SCOTUS tax rulings TRANSCRIPT: 7/9/20, The Rachel Maddow Show
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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 –
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.
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
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
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
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.
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-
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
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.
MADDOW: Thanks for being with us here tonight. I`m going to see you again
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the