firing of U.S. Attorney TRANSCRIPT: 6/22/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests:
Jerry Nadler, David Rohde
Transcript:

 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: You continue to see from the very beginning him

viewing this as essentially either a hoax or essentially just a deeply

unfair and rude interruption of his presidency and economy and re-election

campaign, and he has refused to move off of that because that`s the way he

is.

 

Alexi McCammond, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you both for joining us tonight.

 

ALEXI MCCAMMOND, AXIOS: Thanks.

 

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.

 

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you with

us.

 

The United States has about 4 percent of the world`s total population. As

of now, though, we account for about 20 percent of the new coronavirus

infections every day. The WHO said today that today was the largest number

of new coronavirus cases worldwide since the start of the epidemic.

 

But for us here at home, it`s just mind blowing that this far into it,

right now on average, one in five of every new coronavirus case, every new

coronavirus case reported daily, is a case from the United States, when we

are only 4 percent of the world`s population.

 

On the daily chart of American new cases reported each day, we had dropped

down a little bit, but now we are very clearly climbing back up. We had

recently hovered around 20, maybe 25,000 new cases each day. Twice in the

last few days, though, we have topped 30,000 new cases in a day.

 

Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm says we should stop thinking of this thing

in terms of a first wave and second wave, because if we`re just going to

keep burning through 20,000, 25,000, 30,000 new infections every day, then

this is – this is less like some succession of distinct waves, and he says

it`s more like just a forest fire. Just something that is large and raging

and, by the way, we`re not really trying to put it out anymore.

 

More than 20 U.S. states now have rising case numbers each day. In

Washington state, Yakima County`s main hospital is now out of beds. They`re

out of both ICU beds and regular hospital beds. New COVID patients in

Yakima County are being shipped out to their neighboring counties, Franklin

County and Benton County, Washington. But officials in those counties now

say if this keeps up, they`re going to be out of beds as well.

 

Some Washington COVID patients are now being flown as far away as Seattle

to find them a hospital bed. Seattle is hours away from Yakima County.

 

The other corner of the country, Florida, Florida saw its largest spike yet

in new infections this weekend. There are over 100,000 cases in the state

now. We are two months away from the Republican National Convention being

hosted in Jacksonville, Florida. That`s where they moved it because of

coronavirus concerns by local authorities in North Carolina.

 

The Republican Party has thus far submitted no safety plan for how they`re

planning to deal with infection concerns at the Jacksonville RNC. That

Jacksonville Republican convention, again in, two months` time, that one

really is expected to attract thousands of people, unlike the sad little

show the president was so disappointed by this weekend in Tulsa, with that

Tulsa arena two-thirds empty as he spoke.

 

In Florida statewide, the governor there is still refusing to release

straightforward numbers about things like COVID hospitalizations and how

much hospital capacity is left available in Florida. But cases there, new

cases there do keep hitting new record numbers. The case numbers are just

rising relentlessly. We know from local reporting about some Florida

hospitals being pushed to the capacity already, even though we don`t have

statewide numbers for hospital capacity.

 

Now, as of today the great city of Miami, Florida, says they are going to

pause their reopening plans because of their serious concerns about rising

COVID cases in and around Miami.

 

A few states over, Louisiana also announced plans today to pause their

reopening plans, giving case numbers rising once again in Louisiana.

 

In Texas, where the governor has been very Trumpy in his happy talk

assertions about the virus while Texas case numbers have been going through

the roof, rising super steeply since the end of May, even in Texas, the

fact that they have just hit 10 straight days of high hospitalization

numbers appears to have given the state pause as of today. Governor Gregg

Abbott of Texas now warning that the state of Texas may have to close down

again in order to try to save lives.

 

At the federal level, the president today refused to entertain questions

about whether he really meant it on Saturday night in Tulsa when he said he

told the government to slow down COVID testing because all the positive

test results were making him look bad. White House officials keep telling

reporters the president was joking when he said that. The president himself

did not say that he was joking in those remarks and he wouldn`t answer

direct questions about it today.

 

He wouldn`t answer direct questions as to the underlying assertion, whether

he really is deliberately trying to scuttle testing efforts so there`s less

data about the number of Americans getting infected, getting sick and dying

from this thing.

 

You might remember there was that senior economic advisor to President

Trump who a few weeks ago circulated his own cubic model of what was going

to happen to the epidemic, remember that? He had this graph that he made

which was like distributed on behalf of the Council of Economic Advisers.

This graph said the number of coronavirus cases in this country was going

to drop to zero by the middle of May. Put that on May 5th. He said don`t

worry, there`s only ten more days of this thing. By the middle of May, this

thing is going to be over.

 

Not long after that, that`s when we got Vice President Pence as head of the

coronavirus task force saying in an interview that the whole epidemic was

going to be behind us, it`s going to be in the rear-view mirror by Memorial

Day weekend. Perhaps he got that from the Council of Economic Advisers

putting out that graph saying it would all be over in mid-May.

 

Well, the genius who came up with that it will all be over in mid-May idea,

he was an economic adviser to the president, a senior advisor , his name is

Kevin Hassett. Today, he announced that he is resigning. Couldn`t come at a

better time.

 

I also want to let you know about a breaking news development that we are

following and trying to get more information on tonight. This is the

footage we have got so far of Lafayette Square tonight. Lafayette Square

also known as Black Lives Matter Plaza directly across from the White

House.

 

We`re getting word tonight. You see protesters trying to pull on the statue

there. We are getting word tonight that they may have once again used tear

gas to clear protesters who are apparently trying to take down that statue

of Andrew Jackson. Again, that is a developing story that we are pursuing

more reporting on. We will have more on that when we get it.

 

But, you know, on the subject of resignations, with the clarity of

hindsight now, it is starting to seem like a recent rash of high-level

resignations from the U.S. Justice Department might be more interesting

than that string of resignations seemed at the time that it was happening.

Within just the past couple of weeks, the head of the criminal division at

the Justice Department, a controversial Trump appointee named Brian

Benczkowski, he announced that he was resigning from the Justice

Department.

 

In short order, the head of the civil division, a man named Jody Hunt, he

too announced that he was resigning from the Justice Department.

 

Also in equally short order, we got a surprise announcement that the

solicitor general, the lead litigator for the Justice Department, the

lawyer who among other things represents the federal government in cases

before the Supreme Court, very high-profile job, Noel Francisco, we got

word too that he also has submitted his resignation to the Justice

Department.

 

I mean attorney general is still there. Attorney General Bill Barr is still

there. We`re going to talk with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler in

just a moment about his open investigation of Bill Barr.

 

We`re going to talk with “New Yorker” reporter David Rhode about his

reporting that Bill Barr thinks he`s going nowhere and he`s going to be

with Trump to the bitter end.

 

But for now, William Barr is still there, but it sort of passed without

notice that he has just lost the heads of both major divisions in the

Justice Department. He lost the head of the civil division, the head of the

criminal division and the solicitor general basically all at once. And it`s

all happened very recently and very quickly.

 

And maybe they all just decided to spend time with their families all at

the same time, totally possible. But it also seems like this terrible mini

series we`ve been watching about the death of the republic. It feels like

its recent episodes have taken some very dark and very ugly turns that are

now getting not just more worrying but more poorly executed.

 

I mean, it has only been three weeks. If you just look at the snapshot of

what`s happened over the past three weeks, it does feel like Bill Barr`s

wheels are falling off. Just the past three weeks, since Attorney General

Bill Barr for some reason, that still isn`t explained, assumed some kind of

military command of various federal agents during protests in D.C., like

the one we saw tonight.

 

Under Bill Barr`s command, these federal agents by and large didn`t wear

insignias or name badges or anything identifying what agency they were

from. Bill Barr also supposedly commanded these random agents from some

kind of FBI outpost. The attorney general did that. General isn`t actually

a military title. You`re the attorney general, and some people call you

General Barr but you`re not actually a general.

 

Nevertheless, Barr sort of assumed command three weeks ago of these federal

agents under mysterious authority and then under his mysterious authority,

he ordered these federal officers to attack peaceful protesters in

Lafayette Park. Three weeks ago, right? He ultimately ended up defending

the tactics and the weapons used by those federal officers by saying in

part that nobody should object to the use of pepper spray on those

protesters, and, you know, on the clergy and on reporters and all the rest

of the people there. He said nobody should object to the use of pepper

spray on those people because, according to Attorney General Barr, he said

pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. He thinks it`s like a spice. It`s

like a savory seasoning for eyeballs. It`s not an irritant, it`s just

pepper spray.

 

Shortly thereafter, that episode in which Attorney General Barr ordered

federal agents to attack protesters and then said it was no big deal, those

tactics and weapons and gases that they used, shortly thereafter is when

the criminal division chief resigned and then the solicitor general

resigned and the civil division chief resigned. And then in very short

order the first excerpts of the John Bolton book came out in which John

Bolton said among other things that the Trump White House carried out,

quote, obstruction of justice as a way of life.

 

Bolton`s book says that Attorney General William Barr helped the president

to interfere in, for example, the prosecution of a Turkish bank. President

Trump had apparently told the Turkish president he would take care of that

prosecution, he`d get rid of it. That case was in the Southern District of

New York.

 

What Bolton says in his book is that Attorney General William Barr in fact

tried to interfere in that case at the president`s request, but the

prosecutors in the southern district of New York wouldn`t be messed with

and so that prosecution went ahead. Soon after those excerpts became

public, Barr then launched this weird late ham-handed effort to try to

secure a legal injunction against Bolton`s book. He tried to get a judge to

order all the copies of Bolton`s book out of circulation. He tried to get a

judge to order that Bolton`s book should be retrieved from all the

bookstores it had been sent to and all the reviewers it had been sent to

and all the news organizations it had been sent to.

 

That effort to get a judge to do that with Bolton`s book, that effort

failed obviously. It was bizarre that they even tried it.

 

Then in short order, the Trump administration lost two major cases at the

Supreme Court, one right after the other, on LGBT civil rights and then on

DACA, the Dreamers case. That Dreamers case, they lost specifically through

the sheer ineptitude of the administration`s lawyering abilities.

 

We`re still right now awaiting another Supreme Court ruling on whether the

president`s financial records and tax returns are subject to subpoena by

prosecutors or congressional investigators. Attorney General William Barr

naturally had the Justice Department join forces with the president`s

personal lawyers to try to shield the president from that kind of scrutiny.

But we`ll see. That ruling could come at any time.

 

If there`s one prospect that seemingly causes President Trump more than

anything is the release of his financial information. Well, the Supreme

Court could rule on that any time. Attorney General Barr took the

interesting step of siding the U.S. Justice Department with the president`s

personal lawyers and his personal interests to try to shield those things

from investigators.

 

Then in short order, we learned that the house judiciary committee would

hold a hearing this week, day after tomorrow, a hearing for which they have

scheduled testimony from two whistle-blowers. Two currently serving Justice

Department officials who will testify as whistle-blowers as to Attorney

General Barr`s repeated interference in the course of justice in ways that

are designed to bolster the president`s personal and political interests.

 

John Elias is due to testify from the antitrust division about William

Barr`s alleged interference with antitrust cases to try to help the

president politically. Aaron Zelinsky is expected to testify. He resigned

from the Roger Stone prosecution after Barr took a wrecking ball to the

U.S. Attorney`s office in D.C. office, sidelined the real U.S. attorney,

inserted his own hand-picked flying monkeys instead, and then swiftly

intervened to roll back prosecutions of Stone and one other of the

president`s friends.

 

So, this is – I mean this is the last three weeks. I know time has no

meaning anymore and it`s hard to figure out what day it is, let alone what

week it is, but over the course of the last three weeks, all of this has

been rolling downhill faster and faster.

 

And then Friday night, late Friday night, just days before this upcoming

hearing about Bill Barr intervening in the course of justice to try to

benefit the president, late Friday night, classic Friday night news dump,

Attorney General Barr rolls out this absolutely botched effort to try to

fire the head of the other most important federal prosecutor`s office in

the country, right? He succeeded in decapitating the U.S. attorney`s office

in D.C. and getting rid of its independence. Taking it over, installing his

own people and making that office do the president`s favors. That`s the

D.C. U.S. attorney`s office. Barr won there.

 

The other prosecutor`s office that most touches the president`s interests

is obviously the prosecutor`s office that named President Trump individual

one in the Michael Cohen case. The prosecutor`s office that described the

president as the person who directed the commission of those felonies that

put the president`s personal lawyer in federal prison for those illegal

hush money payments he made during the 2016 campaign. It`s the same

prosecutor`s office that recently brought charges against our friends Lev

and Igor for funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal

contributions to Republican campaigns and the main super PAC supporting

President Trump`s re-election. They did those things, according to

prosecutors, while they were working with the president`s other personal

lawyer on the Ukraine scheme for which the president was impeached back in

December.

 

This is the same prosecutor`s office that has reportedly been investigating

the president`s lawyer himself, Rudy Giuliani, as to among other things

whether he was illegally acting as a foreign agent while also working as

the president`s lawyer, ginning up this scheme for which the president has

already been impeached. This is the same prosecutor`s office that

subpoenaed President Trump`s inaugural committee as part of what appears to

be an investigation into potentially illegal foreign contributions to the

president`s inaugural committee as well.

 

It`s also the same prosecutor`s office that in September is due to take up

the bizarre case of the Chicago small-time banker who allegedly tried to

buy himself an appointment as Trump`s secretary of the army by giving

Trump`s campaign chairman, convicted felon Paul Manafort, millions of

dollars in bogus loans as a bribe.

 

That trial of Stephen Calk is due to start in September in the Southern

District of New York. When Attorney General William Barr announced late on

Friday night that the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York

was, quote, stepping down, he was apparently ham-handedly trying to force

that U.S. attorney into stepping down, into resigning, so that he could

slot his own guys into that office, much like he did in the U.S. attorney`s

office in D.C. but he botched it. It did not work out well. He didn`t do it

right.

 

Barr said in this late-night statement on Friday night that Geoffrey Berman

had resigned. Geoffrey Berman had not and he very soon made that publicly

clear. Barr then said, well, OK, if I`m not firing you, the president has

fired you. Barr then said in writing that president Trump had fired

Geoffrey Berman. The president himself then directly contradicted that and

said, no, I didn`t. I didn`t have anything to do with it.

 

I mean among other things Geoff Berman fought back against whatever this is

that Attorney General William Barr has just tried to pull off. Geoff Berman

fought off in such a way that now his deputy, a woman named Audrey Strauss,

will keep control of that office rather than Barr being allowed to put in

his hand-picked replacements.

 

But with all those cases in SDNY, all those ongoing cases that pertain to

the president`s interests, and honestly the prospect that if the president

is going to be indicted for anything that he did while he was in office,

that he would be indicted after being voted out of office in November once

he was no longer president, if you were expecting any sort of indictment

for anything the president did while in office, that would likely come from

the Southern District of New York. But hey, the year is young.

 

I mean, with William Barr`s legitimately horrifying record of intervening

in matters of justice on the president`s say-so and on the president`s

behalf, the one way William Barr most badly botched this whole thing is

that he forgot to come up with any explanation for why he was trying to

fire that prosecutor and take over that office with his own guys. He didn`t

even cook up a cover story.

 

And now, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says he has opened an

investigation into what exactly William Barr has done this time. Oops.

 

Chairman Nadler joins us live, next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview I`m very pleased to say is Jerry

Nadler, who is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

 

Mr. Chairman, there`s a lot going on. I really appreciate you making time

to be here with us tonight. Thanks for your time, sir.

 

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you,

Rachel.

 

MADDOW: So I along with everybody was shocked by the news on Friday night

that the attorney general was announcing that the U.S. attorney in New York

was stepping down. I was something more than shocked when I saw that that

U.S. Attorney Geoff Berman respond by saying, I have done no such thing and

I do not intend to resign.

 

Since that happened on Friday night, have you been able to figure out any

more about what happened? Do you have any idea why Attorney General Barr

has moved to oust that U.S. attorney and done so in this sort of shocking

way that he did?

 

NADLER: Well, we certainly think that it`s because this is another instance

of the attorney general doing the president`s bidding, corrupting justice

and trying to make sure that the Justice Department doesn`t do its proper

job. It only serves as an instrument to the president for whitewashing –

for whitewashing the improper things he`s doing. And that`s why we`re

holding this investigation into the corruption by Barr of the Justice

Department, which we`ve announced.

 

MADDOW: In terms of Mr. Berman`s public statements around this botched

incident, it was striking to me that he in his initial statement

immediately talked about protecting the important investigations of that

office, making sure that they were not impeded in any way. He sort of

outmaneuvered the attorney general over the course of the weekend so that

now it is his deputy, his hand-picked and trusted deputy who`s going to

stay in control of that office instead of Attorney General Barr`s hand-

picked replacements.

 

But obviously the way this all went down and what you just said suggests to

a lot of people that there may be investigations here that touch on the

president`s interests that the attorney general is trying to mess with. If

that`s the case, how do you figure that out? How do you structure such an

investigation to find out if there has been that kind of improper

influence? Who`s allowed to tell you those sort of things?

 

NADLER: Well, we are having an investigation because that`s exactly what we

suspect. We will be having Mr. Zelensky (ph), for example, one of the

prosecutors who resigned because he was told not – he was told by the

attorney general to corruptly change the sentencing recommendations for the

president`s friend, Roger Stone. He`ll be one of the witnesses. We`ll have

other witnesses. I think we can get to the bottom of this corruption of the

justice department by the president and by Bill Barr.

 

MADDOW: Those witnesses that are going to testify at your hearing on

Wednesday, do you expect – they`re both serving Justice Department

officials. Will they have whistle-blower protections so that they can`t be

retaliated against at the Justice Department for what they`re going to tell

you?

 

NADLER: They`ll be able to say what they have to say.

 

MADDOW: Can you elaborate on that at all?

 

NADLER: I think – I think – no. I think that they will be able to say

what they have to say and that`s sufficient for now.

 

MADDOW: It`s been reported over the course of this evening, both “Axios”

and now NBC News reporting that you are – that you intend to send a

subpoena to the attorney general for his testimony in this investigation

that you`re launching. Is that true? And what do you expect will be the

result?

 

NADLER: Well, we have begun the process. It takes a process. We have begun

the process to issue that subpoena. Yes, it is very much true, we are – we

are doing that.

 

MADDOW: Do you expect that Attorney General Barr will respect the subpoena

or do you expect that he`ll defy it?

 

NADLER: Well, we don`t know that. Subpoenas are supposed to be respected,

obviously, but the corruption of the attorney general, of Barr, may lead

him to try to – to defy it.

 

MADDOW: In terms of Mr. Berman –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

NADLER: We have other – we have other –

 

MADDOW: Go ahead, sir.

 

NADLER: Let me say, we have other – we have other remedies too, to try to

force the attorney general. We can – we can eliminate his office budget.

There are a number of things we can do, which we will do.

 

MADDOW: His office budget, like his paper clips budget, or does he have

some sort of large discretionary amount of funding that you could cut off.

What do you mean by his office budget?

 

NADLER: No, no, we`re talking about – we`re talking – we are talking

about the budget in the Department of Justice.

 

MADDOW: Ah.

 

In terms of Mr. Berman and the firing of this U.S. attorney, you`ve said

that you have invited him to testify about what just happened, and you said

this weekend that you expect him to testify, although not necessarily at

this hearing that`s coming up imminently on Wednesday.

 

Can you tell us anything else about whether or not – about your invitation

to Mr. Berman and what we should expect in terms of hearing from him about

what he`s just been through?

 

NADLER: Well, we would certainly like Mr. Berman to testify. There are

issues about his testimony in terms of prejudicing prosecutions, so that

may limit that. We`ll have to see.

 

MADDOW: I just want to – I know that you`re limited in terms of you can

say and I`m limited in what I can articulate about my frustrations on this.

But at the top of the show, I went through this list of all of the

different prosecutions that have happened at SDNY just since President

Trump has been a candidate that all touch on him, a number of which appear

to be ongoing or we`re potentially looking at superseding indictments or

existing cases with more people who are connected to the president,

including his personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, and who has recently

resurfaced as becoming part of the re-election campaign and we hadn`t heard

about him for months.

 

I mean, I am – I`m very worried given what we`ve seen from Attorney

General Barr about the way he`s intervened in ongoing investigations and

ongoing prosecutions to undo things on behalf of the president. And I –

because other people in the Justice Department respect the tradition and

the necessity to not talk about ongoing cases, I`m worried that there isn`t

a way for us to find out about that improper pressure.

 

NADLER: Well, that is the point of the investigation that we`re doing. We

are very worried that the traditional independence of the Justice

Department and of the Southern District of New York is being interfered

with and subverted corruptly by Attorney General Barr on behalf of the

president.

 

We very much believe that the – that is what is happening and that is what

we are investigating, because that kind of corruption of destroying the

independence of the Justice Department, of the Southern District, and make

– and trying to make it into a personal play thing of the president is

exactly the kind of corruption that this country cannot tolerate and that

we are investigating here.

 

MADDOW: House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler – sir, I really appreciate

you making the time tonight. I know these next couple of days are going to

be really intense. Thanks for helping us understand.

 

NADLER: Thank you, Rachel.

 

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to come here tonight, including a

conversation with “New Yorker” reporter David Rohde, who has late reporting

tonight about William Barr`s own plans in terms of what happens next in his

own career.

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK

 

MADDOW: Quote: On Friday night, William Barr seemed to embrace obstruction

of justice as a way of life in his ongoing defense of Donald Trump. It

didn`t go well. In an apparent attempt to protect President Trump`s

personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, from criminal prosecution, Attorney General

Barr issued a false statement that the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey

Berman, had agreed to step down. Barr, surely at Trump`s behest, was

attempting to remove a federal prosecutor who carried out a series of

politically embarrassing investigations of Trump allies.

 

So begins the latest piece from Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Rohde

at thenewyorker.com. David Rohde has been on the William Barr beat in

recent months.

 

In this piece, he goes on to describe Attorney General William Barr`s ham-

handed ousting of the attorney general in Manhattan as capturing the,

quote, confusing combination of brazen corruption and sheer incompetence

that has become a hallmark of the Trump administration.

 

Quote: The attempted Friday night firing confirmed allegations in a new

book by the former national security advisor, John Bolton, which Trump and

Barr unsuccessfully tried to suppress, that the president has repeatedly

interfered in criminal investigations into friends, political allies and,

most of all, himself.

 

Here`s the reason I want to talk to David Rohde about this tonight. Not

just because he`s covered this attorney general extensively for “The New

Yorker” and his latest book, but because David Rohde`s reporting has led

him to some sobering conclusions in the last few months about Bill Barr`s

Justice Department. Earlier this year, David Rohde told me on this show

that Bill Barr believes that the president has the power to disobey a court

order, which is the actual real-life definition of a constitutional crisis

and may become a very operable concern if the Supreme Court in a soon-

expected ruling says that the president`s financial records and taxes have

to be handed over to prosecutors and congressional investigators.

 

Mr. Rohde published a piece just last month headlined: From the Justice

department to the intelligence community, Donald Trump and William Barr

have won, arguing that any guardrails preventing the president from using

the Justice Department and intelligence agencies for political purposes

have now been, quote, obliterated. Which makes it all the more notable

tonight that David Rohde sees signs that Donald Trump and Bill Barr`s

attempts to turn the Justice Department on its head so that it does the

president`s bidding, those efforts may be encountering resistance.

 

Quote: In a sign of how quickly Trump and Barr`s political standing is

shifting, one of Trump`s most fawning backers in the Senate, Lindsey

Graham, indicated this weekend that he would not support Trump`s pick to

replace Geoff Berman at SDNY. After other Senate Republicans declined to

support Trump`s pick, Barr agreed to appoint Berman`s deputy, following

standard practice.

 

Support for Barr among career Justice Department officials appears to be

eroding. Over the past several weeks, three senior officials have announced

their departures. As I mentioned at the top of the show, head of the civil

division, head of the criminal division and solicitor general, all just

resigned in very quick succession.

 

Things feel very uncertain at the U.S. Justice Department right now. It

kind of feels like just about anything could happen next.

 

Joining us now with what has been a pretty clear crystal ball about this

part of our government in the Trump administration is David Rohde, who`s

executive editor for news at newyorker.com and he`s also the author most

recently of “In Deep: The FBI, the CIA and the Truth about America`s Deep

State.”

 

David Rohde, it`s great to see you. Thanks for making time to be here

tonight.

 

DAVID ROHDE, NEWYORKER.COM EXECUTIVE EDITOR FOR NEWS: Thank you. You`re so

kind to have me on the show.

 

MADDOW: I`ve been talking about this for the last, you know, few minutes on

the show. Just spoke with Chairman Nadler.

 

Let me first just ask you if anything that I`ve said strikes you as wrong

or backwards or if I`m missing the point of any of this as it has unfolded

over the last couple of days?

 

ROHDE: No. You`re absolutely right. And it`s been surprising. You talked

about this three-week time frame from clearing the park outside the White

House to this, you know, immaturish effort to oust the U.S. attorney in

Manhattan on Friday. Something seems off in the way Bill Barr is executing.

 

MADDOW: Well, you spoke with somebody at the Justice Department who

wouldn`t let you print their name, but somebody who appeared to be close to

Barr`s thinking on this matter in terms of what`s going on with him right

now. What did that person tell you about how Barr is sort of coping with

how botched this has all been, like the way this has all kind of fallen

apart?

 

ROHDE: The line from the Justice Department is that, you know, Bill Barr is

following the beliefs he`s had for decades. You mentioned this earlier, the

power of a president to in essence run criminal investigations of himself,

to pick and choose which prosecutor looks at his allies.

 

And that Barr is determined to stay in office through November. He`s

standing by his beliefs from law and order. If you remember, Barr was

agreeing with President Trump that the streets needed to be dominated to

who gets to investigate the president and whether he has to obey subpoenas

from Congress.

 

MADDOW: Well, on that point, Jerry Nadler just – Chairman Jerry Nadler of

the Judiciary Committee just told me effectively that, yeah, they are on

track towards subpoenaing Bill Barr to testify, as they have opened up an

investigation into whether he has been improperly interfering in criminal

prosecutions to benefit the president. My expectation based in part on your

reporting and analysis is that Bill Barr will ball up any subpoena that he

receives and throw it in the trash immediately, that he doesn`t have any

respect for those kinds of supposedly mandatory summons at all.

 

ROHDE: I think that`s what`s going to happen. And the big change, I think,

more than anything in the last few weeks in addition to the protests is the

Judiciary Branch is standing up to the president. Chief Justice John

Roberts delivered two politically devastating decisions this week – or

last week to the Trump administration. You`ve got Judge Sullivan that`s

fighting Barr`s effort to throw out the charges against Michael Flynn.

 

So I was very worried. I wrote, as you pointed out, that Barr and Trump

were winning. So I`m surprised and it is, I think, a positive sign that

these judges are pushing back. Again, as you noticed, the key dynamic here

is Lindsey Graham, a Republican who has endorsed everything Donald Trump

has done and Bill Barr has done is under so much political pressure as he

faces re-election in South Carolina that he didn`t back this maneuver on

Friday night.

 

So, it`s a dramatic shift in Trump and Barr`s political standing and

political capital. It might not last given how quickly things have been

changing throughout this administration, but something has changed what

Bill Barr is doing is not working and this attempt on Friday night failed.

 

MADDOW: David Rohde, executive editor of the “New Yorker” website – David,

thank you for your reporting. Thanks for your reporting. I appreciate you

being here.

 

ROHDE: Thank you.

 

MADDOW: You know, I will just say that when Bill Barr at the president`s

behest decapitated the U.S. attorney`s office in Washington, D.C.,

engineered the ousting of the U.S. attorney there and installed all his own

flying monkeys on motorcycles to get in there and botch and screw up and

undo ongoing prosecutions and sentencing procedures for people who had

already pled guilty or had been convicted, and as far as we can tell

potentially also installed people to quash ongoing investigations that had

not yet led to public indictments where we could see charges. When that

happened, when he successfully did what he needed to do to eliminate any

threat to the president from the United States attorney`s office in D.C.,

it was seen as sort of like a horror movie, but it didn`t cause enough of a

backlash that Trump and Barr didn`t just try to do it in the next most

important office to them too. They got away with it in D.C. that`s why they

tried this weekend to do it in New York.

 

And they`ll continue trying to do it in New York. Berman is out of there.

His deputy is still there, but they will continue because it worked for

them in D.C. and they need it to work for them in New York. And what kind

of defense will the rest of the country make of the rule of law and the

independent prosecutorial system that accountability and our constitutional

republic depends on.

 

Seeing what happened in D.C. should have been a five-alarm fire. Well, now

here`s another U.S. attorney`s office that`s on fire too. Where`s the fire

brigade?

 

All right. We`ll be back. Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELODY NUNGARAY-ORTIZ, ICU NURSE: Today is supposed to be what is the

beginning of my workweek but last night I picked up an extra shift and that

is because we don`t have enough nurses to take care of all the patients

that we have on any given day, so a lot of us are working overtime several

shifts a week just to be able to take care of the volume of patients that

we have in the ICU right now. So just depending on the week I`m going to

work four shifts or five shifts instead of our three so today is supposed

to be day one, but day two. So – that`s okay.

 

Last night was tough. It`s been a lot distress amongst myself and my

coworkers, a lot of more end-of-life care and conversations. It`s been

really emotionally distressing seeing these young people get sick with

families and these lives left to live that just pass away and it`s hard.

 

You see them come in and they`re gasping for air, and you intubate them and

you try to reassure them that it`s going to be – it`s going to be okay,

and then it`s not. And I honestly don`t know how bad things are going to

get, and it`s scary.

 

Yeah. I`m going to go take a shower real quickly, have breakfast with my

kids and try to switch to mom mode and just be strong, reassuring person in

my kids` life, give them stability. That`s the best I can do.

 

And if anything, we`re going to fake it today, because when we`re not

feeling all right, we`re going to make it work. Going to make it work.

 

Last night was a bit tough in the sense that it was just really busy for

the hospital itself. I didn`t get to see our intensivist. She was so busy

with several code and admissions.

 

So we have very limited space in the ICU right now. It`s becoming a bit of

a problem. It is a problem, actually.

 

There is talks of crisis nurses coming in soon and helping us out, and I

would be very thankful for that.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW: That`s Melody Nungaray-Ortiz. She is an ICU nurse at Banner

University Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. What the frontrunner health

providers like Ms. Nungaray-Ortiz are saying is that the situation is

unsustainably hard. As you heard her say there, for example, she said that

some of the – their patients are hooked up to ECMO machines which are

machines that are essentially designed to work as an external set of lungs

when even a ventilator isn`t enough. ECMO machines are in extremely form of

life support, normally requires a two-person team to care for a patient

who`s on an ECMO.

 

But at the moment, they can`t afford that many staff because there`s so

many people in the circumstance, and so it is one nurse per ECMO. That`s

how overwhelmed they are at the moment. It`s not just Banner University

Medical Center in Phoenix alone. As of last night, intensive care units

across Arizona were at 84 percent capacity. Every day, more than 1,000

people are being hospitalized in that state with no relief in sight. Daily

numbers skyrocketing over the last few weeks.

 

And while the state is just barely treading water and dealing with people

who are already sick, it`s also struggling with a testing system that is

proven to be among the worst in the nation. This weekend, residents in

parts of southwest Phoenix waited in line for nearly 13 hours just to try

to get tested. It was a miles long line of cars, 13 hours.

 

One man told “The Arizona Republic” he brought his hand mother to get

tested. He brought her in early, 5:30 in the morning. They sat in the sun

for more than nine hours before they decided that they would – they

couldn`t wait any longer and they just went home and she never got tested.

That is a bad sign in a place that is already looking at numbers that are

off the charts, the hospitals are already full.

 

And so, naturally, that`s where the president is going tomorrow – for big,

congregate, in person inside event, because Tulsa was a success. Why not

follow it up?

 

His first stop is actually going to be in Yuma, Arizona, one of the hardest

hit counties in the country. In Arizona, they were one of the first

hospital systems to be overwhelmed. They`ll have to start medevacing their

patients out elsewhere. He`s going to Yuma not to do anything having to do

with the pandemic response. He`s instead going there to talk about his

wall.

 

From there, he will head to Phoenix to a megachurch for a campaign speech

that more than 3,000 people are expected to attend indoors. Yeah, Tulsa

went so great, why not start in on Phoenix next of all places?

 

You thinking about doing a meat packing plant tour next? Maybe some nursing

home events?

 

While you`re probably thinking it might be dodgy to attend a tightly packed

indoor rally with a state with an exploding coronavirus pandemic, the

pastor of the church where teh president is going to be speaking wants you

to know that actually everything is fine.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Hey, gang. We have some exciting information about what

we`re doing to fight COVID-19 here in Dream City Church. We`re part of the

first church in the nation to –

 

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Yeah. We`ve installed Clean Air EXP. We have a local

Arizona company. It was technology developed by some of members of our

church. We have installed these units, and it kills 99.9 percent of COVID

within ten minutes.

 

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Ionization, is that what it is?

 

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Ionization of the air, and it takes particulates out,

and COVID cannot live in that environment.

 

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: So when you come into the auditorium, 99 percent of

COVID is gone, killed –

 

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: That`s right.

 

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: – if it was there in the first place.

 

So you can know when you come here, you`ll be safe and protected. Thank God

for great technology and thank God for being proactive.

 

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Amen.

 

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Bless you, guys.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW: They solved it. They figured out how to get rid of it totally.

Nothing to worry about, I suppose.

 

It`s not like Arizona is in crisis or anything. Everything is fine. Listen

to those guys. They got it all under control.

 

Watch this space.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police just sprayed something. You can see them spraying

right now. You can see them spraying. They`re backing up the people.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW: That`s Jamari Stone (ph). He`s a reporter for the NBC affiliate in

D.C. reporting tonight from Lafayette Square right across from the White

House. D.C. and federal park police have used gas again against protesters

at Lafayette Square. The U.S. Parks Police just sent out this statement

saying, quote: The USPP with assistance from Metropolitan Police

Department, the D.C. police, and Secret Service are working to prevent the

destruction of the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Park in front of the

White House. Quote, the park is temporarily closed.

 

This is an ongoing situation tonight in D.C. We will have eyes on it

throughout the night.

 

Our live coverage continues now with “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE

O`DONNELL”.

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

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