Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 26, 2018 Guest: Anthony Romero, Maura Healey
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
So, the axis powers in World War II were Germany, Italy, Japan, right? There was the allies on one side, the axis on the other, that was the axis. At the time of World War II, and in the years leading up to it of course, there were many millions of American citizens in this country who were of German origin, lots of German-American citizens here.
Also, tons of Italian origin American citizens, Italian-Americans all over this country. But it`s interesting -- German-Americans and Italian- Americans didn`t all get put in internment camps during World War II, right? They weren`t rounded up, the Germans and the Italians in this country.
Of the axis powers, it was only Japanese-Americans who got put in internment camps on mass in World War II. Why was that? Why was it just them?
In 1982, a legal historian, lawyer named Peter Irons was going through boxes of government documents. He was researching the origins of that World War II policy in which the U.S. government locked up Japanese- Americans and much to his surprise, Peter Irons stumbled upon a whole bunch of evidence about where that policy had basically come from.
And it was evidence that had been lost to history. It had never been made part of the official record, never been made part of the government record, the historical record, or the legal record of where that policy came from.
FDR issued an executive order to lock up Japanese-Americans in February 1942. That executive order cited military necessity as the reason why all Japanese-Americans had to be locked up. It cited the military necessity of protecting the homeland essentially from Japanese-Americans who would want to sabotage and subvert the war effort here at home.
Quote: The successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national defense material, national defense premises and national defense utilities. The basis for that military necessity claim, the key basis for that was a report that had been prepared by a us army general as a report on the possibility of Japan attacking the West Coast of the United States.
And that report asserted that Japanese Americans living in the United States would assist Japan in any such attack Japanese-Americans would commit acts of espionage and acts of sabotage against the U.S. government and the U.S. military. In that same report that general asserted that the, quote, racial characteristics of Japanese-Americans predisposed them to assist Japanese forces in any such attack.
He also said it was impossible to distinguish loyal from disloyal members of that racial group. On the basis of those findings, this report from this U.S. general advocated that all Japanese-Americans should be rounded up forcibly and put in remote concentration camps for the duration of the war effort. It was a military necessity.
And you know, that`s interesting that that one general thought that. But it turns out he didn`t represent the U.S. government consensus conclusions on that point. It turns out in fact that the War Department at the time kind of thought that he was cuckoo for cocoa puffs. The War Department issued strong objections to that general`s report. They made a whole bunch of changes to his report because the War Department thought that he was wrong about a lot of his conclusions and his premises.
When the War Department ordered his report changed, the general then ordered that all the original copies of his report should be withdrawn from circulation and burned, and he then denied that any initial report had ever existed. He denied the fact that there had been these revisions. The government pretended that this original draft didn`t exist, that there`d never been these rescissions, that there`d never been these objections from the War Department, they made no formal record of all these objections from inside the military, the ones that led to his first report being burned and a second one being issued in its place.
Navy intelligence it turns out filed a competing report saying the supposed threat of treason by Japanese-Americans was being vastly overstated. Quote, in short, the entire Japanese problem has been magnified out of its true proportion largely because of the physical characteristics of these people. This should be handled on the basis of the individual and not on a racial basis.
By 1944, after the policy was already in effect, the War Department documents -- the War Department had documents in which they were bluntly asserting that the supposed of military justification for rounding up Japanese-Americans was bunk. This was still during the war.
Quote: the vast mass of fifth column folklore insofar as concrete evidence is concerned is almost entirely baseless. That was the War Department during 1944. So, here`s the problem. Here`s the legal problem: Japanese Americans who were rounded up and put in these internment camps because of FDR`s executive order, they challenged the internment camps in courts -- in court, including Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American who was picked up off the street in San Leandro, California, during the war.
He was fiercely opposed to internment. He thought it was wrong. He fought it. His case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court and Fred Korematsu at the United States Supreme Court lost. The justices in 1944 cited the, quote, real military dangers presented by the government to justify the internment policy.
What Peter Irons later discovered in those dusty boxes of government documents years later is that there was no such clear determination of military dangers that justified locking up all Japanese-Americans. The Justice Department in fact at the time had all sorts of contrary evidence they had all these internal reports. They had intelligence documents, they had findings from within the War Department that totally disputed this contention they were maintaining publicly that there was a consensus within the military of a need to lock these Japanese-Americans up.
When it came time to defend the internment camps in court, the government lied to the court when they withheld all of that contrary evidence from the government`s own files about the wobbliness of this contention that there was some military necessity that was undergirding that policy. The military didn`t think there was any such necessity, there was no consensus about that, but the government lied and said that there was a consensus that everybody agreed that that was clear.
So, that policy was signed into law in 1942 by FDR. Over a hundred thousand Japanese-Americans were locked up. It was until 40 years after the policy was implemented that Peter Irons found all that lost evidence and dusty misfiled, mislabeled boxes and the bowels of the Justice Department.
And when he came across those documents in 1982, he came across this stuff showing that the supposed military necessity for the internment camps was not at all the way the government had described it in court. He knew when he saw those documents that what he had found was probably going to change the history of Japanese internment in this country.
Reporter Abby Stock (ph) wrote about this for "The Washington Post" last year. Quote: The lawyer had stumbled across the papers in a government storeroom, secretive missions from U.S. officials that a supposed matter of national security was not what it appeared. The executive order led to abrupt expulsions, mass detentions in the persecution of thousands and the basis of their ethnicity. But it was false to the core.
Peter Irons, the lawyer intended to prove it, but he couldn`t do it by himself. With the documents in hand and a knot in his stomach, he stepped out of a taxi in San Leandro, California, in 1982, and he walked up to the home of Fred Korematsu.
Peter Irons knew the man only by reputation. Long ago, Korematsu had been arrested in this city, his hometown, for defying an executive order that led to the expulsion or imprisonment of more than 100,000 Japanese- Americans. Korematsu had gone to court to fight it but in 1944, he lost in the Supreme Court.
Defeat changed Korematsu. For decades, he`d been living quietly in a small house, refusing to discuss his case with anyone, even his own children, blaming himself for what his government had done to his people. It had taken Peter Irons two letters and a phone call just to get an audience in Fred Korematsu`s living room.
Now, he sat across from the man nervous, hoping that seeing incriminating documents the government had kept secret during his trial would convince him to fight again. Korematsu was a quiet man. He sat in his chair, puffed on his pipe and he read Peter irons his papers in total silence.
Irons later recalled, quote, at least 20 minutes passed without a single word being said, then he looked over at me and he said, would you be my lawyer?
When Fred Korematsu had gone all the way to the Supreme Court back in the 1940s and lost that case, the Supreme Court upheld internment camps for U.S. citizens on the basis of race, and they based that court ruling on the government`s contention that there were clear findings of a military necessity that justified that policy.
There were no such clear findings. That court ruling was based on a false premise and the documents proving that were discovered forty years later and Fred Korematsu did decide to go back to court and this time, he won. He got his conviction overturned.
The judge in his case told the courtroom that the government`s position was, quote, tantamount to a confession of error. Still took a long time but in 2011, the U.S. Justice Department officially made a formal concession of error in the internment camps case. The U.S. government formally acknowledging that the government`s defense of the internment camps, the government`s defense of that policy creating the camps, that government defense was built on a lie. They had withheld evidence from the court.
Tonight, we have been watching protests unfold around the country in response to the Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Trump administration`s Muslim ban. The first iteration of President Trump`s Muslim ban you might remember didn`t survive the first weekend of the new administration. The second iteration of the Muslim ban was partially blocked before it even went into effect and the rest of it expired.
Since then, they`ve been pushing for a third iteration of the Muslim ban and today, that is what was upheld at the us Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the conservative majority at the court decided to discount the anti-Muslim statements from President Trump that he is used consistently to explain the policy and justify the policy.
The majority instead decided to believe that there were national security concerns of some kind that must be what really undergirds the policy, regardless of what the president has said. It was a five-to-four decision. All the hard-core conservative justices appointed by Republican presidents sided with the Trump administration, including Anthony Kennedy, including Neil Gorsuch, who was only nominated to the court after Republicans in the U.S. Senate held a Supreme Court seat open for more than a year rather than allowing a hearing on a vote for a nominee -- a hiring or a vote on a nominee from President Obama. That`s how Neil Gorsuch got that seat, which is totally unprecedented in the history of the court.
The Gorsuch example though is now the new precedent for how the U.S. Senate will handle vacancies on the court. The Gorsuch experience means realistically speaking that if and when Democrats take back control of the U.S. Senate, they too will not allow any seat on the court to be filled until a president of their party is in office to make a new Supreme Court nomination. That`s the new precedent now, because of Senate Republicans and what they did to give Neil Gorsuch his seat.
The Gorsuch seat, what Republicans did to give him that seat to deprive, President Obama the opportunity of nominating his own candidate, that is the new reality of how the court will be treated from here on out. And with all of these really quite aged justices and Democrats hell-bent on taking back both houses of Congress as soon as they can, because of that Gorsuch precedent, we are on the cusp of a really strange new era in constitutional governance in this country.
You should know in the short term tomorrow, there`s likely to be another blockbuster conservative ruling that is likely to gut union rights in this country. Today, alongside the Muslim ban ruling, we also got another fairly radical five-to-four conservative ruling against abortion rights.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has bragged that blocking President Obama for making a Supreme Court nomination was the most consequential act of all his decades in public office. I am sure -- I am quite sure that Mitch McConnell is very much right about that.
But the response to the Muslim and ruling today hasn`t been the typical response to just another typically conservative ruling from this conservative court, and I think the significant reaction that you`ve seen today to this Muslim man ruling is in part because one of the two dissents in the case from justices who disagreed with the majority ruling, one of the two dissents today went off basically like a bag of firecrackers in a small enclosed space.
When justices disagree with the majority ruling, they don`t have to spell out their reasons for their disagreement. When they do so, it`s published alongside the majority opinion as a published dissent. They always end with the justice saying I respectfully dissent, unless the justice in that particular case is really mad, in which case the justice might drop the respectfully and say, I dissent.
If a justice is really, really, really mad, he or she might elect not just to drop the respect respectfully, sort of the next step they might take is to go beyond even just publishing a written version of the dissent justices what they`re really fired up sometimes decide to read their dissent from the bench.
Today, Justice Sonia Sotomayor did both of those things. She did not, quote, respectfully dissent. She just said I dissent, and she read her dissent out loud in court. And at the apex of her argument, she cited the Korematsu case, the infamous Fred Korematsu Supreme Court case.
The flawed Supreme Court case from 1944 that upheld the internment camps on the basis of supposed national security concerns that the government lied to the court about. The revelation of those lies before today had already led to the overturning of Fred Korematsu`s individual conviction. It has led to a formal apology from the Justice Department for having lied to the court.
But before today, the Korematsu ruling was still technically on the books. Sotomayor cited the Korematsu ruling today in her dissent that led Chief Justice John Roberts to basically renounce her for citing that case. He said it was totally irrelevant to the Muslim ban ruling today.
But then he issued essentially a one-line statement declaring that once and for all, Korematsu is hereby officially overturned as of today, which is great. I mean, Korematsu was widely viewed as a dead letter because it has been so roundly repudiated both by history and by the legal record but now, it`s officially gone as a Supreme Court precedent which as I say is great.
You know, just in case concentration camps based on race or something the Trump administration might want to pursue with people other than Central American migrants on the border, that one line today from Chief Justice John Roberts might make that a little bit harder in terms of Supreme Court precedent. So, yes.
But check this out from Sonia Sotomayor today. In case you have not already seen what she said today and she said it out loud, she read it from the bench, just -- you should know that this is what she said.
Quote, the United States of America is a nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The court`s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle.
It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, because the policy now masquerades behind a facade of national security concerns, although the majority briefly recounts a few of the statements and background events that form the basis of plaintiffs constitutional challenge, that highly abridged account doesn`t even tell half of the story. The full records paint -- the full record paints a far more harrowing picture from which a reasonable observer would readily conclude that the proclamation was motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith. During his presidential campaign, then candidate Donald Trump pledged that if elected, he would ban Muslims from entering the United States specifically on December 7th, 2015, he issued a formal statement calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
On December 8th, 2015, Trump justified his proposal during a television interview by noting that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, quote, did the same thing with respect to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. In January 2016, during a Republican primary debate, Trump was asked whether he wanted to rethink his position on banning Muslims from entering the country he answered, no.
A month later, at a rally in South Carolina, Trump told an apocryphal story about U.S. General John J. Pershing killing a large group of Muslim insurgents in the Philippines with bullets dipped in pig`s blood in the early 1900s.
In March 2016, he expressed his belief that, quote, Islam hates us. We can`t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States and of people that are not Muslim. That same month, Trump asserted that we`re having problems with the Muslims and we`re having problems with Muslims coming into the country.
The justice continues: despite several opportunities to do so, President Trump has never disavowed any of his prior statements about Islam. Instead, he has continued to make remarks that a reasonable observer would view as an unrelenting attack on the Muslim religion and its followers. Taking all the relevant evidence together, a reasonable observer would conclude that the proclamation was driven primarily by anti-Muslim animus rather than by the government`s asserted national security justifications.
Ultimately, what began as a policy explicitly calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States has since morphed into a proclamation putatively based on national security concerns. But this new window-dressing cannot conceal an unassailable fact that the proclamation is contaminated by impermissible discriminatory animus against Islam and its followers. Rather than defend the president`s problematic statements, the government has urged this court to set them aside and defer to the president on issues related to immigration and national security. The majority, meaning the conservative majority, accepts that invitation.
Sotomayor then goes on to detail -- goes into detail describing, quote, serious questions about the legitimacy of the president`s proclaimed national security rationale. She says, quote, tellingly, the government remains wholly unable to articulate any credible national security interest that would go unaddressed by current laws, absent this travel ban proclamation.
None of the features of the proclamation highlighted by the majority supports the government`s claim that the proclamation is genuinely and primarily rooted in a legitimate national security interest. The First Amendment stands as a bulwark against official religious prejudice and embodies our nation`s deep commitment to religious plurality and tolerance.
That constitutional promise is why for centuries now, people have come to this country from every corner of the world to share in the blessing of religious freedom. Instead of indicating those principles, today`s decision tosses them aside, in holding that the first amendment gives way to an executive policy that a reasonable observer would view is motivated by animus against Muslims, the majority opinion upends this court`s precedent, repeats tragic mistakes of the past and denies countless individuals the fundamental right of religious liberty.
Today`s holding is all the more troubling given the stark parallels between the reasoning of this case and that of Korematsu versus United States 1944.
In Korematsu, the court gave a pass to an odious gravely injurious racial classification authorized by an executive order. As here, the government invoked an ill-defined national security threat to justify an exclusionary policy of sweeping proportion, As here, the exclusion order was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about a particular group supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States. As here, the government was unwilling to reveal its own intelligence agencies views of the alleged security concerns to the very citizens it purported to protect and as here there was strong evidence that impermissible hostility and animus motivated the government`s policy.
In the intervening years since Korematsu, our nation has done much to leave its sordid legacy behind. Today, the court takes the important step of finally overruling Korematsu denouncing it as gravely, gravely wrong the day it was decided. This formal repudiation of a shameful precedent is laudable and long overdue, but it does not make the majority`s decision here acceptable or right by blindly accepting the government`s misguided invitation to sanction its discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu, and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another.
Our Constitution demands and our country deserves a judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments. Because the court`s decision today has failed in that respect, with profound regret, I dissent. Not I respectfully dissent, but I dissent.
So, the Supreme Court ruling that justified internment camps for Japanese- American from the 1940s, that Supreme Court ruling is dead officially as of today. For a long time, it`s already been dead in a practical sense because it was shown to be based on a lie, a literal lie. The government said those internment camps were necessary for a clear national security purpose.
They didn`t have any clear national security purpose that justified that policy, it was actually based impermissibly on racial animus and the government hid evidence of that from the court when the court upheld those camps. The government covered it up. They lied to the court. They got away with it for decades.
But it was finally exposed that ruling for the internment camps, the reasoning that justified him, it was finally, decades later, exposed as a sham. The justices who dissented from the Korematsu ruling back in 1944 over time have been proven correct. Today, the Korematsu ruling finally went away as formal Supreme Court precedent.
In her dissent today in the Muslim ban ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor says the same national security claims that purports to underlie the Trump Muslim ban are also likely spurious the way they were in Korematsu. And in this case, there`s nothing secret about the animus that underlies this Trump administration policy.
In the Korematsu case, the government had to lie to the court about it. It took decades to dig up evidence, right? In the Muslim ban case, there`s nothing secret here. There`s nothing secret about the animus at work here.
The president talks about it openly all the time. Nobody has withheld that evidence from the conservative majority of the Supreme Court. They just today chose to ignore it.
And this is the Supreme Court, so there`s no appealing this decision. There`s no appeal at least within the court system. There`s no secret history of prejudice here for a new Peter Irons to find evidence of an old misfiled dusty box that he can then take to Fred Korematsu and beg him to bring it back to the courts.
Courts won`t fix this. In this case, the evidence of animus is, you know, it`s in the newspapers. It`s in public statements. It`s in speeches. It`s in the president`s Twitter feed.
And now, we as a country have nowhere to take that evidence except to the voting booth, because this is now something that the courts will not fix. The Congress could fix it but that would require changing the Congress.
MADDOW: The first successful legal challenge to the president`s first iteration of the Muslim ban came just one day after it had become official U.S. policy. Lawyers and protesters has started flooding airports all over the country to protest the policy to help people who are getting detained because of the new ban, the ACLU was already in the courts. They filed this lawsuit against the president arguing that his Muslim ban was against the law, they filed it basically instantly.
And they won that round. That first weekend, a federal judge in New York blocked the president`s first attempt at a Muslim ban, stopping the policy in its tracks. Right away, people celebrated in the streets outside that federal courthouse that night. The ACLU was behind the first successful challenge to the president`s Muslim ban and has since gone through a second iteration and now a third, and now, the Supreme Court today has upheld the latest version.
So what happens next?
Joining us now is Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU.
Mr. Romero, thank you for being here.
ANTHONY ROMERO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU: Rachel, always great to see you.
MADDOW: Nice to see you.
ROMERO: Always great.
MADDOW: I`m -- I feel, it`s awkward to read Supreme Court dissents. It`s just like weird --
ROMERO: If you`re going to read anything, read that dissent.
MADDOW: Well, let me ask you, this -- I mean, this -- the first iteration of the ban was successfully challenged by the ACLU. They`ve revised it twice since. Did you see this coming? Is this the end of the road? Is this permanently law of the land?
ROMERO: No, we`re going to fight this tooth and nail for decades. Just like we did with Korematsu, we brought the Korematsu case in the 1941, and lost it in `44. It took us decades to get reparations for the Japanese- American internees.
And when you know something is wrong, even when even when a court upholds it, you keep fighting. So, first, it`s tragic for all the reasons you said it`s tragic not just because it`s bad law it`s tragic because tens of millions of Muslims will now have a hard time coming to this country to reunite with their families, to visit.
MADDOW: To study, to --
ROMERO: To study.
MADDOW: -- anything, yes.
ROMERO: Millions of Muslim-Americans have been now tainted with the stigma of prejudice coming from the highest levels of our government and sanctioned by the Supreme Court and that`s not something we should just easily start over. We have millions of Muslim-Americans who are patriotic Americans who have suffered a great indignity at the hand of the Supreme Court, and it`s tragic for the stature and the standing of the Supreme Court.
It`s ironic, right? They wipe away Korematsu, and they try to wipe themselves with one sponge. But with another sponge, a dirty sponge, they then taint themselves even further.
This case will go down in history as their Korematsu and the idea of the analysis that Justice Sotomayor so calls them out on. They skirt over the history. I mean, Justice Roberts just as a little bit on what the animus was from President Trump. He puts just enough in so that he can`t be called out for being in touch with dishonest, just enough but not enough to really take it seriously.
MADDOW: Well, on that point, especially somebody who`s not a lawyer, just a lay observer of these things, a lot of the ways that those of us who aren`t lawyers have been looking at the Trump administration and it`s more radical policy proposals is that it sort of seemed like the president`s public remarks, talking about wanting to ban Muslims from this country, the way that he`s justified other policies, the way he`s talked about wanting no due process for immigrants, the way he`s talked about lots of her things that have an impact on the way the courts might consider these policies -- it seemed like those public remarks by the president would hurt him in court, would mean that these policies were less likely to pass legal muster.
Now, that`s the Supreme Court essentially looked at a few of the things the president said about the Muslim ban, but decided they didn`t matter, is that --
ROMERO: So dishonest.
MADDOW: -- is that -- is that too something that is going to change the way policy challenges for the Trump administration go forward?
ROMERO: Sure, and I think the fact that the president`s done himself harm no matter what. I mean, the fact that they had to cite this in the Supreme Court precedent with Justice Roberts and all the people who normally want to agree with him, the fact that they had to cite his own words against him and say notwithstanding that which he is said, we`re still going to rule in his favor -- I mean that`s a little bit of faint praise. We got to look at the positive side the cup is not always empty, it`s a little bit full on this one.
I think also the fact that they point to the fact that in the future, we might be able to go back and amplify the record. Justice Kennedy`s opinion, his freestanding opinion is one half pages tormented. The man says even though we can`t look at this opinion and overview the decisions of the president, he goes on to say that he hopes that elected officials would abide by the Constitution and by the principles in the Constitution.
So, one and a half page reprimand as I read it.
MADDOW: Even as he sides with the authority.
ROMERO: Even as he sides -- so already so it`s a little bit dissing, not too little too late for me, but still it shows you the minute, it`s a little bit tortured by signing on to the majority opinion. And then the dissent is ringing, is ringing. Justice Sotomayor lays it out in very explicit detail, and that`s where we have to look going forward that I think there will be ways for us to look at whether or not the visa waiver process is working, whether or not refugees are allowed into this country, whether or not immigrants from these predominantly Muslim countries are allowed in.
We are not going to let up on this one. There`d be a whole series of follow-on lawsuits from other great groups. The International Refugee Assistance Project, the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, we do not give up.
And I think this is the point that we`ve got to be energized by this. I know it`s hard to say and I know it sounds like I`m trying to -- I`ve been in the green room for too long but the fact is we fought him. There was dignity in this battle. Seventeen months, we brought 27 Muslim ban lawsuits, we fought him every step of the way with three different iterations of the Muslim ban.
The taint that he put on this Muslim ban is clear, 79 percent of Americans know that this is a Muslim ban, five justices of the Supreme Court went through judicial acrobatics as a way to find a way to justify the unjustifiable. So, the American people know better and history will then prove that this was the wrong case.
MADDOW: Anthony Romero is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union -- thank you.
ROMERO: Thank you, Rachel. Bye-bye.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to come here tonight. Do stay with us.
MADDOW: The Millennium Biltmore Hotel is a big old famous hotel in downtown L.A. Once upon a time, they used to host the Oscars there. It`s very ornate.
Today, the Biltmore Hotel hosted Attorney General Jeff Sessions. They hosted him in the Emerald Ballroom. He gave a speech to a criminal justice group. Outside, a whole bunch of people gathered to protest Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration`s border policy that has taken so many kids away from their parents.
And that`s pretty much par for the course in states all over the country now. People are protesting this policy everywhere. Tens of thousands of people are expected to protest in all 50 states and coordinated protests this weekend, on Saturday.
But today in L.A., this protest looked a little bit different as you can see because it was mostly clergy. They formed a human chain in the middle of the road. They spread out a pile of baby onesies to represent toddlers and babies have been taken from their parents, and they chanted kids belong at home not in cages.
When the police came, these members of the clergy sat down in the street and refused to budge. Police started zip tying those clergy members and loading them into police vans with bound hands.
It`s got to be a nice day at work, right? Hey, honey, how was your shift today? Well, I had to handcuff some nuns and priests who didn`t want babies taken away from their mothers. It`s not an awesome day at work.
But police did it. Dozens of arrests in L.A. today outside that Jeff Sessions speech.
Today, the attorneys general from 17 U.S. states and Washington D.C. filed a new lawsuit against the Trump administration for this policy of taking kids away from their parents at the border. The initial filing is 128 pages long.
And it`s interesting, it makes news in a very specific way, big chunk of this is super specific chapter and verse on what exactly has happened some of these kids who are now scattered all over the country by the Trump administration including some disturbing personal details that had not been reported before.
For example, this, quote: a boy who was separated from his father at the Mexican border was rushed to the hospital because he was about to jump out of the second-story window of the group home in New York where he was sent in early June after being forcibly separated from his family. Quote, the distraught child verbalized that he wanted to jump because he missed his parents. We did not know about that case before this filing today.
The Trump administration had a great day at the U.S. Supreme Court today. They are expecting honestly to have another great day at the court tomorrow. Are the federal courts still the best hope for trying to stop Trump administration policies that are hitting such a nerve and galvanizing so much opposition like this border policy is? Why do the states think this is a winnable case and how fast are they hoping to move here?
Joining us now is the attorney general for the great state of Massachusetts, Maura Healey. She`s one of 18 attorneys general who collectively filed this lawsuit this afternoon.
Attorney General, thanks for being here. Much appreciate it.
MAURA HEALEY, MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Great to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, that last point that I made, this is a good day for the Trump administration today in terms of the Muslim ban being upheld. They think they`re going to have another good day tomorrow in a case that`s expected to really gut union rights.
How optimistic are you -- how confident are you that the federal courts are the right place to reverse controversial Trump administration policies right now?
HEALEY: Well , as state A.G.`s, we`ve been on the front lines and we have had any number of successes in court, even the travel ban -- you know, we stopped at the very first weekend, it went into effect, we stopped version 2.0 and 3.0.
So, disappointing result today and the Supreme Court for sure, but I look at our success defending women`s access to contraceptive care, defending the right of transgender Americans to serve in our military, defending access to health care -- we`re going to continue to fight on any number of fronts. Today though, we filed a really important lawsuit on what`s happening at the borders.
What Donald Trump is doing is immoral, but it`s also illegal, and that`s what this lawsuit is about.
MADDOW: Eighteen A.G.`s, 17 states and D.C. -- tell me about just strategically how you approach that ? Why not bring a specific case from Massachusetts where your A.G.? what does it mean when states band together this way?
Obviously, every state`s got its own constitution, the issues, the factual matters are different in all sorts in all these different states. Why band together this way?
HEALEY: Well, we think it`s more effective to act as a single unified group of states that have common concerns and common claims.
Let me tell you what it`s about -- we chose today to file in the great state of Washington credit to A.G. Bob Ferguson and his team, it`s done a lot of work, along with teams across our offices on this matter. But let me tell you what`s at the heart of this -- you know, when I flew down here today from Boston, I just left a woman named Angelica.
Angelica fled at Guatemala, fled violence with her eight-year-old daughter, came to this country seeking asylum. When she was arrested after crossing the border, she was taken to a detention facility and the guards there in front of her child asked her if they celebrated Mother`s Day in Guatemala. She said yes and they said happy Mother`s Day.
Then they told her she may never see her daughter again, and she has not seen her daughter April since May 11th. She`s been able to she told me today have a few phone conversations with her daughter who by the way turned 8 while she was alone in a facility in Texas, she celebrated alone.
MADDOW: She had her birthday.
HEALEY: She had her birthday alone, all alone. And not just alone, she`s cold, she`s scared, she`s got a cough, she`s got pinkeye, and she doesn`t know when she`s going to see her mother again. That`s what this lawsuit is about.
And it`s illegal in so many ways, and I`ll just take off a few of the various claims that we`ve brought. You know both our state and our federal constitution recognize a fundamental right, a fundamental interest in keeping parents and children together. It`s illegal to take a child away from a parent without due process of law.
Here we see accompanied children turn into unaccompanied children overnight without warning, without a hearing, without any process whatsoever. That is illegal and it`s also a violation of federal asylum laws. We actually have laws in this country that allow people like Angelica to come into this country and seek asylum.
What we`ve seen the Trump administration do is actually turn those asylum seekers away at the border, that`s unlawful. As states now, we have situations where we have both parents and children in our states in Massachusetts and in states across this country who have been separated from one another and we`re left to take care of them to try to pick up the pieces.
It`s a terrible situation and as I say, it`s absolutely reprehensible. But we feel confident about our claims.
MADDOW: Last point I want to just ask you about here and this part of the reason I wanted to have you and Anthony Romero here back to back, and part of I asked you to be here in person because I wanted to ask you this in person -- I think a lot of Americans today with the Supreme Court ruling, with Neil Gorsuch in particular casting a deciding vote in this ruling after the Senate Republicans did what they did to hold that seat open for him, I think a lot of people are looking at a very radical Trump administration, a president who is personally a radical departure from what we`ve seen from any other president certainly in modern life, maybe in the history of this country. And I think a lot of people felt like the courts were the emergency brake.
And then today, this happened, and people have started to lose faith. I talked to a lot of people today who said, I have no energy, I feel depressed, I feel like there`s no reason to be optimistic anymore, I don`t know what I can count on.
You and Anthony Romero are both telling me I think these things are bluntly illegal, bluntly unconstitutional, this is where we`re going to stop them. I sense confidence from you and from Anthony as the head of the ACLU. Is that wishing and hoping?
HEALEY: No, I think we have had a proven track record over the last two years, our efforts suing and stopping the Trump administration from doing any number of things.
Yes, a devastating and disappointing decision today, but I`ll tell you what? When Angelica cried in my arms this afternoon, my message to her, my words to her were, we`re your government, too. We`re here for you and we`ve been there as state A.G.`s in our courts, we`re going to continue to fight this out in the courts.
I think that Americans today, you know, in time, this fall, if you got a dissent and a lot of people are dissenting taken to the streets today, understandably, rightly, over this terrible decision, register your dissent in November at the ballot box. That`s what we`ve got to do.
In the meantime, we`re going to pursue this government for holding these kids hostage. I mean that`s what`s going on with asylum. They`re literally telling parents, drop your asylum claims -- claims you`re entitled to bring under the Constitution of the United States or else you won`t get your kid back. It`s illegal. It`s unconstitutional, it`s not American and we`re going to continue to see the Trump administration in court.
MADDOW: Maura Healey is the attorney general of the state of Massachusetts -- thank you very much.
HEALEY: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks for coming down here.
All right. Up next, we have what looks like a major upset on this primary night. It involves one of the highest-ranking Democrats in Washington. It`s a surprise result. Very interesting. We`ve got Steve Kornacki on deck, next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: On top of everything else, it is election night in seven states around the country tonight that has produced some breaking news of national significance from New York state.
Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley is on the verge of being turfed out tonight. Congressman Crowley has been in office for 19 years. He`s the fourth ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. He had an eye on becoming speaker of the house if things had worked out that way.
But tonight, he appears to be losing in a Democratic primary to a challenger from the left, trailing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is a former Bernie Sanders campaign organizer.
Steve Kornacki has been watching this very, very tightly. He`s here now -- Steve.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rachel, this is one we saw these numbers start coming in, we couldn`t believe it, we checked, we reloaded. This is a seismic political upset and I can tell you the "Associated Press" has now called this race for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
To put this in some perspective, you just said Joe Crowley`s been there since 1998. He was thought to be the next Democratic leader in waiting, potentially a speaker of the house here. He runs the Queens County Democratic Party. In the old sense of the word, this is a party boss in a Democratic primary being challenged by a 28-year-old member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
She has now defeated Joe Crowley in this primary. If you want to find a parallel for this in modern times, this takes us right back four years ago on the Republican side when Eric Cantor went down out of nowhere in that primary in Virginia. That is the scale of what we are seeing here. A lot will be written, a lot will be said about what this primary result means for the future of the Democratic Party.
Let me put it this way -- this district, what you`re talking about here you can barely see it on your screen. It`s a lot of -- it`s Queens, it`s a little bit of the Bronx. Ancestrally, you want to think about this district think of the show "All in the Family". Archie Bunker, this was his district. Geraldine Ferraro, she represented it.
Joe Crowley`s mentor, a man named Tom Manton, took the seat in 1984 when he decided to retire, he short-circuited the process. That`s how Crowley got the seat. He didn`t have an open primary, his mentor sort of wired the process to get him the nomination.
This is years 20 ago. He`s held the seat ever since, became the party boss and now this has happened on the Democratic side. A lot of people will look at this and say, you`re seeing the future versus maybe the past and the Democratic primary here a bit in the Democratic Party a bit.
This is a shocking result and there are other surprises brewing, I just want to quickly show you, this has not been called, but you have a second Democratic incumbent Yvette Clarke, she`s been in Congress since 2006, she is barely hanging on right now against a challenger Adam Bunkeddeko, excuse me. She is barely hanging on. This race has not been called.
We also want to update you, though, we thought this would be the biggest story all day. It`s now over, turned out to be a snoozer. Dan Donovan easily has held off Michael Grimm, the ex-con ex-congressman trying to get his seat back. Donovan has won this race. Grimm currently has conceded this, so Donovan hangs on. He will face a Democratic challenger.
But again, Rachel, I mean, I`m finding -- I probably said it enough here, but I`m trying to find the right words to put in perspective. This is one of the all-time modern primary night shocks that we`ve seen, seems to come out of nowhere and there`s huge implications to this.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, I have one question to ask you about this. What I see is small numbers altogether there. I mean, 12,000 something, 9,000 something -- that`s not very many people turning out to vote in that primary. Is that part of the story?
KORNACKI: Yes, I think it probably is because you`re probably going to look at you know the strength of organizing here. Why is it so low near? If there`s a couple things obviously, look at the time of year, the calendar.
Also this, New York has two separate primary dates, so a lot of people have been paying attention to this gubernatorial race, Andrew Cuomo being challenged by the former star of "Sex and the City", Cynthia Nixon, that`s not tonight that`s later on. This is just the congressional primary.
So, you went to -- you got a ballot today in a district like this, this is probably the only thing you saw on your ballot. You got a Democratic ballot. You probably saw just this race, just these two names.
New York also has closed primaries. You got to be a member, you`ll be registered with the party to vote. So, the calendar, the fact that they split up the primary contest, the fact that it`s a closed primary end up with turnout like this, potentially, a future speaker no more because of this.
MADDOW: And an enthusiasm for this out of nowhere challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beating Joe Crowley -- just remarkable.
Steve Kornacki, thank you. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Special counsel Robert Mueller won a round today in federal court in Virginia. Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman had tried to get charges against him dropped in Virginia, but the federal judge in that case today said nope. The judge said the investigation of Manafort falls squarely within the special counsel`s legal purview. And so, Mueller and his prosecutors won this round.
But here is something to stick a pin in. Even though Mueller won this round from the judge, Manafort isn`t getting the charges dropped, this ruling also has some profoundly hostile language against Robert Mueller and the special counsel`s office.
The judge says, quote, given the investigation`s focus on President Trump`s campaign, even a blind person can see that the true target of the special counsel`s investigation is President Trump, not the defendant, and that defendant`s prosecution is part of that larger plan. Specifically, the charges against defendant are intended to induce defendant to cooperate with the special counsel by providing evidence against the president or other members of the campaign. Although these kinds of high pressure prosecutorial tactics are neither uncommon nor illegal, they are distasteful.
The judge says in another footnote, quote: The wisdom of allowing all links between individuals associated with President Trump`s campaign and the Russian government to be subject to investigation, irrespective of how stale those connections might be is seriously in doubt.
So this is interesting. Legally speaking, this is probably the last filing between Paul Manafort in a decision on whether or not he is going to stand trial or seek a plea deal. The clock probably starts ticking on that decision now pretty loudly. But if Manafort chooses to stand trial, this same fulminating judge will be overseeing his case, a fulminating judge who`s so against the special counsel`s office, and he`ll be the one hearing it when prosecutors from the special counsel`s office approach the bar as they`re trying Paul Manafort.
I don`t know if that`s going to be a problem for the Mueller prosecution going forward, but I am newly committed to reading all of the footnotes in all of these rulings after seeing these red-hot ones in this ruling today from Virginia.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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