Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: June 29, 2018 Guest: Anna Galland, Asawin Suebsaeng, Michelle Goldberg, Chris Lu, Ted Lieu, Barbara Boxer, Mickey Edwards
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ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Say hello to your boy, special guy.
VELSHI: The President unveils a timeline for a Supreme Court pick as the Democratic push to delay intensifies.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: This judge could end up having to preside over cases relevant to this criminal investigation.
VELSHI: Then --
MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Are you going to ask your nominees beforehand how they might vote on Roe vs. Wade?
VELSHI: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the sudden silence from Republicans on Roe v. Wade.
TRUMP: Well, that`s a big one and probably not. They`re all saying don`t do that. You don`t do that. You shouldn`t do that.
VELSHI: Plus, a preview of tomorrow`s big protests against family separation and why the White House is scrambling to explain how a prank caller got through to Air Force One.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, your call is connected.
TRUMP: Hi, Bob!
JOHN MENENDEZ, COMEDIAN: Hey, how are you?
VELSHI: ALL IN starts now.
TRUMP: Thank you, Bob. I`ll talk to you soon, bye.
MENENDEZ: All right. Goodbye to you.
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VELSHI: Good evening from New York, I`m Ali Velshi in for Chris Hayes. Tonight, Democrats are increasingly concerned that the President could try to use his new Supreme Court pick to shield him from the Mueller investigation. Days after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, the White House, and Senate Republicans are fast-tracking Kennedy`s replacement. The President telling reporters on Air Force One today that he`s planning to announce his nominee in just over a week.
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TRUMP: So I`ll be announcing it the Monday after July 4th. Is that the 11th? I`m going to announce it specifically on the 11th.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would be 9th.
TRUMP: What is that Monday after July 4th?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 9th.
TRUMP: The 9th? I`ll be announcing it on the 9th.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you spoken to any of your top five candidates yet?
TRUMP: No. I start that process on Monday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not this weekend?
TRUMP: We have it -- no. We have it set up for Monday. I may have two of them come like the old days with Bedminster, right?
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VELSHI: Now, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans stand ready to plow ahead as soon as the President makes his choice.
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We expected to get a nomination from the President rather soon and we should be able to work our way through the confirmation process sometime before early fall. Hopefully in time for the new Justice to begin the fall term of the Supreme Court which is an old Supreme Court reporter you know, is the first Monday in October.
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VELSHI: Meanwhile, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is widely expected to take his next big steps before the midterm elections get into full swing this fall. That could mean more indictments or a Presidential subpoena for testimony could even mean a final report on whether the President of the United States obstructed justice. Just today we learned new information about a key event in that matter, the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. The New York Times reporting that a shaken Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General felt used by the White House in Comey`s firing. Rosenstein wrote the memo that was used to justify the move which the President later said he`d planned to do "regardless of recommendation citing the Russia probe."
The President`s lawyers have already argued that the President cannot obstruct justice in a federal investigation. And if that issue or any other question of executive authority ends up before the Supreme Court, it could fall to the President`s own nominee to cast the deciding vote, and that is raising concerns about the legitimacy of the court and the rule of law. Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe has summed up the issue as follows. A president under active criminal investigation of whether he won legitimately and whether he is obstructed that very investigation should not be permitted by a mere Senate majority to designate the Justice whose votes could prove pivotal to the fate of his presidency. Now Senate Democrats are beginning to sound the alarm.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: A president who can hear the beats of an investigation that is bearing down on him gets to name the person who is likely to be the swing vote in the court that would ultimately determine a big part of how any investigation goes forward.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: We know a subpoena case is very likely involving Donald Trump to go to the United States Supreme Court and I will ask a nominee to commit him or herself that they will recuse themselves from sitting on that decision.
BOOKER: If we are not going to thoroughly discuss what it means to have a president with this ongoing investigation happening who is now going to be able to interview Supreme Court Justices and potentially continue with his tradition of doing litmus tests, loyalty tests for that person. We could be participating in a process that could undermine that criminal investigation.
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VELSHI: All right, to break down what`s at stake in the President`s next Supreme Court pick I`m joined by Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, a Member of the House Judiciary Committee and MSNBC Justice Analyst Matt Miller, former Chief Spokesperson for the Justice Department under President Barack Obama. Thanks to both you, gentlemen, for being here with us on a Friday night. Congressman Lieu, let`s start with you. The idea that the President isn`t going to ask the nominee about Roe v. Wade may be secondary to the fact that this President couldn`t hold back from asking people about loyalty in the investigation. That may be the biggest danger. Is he going to in his interviews this weekend with one or two potential Supreme Court candidates asked them about the investigation into him and if he does, does that compromise a candidate?
REP. TED LIEU, (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Ali, for your question. If he asked that question I believe it absolutely compromises the candidate. I think a president under active criminal investigation should not be nominating the Supreme Court Justice and we should not be confirming a Supreme Court Justice. But the equally compelling rationale for another reason why this shouldn`t happen, I`ll quote from Senate Leader Mitch McConnell during the Merrick Garland investigation who said the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice. He held that vacancy open for eight months. We`ve got elections in less than five months this November. We should wait until at least after November before looking at this issue.
VELSHI: Matt Miller, I want to just remind people of James Comey`s testimony before the Senate Intel hearing on June 8th of 2017. This is an important piece of information that has now become newly relevant. Let`s listen together.
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JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: My common sense told me that what was going on is either he had concluded or someone had told him that you didn`t -- you`ve already asked Comey to stay and you didn`t get anything for it and that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship. In fact, he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay.
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VELSHI: Asked for loyalty in the context of asking James Comey to stay on as the Director of the FBI. Matt, arguably a Supreme Court Justice is much more influential and for a longer time than the head of the FBI. So if the President was prepared to break with protocol and do things that people would think are at best unorthodox and unconventional and at worst obstruction of justice and asked the head of the FBI for loyalty, there is some concern about what he will do at Bedminster when interviewing a prospective Supreme Court justice.
MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE ANALYST: Yes, absolutely there is and you would think their staff the staff would be smart enough to make sure there are people in the room with him. That dinner with Comey was famously one-on- one and that they would warn him not to do something like that. But that doesn`t mean that even outside of asking the direct question that he wouldn`t try other ways to ingratiate himself with this potential justice. I think to state the question here that the principle that is so key here is that you know, in our system of justice, no person is above the law. And that means no one gets to pick the prosecutor that investigates them if they`re under investigation and no one gets to pick the judge that hears their case. And it`s especially important in this case because of the number of questions that could make it to the Supreme Court.
You know, I don`t think the question of whether the President can be indicted will probably make it there because I don`t think DOJ will actually try to move forward with that but there are other important questions like should the President be forced to submit to a subpoena if he`s subpoenaed by the grand jury? Does he have the right to pardon himself, to execute a self-pardon? All of those things could make it to the Supreme Court. And you have to go back and remember that the President is -- what he`s under investigation for is obstruction of justice for using his office to try to block the investigation into himself. That is the key principle and that`s why it`s so important to be sure that he can`t use his office here to try forth the investigation with the justice.
VELSHI: And ultimately the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of this if it doesn`t get settled otherwise. So, Congressman Lieu, Matt brings up an interesting point. The President never has to say anything about this to a Supreme Court Justice for that Supreme Justice possibly on any question of the investigation to be compromised and that is what Senator Blumenthal has said that he`s going to ask these potential nominees or whomever the nominee is to whether they will recuse themselves if facing a question of the President`s investigation.
LIEU: They actually should recuse himself. And let me just say, why is it that we have all these interesting constitutional issues under Donald Trump? It`s because of his behavior. We`re looking at these issues for the first time such as can the president pardon himself? Can the president be indicted? Why we even ask these questions? That`s because Donald Trump has engaged in behavior that`s way out of bounds for what a president should be doing and he really should not be nominating a Supreme Court Justice and no Supreme Court Justice should be confirmed until at least after a new Congress has been seated.
VELSHI: Congressman, probably most Americans have seen this exchange yesterday with the House Judiciary hearing with Rod Rosenstein. You were in that hearing. Rod Rosenstein was frustrated. He was frustrated by pressure from your Republican colleagues on him. But what do you make of the reporting now that Rosenstein is frustrated that the media and the White House have portrayed him in being pivotal in the firing of James Comey?
LIEU: I agree that Rod Rosenstein has every right to be angry. The President of United States should have told him he was going to fire Comey because of the Russian investigation and because the President told the whole world a few days after he did it that that`s why he did it. Instead, he had Rosenstein write a memo, and then he used that memo as a fake cover story. He was using Rod Rosenstein and I can certainly understand why Rob Rosenstein was angry about that.
VELSHI: Guys, thanks very much for joining me this evening, Congressman Ted Lieu and Matt Miller. For on whether the President should be able to nominate a Supreme Court Justice while he`s under investigation I`m joined by former Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California who now hosts the podcast Fight Back and former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma. Welcome to both of you. Thank you for being here. I want to pick up right where we left off. Mickey Edwards, this is as Congressman Lieu said, just a weird conversation that we`re even having, but the fact is it has been had before during President Nixon`s term and the Watergate investigation. He had appointed four justices all before the board burglary and Justice Rehnquist did recuse himself for having worked in the Trump -- the Nixon administration even though there was no accusation of anything else there. So tell me with this context how you feel about this discussion?
MICKEY EDWARDS, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Well, you know, first of all, I think not only whoever he nominates now and is elevated to the Supreme Court should recuse himself in any question about this investigation and whether or not the President is guilty of obstruction, collusion but also I think Justice Gorsuch should too. He was also appointed by this President and I think that -- ordinarily you would say that that does not cause for them to recuse themselves but in this case, where it`s an investigation of the president directly, I think they should. I think this is a proper behavior.
VELSHI: So Barbara Boxer, this is an interesting intellectual conversation. It`s an interesting political conversation and is an interesting legislative conversation, but in the end Republican leadership in the Senate, your former colleagues aren`t interested in having this discussion. They`re not discussing whether or not they think Roe v. Wade should be challenged or overturned or a different case like the one in Iowa brought up to have that discussion. They`re certainly not discussing justices recusing themselves because of the investigation into Donald Trump. So politically, what do Democrats do about this?
BARBARA BOXER, FORMER DEMOCRATIC SENATOR: Well, first of all, there`s no surprise that the way they`re acting whether these Republicans -- and I say to my friend Mickey how I long for Republicans like him because he was an independent voice. But we have these lap dogs. They`re all lap dogs for this President. They`re scared to death of him because he`s so popular with an increasingly right-wing base. And so that`s why they don`t want to talk about the reality that faces the American people. Ali, here`s the thing. The Supreme Court is the last stop on the American justice train.
There is nothing more important than this kind of appointment. It ought to be somebody who can pull more than 51 votes. It ought to be someone that can garner the respect of all sides because every issue that America cares about whether it`s health care for their families, whether it`s human rights, civil rights, who they can love and who they can marry, whether it`s a woman`s right to choose does she have that respect, she has it now, will she lose it, these are critical questions. But my Republican friends are hypocritical because as we know McConnell said clearly let`s wait 11 months and not allow Barack Obama to have his appointment but he`s silent on that issue when it comes to Trump. We`re going to rush it through, ram it through, and Trump gets to pick a juror on his trial.
VELSHI: Mickey, here`s the thing. There may be no legislative or obviously political avenue in Congress for Democrats to do something about this but there are marches. There is public opinion. We saw the influence public opinion had during ObamaCare. It was close but it actually worked. What can happen? Because to Barbara`s point, the President is more popular than most Republican members of Congress or the Senate and as a result unlike in Nixon`s era, unlike in Watergate they didn`t see the president as -- they don`t see the President today`s an albatross.
EDWARDS: You know, but this is really not just about Donald Trump. The constituents of these Senators did not take an oath to support the Constitution the Senators did. And so the burden really is on the -- I totally agree with what Barbara has said about the behavior of the Republican Senators to this point and I think what we need now is -- marches help and demonstrations help but we need people showing up at the offices of Republican Senators, their constituents showing up and saying here is where you show why you should or should not be a member of the United States Senate. This is now not about the President. This is about whether or not the United States is going to fulfill its constitutional obligations to really vet a nominee and to make sure that any nominee who is elevated to the court is sworn to look you know, fairly and partially at the law and not do the bidding of whoever appointed him or her.
VELSHI: Barbara Boxer, when you were in the Senate, women senators were quite rare. They`re still not all that plentiful but the bottom is -- bottom line is there are a lot of references to women Republican Senators who are being called upon to take a tough position to guarantee the rights of women as it pertains to Roe v. Wade. Do you think that`s a fair burden and do you think it`s a necessary one?
BOXER: It should be a burden on every Senator female or male because Roe v. Wade protected women`s lives. And through the Liberty Clause of the Constitution said we women have a right to privacy. If we are religious and our religion says no abortion fine. If our religion says you can have some leeway or we don`t practice any religion, fine. That`s what a woman`s right to choose is and Roe gave us that choice. So I don`t -- I don`t see this as a woman`s issue. I see this as a human rights issue, as a civil rights issue, and as an issue that touches every single family. And this Senate in both sides of the aisle, all of them are responsible. And I do believe because I did have Ed Markey on my podcast, thanks for mentioning it, he said he was going to every single tool in the toolbox to stop this, and slow it, and drag it out and you can be sure that right now there are closed-door meetings looking at that rulebook and how we can slow this thing down until the American people get engaged in it.
VELSHI: Barbara Boxer, great to have you again, thank you.
EDWARDS: Can I add one more thing?
VELSHI: Sure, real quick.
EDWARDS: Can I add one more, one very quickly.
EDWARDS: And Roe v Wade is a big issue here but when you look at the travel ban, you look at tariffs, you know, this is our -- this Supreme Court nomination is a very important, very important.
VELSHI: Yes, Donald Trump himself said it. This is maybe the next 40 or 45 years of our future. He`s right. Thanks to both of you Barbara Boxer and Mickey Edwards. Great conversation.
EDWARDS: Thank you.
VELSHI: Coming up next, Republicans are running away from questions about the future of Roe v Wade that we were just talking about. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says now is the time to fight harder than ever. That interview in two minutes.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: What I`m asking you, sir, is do you want to see the court overturn? You just said you want to see the court protect the Second Amendment, do you want to see the court overturned Roe v Wade?
TRUMP: Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on that`s really what`s going to be -- that will happen and that`ll happen automatically in my opinion because I am putting pro-life and justices on the court. I will say this, it will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination.
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VELSHI: That was October 2016, less than a month before the election. Donald Trump was quite clear about whether he planned to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v Wade. Today however in a taped interview for Fox News, Trump sounded like he didn`t know where he stood on women`s health.
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BARTIROMO: Are you going to ask your nominees beforehand how they might vote on Roe vs. Wade?
TRUMP: Well, that`s a big one and probably not. They`re all saying don`t do that, you don`t do that, you shouldn`t do that, but I`m putting conservative people on.
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VELSHI: All right, now Republican lawmakers also want to play coy and dance around the issue of overturning Roe v Wade.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator once, in a generation opportunity to appoint a judge that will overturn Roe v Wade. Are you excited about that?
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Listen, I`m looking forward to finishing Senate business this year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you excited to confirm a judge that will overturn Roe v Wade?
SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: We`re in the middle of a conversation.
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: We have no idea if we`ll overturn Roe v Wade. There`s no way to guess a judge when they`re coming through the process.
SEN. JOHN BOOZMAN (R), ARKANSAS: It`s really, you know, not knowing who he`s going to pick for and stuff. I think it`s really premature to get into those things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is that when you`re looking forward to taking?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you pretty happy?
REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: No comment. I`m with my family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can finally do it overturn Roe v Wade with the right justice, is it something you`re looking forward to?
REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: I`m an economist, so I`m looking into all the stuff right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like you guys have a real shot of overturning Roe v Wade.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Is it going to rain?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Congressman, are you --
REP. MARK WALKER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I have a meeting, sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ll run with it. Are you optimistic about the Supreme Court --
WALKER: I have a meeting, I`m sorry.
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VELSHI: All right, earlier Chris Hayes spoke with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat from New York. He asked her about the reaction coming from her friends across the aisle.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Senator, so some of your Republican colleagues who were pretty clear about their views of abortion in Roe v Wade have gotten very silent about this issue in the last 24 hours, why is that?
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: It`s because they know that what this justice is about is about overturning Roe v Wade because President Trump was really clear. He said that they would automatically overturn Roe v Wade with the next justice as soon as he got to nominees. He`s given us a list of 25 justice -- potential justice nominees and he said all of them are being listed because they will overturn Roe v Wade. So this is really a question of do value women in this country? Do you want to protect women in this country? Do you believe women should have the right to make their own reproductive choices, their own health care decisions? It`s a basic human right at issue right now, a human right, a civil right of all women in America.
HAYES: Let me -- I want to play you Leonard Leo who a lot of people don`t know about but is basically the person who is in charge of selecting judicial nominees for the president vetting them. He`s a very powerful individual. He was on CBS this morning and this is what he said about the Roe issue. I want you to take a listen and respond.
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LEONARD LEO, LAWYER: Roe v Wade has been a scare tactic that`s gone back 36 years all the way back to Justice Sandra O`Connor`s nomination to the court. And you know, nothing has happened to Roe in that period of time. And for me, it`s not about Roe v Wade. For constitutional conservatives, that`s not what it`s about. It`s about interpreting the Constitution as it`s written and basically interpreting the limits on government power because that`s really the way to preserve human dignity in our country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hear you but should we be worried about Roe v Wade?
LEO: I don`t think -- I don`t think people should be worried about Roe v Wade or any other particular case.
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HAYES: Do you buy that?
GILLIBRAND: No, I don`t buy it and who cares what he thinks anyway, it`s what President Trump thinks. President Trump has told the American people I intend to overturn Roe v Wade. So whatever that pundit thinks, he`s not the one who`s choosing the justice and president Trump has put together his list specifically to find someone who will undermine women`s choices for reproductive care. He also wants to criminalize abortion in this country. They are literally trying to punish women. Didn`t President Trump say during the campaign, we have to punish them somehow? He does not value women.
And so every woman and man in America who cares about women`s reproductive freedom and the ability of women to make their own judgments about their own body should be speaking out and fighting hard and defeat whoever this next nominee is. My (AUDIO GAP), vote until after the election, that was Mitch McConnell standard and he should live by the standard he set.
HAYES: Well, here`s the question. I mean, I think there`s two minds of this. One is that Mitch McConnell is so ruthless, Republicans are so united on Supreme Court, they have it in their grasp, they`re just going to do whatever it takes. And the other is that like, no, if they`ve got a one-vote majority as of now in terms of people that can -- that are able to vote and you know, they`ve lost nominees before. Which of those do you think it is?
GILLIBRAND: They`ve lost nominees before because America has stood up and spoken out. So I would just urge all your viewers, now is the time to mobilize, to march, to use all access to social media, to traditional media to be heard on this issue. Call your senators, protest senators who aren`t with you. Elevate your voice in any way you can. It`s about America and whether we value women and whether women should have equal rights, equal freedoms, equal liberty. It`s an issue of life and death for a lot of women. I mean, if you can`t protect a girl who has been raped by a family member an incest, you can`t protect a woman who if she takes a child to term will die in delivery, it`s unconscionable what we are saying about not having equality for living in this country.
HAYES: Do you think that your colleagues are persuadable on this question? Everyone`s been focusing on Collins and Murkowski who reputatively of pro- choice, although they voted for Justice Alito and Justice Roberts. What do you -- what is your read of the persuade ability or getability of Republican members of the Senate?
GILLIBRAND: It all matters how much people protest and speak out. It really -- if every senator hears from their constituents loudly clearly with personal stories, outrage, with concern, they might change their minds. That`s how democracy works. That`s what democracy looks like.
HAYES: Do you feel that way? Like you`re a sitting senator --
GILLIBRAND: I do.
HAYES: Does it matter when people -- when people are calling you and e- mailing you and --
GILLIBRAND: It does. It does, Chris. It matters so much. In fact when you know, during a lot of these nomination battles for cabinet members, I read constituent letters from the Senate floor because they were so powerful, because they were so heartfelt. So all people in America especially women, tell your story speak out, talk about why this basic civil right and civil liberty is so important to you and why it would be such a degradation of our human value to be telling women when they have children, how many children they have and whether they can have access to basic contraception to care, basic reproductive rights. It`s unconscionable what this president is trying to do and I just don`t think this is fair and right and I think people should fight. They should fight now more than they`ve ever fought before.
HAYES: All right, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, thank you.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
VELSHI: All right, the senator says stand up and speak out. Coming up next, across the country, massive protests are planned tomorrow opposing the President`s immigration policies. How organizers expect to translate turnout into change after this.
VELSHI: The Trump presidency has ushered in an era of mass mobilization, from the Women`s March the day after his inauguration, which drew enormous crowds, to ongoing protests to save Obamacare over a stretch of months, to the March For Our Lives this year in favor of gun control after a series of mass shootings that have left so many Americans dead, and now, tomorrow, protesters plan literally hundreds of events around the country against the administration`s separation of immigrant families at the border.
Anna Galland is the executive director of MoveOn Civic Action, one of the organizers of tomorrow`s events. Anna, thanks for being with me.
I guess the question we have here coming off of Kirsten Gillibrand`s comments about stand up and speak out, how do you translate the remarkable energy that has been with us since the election of Donald Trump and has probably only grown, into actual change? I know at all of these events there are voter registrations, but ultimately the clock is ticking, and now with the Supreme Court vacancy it has become more urgent.
ANNA GALLAND, MOVON CIVIC ACTION: Yeah, well, I mean first I would say showing up is one of the most important things we can do, it is necessary, but not sufficient, to end the political crisis we are caught in right now. Tomorrow is just going to be an incredible day. We`ve pulled it together in 13 days and we have 750 events in every corner of the country, not just tens of thousands of people expected in the biggest cities, although, yes that, but also there are events in Lubbock, Texas, and Wichita, Kansas and Lansborough (ph), Minnesota, which is a town with 700 people and they have an event that they`re holding, they`re starting off on a local baseball field.
Like this is a moment that I want to really emphasize for people, you underestimate it at your peril.
So, to your question, so how do we get from here to where we need to go? First of all, we show up. Next week, it`s a congressional recess, so people will be looking to get their member of congress on the record. Where do you stand on caging children? Where do you stand on indefinite family internment camps? Where do you stand on this zero tolerance so- called policy, which is really a zero humanity policy, a prosecute everyone who is seeking refuge, seeking asylum at our borders policy?
So we`ll be getting people on the record. We`ll be ready to keep showing up. We`re going to be asking for corporations like Wells Fargo and others that are profiting from the detention of families to understand that there is going to be a significant amount of consumer blowback if they continue. And then we will march to the polls and we will change the tide, we will turn it back, and we`re going to get out of this crisis.
I keep saying to people who are sending me these messages of really quite despair and outrage after such a tough week, I keep saying to them, look, there is no way out of this crisis but through. We are going to organize our way out of this crisis, and it starts tomorrow.
VELSHI: And it`s important to remind people there is no offense, it is internationally recognized, there is no offense in seeking asylum. And crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor crime for which you would never round people up or separate them or imprison them. It`s just important to get that fact out. Nobody in these camps has committed a crime.
But let`s just talk about something else, it is visceral to see children separated from their parents. It is visceral to understand that people can`t come here, because of a ban because of their religion. It is visceral to understand that being gay is not -- does not afford you the same rights as everyone else. It is visceral to understand abortion rights. It`s not as visceral to discuss the appointment of a Supreme Court justice, but it`s way more important than all of these topics.
GALLAND: I mean, it`s critically important. And what I`m seeing right now is that the explosive grass-roots energy that we are seeing, that we have seen in the last few weeks, which has been sustained in various forms since Trump`s election, we have enough grass-roots energy to fight on these various fronts, right. We can, it`s a -- we`re going to have to work hard, but we can defeat the Supreme Court justice nominee. We can get out there and defend abortion rights in this country, defend people`s right to marry the person that they love. We can get out there and win that battle if we fight hard and if we put our values and our stories front and center.
And can we end the separation of children from their parents by this administration? Absolutely. And -- again, it`s going to come to whether we show up in the numbers that we have because we are the majority in this country.
The majority of Americans are desperately shocked and outraged and appalled and heartbroken by what this administration is doing to our democracy, to our communities, to our fundamental values. And it`s important for us to show up not just to send that message to decision makers, to the broad public, but it`s actually important for us to come out and see each other. Folks might remember that feeling from the women`s marched when you looked around and thought oh, my god, I`m not alone.
VELSHI: Anna, thanks so much for joining me tonight. Anna Galland, thank you.
All right, still to come, how a comedian tried to prank call the White House and apparently got a call back from the president who was on Air Force One. We`ll play you the recordings and talk about how that happened ahead.
Plus, reigning Thing one Thing Two champion Scott Pruitt is back next.
VELSHI: Thing One tonight, Scott Pruitt still has a job as head of the EPA despite an ever-growing slew of scandals like one of our recent favorites involving an old Trump hotel mattress. As you may recall, Scott Pruitt asked a top aide in charge of his scheduling, a government employee paid with public money, with helping him secure a used Trump branded mattress from the president`s Washington, D.C. hotel. The Trump Home Luxury Plush Euro Top, to be specific.
Now, Pruitt`s aide told a congressional committee about this in May. And when news of her testimony broke this month and blew up into mattressgate, she resigned. But that wasn`t enough for Pruitt. According to new reporting, he wanted vengeance. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
VELSHI: We learned about Scott Pruitt`s desire for an old Trump mattress thanks to one of his former top aides, Millan Hupp, who resigned shortly after her testimony about the incident went public. Now, sources tell The Daily Beast that Pruitt was livid over Hupp`s testimony, which he felt had been particularly humiliating. And he proceeded to mount a campaign to blacklist her in the conservative movement, a move that former senior EPA officials have described as -- and this is a direct quote -- rat effing.
Pruitt, quote, "personally reached out to allies to insist that she had lied about or at least misunderstood the request for a used Trump mattress, he also stressed that Hupp could not be trusted, the implication being that she should not be hired at their institutions," end quote.
Apparently, that kind of vindictive behavior is par for the course with Pruitt who reportedly demands loyalty among those in his inner circle, but doesn`t reciprocate it to his aides.
Well, that sounds familiar. I guess you can`t blame him for just following his boss` lead.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BOB MELENDEZ, COMEDIAN: So this is it, Stuttering John from the bowels of Chatsworth, California, gets -- makes three phone calls and gets to talk to the president.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VELSHI: All right, NBC News has not independently verified the story I`m about to tell you, but if it`s real -- and the White House isn`t saying it isn`t -- wow.
For some content for his podcast the comedian John Melendez, a former Howard Stern sidekick, decided to call the White House and pretend he was an aide to Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey whom he claimed wanted to talk to Trump.
It was, frankly, not a very convincing performance. Melendez the comedian gave the White House his own unblocked cell phone number and he spoke with what can charitably be called a truly horrible British accent. Listen to the exchange when a White House operator called him back to verify the phone number.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, Sean Moore, this is the White House operator?
MELENDEZ: Yes, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m fine. I just had to verify your phone number. I noticed it`s a California area code.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that a cell phone? Because we don`t that listed under the senator`s information.
MELENDEZ: Yes. Well, it`s only because we`re on vacation, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you`re on vacation, OK, great. I just needed to clarify that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VELSHI: OK, great. Just needed to clarify that.
After that, Melendez got a call from someone who very much sounds like Trump who says he`s calling from aboard Air Force One. The White House, as I said, isn`t commenting on this call, but it isn`t denying it, either.
The conversation kicks off with what sounds like Trump congratulating the man he thinks is Senator Menendez for avoiding jail time in a federal corruption trial.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hi, Bob.
MELENDEZ: Hello. How are you?
TRUMP: How are you? Congratulations on everything. We`re proud of you. Congratulations. Great job. You went through a tough, tough situation and I don`t think a very fair situation but congratulations.
MELENDEZ: Thank you so much.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: All right, when we come back, more from that amazing phone call and what it says about the dysfunction in the White House when a former Howard Stern sidekick can apparently get the president on the phone without very much effort at all. Stay with us.
VELSHI: OK, the White House tonight has not commenting on what appears to be a successful prank call from a former Howard Stern sidekick who, while pretending to be Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, apparently got through to President Trump on the phone.
Now, this hasn`t been confirmed by NBC News, but here`s more from the conversation we brought you before the break beginning with the fake Bob Menendez explaining why he supposedly cares about immigration.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MELENDEZ: I am Hispanic, so I have to, you know, I have to, you know, I have to -- I`m sure you understand.
TRUMP: Oh, I understand.
MELENDEZ: You know, so I have -- you know, I have to look good to my -- you know, I have to look good to my people as well, you understand.
TRUMP: I agree. I agree.
So Bob, here`s what -- let me do this, I`m on Air Force One. I`m just coming back. We had an amazing rally in North Dakota actually.
MELENDEZ: Yeah, I saw the speech. I saw the speech.
TRUMP: You know, it`s a tough race.
Say it again?
MELENDEZ: I saw the speech. And I thought it was -- I thought it was a great speech.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VELSHI: Sounds like the president.
The fake Menendez then asks about the Supreme Court pick and then signs off on a call with what seems to actually be the president of the united States with a Howard Stern catchphrase.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MELENDEZ: Good luck on your trip and thank you so much for taking my call.
TRUMP: You take care. I will speak to you soon, Bob. Take care of yourself.
MELENDEZ: All right, thanks, thanks, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Thank you, Bob. I`ll talk to you soon. Bye.
MELENDEZ: All right. Ba Babooey to you.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VELSHI: Ba Babooey to you, Mr. President.
Joining me now to discuss this incident potentially and what it says about the White House, Michelle Goldberg, columnist at the New York Time, Chris Lu, former White House cabinet secretary and assistant to President Obama, and Asawin Seubsaeng, White House reporter at The Daily Beast.
Asawin, let`s start with you. You`ve got some reporting on this?
ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, from senior officials I`ve been talking to in Trump`s West Wing, they`re still, last I spoke to them, earlier tonight trying to figure out exactly what happened here, but the best that they believe that happened was the comedian called in multiple times to the White House switchboard and was turned away. Then he started impersonating someone supposedly on Bob Menendez`s staff. And they managed to get all the way to the White House legislative affairs office, which found it fishy enough to shoot down the idea of connecting him to the president.
They still somehow managed to get a hold of Jared Kushner, the president`s son-in-law and senior adviser, who ended up patching the call to the president of the United States on Air Force One. Now, this is what they`re not publicly acknowledging, but what they believe had happened.
So there is a good amount of throwing Jared under the bus right now in Trump`s West Wing.
So what they haven`t said is that the reporting of this call, the playing of this call, that`s not the president`s voice. He didn`t call. This is interesting to me, because it`s several hours in and the White House hasn`t said anything about this.
Michelle Goldberg -- and Annie Carney, by the way, tweeted about this earlier. She said, "more on the sloppy protocol," this is to what Asawin was just saying, "legislative affairs was notified of the call, checked with Mendenez`s chief of staff who said he was not trying to reach the president of the United States. Legislative affairs said kill the call. It was patched through, however, reportedly by kushner."
Michelle, the issue here is it`s funny, it`s a joke, this is what the Howard Stern people do, but it`s actually kind of serious. The world is a tinder box. There are all sorts of very serious things going on.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think we should assume that at some point hostile intelligence services...
VELSHI: They could hack our systems if you just call the president.
GOLDBERG: If they haven`t done it already, they`re certainly going to do it now. I mean, it just shows the unbelievable sloppiness with security that you see throughout this administration. You see it in the way Donald Trump uses his cell phone. You see in the use of private email accounts, which is the reason purportedly that we have this catastrophic presidency in the first place.
I mean, it`s so blindingly obvious that these -- every day these people are in charge of the American government we are all in serious peril, and that`s going to get worse and worse and worse as more and more and more people who are at least semi-competent head for the exits.
VELSHI: So, this is an interesting point, Chris Lu, that there is danger to this. You know, we often talk about the White House drama and a lot of people say I don`t care about the White House drama it`s got nothing to do with me. This is not the office of a CEO of a public company, this is much more important.
A White House in this sort of disarray faces some serious threats in this day and age.
CHRIS LU, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CABINET SECRETARY: Absolutely.
Look, I`m a Howard Stern fan, and so at some level I found this funny. But it is an important point, it is not unreasonable to think that this has already been done at another instance, possibly by a foreign agent, and it leads to you wonder what other information the president has unwittingly disclosed.
Beyond that, we know that there are multiple security breaches within this administration. It`s not only the president using a cell phone that doesn`t have the latest security precautions on it, the fact that he disclosed classified information to a Russian foreign minister, that he disclosed information about a Syrian operation to donors, that people like Rob Porter had access to classified information for long periods of time without security clearances.
So, this is an administration that simply doesn`t take security seriously.
VELSHI: Asawin, let`s just talk about this for a while. I mean, we were talking about the potential departure of John Kelly. We`re talking about the fact that maybe the president won`t even replace the chief of staff. He doesn`t really listen to his chief of staff. Maybe there will be a communications director. Who knows?
But the fact is this is where the problem comes in. When you -- you know, these poor chief of staffs of old who never got any recognition, people are now starting to take it seriously to say there need to be some rules around the president, whether you like him or not. And this sort of underscores the problem we`ve all been talking about.
He didn`t listen to senior advisers. As Michelle says, they`re all heading for the exits. The White House held a job fair the other day to try and find people. Is there any sense of discipline one day coming back to the White House under this administration?
SUEBSAENG: Well, it`s certainly not a day that ends in the letter Y unless there`s an exacerbated level of dysfunction permeating Trump world, and that`s just standard operating procedure in the Trump era.
But I think I`d be remiss to not point out that with all of the maddening mayhem infecting the Trump White House right now, look at how much the president has managed to get done when it comes to things like hardline draconian immigration policy. He`s about to appoint his second Supreme Court justice.
So I want your viewers to imagine just for a moment what Trumpland could get accomplished if we didn`t have this...
VELSHI: If they were disciplined.
SUEBSAENG: If they didn`t have this level...
VELSHI: If it was orderly.
VELSHI: That`s an interesting point.
And Michelle, to that point the border stuff is sloppy, it`s like the Muslim ban, it was sloppy. I mean, anybody can get something through the Supreme Court if you get that many chances to do a redo.
But the Supreme Court stuff`s not sloppy. For whatever reason, the Trump administration has decided they`re not appointing Donald Trump buddies and friends and cronies and personal lawyers to the Supreme Court, they`re going through the Federalist Society, and the Heritage Foundation, and getting quite possibly confirmable nominees.
So it is interesting, the weird chaotic White House does have some success...
GOLDBERG: That shouldn`t be mistaken for savvy, right? I mean, that`s just luck that Anthony Kennedy is 81 years old and decided to resign.
Most of their other successes have come from their willingness to destroy things without regard for the consequences, right. I mean, this border policy wasn`t well executed, but the fact is they don`t care, which is why they`re able to get away with it.
Nevertheless, we have these kind of nihilist tic people who do not care at all what becomes of the rest of us who are become to make a decision that`s not going to affect just my lives, my children`s lives, my grandchildren`s lives if I ever have them. And I feel like because they are completely beholden to this small minority of the country that elected Trump and still believes in him.
VELSHI: We`ll close on that thought.
Thanks to all of you. Michelle Goldberg, Asawin Suebsaeng, and Chris Lu, thank you all for being with me.
That`s ALL IN for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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