CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Instead of delivering us from evil, it would deliver us to evil. It`s something to be said about looking toward 2020. It could be the most important thing to think about. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.
REID: All eyes on Robert Mueller.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I`m not going to be watching, probably. Maybe I`ll see a little bit of it.
REID: Tonight how Democrats are approaching the last best chance to hold the President accountable.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The report presents very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.
REID: And why this week could be make-or-break for impeachment.
NADLER: That Mueller presents those facts to the American people and then see where we go from there.
REID: Then --
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: The president was very clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he?
PENCE: That he wasn`t happy about it.
REID: Reverend William Barber on the moral outrage of the president`s ongoing attacks on four Congresswomen. Plus, what we`re learning about the elite company listed alongside Donald Trump in Jeffery Epstein`s black book. And my exclusive interview with former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis on her new run for office.
AMERICAN CROWD: Wendy. Wendy.
REID: ALL IN starts now.
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REID: Good evening from Washington D.C. I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. Well, we are just 36 hours away from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller scheduled congressional testimony before both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.
His almost 500-page report was released back in April and we did not hear from Robert Mueller until the following month when he spoke for only around 10 minutes. Wednesday will be the first time we get to hear from Mueller at length before multiple committees discussing the findings in his report.
Tonight Trump`s Justice Department is warning Robert Mueller about his upcoming testimony in this letter that was dated today, "Any testimony must remain within the boundaries of your public report because matters within the scope of your investigation were covered by executive privilege including information protected by law enforcement, deliberative process, attorney work product, and presidential communications privileges."
The Department of Justice is going out of its way to detail the scope of Robert Mueller`s belated testimony. And yesterday the man who will be overseeing the first half of Mueller`s testimony House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler set the stakes for what Democrats are hoping to get.
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NADLER: I think there was very substantial -- well, the report presents very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and we have to present that -- or that Mueller presents those facts to the American people and then see where we go from there. Because the administration must be held accountable and no president can be -- can be above the law.
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REID: The report presents very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. Congressman Nadler chose those words very specifically because as you`ll remember Article 2 Section 4 of the Constitution reads, "the President shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.
And if House Democrats want to move toward impeachment establishing evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, it seems like a pretty good place to start. The Washington Post reports today "aides say Nadler has privately voiced support for impeachment proceedings against Trump but he has stopped short of publicly calling for such a move."
Chairman Nadler appears to be trying to get on the right side of history without getting on the wrong side of the House speaker and while letting Mueller do the heavy lifting. This as the number of House members in favor of impeachment proceedings is growing.
And we know this because we have a new whip count from the House floor last week where 95 Democrats voted in favor of a resolution to impeach the president. Congressman Nadler was not among them. Either way, there`s no guarantee that the special counsel`s testimony will be a slam dunk for Democrats.
Remember in his lone a press conference back in May, Mueller himself made his reluctance to testify very clear.
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MUELLER: There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself and the report is my testimony.
I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.
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REID: Joining me now for a look ahead to the Mueller hearing are Chuck Rosenberg former U.S. Attorney and senior FBI official, now an MSNBC Contributor and Cynthia Alksne former Federal Prosecutor who worked alongside Robert Mueller in the attorney`s office in Washington and she`s now an MSNBC Legal Analyst.
Thank you both for being here. So first let`s talk about this constriction, Chuck, that the Department of Justice has preemptively placed on Mueller saying that his testimony must remain within the boundaries of his public report. It sounds like a bit of a threat that if he tries to go off-script and not just literally read what`s in the report, could it be in some kind of trouble?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well it sounds like a bit of a threat, Joy, but it`s really no different than the constriction that Mueller put on himself. He was incredibly clear, I`m not going beyond my report. So it seems somewhat perfunctory if Mueller says he`s not going to do something.
Having worked for the man and having worked with the man, I can tell you he`s not going to do something so I don`t think they need to worry about.
REID: But I mean, would it be going outside the constrictions of the report for instance if he was asked, did you intend for the Attorney General of the United States to give the interpretation of your report or did you intend for him to make the decision as he said about whether or not prosecution could happen. Is that outside the scope of his report?
ROSENBERG: I don`t think so but again, he`s an extraordinarily cautious man, right? And so if it calls for conversations that he had with an official who is his boss, right, Bill Barr is his boss when he was working as Special Counsel. I think Mueller is going to be respectful of that relationship.
Look, that`s the cloth from which he is cut. He doesn`t sort of randomly, haphazardly talk about conversations with his boss. And so I don`t think the White House has very much to worry about.
REID: Yes. And so OK, let`s talk about Mueller. He`s testified 88 times going back to 1990. He`s a very reluctant witness to say the least. He doesn`t want to really be there. He makes it pretty clear doesn`t want to be there. He`s had past go ins with Jim Jordan will probably -- you know, I mean, Republicans are probably going to attack him.
OK, they`re probably going to try to say he was biased, etcetera. Is he the kind of guy who if attacked would actually step outside of just saying read page 223 of my report?
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: No. He`s not going to do what he does -- he`s not going to be goaded into breaking his own code of ethics. That`s not going to happen. And so people think there`s going to be fireworks and he`s going to make big conclusions. I just don`t see that. I agree with you.
That`s not why he has a reputation -- this stellar reputation as this honorable, respectful, venerable prosecutor as prosecutor. He didn`t get that because Jim Jordan can push him a little bit and he blows up and loses his temper and says but he hadn`t planned on it. That just isn`t going to happen.
REID: Yes. This is sort of may seem like an obvious question, but you know, this report came out months ago. You know, most Americans haven`t read it and this is actually heading up the New York Times bestseller but most people haven`t read it.
REID: Were the conclusions in the report from both of your point of view clear enough that it isn`t necessary for Robert Mueller to say refer to page 223 and do it in person? Is there something different we`re going to get out of him saying it?
ALKSNE: Well, yes. Well, you`re definitely going to get something more out of it. But if he`s -- if someone says to him isn`t it true you found there was substantial evidence of an attempt to fire you or to get McGahn to lie or to limit the scope of the investigation, he`ll say yes, and he may give up page citation.
Could you please catalogue for us what is the evidence that supports that in your report and why you found it compelling?
ALKSNE: And then get that out of him.
REID: Yes, just get him to say that.
ALKSNE: Get him to say that. And then you have something to show the American people. And we do need that. And there`s plenty in this report. This is -- this is evidence of obstruction of justice. It`s right here.
REID: I mean, what if -- what if let`s say for instance a Democratic member were to ask Robert Mueller if the same set of evidence appeared before you and the person was not president, would you indict them? Would he answer that?
ROSENBERG: No, he won`t.
REID: You don`t think he will answer that? I mean that`s not in the report. That`s not restricted.
ROSENBERG: If you were to ask me what question would I most like to hear him answer, that`s it right. I mean, if it was Joy Reid or Cynthia Alksne who did these things, would you indict her?
ROSENBERG: Absolutely. It`s clear as day.
REID: And he wouldn`t answer that.
ROSENBERG: I don`t see how he could because the Department of Justice policy says that you can`t charge a sitting president. Mueller took that a step further and I think appropriately so, which is if you can`t charge a sitting president nor can you recommend charging a sitting president. So again, to Cynthia`s point, I don`t think Bob Mueller at a hearing is going to sort of cast an aspersion on Donald Trump. Look, you want to cast aspersions on Donald Trump, read the report. It`s right there.
ALKSNE: Yes, here`s the wrinkle in that. I mean, I agree with your ultimate conclusion but here`s the wrinkle, and that is that Barr announced in that interview that he did in Alaska, well, he -- there`s no reason why he couldn`t have come to a conclusion., and Barr said that.
So there`s going to be some pressure in the hearing quoting bar saying, well Barr said you could have come to a conclusion. And I do think there will be those questions, but ultimately you know, we are who we are when were four as my mother always said and he is who he is and I don`t think he will do it either.
ROSENBERG: I think you`re right. There will be pressure to do it but Bob Mueller won`t. I mean, this is not a guy who has bent in the wind over the course of a long and honorable career. No reason why that`s going to start on Wednesday.
REID: Yes, yes, I`ve said it before. He is not waking up that morning and putting on his Superman cape and coming in to save American Donald Trump. That is not what he`s there to do. He`s not going to do it. Chuck Rosenberg and Cynthia Alksne, thank you both. It`ll be interesting to hear from him.
Here now for more on the people who will be questioning Robert Mueller, former Florida Congressman David Jolly. He left the Republican Party this past year. He`s now an Independent. And Elizabeth Holtzman former Democratic Congresswoman from New York and the author of the Case for Impeaching Trump.
OK, so David Jolly, I`m going to start with you because my supposition is that as measured as Robert Mueller is and as he`s going to be in as these two experts who know him I`ve just said he`s going to be, Republicans aren`t going to be measured.
Republicans are going to come in there and attack the guy. They`re going to come in there and their strategy is going to be to say you`re biased and bring up Strzok and Page and all the rest of the stuff. Is that what you expect them to do and do you think that would be at all effective for them?
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Well, it will be effective for their base. To your point, Joy, what we have seen and every one of these hearings is Republicans never ask hard questions to try to get to the facts of the investigation. What they do is they try to impugn the witnesses and those who testified with Mueller.
Matt Gaetz said what they`re going to do on Wednesday is re-elect Donald Trump as president. That`s clearly how the Republicans are going into this. I think when the final gavel hits Wednesday night, Joy, though, the eyes of the nation once again turned to Nancy Pelosi.
This is a political case to be made for impeachment and Democrats seem to be hoping that Bob Mueller will convince the nation on Wednesday. Democrats seem to remind the nation hey, voters you haven`t read the report yet.
But at the end of the day, if we are to be led to a convincing case for impeachment, that has to come through political leadership and it has to come from the person who occupies the highest constitutional office outside the White House. That is Speaker Pelosi come Wednesday night. The eyes of the nation are going to be looking at her to ask what next right.
REID: Right. I mean, even if, Elizabeth, if all that Mueller did was referred to what`s in the report and he literally read it, right, he will then be speaking the exact same facts that nearly a thousand former prosecutors said were at least ten instances of obstruction of justice. That is one of the causes that -- for which you can -- for which you can impeach a president.
So I wonder from your point of view, what should Democrats do? They put the theater off for a month and a half. What should they do with their time now knowing they`re not going to get a whole lot of theatrics out of - - out of Mueller?
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: Yes. Let me just deal with the theatrics moment issue for one moment and I just want to go back to Watergate because those Republicans who use the Watergate hearings that the House Judiciary Committee held to defend the president led to the huge victory for Democrats in the midterm elections.
Why? Because the Democrats conducted themselves with dignity and sincerity and the Republicans were just out there defending the president and that did not sit well with the American people. So I just want to bring that little historical fact, Joy, out here.
Now the critical -- the critical point is that most people have not read the Mueller report. The Democrats and really anybody who`s sincere about trying to educate the American people so that they can help make a judgment about whether the president should be held to an impeachment standard, they need to make sure that the American people understand the facts.
So getting Mueller to read the report or put the report in his own words or restate it is the critical thing. And particularly the critical thing is to get him to confirm that there was evidence of conspiracy with the Russians, just not enough evidence to permit an indictment. And secondly, that there was substantial evidence with regard to obstruction of justice, that they couldn`t clear him and they couldn`t exonerate him.
The American people need to know that. So we have someone sitting in the White House the president the United States who could not be exonerated of obstruction of justice and who could not even be exonerated of contacts with the Russians that could amount to conspiracy we had ore facts. That`s something the American people have to know. That`s scary. That`s dangerous. And it`s up to the people really to demand that Congress hold him accountable.
REID: Well, can we just for a second, David, talk about that, that second half of it, that second hearing that`s going to be before House Intel. How important -- I mean, if everyone is going to be focused on the obstruction side of it, meaning the judiciary side because that`s the thing that could be -- lead to impeachment.
But how important is it for Democrats to get the fact that it make people - - make it really clear to people what Russia did to this country and you think that is possible with Mueller sticking to the script?
JOLLY: You know, so we focus on obstruction because that is the criminality if you will. That`s where we see this three-part test of criminality. It appears Donald Trump solves that. But at the end of the day, what we want the American people to know is what Elizabeth Warren continues to tell them.
The three elements of impeachment are Russia tried to attack our democracy, Donald Trump`s campaign welcomed the attacks at every turn when they were presented with making a choice whether to welcome it or to turn away the interference, and when our government tried to investigate that interference, Donald Trump obstructed it at every turn.
That is the case for impeachment. Now, to have two hearings, one before Judiciary, one before Intelligence where each member is going to get five minutes to question Bob Mueller who will be an imperfect witness. He will provide some moments and some theater but at the same time he will fall flat for what Democrats are trying to provide.
It will take political leadership to wrap that in a bow at the end of the day if the case is to be made. Elizabeth Warren and a few other Democrats have been able to succinctly try to make that case. We`ve yet to hear from house leadership. And, Joy, my biggest concern is there`s one more week before the House adjourns for five weeks and takes a summer vacation.
There will be little urgency around this come ten days from now and that is where I think many in the nation are begging for political leadership.
REID: Very quickly Liz Holtzman, is that the big concern that they`ll -- that the Democrats will have this testimony on the books and then we`ll do nothing because there will be -- what else could they possibly have in order if they`re going to proceed on impeachment, they`ve got Mueller now talking?
HOLTZMAN: Right. I think if he makes the point clearly, the Democrats really have a responsibility to the Constitution and to the American people to start the process. You don`t need to show a crime. You need to show a high crime and misdemeanor. In other words, an assault on our democracy by the President and abuse of his power and I think there`s ample evidence of that. And that`s the kind of case that needs to be made because yeah otherwise our democracy is in danger.
REID: Indeed. David Jolly, Liz Holtzman, thank you both. I really appreciate you guys.
HOLTZMAN: Thank you.
JOLLY: Thanks, Joy.
REID: Thank you. And up next, the President`s continued attacks on four Congresswomen of color. Rev. William Barber is here to talk about racist comments coming from the nation`s highest office right after this.
REID: You may have seen the media coverage of a sign posted outside a Virginia church that went viral last week saying "America: love it or leave it. Some of the congregation at Friendship Baptist Church in Appomattox, Virginia reportedly walked out of a service yesterday in protest of the sign which the pastor says went up weeks ago.
But it certainly echoes the sentiments expressed recently by Donald Trump who said last week that four Democratic Congresswomen of color known as The Squad should go back to the places where they came from even though they are American.
The President continues to rage tweet about The Squad. This morning, he called them "a very racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart." These comments come on the heels of reports from -- of some disturbing social media posts targeting the four congresswomen.
A photo depicting the four as the jihad squad was posted on a Facebook page of the Illinois Republican County Chairman`s Association Friday night. And a police officer in Gretna, Louisiana has just been suspended after he was busted on Facebook for writing about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, "this vile idiot needs a round and I don`t mean the kind she used to serve."
I`m joined now by Reverend Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the National Poor People`s Campaign and author of Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing. And Bishop Barber, let`s talk about first of all this statement "love it or leave it." Can you just talk a little bit about the origins of that and what connection it had to anti integrationists and segregationists back in the -- in the 1950s.
WILLIAM BARBER, CO-CHAIR, NATIONAL POOR PEOPLE`S CAMPAIGN: I`m here in Iowa with the Disciples of Christ -- Christian Church Disciples of Christ, Joy, and we have thousands of people who are saying welcome, but there`s always been this other side of perverted -- I called it Racist Americanity that is not true Christianity, and those signs were put up by the Klan.
At one County from over where I live in Eastern North Carolina, it used to be a County got a signed up. They said this is Klan country. America love it -- you know, love it or leave it. It is a strange form of extremism to have people who come and take other people`s land to them now say go back to where you come from.
It is a form of engendering hate and racism and actually, it`s a trick of racism, it`s a trick of fascism when you don`t have the answers for the real problem so what you do is you sow division as cover-up, as cover-up for the failure of policies. And a lot of times, Joy, this is a strange thing, policies that not only hurt people of color but also hurt poor white people.
So here we are talking about tweets and racist tweets and go back but not about 140 million poor and low-income people in this country, 66 million of them which are white. It`s not about the 62 million people who don`t make a living wage.
We`re not talking about how his administration is blocking living wages and his party his blocking liberal wages and blocking health care and thousands of people are dying because these tweets, these racist tweets and racist saying used in history by racism and fascism are always kind of a psychological burden as King said, being fair to people so that they don`t pay attention to the real destruction that`s happening in their lives.
REID: Well, and I think it`s an important point because you know, it is interesting the way that the far-right, the racist elements in the country have been able to use this kind of you know tweaking people on their racial insecurities, push them toward a more full sort of open racism while at the same time robbing them, you know, like taking away their hospitals, making their schools worst, making them poor.
BARBER: Right, right, really. So, for instance, the Trump was in Pitt County the other day. You know, Pitt County it didn`t go for Trump. It didn`t go for any of that. And he was about 35 miles from a hospital that was closed in North Carolina because the Republicans in our state refusing to expand Medicaid.
But -- so you -- they don`t have answer so you use this cover. Now here`s another cautionary thing. We cannot act like this is new. When George Bush first ran for Congress back in the late 60s, he said I`m running because I`m against the Civil Rights Act because I`m for that 84 percent not the 14 percent.
Ronald Reagan when he ran, he often talked about welfare queens taking from people, he ran against fair housing saying that a person should have a right to discriminate if it`s their property and he began part of his campaign in the same county where the four civil rights leaders were killed -- the three civil rights leaders were killed in Mississippi.
So this coating and this tweeting is not new, it`s just more of it, it`s more pushed out because we have a 24 news out of cycle, but it is not new, and it always is a cover-up for the other policies that are actually hurting people of color and I want the audience to hear this, and poor white people of whom there are 66 million poor and low-income white people that while this hate is being spread their lives are being damaged.
REID: Right. And I wonder then what is the proper response to it because there`s been some you know, some Democrats, some never-Trumper Republicans say well, the response to it is just ignore what Donald Trump is saying, ignore the racism, pretend it isn`t there and talk about health care. Is that -- do you agree with that?
BARBER: No, no, no, no. You can`t -- you can`t -- you cannot ignore it. Thank God for those people that walked out of that church over what went up on the sign. But what you cannot do is just focus on the sign and the tweets are not the negative policies that lie underneath the tweet.
So here`s what I would suggest. If Democrats are really going to respond to this, they ought to have a press conference. They ought not be on the tweets. They ought to list the top 25 to 30 policies driven by racial discrimination and their impact on black, brown, and white people.
In other words, they should say while he`s tweeting and fooling you, you should know what`s happening in terms of judges on the bench. You should know how your health care is being blocked. You should know how they`re gearing up now to block a vote on the living wage bill that was just passed in the House.
We have to connect the racism to the policies. We have to show people. Listen, do you know the same people that are doing these tweets, they engage in racist voter suppression. Well, do you know that the people who get elected by racist voter suppression when they get elected they use their power to block living wages and block health care. We`ve got to expose the truth of the lies of what`s going on, otherwise, racism and fascism win.
REID: Yes, indeed. Reverend Dr. William Barber, good advice. Hopefully, somebody out there will take it. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time. And coming up, my exclusive interview with former Texas state senator Wendy Davis on her new congressional bid. And new details about Geoffrey Epstein`s mysterious black book, what we`re learning about the big names found inside it.
REID: There has been one question that has continued to surface around the renewed prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein, the uber-connected financier convicted sex offender and accused sex trafficker, who else will be implicated?
Both before and after Epstein`s 2008 sweetheart deal with federal prosecutors, he was known to socialize in elite circles, presidents and politicians of both parties, and princes, too. And now that Epstein, who has pleaded not guilty -- who has pleaded not guilty sits in a New York jail awaiting trial, there is renewed interest in just who the accused sex trafficker was spending his time with and how.
Many of the names Epstein`s associates can be -- many of the names of Epstein`s associates can be found in his infamous black book, the contents of which were first published on Gawker in 2015. The black book contains names and numbers of hundreds of people, many who were known associates of Epstein`s, and others who say they have never spoken to or met Epstein.
There are people like Donald Trump. Jeffrey Epstein had 14 Trump-related phone numbers in his black book.
Now, we simply don`t know how much -- don`t know much about the nature of the relationships between Epstein and the people listed in his black book, but reporters are digging in.
This morning New York magazine published a deep dive into the world of Jeffrey Epstein using the book as a map. One name among the many rich and powerful they investigated is Charlie Rose, the former TV host, who has been accused of sexual harassment by more than 30 women.
According to phone logs obtained by New York magazine, Epstein used to make recommendations to Rose of women to hire. Written call logs from 2005 and 2006 show Epstein and his own assistant calling dozens of times. Epstein called with a total of five women`s names and phone numbers.
According to the reporting, Rose went on to hire 3 of the 5 women that Epstein recommended, including one woman who later said that Rose sexually harassed her.
When reached, she was stunned to learn she was one of many women Epstein recommended for the job, quote "I was being offered up for abuse," said the woman who was 22 at the time she worked for Rose.
The representative for Charlie Rose said, quote, "Jeffrey Epstein from time to time recommended various candidates for open positions at The Charlie Rose Show, but said the ex-host only learned about Epstein`s alleged abuse years later when he pleaded guilty in Florida.
Now, we don`t know if or how much prosecutors are using the black book in their case. My guess is that many people in the book are feeling a little nervous right now.
REID: OK, it is time for a special Thing One, Thing Two without the commercial break in the middle tonight.
Wilbur Ross has been in the news a lot lately over his botched attempt to rig the census, but allow me to take you back two years ago to the commerce secretary`s first news making event just days after he was confirmed. It was the slippers. $600 slippers Wilbur Ross wore to Donald Trump`s very first presidential address to congress in early 2017, apparently custom made and emblazoned with the Department of Commerce logo to warm Wilbur`s little footsies.
They appeared to be a pair of smoking slippers, like the ones you can buy from a particular Palm Beach company which makes, quote, "proper handmade genuine slippers."
No one has ever really explained why the secretary of the Department of Commerce would need custom made proper slippers, or why on Earth he would wear them out in public, but, and here`s Thing Two, maybe it`s because the guy is napping so much he just needs to always be in his P.J.s.
Ross was famously caught sleeping during Trump`s speech to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia back in may of 2017. Now there are reports that Trump was irritated by the secretary falling asleep in meetings in early 2018.
Today, there is reporting on just how much the napping has contributed to new heights of dysfunction at Commerce. Now, former outside adviser tells Politico, quote, "because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen. So they`re very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings. There`s a small window where he`s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep."
You know, I know how you feel, Wilbur. I mean, I`m sleepy all the time. I`m sleepy right now. But there`s a thought, you know, you could actually get more sleep and even add a full-on onesie to your proper slippers and just nap it out all day if you stop being the secretary of commerce and just went home.
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TRUMP: A man who is another legend on Wall Street, truly a legend. They just call him Wilbur. How about Wall Street? Wall Street`s big and strong. He`s just known as Wilbur.
Carl Icahn called me up. He said, Donald, I heard you got Wilbur. That was it. It wasn`t Wilbur Ross, but there is Wilbur Ross and he`s doing a fantastic job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: You might remember her from her sneakers. Then Texas state senator Wendy Davis led an 11-hour filibuster against some oust harshest abortion restrictions in this country in June 2013. She literally spoke for 11 hours on her feet.
The following year, Wendy Davis ran for governor of Texas, a state that has not seen a Democrat in that office since 1995. She did not win. But she stayed active in state and national politics and today Wendy Davis announced that she is running for office in Texas again, this time for congress in a district that includes parts of blue, blue Austin but also went for Donald Trump by an overwhelming 10 points in the 2016 election.
And Wendy Davis is here with me now. Good to talk to you, Wendy.
So let`s talk about this race. What`s your plan? How do you plan to win?
WENDY DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, TEXAS: We plan to win by connecting with people on the issues that really matter to them, Joy. And, of course, people in this district, as is the case all over Texas and all over the country, are feeling like their issues of concern aren`t being heard, that making sure they have a job that can earn a family income or that they have affordable health care, if they have health care at all in this particular state where we have the highest number and highest percentage of people who are uninsured, people who care about making sure after a lifetime of hard work they can retire with dignity, and, of course, that their kids are going to safe, quality schools, drinking clean water, breathing clean air.
They want to know that they have people working for them in Washington who are looking to address these solutions.
DAVIS: And the person who`s...
REID: Quickly. Go ahead. sorry.
DAVIS: ...the person who is in this office right now, former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy, is someone who has demonstrated that even in instances where Democrats and Republicans are coming together on things, he continues to be the standout person who is voting against them. He`s so out of step with bipartisan ability to get things done that he was one of only three people in congress, for example, who voted to raise taxes on the military gold-star families, who voted against the Violence Against Women Act, and who has consistently voted against existing -- protecting pre-existing condition coverage in our health care, and, of course, lowering costs in prescription drugs.
DAVIS: So he`s shown himself to be out of the step with the district and he barely won this district in 2018.
REID: Right. So he won it with 50.3 percent, Chip Roy, who is your opponent, who is the incumbent.
You mentioned jobs. You mentioned health care. You mentioned bipartisanship. You didn`t mention a woman`s right to choose. Now, you -- what you were known for...
REID: When you first burst on to the national scene was that you held this 11-hour filibuster. We`re now seeing a record number of states going after women`s liberty, going after women`s right to choose. Is this something that you`re going to run into? Is this something you`re going to mention in your campaign? Are you -- because you didn`t mention it as an important thing of why you should be elected?
DAVIS: Yes, of course, Joy. You know, I think looking at the polls nationally and in Texas as well, it`s very clear where Americans stand on this issue. The vast majority of people believe that Roe v. Wade should stand. That is something that obviously I am known to support and will continue making sure that I carry the message on and continue to fight for as a part of this campaign and as a congressional member, if I have the privilege of representing this district in the future.
REID: Yeah. And, you know, when you talked about the things that you`re going to do, that you want to do and want to say in your message to run for congress is that a pretty standard -- like pretty standard like Democratic lines. This is not a standard period of political history. It feels like what Democrats want to do -- and, you know, yourself, maybe you can say you don`t agree with what I`m about to say -- is that Democrats want to run sort of a standard the way that you run for, you know, city, state, and federal government with a standard set of issues, but Republicans are running asymmetrically. They`re running on things like, you know, very racialized nationalism. You might want to say white nationalism. They`re running on saying that brown people don`t belong here, that they need to leave.
Is it possible for a Democrat to win by running a standard campaign when Republicans are using that kind of asymmetry.
DAVIS: You know, I think it`s a little bit of both. Obviously, Democrats were wildly successful in 2018 by addressing the issues that really matter to people. And while that may sound like standard fare, it`s important that we continue to be the standard bearers for demonstrating that we are going to fight for issues that really matter in people`s day to day lives.
REID: And what issues do you think those are? What issues would you say those were?
DAVIS: Those that I just outlined. People who want to make sure that they have a job that can support a family income, that they have the ability to afford health care and have a health care plan that`s actually going to cover their needs...
REID: Yeah, but hold on a second because you went through those issues -- I`m sorry to cut you off...
DAVIS: It`s OK.
REID: The question I have whenever people say that is, what about health care? Because I don`t think that the 2018 election just my read of it was in general about jobs and health care. It was a very specific thing about health care, that Donald Trump was going to take your health care.
DAVIS: T hat`s right.
REID: So when Democrats say it`s just health care, do you mean just a proactive idea about health care or defending health care against this president?
DAVIS: Absolutely defending against the attacks on health care. And I`m sitting in Texas, where you probably know, Joy, there is the lawsuit that`s going on to try to deal the final blow to the Affordable Care Act. It`s being led by our attorney general, Ken Paxton, here. And so on the minds of many Texans is exactly that, that Republican leaders from the top to here at the state level are working tremendously hard to take away a health care benefit that they currently have. And they not only want to see us not work on taking it away, they want to make sure that we`re making it stronger.
DAVIS: I, as someone who has just a few employees, understand how expensive it is every month.
DAVIS: And how high our deductible is. They want to make sure that we`re fighting to make sure that they cannot only afford it, but that it`s actually going to provide the kind of coverage that they need.
REID: We are out of time, but I need a yes or no answer from you. If you are elected to congress and an impeachment proceeding comes your way in the House of Representatives, would you vote to impeach Donald Trump?
DAVIS: If an impeachment vote comes my way, I think people are going to vote really in November in 2020 in that regard, and I`m anxious to hear exactly what Mueller says.
REID: So that`s a no.
DAVIS: ...on Wednesday.
No, I`m not saying it`s a no at all.
DAVIS: I`m saying just like the rest of the American people, I`m anxious to hear what he has to say tomorrow.
DAVIS: And I hope as I go forward in the campaign people will go to my website, wendydavisforcongress.com and discover more about what those positions are. I appreciate the time, Joy.
REID: No problem. You got the website in there. All right, good marketing. Wendy Davis, thank you for your time.
DAVIS: All right -- thank you.
Coming up, should presidential candidates take on Donald Trump on the campaign trail or just pretend he doesn`t exist? The debate over how to beat Trump is next.
REID: If I had a dollar for every opinion piece out there telling Democrats that the only way to beat Trump in 2020 is to avoid talking about him and to hide anything that makes them seem too Democraticy so that they don`t scare off Rust Belt Trump voters. You know, the goal is to try and woo those Trump voters, Trump voting White working class voters, with kitchen table issues like health care, but not really like liberally scary health care, more like just saying the word health care a lot, but not too loudly or too liberal soundingy. And just to pretend Trump isn`t there. If I had a dollar for every column like that, I`d be really rich.
I`m obviously exaggerating here -- a little. But the point is that the conventional Democratic and never Trumper wisdom seems to be that if Democrats focus their attention on all the terrible things Trump says and does then that will only make him stronger and get him reelected.
But on my show over the weekend, writer and anti-racism activist Tim Wise, who worked on the independent campaigns to stop David Duke, the former grand wizard of the KKK, from winning state-wise office in Louisiana in the 1990s explained why he sees it very differently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM WISE, ANTI-RACIST EDUCATOR: These are people who are not believers in small government or low taxes. It is increasingly a white identity cult. And unless the rest of us understand that, including Democratic candidates and talk about this election as the existential threat that it is to pluralistic, multicultural democracy, we are going to lose, we`re going to blow it, because they are motivated by that belief that the America they love is being lost. We had better take the election just as seriously. And it`s not going to be done with a bunch of great policy papers and policy positions, it`s going to be done the way it was done in Louisiana making people understand that David Duke was a threat to the America that we care about.
Donald Trump is also that threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: To talk about that, I am joined by Cornell Belcher, Democratic pollster and MSNBC political analyst, David Weigel, national political correspondent for The Washington Post. Thank you guys both for being here.
And we`ve talked about this before -- or Cornell, I feel like -- because so what Tim Wise was saying, and what he said a little bit more in that segment, is that the goal of Democrats has to be to separate the average White voter from the extremists that are going with Donald Trump and that, you know, in his experience in Louisiana most White Americans don`t want to be associated with racism, but they have to make it clear that this isn`t just one person`s version of health care versus Trump`s version of health care, that this side is extreme. He says that`s important to do. What do you make of that?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: You know, I guess, god bless him, Wise, because I think, Joy, this is something that we have been talking about for a while. I guess you have to be a white guy to say it for you to be taken seriously. But he is absolutely right.
As opposed to Democrats chasing Trump voters, you`ve got to understand what Trump did. Take Wisconsin, for example, Trump did one point better than Mitt Romney did. Hillary did 7 points worse in Wisconsin than Barack Obama did. So if I could -- if I follow the conventional thinking here, we should spend all our time and recourses chasing that 1 percent and not chasing that 7 percent, or almost 200,000 voters, that we lost in the process. We should take all of our time and chase Trump voters. It is nonsense.
Conventional Democrat wisdom, by the way, up until Barack Obama in 2008 when we actually flipped the script on a lot of conventional wisdom, has been losing a lot of national elections. And what I fear, Joy, is that a lot of that conventional wisdom that was front and center before Barack Obama is reestablishing itself and we`re going to run campaigns like it`s 1990 again.
REID: Well, see that is the point. You know, Dave, it does seem like Democrats are skipping the two elections in which the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, won by 10 million and 5 million votes and going all the way back to the 90s and say, no, we are going to run that strategy where we sort of try to tamp down the differences between ourselves and the Republicans, run more like them, seem like them, and be moderate and sort of somehow convince white voters to come back over.
But that`s not what Barack Obama did. I mean, there are seven million Barack Obama voters in 2012 who just stayed home in 2016. And Democrats don`t seem -- they seem to be ignoring them and just fixating on these voters who have already gone to Donald Trump.
DAVE WEIGEL, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, well, I think it depend what is Democrats are you talking about. If you are talking about people who write columns or who have think tanks in D.C. that depend on this message, yes, you hear that all the time. It gets a huge megaphone throughout the press. I`m in Wisconsin now. I spent time with the new chair of the Democratic Party today in the state. I spent some time a canvasser. I spent time with Republican canvassers.
Neither campaign is really thinking of things that way. The Republicans are trying to hold on to the Trump base and maybe pull out some voters, registered voters who like Trump didn`t vote last time. And for Democrats, it`s a multi -- almost multi-year persuasion campaign. They really got started a few months ago in talking to voters ahead of 2020, the idea being you have those conversations, you get people who are not satisfied with Trump -- weren`t satisfied with Hillary Clinton and you change the numbers.
It is a lot -- you mentioned the Obama campaign, it`s a lot more like those. I was just talking to Republicans on the way here who -- their emphasis is not anything Trump did right in 2016 -- I mean, they think he did some things right, it`s Obama`s campaign -- registering 2 million voters in 2008, 2 million voters in 2012, and that`s more of the model that you`re hearing from Democrats in the Midwest now, not we need to tack this message, we need to be quiet about this. I don`t hear that quite as much.
REID: And you know -- that`s actually good news to hear.
And Cornell, the other issue is what would get those 7 million Obama voters who stayed home? Because we talked so much about the 9 million who flipped to Trump, but the 7 million who already lean Democratic who just didn`t vote.
There is also the conventional wisdom that the way to somehow get them is with sort of very moderate sort of quasi-Republican policy that is not too scary and that somehow that -- is that -- just as somebody who does the data, would that get these nonvoters off the benches?
BELCHER: Well, a couple of things. One is, you know, I sort punched serious holes in this mythical big Trump-Obama vote. Did some Obama voters vote Trump? Yeah, they did. But did of Romney voters vote for Clinton? Absolutely, they did or Trump would have actually gotten a better -- much better percentage than Mitt Romney.
But put that aside.
Look, I think Democrats can`t make the mistake of trying to run like a 1990s campaign. We have got to be inspirational. We`ve got to give people a vision. We`ve got to give them something to vote for.
The big difference between John Kerry, quite frankly, and Barack Obama is when we dove inside this data at the DNC under Governor Howard Dean, what we found is that a majority of John Kerry`s voters were actually voting against George Bush, not for John Kerry. We flipped that around in 2008 and the majority of Obama voters were, in fact, voting for Barack Obama. We have to give them something to vote for, we have to give them something to cling to. We`ve got to offer a progressive alternative future vision for the future and one that`s not about 1950s, because America is not going backwards. We are going to be a brown country. And we have got to learn to live with each other.
REID: And in your mind, Dave Weigel, can Democrats afford to just ignore Trump?
WEIGEL: I don`t think they are ignoring him. But I take my queues really from all the campaign events I cover, the candidates who talked to voters, the candidates who appear at forums. They usually kind of clear their throats about the threat of Trump and then they talk about their policy.
No one I think has figured out the sweet spot here on how much you talk about Trump without the only message of the day being Trump. But honestly, if you are on the trail with the candidates, he comes up as something that needs to be replaced and the result of decades long trends and not let`s respond to the tweet of the day.
REID: Yeah, indeed.
Cornell Belcher and Dave Weigel, you guys are all smart. Thank you guys very much for joining.
And that is ALL IN for this evening. Chris Hayes, will be back in the anchor chair tonight. And as always, you can find me on "A.M. JOY" weekends at 10:00 a.m.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
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