CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And Kennedy by the way just for memory, was appointed as Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. And now with Kennedy gone from the court, the key vote is expected to fall to as I said, Brett Kavanaugh. Will he continue Justice Kennedy`s legacy? Will he carry on the embrace of the LGBTQ community by the Constitution and bill of rights?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any other person who had engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted.
REID: Impeachment talk continues.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Its effects, the path -- the fact-finding takes us there. We have no choice but we`re not there yet.
REID: As the White House openly defies House Democrats.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s called presidential harassment.
REID: Tonight, Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings on his latest escalation with the Trump administration. Then --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he going to accept Russian help in the 2020 election?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t understand the question.
REID: Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez on the Republican indifference to the Mueller report. Plus, the lawyer who argued today`s census case in the Supreme Court joins me live. Joe Biden`s big announcement about his big announcement. And is Donald Trump about to get another primary opponent?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People have asked me to give this serious consideration.
REID: ALL IN starts now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Good evening from New York I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. Democratic leaders in Congress are resisting calls to open impeachment proceedings after the Mueller report presented strong evidence that the President committed obstruction of justice.
In a long and contentious conference call last night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders urged their members to stay the course and stick with the plan of investigating the president through the various committee probes already underway. That Democratic leaders say is how they`re going to hold Donald Trump accountable.
While Democrats are doing business as usual, the White House is going to warfighting every effort at oversight by the legislative branch. To them, it doesn`t seem to matter who has the law or the Constitution on their side. With every power play, Republicans are testing the proposition the Democrats won`t have the guts to fight back.
Today was the second deadline from the House Ways and Means Committee for the Treasury Department to turn over the President`s tax returns under a law that explicitly gives the committee`s chairman access to any taxpayer`s information.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is continuing to stall telling the chairman he needs -- he needs till May 6th to make up his mind about whether to comply. But this morning a White House spokesman said compliance is not going to happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOGAN GIDLEY, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, as I understand it, the President is pretty clear, once he`s out of audit he`ll think about doing it. But he`s not inclined to do so at this time. He turned over hundreds of pages of a financial disclosure form during the campaign. Everyone knows he`s a very successful billionaire. He`s had a lot of success in the business world. But people see what he`s been able to accomplish and there is nothing nefarious there at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: For the record, the IRS Commissioner testified a couple of weeks ago that an audit would not bar someone`s tax returns from being released. Last night the House Judiciary Committee called its first major witness to testify on the Mueller report sending a subpoena to Don McGahn, the former White House Counsel, who gave key evidence in the obstruction investigation.
Asked today about the subpoena, the White House would not rule out invoking executive privilege to try and stop McGahn from testifying. That`s just one of the ways that they`re fighting congressional subpoenas.
Yesterday the President and his business sued Elijah Cummings, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee to block a subpoena for financial records from their accounting firm. A move that`s without precedent in recent history and now that withholding a key witness in the committee`s investigation of White House security clearances.
The White House has told Carl Kline who reportedly overruled career staff to grant a clearance to Jared Kushner not to comply with the subpoena unless a White House lawyer could come with him. So today when Kline was due to give testimony, nobody showed up. And now House Oversight is considering whether to hold him in contempt of Congress.
The White House is waging a campaign of massive resistance echoing southern efforts to resist school integration after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown versus the Board of Education. While Democrats are trying to uphold the law "with all deliberate speed as the Supreme Court put it in 1955," Trump and his cronies are stomping all over the constitution and daring anyone to try and stop them.
I`m joined now by the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Congressman Elijah Cummings who was just sued by the president. Chairman Cummings, thank you so much for being here.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): It`s good to be with you.
REID: So first let`s get -- let me get your reaction to this lawsuit, this unprecedented lawsuit suing you, your committee for requesting Donald Trump`s financial and business records.
CUMMINGS: Well, Joy, first of all, I was not surprised because this administration has done everything in its power and use every means necessary to block the Congress from getting the information that we need to do our job. Not only are they blocking witnesses for coming forward, Joy, but they have not given us one document upon our requests.
And so they basically you know, the American people said in the last election, we want to hold Donald Trump accountable. But, Joy, it`s impossible to hold them accountable if we don`t get any information and he`s trampling on the Constitution, no doubt about it.
REID: And Josh Marshall, you know, I used the phrase massive resistance in the opening, he does as well. He says they`re flatly refusing the White to comply with ordinary document production and testimonial requests across the board. It`s not a difference of degree but of kind. In and of itself, it`s an impeachment-worthy refusal to follow the constitutionally mandated framework of American government.
Short of impeaching the president or the officials who are refusing to comply with your document requests, how can Democrats cause this White House to comply with the article one powers requests?
CUMMINGS: Well, the number one thing that we`re going to do next with regard to Mr. Kline who did not appear today is that we will hold a vote of our committee shortly to hold them in contempt and then we will check with House Counsel to Congressional Council to see where we go from there.
But the fact is that the Republicans really do need to cooperate with us to make sure that this president does not trample on the Constitution. And the thing -- the thing about it, Joy, is when we allow these things that happen, basically what the Congress is doing is -- and that is the Republicans in the Congress -- are allowing President Trump to take away our power and in turn, take away the power of our constituents.
REID: Well, the question I think that a lot of people have, Chairman Cummings, is Democrats clearly want to hold Donald Trump to account, Democrats are subpoenaing witnesses and documents and trying to do the normal course of oversight. Republicans have made it very clear that they are not going to help you. They are not going to defy this president even to defend their own branch of government.
So I guess what the American people want to know is what else can Democrats do? What can Democrats do? Is there something over issuing letters? What can Democrats do?
CUMMINGS: Yes. We`re doing what we have to do is what we are doing now. We`ve got to take that Mueller report which by the way is a roadmap for a lot of investigations, and we`ve got to do what Chairman Nadler has already done that is make sure that we subpoena the unredacted Mueller report, and then bring in Mueller and Barr to hear what they have to say.
And I understand that he is also subpoenaed McGahn, but keep in mind the recent articles this evening to say that the White House will be even going against that. In other words, they are doing a blockade. But I --so we`ve got to do our research. We`ve got -- and keep in mind there`s still 14 areas that Mueller referred to the New York U.S. Attorney`s offices. And so that very well and may involve the president -- it may involve the president.
Keep in mind we also have Trump`s testimony. So what we`ve got to do is get all of the information. That`s one of the things that Speaker Pelosi has said. She wants us to be very careful. We want to be transparent, but we also want to do it, Joy, with integrity, so do the American people can buy into it.
The American people have got to help us to force this issue to make sure that the president is obeying the law.
REID: Well, sir, you know, do you understand why a lot of Democrats, a lot of people in the base say the Democrats are being deliberate and playing by the rules but the other side has thrown the rulebook out the window and has burned it.
I mean, President Andrew Johnson was impeached for violating the tenure of office act in firing the Secretary of War. One violation of that law and he was impeached by the House of Representatives.
So do you understand why a lot of Democrats say what is the -- what is the Democratic House waiting for?
CUMMINGS: Joy, I understand completely. I think a lot of us are torn because we realize that if this president continues down the path that we are going, we won`t have a democracy. We get -- we understand that. But at the same time going back to Speaker Pelosi, what -- all she`s trying to do is make sure we get all of our ducks in a row.
Nobody is saying that this thing may not end up in an impeachment. But we realize that impeachment is a very serious thing and we`re going to do it - - do whatever we have to do, but first, we`re going to have to do our research and we`re going to do it exceedingly well.
REID: Well, when will -- when can the American people expect to see Robert Mueller testify and will that testimony be public?
CUMMINGS: That`s going -- I expected that it will be public. I`m not sure exactly when Mr. Nadler, Chairman Nadler has that scheduled. But again, I -- what I would expect though, is that the White House will continue to fight anybody coming before the Congress.
In other words, they basically would do away with the Congress. There would be no Congress if we`re not -- if it were this White House. So what we -- but don`t -- I want to say to the public, understand, we are -- we are laser focus on what we have to do.
We realize that that people are impatient, that they anxiously want to see this president impeached. But on the other hand, they have to understand that we got to do that but we`re also going to deal with all of the issues like the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs, the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, pre-existing conditions, things of that nature, infrastructure.
We`re going to -- we`re doing all of those things too. But -- so we`re going down two lanes here, Joy.
REID: And I know you had -- the committee is working on things regarding drug price. I know it`s very important to the American people. But is it not possible to work on that drug price issue, things that you just mentioned but also pursue the lane -- the impeachment lane if that`s what`s called for if as you say the White House is simply trying to negate the existence of the United States Congress?
CUMMINGS: Yes, no doubt about it. We are -- I`ve often said that we are doing -- in my committee, we`re definitely doing both, and I think all the other committees are doing both. In other words, we`re doing those things that affect the American people, but we`re also dealing with the whole idea of exposing this president as he takes apart our democracy and basically is done I think harm to our country.
But again, Joy, keep in mind, we do not have -- there`s no way that we`re going to get 20 votes in the Senate. We can indict him basically, but then what does the Senate do. But I also believe that there will come a point in time possibly where the evidence will be so overwhelming particularly when you look at the Mueller report that the public will say you know what, this man, President Trump does not reflect our values.
We`re tired of the lies. We`re tired of him instructing people to lie. We`re tired of the deceit, and then -- and then I think they`ll look and see what they`ve gotten from him, hired taxes for the middle class, and they`re going to say wait a minute, all the things, a lot of the things, most of the things he said he was going to do he did not do.
REID: Yes. And my final question to you, sir, that you know, Republicans back in the 1990s believed that Bill Clinton who was a duly elected president deserves to have the mark of impeachment on him, they were not successful in removing him, but they wanted to put that mark on him. Do you believe that Donald Trump deserves to have the mark of impeachment as you said of indictment whether or not he would be removed?
CUMMINGS: I think -- I think he does. I think -- if you just read the model report in and of itself. Joy, let me -- let`s be clear. When you look at the Mueller report, the ten items that Mueller pointed out with regard to obstruction, if you take any one of those, anybody in the United States that I know of would probably already be indicted, except the President of the United States.
REID: Yes. Congressman Elijah Cummings, thank you so much for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
REID: Thank you very much. And for more on what Democrats should do about all the stonewalling, I am joined by Chris Lu former Cabinet Secretary to President Obama and former Counsel to the House Oversight Committee, and Joe Conason, Editor in Chief of the National Memo who covered the Clinton impeachment as a Columnist for the New York Observer.
Thank you both for being here. And Mr. Lu, you aren`t at a disadvantage. I`m going to go to you on this first. If in fact the White House defies subpoenas for the duly requested testimony of Mr. Kline regarding the clearances issued to Jared Kushner, of Don McGahn for the former -- he`s not even currently White House Counsel, the former White House Counsel, if they refused to allow those men to testify in front of Congress, what legally can the House Oversight Committee do?
CHRIS LU, FORMER CABINET SECRETARY TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Joy, we know exactly what they should do because we know what the Republicans did to Obama officials in 2012. They held Eric Holder, then the Attorney General in contempt of Congress in the course of an investigation in which the White House produce 7,000 pages of documents and made witnesses available for 11 different hearings.
So if Mr. Kline does not testify, he should be held in contempt of Congress as should the White House Counsel. And frankly, let`s add on to that the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who today again defied an order to produce the President`s tax returns, notwithstanding the fact that the statute clearly says he shall furnish them upon the request of the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means.
REID: Right. And we`ve never had a president defy a subpoena in that way before. Richard Nixon at the end of the day produced the tapes when they were subpoenaed. He never forced the country to test the proposition that a president could simply refuse to follow the law.
If Steve Mnuchin refuses to follow the law, if the IRS Commissioner refuses to follow the law, what sanction can actually be applied? Can these men -- can the sergeant-at-arms be sent over to go and get the tax returns? I mean, I think what people want to know is practically what can be done to make them comply?
LU: Well, I think the issue as Chairman Cummings has said, is one issue is going to the House Counsel`s Office and purpose of pursuing legal remedies. Obviously, if somebody is held in contempt of Congress, that is then referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.
As we`ve learned in the past, trying to prosecute a cabinet member for contempt of Congress is very challenging. But you raise -- look, whether you can ultimately succeed in this or not, Congress has to assert its role as a co-equal branch of government. And that`s not just about punishing this president, it`s about establishing clear guardrails of democracy for future presidents.
REID: And so Joe Conason, I ask those questions to get to a point which is that there may not be built into our constitutional framework a way to cause the President of the United States and his cabinet to comply with the law, because there`s no sanction.
The Justice Department is run by one William Barr. Does anyone in their right mind think that William Barr would prosecute for contempt of Congress a member of the administration of the President for his -- to whom he submitted a job interview saying oh, that Mueller -- the whole prosecution is bogus?
JOE CONASON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE NATIONAL MEMO: No, William Barr has proved that he`s part of a conspiracy to cover up crimes by the president. I mean, that`s become clear in the last few weeks. In spite of the fact that he had a very good reputation, somewhat undeserved, but he had it up until recently that`s gone now.
People understand that Bill Barr is a servant of the President and not of the law at this point. And so you`re right about that.
REID: And what -- then what is the reach of the law? Because the challenge here is that the Democrats are doing the right thing when it comes to the system, the way that the system is intended to work. They subpoena documents, they issue letters, they issue requests, they ask people to appear. The White House simply says no, make me do it, and there`s no -- there`s no mechanism that I can think of in the law, that there`s no mechanism to make them do it.
CONASON: There isn`t a mechanism except that ultimately you may end up in the Supreme Court with something like this because --
REID: With John Robertson and the two FYDs of Donald Trump.
CONASON: Well, again, John Roberts, some people believe is an institutionalist who would want to protect the reputation of the court and maybe he is. He`s been sort of both ways on that. When Nixon was president -- what Trump is doing now it should be clear is worse than what Nixon did, OK, because when Nixon was president, he had first asserted executive privilege over the testimony of John Dean who`s kind of the Don McGahn of his administration, but ultimately gave up on that.
He stopped asserting executive privilege at a certain point which is how we learned about the tapes. Alexander Butterfield testified as you probably know and Dean testified at great length. So what Trump is doing is more lawless than Nixon. Nixon finally agreed that when criminal matters are being investigated by the Congress, you could not assert executive privilege on behalf of the president.
Ultimately, that case would have gone to the Supreme Court had Nixon not given up. So you know, that may be where we go with this.
REID: End up, yes.
CONASON: And then you may have a president which I would not put past Trump at all who disobeys you know, a ruling of the Supreme Court.
REID: And then what?
CONASON: Well, at that point, you know, impeachment I think is really unavoidable. I mean, I think that -- then you have somebody who has discarded completely his oath to uphold the Constitution which in the view of many of us Trump did a while ago but certainly in the view of really the entire country. And then you have a showdown with the Republican Party. Do they uphold the law or not.
They`ve always tell us that they do. They usually want to uphold it when a Democrat is president, not a Republican, but that I think would be the ultimate test for them.
REID: And that -- therein lies the challenge, Chris Lu, is that where can the American people get confidence that if this entire confluence events were to happen, Donald Trump has ceded the courts with his adherence, he has stacked the Supreme Court with two more of his adherence. The Justice Department is under his command and the Republican Party is under his command.
Why should the American people have confidence that there is any mechanism left in the law, in the Constitution or pragmatically in any of the branches of governments that can make this President comply with the law?
LU: Look, Joy, I think it`s easy to be cynical about where we are in politics right now, but you fundamentally have to believe in the foundations of our democracy. The idea that we have three co-equal branches, the idea that we have rule of law.
Look, we have a president who certainly wants to test all that but you have to believe that the democracy will stand --
REID: May I ask why we have to believe that? Because Donald Trump has already said the production of his tax returns will not be done. There is a law that says it must, that Don McGahn will not testify even though he has been duly compelled to do so, that Mr. Kline will not testify even though he`s been duly compelled to do so. Why do we have to have confidence in the law that Donald Trump controls?
I mean, I mean it in all seriousness. Donald Trump controls the law. William Barr is the Attorney General of the United States, the Republican Party decides whether he`s ever removed from power and the Supreme Court has five conservatives on it. Why should we trust the law?
LU: You know, I am a cynic but look, the Constitution has withstood 230 years through a civil war, through depressions. I have to believe that the foundations to democracy will withstand this president. But look, I mean we are in uncharted territory right now.
REID: And why should we believe that the Republicans at some point are going to wake up and decide that want to uphold the Constitution rather than do what they have been doing since 2016 which is to dutifully in some might say supine fashion support Donald Trump in whatever he does?
CONASON: There are a lot of reasons to doubt that they will, most of them. I think there`d be a few who might feel a twinge of conscience about trampling over the Constitution along with Donald Trump, but it`s hard to say.
REID: And what if they don`t?
CONASON: Well, that`s why we have elections for. And by the way, that`s what people go into the streets about eventually if you know, everything else fails. But you know, hopefully, this can be resolved in a -- in a peaceful way. It should be, it must be by an election if no other way. Impeachment, we may get there.
I think it`s correct right now to walk this in the deliberative fashion that the Democrats are doing. It`s also good to have people pushing for impeachment. I think it`s fine to have both in the House, frankly, and I think Speaker Pelosi has to navigate that.
I think it`s a good look for the Democrats to be taking their time, investigating everything, educating the public as to what the Mueller report and all the other negative information about the president is so that they really understand why this is unavoidable and necessary and not a political you know, lark for the Democrats.
REID: Yes. It`s not -- it`s not a political lark if people are defying subpoenas. We shall see what happens. Chris Lu, Joe Conason, thank you very much.
LU: Thank you.
CONASON: Thank you.
REID: I appreciate you both. And coming up, Republicans seem utterly united in their response to the Mueller report, just keep quiet. DNC chair Tom Perez on the silence from the right just head.
REID: The five conservative members of the Supreme Court appear poised to allow the Trump Administration to add a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 census. It`s controversial partly because as Justice Sonia Sotomayor said during today`s oral arguments, "There`s no doubt that people will respond less because of the census. That has been proven -- that has been proven in study after study."
The people who respond less to that question are non-citizens. And when people respond less, it skews things like congressional representation in federal funding for the next decade. And the question is this, is suppressing that response from immigrants the very reason that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added the question to begin with?
Ross claims that the Department of Justice asked him to include the question. But as the Washington Post reports, e-mails and depositions in the lawsuit showed Ross had discussed the issue with White House officials urging a crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Some show that he initiated contact with the Justice Department officials, not the other way around.
For some reason, Chief Justice John Roberts and the other conservative justices seem to move past why three federal district judges -- district court judges had banned the Trump Commerce Department from adding the question, and seized on a pretty shocking and cynical justification to keep it.
Reuters reports "Roberts told New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood who states sued to block the question that citizenship data is critical for enforcing the Voting Rights Act. You`ll recall that in 2013, Roberts voted to gut a key portion of the Voting Rights Act calling it unnecessary to pre-clear southern states because racism is over.
And as Ari Berman wrote in 2015, John Roberts legal career has been a decades-long crusade against the Voting Rights Act. So the idea that he would invoke it as a reason to twist the census to Donald Trump`s anti- immigration aims is interesting.
And if the Supreme Court does allow a citizenship question to remain, there`s little question that the voting rights of many Americans will be undermined.
Joining me now are two people who are at the oral arguments today, Dale Ho Director of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project who argued against at the citizen question in front of the Supreme Court today, and Vanita Gupta President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former Head of the Department of Justice`s Civil Rights Division.
Thank you all for being here. And Dale, I`ll start with you. How surprising was it to hear John Roberts voice the idea that the reason to add a citizenship question was to strengthen the Voting Rights Act?
DALE HO, DIRECTOR, ACLU`S VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT: Well, it wasn`t all that surprising. The government has been saying from the beginning that that`s the reason why they added this question. But as you noted, they were intent on adding it long before anyone ever suggested the idea that it might be helpful for purposes of a Voting Rights Act.
And let`s be real for a second here. The Voting Rights Act is not a priority of this Administration. They haven`t brought a single lawsuit to enforce the Voting Rights Act. So the notion that they wanted to change the census to help enforce Voting Rights is really ludicrous.
REID: Yes. And you also in your oral argument hit back at their claim that they wanted to do this because it makes things more accurate. Please explain.
HO: Yes, that`s right. I mean, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross when he said we needed to add this question, he said that it wouldn`t harm census responses. That was false. The Census Bureau predicted that 6.5 half million people won`t respond to the census. And what that means is the data is less accurate.
So when they say that oh, we need this data for the Voting Rights Act, well, you`re going to have a much less accurate census when 6.5 million people don`t respond to it. It`s going to harm efforts to protect voting rights rather than help them.
REID: Yes. And Vanita, let me just read you a little bit from a Washington Post piece today that talks about the potential undercount should this citizenship question be added. Experts calculated that adding the question could meet an undercount of as many as 6.5 million people and cause special harm to urban areas and states with large immigrant populations.
California, for instance, worried it could lose as many as three congressional seats. Do you suspect that that`s what this is about, stripping congressional seats and representation from blue states with large immigrant populations?
VANITA GUPTA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Yes, I do. I think that -- first of all, I want to say that Dale did a phenomenal job this morning in the Supreme Court. But the nefarious agenda behind the addition of this question has really been revealed through the litigation that led up to the Supreme Court argument today.
You know, there`s little hiding the fact that Wilbur Ross was communicating with Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach in the early days of the administration to add this question and this back in rationale allegedly that the Trump Justice Department under Jeff Sessions needed the sense of citizenship data in order to robustly enforce the Voting Rights Act was so blatantly a ruse.
But the underlying thing, look, that every aspect of this administration has been virulently anti-immigrant. And the Steve Bannon and Kris Kobachs of the world want to change how redistricting happens and how district reimportionment happens. They want only citizens to be counted in that process. And the Census, though, is written into the constitution.
The constitution makes very clear that the federal government has a duty every 10 years to count every single person in this country, not every citizen in this country, but every single person in this country.
And the fact that study after study shows that the addition of this question is going to undermine the accuracy of the count, and yet that justices seemed -- and even the Justice Department is conceding that fact, is actually kind of striking, and it`s a signal of where we are today around the politicization of these issues, and of core tenets of our democracy.
REID: Yeah, I think it goes without saying that when the Constitution was written, the enslaved African population were not considered citizens. They were three-quarters of a person. They weren`t even sort of people.
Dale Ho, is there any recourse? Let`s say this goes through, because I think the pessimistic out there believes that the five conservatives are going to allow the Trump administration to add a citizenship question, what then?
DALE HO, ACLU VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT DIRECTOR: I just want to hold things up on that prognostication here, because people who try to read the tea leaves of the Supreme Court are frequently wrong. And, you know, some people thought the Affordable Care Act would to get struck down, and that didn`t happen. And I just think it`s a little early to say something like that.
The evidence in this case is really strong that adding this question is going to wreck the Census, which is a pillar of our constitutional structure. And I have to think that if the justices care about the evidence, they are going to listen to that.
Now, as you note, we might not win, right. That`s the case every time we go in front of the Supreme Court. And what we have to do is just double down on our efforts to make sure that everyone gets counted. You hear sometimes people talking about how, well, we just might not respond to the Census if this question is on there. That is the worst thing that we can do right now, because that`s exactly what Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach want. They want an undercount of communities of color. They want our communities to receive fewer political representatives and less recourses and we can`t let them win.
REID: Wow. What a day. Dale Ho, Venita Gupta, thank you both very much, really appreciate your time. Thank you.
And up next, DNC Chair Tom Perez on the troubling Republican response to the Mueller report.
REID: There are no two people in the world who are more different than 1999 Clinton-era Lindsey Graham and modern-day Lindsey Graham during the era of Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: So, the point I`m trying to make is you don`t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic. If this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role.
The verdict is in. There was no collusion. There`s no obstruct of a crime that never occurred. The obstruction thing was bizarre to me to begin with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: In fact, the Republican response this time around faced with presidential lawlessness and open defiance of norms, and even of congress itself, has been mainly silence. As a damning new political ad by a group of renegade traditional Republicans points out, do not adjust the volume on your TV as you take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUBTITLES: Sen. Ben Sasse (R). Sen. Lindsey Graham (R). Sen. Ted Cruz (R). Sen. John Kennedy (R). Sen. Tim Scott (R). Republicans: Your silence is deafening. Our president attempted to obstruct justice. SPEAK UP for the Rule of Law.
(END IVDEO CLIP)
REID: Democrats are now calling on Republicans not to repeat some of their tactics from the last presidential election. The Democratic National Committee pledging to, quote -- pledging not to, quote, "weaponize stolen private data" with Chairman Tom Perez writing an open letter to the RNC Chairwoman Rana Romney McDaniel, that, quote, "I`m calling on you to put country above party and publicly pledge that the Republican National Committee will do the same."
Here with me now is Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Thank you very much for being here, Tom.
TOM PEREZ, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Always a pleasure, Joy.
REID: So, the response from the RNC, per Buzzfeed from today, to your pledge that the Democrats will not use hacked material in the upcoming presidential election and asking the Republicans to do the same, the Republican spokesman pointed to Rana McDaniel`s previous comment, saying that McDaniel has made it very clear where she stands, quote, any breech of our political organizations, regardless of parties an affront to all of us and we should come together as Americans to prevent it from ever happening again. It`s important that we do all we can to safeguard our elections. She`s previously stated. Is that good enough?
PEREZ: Of course not.
If I were in a court of law, as I used to do, at the Justice Department, I would say objection, your honor, nonresponsive.
This is a really simple proposition. If a foreign adversary steals information that`s private and tries to traffic it, to anyone, you should say no. Period. This isn`t about right versus left, this is about right versus wrong, Joy. And that`s the simple proposition here.
We know what happened in 2016. The Russians hacked the DNC, they hacked into John Podesta and others, and they used that stolen information, because they wanted to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. And what we are simply saying is candidates shouldn`t participate in any such activity. This is about our democracy. It`s a lay up, or should be a lay up, but apparently not for Ms. McDaniel.
REID: Well, or for Donald Trump`s TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who is also a former United States attorney. He`s a former federal prosecutor. But here is what he said on CNN regarding the very thing you were just speaking about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP PERSONAL LAWYER: There is nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: There is nothing wrong with taking information...
GIULIANI: It depends on where it came from. It depends on where it came from. People get information from this person and that person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Mr. Chairman, are you advising those who are running for president in 2020 to be prepared to have information from foreign adversaries used against them? And what will be the plan of the Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee in the event that that happens?
PEREZ: Well, we are at war right now. It`s a cyber war. And, unfortunately, our commander-in-chief is emasculated in this, because he was a beneficiary of that cyber war. And so what we`ve done at the DNC is invest more in cyber security than ever before. We have just completed our third training of candidates to make sure that they understand the weaponization, or the potential weaponization, of data.
We are absolutely preparing for a repeat of 2016. Why? Because there were no consequences to the Russians from this administration. They welcomed it. And then you saw all the obstruction that occurred with this president.
And so I think it behooves us to absolutely have all hands on deck on cyber security. And that`s exactly what we are doing not only at the DNC, but for the candidates. And we`ve hired a top flight team of cyber experts and others in the ecosystem, because this is our democracy that`s on the ballot.
And the non-responsive answer of Chairwoman McDaniel and the absolutely absurd statement of Mayor Giuliani who is a former prosecutor, who ought to know better. Heck, a 10-year-old would know better, Joy, that you don`t traffic in stolen information.
REID: Right, but it isn`t just data. I mean, the cyber security aspect of it is obviously important, but you had the chairman of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort, actually share good old fashioned polling data with a Russian oligarch, handed over to him. And that was data on crucial states, three of which Donald Trump wound up winning -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, also shared about Minnesota. Is the party prepared that the candidate, Donald Trump, will simply run the same playbook again? It isn`t simply about cyber security.
The Mueller report found that they weren`t involved in the hacking portion, but disseminating the information that resulted, the attempts to sow discord on social media that were encouraged on the right. Don`t you just think that Donald Trump might just run the same playbook again?
PEREZ: Oh, there is absolutely that danger. I mean, what`s clear from this administration, and frankly what`s clear throughout the entirety of his business practices, is that they will lie, cheat, and steal. They will do anything to win. They have so eroded institutions of democracy, that is why there is health care on the ballot and we will continue to point out that the Democratic Party is the party fighting to save your health care. The Republicans are fighting to take it away.
So many other things on the ballot -- our democracy is on the ballot. And, Joy, you are absolutely right. We have to be prepared for more lying, cheating, and stealing, because they have an approach to undermining our democracy that is shameful, and that is why we are preparing for every eventuality.
And we won in 2018 across this country in historic manners, but I am very sober about the realities of the upcoming campaign. And they will try to suppress the vote wherever they can. They will try to cheat. They will try to weaponize things. And we will -- that`s what we are preparing for at the DNC. And that is unfortunate.
That`s why our democracy is truly on the ballot, and I`m confident we can win. But it saddens me to no end, Joy, because this isn`t who we are, this is not the party of Lincoln. The party of Lincoln has officially died. The party of Trump is not a party that represents our democratic values.
REID: Tom Perez, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, thank you so much, sir. Thank you for your time. Appreciate it.
PEREZ: Always a pleasure.
REID: Thank you.
And coming up, is there another primary challenger ready to take on Donald Trump? The Republican governor who could make things interesting. Just ahead.
REID: The Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, appeared in New Hampshire today, to generate buzz about a possible primary challenge to Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. LARRY HOGAN, (R) MA RYLAND: A lot of people have been approaching me, probably since around the time of my inauguration in late January. People have asked me to give this serious consideration. And I think I owe it to those people to do just that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Trump already faces one challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. And he could face another in former Ohio governor, John Kasich. Unlike those two, Hogan is a sitting Republican governor, and a popular one, with a sky high approval rating in a blue state.
He derisively referred to Trump as, quote, Dear Leader, and criticized the RNC for voting in January to give Trump its, quote, undivided support in 2020.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOGAN: I`m for building the Republican Party into a bigger tent that can appeal to more people. And I think we are doing the opposite right now.
I think the Republican Party is shrinking the base down to only a certain percentage of white males.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Trump remains extremely popular with Republican voters, though he does appear weakened in the wake of the Mueller report. His overall approval rating has tied an all time low of just 39 percent, and he has never, not for one single day of his presidency, had the support of a majority of Americans.
And while Trump is likely to survive any and all primary challenges, he could have an impact even if they lose.
History shows that when a sitting president faces a serious primary opponent, as Business Insider notes, the incumbent is often weakened and ultimately loses to their opponent in the general election.
Trump could be forced to focus his fire on his GOP challenger or challengers, especially if and when never Trump Republicans coalesce around a GOP candidate.
Plus, in some states, Trump`s name might not even be on the presidential ballot. 18 state legislatures have now introduced bills requiring a candidate to release his or her tax returns if they want to appear on the ballot. And up next, breaking news from The Washington Post, the president has just spoken to reporter Robert Costa, and he`s provided his rationale for not cooperating with congressional investigations. And we will tell you all about it next.
REID: We have breaking news related to our top story tonight, the White House`s utter refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations. In an interview with the Washington Post, Donald Trump said that he is opposed to any current or former White House aides testifying before congress. Trump said that since the White House cooperated with the special counsel`s investigation, quote, there is no reason to go any further, and especially in congress where it`s very partisan, obviously very partisan.
Joining me now is Rosalind Helderman The Washington Post political investigative reporter and co-author of the new book "The Mueller Report." Ms. Helderman, thank you very much for being here.
ROSALIND HELDERMAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you for having me.
REID: So, the president has expressed his view that he doesn`t have to comply or -- and anyone associated with him does not have to comply with congressional subpoenas. What about the people to whom those subpoenas are being issued, people like Don McGahn? Are they in agreement with this idea -- and Carl Klein -- that because he says they don`t have to, that they don`t have to?
HELDERMAN: Yeah, I think those people are trying to figure that out right now. We understand from someone close to Don McGahn that he`s going to sort of let the process play out. He`s going to hear from the committee, hear from the White House, and then figure it out. We were told by someone close to Mr. McGahn that he does not want to be in contempt of congress, but he also doesn`t want to be in contempt of the ethical and legal obligations that accrue, because he`s a former White House official.
REID: And are there obligations that you know of just in your reporting that would prevent a former White House counsel from complying with a duly issued subpoena?
HELDERMAN: Well, if the White House objects, what they will say is that his testimony is subject to executive privilege, and the president has asserted his executive privilege. That`s tricky legal argument, because Don McGahn already testified to Bob Mueller, and the White House agreed to allow his testimony to become public with the publication of the report.
Ultimately, if the White House chooses to assert that privilege, this will be decided by a judge, and we could be looking at a fairly lengthy court battle.
REID: And just to read from the report here that you co-authored, White House lawyers plan to tell attorneys for administration witnesses called by the House, that they will be asserting executive privilege over their testimony, according to two officials familiar with the internal plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In his interview with The Post, Trump maintained that the White House counsel`s office has not made a final, final decision about whether it will formally assert executive privilege or try to block congressional testimony, but that he opposes cooperation with House Democrats who he claimed were trying to score political points against him.
Do you know of any precedent for a president saying that because he believes the opposing party to try to score political points, that he can assert that anyone who has worked for him in the past or in the present does not have to comply with the law or with a duly issued subpoena?
HELDERMAN: Yeah, there`s actually a fairly recent precedent where Harriet Meyers, who was a former White House under George Bush was subpoenaed by congress and the White House tried to prevent her from testifying, that case was litigated, and there was a ruling that went against the White House, but the matter continued on appeal. And ultimately, it wasn`t really fully resolved prior to President Bush leaving office, and the new administration settled the case.
So there isn`t a fully binding court precedent on this issue, but what we`ve had so far is that suggestion from a judge that the White House may not win on this front.
REID: Rosalind Helderman, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate you scrambling to get there to talk to us tonight. Thank you.
And I`m joined now by Jason Johnson, MSNBC political analyst, and politics editor for The Root; and Marissa Malek, former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
And Marissa, I`m going to start with you. The president of the United States saying that he will essentially oppose anyone in his administration, now or formerly in his administration, from implying with any investigation of congress, or their subpoenas. That is rather unprecedented. What do you make of it?
MARISSA MALEK, FORMER LAW CLERK FOR CLARENCE THOMAS: It is unprecedented. Even Nixon gave up tapes when he was subpoenaed. I think his aides are going to have some interesting times ahead of them while they work with their lawyers to decide what their own obligations are. It is sort of interesting to say that there are now executive privilege when they obviously waived executive privilege before with respect to being interviewed by the special counsel. So I`m looking forward to seeing how it pans out.
REID: You clerked for a Supreme Court justice. Can you think of any precedent in law that a president does not have to follow the law simply, because he doesn`t like the other party?
MALEK: There`s nothing that is obvious that comes to mind. Of course, you know, the president does have executive privilege, and what will be interesting is, is the president asserting new executive privilege, or is he trying to exert executive privilege over issues that were already discussed with the special counsel, which were made public already. That will be the relevant question.
REID: Jason Johnson, where do the Democrats go from here? Because they keep issuing subpoenas. They keep issuing subpoenas, they keep issuing letters, they keep asserting that they`re going to do the process of oversight and they keep getting told, make me, by the way.
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They need to subpoena some backbone and then implant all throughout their party.
Look, if the subpoenas aren`t working, you need to start putting people in jail. IF the subpoenas aren`t working, you need to stop the funding that goes to anything this president has to do.
All of this leads back to what we have been talking about since the Mueller report came out last week. This president exists to obstruct the normal function and constitutional functions of this government. If you allow him to be emboldened by not holding him accountable for everything he`s done in the two years up to this point, do you expect him to open up his doors and allow himself to be investigated for the next two or three years?
The Democratic Party has to recognize if they`re not dealing with a normal president, they`re dealing with a proto-dictator. And this is that kind of behavior. If they do not become more aggressive, if they`re not willing to shut down everything in this administration to get things done, Donald Trump will win.
REID: And Marissa, are there concerns among Republicans that you know in your circles, that Donald Trump at a certain point will simply assert the powers of dictatorial power? That he doesn`t have to ever follow the law? Ever?
MALEK: I mean, it does seem like he has been taking that stance, although the Mueller report didn`t say that he would be eligible to be held guilty or press forward on an obstruction charge, there`s certainly a lot of evidence. And my read of the report is just that, frankly, it just would create sort of a constitutional crisis to indict a president, but certainly you`ve seen from the report evidence that he will try to obstruct justice. He will try to assert himself in ways that are unprecedented.
REID: Yeah. And Jason, has the Democratic response been adequate in your view at this point?
JOHNSON: No, no, it hasn`t been, and especially in a situation like this. Look, the president can`t just keep expanding his powers and snap his fingers and make everybody incapable of testifying in front of congress.
REID: Yes, but he seems to be doing so. Jason Johnson and Marissa Malek, thank you so much for joining us.
That`s it for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END