The DOJ ad Trump lawyers propose names for special master to review documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That`s ALL IN for this week.
"ALEX WAGNER TONIGHT" starts right now.
Good evening, Alex.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Chris, I will just say, as the daughter of a woman who was raised in a former British colony, who went to British schools and was not allowed to use her Burmese name in those schools --
WAGNER: -- but was assigned a British name to go to school, it is all very complicated.
HAYES: Yes, wow. That`s a great -- wow, I didn`t know that about your mom.
WAGNER: Well, let`s have coffee.
WAGNER: Thanks, Chris. And have a great weekend.
Thank you all for being here. Happy Friday.
Before Donald Trump took the Justice Department to federal court in Florida last month, before he landed the case with a judge he appointed in 2020, he did not get so lucky on his first go-round. Remember back in 2018, we learned that Trump told his White House counsel that he wanted to order the DOJ to prosecute his enemies, Hillary Clinton and James Comey. That, of course, failed fantastically when his White House counsel refused the request.
So, once out of office, Trump took matters into his own hands. In March, Trump sued Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, James Comey and a whole host of other characters, accusing them of being part of a conspiracy against him and what he refers to as the Trump-Russia conspiracy. This is all circa 2016.
All of these people, according to Trump, made up evidence against him in an attempt to tie him to Russia and Hillary Clinton and her, quote, cohorts orchestrated an unthinkable plot. Trump sought $24 million in damages. That`s not an insignificant amount of money and he chose to file that lawsuit roughly 70 miles from his Palm Beach home because the judge presiding in that jurisdiction just so happened to be his appointee.
That judge who we have all come to know very well over the past few weeks, of course, is Judge Aileen Cannon. Well, that scheme did not work. And instead, Trump`s suit was assigned to a Clinton appointee, southern district of Florida Judge Donald Middlebrooks. Well, today, Judge Middlebrooks threw out Trump`s Russia Clinton conspiracy lawsuit and he did not hold back in his ruling.
It is a full 65-page takedown of Donald Trump`s absolutely bonkers lawsuit. In his ruling, the judge says the problem with Trump`s lawsuit is he is, quote, not attempting to seek redress for any legal harm, instead, he is seeking to flaunt a 200-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him and this court is not the appropriate forum. In other words, not here, Mr. Trump, take those complaints somewhere else.
Judge Middlebrooks called Trump`s characterization of events, quote, implausible because they lack any specific allegations which might provide factual support for the conclusions reached. And that what Trump`s argument lacks, quote, in substance and legal support it seeks to substitute with length hyperbole and the settling of scores and grievances.
Trump`s team said they will appeal this ruling. Apart from all the embarrassment of this, Trump`s legal team might actually face some consequences here. Judge Middlebrooks seems open to imposing sanctions on Trump`s attorneys for filing that lawsuit in the first place. Turns out you can`t just willy-nilly settle scores and grievances in a court of law.
But in that same federal district, the southern district of Florida, which is apparently a very busy place in Trump`s other lawsuit this one against the DOJ and their seizure of thousands of government documents from his beach club, well, over there, Judge Aileen Cannon seems way more willing to entertain the grievances of the former president.
With less than two years on the bench, Judge Cannon is presiding over arguably one of the most monumental and frankly consequential trials of our time. Trump as we all know well got a ruling in his favor this week for a special master to review the seized documents from Mar-a-Lago. And he has expressed his great happiness at this outcome and with Judge Cannon, writing on his social media website, quote: Remember, it takes courage and guts to fight a totally corrupt department of, quote, justice and the FBI.
You can see why Donald Trump likes to file lawsuits in Judge Cannon`s district.
The DOJ meanwhile in an attempt to continue the work on their criminal investigation and intelligence review of those classified documents, the Justice Department basically said to Judge Cannon last night: Hey, we`re going to appeal your ruling but in the meantime, can you at least dial back one part of it and exempt those 103 or so classified documents from the special master review? Everything else can go ahead but let the FBI continue its work by examining those classified documents which are but a small sliver of the over 11,000 records we seized from Trump`s beach club. We have important national security and criminal investigative work to do here, so let us, Judge Cannon, at least review those classified documents.
Judge Cannon responded late last night by throwing the ball to Donald Trump. She told team Trump to tell her how they feel about the DOJ`s request by Monday. Well, we know how he feels. He filed his lawsuit in the first place, asking for all the seized records to be reviewed by a special master.
I mean, the Justice Department even wrote in their filing yesterday that team Trump opposes this motion. But unlike Judge Middlebrooks in the Clinton lawsuit, Judge Cannon is giving Trump a chance to, I`m not exactly sure, perhaps re-air his grievances and buy more time. You can see why Donald Trump likes to file lawsuits in Judge Cannon`s district.
The Justice Department has asked Judge Cannon to rule on their request by next Thursday. In the meantime, we are waiting for a joint filing that is due today from the Justice Department and Trump`s team concerning that special master. Judge Cannon asked the two sides to put together a list of who they think would be a good fit for the job and to outline the parameters and scope of the special masters review.
It seems very, very, very unlikely that the two sides will agree on someone. But hey, anything could happen. We could get that filing literally any moment now. It is due by midnight tonight.
Joining us now is John Fishwick, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia.
Mr. Fishwick, thank you for being here tonight.
JOHN FISHWICK, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Alex, thank you so much for having me on your show.
WAGNER: As we wait for special master, the list of special masters, it seems implausible that these two sides are going to come to any kind of agreement. But I do want to -- there are people pitching themselves to be the special master, Mr. Fishwick, a retired businessman with an amateur interest in the history of politics and law writes to Judge Cannon, I write about a news item in which I saw in the online edition of the New York Times. It said you were leaning toward the appointment of a special master to review the items taken from Mar-a-Lago. I`m not quite sure what the job specifications are for such an assignment but I would like to offer my services for this task I`m only a retired businessman with an amateur`s interest in history politics in the law but I promise you I would perform the task to the best of my abilities.
I mean, is this where we`re going to ultimately end up Mr. Fishwick. How are we going to get this special master?
FISHWICK: Great question, Alex. I don`t think we`re going to end up with that applicant. But this is America, so he could apply. It`s going to be a challenging job and we`re going to have to find the right person. I think you`re exactly right. I don`t think the two sides are going to agree on who the special master is. It`s going to be presumably some sort of retired judge who`s got special clearances with can look at top secret documents.
The only thing I`d say about the special master is, I`m not sure it`s going to be so bad for DOJ. I think there`s opportunity there. But the special master is going to have to follow current law and current law says that Donald Trump can`t block as the former president block folks from looking at documents. And so, it may not be so bad with a special master, but this is going to be a mosh pit a struggle between Trump`s lawyers and DOJ to agree on things. I expect there`ll be minor agreements but nothing of significance will be agreed on and I`d be very surprised if they agree on somebody to be the special master.
But if some person at some point happens to be on both lists and that person person`s the winner.
WAGNER: I can`t imagine who that person would be, but just to clarify your point -- so you are not worried about the scope of the special masters review because you think ultimately, the 11th Circuit if it gets there will grant the Justice Department`s request to basically free up these 100 classified documents?
FISHWICK: I just don`t think Trump`s going to be able to prove this privileged stuff. You know, you know the rubber is going to hit the road. I don`t think he`s going to be able to say hey, look, somebody gave me advice about this document and nobody can ever look at this document again because I was president once before. I just don`t think that he`s going to be able to maintain that privilege.
And also, you know, he and he or the folks in his orbit are going to have to answer questions about those documents. They can`t just do it in the abstract. If you answer questions about documents and you`re not honest about those documents, then the repercussions for that. So I think that when you have these discussions in the esoteric, maybe it doesn`t look so good for DOJ.
But when you get down to the specifics, I think ultimately, almost all of these documents are going to be available to DOJ for the criminal investigation -- it`s going to be important that that happens quickly and obviously with the special master, it`ll be slower. But I still think it`s going to be a good result for DOJ.
WAGNER: Well, you mentioned the word quickly. That`s an important adverb, right, because time is of the essence, right? We know that some -- at least one of the documents found on there appears to be the nuclear secrets of a foreign government. We`re not sure what else is in that stack of classified documents, and what we do know is the intelligence community`s assessment is on pause while all of this special master stuff is worked out.
How much does that concern you especially if you think we`re going forward on this path of a special master?
FISHWICK: It concerns me but I think more importantly it concerns the American people. The FBI needs to look at these classified documents but more importantly, there could be a number of missing classified documents. And where are those?
You know, former President Trump`s has numerous residences and so, those -- if there are missing classified documents and we don`t know that yet, but there could be, because they have not been shooting straight with DOJ about the documents and where they are, then that`s a real issue for the FBI. They need to run those down. They need to find those missing documents.
So delay prevents that and so, I think that is a real concern, not just to me, but to the American public.
WAGNER: Well, yeah, and in their filing, the DOJ specifically talks about the empty folders. There are 48 folders that were marked classified. The documents or the contents were not in there and they specifically point out the fact that they can`t chase down the whereabouts of those documents because of the sort of red tape with the special master. That sounds like it concerns you and should concern all Americans.
FISHWICK: Absolutely. I mean, that`s a very serious violation. Everybody knows that documents like that have got to be handled in a pristine way. Everybody when I worked at the government, those things are very pristine. You`ve got to be very, very careful with them. You`re not taking those things home obviously.
And so, if there are other missing documents which it looks like, unfortunately, there`s a good chance of that and then where are they and what do those documents say. And ultimately, that`s that becomes -- you know, the crunch of the case, the important part of the case. I think it`s in the country`s best interest, it`s in DOJ`s best interest to move forward let`s get answers to that.
I think the Trump team is going to want to stall that they don`t want that answer to come out and so they`re going to want to slow down this special master process.
WAGNER: Okay, so where did you say the rubber is going to meet the road? Where does it meet the road? Is it with Judge Cannon? Is she eventually going to grant the Justice Department`s desires in terms of the special master? Is she`s going to defer to team Trump?
Thus, far it feels like she has granted the wishes of team Trump more disproportionately than the Department of Justice, especially in her initial ruling. I mean, do you think she eventually -- I`m not going to say caves, but do you think she eventually sees the light as it were next week or do you think this works its way up to the 11th Circuit, where I will point out six of the ten judges are Trump appointees.
FISHWICK: Yeah, Alex, I actually have more concern about the appeals process and ultimately the United States Supreme Court. They have shown they have a willingness to change existing law. There`s not much law and executive privilege, but it`s pretty clear right now you know the former president doesn`t have a say so on privilege. It`s decided by the current president, by the current government official.
I have real concerns that the United States Supreme Court is anxious to step into this void of law, and I`m more concerned about them and frankly more concerned about the 11th Circuit. As you`ve pointed out, there are a number of Trump appointees there. I`m more concerned about them.
I think maybe the best place to be is with the special master. We don`t know who that person is going to be but that person is going to have to be really neutral and have to follow current laws. I think that may be a better place to be and you can build a record with that special master that makes it harder for the Supreme Court who I think is chomping at the bit to jump into this thing, makes it harder for them to jump in I think you`ve got to be very careful about that throughout this whole process.
WAGNER: Well, I mean, I think we end up with maybe the retired businessman because who else is going to be agreed upon.
I just want to -- I want to get your thoughts on the sort of the implications of all of this in the in the biggest picture possible, and that is this notion of what`s happening to the judiciary, And I`d like to call your attention to opinion piece and opinion piece and "Politico" this morning, which states, Cannon`s order is troubling not just in isolation as a deeply flawed decision on its specific merits. It should also worry because it seems to affirm and hence accentuate a larger narrative of fracturing judicial independence.
Whether one ultimately believes that the federal courts are increasingly partisan or whether one is focused narrowly on public confidence in the courts as part of our democracy, the trend line is clear it is sloping downward toward a real crisis of the federal judiciary, with decisions like canons nudging us along incrementally.
Does that worry you? It does worry me, Alex. There`s no question. But I tend to look at things sometimes, maybe there`s a glass half full here, and I think the opportunity for Merrick Garland in this investigation is Trump`s got home ice here, he`s got a judge he appointed, well what if out of that setting, a criminal charge came from that? You know, that`s a very fair setting for former President Trump. He`s getting the special master. He`s getting a judge he appointed.
And what if out of that setting, a criminal charge came then? I think the American public would have confidence in it.
So I get your point. I think there is a lack of confidence in a lot of institutions in our country. Sadly, the -- my field, there`s a lack of confidence in it and that`s unfortunate.
But I think there`s real meat on the bones with this Mar-a-Lago investigation that the Justice Department is being transparent with I think there`s an opportunity for people to get confidence in our system.
And I hope that will happen.
WAGNER: I like the glass half full vision of all of this.
John Fishwick, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, thank you for your time tonight. And we may be coming back to you later in this hour if we get that filing about the special master.
FISHWICK: That`ll be great.
WAGNER: Okay. There is much more to come this Friday night.
King Charles addressed his subjects for the first time today and not just those in the U.K., but those in the many commonwealth countries where he is also the king. But that relationship is making a lot of people uneasy and it might be about to change.
Plus, new details tonight about how involved Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, how involved she was in the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. Stay with us.
WAGNER: This was the front page of "The New York Times" today, minutes after the new king of the United Kingdom gave his first address to the nation and the commonwealth. Charles vows to carry on Elizabeth`s legacy.
King Charles III put it this way:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING CHARLES III, UNITED KINGDOM: In 1947, on her 21st birthday, she pledged in a broadcast from Cape Town to the commonwealth, to devote her life whether it be short or long to the service of her peoples. That was more than a promise. It was a profound personal commitment which defined her whole life.
As the queen herself did with such unswerving devotion, I too now solemnly pledge myself throughout the remaining time god grants me to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation. And wherever you may live in the United Kingdom or in the realms and territories across the world, and whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavor to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Today`s speech capped the first day of mourning after Queen Elizabeth died peacefully yesterday at the age of 96, ending a record- breaking 70-year reign. Though he became sovereign the minute the queen passed away, Charles will be officially proclaimed king tomorrow. The ceremony held at St. James Palace just miles from Buckingham Palace will be the will be televised for the very first time in history. It will be a visual embodiment of the new era of King Charles III, a new era in which he has promised to uphold his mother`s legacy.
But that task may prove more difficult and less clearly defined than some might think. King Charles is now the sovereign and the leader of the commonwealth, a group of more than independent countries, most of which were formally colonized by Britain. Fourteen of those countries continue to recognize the British monarch as their head of state, dozens of others do not.
As the leader visiting each of the countries within the commonwealth is a tradition King Charles says he plans to continue, but there are questions about how many commonwealth countries might drop the British monarch as their head of state now that Queen Elizabeth has died and Charles is in charge.
Barbados declared itself independent and removed the monarch as its head of state just last year, almost 400 years after the first British ship reached its shores and invested in plantation slavery on the island.
Then, Prince Charles was there representing the crown during celebration, alongside Rihanna who was declared a national hero of the Caribbean Republic during those festivities.
Already, we`re seeing headlines asking if Canada, for example, should sever ties with the British crown. The same calls are now happening in Australia. And in June, Jamaica began the process of becoming an independent republic. The country is expected to make it official, removing Charles as its head of state before its next general election in 2025.
King Charles wants to continue his mother`s legacy within the commonwealth but how much that commonwealth will itself change when more and more countries are aiming to break away from their colonial past.
That`s something we`re going to talk about now with Lola Adesioye, social and political writer and commentator, born and raised in London.
Lola, thank you for leaving London and coming to talk with me this evening.
LOLA ADESIOYE, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL WRITER, COMMENTATOR: Thank you, Alex.
WAGNER: So how meaningful is it for Brits when these commonwealth countries break away? When they say no longer are we going to have your monarch as our head of state, does that have an effect?
ADESIOYE: I don`t know if it has an effect on Brits within Great Britain, but clearly, it does have an effect on people who are outside, you know? And also, I think symbolically it has effect on say people like me whose parents come from other places and you know born and raised in the UK or lived in the UK for a long time in terms of that reclamation I think of the past and moving into the future.
WAGNER: Do you feel like there is -- that is a powerful movement these days in England, that this sort of notion that Britain needs to make amends with its colonial past? I -- it will draw everyone`s attention to an op-ed in "The New York Times" which addresses that very question.
In recent years, public pressure has been building on the British state and institutions to acknowledge and make amends for the legacies of empire, slavery and colonial violence. In 2013, in response to a lawsuit brought by victims of torture in colonial Kenya, the British government agreed to pay nearly 20 million pounds in damages to survivors, another payout was made in 2019 to survivors in Cyprus. Efforts are underway to reform school curriculums, to remove public monuments that glorify empire and to alter the presentation of historic sites linked to imperialism.
I mean, in the U.S., our analog is slavery, right?
WAGNER: The Confederate monuments, and that has created in turn a very fraught debate and turned into a political firefight, not -- figuratively, not literally. And I wonder if you think Charles is the person to manage this you know in the way that he must as the head of the state?
ADESIOYE: I mean, the conversation about you know addressing wrongs from the past and the colonial legacy and the legacy of slavery in the UK has been gaining traction for some time. And yes, there have been monuments that have pulled down they`re decolonizing the curriculum in some places and so on and so forth.
I do think though there`s sort of a bit of a general resistance to the history like to the truth that I think is slightly different here. I think here even when people don`t like the topic, they can still, you know, yeah, they`re enslaved people.
WAGNER: I can acknowledge that it happened.
ADESIOYE: Exactly, but I think that the general story of the history of the empire has been very, very whitewashed and people -- there are a lot of people who still think the empire was just this great thing I guess about tea. So in terms of Charles leading forward, I think he`s going to be met with people you know in civil society that are going to be saying, hey, we need to get this conversation going. You need to do something. You need to say something about this. And if not, we`re just going to continue anyway.
WAGNER: I mean, the fact of the matter is the -- and a historian we spoke with last evening mentioned this, the commonwealth has come home to England. It is I think one in seven people is from parents outside of England who may have been part of the colonies or are part of the colonial realm, and that is fundamentally changing the nature of the conversation, isn`t it, as well?
ADESIOYE: Yeah. Well, the chickens always come home to roost. And ultimately, you know if you go to places and they end up being destabilized, people will move. You know, economic migration and stuff and for education and so, everyone`s ended up back in the -- you know, the homeland, essentially.
WAGNER: Yeah. Well, and you are British. You are based on England as much as prince -- King Charles is.
ADESIOYE: And I`m also one that`s left. So that`s also a story.
WAGNER: Well, that is a story, right? The expats and expats of color who are no longer in the UK.
ADESIOYE: I -- you know, there are questions and I say this as the daughter of someone who was raised in a former British colony, there are those places India, for example, where the death of the queen, the news has been great been greeted with the sort of mix of sadness and I would say questioning, if not outright indignation. I don`t think a lot of people know this, but hours before Queen Elizabeth died, Narendra Modi, the PM in India, renamed Kingsway, which is was named after King George V, Elizabeth`s grandfather, they renamed it Kartavya Path, which is like the most literal example of the way India is reclaiming its history from the Brits.
Prime Minister Modi, while inaugurating the Kartavya Path, said, Rajpath, the Kingsway, was for the British -- was for the British for whom the people of India were slaves. It was a symbol of colonialism. Now, its architecture has changed and it`s spirit has also changed.
Now that is an awkward juxtaposition, right? And then hours later is the passing of the queen and India is expected to sort of offer some condolences of some kind. And yet, you know, they`re not wrong.
How do you think Brits look upon that kind of pushback?
ADESIOYE: Well, I do think some are resistant to it. But there are two things. There`s one, the institution of the queen -- I mean, probably the most famous woman in the world, one of the most powerful brands in the world. You know she has powers as a head of state but she also had a lot of soft power, and there was a reason why I think some of the commonwealth countries have sort of stayed within the commonwealth because of that.
ADESIOYE: On the other hand, there`s the institution of the monarchy, which has always been problematic to people who care to sort of be critical about it. And if you know anything about colonialism or you`ve experienced it, of course, you would be critical of it. The British empire was not a good thing for anybody else who wasn`t British.
So, you know, this is --
WAGNER: White male British especially.
ADESIOYE: Exactly, this tiny place on the map, I mean, you look at the UK and the map, you can just about see it, how did it become a place that was responsible for, what, hundreds of millions of people around the world, without violence without oppression without tyranny.
I mean, seriously. It just doesn`t even make sense. So there`s a whole story about that, that has -- that people want to tell now, maybe felt they couldn`t say before.
WAGNER: Before under Elizabeth who was in many ways stitching it all together.
It is going to be a very interesting chapter in Britain and/or the UK and British identity.
Lola Adesioye, social and political writer and commentator, thank you for your time tonight and offering some insight on our friends across the pond.
WAGNER: Believe it or not, we have good news to report on the fight for abortion rights across this country. But, of course, because this is America, we also have insane new revelations about just how connected one Supreme Court justice`s wife was to groups lobbying to get rid of Roe. Both of those stories are coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mastriano spoke to 100 supporters inside Grace Life Church on McKnight Road, but entered in left by doors where he could avoid the news media who were waiting.
At an event at the William Penn Hotel still earlier, we were told no media allowed, and they closed the doors. We tried at this outdoor event as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to say outside of the ropes.
REPORTER: We have to stay on that side of your red line.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, yes.
REPORTER: Will there be an opportunity to speak with him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s going to make that decision, I`m not sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor in the state of Pennsylvania is going out of his way to avoid press coverage at his events. And it has not gone unnoticed by the local press in the state of Pennsylvania.
Here`s a headline today from "The Philly Inquirer", quote: Doug Mastriano`s security bubble insulates him from prying eyes and dissenting views. At an event on Wednesday in the Pittsburgh area, journalists were warned to keep their distance and not to engage with Doug or Rebbie, Mastriano`s wife. Campaign staff and Mastriano supporters at one point physically blocked the press.
According to "The Inquirer", Mastriano`s campaign has sought to block local news coverage of his events, even when the event hosts had invited the press.
And it`s not just local news, even conservative media outlets are having trouble getting access to governor -- not governor, would be governor Mastriano. A reporter for the conservative website "The Washington Examiner" complained in an article this week, Mastriano refuses to talk to the press. I`ve tried numerous times and was told publicly at an event two weeks ago in Pittsburgh by his campaign strategist that because I had not written anything nice about him, I would not be granted an interview until I wrote something that was. That is not how journalism works. Indeed, it does not.
"Axios`s" Jonathan Swann noted yesterday: Mastriano rarely appears even on Fox News. When Mastriano does do interviews, it`s almost entirely with far- right personalities like Steve Bannon.
There is a reason Doug Mastriano is avoiding all but the fringiest of media. It is because even by post-insurrection 2022 standards, Doug Mastriano holds some of the fringiest beliefs of any candidate out there. Mastriano has strong ties to the Christian nationalist movement, a far- right ideology with racist and xenophobic roots, one that seeks to turn America into an exclusively Christian nation. It sees political battles as religious wars, with Christian conservatives fighting against a tide of evildoers, which is all relevant framing for the way in which Doug Mastriano sees January 6.
He was at the Capitol that day and the January 6 Committee is actively seeking testimony from Mastriano.
Just today, "Rolling Stone" unearthed a video of Mastriano meeting on a Zoom call hosted by far-right Christian nationalists in the days before January 6th where he said, I pray that we`ll seize the power. I pray for the leaders also in the federal government, god, on the 6th of January, that they will rise up with boldness. That`s before January 6th.
And unlike other Republicans running in key swing states, Mastriano has not moderated his extreme views ahead of the general election. While other Republicans have started removing references to election conspiracies from their websites, Doug Mastriano has expanded the section of it on his campaign website that`s dedicated to so-called election integrity. Despite his fringe views and his campaign`s press crackdown, recent polls show Mastriano within three to six points of his Democratic opponent even though he was trailing by double digits just a few weeks ago.
So how worried should Democrats be right now?
Joining us now is Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, who is also chair of Agenda PAC, a new political group targeting anti-LGBTQ candidates this cycle. Their first target is Doug Mastriano.
Mr. Kenyatta, Malcolm, thank you for being here.
STATE REP. MALCOLM KENYATTA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Excited to do so.
WAGNER: Okay, what`s happening in the Keystone State? How is Doug Mastriano who is not talking to -- I want to say mainstream media, he`s not talking to media basically. His views are far, far, far right, and yet, that message seems to be resonating within certain circles of the Pennsylvania electorate. What does that tell you about your state?
KENYATTA: I think it`s important for us to start by talking about the fact that I think this has exposed a real feature not a not a bug of the Republican Party.
The Republican Party was never the party of freedom. And we need to be very clear, it`s not just Doug Mastriano. Every candidate who`s running for the state house in the state Senate on the Republican side, they support this guy.
But a part of what again this moment shows us is that when you see somebody like Doug and he talks about freedom, it is not freedom for me to be oppressed. If your version of free speech means that nobody can question your views or take you on for your lies, that`s not free speech. If your only reason for running for higher office is to force people to fall in line with the tenets of your cult, that is not freedom.
And I recognize as I sit here, I`m standing on the shoulders of giants like Sylvia Rivera (ph), and Marsha P. Johnson (ph), and A. Philip Randolph (ph), my grandfather Muhammad Kenyatta, real giants who stood up, who fought and in some cases actually bled to expand opportunity in this country, Doug Mastriano, folks like Ron DeSantis, they are small little men who stand on the side of losers, losers like the Confederate soldiers that Doug Mastriano parades around.
And in two months, I believe we are going to beat him and we`re going to send him to Florida. I hope Trump has a room in Mar-a-Lago that he can rent out or Ron will find him an apartment.
WAGNER: Well, okay, I mean -- and I understand you are a state representative of strong and proud Democrats. But put on, you know, just help me understand how someone with these extreme views which you granted are in strong opposition to -- I mean, you`re saying that the rest of the state reps are on board with this? That Republicans in the state seem on board with this?
I mean, this guy could -- he`s within three to six points of becoming the next governor of the state. So what what`s happened to the Republican Party in the state of Pennsylvania? And does it matter that nobody`s asking him tough questions? Does it matter that he`s proposing a vision that`s like holy at odds with a free and liberal society?
KENYATTA: Well, I think a part of what it shows is that the Republican Party is feckless. You had folks throughout the entire primary who talked about how dangerous he was, who talked about how much of a disaster he would be, and as soon as he won the primary, just like little ducks, they got in line behind their guy. Just remind you of somebody, Donald Trump.
KENYATTA: Who this guy was just with, you know, a couple of days ago up in Wilkes-Barre.
Pennsylvania is Pennsylvania. We are a microcosm of this country. We are always the political center of the universe and I think the tightness that you see is the fact that we are a state that in so many ways is closely divided.
But I can tell you, Pennsylvania is not defined by the dark twisted utterings of a coward like Doug Mastriano. We are defined by people who have always took pride in the fact that American democracy was born in the commonwealth, people who recognize it is our responsibility to defend it.
And so to me, the story is not that there are multiple people who would support this guy. We know that there are millions of Americans who support Donald Trump. I think the real story is that Donald Trump was rejected. He was rejected when Republicans went up for the midterms during his presidency. He was rejected no matter what lies he screams from the rooftops when he ran for re-election.
Doug Mastriano is going to be rejected, and I think a part of what we have to do is to be this type of sick twisted bigoted Republican Party and that`s what Agenda PAC frankly, Alex, is all about.
WAGNER: Do you think that -- I mean, you picked Doug Mastriano as your first target if you will. And do you think -- I mean, who are you -- who are you aiming to convince when you do that?
KENYATTA: So, a part of what we have to do is not cede the ground on the conversations about queer folks in this country. For so long, people like Ron DeSantis and other fringe characters have been the only voice in this space and there`s so many incredible organizations who are recruiting and training LGBTQ candidates. But a part of the hole that we saw that Agenda PAC is going to aggressively fill is being the folks that take them on every single day.
When we looked around the country and we`re going to be looking nationwide, there`s no way that you don`t look at Doug Mastriano, this is somebody who, you know, said that gay marriage should not be legal, this is somebody who embraces conversion abuse. I don`t call it therapy because there`s no therapeutic nature to that practice. He is somebody who has made it clear over and over again he wants to use trans kids as footballs.
I believe and we believe it --
WAGNER: Political footballs.
KENYATTA: Political footballs. We believe that most people do not believe what Doug Mastriano believes and what we need to do is to have another voice in that space, in that fight, telling the truth about who he is and helping people understand that these people who are doing everything they can to take away freedoms, they`re not going to have the final say.
And so we weren`t shocked at all when we saw so many people flooding to agendapac.org to get engaged. We`ve already raised tens of thousands of dollars. People just chipping in what they can. We are going to beat beatable bigots all across this country.
I`ve said this before, I`ve said it to your colleague Jonathan Capehart, if you are a bigot running for office anywhere in this country, we see you and we are going to beat you.
WAGNER: Okay, and that is quite an alliteration and quite a message. Malcolm Kenyatta, it`s great to see you. Thank you for your time.
KENYATTA: Great and congratulations on the show.
WAGNER: Thank you. We will be following everything that`s happening in the state of Pennsylvania, as we always are, in the coming weeks.
Representative Kenyatta, thanks for coming up to New York and thank you for joining us tonight.
Okay. And now, we just got new filing from the DOJ and Trump`s attorneys regarding that special master. We`re reading it now and we will have details on all of that coming up, right after this break.
MADDOW: Okay, we have some breaking news tonight on Donald Trump`s fight to appoint that special master to sort through the over 11,000 seized records from his Florida beach club, over 11,000 records that include top secret and classified documents and empty folders.
Moments ago, the Justice Department and team Trump jointly filed their motion concerning that special master. Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon asked the two sides to come together to suggest a list of people to potentially be that special master and to no one`s surprise, the two sides do not agree. This literally just in hot off the presses.
The Justice Department puts forth two former federal judges, the honorable Barbara S. Jones and the Honorable Thomas B. Griffith.
Interestingly enough, they were both appointed by Republican presidents and Barbara Jones was a special master in the Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani investigation. Meanwhile, Team Trump has put forth the Honorable Raymond J. Dearie and Paul Huck Jr.
A reminder that the final decision if there is a special master and that is a gigantic if here because the DOJ is in the midst of fighting this special master ruling, but if there is one appointed, the buck stops with Judge Cannon. That is to say if they don`t agree, she gets the final word.
Joining us once again is John Fishwick, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York.
Mr. Fishwick, it happened in this hour. Let`s talk about these candidates that we have on the list here from the government`s proposed candidates, the Honorable Barbara S. Jones, the Honorable Thomas B. Griffith, both appointed by Republican presidents. How do you read that?
FISHWICK: Well, that goes back to my glass half full. I think it`s impressive that DOJ would put up folks who have been appointed by the other party. I think that will help restore confidence in the system and I think, you know, that that sends a strong message that they`re confident in their position and they want to have somebody from the other party originally appointed by the other party.
So I think that`s impressive.
WAGNER: And one of the plaintiff`s proposed candidates: the honorable Raymond J. Dearie, former chief judge of the U.S. district court for the eastern district, served on the FISA court. And Paul Huck, founder of the Huck law firm, former Jones Day partner, I think this is relevant, former general counsel to the governor, former deputy attorney general for the state of Florida. Is that a DeSantis person?
FISHWICK: I don`t know, but I think that person will be harder to be selected and I would be surprised if the judge would select that person. I think that it`s going to be a retired judge who`s going to get a nod for this job.
WAGNER: What do you think -- okay, they`re also listed areas of substantive agreement between the parties and I`m not going to lie. That`s a very short section.
Apparently, the parties agree on reducing the default 21-day review period to 10 days space. That seems like a, you know, not nothing, but not exactly a gigantic mutually agreed upon concession. Do you read that as significant?
FISHWICK: Not really.
WAGNER: Okay. And then there are several pages of substantive disagreement between each party`s proposed order.
It just -- it appears that the scope of this is going to be largely contested, does it not? This is -- this is going to continue to go on.
FISHWICK: Absolutely. I mean, the DOJ is going to want to move this promptly. They`re going to want to make sure that they challenge all the privileged claims that Trump`s team makes, and Trump`s teams is going to be trying to, you know, raise privilege, try to prevent the documents from being used in the investigation and I think they want to create a record for the court of appeals and the Supreme Court.
So I think the parties are going to be locked in on this pretty hard. But at the end of the day, I think there may be opportunity here and I am encouraged that DOJ put up two judges who have some Republican pedigree in their background. I think that`s great, and I think that sends a strong and confident message about this process.
WAGNER: I will also note that it says explicitly in this, the plaintiff that would be team Trump believes the government`s objection to the special master reviewing documents they deemed classified is misplaced. That is meaningful. That is the whole of the department`s filing earlier this week.
Just let us -- let us take hold of these or so classified documents.
They are critical to our national security review. We need to be able to work in tandem with the intel community`s assessment. Let us have access to these 100 documents.
It seems as if team Trump is not on board with that, which is no surprise. But the buck, as we said, stops with Judge Cannon here. So what happens next, Mr. Fishwick? Who has the next -- who has the next play on this chessboard and what is your expectation for Judge Cannon?
FISHWICK: Yeah, I think it`s unlikely they agree on somebody. But I think she`ll -- I think the judge will be a little bit boxed. I think -- I think Trump`s team made a mistake not putting up two judges. I think it`s going to be a retired judge for there to be confidence in this, which means that that the government`s got a two and three chance and the Trump team`s got a one in three chance.
But she may have to break the tie. Trump team may realize that and negotiate a little bit, but I doubt they agree. I think the -- they said they have until Monday to confirm. I`d be surprised if they agree on somebody.
And she`s going to be -- there`s going to be a little pressure on her I think to pick one of the two that DOJ has put up because they have a Republican background.
WAGNER: Well, I will say, one last piece before we go, the plaintiff contends a full review of all seized documents, remains an important part of a special master`s duty. They want a whole review of 11,000 documents. This could take an extraordinarily long time.
We will see. The fight is not over.
John Fishwick, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, thank you for hanging with me this evening and thanks for your expertise.
We`ll be right back.
FISHWICK: Thank you.
WAGNER: That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be her on Monday, and I will see you again on Tuesday.
A special edition of "THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts right now.