CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: We`ll tackle the issues in the minds of primary voters in California, a state that will have a big influence in 2020. And tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, tonight, Sen. Kamala Harris joins Lawrence O`Donnell for a live town hall down in South Carolina.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI): I`m reading any interesting tweets lately.
HAYES: The lone Republican in Congress calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump takes his argument to the people.
AMASH: It is a difficult process to remove someone from office.
HAYES: Tonight, how Justin Amash made his argument for impeachment to voters in Michigan.
AMASH: I think it`s really important that we do our job as a Congress.
HAYES: And why there aren`t more in Congress following it.
AMASH: That we not allow misconduct to go undeterred, that we not just say someone can violate the public trust and that there are no consequences to it.
HAYES: Then, as the President pretends to go at Joe Biden from the left, Lawrence O`Donnell on how the media can avoid weaponizing Donald Trump`s bad faith attacks. Plus, as Missouri moves to eliminate its last abortion clinic, how the Supreme Court set ominous warnings on abortion rights today. And meet the man the White House wants to lead their push to undermine climate science.
WILLIAM HAPPER, AMERICAN PHYSICIST: The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Something pretty remarkable happened just a few hours ago. One of the most compelling arguments made for impeachment anywhere in the country right now happens to be coming from a conservative Republican Tea Party Freedom Caucus member named Justin Amash. You`ve probably heard of him.
What Amash did was simply read the Mueller report, and then after reading it with zero apparent political upside and some very obvious downside, has been issuing extremely well-argued tweet threads and statements calling for the impeachment of the President of the United States who happens -- also happens to be the leader of his party.
And just a little while ago, Amash also did something that no one else has done which is that he went into lion`s den to defend his position before his own constituents in a district that Trump carried in 2016. Michigan is a state that narrowly voted for Donald Trump in 2016, the 3rd District where Amash represents went for Trump by about ten points.
But if you thought a Republican congressman who called for the Republican president be impeached would be torn apart in his home district, you would be wrong.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, I want to salute your courage. And that`s --
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HAYES: Despite facing a mostly friendly audience, Amash did take questions from a few Trump supporters who were not at all happy with his call for impeachment to say the least.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You talk about the Constitution and how important that is, but yet noting that Mueller came out within his report, nothing that has been said about him and President Trump in it -- and -- is constitutional and it`s been a smear attack because that`s how the Democrats work. This is what Mueller and the Democrats have all tried to - - and the deep state, the bureaucrats, I don`t know if you`ve ever dealt with a bureaucrat but it`s just mind-boggling that we have to deal with them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have spent the last two years failing to do your job which is to directly represent the popular will of your constituents. That is your job.
AMASH: That`s not my job. No, sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually -- I double-checked online before I wrote that in my notes so it is your job. You further know that impeachment would tear this country apart if it went through and he was removed from office. It would cause the political upheaval in this country, people in this generation had never seen before, possible civil war.
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HAYES: Amash as he did on Twitter clearly lead out his case for why President Trump should be impeached. He also didn`t hold back from criticizing Republican leadership who had tried to marginalize him over the last week.
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AMASH: I`m confident that if you read volume two, you will be appalled at much of the conduct, and I was appalled. To me, the conduct was obviously impeachable. So then the question is do you then move forward with impeachment proceedings?
In the Mueller report, he asked the White House Counsel to create a false record. Things like that to basically mislead people about a statement he had made. Things like that to me reflect incredible dishonesty and really harm the office of the presidency.
You see countries around the world where people do not respect the rule of law and they don`t care about the character of their leaders. They don`t care about the ethics of their leaders. And in these countries, all that matters is that your person is in power and as long as your persons in power, that person is allowed to do whatever they want.
You saw what happened to me from our so-called leader Kevin McCarthy. I read the Mueller report, I`m sure he did not read it. I stated what it actually says and he just resorted to ad hominem attacks and other various attacks that have nothing to do with the Mueller report. This is the kind of leadership in quotes that we now have in Congress.
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HAYES: Amash started with a Twitter thread last week and hasn`t slowed down. He caught everyone off guard very clearly. But while Amash is going out on a limb calling for impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly already scheming on how he will shortcut his own congressional constitutional duties.
Several Senate Republicans told the Hill that McConnell will quash any impeachment articles that make it out of the House. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham says "I think it would be disposed of very quickly."
In other words, Mitch McConnell, not for the first time planning to take a process that is clearly in the Constitution and he`s mandated to do and use sheer shameless will to power to destroy it. Joining me now is one of the Democratic Congressmen who has said it is time to launch impeachment inquiry Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications committee.
I am curious what goes through your head watching your Republican colleague in that Town Hall in a Republican district had this conversation.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Well, I admire Justin Amash very much. I don`t agree with him on a lot of issues, obviously, but I really respect his courage, and I respect the conclusion he`s come to. And I think there are a growing number of members of my caucus who also think the time has come to open an impeachment inquiry to consider whether or not it is appropriate to move forward with articles of impeachment.
I, like Justin, read the entire Mueller report and all of the appendices. I think it`s hard to read that report and not come to a conclusion that the president has committed offenses that are impeachable. We know obstruction of justice is one of them but I think it`s important.
Look, in addition to the president`s behavior that`s detailed in the Mueller report trying to convince witnesses to lie, trying to fire special counsel and the list goes on and on, the president has also sensed the release of that report engaged in an ongoing cover-up to try to prevent Congress from getting all of the facts and getting to the truth and acting as if he`s above the law.
And no one in this country including the President of the United States is above the law. And that`s why I think the opening of an inquiry by the Judiciary Committee, the formal beginning of this process is important not only because of what setting up the Mueller report but because of the behavior of the President engaging in an ongoing cover-up to prevent Congress from doing its work.
HAYES: So there`s two tracks here that I`ve been trying to really think hard about. I was thinking about this a lot over the weekend which is the sort of substantive principle question, right. Like do you think the president committed impeachable offenses? Do you think you know, putting all politics aside he should be impeached for that as a sort of matter of duty in the Constitution?
And in the political ramifications which someone in your position or any position has to take into account if it meant the Democratic Party who wiped off the face of the map electorally for 20 years, you guys probably wouldn`t do it and that would be defensible. What do you think about the relationship continue those two things? How do you think about those two tracks?
CICILLINE: I think, Chris, that this is a moment, a very grave moment for our country. I think that we have to set aside political considerations for this reason. No one really knows how this will play out in the end. And I think people who pretend that they do with certainty are making a mistake.
So I think when you don`t know how it`s going to work out and there are risks on both sides, you ought to do the right thing. And it`s not about just this president, it`s about upholding the rule of law, honoring our Constitution and understand that this is also about future presidents, for people who are watching this, and people around the world who are thinking is this OK in the United States.
This is a question of what right and wrong. I have confidence that if we begin an impeachment inquiry and begin to lay out the evidence in hearings, gather all of the witnesses and the documents and let the American people see what the Mueller report says, let that report come to life, then we`ll make the right judgment at the end of those proceedings and so will the American people.
But you know, it`s like watching somebody rob a bank and you know, saying oh my God, he committed a crime but I don`t know the jury may acquit him. You shouldn`t -- you know, someone did something wrong, they need to be held accountable. The President of the United States is not above the law.
We were elected to hold him accountable. That is our constitutional duty and it`s a very dangerous precedent in my view if we don`t fulfill that responsibility and we allow this lawless president to continue to engage in misconduct.
HAYES: There`s -- there two arguments I hear on the other side of this question. And again, I don`t think these are crazy arguments. They`re persuasive you know, on the merits. One is that the people just aren`t there and there`s no point in pursuing this kind of thing without popular support. What do you think of that?
CICILLINE: Well, first of all, I think that`s right, which is why I think the way you build public support for this action is you open an inquiry and you tell the American people the story. When the Nixon impeachment inquiry was opened, 19 percent of the people thought he should be impeached.
By the time those hearings concluded and articles of impeachment were filed seven months later, the vast majority the American people supported his removal. Today double that number, 38 percent think the president should be removed.
So there`s certainly enough basis to start an inquiry and begin to tell the story to the American people so they can see what conduct is at stake here and if we build public support for this then that will resuscitate moving forward. If we don`t they`ll have to re-examine it.
But you know, people have to know what happened. We have a responsibility to tell them the story, to bring witnesses before the committee to tell them about the President`s misconduct.
HAYES: The other objections about sort of walking and chewing gum, I think you feel confident others do that you can both pass bills like the Equality Legislation you just passed or HR-1 and continue on this so we`ll see. I think, look, you`ve got a lot of time on your hands right now.
CICILLINE: No, but Chris, it`s really important to make this point. Look, we`ve passed 100 pieces of legislation. Legislation to drive down the cost of prescription drugs, to guarantee equal pay for equal work, passing the Equality Act, universal background checks. We`re getting the work done for the American people. We also have to hold this administration accountable, and no one is above -- about we have to do both things and we have to say that --
HAYES: No one says don`t pass stuff from the House because McConnell is going to kill it in the Senate anyway, right?
CICILLINE: That`s right. That`s right.
HAYES: Congressman, Cicilline, thank you very much. Joining me now, Linda Chavez former Reagan administration official, Kurt Bardella former Senior Adviser and Spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee under GOP Congressman Darrell Issa, now an NBC News Contributor.
I thought the Amash town hall was fascinating for a number of reasons. A, I love town halls. I think you know, politicians go interact their constituents. But Linda, I have no idea what that was going to be. Is it going to -- was there going to be a ton of huge Trump diehards who`d sort of motivated to come out and scream at him, a-la 2010 tea party? Was it going to be lots of the Liberals in the district or people who favor impeachment who wanted to give him love, and how he would dealt with it. It was a remarkable to just watch him actually have the exchange.
LINDA CHAVEZ, FORMER REAGAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, it really was. And I was pleasantly surprised by it. Yes, there were a couple of Trump supporters the first woman was terribly inarticulate, the second woman made her points but she didn`t want to hear the answers and I think they were actually irrelevant to the discussion.
But it was somewhat heartening to think that people came, they listened, and they admire him for standing up and doing what`s right. And you know, I served on the House Judiciary Committee staff during the time of Watergate and watched as Larry Hogan Sr., the father of the current governor of the state of Maryland was the one Republican who voted for all three articles of impeachment.
HAYES: That`s right.
CHAVEZ: It has to start somewhere.
HAYES: You know, Kurt, it`s also interesting to me just to -- just -- there`s an idea right, that if you impeach the president, it will -- it will electrify his base. And I was anticipating more of a folks in MAGA hats at this Town Hall today for precisely that reason, right. I mean, it`s the first kind of real-world test of the thesis.
KURT BARDELLA, NBC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Right. Well, and again, I think part of the issue though is, Chris, this president for reasons I`ll never be able to wrap my arms around has an alarmingly high approval rating with his base. There`s really nothing more to get from that. And I think it also speaks to the old adage that they would say people hate Congress but like their Congressman.
How people might react in Washington or on the media versus how people feel in their district in their constituency with someone that they see day in and day out in their own shopping center, in their own neighborhood, someone that they`ve been used to seeing in their local communities. That`s a very different type of feeling on the ground versus here in Washington or in New York.
And so I think you`re seeing that play out in this town hall where again, we didn`t know what to expect. It could have been anything. It could`ve been a free-for-all like we`ve seen before, it could have been something very different. What we saw was a district that knows their congressman and respects someone actually coming forward and taking a position, taking a definitive stance even though it cost them politically. What a refreshing idea that someone would actually do the right thing and not worry about the next election.
HAYES: Plus, Linda, what it was, I mean, when you thought back going back to Watergate, I mean to me there`s -- you know, there`s big constitutional issues at stake which are not obviously resolved. I mean, I obviously leaned certain ways in terms of how I view the president`s conduct in office. But some kind of democratic exchange about what the expectation is of what someone with the full power of the American state can and can`t get away with, a conversation that we haven`t had in a formalized way as I was watching his play out in the Town Hall.
CHAVEZ: Well, I think that`s absolutely right and I agree with what the congressman said. But running in the back of my mind are the wise words of my favorite political philosopher Omar Little of the series The Wire, who said you come at the King, you best not miss, and I do worry about that.
HAYES: What -- elaborate on that because I hear that argument a lot that basically if he`s impeached and acquitted in the Senate, it strengthens or embolden the president.
CHAVEZ: Well, I`m afraid of that. I am afraid that it will make Congress look impotent. I think it will further damage the institution. So I`m not opposed to impeachment. I think we`ve got to move forward with investigations and I think Nancy Pelosi is taking the right track. Let`s get all of the information out there. Let`s do the investigations and then we will see how to proceed.
HAYES: You know, it`s funny you bring that up, Kurt. There was a piece about the Iran dealing with sanctions over the weekend. And one of the points that was made by an analyst there was the threat of re-imposition of sanctions actually proved to be bigger and weigh more heavily than their actuality. And one wonders here whether the threat of impeachment that sort of always off stage can function in a similar way with respect to the President or whether he interprets the lack of forward motion is essentially a blank cheque.
BARDELLA: I think he -- I think this is the president who more than anybody responds to force and strength. We see it in his own behavior and his own rhetoric. And so what he sees is a Democratic Congress that`s reluctant to wield the power that they`ve just been given in the last midterm election.
I think that he sees hesitancy. I think he sees division. I think he sees that as license to do what he has been doing which is taking a wrench and taking a sledgehammer to checks-and-balances. There`s a reason why he`s not showing up for subpoenas, not giving documents.
The Attorney General flagrantly didn`t show up to a Judiciary Committee hearing, Chris, that he was subpoenaed, a lawful subpoena to show to. What more else could Congress do to look you know, impotent? They already are in his mind.
HAYES: Let me follow up on that though. You work for a guy Darrell Issa who was -- who was notorious right, in his role as House -- as chair of House Government Oversight who was a maximalist, right. So he was not a shrinking violet and he`s not -- and there`s a case to be made that that didn`t work out that well either, right. Maybe there`s lessons from that excess which I think is part of what people talk about when they talk about Clinton impeachment. What do you -- what do you think about that?
BARDELLA: Well, I would say this. One, I actually issued more than 100 subpoenas to the Obama administration. Two, when you look at where the Republican Party was during this period of time, there were their own internal divisions. There is the conflict with the Tea Party. The only thing that united the establishment wing with the Tea Party wing were the investigations. Things like Fast and Furious, Benghazi.
HAYES: Right. That`s interesting.
BARDELLA: And even furthermore, you look at the damage that those investigations did, would Hillary Clinton be President today, Chris, if Benghazi and Hillary`s emails had never existed?
HAYES: Yes. It`s a fair point. Linda Chavez and Kurt Bardella, thank you very -- both very much. Next, amidst a wave of extremely aggressive abortion restrictions enacted in states across the country, what today`s surprising Supreme Court ruling signals about the abortion and birth control fights to come. The future of Roe v Wade in two minutes.
HAYES: Just days after the governor of Missouri signed a draconian near- total abortion ban, that state is now on the verge of becoming the first state in the entire country without a single abortion clinic. That`s because according to Planned Parenthood, the state`s Health Department is threatening not to renew that organization`s license to offer abortions in St. Louis which is the only place in Missouri that provides the procedure.
Their license expires on a Friday. We`ve seen a wave of states passing incredibly restrictive abortion bans recently including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, and others. But in a sort of pincer move, states are also and have been making it much harder year by year for the clinics to operate.
For one example, in 2008, Missouri in five abortion clinics, now the state is down to one, and soon that number might be zero. On a national level, the Supreme Court today upheld part of Indiana law regulating the disposal of fetal remains.
And while the courts sidestepped the Indiana law strict abortion ban, perhaps the most revelatory aspect of their decision was a 20-page concurrence by Justice Clarence Thomas, a full-on polemic invoking eugenics with regard not just to abortion but birth control as well.
Here with me now Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut who once again today called for Congress to pass a woman`s health protection act to protect abortion access, and Melissa Murray a professor in New York University School of Law and the co-editor along with my wife Kate Shaw of the new book Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories.
Let me start with you Melissa because this Clarence Thomas concurrence is a strange document. It has no legal force because it`s sort of about things adjacent to what they ruled on today. But what is he saying and what is it signaling about where he wants the court to go?
MELISSA MURRAY, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY OF LAW: So one, it`s an invitation to the larger court to take up this question of what he calls eugenics abortion. So laws that would prohibit abortions and situations where people want to terminate because of sex, race, or a fetal abnormality or disability.
And to be clear, I don`t know that there are a lot of abortions that are being done because someone doesn`t like the sex of their prospective child or someone doesn`t like the -- or doesn`t like the race of their child. I mean, it`s mostly fetal abnormalities in situations where the fetus will not survive for very long after birth and that`s when it`s invoked.
But he`s laying out a trail of breadcrumbs for the court and for the larger culture, again to sort of take this up as a eugenics claim and he`s really pitching this as a racial justice wedge issue. So he invokes the history of eugenics and contraception and there`s a very lively history of eugenics and contraception and he talks about Margaret Sanger who --
HAYES: Super racist.
MURRAY: Super racist. But what he leaves out and it`s a really incomplete history and I would love to get him in class to talk to him about this, but he is leaving out the fact that abortion restrictions are themselves born of this eugenics movement. So in the 19th century, the interest in criminalizing abortion was born of an interest and concern that native-born white women were using abortion and contraception to curb their fertility while immigrant women were having too many children. So again --
HAYES: Both sides -- both sides of history are tainted by that.
MURRAY: So this is not a pro-life or a pro-choice argument everyone`s used is.
HAYES: All right, so we have the Supreme Court sort of it seems to me kind of opening the door. To Thomas, particularly, you know there`s a few votes that want to I think just take the run at Roe, or if not that with these sort of incremental questions which may be easier to decide for their side.
Then you have states passing these restrictions. What do you view is the federal government`s role in all this in terms of the legislating branches?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): What the federal government must do is to prevent all of these restrictions, not just the draconian and demagogy laws, the fetal heartbeat laws of Alabama, and Georgia, and Kentucky, but the restrictions in Missouri for example on licensing requirements with hallways and clinics, admitting-privileges.
I introduced the Women`s Health Protection Act in 2013. I reintroduced it last week for the fourth time with strong support from NARAL, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood who are part of a movement that is trying to stop these restrictions.
HAYES: Well, here`s what`s interesting to me. This is -- Democrats have generally not done this right? So the way they viewed this is that you have Roe and you have to preserve Roe, and as much of Roe sort of in its full capacity as possible in the courts and in their state legislatures. What you`re saying is essentially -- and Kamala Harris today came out with a policy that would be kind of like a Voting Rights Act for choice and an abortion rights.
You`re saying is the federal government actually should pass a law and signed into law protections for people`s right to access abortions.
BLUMENTHAL: These states, all of them are playing a very dangerous game of legal chicken in effect during the United States Supreme Court to overrule Roe v Wade which some of the justices clearly do not want to address. But what the federal government ought to be doing and Kamala Harris`s proposal is very much the women`s health protection act which she has co-sponsored with me and Tammy Baldwin and others is that there would be pre-clearance process by the Department of Justice.
I`m fine with that concept but keep in mind, this Department of Justice is likely to clear a lot of restrictions.
HAYES: Here`s my restriction to you, right. It`s like, is there a universe in which you have a court that`s willing to throw up Roe which is one of the most astonishing reversals in recent memory for the court, right. But then would like not throw out whatever Democrats came up with in the federal legislative context.
MURRAY: Yes, I mean, this is --
HAYES: Right? Wouldn`t they just scrap that too?
MURRAY: But this goes -- I mean, this goes back to the fetal remains law. Like what are they doing? Like they`re upholding this fetal remains law while sidestepping the question of the larger -- the larger issue of Roe`s viability. The fetal remains law as it goes into effect has real concerns for access for women.
This is a law that actually adds to the cost of abortion in Indiana. And clinics either have the option -- the option of passing the cost on to their patients or alternatively absorbing it themselves which may drive many of them out of business. And that`s the point.
HAYES: OK, I was trying to get clarity on this law today. So is fetal means not just for abortions but also miscarriages? Is that correct?
MURRAY: I believe it`s also miscarriage but again, the language in Justice Thomas talks about it too is again to elevate the idea of the fetus to that of a human which takes the question of the undue burden off the table because we`re not talking about women anymore, we`re talking about another separate human.
HAYES: Do you view these -- I mean, it seems like we`re headed towards an explosive conflict like it basically cannot hold. The agenda for the court is clear. Mitch McConnell today is saying, oh yes, if we had an opening in 2020, screw whatever precedent I said about 2016, like we confirm it. Like is that where you see all this going?
BLUMENTHAL: We`re heading toward a very explosive moment. I think that`s the right way to view it. And right now the danger and the damage will be enduring. Because a lot of women feel that this right is criminalized. A lot of those women in those states where in fact criminal penalties have been imposed on the providers, few may be wrongly that it`s also imposed on them. And that fear and that intimidation is part of the playbook.
HAYES: It`s a great point that the publicity around the law has an effect over and above what the actual law is or even if the court stays it. Like people have been watching news reports about you know, oh you can get 99 years or things like that.
BLUMENTHAL: And one more point crack which is very, very important, the providers, the nurses, the docs, the clinic escorts, also are subject to this fear and intimidation. And I have worked with them and they really are profiles in courage.
HAYES: Senator Richard Blumenthal I`m Melissa Murray, thank you both.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, my colleague Lawrence O`Donnell in the critical test we face going to 2020, Donald Trump`s weaponizing of the media next.
HAYES: We here in the media have a very big test in front of us as we head into 2020 and I`m worried that we are not passing it. The central issue is the depthless nihilism of the president, whose sheer shamelessness means he will say anything at any time about any opponent no matter how cartoonishly disingenuous it is.
The latest example is the guy who called for the Central Park Five to all be executed, and who still refuses to admit that they are innocent, pretended to criticize Joe Biden`s past record of criminal justice. It`s just like how Donald Trump attacked Hillary Clinton`s support of the Iraq War, despite supporting it himself.
It is a genuine challenge for the news media how to cover criticisms that, if offered by someone else, have merit and even legitimacy, but from the troller-in-chief, are mere exercises in bad faith.
Joining me now to discuss how to approach this issue, my colleague, Lawrence O`Donnell, who is in Spartanburg, South Carolina where in just over an hour hosting a live town hall with presidential candidate, Kamala Harris.
Lawrence, great to have you. And I thought of you immediately as I was ruminating on this weekend about what to do with these sorts of attacks that the president is going to use as we go into 2020?
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC: Well, it is complex, Chris. And I`m glad you - - we are acknowledging that this is a difficult question, because it`s the president of the United States speaking and we are accustomed in this trade to taking everything the president of the United States says seriously and transmitting it to the American public, to the world.
But one place we can begin are the insult nicknames, the attack nicknames, insulting names and labels he comes up with for people. We don`t have to deliver those. I think if we deliver those, we are functioning as a pure pipeline of the propaganda.
And so you can tell the story and you can say he attacked Joe Biden. It`s easy to report on the elements of it without including his specific new insult name for another person, another candidate, a senator.
And I noticed that right away. The first time, the first time he came up with a name for Elizabeth Warren, the first time he did it, that`s when I realized this couldn`t go on in my hour of cable news, and I did something that night, specifically about the name he was using for Elizabeth Warren and what it actually meant and what the history of it, which of course Donald Trump doesn`t know.
And I started to realize then that we have to do this with all of these labels that he comes up with. He is counting on us to repeat those labels and those insult names.
HAYES: I couldn`t agree enough on the insults, the nicknames, which is the lowest hanging fruit, the easiest thing to avoid regurgitating. But there`s also -- and you are going to be having this town hall with Kamala Harris tonight, who has got a fascinating background herself. She was obviously a prosecutor. She was attorney general of the state of California before she became a senator. There is this thing that Trump will do that other people wouldn`t, right, it`s manifestly preposterous for Donald Trump to attack someone from the left on criminal justice.
It`s ridiculous. Everyone knows it`s ridiculous. He knows it`s ridiculous. Most politicians wouldn`t do it because of the sheer preposterousness of it. But he will, and he will get some ink out of it.
O`DONNELL: Well, and the other part of it is Donald Trump has now proved to his own satisfaction that it actually works with his supporters. They get the trick of what he`s doing. They know...
HAYES: The cynicism, yeah.
O`DONNELL: They know that Donald Trump is far to the right of Joe Biden on everything, including every criminal justice issue. And so Donald Trump now knows that his supporters know that he actually would be far more harsh on every criminal justice issue that you can think of except possibly bank fraud or tax evasion.
HAYES: Or obstruction for presidents.
O`DONNELL: Yeah -- and so his supporters are part of the support system of yes, go ahead and mount the fake attack on Joe Biden and we will clap for that.
HAYES: You have got a live town hall tonight with Kamala Harris, which I`m really looking forward to watching in Spartanburg, South Carolina. What are you looking for tonight?
O`DONNELL: Well, look, one of the big breaking news issues of the day obviously as you were covering is this new abortion decision by the Supreme Court. Kamala Harris is well positioned to discuss that, a lawyer herself, former district attorney of San Francisco, former Attorney General of California, United States senator. She came out today with what she believes is a possible solution way forward to dealing with these kinds of cases at the Supreme Court. We`re going to get into that in detail.
There are some challenges in how she would implement that. I will ask her about those challenges about how she would try to implement this new idea that she`s offered just this afternoon. And I don`t know if it`s a coincidence that she offered it on the same day that the United States Supreme Court, to put it mildly Chris, enlivened this issue.
HAYES: She -- Kamala Harris has sort of come out very strong in this race. She had a huge and amazingly impressive opening in Oakland. She has continued to raise money well. But everything in this field has sort of changed after Joe Biden`s entrance, just because of the kind of stature and the fundraising connections and the name recognition he has.
Where do you see her right now?
O`DONNELL: Well, some of the things have changed in ways that are favorable to Senator Harris. In recent polling in South Carolina, for example, she is now polling third, and to Joe Biden in the lead, Bernie Sanders in second place, and Kamala Harris is in solid third position.
The numbers that a candidate like Kamala Harris has right now are not that shockingly different, or wildly different, from Barack Obama numbers versus front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Barack Obama was way, way, way a distant second behind Hillary Clinton who seemed to be the prohibitive lead at this point in 2007. Joe Biden now occupies that space. And so what we are looking at is who, if anyone, can close that space. What might happen in the Biden campaign that sends it sliding lower in those numbers anyway? We don`t know. It`s all so new, it`s all so fresh. The Biden campaign is new. And so it`s an odd thing to say about someone who has been around as long as he has.
But it is new, and we haven`t seen exactly what the longer running dynamics of the Biden campaign are now that it`s really under way.
HAYES: Well, I`m really looking forward to this town hall tonight live in Tempe (ph). And Lawrence O`Donnell will be hosting that with Kamala Harris right after Rachel.
Thanks for making time. I really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: And, Chris, geographic point. We are in Spartanburg. Spartanburg, Spartanburg County went 60 percent for Donald Trump in the last election. We are in the heart of Trump country in South Carolina tonight.
HAYES: Can`t wait to watch it. Lawrence O`Donnell at 10:00 tonight be there.
Coming up, the Trump administration is taking climate denialism to new and potentially catastrophic levels in a move to undermine climate science ahead. And, it`s a major award. That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, the Japanese sport of sumo wrestling has been around for 1,500 years. It`s a world filled with longstanding customs and rituals, a centuries` long purity protected by strict traditional rules guiding nearly every aspect of the wrestlers` live. They live and train together, and everything from what they wear to when they eat and sleep is minutely controlled. Only the elite few will ever be Yokozuna: a grand champion.
And now they get the Trump trophy.
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TRUMP: We brought that beautiful trophy, which they will have hopefully for many hundreds of years, and that will be their trophy for the championship -- sumo championships.
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HAYES: Donald Trump ruined sumo is Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Donald Trump has always been a fan of wrestling, of course it has been American professional wrestling, which is more performance than athletic context. But over the weekend, Trump got to see some authentic Japanese sumo wrestling while he was visiting Tokyo full of traditions and rules which apply to everyone except Trump.
It is tradition, for example, that patrons sit on the floor, cross-legged on a cushion. Trump sat in a chair. Also, it is tradition that excited fans sometimes those those cushions, called zabuton. But for security reasons, that tradition was suspended, prompting this headline from a Japanese newspaper, "Mr. Trump to watch the final day matches: fear of zabuton."
But the big moment came after the matches when the president presented the winner with a four foot tall, 60 pound, Eagle topped trophy that he brought from him from home.
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HAYES: A certificate of commemoration. Asad no yama (ph). In honor of your outstanding achievement as sumo grand champion, I hereby reward you the United States President`s Cup, May 26, Raywa (ph) one, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. Thank you."
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HAYES: I guess sumo wrestling now has its own Stanley Cup to be handed to new grand champion, thanks to Trump. Not sure how the Japanese people felt about all of that, but he apparently enjoyed himself, quote, "that was an incredible evening at sumo. Sumo wrestling.
HAYES: We all know the president lies about a lot of stuff, big and small, and the sheer quantity and scope of those can make it hard to keep track of them. But one of the most consistent and also to my mind pernicious lies he likes to tell is about alleged voter fraud.
After the election, Trump lied again and again to try to obscure the fact that he lost the popular vote by millions of votes, claiming preposterously and without evidence that somehow to 3 to 5 million votes were fraudulent, a claim about as plausible as his golf handicap.
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TRUMP: In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They also like to say, oh, that`s a conspiracy theory. Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.
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HAYES: No, absolutely, completely, a conspiracy theory that you would have to be utterly insane and detached from reality to believe, or really, just in this case, more likely a straight up lie.
Even more ominously, the president of the United States has tried to use his official power to bolster that very lie. Do you remember how he put together an actual panel run by Chris Kobach and Mike Pence to look into the supposed scourge of rampant voter fraud which came up with: nothing. And then it was unceremoniously disbanded.
Now, the Texas version of this was when that state`s acting Secretary of State, Republican David Whitley, announced basically out of nowhere back in January that nearly 100,000 non-citizens have potentially registered to vote, and that 58,000 had voted in at least one Texas election in the past 18 years, which of course the president seized on, claiming the numbers were just, quote, the tip of the iceberg.
But Whitley`s claim was as preposterous as Trump`s had been. Nearly a quarter of those identified as possible non-citizens were actually naturalized citizens who had received disturbing letters threatening to cancel their registration unless they proved their citizenship.
And the ridiculous claim of 58,000 illegal votes fell apart almost immediately after civil rights groups sued and congress opened an investigation into all this, Texas ended the voter citizenship review in April and rescinded its list of flagged voters and said it would pay $450,000 in legal fees resulting from the entire sad dangerous debacle, though, not before GOP officials likely succeeded in intimidating some marginal set of new citizens from registering to vote, so mission accomplished for them in that respect.
Now, however, some tiny measure of justice, the acting secretary of state who engineered this entire abuse of power, David Whitley, resigned yesterday after he could not get enough votes in the Texas State Senate to become the confirmed secretary of state of that state, though one should note he still got every single Republican vote, which tells you everything you need know about what the GOP`s voter fraud claims are really all about.
HAYES: Amid a ceaseless barrage of disaster news from across the country, particularly in the Midwest, and news that for the second day a Republican member of congress single-handedly blocked $19 billion in disaster relief comes this new report that the Trump administration is about to undertake a new push to destroy the scientific underpinnings of climate policy within the U.S. government itself.
Among the ideas convening a new climate review panel filled with hand- picked cronies and cranks to issue denialist assessments with the full authority of the government. And if you think crank is too strong a word, consider that one of those people is William Happer, currently serving on the National Security Council as the president`s deputy assistant of emerging technologies.
Happer once said this about carbon dioxide.
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WILLIAM HAPPER, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PROFEFSSOR: The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world and so were the Jews.
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Joining me now, Coral Davenport, who broke this story about the Trump administration`s latest assault on climate science in The New York Times, and Dan Kanninen, who worked as the White House liaison to the EPA in the Obama administration and has dealt with the government`s assessment of climate firsthand.
Coral, let me start with you, there was a bunch of sort of early announcements in a sort of regulatory fashion in the Trump administration, both on Paris and some of the stuff happening in the EPA. The way your write about this it seems like they`re setting up a kind of new front, like a 2.0 run at this. How should we understand it?
CORAL DAVENPORT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So since day one President Trump has been very clear that he is interested in rolling back climate change regulations. That work has -- that`s been happening at the EPA at least for the last year-and-a-half, work to roll back regulations on planet warming, greenhouse gas emissions from cars, from power plants. The president obviously said that he was going to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. The president himself also often mocks the science of climate change. That`s all been in place, you know, since the beginning of the administration.
What`s new is that in that time we`ve actually written a lot of stories that even though they`re rolling back regulations and making all these policy moves, they still haven`t messed with the guts of climate science. We`ve written stories that despite all of this, sort of the federal agencies that have always put out these standard reports on where climate science -- have been continuing to do that. And so what is different now is that the administration -- the Trump appointees in the administration in some of these science agencies are saying -- have already started to change some of the methodologies and say we`re going leave out key information about the impacts of climate change, we`re going to change the way these reports are presented so it doesn`t look like climate change is such a bad thing. That is what is significantly new here.
HAYES: You know, Dan, to Coral`s point, I mean, the U.S. government provides a huge amount of just the basic science underpinnings and sort of agglomeration of data that underlie all of this, right?
I mean, a lot of it`s coming from the federal government.
DAN KANNINEN, WHITE HOUSE LIAISON TO EPA: Yeah, it`s a clearinghouse. And there`s a public service here, Chris. When I was working with the EPA under Lisa Jackson the first thing she did as the new incoming administrator was to issue a memo to the entire staff saying the science and the law will govern everything.
And we understood that the career staff of the agency had a responsibility to follow the science and the law. And one of the first things Coral mentioned some of the attacks of the agency from a regulatory or rhetorical perspective, early on there were symbolic moves that they made. They took science out of the names of some of the boards at the agency, really more of a poke I think at the agency than something really meaningful substantively.
But Coral is right, going after the endangerment finding which is the legal underpinning of the clean air and climate program at the EPA is a big deal. But the thing I think viewers should know is it is not just an ability of EPA and the agency to regulate and protect unclean air and climate and regulate carbon, they actually are requires them to do this, because these pollutants are found to be harmful to human health and the environment.
HAYES: One of the sort of things I really took away that was shocking to me, Coral, here is changing the timeline, so projections out really matter how far you project out into mid-Century and beyond. Things get really hairy and they can go a lot of different ways. You say that the White House appointed director of the United States Geological Survey is now mandating that only projections go through 2040.
DAVENPORT: Right. This seems like sort of a wonky distinction, but it`s very important. The United States, the U.S. Geological Survey, is a major scientific agency. It does a lot of important reports. And it includes under guidance given by the Obama administration, it`s required to include the impact of climate change in all of the reporting it does, sort of future impacts on public lands, on water use, on infrastructure. It does its own climate science reports.
And now under orders from the new director of USGS, a Trump appointee, these reports, which have typically included climate science going out to the end of the century, climate projections going out to the end of the century, will end. The impact of climate science -- global warming will end after 2040 in these reports.
Why is that significant? Because right now if you look at the impact of the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the projected future impacts, no matter how much greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere, sort of -- the trajectory kind of stays the same up through about 2050. After 2050, that`s when you start to see these really different impacts depending on what happens.
So, under business as usual, lots of greenhouse gases, you get very severe impacts, lots of warming, severe drought, rising sea levels. And that`s what they`re proposing essentially to eliminate, to just not show.
HAYES: Just make us blind out into the future past that when everything really, really bad may start happening. Coral Davenport and Dan Kanninen, thank you both so much.
That is ALL IN 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