IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

House approves enforcing subpoenas. TRANSCRIPT: 6/11/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Greg Sargent, Laurie Watkins, Cornell Belcher, Debbie Stabenow,Raja Krishnamoorthi

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  -- voice going to us again.  They key faith with those who raise to save us 18 years ago.  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now. 



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I believe that the president is literally an existential threat to America.

VELSHI:  Biden takes on Trump in the first in the nation state.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`d rather run against I think Biden than anybody.

VELSHI:  Tonight, the current frontrunner strategy to skip the primary fights to run directly against the president.  Is it working?  Then --

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  Do people think that there`s some impeachable offenses that the president committed?  Yes.

VELSHI:  Maxine Waters on the impeachment clash as Democrats start to ramp up oversight.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD):  Nobody is above the law.

VELSHI:  Then, Jon Stewart excoriates Congress on the Hill.

JON STEWART, ADVOCATE, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS:  Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity, time.

VELSHI:  Plus, why Democrats say Mitch McConnell is perhaps a bigger problem than Donald Trump.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  Think of me as the grim reaper.

VELSHI:  And the President`s bizarre performance on Mexican tariffs.  When ALL IN starts right now.

TRUMP:  You will analyze it, every single letter you`ll see.


VELSHI:  Good evening from New York, I`m Ali Velshi in for Chris Hayes.  The 2020 election is a long way away the recent polls have not looked good for Donald Trump.  And what`s more, he clearly knows it and is visibly alarmed.  Just today, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Trump trailing at least six Democratic candidates in a head-to-head poll including former Vice President Joe Biden who leads Trump by whopping 13 points.

And all of this comes as the New York Times has more reporting about just how freaked out Trump is.  "After being briefed on a devastating 17 state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win.

Now, tonight, Trump and Biden will be holding dueling rallies in Iowa after exchanging attacks all day.  Trump has just taken the stage we are still awaiting Biden.  Biden has been executing the strategy.  But since he is the presumptive favorite, he can campaign against Trump as if this were already the general election.  And the former vice President is basically telling voters that if Trump is defeated, Republicans will rediscover bipartisanship and peace might break out in Washington.


BIDEN:  Look, I believe that the President is literally an existential threat to America.  He is a genuine threat to our core values.  And if you wondered about that, remember what happened in Charlottesville.  I never thought I see that happen in my lifetime again.


VELSHI:  MSNBC Correspondent Garrett Haake is at Joe Biden`s rally in Davenport Iowa, joins us now.  Garrett, how is Biden`s message being received?

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, you`re getting a little bit of a taste of it even as we speak here.  The former vice president is just now taking the stage behind me in Davenport.  If punctuality is your thing, presidential campaigning probably not your game.

Look, there`s a huge portion of the Democratic base that is hungry for exactly what Joe Biden is doing right now which is to say skip over the primary, skip over the idea of Democratic infighting, and take on President Trump directly.  Democrats have been wanting this for years and Joe Biden is essentially trying to give it to him right now.

If you`re the front-runner and it was good rule in politics, never punched down.  The only place for Joe Biden to punch he`s right back up at the President of the United States.  And you saw that strategy executed fairly well today releasing the excerpts of a speech.  He wasn`t going to give for another 12 hours.  But all of us on cable news talked about it all day and let Donald Trump respond to it essentially walking into a trap that puts the two men on stage together.

The Iowans I`ve been talking to today we`re very receptive to this.  They want to see somebody take on the president.  But I would caution even the folks who are coming out to these rallies, even the folks who are taking time out of their work days to go see Joe Biden, many of these people tell me they are still shopping.  They are still looking for that strong person to take on President Trump to lead the party.

And while that`s fine today, it may not be Biden tomorrow so I think this is still a very, very fluid situation on the ground here in Iowa.

VELSHI:  Garrett Haake, thank you.  We`ll continue to monitor that with you, the speech that Joe Biden has just taking the stage for, Garrett Haake in Davenport Iowa.  Joining me now for further discussion on this, Cornell Belcher Democratic Pollster and Strategist, Laurie Watkins former Obama Advisor who served as Florida Policy Director in 2012 in the reelection campaign, and Greg Sargent Washington Post Opinion Writer covering national politics.  Greg`s latest column about Joe Biden is titled Biden is getting it wrong on Trump and the GOP.

And Greg, as Garrett said, Joe Biden released the transcript or released an outline of what he was going to say.  You were able to write about it, and you are -- you`re a little bit puzzled by the approach Joe Biden is taking.  You sort of outlined that in in doing so, he`s appealing to working-class Americans and some others, but you don`t think it`s correct.

GREG SARGENT, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST:  Well, I think that empirically it`s obvious that when Joe Biden says that once Trump is gone, if he`s gone, everything will be just fine and peaceful breakout is obviously false.  Nobody knows that better than Joe Biden himself having lived through the Obama years and of course which culminated in the Merrick Garland fiasco.

I do think though that on some level Biden believes to some degree that Republicans can be won over.  How, to what degree he actually believes, that`s a little tough to say.  But what was interesting to me was I talked to a campaign aide this morning and he told me to my surprise that they actually believed that Democratic voters outside the Twitter universe that were all consumed with all the time, that rank-and-file Democratic voters actually want to hear that the next Democratic president will successfully work with Republicans.

VELSHI:  And Laurie, the fact is -- and I just want to -- I want to show a piece of that Quinnipiac poll, we showed you the whole listing of how people do against Donald Trump, but in particular with Joe Biden.  This Quinnipiac poll taken between June 6th and ten indicates that Donald Trump would get 40 percent of a -- in a general election matchup, Biden a bit 53 percent.  Is there some sense to what Joe Biden is arguing in your opinion?

LAURIE WATKINS, FORMER OBAMA ADVISOR:  So Joe Biden needs to be out there.  In my opinion, he needs to be out there a lot more than he has been.  He needs to talk to voters needs to engage more with voters.  I`ll just give you an example last weekend here in the state of California was the state Democratic convention.  Joe Biden decided to skip that.  I`m not sure why but he just needs to show up as much as humanly possible.

VELSHI:  But we sort of -- sort of know why, right.  We know as Garrett says, he wants to punch up.  He doesn`t -- he wants to be seen as the presumptive nominee.  His people seem to think it works.

WATKINS:  Well, he needs to act like it, right.  And he needs to act like it.  No more playing from the sidelines.  Earlier someone was saying about you know, giving a punch a strong punch.  Well, show, show everybody, show not just Democrats, show Republicans and show those persuadable voters by getting off the sidelines and getting in there.

VELSHI:  Cornell, what do -- what do voter`s want?  What does the polling indicate in terms of the targeting Trump and not even really engaging with your -- with the other -- the other nominees, the other people who are seeking the nomination?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER:  Well, let`s dissect this a little bit, and thanks for having me on.  Look, if you go back to 2008 and when we were on the bottle campaign against going up against Hillary Clinton who`s by the way her early primary numbers were a lot better than Joe Biden`s were at this point.  Voters say they wanted someone who could win.

And remember, Karl Rove was talking about permanent Republican majority so Democrats were hungry for the candidates that best win.  And Hillary Clinton certainly was what`s pulling at that at the time.  However, there`s always a change element.  There`s always a backlash against the establishment and Democratic primaries and you always have that challenge.

The problem for Joe Biden is this.  If you look at the Iowa -- the latest Iowa poll, he`s at 70 percent -- 70 plus percent favorable in that poll, but he`s garnering what barely a quarter of the vote there.  You have a lot of voters who know him and like him but are still shopping around.

So when he turns his attention to Donald Trump, he`s framing this as is him against Trump but he`s still got a lot of Democratic voters who were shopping around.  I get the gamble they`re taking, but I think there`s a really big gamble that`s going to backfire.

VELSHI:  It`s an interesting point shopping around, Greg, particularly in Iowa where those unfamiliar with the caucusing system understand that if you go into a particular caucus and your candidate doesn`t win, you literally shift corners.  You go to someone else.

So the idea of who else you`re shopping around for or whom else you`re considering is important.  And in that polling in Iowa, Elizabeth Warren is right up there with Joe Biden.

SARGENT:  Yes, absolutely.  And to add to Cornell`s point, I think we all forget this, but in 2008 there was a really robust argument over whether Obama was electable in the general election at all.  We forget that.

But you know, there were many, many people who were arguing that he wasn`t.  And so, when Biden adopts that as his frontrunner strategy, you have to wonder whether at some point that`s going to start to fade in the minds of voters who start to see some of these other candidates as being also electable.

VELSHI:  Laurie, what`s the strategy that works then?  Is the idea still the same and do you think Joe Biden needs to get out there more?  He`s not lacking for media coverage.  What should he do when he gets out?

WATKINS:  Well, when he gets out there, I think he needs to talk to part of the base that Greg reference to in his article that seems to be missing or that Joe Biden you know, seems to be missing in action predominantly white suburban college-educated folks and women.  Where is -- where`s all the conversations with women?

We have female candidates out there, Elizabeth Warren for example.  She is gaining every week in the polls because she`s showing voters that she has a plan.  I asked these other candidates you know, what is your plan and I asked Joe Biden what`s your plan.  Show us.

VELSHI:  And Cornell, does the plan business work?  It does seem to be working for Elizabeth Warren at the moment, the idea that she`s coming out with policy on a weekly basis.  Joe Biden is basing his candidacy on the fact that you should know his policy because he was the vice president for eight years.

BELCHER:  Well, part of that -- part of that problem is he`s got -- he still has to reintroduce himself to these voters.  And look, if this is -- if this -- if this campaign is primarily about who`s going to be the best candidate to beat Donald Trump which I think but Biden wants that to be, I think that sets that solid footing for him.

If it`s about something bigger and broader about sort of a progressive future about who`s going to lead a more progressive legislative battle, who`s going to take on more progressive issues, I think -- I think you have a lot of people in that field, Elizabeth Warren etcetera, who can make that --

VELSHI:  But you`re a pollster.  What do people want because that`s the big -- that`s the big conundrum, right?  It does seem like slightly fewer Democrats want a more progressive candidate then want somebody to beat Donald Trump.

BELCHER:  And that`s the thing, Ali, voters all over the place and there are out in that conflict.  I mean, again, go back to 2008 when they said they wanted the candidate who was most likely to win in the fall.

But then there`s always, and watch for this out, there`s always a change backlash.  There`s always an element of the Democratic primary voters into a certain set Republican primary voters who backlash against and move against the establishment candidate and they want to change candidate.

The candidate who can break away and be the sort of the centerpiece of a change, progressive future I think we`ll give biting a run for his money in the primary.

VELSHI:  All right, we`ll leave it there.  Thanks to the three of you, Cornell Belcher, Laurie Watkins, and Greg Sargent.  Nancy Pelosi today took a hard stand against opening an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump despite calls by more than 60 members of the House, more than 60 members of her caucus to start the impeachment process.  Congresswoman Maxine Waters is one of them.  she joins me live after this.


VELSHI:  Democrat-led House voted this afternoon to pass a civil contempt resolution.  It`s not criminal, it`s civil against Attorney General Bill Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.  Now, this is part of an effort to force Barr to comply with the subpoena and turn over a full unredacted copy of the Mueller report, secret grand jury testimony from the investigation and other documents that Democrats also want to testify and turn -- they want McGahn to testify and turn over documents despite the White House invoking executive privilege.

Now, the resolution empowers the Judiciary Committee to go to court to try to enforce the subpoenas and it`s the latest step in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi strategy of continuing to investigate the president without opening impeachment proceedings.

There are dozens of House Democrats along with one Republican who say that`s simply not enough.  62 members of the House now publicly favor starting an impeachment inquiry including half of the members of the Judiciary Committee.  And the chair of that committee Jerry Nadler has reportedly been privately pressing Pelosi to start the impeachment inquiry.  This morning, the House Speaker was pressed on her refusal to do just that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If the Democratic Caucus wants to go forward with an impeachment inquiry, would you go for it?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  There`s not -- it`s not even close in that caucus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But eventually.

PELOSI:  Well, you know, why are we speculating on hypotheticals.  What we`re doing is winning in court.  We won a victory getting the documents from the judiciary -- the Justice Department today for fear of further going to court although we`re still going to hold the Attorney General in contempt today, and then the path that we are on is a path that I think -- look, I want to tell you something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You said you`re not --

PELOSI:  Nothing is much as -- nothing as divisive in our country on my view than impeachment.


VELSHI:  Joining me now one of the lawmakers calling for impeachment, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, the chair of the Financial Services Committee.  Congressman, good to see you.  Thank you for being with us.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA):  You`re welcome.  Thank you.

VELSHI:  Let`s talk about this.  Nancy Pelosi says not even close.  Now, I remember a couple weeks ago, maybe three weeks ago, I was talking about 38 members and then it became 50 something and now it`s 62 members.  At that rate, it may be closed at some point.  Is that -- should that be the basis on which Nancy Pelosi argues for or against an impeachment inquiry?

WATERS:  Well, I think to the degree that you have an increasing number of members who are asking for impeachment inquiry, that certainly does cause her to have to rethink perhaps her strategy.  The more members that you have, then I think she has to think about whether or not she`s going to you know, rely on the input from her members or whether or not she`s going to continue to try and lead her caucus to not talk about impeachment as much as to talk about the committees doing their investigation.  So it`s a kind of a game that is going on to see where it leads us.

VELSHI:  She did that again today in that interview when asked by Manu Raju that if you believe the president may have -- let`s play it and we can let the viewers listen to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you really believe the president may have committed crimes in office, isn`t it your obligation to mount an impeachment inquiry?

PELOSI:  My obligation is to do whatever we do in the most effective way possible.  We have six committees that work on this, one doing taxes at Ways and Means Committee Maxine -- financial service -- Maxine Waters Financial Services, Jerry Nadler Judiciary, Elijah Cummings the Government Oversight Committee, Eliot Engel Foreign Affairs Committee, they`re all doing their work very well and I believe in the committee system and it will bubble up from there.


VELSHI:  So the question for you, Congresswoman, is what`s the difference between the most effective thing which Nancy Pelosi says is possible and the political considerations because the point she continues to make is there are potentially dangerous political ramifications for members of Congress in the next election if you pursue impeachment.

WATERS:  Well, let me just say this.  As chairs of the six committees that have responsibility for oversight and investigations, we`re going to do our work.  I`ve always said that we can walk and chew gum at the same time.  You know, I`ve been for impeachment for a long time, long before it really became a substantive discussion among our caucus. `

However, as a chair of the Financial Services Committee, I`m going to do the investigations.  And so we don`t know what`s going to unfold.  Perhaps the dots will be connected in a way that you know, you have to move to impeachment.  It could be that we`re going to unveil more information that will encourage more members to step forward.

So we have no choice now but to continue to do the investigations.  Those of us who believes that there should be an impeachment inquiry, we believe that.  And those who believe perhaps we have enough information from the Mueller report to absolutely move to impeachment, they`re going to continue to believe that and let`s see what happens.  That`s about all we could do at this point.

VELSHI:  Congressman, you are always frank in your responses.  There was an article in Vox about a month ago.  It says Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters disagree over impeachment at closed-door meeting.  Give me a sense without telling me things you can`t tell me, give me a sense of how hot this is getting because we`re hearing that Jerry Nadler and Nancy Pelosi are going at it.  We`ve heard you and Nancy Pelosi are going at it.  Is that the normal course of business or is there some real tensions here?

WATERS:  No, no, no.  I think you know, this business about going at it is more you know, an interest that`s promoted by the media.  Everybody has known for over almost two years that I`ve been for impeachment.  Nancy Pelosi is not surprised about that.  She`s not taken off of her game because of that.  And I`ve always continued to say yes, I support impeachment and I think I have been helpful and moving the discussion.

However, she also knows that I`m going to do my work as a committee chair and I`m going to continue to do oversight and investigations.  There`s no big divide.  There`s no big argument.  There`s no confrontation.  It`s all about she has one strategy of moving for it.  I understand that and I continue to say that he should be impeached and I do my work as a chair of the committee.

VELSHI:  So do you -- if you had to weigh concerns, one is that you believe that the president has done something that is worthy of either -- well in your case, impeachment, let alone an impeachment inquiry versus what happened to Republicans after going after Bill Clinton with impeachment.  The concern is that are you -- are you OK with that?  Are you OK with the fact that it might --

WATERS:  Well, listen, you know -- you know, what -- I don`t bother with.  I don`t bother with the speculation about what the Senate will or will not do.  We don`t know what unveils.  We don`t know where the money-laundering becomes very evident.  We don`t know whether or not collusion based on even what Mueller has done or whatever other information that we discover will be the deciding factor among Republicans.

So I don`t buy the speculation by the talking heads, by the media, by others who speculate about what happened with Bill Clinton as opposed to what could happen now with Trump.  I just say that number one, that this President is unworthy, that he has no respect for the Constitution of the United States of America.

I say that the Mueller report gives us a guideline that it`s indicated in that report basically that his obstructive gestures.  I believe that there he`s also colluded with the Russian government.  He does not criticize Putin.  I think he`s been involved with some of the oligarchs and the Kremlin.  And I think there`s a lot more information that Mr. Manafort has.  I`ve looked at all of his allies long before we got in depth in this discussion.

And I believe whether we`re talking about Manafort or Flynn, or part Cage, or part of Papadopoulos.  All those people are organized around their relationship with Russia.  They all want to lift the sanctions so they can drill into oil for the arctic.  It`s about money.  It`s about everybody making out with this new playground in Russia to make money.  I believe that.  I continue to believe that, and I`ll continue to do my work as the chair of that committee.

VELSHI:  Congresswoman, always a pleasure to talk to you.  Thank you for joining us tonight.

WATERS:  You`re so welcome.  Thank you.

VELSHI:  Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  All right, again and again, some members of Congress have to be cajoled and shamed to allocate funds for 9/11 first responders who have life-threatening health problems.  Today, Jon Stewart once again face down Congress.  That`s next.



STEWART:  Gentlemen, your all 9/11 first responders.  You were down there from the moment of the attacks for the most part.  Now you see the Senate is filibustering the bill.  What`s going through your mind as you`re watching this process go down?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, we`re doing -- we`re disgusted, we`re disappointed, and unfortunately we`re hurt.


VELSHI:  That was back in 2010.  Jon Stewart dedicated an episode of The Daily Show to a healthcare bill for 9/11 first responders which installed in the Senate.  Republicans were blocking the bill over concerns about the tax used to pay for it.  Now, thanks in large part to Stewart`s activism, the bill was eventually passed.  But the September 11th victim`s compensation fund set up for people who got sick from toxic exposure at Ground Zero was only authorized for five years.

So in 2015, Stewart returned to the Daily Show then hosted by Trevor Noah to bring back the same panel of first responders he`d interviewed five years earlier.  Just one of those four panelists was there sitting next to three empty chairs.  Two of the panelists were too sick to make it, the other had died of cancer.

Congress reauthorized the Victims Compensation Fund in 2015 but again only for five years.  Earlier this year, the federal official who oversees the fund announced that it`s running out of money due to a surge in claims as more people get sick forcing the fund to cut future payouts by as much as 70 percent.

Today, 9/11 first responders went back to Congress to demand that they extend the fund indefinitely testifying before a House Judiciary Subcommittee.  Stewart went with them.


STEWART:  Behind me a filled room of 911 first responders and in front of me a nearly empty Congress.  Sick and dying they brought themselves down here to speak to no one.  It`s shameful. It`s an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution and you should be ashamed of yourselves, for those who aren`t here, but you won`t be because accountability doesn`t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.

I`m sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I am angry, and you should be too.  And they`re all angry as well.  And they have every justification to be that way.  There is not a person here, there`s not an empty chair on that stage that didn`t tweet out never forget the heroes of 9/11.  Never forget their bravery.  Never forget what they did, what they gave to this country.

Well, here they are.  And where are they?  And it would be one thing if they are callus indifference and rank hypocrisy were benign, but it`s not.  Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity.  Time.

So one thing they are running out of.  This should be flipped.  This hearing should be flipped.  These men and women should be up on that stage and Congress should be down here answering their questions as to why this is so damn hard and takes so damn long.

And why no matter what they get, something is always pulled back and they have to come back.

Mr. Johnson, you made a point earlier and it`s one that we have heard over and over again in the halls.  And I couldn`t help but to answer to it which was, you said, you know, you guys are obviously heroes and 9/11 was a big deal.  But, you know, we have a lot of stuff here to do.  And, you now, we got to make sure there`s money for a variety of disasters and hurricanes and tornados.  But this wasn`t a hurricane. This was wasn`t a tornado.

And by the way that`s your job anyway.  We can`t fund these programs.  You can.

Setting aside that no American in the country should face financial ruin because of a health issue.  Certainly 9/11 first responders shouldn`t have to decide whether to live or to have a place to live, and the idea that you can only give them five more years to the VCF because you`re not quite sure what`s going to happen years from now.  Well, I can tell you, I`m pretty sure what`s going to happen five years from now.  More of these men and women are going to get sick and they are going to die.

They responded in five seconds.  They did their jobs.  With courage, grace, tenacity and humility.  18 years later, do yours.  Thank you.


VELSHI:  The House Judiciary Committee is reportedly scheduled to vote on the victim`s compensation fund tomorrow.  The question now is whether it will get through the Senate which barely passed anything from the democratically led House, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.  That story is next.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER:  And I`m still the majority leader of the Senate.  Think of me as the grim reaper.

It seems like the Green New Deal.  Yes, I`m the grim reaper when it comes to the Green New Deal.

If I`m still the majority leader of the Senate after next year, none of those things are going to pass the Senate.  They won`t even be voted on.  So think of me as the grim reaper.


VELSHI:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made good on his promise to kill bills that are not to his liking.  And now Democrats are starting a new push to stop him from turning the Senate into "legislative grave yard."

Joining me is now is one of the senators leading the charge, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat --


VELSHI:  -- from Michigan.  Senator, good to see you again.  Thank you for joining us.

STABENOW:  Ali, good to be with you as always.

VELSHI:  Talk to me about the distinction between a Senate that won`t pass bills that you like that the Republican majority may not favor and bills not being voted on.  I think a lot of people understand the former they`re not quite understanding --


VELSHI:  -- why things don`t get put up for votes in the Senate.

STABENOW:  Sure.  Well, first of all, let me say that the House Democrats have really been doing their job.  They`ve giving us over 140 pieces of legislation to improve people`s lives from protecting people`s health care with preexisting conditions, extending the Violence Against Women Act, pay equity, common sense gun, safety laws and reforming government, a whole range of things.

But what is happening is that the leader of the Senate has the responsibility if he`s backed by his caucus to schedule legislation on the floor.  And so, he`s not scheduling anything but judges.  We`ve been voting for weeks now.

VELSHI:  So that`s very successful.  They are very good at --


VELSHI:  -- nominations, applicants (ph) --


VELSHI:  -- and judges.

STABENOW:  They`re doing nominations.  We did six today, we did four yesterday, we do six more tomorrow.  He`s just churning out judges and they want that as the strategy to change the policy and the quality of life for Americans.

So, instead of protecting people with preexisting conditions, the Trump administration and Republicans support a court case that came from Texas, as you know.  Now moving up through the courts and they hope that by changing the judgeships so that we have more people that don`t support health care for people, don`t support people with preexisting conditions won`t side with the public on issues like the high cost of prescription drugs or whatever the issue is, they want to change it through the courts.  So it is a legislative graveyard.

And by the way, let me say Jon Stewart was powerful and correct.  There should be a permanent authorization for this funding.  These men and women were as much about standing on the frontlines and putting their lives in jeopardy for our country is any other men and women --


STABENOW:  -- who had served our country.


STABENOW:  And the House will do the right thing.  But the question is, will the Republicans in the Senate --

VELSHI:  Right, the record in the case that that`s not going to be the case.  So you brought up the preexisting conditions.  That`s a tough one because that`s a weird situation in which the federal government is enjoying a suit against the federal government policies.

That`s sort of its own category of weird.  But you brought up violence against women for instance which shouldn`t be a partisan issue, right?  That`s not even a --

STABENOW:  Correct.

VELSHI:  -- particularly complicated or controversial act.  It`s the renewal, its reauthorization --


VELSHI:  -- very much like the Victim`s Compensation Fund of something we`ve already on a bipartisan basis accepted as important.

STABENOW:  Ali, you`re absolutely right.  And really when we talk about saving lives, this is about funding shelters, primarily for women and children.

VELSHI:  But not controversial.

STABENOW:  Right, escaping violence in their homes.  It`s about other support for law enforcement who are going into very dangerous situations as it relates to domestic violence situations.  For the life of me, I do not understand why Mitch McConnell and the Republicans think that`s a partisan issue.

VELSHI:  Now, there are a bunch of bills that you`re concern about, net neutrality, the no junk plans short-term health insurance, you know, the --


VELSHI:  -- banning of the --


VELSHI:  Those work going to -- even if they come up for votes, they`re not going to win in a Republican-dominated Senate.

STABENOW:  Well, we never know.  On net neutrality, I mean, we almost won last year.  It`s been one year --

VELSHI:  Right.

STABENOW:  -- since the FCC repealed what`s called net neutrality which affects your internet cost.  And so this is about small businesses, it`s about students, it`s about hospitals having access, all of us having equal access to the internet as integral part of our lives.

And so, we have seen this now held up for over I think 60 some days.  And since the House passed something and now it`s in the Senate and so we are beating the drumbeat every week on a different issue, highlighting what has been happening or not happening in the Senate on things that matter.  Talking to a small business who wants to export their products and see whether or not they think that having an affordable internet --


STABENOW:  -- is important to them.

VELSHI:  Senator, good to see you again.  Thank you for joining me.

STABENOW:  Thank you.

VELSHI:  Senator Debbie Stabenow.

All right, President Trump has hit a new level of flailing when it comes to Mexico and tariffs.  What exactly is in a letter that he claims is an agreement with Mexico?  The one that he`s holding up.  That`s next.


VELSHI:  Donald Trump has been widely criticized over the last few days for claiming to have solved the crisis of his own making with Mexico and touting a major deal that turned out to be full of things that had already been agreed to months ago.

But he`s not backing down.  This afternoon the President appeared before the assembled press corps at the White House on his way to Iowa and performed a truly bizarre bit of theatre.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  That`s the agreement that everybody says I don`t have, no because I`m going to let Mexico do the announcement at the right time.  For Mexico, they want to go through but here`s the agreement, it`s a very simple agreement.  Right here.  Right here is the agreement, it`s very simple, it`s right here.  And in here is everything you want talk about, done, done, it`s done.  It`s all done.

This will go into effect and it`s my option, it`s not Mexico`s, but it will go into effect when Mexico tells me it`s OK to release it.  I just give you my word, inside here, and I would love to do it but you will freeze action it, you will stop it, you will analyze it, every single letter you`ll say, but in ere is the agreement.


VELSHI:  OK, he was right about that, a photographer with the Washington Post actually snapped this photo of the agreement revealing part of the text of the President`s so called agreement, it says that if the U.S. determines after 45 days the Mexico hasn`t made enough progress in addressing the flow of migrants to the southern border, "The government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement in to force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days."

I am not misreading that.  It is entirely unclear what in the world what I just said actually means.  But it`s obvious that the president is very much on the defensive about this issue.  Joining me now is Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser for President Obama.  He`s also an MSNBC contributor.

Ben, I`m not going to ask you to try and interpret what I just read because we don`t know what that means.  More importantly, give me a 50,000 foot view of this from the world watching Donald Trump fight with an ally, a very close ally with whom our manufacturing and trade bases intertwined over an unrelated issue claim success on something that was already settled.  You know, the whole thing seems a little weird if you`d doing business with the United States or you`re trying to think about negotiating with Donald Trump about something this definitely has to add something to your calculations.

BEN RHODES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes.  And I mean, first of all, Ali, I`m still waiting for Mexico to pay for the wall, so there`s a history here.  Look, I think the first thing is he lies about things and he doesn`t know the truth, and diplomacy the word of the person that you`re dealing with is everything.

And in addition to just pulling out of existing agreements, Trump has lied about agreements with other countries and that makes us not a trustworthy partner to anybody around the world.  That makes it harder for anybody to know what they`re dealing with the United States on.

I think the second issue here is it`s clear that all Trump really cares about is domestic politics, right?  And so this is very --

VELSHI:  And a very narrow slice of domestic politics, because there`s a lot of domestic political issues that he doesn`t care about.  But he seems to be when he waves these papers around and talked about these deals he makes he seems to be talking to a particular audience.

RHODES:  That`s a good -- he`s talking to his base, right?  And this is where other countries can take advantage of us because they frankly know, we don`t actually really have to do anything, like look at North Korea, Kim Jong-un gives him the photo op, doesn`t do anything to give up his nuclear weapons, Trump is still praising Kim Jong-un.

Trump just wants to be able to say he`s doing things.  He doesn`t actually seem intent on getting results.  If you look at all of his major initiatives, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Mexico and the flow of migrants into our country, there is no results to show.  All he wants to be able to do is to tell essentially Fox News audience that he`s gotten something and don`t worry about the details.

VELSHI:  Paul Waldman has written in the Washington Post, his base may exist in a blissful state of denial where everything Trump says is true and everything anyone else says is fake news, but outside of those committed supporters, he isn`t fooling anyone n o matter how many pieces of paper he waves around.

I guess the point is, I`m sure he knows that, is it that he just consumes media that reiterates the things he says.  I`m sure there are people in America who believe that the President solved a major crisis with Mexico the other day, a crisis that didn`t exist before the President caused it and it isn`t settled by any new material, any new initiatives that the president took.

And by the way the big clue as a former national security adviser, the President wasn`t anywhere near those negotiations that resulted so called deal with Mexico.

RHODES:  No, that`s exactly right; all he cares about is that message to his base.  And I`ll tell you as a former deputy national advisor, if you want to stop the flow of migrants coming into the United States, Mexico is not the country that can do that.  They can`t seal their entire southern border.  They can`t stop the flow of all the people through their country.  They don`t have that capacity.

If you really want to solve this problem the people are coming from Central America, we would have to go down to Central America, provide them assistance, build their capacity, improve the conditions that are causing people to flee to our border.  That`s the actual security crisis.

So, Trump was really focused on getting something done.  He`d be talking to the Central American countries, but instead, he has cut them off.  He has cut off assistance to them.  So he is taking that action that is actually going to continue to increase this crisis because conditions will get worse in Central America without that U.S. support, more people will be coming.  He doesn`t even seem to really want to solve the problem.

He wants there to be a crisis because it gives him something to talk about on immigration and then he wants to be able to tell his base that he`s dealing with it by getting tough, but he`s no where even near addressing the actual root of the problem which he has made worse.

VELSHI:  Ben, always good to talk to you thank you for joining me now, Ben Rhodes.

RHODES:  Thanks Ali.

VELSHI:  All right, coming up the House Oversight Committee is about to vote on whether to hold Trump`s attorney general and his secretary of commerce in contempt of Congress.  A member of the committee joins me next.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  Ladies and gentlemen the Trump administration is engaged in one of the most unprecedented cover-ups since Watergate.  And it is not just about Russia.

Nobody is against above the law, even the president of the United States.


VELSHI:  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear she`s not in favor of impeaching the President and is pushing in the -- instead for more oversight and investigation from various House committees.  As we mentioned earlier, the full house today took one step down that road voting to make it easier for committees to take civil legal action to enforce their subpoenas.  That was a vote essentially empowering committee chairs to take Trump administration officials to court for ignoring subpoenas.

Tomorrow, the Oversight Committee will hold another vote and this one is to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress to make them comply with the investigation into questions on the U.S. Census.

Here with me now is Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois and a member of the House Oversight Committee and as a guy trained as a lawyer, understands these things far better than I do.  Congressman, good to see you again.


VELSHI:  Good, thank you.  What is the easy simple distinction between what we saw today, the voting Congress to proceed with civil contempt issues and tomorrow`s vote on the citizenship question which also involves Bill Barr but also the Commerce Secretary that is in contempt of Congress?  What`s the distinction that my viewers should understand about that?

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Well, actually today`s resolution which passed, allows the House council to begin judicial proceedings to enforce a subpoena with regard to Mr. Barr and judiciary committee proceedings.  But the second part of that resolution also enables committees to similarly commence judicial actions or litigation essentially, civil litigation to enforce subpoenas issued by those committees.  So in other words, tomorrow I believe will be the first time that that second part of today`s resolution will actually be implemented and tomorrow in the context of the Oversight Committee and the citizenship question.

VELSHI:  Now, this is interesting because for people who think that you`re only occupied with matters having to do with Trump and Russia and the interference, the citizenship question is an entirely different issue --


VELSHI:  -- on which the administration had the same response, right?  So they`ve had a sort of a generalized answer to all subpoenas having to do with the Mueller investigation, but this is a different topic entirely and they`ve had a similar response.  You don`t get the information you want.

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  No, it`s exactly the same response.  In fact, as Chairman Cummings says rightfully pointed out, we`ve had eight subpoenas issued, six of which are bipartisan, none of which have to do with Russia that have not been complied with in the least by the administration.  Everything from, you know, security clearance issues to rushing sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, to taxpayer funded, jet travel for private purposes.

We haven`t received a shred of evidence or documents from the administration which all begs the question why?  What are they trying to cover up?  And so, tomorrow is an essential vote, this time with regard to a very grave matter adding the citizenship question to the census.  I believe for the purpose of depressing the count of minorities and advantaging Republicans.

And as they said in a memo that was recently unearthed, non-hispanic whites.  And so this is very important.  And tomorrow we have to enforce a subpoena with regard to that issue.

VELSHI:  And what does that look like?  What does the enforcement of that subpoena?  We don`t often get to the stage.  What happens next?

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Yes, at that point, basically the Oversight Committee will then be able to call upon the assistance of the House counsel to go to court and then seek two remedies, one, declaration that the subpoena with regard to the citizenship question is valid and enforceable, and then secondly, to ask for an injunction to require the parties to whom the subpoenas were served, in this case, Mr. Ross and Mr. Barr to actually comply with the subpoenas.

VELSHI:  And that means that that gets -- I guess my question is who enforces that?  That becomes a lawsuit?

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  The court.  Yes, exactly, the court.  At that point, the court can enforce it through fines and other remedies.

VELSHI:  All right.  Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, we will watch this with great interest.  We are all getting something of a legal education these days and understanding.

I mean I`m a simple guy.  If Congress subpoenaed me, I would`ve just shown up thinking that`s what you actually have to do when Congress subpoenas you.


VELSHI:  I didn`t actually realize there were so many different ways you can go about it.  But we -- you expect this will be passed tomorrow afternoon?  This will happen tomorrow afternoon.

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  This is -- Ali, this is about whether or not there are going to be checks and balances in this country --


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  -- and whether or not the executive branch is going to be accountable to anyone.  I think the answer has to be yes.

VELSHI:  Congressman, good to talk to you as always.  Have a good evening.

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI:  Thank you for joining us.

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Thank you too.

VELSHI:  That`s ALL IN for this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.  Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Ali.  Thanks my friend.  Much appreciated.

VELSHI:  All right.