Rep. Slotkin (D-MI) on tensions in Iran. TRANSCRIPT: 9/16/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Kamala Harris
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Naomi Klein, the book is called “The Case for a

Green New Deal,” “On Fire: The Burning Case for Green New Deal” – thank

you very much.

 

NAOMI KLEIN, AUTHOR:  Thank you, Chris. 

 

HAYES:  That is 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:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.

 

It was less than a month ago where we found buried deep inside a stack of

54 different exhibits and a legal filing, inside those 54 exhibits, we

ferreted out a single page that showed really big news.  News that somebody

inside the government was trying to raise the alarm, was trying to blow the

whistle, about something going wrong with the way the IRS was handling

President Trump`s taxes, ad the IRS` audit of the president`s taxes. 

 

Now, there was no press conference about this.  There was no hearing. 

There was no public ruckus at all. 

 

It was just the unheralded release in a court filing of this letter letting

the Treasury Department know that some federal employee had come forward

and sent an unsolicited communication to the Ways and Means Committee in

Congress setting forth what the committee called credible allegations of

evidence of possible misconduct, specifically, potential inappropriate

efforts to influence the audit of the president`s taxes. 

 

That was less than a month ago, right?  This sort of roundabout revelation

through court filings that trace back to this very quiet, very low-key

committee in Congress, that oh, by the way, credible allegations have come

forward from inside the government that there have been inappropriate

efforts to influence the handling of the president`s taxes and his audit at

the IRS.  Well, that seems like a story, right? 

 

I mean, I know it is folly to play the, you know, imagine if it was

President Obama game, but it`s almost impossible not to play it with this

one, right?  Imagine if a committee in Congress while President Obama was

president said they had a whistle-blower who had come forward with evidence

about somebody interfering in the handling of President Obama`s taxes, and

the auditing of President Obama`s taxes, right? 

 

The committee has the evidence, the Treasury Department is stonewalling. 

There are efforts to chase it down.  There is a whistle-blower but we`re

not allowed to know what the whistle-blower says. 

 

I mean, they literally would cancel three consecutive shows on the Fox News

Channel to make way for a nightly new three-hour-long primetime show on Fox

that was just about this scandal, right?  Every night. 

 

Obama taxes, whistle-blower-gate, release the evidence.  That`s what they`d

call the show and it would run for three hours every night and would have

call-ins when they re-ran it in the overnight hour.  I mean, it would be

everything in the conservative media world. 

 

In our world, when this, in fact, happens, but it`s President Trump, it`s

just like, oh, yes, oh, yes, I think I heard something about that.  I

wonder what happened to that.  Sorry, no time to even chase that one down

if we wanted to.  Too many other scandals have happened between now and

less than a month ago when we first learned about that one. 

 

So, we did less than a month ago get a whistle-blower claim about the

handling of President Trump`s taxes and we still don`t know what that claim

was, right?  But now, indeed, we`ve got another one.  Another reported

whistle-blower claim from inside the government and this one is, if

anything, more ominous and more worrying than what we got last month in the

other whistle-blower complaint about his tax. 

 

This time, according to a late night letter and subpoena from the

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, this time, it`s somebody we

think within the office of the director of national intelligence, somebody

within the intelligence community, who has sent a complaint and some sort

of evidence or statement to the inspector general for the intelligence

community and that inspector general reviewed this whistle-blower complaint

and found it credible.  Also found it to be matter of urgent concern. 

 

So, whistle-blowers are supposed to have protected lanes of communication,

so they can surface their concerns, if they see something going wrong

inside government that people ought to know about.  So, in this case, this

is a whistle-blower in the intelligence community.  This person is supposed

to take the whistle-blower complaint to the inspector general of the

intelligence community. 

 

Once this person tells the inspector general what his or her complaint is,

that is supposed to set in motion a very specific series of things that

nobody`s supposed to have a choice about.  They`re just supposed to happen

automatically because of the statute that protects whistle-blowers, right? 

 

And in this instance, what`s supposed to happen is that the inspector

general, upon receiving that complaint, assessing it to be credible, which

the I.G. did, assessing it to be urgent, which the I.G. did, well, that

inspector general is then supposed to send the complaint to the head of the

relevant agency – in this case, to the director of national intelligence. 

That all happened as it is supposed to.  I.G. did his or her part, right? 

 

Then, the next thing that`s supposed to happen is that that claim from the

whistle-blower is supposed to be sent within seven days from the director

of national intelligence to the committees, the relevant committees, in

Congress.  So, in this case, the director of national intelligence is

supposed to send that urgent, credible complaint to the Intelligence

Committee headed by Congressman Adam Schiff in the House.  And you`ve only

got seven days to do it and you don`t have a choice in the matter. 

 

And that`s the part that just isn`t happening.  We have an acting director

of national intelligence, appointed recently by President Trump.  That

acting director of national intelligence got this whistle-blower complaint

from the inspector general. 

 

It`s labeled urgent, it`s labeled credible.  But according to Adam Schiff`s

office, instead of sending the thing on to the Intelligence Committee,

which the law says they must do, and they must do within seven days, they

instead consulted with the Justice Department about what they should do

with this whistle-blower complaint.  They then sent Adam Schiff a letter

saying, no, we`re not giving it to you.  Yes, it exists.  You`re not

getting it. 

 

Telling Chairman Schiff that the complaint wasn`t going to his committee,

it wasn`t going anywhere because in the view of the director of national

intelligence, this complaint is about a person who is outside the

intelligence community and it involves matters that are privileged. 

 

Well, I mean, do the math, right?  The only person who`s really in the

chain of command for the intelligence community who isn`t in the

intelligence community is the president, and it`s not clear who matters of

privilege would apply to here except the president.  So, it kind of seems

like this is maybe a complaint about the president that the director of

national intelligence is holding and not allowing to be released as he is

required to do so under law. 

 

Here`s how Adam Schiff sums it up, quote, the committee can only conclude

based upon this remarkable confluence of factors that the serious

misconduct at issue involves the president of the United States and/or

other senior White House or administration officials.

 

So, somebody has come forward inside the government, we`ve learned within

the past month, somebody has come forward inside the government to say,

hey, there`s been improper effort to influence the handling of the

president`s tax returns and the audit of his taxes.  We don`t know what

happened to that whistle-blower`s complaint. 

 

Someone has also now come forward from inside the government to say he or

she has evidence of serious misconduct and the intelligence committee

believes that it must be an allegation about the president or another

senior Trump administration official and that complaint is just being sat

upon by the newly appointed acting director of national intelligence.  But

at least in that case, the acting director of national intelligence now has

a subpoena on his desk, telling him that he needs to hand over that

complaint in unredacted form tomorrow.  He needs to hand it over by

tomorrow.  And if he isn`t willing to hand it over by tomorrow, he should

be prepared to testify at an open hearing two days later on Thursday of

this week. 

 

So, watch this space, as they say.  We won`t be canceling all programming

on this network and running a three-hour special on this every night until

it`s resolved, but it`s not like the will isn`t there.  I would do it. 

 

Also, watch Capitol Hill tomorrow at about 1:00 p.m. Eastern when we`re

expecting open televised testimony by Corey Lewandowski who was candidate

Trump`s first campaign manager before he was replaced by the now-imprisoned

federal inmate Paul Manafort. 

 

Corey Lewandowski will undoubtedly try to make a big spectacle of his

televised testimony.  He is a Trump loyalist.  He reportedly wants to run

for a U.S. Senate seat, himself, next year from New Hampshire. 

 

But what the judiciary committee in the House wants to question him about

tomorrow is his memorable recurring role in the Mueller report where Corey

Lewandowski`s name appears more than 120 times, including this very hard-

to-miss subheading in the table of contents: The president asks Corey

Lewandowski to deliver a message to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to

curtail the special counsel investigation.

 

He`s in the table of contents.  That section of the Mueller report has a

gajillion references to Corey Lewandowski`s interviews with the FBI about

the president telling them that he should tell Jeff Sessions to end the

special counsel`s investigation, that he needed to stop looking at Trump

and his campaign.  There`s details in there about Lewandowski sort of

confessing to the FBI that he locked up his notes from that conversation

with the president in a safe. 

 

There`s notes from his conversations with the FBI about the President

telling Corey Lewandowski that he should go ahead and tell the attorney

general that the attorney general was fired if he didn`t go along with this

plan and Corey Lewandowski is, like, how do I fire the attorney general?  I

don`t even work for the government.  I can fire him? 

 

Again, Corey Lewandowski should be testifying in open session tomorrow at

1:00 p.m. Eastern, to the Judiciary Committee in the House. 

 

Rick Dearborn, he was a former deputy chief of staff who was also involved

in this “fire Jeff Sessions” mishegoss.  Also, Rob Porter who was fired as

White House staff secretary when he couldn`t get a security clearance

because of the multiple domestic violence claims from both of his ex-wives. 

He was also involved in this mishegoss. 

 

Dearborn and Porter were also subpoenaed to testify tomorrow alongside

Corey Lewandowski.  We`re starting to think that neither of them will show

up.  We have letters from their lawyers tonight indicating that they are

not going to show up because of the president`s assertion that anybody who

has ever worked in the White House is absolutely immune from ever having to

testify. 

 

That said, Corey Lewandowski is definitely expected to testify tomorrow

even though he never worked in the White House.  The thing about this is

weird is that tonight, the White House is saying that Dearborn and Porter

won`t show up at all, but the White House is saying that even with Corey

Lewandowski who didn`t work in the White House at all, who has never been a

government employee, the White House is nevertheless asserting tonight that

they have advised Mr. Lewandowski to limit his testimony.  And not talk

about his conversations with the president, right? 

 

It is unclear on what authority the White House might be trying to limit

Lewandowski`s testimony, again, he doesn`t work for the White House,

doesn`t work for the government, never has in any capacity.  They should

have no authority as to what he does and doesn`t say, particularly, when

he`s there under subpoena. 

 

But we`ll see how that evolves tomorrow.  Again, we do expect Lewandowski

to be there, so if he`s going to show up and say I`m not going to testify,

and he`s going to try to assert some sort of privilege and he`s never been

a government employee, it should be fireworks at the least.  And you know,

if the scandal chore wheel seems to never stop spinning these days, it`s

hard to keep up with what`s the scandal now, I have to tell you because it

turns out the chore wheel of scandal in this administration is a flywheel,

like, it`s weighted and it never stops. 

 

I mean, they will spin out new scandals every single day they are in

office.  So even with all of that already happening, naturally today,

there`s word of yet another investigation into yet another Trump

administration scandal. 

 

“The New York Times” first to report today that the House Oversight

Committee has told the Trump administration`s secretary of transportation,

Elaine Chao, that she needs to hand over documents related to her family`s

shipping company.  Elaine Chao is the transportation secretary for the U.S.

government, but – see the visual here?  So, that`s her, that`s her dad. 

See what they`re sitting in front of? 

 

She has made a habit of doing events with her father who runs her family`s

shipping company.  She`s made a habit of her doing events as secretary of

transportation sitting next to her father while the two of them sit in

front of, like, the flags and the seals of the U.S. Department of

Transportation, making it seem like maybe he works there, too.  Or he`s

officially sponsored by them somehow? 

 

She has also brought her father onto Air Force One.  She has talked in

interviews about her father and President Trump having such a good

relationship, which is nice, you know, ah, it`s her dad.  But it`s also

been awesome and very highly capitalized on by the family business that her

dad runs.  As they have been trying to project their international reach,

their apparent endorsement by the U.S. government, they`ve been turning

that into their own business interests. 

 

Elaine Chao at one point reportedly tried to arrange for her family members

to meet with Chinese government officials on her own planned official U.S.

trip to China as transportation secretary.  It was only when the State

Department personnel in China who were asked to set up these meetings for

Elaine Chao`s family, it`s only when they squawked in protest that she

backed off the request that her family members should be in on those

meetings and the trip, itself, was ultimately canceled. 

 

It`s also worth noting that as Elaine Chao has used her public position to

boost her family`s business over the past few years, her family has also

reportedly given millions of dollars to her and her husband, the Republican

leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, which means that if she has

been using her public position to boost the fortunes of her family business

– well, her family`s fortune has been in an immediate sense turned right

around and parse out to her and her husband while she has been doing that. 

 

Elijah Cummings and the Oversight Committee are now demanding documents and

communications from the Transportation Department and from Elaine Chao, and

because she is a member of the Trump administration, presumably, the

transportation department and Elaine Chao refuse entirely to hand anything

over, and then we`ll start another big long legal saga on this scandal,

too. 

 

Oh, and state prosecutors in New York have just issued subpoenas to obtain

eight years of federal and state tax returns for the president and for his

business, starting in 2011 and through to this year.  This will open the

one gazillionth new legal fight for the president`s tax returns.  But as a

point of interest on this one, these are the same prosecutors who within

the past few weeks reportedly went up to the federal prison in Otisville,

New York, to meet with the president`s longtime personal lawyer, Michael

Cohen.  In those conversations with prosecutors, Cohen reportedly made a

proffer agreement which means he may have offered information to these New

York state prosecutors in exchange for some sort of grant of immunity for

himself in the event that state charges are brought involving the president

and/or his business. 

 

But we now know that state prosecutor`s office has opened a criminal

investigation of the president and his business, related at least in part

to the hush money payments that sent Michael Cohen to prison.  We know

they`re talking to Michael Cohen.  We know that Cohen has made a proffer

offer to them. 

 

We know they have now subpoenaed the president`s tax returns from the last

eight years.  This is a criminal grand jury sitting in Manhattan that has

issued this subpoena.  The Trump administration and his lawyers will fight

this subpoena, no doubt, but at this point, they`re fighting with, like, a

giant squid with a thousand arms.  I mean, at some point with this many

different points of contact, even through the legal system, this stuff is

likely to come out. 

 

So, watching all of that unfold just in today`s news.  But, of course, what

has dominated the news today has been what now seems like an inevitable

national circling back to the controlled implosion that was the Supreme

Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BRETT KAVANAUGH, THEN-SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE:  My family and my name

have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional

accusations.  You have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy. 

 

Since my nomination in July, there`s been a frenzy on the left to come up

with something, anything, to block my confirmation.  People have been

willing to do anything, to make any physical threat against my family, to

send any violent email to my wife, to make any kind of allegation against

me and against my friends, to blow me up and take me down. 

 

You sowed the wind.  For decades to come, I fear that the whole country

will reap the whirlwind. 

 

The behavior of several of the Democratic members of this committee at my

hearing a few weeks ago was an embarrassment.  But at least it was just a

good old-fashioned attempt at Borking.  Those efforts didn`t work. 

 

When I did at least OK enough at the hearings that it looked like I might

actually get confirmed, a new tactic was needed.  Some of you were lying in

wait and had it ready. 

 

A long series of false last-minute smears designed to scare me and drive me

out of the process before any hearing occurred.  You`ve tried hard.  You`ve

given it your all.  No one can question your effort. 

 

But your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and

destroy my family will not drive me out.  This whole two-week effort has

been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent

pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has

been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the

Clintons. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Revenge on behalf of the Clintons.

 

Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court after a confirmation

hearing in which he screamed at the committee, denounced members of that

committee as embarrassing, asserted that he believed the whole effort to

vet him during the confirmation process was a hit job, that was revenge on

behalf of the Clintons. 

 

In the course of his confirmation hearing, he not only levied accusations

like that against the members of the committee that he was about to be

voted on by, he also melted down like no nominee has ever done in a

judicial confirmation hearing, let alone for a seat on – let alone one for

a seat on the Supreme Court. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

KAVANAUGH:  My family`s been destroyed by this, Senator.  Destroyed. 

 

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA):  And I –

 

KAVANAUGH:  Whoever wants – you know, whatever the committee decides, you

know, I`m all in – 

 

FEINSTEIN:  The question is –

 

KAVANAUGH:   – immediately.  I`m all in immediately. 

 

FEINSTEIN:  Yes.

 

KAVANAUGH:  I`m here.  I wanted to be here – I wanted to be here the next

day.  It`s an outrage that I was not allowed to come and immediately defend

my name and say, I didn`t do this, and give you all this evidence. 

 

I`m not even – I`m not even in D.C. on the weekends in the summer of 1982. 

This happened on a weekday.  Well, when I`m not at Blair High School for a

summer league game.  I`m not at Tobin`s house working out.  I`m not at a

movie with Suzanne? 

 

You know, I wanted to be here right away. 

 

FEINSTEIN:  We hear from the witnesses, but the FBI isn`t interviewing them

and isn`t giving us any facts.  So, all we have is what they say –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

KAVANAUGH:  You`re interviewing me.  You`re interviewing me.  You`re doing

it, Senator. 

 

FEINSTEIN:  What you`re saying, if I understand it, is that the allegations

by Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez, and Ms. Swetnick, are wrong. 

 

KAVANAUGH:  Yes, that – that is emphatically what I`m saying. 

Emphatically.  The Swetnick thing is a joke.  That is a farce. 

 

FEINSTEIN:  Would you like to say more about it? 

 

KAVANAUGH:  No. 

 

We drank beer.  My friends and I, the boys and girls.  Yes, we drank beer. 

I liked beer.  Still like beer.  We drank beer.  We liked beer. 

 

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI):  Did it relate to alcohol?  You haven`t

answered that. 

 

KAVANAUGH:  I like beer.  I like beer.  I don`t know if you – 

 

WHITEHOUSE:  OK.

 

KAVANAUGH:  – like beer, Senator, or not?  What do you like to drink? 

 

WHITEHOUSE:  Next one is – 

 

KAVANAUGH:  Senator, what do you like to drink? 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you consider to be too many beers? 

 

KAVANAUGH:  I don`t know.  You know, whatever the chart says. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The blood alcohol chart.  What he meant to say there. 

 

On the sheer issue of temperament, it was almost impossible to imagine the

person in that confirmation hearing witness chair becoming any kind of

federal employee, right?  Let alone a federal judge.  Let alone a Supreme

Court judge.  I mean, given the meltdown of Kavanaugh in the hearing room,

it was hard to imagine him even going back to sitting on the D.C. Circuit

Court of Appeals, let alone him being elevated to the Supreme Court. 

 

But Republicans control the Senate and the most they could be pushed on his

nomination, even after multiple Republican senators said in the hearing

that they found the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford credible when

she testified about being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh, even after her

testimony and all these Republican senators saying how credible they found

her, the most Republican senators could be pushed to do was to allow the

FBI to look into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh before they

voted. 

 

Maybe.  Even that was a hard sell.  Even that, during the hearing, melted

Kavanaugh down further. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL):  I want to know what you want to do. 

 

KAVANAUGH:  I`m telling the truth. 

 

DURBIN:  I want to know what you want to do, Judge. 

 

KAVANAUGH:  I`m innocent.  I`m innocent of this charge. 

 

DURBIN:  And you`re prepared for an FBI investigation? 

 

KAVANAUGH:  They don`t reach conclusions.  You reach the conclusion,

Senator. 

 

DURBIN:  No, but they do investigate questions. 

 

KAVANAUGH:  I`m innocent. 

 

DURBIN:  And you can`t have it both ways, Judge.  You can`t say here at the

beginning – 

 

KAVANAUGH:  I wanted a hearing.

 

DURBIN:  Here`s your moment.

 

KAVANAUGH:  Look, this thing – 

 

DURBIN:  I welcome any kind of investigation, and then walk away from this.

 

KAVANAUGH:  This thing was sprung on me – this thing was sprung at the

last minute after being held by staff.  You know – 

 

DURBIN:  Judge, if there is no truth to – 

 

KAVANAUGH:  And I called for a – I called for a hearing immediately.

 

DURBIN:  Why would you resist that kind – 

 

KAVANAUGH:  Here`s some (ph) dots.

 

DURBIN:  – of investigation?  Why would you resist that kind of

investigation?

 

KAVANAUGH:  Senator, I – I welcome – I wanted the hearing last week.

 

DURBIN:  I`m asking about the FBI investigation.

 

KAVANAUGH:  They`re – the committee figures out how to ask the questions,

I`ll do whatever.  I`ve been on the phone multiple times with committee

counsel.  I`ll talk to – 

 

DURBIN:  Judge Kavanaugh, will you support an FBI investigation – 

 

KAVANAUGH:  – I`ll do – I`ll – 

 

DURBIN:  – right now?

 

KAVANAUGH:  – I – I will do whatever the committee wants to –  

 

DURBIN:  Personally, do you think that`s the best thing for us to do?  You

won`t answer?

 

KAVANAUGH:  Look, Senator, I – I`ve – I`ve – I`ve said I wanted a

hearing and I`d said I was welcome anything.  I`m innocent. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Ultimately, there was an FBI investigation, sort of, for a week. 

It was apparently controlled, tightly controlled, by the White House. 

Well, now in a book adaptation strangely submarined on to page A19 by “The

New York Times” and run under a headline that had nothing to do with the

content of the story, itself, two “New York Times” reporters, Kate Kelly

and Robin Pogrebin, have reported that they were able to find multiple

corroborating witnesses for one of the sexual assault allegations against

Kavanaugh that he had dismissed at the time of his hearing. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA):  Are Ms. Ramirez`s allegations about you true? 

 

KAVANAUGH:  Those are not.  She – none of the witnesses in the room

support that.  The – if that had happened, that would have been the talk

of campus in our freshman dorm. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The claim by Deborah Ramirez referenced there by Senator Kennedy

was first reported during Kavanaugh`s confirmation in an article in “The

New Yorker” magazine by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow. 

 

Deborah Ramirez said that Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party

and pushed his exposed genitals at her, causing her to touch them. 

Kavanaugh, as you heard, denied that happened. 

 

What Pogrebin and Kelly report is this, quote: Ramirez`s story could be

more fully corroborated.  During his Senate testimony, Kavanaugh said if

the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been the

talk of campus.  Our reporting suggests that it was.  At least seven people

including Ms. Ramirez`s mother heard about the Yale incident long before

Kavanaugh was a federal judge.  Two of those people were classmates who

learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting it was

discussed among students at the time.

 

This revelation and further reporting from Pogrebin and Kelly that

indicates that the FBI didn`t just investigate the allegations against

Kavanaugh, at least 25 names are given to the FBI to corroborate the

Ramirez allegations and the FBI spoke with none of those people, right? 

These revelations that the FBI just didn`t do an investigation into the

multiple allegations against Kavanaugh – I mean, they never interviewed

Kavanaugh.  They never interviewed Christine Blasey Ford.  They never

interviewed 25 names that Deborah Ramirez gave them to corroborate her

claims. 

 

Reporters now later, less than a year later working on this, are able to,

in fact, find seven different witnesses to corroborate her claims.  FBI

never bothered. 

 

All of this is prompting a revisitation of the Kavanaugh confirmation

debacle, which happened roughly this time last year.  But it`s also now

calling – resulting in new calls that Kavanaugh should, perhaps, be

impeached from the high court, for among other things lying under oath

during his confirmation process including about some of these sexual

assault allegations. 

 

One of the prominent Democrats who`s now making that call that Kavanaugh

should be impeached for lying under oath is California senator and

Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris.  And she joins us next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Are you willing to ask

the White House to conduct an investigation by the FBI to get to whatever

you believe is the bottom of the allegations that have been levied against

you? 

 

KAVANAUGH:  The FBI would gather witness statements.  You have –

 

HARRIS:  Sir, it`s –

 

KAVANAUGH:  They don`t –

 

HARRIS:  I`m not – I don`t want to debate with you how they do their

business.  I`m just asking: Are you willing to ask the White House to

conduct such an investigation?  Because, as you are aware, the FBI did

conduct a background investigation into you, before we were aware of these

most recent allegations. 

 

So, are you willing to ask the White House to do it?  It`s a yes or no, and

then we can move on.

 

KAVANAUGH:  I`ve had six background investigations over 26 years –

 

HARRIS:  Sir, as it relates to the recent allegations, are you willing to

have them do it?

 

KAVANAUGH:  The witness testimonies before you, no witness who was there

supports that I was there.

 

HARRIS:  OK, I`m going to take that as a no, and we can move on. 

 

I only have a few seconds left and I`ll just ask you a direct question. 

Did you watch Dr. Ford`s testimony? 

 

KAVANAUGH:  I did not.  I plan to –

 

HARRIS:  Thank you.  I have nothing else.

 

KAVANAUGH:  I plan to – 

 

HARRIS:  Thank you.

 

KAVANAUGH:  I plan to.  But I did not.  I was preparing mine. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  California senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate,

Kamala Harris, during Brett Kavanaugh`s confirmation hearings. 

 

This was Senator Harris this weekend in light of new reporting about the

sexual assault allegations against Justice Kavanaugh. 

 

Quote: I sat through those hearings.  Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S.

Senate and most importantly to the American people.  He was put on the

court through a sham process and his place on the court is an insult to the

pursuit of truth and justice. 

 

He must be impeached.

 

Joining us now here in studio for “The Interview” is Senator Kamala Harris,

Democrat from California, 2020 presidential candidate. 

 

Senator, it`s nice to see you. 

 

HARRIS:  Nice to see you.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks for coming in.

 

HARRIS:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  A sham process.  You`re saying that he lied to the committee. 

What do you mean specifically?

 

HARRIS:  Well, as you mentioned, I was a part of that hearing, and a sham

process that we were not given all the information that was available.  At

the 11th hour – literally, the night before the hearing was to begin,

thousands of pages were dumped on us.  We knew and certainly I knew that

there were credible allegations that should have been investigated that

were not. 

 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

 

HARRIS:  There was the process by which Christine Blasey Ford, who

literally had nothing to gain by coming forward, Rachel, nothing to gain,

she had a perfect life.  And she looked at the fact that this guy was being

nominated and said, the American people have a right to know what I know. 

And she was treated like a criminal. 

 

And now, the guy`s sitting on the court and yet again, more allegations. 

Part of my inquiry during that process – if you can believe it, it was a

year ago this, you know, this month – was to ask even Christopher Wray,

because I serve not only on Judiciary, I serve on Senate Intelligence

Committee and Homeland Security. 

 

And so, Christopher Wray came before the Homeland Security Committee.  And

when I was there, I asked him, who made the decision about the scope of

that FBI investigation after we learned about Dr. Ford?  The White House

did. 

 

So, the invisible/not-so-invisible hand of the White House was basically

orchestrating, choreographing, curating, what the Judiciary Committee would

learn about this nominee to serve for a lifetime on the highest court in

our land, a court that is supposed to do the work of justice, a court where

inscribed in the marble that houses it, we say: equal justice under law. 

 

It was a sham. 

 

And when we talk about expecting that people will have a sense of respect

for the system of justice, we have to recognize that the process by which

he was confirmed has created a crisis of confidence in that court. 

 

And, you know, and – and so, yes, I`ve called for impeachment.  I – there

– I believe that is the clearest way for us to get an investigation of

these allegations and we should open an investigation of these allegations. 

 

And I know some have said, well, it`s probably going to go nowhere because

it will come over to the Senate if the House returns articles of

impeachment and then it will go nowhere in the Senate, because we`ve seen

the majority in the Senate, you know, frankly, you know, coddle the

misbehavior of this president.  But my perspective is that, that may be the

end result for political purposes.  That may be engineered as a result. 

 

But the American people and our system of justice, I believe, deserve that

there will be a meaningful investigation into these allegations.  They

should have happened before he was confirmed.  It didn`t.  But it is within

the power of the United States Congress to do it now. 

 

MADDOW:  You think that an inquiry, which, of course, would have to start

in House Judiciary, and hearings, an investigation into this matter, airing

out these accusations, even if Mitch McConnell would say in advance, which

I`m sure he would – we`re never going to take this up in the Senate.

 

HARRIS:  Right. 

 

MADDOW:  Knock yourselves out, Democrats.  This will help us politically,

you`re just – this is just sour grapes.  We`re never going to take a vote

on it. 

 

You think that the inquiry, itself, and airing out these allegations,

getting to the truth of it is worth it no matter the political cost if

there is a political cost? 

 

HARRIS:  Yes, and I tell you why, Rachel, we`re talking about a system of

justice.  And in a real system of justice, meaning a system that has

integrity, allegations such as these, multiple allegations, should be

pursued and then do the investigation.  Go where the facts lead us.  If

there`s nothing there, that`s fine.

 

But these are serious allegations that have repeatedly been raised.  There

are at least 25 witnesses in one case.  This has to be something where we

all agree that if we`re going to have integrity in the system, we have to

pursue justice.

 

And, you know – so, listen, let me tell you what else I`m calling for.  If

the United States Congress doesn`t act, well, then let`s appoint – let`s

appoint an outside counsel.  Let`s appoint an outside counsel, somebody who

can – who is neutral, who can review the evidence in this case, determine

the credibility of the witnesses.

 

And let us as the American people, let Congress, the Judiciary Committees,

have the information to determine if this person should rightly serve on

our highest court for a lifetime. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of how this is going to be dealt with going forward, it`s

clear, Jackie Calmes has – a great reporter at the “L.A. Times” – has a

book coming out on Kavanaugh.  We`ve got this new book that has yet to come

out from these two “New York Times” reporters – 

 

KAVANAUGH:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  – that led to the publication of these revelations today.

 

It has been only a year since Kavanaugh`s confirmation.  I wonder if this

is left to essentially journalists to get to the bottom of these stories if

this will be a feature of the tenure of Kavanaugh`s time on the court. 

 

If a formal investigation – I don`t know.  I mean, it`s hard for me to see

any end to this.  I don`t think he would ever be removed from the court

through the impeachment process.  I don`t think the Senate Republicans

would ever allow that to happen. 

 

If the Democrats do take the Senate, it would be a narrow majority.  You

need a supermajority for removal. 

 

It just seems to me this will be the story of Brett Kavanaugh`s time on the

U.S. Supreme Court, no matter what happens from here on out.  And it just

feels incredibly damaging either way.  I find myself enervated by it, in

terms of the impact on women in particular. 

 

HARRIS:  You`re right.  I mean, listen, of the initial hearings that

happened a year ago, the number of women, and men, who approached me, you

know, in public places and cried about what this meant to them because

there`s so much about this issue. 

 

And I as a prosecutor personally prosecuted sexual assault cases and cases

of this general nature, and one of the worst things that happens is that

when we are not willing to believe the victim and take them seriously. 

 

Take them seriously.  Investigate the case.  Determine and assess

credibility.  But let`s take the allegations seriously.  And it`s a very

serious allegation. 

 

So, you know, I think that – you know, what we have seen, frankly, is

we`ve seen a suppression of evidence.  If the bodies that are charged with

actually investigating fail to do it and block it off, or tailor it, I

would argue that`s suppression of evidence. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Kamala Harris – obviously, a former prosecutor, former

attorney general for the state of California, now a Democratic presidential

candidate – stay right there.  I have more things to ask you. 

 

HARRIS:  Will do. 

 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back with Senator Harris right after this.

 

HARRIS:  Will do.  Will do. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Back with us is California senator and 2020 presidential

candidate, Kamala Harris. 

 

Oh, people – if people can only we`re talking about in the commercials. 

 

Actually, I want to ask you about something in the news that broke over the

weekend about Saudi Arabia and Iran. 

 

HARRIS:  Yes. 

 

MADDOW:  We`ve seen the attack on the Saudi oil production facilities.  The

U.S. government is asserting that it`s Iran.  There`s no visibility into

the evidence that they`re suggesting behind that. 

 

What do you think the president`s options are at this point?  And do you

trust what they`re saying about what happened? 

 

HARRIS:  Well, I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee and I know

we`re going to be briefed.  But short of having that information – listen,

we have to look at this in the context of other behaviors by this president

as it relates to Iran. 

 

He took unilateral action to withdraw us from the Iran nuclear deal. 

People – some people liked it.  Some people didn`t.  Some people thought

it should be stronger than it was.  But it was very well-negotiated and

people were complying with it. 

 

And he pulls us out of it based on unilateral action, frankly, from my

perspective, borne out of his fragile ego.  And everything that we have

seen happen since was predictable to one extent or another. 

 

Iran poses a real threat to the United States based on its nuclear

capabilities.  And the negotiation of the JCPOA and that – that Iran

nuclear deal was a smart way to put a cap on that in terms of escalating

the threat.  And now, we look, and then apparently, he`s tweeting out, you

know, this bravado about, you know, locked and – locked and loaded.  What

the – what does that mean? 

 

OK?  And also –

 

MADDOW:  Well, it`s an implicit military threat. 

 

HARRIS:  Yes, it is. 

 

MADDOW:  That the U.S. is going to use – we`re going to use U.S. force. 

 

HARRIS:  Yes, it is, yes, it is, yes, it is.

 

And again, you know, listen, as far as I`m concerned, this president is

motivated by his – his personal insecurities more than he is our national

security.  And so, what we`re looking at is, again, a threat that might be

taken seriously.  And I – and I would dare to say that that threat was

issued without serious consultation with our allies, with our military

leaders, with our diplomatic leaders.  What are our alternatives? 

 

Let`s also be clear, if this president is thinking about putting us in a

position where we`re in a war with Iran, the consequences will be

absolutely unacceptable and tragic in terms of the young men and women who

are American soldiers who would be sent and deployed into something that

was completely avoidable. 

 

MADDOW:  If you did believe, if you were president right now, and you came

to believe that Iran had carried out this act – and, again, you know, we

have the president`s assertions, the government`s assertions on these

things, we haven`t seen the evidence.  But if a U.S. president came to be

convinced that Iran had shot these missiles into Saudi Arabia to screw up

their oil output, would you approach that as if the United States had –

the United States had a responsibility to backstop Saudi Arabia militarily? 

There`s an assumption that we would, but would that be true in a Harris

administration? 

 

HARRIS:  Well, in a Harris administration, one, we wouldn`t have gotten

ourselves into this mess in terms of we would – we would have stayed as

part of the partnership that was part of the Iran nuclear deal, and we

would have kept our word.  And we would have held up our end of the

bargain. 

 

Also, let`s step back and look at this president`s relationship with the

Saudis, and the Kingdom.  Do you know that this president during his tenure

in the White House has issued five vetoes total?  Four of them related to

Saudi Arabia. 

 

MADDOW:  Hmm.

 

HARRIS:  When the United States Congress was taking action, for example, to

say that they – that we would not fuel their jets – this president vetoes

it.  Long stories about all of the people that stay at his hotels and his -

- you know, this and that. 

 

Look at Khashoggi.  The American intelligence community has made it very

clear about the Saudis` involvement in the assassination of a journalist

who had American credentials, but Donald Trump prefers to take the word of

a Saudi prince over the word of the American intelligence community on this

issue. 

 

So, we have to look at this in the totality of circumstances that have been

presented to us, to recognize that I do not believe that the current

president of the United States is working in the best interest of the

people of this country.  I – I have good reason based on everything we

know publicly to suspect and to be concerned that his motivation is more

out of self-interest than it is the interest of the American people.

 

And, again, let`s not forget that he cannot do this, nor should he be able

to, without an authorization of use of military force by the United States

Congress.  There is that piece of it also. 

 

But the bottom line is that – you know, I`m traveling our country and

meeting with the families who are sending their sons and daughters to these

endless wars.  And this president better take very seriously any threat

that he makes to enter us into another war and send our young men and women

into battle. 

 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back with Senator Kamala Harris. 

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  When California Senator Kamala Harris announced her 2020

presidential campaign, she did so at an event in Oakland, California – not

far from where I`m from – that had people as far as the eye could see. 

The largest campaign event held thus far by any 2020 presidential

candidate, Kamala Harris` launch. 

 

There may have been an event tonight in New York City that matched it. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren downtown had what appears to have been an equally

giant event.

 

It feels like as the sort of – as the campaign goes forward, as the sort

of tiers of candidates settle in, as we know who`s making the debates and

stuff. 

 

HARRIS:  Uh-huh.

 

MADDOW:  But the competition is really joined much more than when I saw you

the last time. 

 

HARRIS:  Uh-huh.

 

MADDOW:  How are you feeling about your campaign and where you`re at? 

 

HARRIS:  I`m feeling good.  I`m feeling good.

 

MADDOW:  Tell me. 

 

HARRIS:  I – there is an incredibly amount of enthusiasm.  I mean, Rachel,

we`re – we`re going – obviously, a lot is the primary states: New

Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada. 

 

People are standing in line for hours.  They`re, you know, from – in the

winter, people standing in line in a snowstorm, to 100-plus degrees during

the summer.  People who have never been engaged are getting out there and

being involved. 

 

I`ve even had daughters who are bringing their Republican fathers, right? 

I`ve seen people who are literally 100 years old who have seen everything

and they`re fed up and they`re engaged.  Children of every age. 

 

And, you know, listen, this is about a campaign that is about saying –

look, one, we`re better than this.  So, the obvious point is we need to

defeat Donald Trump.  And I fully intend to do it.  As you know, the way

I`ve been talking about it is we need somebody on that debate stage in the

general who can successfully prosecute the case against four years of

Donald Trump.  And as far as I`m concerned, there`s a nice, long rap sheet

on which to do it. 

 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

 

HARRIS:  And then also for my campaign and for me personally, it`s about

the fact that we`ve got to unify the country.  And we need somebody who has

the ability to bring our country together around our common values, around

our common hopes and dreams, around the commonality that is the thing that

wakes us up in the middle of the night – because when we all wake up

thinking that thing in the middle night, it usually has to do with the same

thing, regardless of what party we`re registered to vote with, regardless

of some simplistic demographic some pollster put as in.  That`s what I`m

talking about. 

 

And it`s – I think that what we`re seeing is that is what people want to

know, which is that you`re strong enough to beat the guy who needs to get

out, but that you also have the ability to see the commonalities between

people who seemingly have nothing in common and bring us together around

those issues.  And that`s the strength of our campaign. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Kamala Harris from California, 2020 presidential candidate

– it`s great to see you, Senator. 

 

HARRIS:  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  Thank you for coming in. 

 

HARRIS:  Thank you.  I appreciate you.  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  A lot is in flux. 

 

This weekend, we got the news of a big reshuffle at the Bernie Sanders New

Hampshire campaign.  He won New Hampshire in 2016.  He`s now replacing his

state director and his top adviser in the state. 

 

Also, remember that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper quit the 2020 race

last month to run for Senate and everybody was worried for him because it

was such a crowded Senate field that he was getting into.  Well, since then

the top three major Democrats in the race other than Hickenlooper have all

dropped out to clear the field for him.  We learned about the third one

just this weekend. 

 

And as I mentioned to Senator Harris just tonight, Elizabeth Warren`s

campaign is claiming the largest crowd yet for any event in the campaign

for any candidate.  Campaign saying that over 20,000 people were in

Washington Square Park for Elizabeth Warren in downtown New York City

tonight. 

 

I should tell you that tomorrow night senator warren will be by exclusive

guest right here on set in New York City. 

 

But that does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again tomorrow.

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

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