involved in hush money

payments to ex-“Playboy” model Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy

Daniels.  Hmm. 

 

This is the case that already put the president`s personal lawyer Michael

Cohen in federal prison for campaign finance felonies.  It`s a case in

which federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have already

named the president as individual one, who they say directed the commission

of these felonies.  Well, now among other things the Judiciary Committee

apparently wants to find out what the president knew about these felonies. 

They`re interested in exploring the president`s own evolving explanations

about what he knew of the scheme. 

 

Judiciary Democrats also apparently want to investigate why the Justice

Department ended their own criminal investigation of this hush money scheme

after Michael Cohen was sent to prison for it.  Clearly, other people were

involved in this or it wouldn`t have been a scheme.  Why did the Justice

Department end it after only charging Michael Cohen? 

 

Joining us now is Tom Hamburger, reporter at “The Washington Post”, who is

part of breaking this story. 

 

Mr. Hamburger, really appreciate you making the time to be with us tonight. 

Thanks. 

 

TOM HAMBURGER, REPORTER, THE WASHINGON POST:  Good to be with you, Rachel. 

Thanks. 

 

MADDOW:  So I say this is surprising news, because I – while this seemed

to me like a big dangling thread in terms of the scandals that have

surrounded the president, this one a particularly interesting one because

of what federal prosecutors told the judge about the president`s own

involvement. 

 

We didn`t have any sense that the Democrats in the House were interested in

pursuing this on their own terms.  Am I right that this is the first we`ve

known that they`ve been interested in going after this? 

 

HAMBURGER:  This is the first indication we`ve had from the Judiciary

Committee that they are putting this on their list of priority topics to

investigate.  We knew, Rachel, already that they were focused on some of

the things that were – that were front and center in the Mueller report,

particularly the alleged incidents of possible obstruction of justice. 

 

But this sixth case, this sixth matter involving the hush money payments

had been very much on the back burner, and there was no definite sign that

it was going to be investigated by the Judiciary Committee or other

committees until just the last few weeks. 

 

MADDOW:  The prospect of there being hearings on this in the House, I

suppose could go a couple of different ways.  A lot of the high-profile

witnesses that the committees have gone after, they haven`t been able to

get to come in to testify at all.  When people have been able to come in

and testify, more often than not we have seen those people testifying

behind closed doors. 

 

Do we have any sense as to whether or not the witnesses for this – this

hearing, including presumably Stormy Daniels herself who said today on

Twitter “bring it”, that she`s willing to testify.  Do we expect that these

hearings would be held in public, that these would be televised hearings

rather than closed-door hearings? 

 

HAMBURGER:  Rachel, the terms of the hearing have not been formally set,

but our expectation – interview that my colleague Rachael Bade at “The

Post” and I did suggest that this is a high-profile hearing.  It would be a

high-profile hearing.  So, yes, public.  It is something that the members

of the Judiciary Committee felt in a sense that they have a public duty to

present publicly, in part because as you just suggested, the investigation

of this hush money payment seemed to end rather suddenly in the Southern

District of New York. 

 

Michael Cohen was sentenced to – is doing jail time because of his

involvement with it, but the documents that were released by a federal

judge also concerned about getting public attention to this showed that

there were strong indications that there was a group of individuals, not

just Michael Cohen, involved in a conspiracy to basically subvert campaign

finance laws, make payments that would assure that the testimony of these

women would remain quiet, at least – and not go public, at least not

before lengths day. 

 

MADDOW:  And, Tom, we know that the judiciary committee authorized some

subpoenas that seemed to be related to this case.  Earlier in the summer,

like in July, they authorized subpoenas for Keith Davidson, who is one of

the attorneys who was involved in this.  Also, Stormy Daniels herself. 

Also Karen McDougal.  Also David Pecker, Dylan Howard from AMI and the

“National Enquirer”.

 

As far as we`ve been able to figure out here on the staff of my show, those

subpoenas, while they got a lot of attention at the time, they were

authorized by the committee.  But as far as we can tell, they have not yet

been served.  Those people have not actually received those subpoenas.  Is

that true? 

 

HAMBURGER:  That`s what we understand as well, Rachel.  There are reports

that there have been some preliminarily discussions with some of those

people.  And I wanted to turn back to a point you mentioned just a moment

ago. 

 

MADDOW:  Hmm. 

 

HAMBURGER:  Which is that one of the reasons there is excitement about this

particular case is that unlike the five obstruction cases, for example,

where the Judiciary and other committees have been frustrated in their

investigation because the Trump administration has basically refused

present or former administration employees to testify.  In this case you`re

dealing with employees and individuals, including those you just mentioned,

who have never been employed by the administration and thus may not be

subject to that kind of constraint. 

 

There`s one other thing that I think has the investigators` attention and

has members of the committee eager to move forward, and that is unlike some

of the other investigations and subpoenas that have been issued for

government documents, in this case, we know that AMI, the publisher of the

“National Enquirer,” has turned over to the committee some documents

already. 

 

So, there are documents in hand and there is a fair possibility of getting

some witnesses to testify.  What that – the bottom line for the committee

is the possibility of getting – of having some real drama at a public

hearing, and I think that`s where they`re headed in early October. 

 

MADDOW:  Tom Hamburger, our reporter with “The Washington Post” – Tom,

thank you very much for helping us understand this reporting that you broke

with Rachael Bade.  I really appreciate it. 

 

HAMBURGER:  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Thanks.  We`ve got more news to get to tonight.  Stay

with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  This is something you have to see.  Whether or not you`ve been

following every twist and turn in the ongoing debate in our great ally, the

U.K., where this ancient storied democratic government is basically falling

apart over Brexit, over the question of whether and how and when Britain

should leave the European Union, whether or not you have been following

that at all – today, you should know they went over a bit of a cliff. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOHN BERCOW, U.K. HOUSE OF COMMONS SPEAKER:  Order.  Order. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The ayes to the right, 328.  The nos to the left, 301. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not a good start, Boris. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Not a good start, Boris. 

 

That was the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson losing his very first

Brexit vote in parliament.  And Brexit is the reason he`s prime minister. 

 

Even worse for him, a whole bunch of members of his own party crossed over

to the other side to vote against him despite the threat that they would

actually be kicked out of the Conservative Party permanently if they did

so.  And, again, you don`t need to know all the ins and outs of the Brexit

fight to get a sense of how out of control and chaotic things are right

there, right now. 

 

After that initial vote, that “not a good start, Boris” vote, what Boris

Johnson decided to do in response was call a snap national election, and by

snap I mean six weeks from now – ready, set, go national election. 

 

And then lawmakers got so riled up by the leader of the opposition Labour

Party that the speaker of parliament, the guy who controls the business on

the floor, the guy who is always yelling “order”, he basically had to take

one of Boris Johnson`s top cabinet officials out behind the woodshed. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  I don`t want an election, but if

MPs vote tomorrow to stop negotiations and to compel another pointless

delay to Brexit, potentially for years, then that would be the only way to

resolve this, and I can confirm that we are tonight tabling a motion under

the fixed term parliament.  Thank you. 

 

JEREMY CORBYN, LABOUR PARTY LEADER:  He wants to table a motion for a

general election, fine.  Get the bill through first in order to prevent –

in order – in order to take no deal off the table. 

 

BERCOW:  Order.  Order.  Order!  Very rude for members – order!  Order! 

Order! 

 

I say to the chancellor of the Duchy, that when he turns up at our

children`s school as a parent, he`s a very well-behaved fellow.  He

wouldn`t dare behave like that in front of (INAUDIBLE) and neither would I. 

Don`t gesticulated, don`t rant, spare us the theatrics, behave yourself. 

Be a good boy, young man – be a good boy.

 

Point of order, Mr. Blackford (ph). 

 

Yes, we know the theatrics that he perfected at the Oxford Union.  Not

interested.  Not interested.  Be quiet. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  “Be a good boy” to the chancellor of the Duchy – I don`t know

what the chancellor of the Duchy is. 

 

Anybody who tells you they know even what`s going to happen tomorrow in

Britain is lying.  Nobody knows how this is going to resolve.  This is just

a remarkable situation over there right now.  Whether or not you have been

watching the Brexit fiasco closely, it really is threatening the basic idea

of political conflict resolution.  It really is threatening governance in a

basic way in our most important overseas ally in a way that is utterly

unpredictable. 

 

Watch this space. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  That is going to do it for us tonight.  I will tell you, though,

that if you are interested in this story that we`ve been covering over the

past week about the Trump administration literally targeting sick and dying

children for deportation along with their families, Lawrence is going to be

speaking live in the next hour with Congressman Mark DeSaulnier who is a

congressman from California who has been right out in front on this issue. 

 

He, in fact, is the congressman for Isabel Bueso, that young girl who was

brought to California at the age of 7 to help out in that clinical trial

who now relies on weekly treatment at U.C. San Francisco Children`s

Hospital to keep herself alive.  She is one of the people who was targeted

by the Trump administration and told to get out of this country. 

Congressman DeSaulnier is going to be joining Lawrence live ahead.  Plus,

lots more.

 

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

 

Good evening, sir.

 

                                                                                                               

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