SCOTUS tax rulings TRANSCRIPT: 7/9/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests:
Michael Rothfeld, Dan Goldman
Transcript:

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: When all this is over, there are going

to be a hundred, and a thousand, and ten thousand stories like this that

are going to come out. It`s just, we already know a lot of them, but, but,

what has gone on, the cruelty and the efforts that people stand up to it,

is going to be the story of this administration.

 

Jacob Soboroff, whose fantastic new book, “Separated: Inside An American

Tragedy”, is out now, and I really hope you pick it up.

 

Thank you for all this, Jacob. I really appreciate it.

 

That is “ALL IN” for the 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 here.

 

One of the hallmarks of this scandal-ridden time in our national life, one

of the hallmarks of this unprecedentedly scandal-ridden presidency is

unfortunately that very serious things, very shocking things even, tend to

just pass by. Even the most serious things, they just pass by.

 

I mean, the president`s campaign chairman was sent to prison. The

president`s deputy campaign chairman was also sent to prison. The

president`s self-named charity was shut down as an ongoing criminal

enterprise and his children are hence forth restricted by law from even

being associated with charities.

 

The president`s self-name university was shut down as a scam as well, and

he to pay $25 million to settle fraud claims against it. And you know, it`s

easy to forget, but the president was impeached and yes, then the president

retaliated against all of the witnesses who testified in his impeachment

hearings. The president personally intervened to change the FBI`s plans for

its new headquarters building in a way that would benefit his own downtown

Washington, D.C. hotel.

 

The president`s sister had to resign as a federal judge to avoid an ethics

inquiry into alleged fraud and tax evasions schemes that she and the

president benefitted from, in terms of the family fortune they both

inherited. She gave up her lifetime appointment as a judge so that would

not be looked at.

 

The president`s cabinet secretaries and high level appointees, national

security advisers, defense secretaries, White House chiefs of staff, White

House communications directors, handpicked senior advisers. They have all

basically run screaming from the White House warning publicly about how

dangerous he is to be anywhere near the office of the presidency, all his

own handpicked people.

 

Even now he is still randomly promoting a supposed miracle cure for

coronavirus, literally telling Americans they should take the drug and he

is too. The drug is both disproven as a cure or a preventative for

coronavirus and, oh, by the way, it killed some people. Those endorsements

of his miracle cure were both before and after he suggested that maybe

Americans should ingest disinfectants to clean out the virus from inside

our bodies.

 

I mean, this is the president who put the guy who gave Jeffrey Epstein his

get out of jail free card in the cabinet. Remember Alex Acosta? Remember

what he had to resign over? Yeah.

 

This is the president who put his son`s wedding planner in charge of

federal housing in the northeastern United States.

 

I mean just in the past couple of weeks, we learned this president was told

that Russia was paying cash bounties for the killing of American soldiers.

He was told that and did nothing about it at all. He was offered a menu of

possible acts of retaliation against Russia for them doing that. He chose,

on this menu, I`ll take nothing. I will do nothing.

 

I mean these things just – they just pass by. I mean it`s quite literally

hard to keep track of them. It`s my job to keep track of them. It`s hard to

keep track of them.

 

I mean, this is the president who pressured the post office to go after

Amazon because he doesn`t like the way the newspaper owned by the Amazon

guy covers him and his presidency. This is the president who fired an

inspector general, among he fired – he fired one inspector general who was

investigating the secretary of state and his wife, and he fired that

inspector general because the secretary of state asked him to.

 

Sure, of course. That`s kosher.

 

This is the president who tried to get the G7 meeting held at his own golf

club in Florida. This is the president who advertised his wife`s jewelry

line on the White House website, complete with a trademark note. This

president apparently believes that Frederick Douglass is still alive and

that the statue of a random bronco rider in his office is Teddy Roosevelt.

 

This is the president who randomly took a surprise urgent emergency trip to

Walter Reed military hospital and won`t say what for. This president

changed a hurricane forecast into one he liked better than the real one and

then made the National Weather Service say they agreed with his made-up

version. I mean, where do you begin?

 

These things – like just pick a week. Pick a week that he`s been in office

or running for office. Throw a dart, you can name something like this,

right, along these lines. Any individual one of these things would be among

the biggest scandals, if not the biggest scandal to ever afflict any other

presidency.

 

But by virtue of the sheer number of scandals that surround him like flies

around pig-pen, these have just become part of what we expect, right? We

have a little momentary shock and a short period of interest with each new

low blow, but then we just wait for the next one. And they all just pass

by.

 

And the most common reason they get pushed off the front page is because

another newer scandal comes along to squeeze them out. It`s exhausting and

enervating and bizarre and occasionally hilarious and terrifying in terms

of what remains of the norms and mores of our country and what we`re going

to rely on to prosecute corruption in the future when he`s gotten away with

this much.

 

But we have been doing this long enough now in this bizarre presidency that

one of the things we are now learning is that even when these scandals pass

by, they do often come back around. A lot of these sort of have tails, and

here`s one where the tail wraps around from all the way back to the way

Trump was elected in the first place. It wraps all the way from then right

here to now at the end of this presidential term, right up through the

election in which the American people are either going to re-elect him or

elect Joe Biden instead.

 

Because part of the way we got this president, part of the way he was

elected was itself not just a scandal but a crime. And I`m not speaking

hyperbolically. Federal prosecutors in New York say that he directed the

commission of a felony scheme by which illegal contributions were made to

his campaign in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments

that were made to two women to stop those women from speaking publicly

before the election about them allegedly having affairs with the president.

The president was identified as individual 1 in this scheme, the person who

prosecutors say directed the commission of these felonies and obviously he

was the person who benefited from these felonies.

 

When his personal lawyer, who made the payments on behalf of the president,

was pleading guilty to multiple felonies in conjunction with this case, the

president`s lawyer made it even more explicit. In open court, singling out

the president by name as the person who directed and organized the

commission of those crimes.

 

Since all that went down, we have since learned that Trump Attorney General

William Barr, as soon as he was sworn in as attorney general, he inserted

himself into that case. He went to New York and tried basically to derail

the prosecution of the hush money case. He badgered that prosecutor`s

office about every element of it. We know that prosecutors there, for

example, had requested interviews and information from the president`s

business in conjunction with that case.

 

But around the time that Attorney General William Barr started inserting

himself into what those prosecutors were doing, those prosecutors let those

requests to the president`s business drop. They just never followed up on

them. They let the case languish other than what was happening to Michael

Cohen.

 

And when federal prosecutors in that office announced months later that

they wouldn`t be doing any more investigating around the hush money thing,

they wouldn`t be charging anybody else with any crimes related to that hush

money thing, it would be Michael Cohen alone who got in trouble for that

even though prosecutors admitted in open court, he didn`t benefit from the

crime. He did the crime for the benefit of the president, at the

president`s direction, even though the crime involved the president`s

business being used as a false front to move the money, even though it

involved a lot of other people as part of the scheme, federal prosecutors

said it was only Michael Cohen who was going to have to do any time or even

be charged for it.

 

When federal prosecutors made that announcement about a year ago now, this

time last summer, it caused a lot of worry and consternation about whether

or not Attorney General William Barr had successfully leaned on that

prosecution in order to protect the president and his interests. But when

SDNY announced they had dropped everything other than the Michael Cohen

prosecution, the hush money thing was dead, not only did it sort of spark

consternation and worry about whether Barr had intervened there somehow –

we would later learn that he did – and also interestingly and now very

importantly led to a sort of eruption, led to some expressions of anger

from a whole different prosecutor`s office because apparently there were

not just federal but state prosecutors in New York state who really wanted

to investigate those crimes as potential violations of state law as well,

right?

 

These illegal payments to these two women to benefit a candidate for

office, a secret scheme involving a whole bunch of different people and a

New York business, the president`s business essentially laundering the

payments and disguising them as legitimate business and legal expenses,

which they were not. Federal prosecutors pursued that to the point of

pursuing Michael Cohen and then dropping everything else. But state

prosecutors were also interested in pursuing potential criminal charges

there as a state matter.

 

When both federal and state prosecutors were interested in those

circumstances as potential federal and state crimes, the federal

prosecutors in SDNY essentially pulled rank, and they told the state

prosecutors to back off, which they did. Then the way SDNY handled it,

though, is they only prosecuted Michael Cohen. Then for months after they

prosecuted Michael Cohen, they sat on the case and did nothing.

 

And then a long time later, they announced in a footnote in a filing with

the court that they were dropping the entire matter with no further action.

And when that happened this time last year, there was this eruption. The

state prosecutors were furious.

 

You know, we think we have our own case to make here. You know our statute

of limitations on these potential crimes is ticking. Why have you just been

sitting on it all this time?

 

You told us to back off. We did. But then you just sat on it and dropped it

and did nothing?

 

Why didn`t you let us go? If you were going to drop this, why didn`t you

tell us? We`ve got work to do here.

 

Well, within two weeks of the federal prosecutors saying, we`re not going

to do anything else here, those furious state prosecutors in New York had

filed their own subpoenas and were firing away in their own investigation,

making up for all that lost time. They subpoenaed the Trump Organization,

the president`s business. They subpoenaed the accounting firm that did the

finances of the Trump Organization.

 

And meanwhile, Michael Cohen decided to make the terrain potentially much

richer for those state prosecutors, not just on the hush money case where

he provided all of this new stuff. You know, he turned up – look, checks

to pay the hush money signed by the president. And another check to pay

hush money signed by the president`s son. Thank you, Michael Cohen.

 

Michael Cohen not only bolstered the record of those crimes, the crimes for

which he was the only one who federal prosecutors wanted to put in jail,

Cohen also dragged up a whole bunch of other stuff. He testified publicly

and provided documentation from his time at the Trump Organization that

alleged and appeared to depict sustained and systematic fraud by the

president in his business dealings, falsifying the valuations of different

assets and properties to avoid paying the full share of taxes that he owed

on those assets and properties and also to get bank loans under false

financial pretenses and also to get insurance policies under false

financial pretenses – otherwise known as criminal bank fraud and criminal

insurance fraud, crimes for which New York prosecutors happen to be pretty

good and pretty experienced at getting convictions in state court.

 

And as far as we know, state prosecutors did pick up criminal

investigations involving those alleged actions by the president and his

business starting as early as late last summer, not to mention the trailing

issue of those hush money payments and who else was involved besides

Michael Cohen, whether the president in fact used his business to create

fraudulent business records to cover up those crimes.

 

We know those state prosecutors subpoenaed the president`s business. We

know they subpoenaed his accounting firm in conjunction with this

investigation. From court documents, we actually know the specifics. We

know the terms of the subpoena to the president`s accounting firm, and it

is a doozy. Look at all that.

 

But that, that doozy of a subpoena that is attached to that purported

investigation, that`s what the U.S. Supreme Court today said could go

ahead. And I know you`ve heard a lot about today about these two Supreme

Court cases, right, involving the president`s tax returns and his financial

records.

 

And what you`ve heard is that the ruling both went against him in both

instances, 7-2 rulings against the president in both instances and in favor

of those subpoenas going ahead. But you`ve also heard that all that happens

practically is that those cases are going to be sent back down to the lower

courts, and that means more time will be spent on these cases. And so, no

investigators are likely to see any of his tax returns or his financial

records until after the election for sure.

 

Well, that`s what everybody`s been talking about over the course of today

since these rulings came out just after 10:00 a.m. Eastern this morning.

And, you know, I`m no expert. I`m no lawyer. We will get expert help on

this in just a moment.

 

But what you heard today about these Supreme Court cases, what you heard

today about how the president lost in principle but practically these

rulings mean that he`s safe until after the November election, no

investigators are going to see any of this potentially incriminating stuff,

that, to me, seems quite clearly true about one of the two cases the

Supreme Court decided today, about the case involving subpoenas from

Congress. We`ll talk about that in detail a little bit later on this hour.

 

But in the other case, in the case involving that one big, lengthy,

detailed subpoena from New York state prosecutors, I think that one, it

isn`t so clear in terms of when that one might resolve and when it might

bear fruit if prosecutors actually find things that are incriminating that

result in them wanting to bring criminal charges.

 

I mean what the Supreme Court said today in that case is crucially that

there is no magic presidential immunity from the legal process. You know,

just as Richard Nixon had to hand over the tapes even though he was

president and Bill Clinton had to give his deposition even though he was

president, Donald Trump cannot proclaim that evidence of his own potential

criminality is off limits from the legal process just because he`s

president. He can be investigated. He is subject to a subpoena just like

any of the rest of us.

 

And, yes, in the case of the state prosecutor`s subpoena for the

president`s financial records in New York, yes, the Supreme Court did kick

that back down to the lower courts in New York. But the specifics here

matter.

 

What they kicked that thing back to the lower courts for is so the

president can have a chance now to fight that subpoena on the same terms

that any average, run of the mill citizen might fight a subpoena like that.

And that is not necessarily something that has to drag on for months and

years until well after the election`s over and we`ve all forgotten what

this was all about like all the other Trump scandals that are hard to keep

in mind.

 

I mean, yes, the Supreme Court`s ruling today means that the president can

go to the lower courts in New York now and try to fight this subpoena. But

he will be doing so just as a normal citizen might fight a subpoena, right?

It`s not the most complex legal fight in the world to do that. Subjects of

criminal investigation do that all the time.

 

And per the Supreme Court`s ruling today, he`s not due to get any special

treatment in the way he fights this thing. The Supreme Court effectively

said today that he can`t get special treatment. I mean, what a New York

court will now have to handle thanks to the Supreme Court ruling is the

question of the legitimacy of the, you know, scope and targeting of a

straightforward, single subpoena and what appears to be a fairly

straightforward state fraud and corruption criminal investigation of a man

who does happen to be president of the United States right now but who the

Supreme Court said today is nevertheless 100 percent subject to the

processes of criminal law as if he were a regular old citizen.

 

The hush money scandal that put his lawyer in prison, the alleged bank

fraud, the alleged insurance fraud, the alleged business fraud, using

falsified records as his business to cover up the commission of other

serious crimes – these are but a handful of the, what is, hundreds,

thousands of Trump corruption scandals that have splattered onto the

proverbial American windshield like we`re all driving through a swarm of

may flies on a hot night.

 

But these particular scandals, at least the hush money crimes, they really

are a part of how he became president. And it turns out, thank you, United

States Supreme Court, that these are Trump scandals that have long tails.

These ones haven`t gone away after all.

 

The Supreme Court in the normal course of events would leave this ruling

effectively sort of simmering until it`s cleared off its docket now. They`d

leave it simmering for 25 days before anybody could act on it, before those

New York prosecutors, for example, could get this thing going again in the

lower New York courts, to fight the president over the terms of the

subpoena once and for all, the prosecutors hoping to prevail whereupon

they`d get the documents.

 

Under the normal course of events, they`re supposed to wait 25 days before

they start moving. But they might try to go faster if they want to. For

example, they could file a motion to accelerate the entry of this Supreme

Court opinion into the docket to try to get that trip to the lower courts

fast tracked, to start the fight over the subpoena, which shouldn`t take

forever to resolve. That will be the first thing to watch here. Watch to

see if they do that.

 

Other elements of this are live as well. To the extent that there may have

been inappropriate pressure brought to bear on the prosecutors in SDNY from

Attorney General William Barr to protect the president or protect the

president`s interests – well, the U.S. attorney that William Barr just

ousted in SDNY was up on Capitol Hill today testifying about William Barr

forcing him out of that job. It`s part of an ongoing investigation into

William Barr`s handling of matters concerning the president during his time

at the helm of the Justice Department. It`s a live issue.

 

To the extent that Michael Cohen really doesn`t want to be the scapegoat,

the lone person punished for this hush money scheme that he said he did at

the request of the president and to benefit the president – well, today,

I`ll tell you, as the Supreme Court rulings came down this morning, 10:00

a.m., journalistic circles were abuzz with the expectation that Michael

Cohen might speak today.

 

Michael Cohen is temporarily out of prison because of coronavirus concerns

in the federal prison system. That`s a longer story, but for today`s

purposes, that`s what you need to know. He`s been out because of COVID

concerns. And there was an expectation today that he would make a statement

about the ongoing case and the Supreme Court ruling that the president

could in fact be subpoenaed in an investigation that appears to be related

to Michael Cohen`s case.

 

Well, before that could happen, you`ll note we didn`t get any sort of

statement today from Michael Cohen. Before that could happen, the Bureau of

Prisons, which is part of the Justice Department under William Barr,

announced that Michael Cohen will no longer be out. He will no longer be

out on furlough from federal prison due to COVID-19 concerns. The Bureau of

Prisons saying today that they are remanding him back to custody right now.

In a document dated today, the bureau of prisons says that Michael Cohen

wouldn`t agree in part not to talk to the media, and that`s a condition of

his release, and so back into prison he has now gone without a microphone

getting anywhere near him today in response to the Supreme Court ruling.

 

There are so many scandals of this presidency. It is hard to remember that

they`re all about this one president. It is hard to keep them all in mind.

 

But some of the ones that went past us really aren`t past, not if there`s

some accountability for some of these things that aren`t just bad, they`re

crimes. That bottom line is what the Supreme Court said today in affirming

7-2 that the president is not above the law. The question is whether that

accountability comes in time to make a difference in terms of his political

future.

 

I mean in the case of these state prosecutors, in the case of Trump versus

Vance, district attorney, that is a legitimately open question. We all

know, and the prosecutors in that case know that the president more than

anything wants to run out the clock, but they know that, and now they are

running too. Game on.

 

Joining us now is Michael Rothfeld. He`s an investigative reporter for “The

New York Times,” previously an investigative reporter at “The Wall Street

Journal,” he and his colleagues were the one who broke the story about the

president`s hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

 

Mr. Rothfeld is also the co-author of “The Fixers: The Bottom Feeders,

Crooked Lawyers, Gossipmongers, and Porn Stars Who Created the 45th

President.”

 

Mr. Rothfeld, it`s really nice to see you. Thank you so much for making

time for us on this busy night.

 

MICHAEL ROTHFELD, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, “THE NEW YORK TIMES” (via

telephone): Nice to see you, Rachel. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

 

MADDOW: Let me start by asking you in all the reporting that you`ve done

about the hush money case and the Michael Cohen case, has it seemed to you

that there is a state prosecutor`s case to pursue here in any element of

that scandal?

 

ROTHFELD: Very potentially because it was really obvious once we learned

about how Michael Cohen was repaid for the Stormy Daniels payment after the

election, in the sense that the Trump organization created a phony scheme

to give him back the $130,000 that he paid Stormy in addition to other

money and also for taxes, by disguising it as legal services, which the

federal prosecutors said he never provided.

 

So, invoices, we discuss the this before. This was all put into place with

potentially a fake scheme. So, there`s implications for business records,

for tax violations, all sorts of things that the district attorney in

Manhattan can look at.

 

MADDOW: And, Michael, given the scope of the subpoena to the accounting

firm here that was the subject of this ruling today, what would you expect

the Manhattan D.A. to see if he`s ultimately able to execute this subpoena

and get a hold of those materials? What would you expect it to reveal to

him that might be relevant to a potential prosecution here?

 

ROTHFELD: Well, so they did also subpoena the Trump Organization last year

and the Trump Organization was already providing records. So if this is the

president`s personal tax returns, potentially he made the payments to

Michael Cohen for legal services. So if he`s – now, again, I`m

speculating. But if he theoretically claimed legal services as an expense,

that was a phony expense, a tax deduction that didn`t exist, you could see

them making a case for some sort of a tax fraud in connection with that.

 

I don`t know. But they would want to look at how he accounted for that, how

he claimed that, and any correlation with the Trump Organization and how –

what their records show and essentially whether there was any misstatements

or any crimes that were covered up.

 

MADDOW: From your reporting, Michael, to what extent are we – should we be

thinking about this as potential legal jeopardy for the president after

he`s left office versus potential legal jeopardy for the president while he

is still in office? I mean, part of the issue is how fast the lower courts

can act now that the Supreme Court sort of gave the go-ahead today. But

part of the issue is whether or not state prosecutors would feel

constrained in terms of what they could potentially levy against the

president in terms of legal threats while he`s still in office.

 

ROTHFELD: Well, I mean there`s a question, you know, I think that would

apply to state prosecutors as it does to federal prosecutors over whether

you can charge the president while he`s in office, and that`s a different

question than whether you could subpoena the president, which is the one

that the Supreme Court addressed today.

 

And then you have also the issue that there`s four months until the

election, and if the president were to lose in November, then you have like

half a year until he`s out of office. If he wins, then, you know, he would

be in office for another four years after that.

 

So I think just because of the speed in which it would take to resolve the

issues you were raising about the subpoena and then to do an investigation,

bring charges, and, you know, the idea that you don`t – prosecutors don`t

generally want to be seen as bringing a prosecution that could be seen to

influence an election, in my opinion it`s unlikely that you would see any

prosecution before November. But it certainly, if they were to find

something absolutely after he`s out of office, if he were to lose in

November, I would say depending on what they find, he definitely could be

in jeopardy then.

 

MADDOW: Michael Rothfeld, investigative reporter for “The New York Times,”

one of the seminal reporters in terms of this story from the very, very

beginning. Michael, thank you very much for your time tonight. It`s good to

have you here.

 

ROTHFELD: Thank you, Rachel. Thanks for having me. Thanks.

 

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Busy, busy night.

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: The president got out of bed this morning with all his exclamation

points out. Presidential harassment, exclamation point. Prosecutorial

misconduct, exclamation point.

 

His all caps exclamation point mood started even before the Supreme Court

handed down its rulings against him, which made me wonder whether or not

somebody tipped him off as to the way they were going to go. Ultimately,

the Supreme Court ruling today among other things, cleared the way for a

state prosecutor in New York to get access to the president`s – excuse me,

access to the president`s financial records, which he has worked

desperately for years to try to keep secret.

 

Now, so if much of earth one saw that ruling from the Supreme Court today

as a loss for the president, like the president clearly did this morning

with all his exclamation points, the president`s representatives decided

later in the day that they would take a completely different tone. Trump

attorney Jay Sekulow announced that he was, quote, pleased with what the

court had done. The White House press secretary called it a, quote, win.

She said she too was, quote, pleased by the – and I quote – 9-0 opinion

to send this back to the lower court in New York.

 

It was unanimous, amazing, which is hilarious that`s not actually how this

works.

 

Here`s what actually was amazingly unanimous on earth one today as the

Supreme Court ruled in two different cases that subpoenas against the

president are valid and can proceed. Both of those cases, as I said, were

7-2 rulings. But in these rulings, the court made clear that all nine of

the justices – all nine agree that the president does not have what he has

been calling absolute immunity from the legal system.

 

Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority, quote, we cannot

conclude that absolute immunity is necessary or appropriate under our

Article II of the Supremacy Clause. He then said, quote, our dissenting

colleagues agree, which is true, Justice Kavanaugh writing in dissent. The

court today unanimously concludes that a president does not possess

absolute immunity from a state criminal subpoena. That was unanimous.

 

Yes, the president can now fight the New York subpoena in the courts like a

normal citizen could. Fine. But he`s not immune from it just because he`s

president and he says he`s immune, which is what he`s been saying ever

since he got into office.

 

So we will now see how the rest of this fight plays out in the judicial

system. But this really is the presidency where the president went into

court at every level and said, I am absolutely immune. Not only will I tell

you during the campaign I can stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and

it wouldn`t hurt me at all, he had a lawyer go into court and say that on

his behalf too. The Supreme Court unanimously says to that, no.

 

And what does that mean for the Donald Trump presidency? What does that

mean for the presidency itself?

 

Joining us now is the great Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential

historian, who I miss dearly.

 

Mr. Beschloss, it is great to see you.

 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: You too.

 

MADDOW: Thank you so much for being here.

 

BESCHLOSS: Thank you, Rachel. Wonderful to see you.

 

MADDOW: Let me just – I mean, there aren`t very many Supreme Court moments

where the scope of the presidency is ruled upon in very clear, pointed

fashion in a way that casts a penumbra for future rulings. What did you

make of these rulings today?

 

BESCHLOSS: I`m feeling much better than I did this morning. I feel safer

and I think all Americans should feel the same way because, you know,

modern presidents, as you and I have discussed a lot of times, I think they

have too much power.

 

The problem is even worse now because we`ve got a president, Donald Trump,

who has authoritarian ambitions, and God knows what he would do if he

didn`t have some constraint. Congress couldn`t do it. We saw how

impeachment worked out. It didn`t work.

 

So therefore we are very reliant on the judicial branch and the Supreme

Court. And so, the Supreme Court, just as you`ve said, Rachel, sometimes

gets into this.

 

In 1952, Harry Truman said I`m seizing the steel mills because there`s a

danger of a strike that might jeopardize the war. The Supreme Court said,

forget it, you can`t do that, 6-3, it`s constitutional . Truman was

furious. He said, how could those liberals on the court do this to me?

 

1974, U.S. v. Nixon, the Nixon tapes case. The Supreme Court unanimously

said you have to give up your tapes. There`s an investigation of possible

crimes.

 

And here today we now have this ruling that was 7-2 in which the Supreme

Court stood up to Donald Trump and maybe most important of all, that

included Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, his two appointees. Trump may have very

cynically figured, I gave them their jobs. They`re going to protect me.

 

They didn`t do it. I think we should feel a lot better.

 

MADDOW: Michael, in terms of how this practically proceeds, to the extent

that the White House did have any sigh of relief today and I think the

president`s critics wanted even more from the court, it`s the issue of

timing, the fact that the way this is resolved is that both of these cases,

the subpoenas from Congress and the subpoenas from these state prosecutors,

they do go back to lower courts for the president to fight against these

subpoenas there.

 

Is there something important in historical precedent in terms of the speed

with which the courts resolve things when it`s an important matter related

to a president, when it`s an important matter in terms of potential

criminal behavior by a president. Have the courts in the past shown the

ability to move more quickly than we might otherwise expect?

 

BESCHLOSS: Oh, sure they do. Summer of 1974, Supreme Court moved in record

time to resolve U.S. v. Nixon on the tapes. We all remember Bush v. Gore,

December of the year 2000, when the Supreme Court was very fast in

resolving that. You know, we have a judicial process that when speed is

necessary, we often see that happen.

 

MADDOW: NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss. Michael, you are

the only other person I know who has a ladder in your library. I`m just

looking over your left shoulder there. You have a very nice fancy antique

armchair.

 

BESCHLOSS: I promise to climb it next time. There are shelves above that,

but nothing but books, nothing exciting unfortunately.

 

MADDOW: We both have library ladders. Now I know why I love you so much.

 

Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

BESCHLOSS: Great minds think alike. That`s why I love you too. Be well.

Stay safe. Same with all of our friends watching.

 

MADDOW: Yeah. Thank you, Michael.

 

All right. I know the Manhattan D.A. got a green light today in terms of

pursuing a subpoena for the president`s financial records, but there`s this

other case as well about subpoenas from Congress to see the president`s

financials. That part of the story is equally fascinating. That`s next plus

much more to come.

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: The Supreme Court ruling today in Trump v. Vance, district

attorney, involved state prosecutors in New York. That was one of the cases

we`ve been watching about the president`s financial records and tax returns

that he`s tried so desperately to keep secret throughout the course of his

presidency. The other case involved subpoenas for the financial records not

from prosecutors but from Congress.

 

Both of these cases were kicked back down to lower courts to do more work.

But for all the reasons we`ve talked about this hour, there`s arguably some

reason to expect that the case involving state prosecutors in New York

might move fast. It might shake loose something interesting in terms of

investigations or prosecutions even.

 

But what about the case involving congress? In that case today, nobody has

any expectation that that`s going to produce new information about the

president`s financial history, potential crimes, not for months, certainly

not before the election. Where does that leave Congress? Where does that

leave the house, not just in terms of how they otherwise might have

approached this, but in terms of what they do now?

 

I have just the person to ask.

 

Joining us now is Daniel Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney for the

Southern District of New York. You will recognize him from his stint at

general counsel at the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment

of President Trump.

 

Dan, it`s great to see you. Thank you so much for making time to night.

 

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF

NEW YORK: It`s good to be here, Rachel. Thanks for having me.

 

MADDOW: So I`ve spent a long time today thinking about and talking to

people about what happened with the New York prosecutors` case, that the

Supreme Court ruled on today. I have less of an understanding in terms of

what the implications are of the case involving Congress. What do you think

of the court`s ruling, and what do you think people should know about it?

 

GOLDMAN: Well, it`s interesting. The court and Chief Justice Roberts

adopted neither of the parties` proposed tests. Trump wanted a very

specific, demanding test for Congress to meet before asking for any

presidential papers. And Congress basically said as long as it related to a

valid legislative purpose, it`s fine, and it doesn`t overly burden the

president.

 

And Chief Justice Roberts kind of took the middle tack on this and said

there is a legitimate need for Congress to get information that may include

the presidential papers. But Congress does need to make a more specific

showing but not a very demanding and prescriptive showing that was in the

earlier Supreme Court case in United States versus Nixon.

 

And so it goes back down now. There are four subpoenas at issue, three

different committees. So, essentially, the district court in all of these

cases will then analyze the four factors that Chief Justice Roberts

enumerated and make a determination as to whether these subpoenas meet the

four factors.

 

So it is generally a win for Congress in the sense that the president

cannot prevent a third party from turning over his papers. But it will

require Congress to do a little bit more work and to make their need very

specific or at least more specific than it would have been.

 

MADDOW: Dan, given the way that this has played out both in today`s ruling

specifically but also in terms of how this fits into the larger project of

trying to get accountability for the president, for his behavior,

accountability for him for any potential crimes he`s been involved in, when

you look back at the course of this from this point, do you think the House

should have approached this differently? Do you think they should have

acted more quickly or in a way that was simpler or more unified? Is there

anything else they should have done better than they did?

 

GOLDMAN: I don`t really think so. This is the first case of this sort that

has ever gone to the Supreme Court, and the reason is that ordinarily the

president and the executive branch and Congress work these things out and

they figure out an accommodation. But President Trump has taken a absolute

defiance position in regard to all subpoenas and all document requests

effectively from Congress. That has never happened before.

 

So this had to work its way through the courts, and the opinion that came

down today in the case will now guide future discussions between the

branches, will guide courts to make these determinations, and it will

likely not get to the Supreme Court again very soon.

 

But, you know, there have been plenty of people including on your show

tonight, including you, Rachel, and I hate to pour cold water on any hopes,

but the courts don`t move fast. They can move fast as we know from Nixon,

as we know from Bush v. Gore. But we`re 15 months after we issued this

subpoena, the House Intelligence Committee and the other congressional

committees issued this subpoena, and we just got a ruling today. And now it

goes back to the district court in both cases, and you can bet that the

president and his lawyers are going to come up with every reason under the

sun why in both case cases, in the grand jury case and in the Congress

case, that these are not legitimate subpoenas, and we`re not going to see

these tax returns before the election. I don`t think the district attorney

will get them before the election at all.

 

And courts are reluctant to rule on political issues before an election.

Prosecutors are reluctant ever to charge cases before an election. So what

has happened is the president, President Trump has escaped accountability

by delaying through litigation. In other words, even he lost both cases

today, he wins by losing because the delay will prevent the public from

seeing his tax returns through the course of two election cycles.

 

MADDOW: Justice delayed, justice denied. That`s not cold water, Dan

Goldman. That`s hard-won expertise, and it`s why you are here.

 

Dan Goldman, former general counsel for the Intelligence Committee, former

assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York – it`s great

to see you, Dan. Thanks for helping us understand this tonight. Really

appreciate it.

 

GOLDMAN: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

 

MADDOW: All right. Coming up next, a look at the worst national road show

ever in American history. Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: Here`s a thing I can`t believe we have to report on. It`s such an

own goal for us as a country, but it`s happening. It keeps happening, and

apparently it`s going to keep on happening.

 

For as much of a failure as the president`s rally in Tulsa was last month,

he did still manage to get about 6,000 people together into an indoor space

for that event. It was the most people at any indoor event anywhere in

America since the coronavirus crisis began.

 

And if the risk for transmitting the virus there weren`t high enough with

thousands of mainly older, maskless people shouting at the tops of their

lungs, the Trump campaign actually decided to ratchet things up a bit for

Tulsa on purpose. As part of the safety plan for that Tulsa rally, the

arena had purchased thousands of stickers that said “do not sit here,

please.” They thought they`d put those stickers on every other seat in the

whole arena to try to establish some social distancing between the rally-

goers.

 

But in the hours before the president got there, his campaign ordered that

all of those stickers should be removed, should be taken off every other

seat. At the same time, the campaign was directing folks to just huddle up,

get to know your neighbor`s virus, we learned that six advance staffers for

that event, including two Secret Service employees tested positive.

 

Herman Cain, yes, that guy, Herman Cain, 999, he was actually hospitalized

after coming down with coronavirus just days after attending the

president`s Tulsa rally not wearing a mask. Herman Cain is still in the

hospital as of this week. We wish him all the best.

 

Now as of yesterday, the top health official in Tulsa is saying that the

remarkable surge in cases that they`ve seen this week in Tulsa, well, he

says, it`s quote more than likely a result of the president`s rally.

 

Well, fresh off that success, that virological success in Tulsa, the

president of course in short order held another indoor event, this one for

3,000 people in Phoenix, Arizona. Multiple Secret Service agents assigned

to that event later tested positive as well. In fact, the virus really tore

through the ranks of secret service agents working on presidential and vice

presidential events in Phoenix.

 

A week later, Vice President Pence had to abruptly postpone his own planned

visit to the city after his secret service staffers also tested positive

and got sick. CNN reported that at least eight Secret Service agents were

holed up in a single hotel in Phoenix with flu-like coronavirus symptoms

after prepping for pence`s visit. Hey, but why quit while you`re ahead?

 

Trump and company then decamped to South Dakota for a no masks, no social

distancing July 4th event at Mount Rushmore. Before the first fireworks

ever even went off, we learned that Donald Trump Jr.`s girlfriend had also

been diagnosed with the virus. The announcement came just hours after she`d

held an indoor, unmasked fund-raiser with South Dakota`s Republican

governor. South Dakota for that big event.

 

So this is the national road show that the president is doing right now.

There aren`t any other big congregate events indoors for thousands of

people of any kind. No events like that of any kind anywhere in the

country. It`s just events for the president.

 

And so far, it`s not going great. But now he has added a new state, a new

destination to this very successful list so far. The president has

scheduled a rally for this Saturday for New Hampshire, Portsmouth, New

Hampshire.

 

And if you are in New Hampshire, this is the last thing you need right now.

There are, according to the “New York Times,” currently only two states in

the union where the number of coronavirus cases is actually decreasing.

There are two in the country, Vermont and New Hampshire.

 

But now, the president`s coming to town. It will be interesting to see how

long they`re able to hold on to that status. Despite the president`s best

efforts to turn that right around.

 

It`s the worst road show in the history of America. Watch this space.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: Thanks for being with us here tonight. I`m going to see you again

tomorrow night.

 

Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

 

END

 

                                                                                                               

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