Dorian remains a strong category two storm. TRANSCRIPT: 9/3/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: I mean, honestly, there was a world in which he
could have gone the other way.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. That would have been the
worst-case scenario for Democrats. The world in which he pursues
infrastructure is the world he gets above 50 percent.
HAYES: Michelle Goldberg and Sara Nelson, thanks for joining us.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
KHANBABAI: Thank you.
KHANBABAI: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
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
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.
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
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.
TOM HAMBURGER, REPORTER, THE WASHINGON POST: Good to be with you, Rachel.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
Watch this space.
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,
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, sir.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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