CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Republicans want to expand the right of Americans to own and carry guns anywhere. We await to hear what both parties will do. The guns of August have already been heard from. And that`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight on ALL IN.
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility.
VELSHI: As FBI agents swarmed Jeffrey Epstein`s private island.
BARR: We will get to the bottom of what happened.
VELSHI: Tonight, what we know about what happened this weekend and where the investigations go from here. Then ===
KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: President Trump`s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self- sufficiency and personal responsibility.
VELSHI: Democratic candidate Julian Castro on the new White House plan to penalize legal immigrants for needing benefits. Plus --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Can you add what Amy and what Dianne have -- can we have them in?
VELSHI: 2020 Democrat Amy Klobuchar on whether we should believe the president on passing new gun safety laws. And what we`re learning about what could be the worst Russian nuclear disaster since Chernobyl? ALL IN starts now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Good evening from New York, I`m Ali Velshi in for Chris Hayes. It`s been more than two days since Jeffrey Epstein the financier accused of sex trafficking was found dead by a parent suicide in his Manhattan jail cell.
Investigators are still trying to piece together how this could have happened. Jeffrey Epstein was accused of trafficking girls as young as 14 for sex and faced 45 years in prison if convicted. Part of the reason why the death of Jeffrey Epstein is so surprising is that it was just last month when he was found injured in his cell, semi-conscious with marks on his neck. He was on suicide watch at that time.
It was just three weeks ago, but despite that, sources tell NBC News that Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death. The guidelines for Epstein`s jail unit called for corrections officers to check on inmates every 30 minutes, but that did not happen. According to an administration official, "a number of hours elapsed between checks on Epstein`s cell."
The official also said that Epstein did not have a cellmate which violated Bureau of Prisons protocols. Shortly after Epstein was pronounced dead, the FBI launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
The other weird thing about all of this is the timing. The news of Jeffrey Epstein -- Jeffrey Epstein`s death early Saturday morning came on the heels of a huge document dumped from just the day before filled with explosive allegations.
We got nearly 2,000 pages of court documents from a woman who said Jeffrey Epstein kept her as a sex slave. In the unsealed documents that landed on Friday, she alleges that Epstein also directed her to have sex with several high-powered men including former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Britain`s Prince Andrew, former Senator George Mitchell, and attorney Alan Dershowitz.
I should tell you, all of the men have denied the allegations. Epstein was also known to have relationships with other powerful people including former President Bill Clinton, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, and President Donald Trump.
Video shot by NBC in 1992 shows Jeffrey Epstein attending a party thrown by Trump at Mar-a-Lago. The two can be seen laughing and talking here. Epstein`s death raises several pressing questions including how could this happen, but also happens to the investigations into Epstein and his associates now.
Joining me Jonathan -- now, Jonathan Dienst WNBC Chief Investigative Reporter and NBC News Contributing Correspondent, also Harry Siegel Senior Editor at The Daily Beast. Welcome to both of you. Thank you for being here. Jonathan, what`s the latest that we have?
JONATHAN DIENST, NBC NEWS CONTRIBUTING CORRESPONDENT: The latest right now is that the FBI was searching his Virgin Islands estate looking for any additional evidence regarding the sex trafficking ring he was running and whether any evidence is there that could link to any possible co- conspirators who survived him.
And in the meantime, the Attorney General today expressing his anger, his disgust at how this could happen. One of the most high-profile, important inmates in current time found hanging dead in a jail cell in one of the most secure facilities certainly here in the Northeast. And the question is how could this have happened? How could they not been watching him more closely?
Some correction officer union officials point out that the defense on Epstein had been importing him to be taken off suicide watch. He was stuck in a cell on his own being watched literally around the clock for a few days after that first apparent suicide attempt. Some thought it was a ruse but he wanted out of that.
There was -- the bedding, there is no bedding. It was just a mattress. He was in a smock. He was isolated. They wanted to even -- were told to put him in general population. So the defense was asking for it apparently after some psychological evaluations they agreed to move him back into a cell.
He was put in a Cell we`re told with a roommate for a time, but that roommate was recently released. So Jeffrey Epstein was on his own for about 24 hours plus or minus, and he apparently was not watched for several hours. We`re trying to get a better answer on that time frame.
I`ve heard anywhere from three hours to six hours where he went unchecked during that overnight until he was discovered at 6:30 in the morning apparently hanging by a bedsheet trying to get clarity whether it was from the bed or from a window, but that is --
VELSHI: Right. Do you have information about whether he met with his attorneys on Friday after or at the same time as this big document dump with all these revelations?
DIENST: I believe my colleague Tom Winter has confirmed that yes, there was a meeting through about 6:30 p.m. on Friday, that he was having a meeting with his attorney. There was no obvious or apparent sign of major distress or difficulty. And you`ll remember Epstein hated being in that prison. And he wanted, we`re told, to go down into the legal briefing room where he could meet with his lawyers.
Every day he was paying his lawyers to come visit him every day for hours and hours and hours at a time just so he didn`t have to be up there in his cell in that common area, they had the right to go down and meet with his lawyers and he was paying billable hours to meet with them day in and day out.
VELSHI: Harry, what -- there`s just so many questions people who don`t understand prisons have about this. How is it that a prisoner goes hours without being seen? How is it if the policy is that he`s supposed to be checked every 30 minutes that that`s not the case. How is it that he was off of suicide watch after an apparent suicide attempt a few weeks ago?
And maybe some of that understanding comes from somebody who understands what that person looks like, and that`s you.
HARRY SIEGEL, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: So the first thing I think that`s important understand is that even in prison, money talks. It buys you hours out of your cell. It helped abstain get off suicide watch. And I know that he`d been asking a few other prisoners for their inmate numbers. It would have been helpful in different ways presumably in order to transfer money into their accounts.
The conditions at MCC are not good and frankly, they`re not good for the officers who work there either. It`s a difficult place to work in part because it`s in Manhattan. So you have -- you have these overtime shifts. The two officers who are there that night, one of them was on their fifth consecutive night of overtime.
I would bet that that officer have been sleeping in his car outside the facility because there`s just not time to get home and get back before your next double shift.
SIEGEL: The other one had been ordered to come in and fill that shift. This is a huge problem throughout the federal system where there`s this thing augmentation where they`ll take you if you`re a janitor or a clerical worker who works there. And if you`ve had a couple of weeks of training right when you get hired and they say OK, you`re a corrections officer for the day.
So in this very broad level, we are imprisoning four people than we are paying -- than we`re able to pay to have imprisoned. And the decline and conditions as such that it`s much less stunning to me than it will otherwise be, the policy would it be followed overnight.
The two officers might just -- might just asleep and not make the rounds and expect nothing to happen. And -- that something like this could happen just out of profound incompetence. And it`s offensive for Attorney General William Barr to say we`re discovering the problems there.
VELSHI: Because people know this. You`ve written about this before. Jonathan knows about this. People who cover prisons in this country understand this.
SIEGEL: It`s no secret with the system and it`s no secret with them so to say.
VELSHI: Jonathan, the investigation, they`ve been an autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein. It`s said to be that they need more time to come to a conclusion, but they`re not working with any theory other than they believe he took his own life.
DIENST: Every agency and every official we`ve spoken to, it appears to be a suicide. That is what they`re working off of. But the medical examiner is not going to make that determination given the nature of this case till the FBI and the internal investigators can complete their work to determine no one-handed on something so that he could kill himself, know who`s paid to go the other way so he could kill himself, to make sure there was nothing untoward.
But as of now, there is absolutely nothing to suggest any sort of criminal conspiracy or crime or assault. Suicide is the only thing on the table. And the question is what else went on that was improper --
VELSHI: There may have been something that facilitated that or maybe not. Maybe it`s just a badly staff prison but there may have been --
DIENST: They`re going to look into that whether there was any facilitation, did someone get him something that he could have used, but as of now we`ve heard of nothing that relates to that. And maybe in time, it`s just to the internal investigation into mismanagement and just some bad decisions that perhaps took place at the MCC because no one certainly an inmate like this should not die this way in a federal facility.
VELSHI: Jonathan, Harry, thanks to both of you for your continued reporting on this. And as we get new information, we will bring it to our viewers. Joining me now for more on what happens to the Epstein investigation following his death I`m joined by Nick Akerman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Nick, this -- there are a whole lot of people who finally thought they were going to get justice because they were going to be able to see Jeffrey Epstein in court. Now, that`s not going to happen.
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it is going to happen. I think what we`re going to find is that the indictment against Epstein actually charged him with conspiracy, which means there was more than one people. We also know that when the deal was cut in Florida that he made with the feds and the state that he got some agreement from the state to basically not go after other co-conspirators who were listed by name.
VELSHI: Right. Which folks have never really understood what that`s about.
AKERMAN: Well, we`ve never seen that, but it`s Florida that was giving that immunity. That doesn`t bind the federal government on this. The fact of the matter is the victims here will receive justice. The people who were named as co-conspirators, I am almost certain will ultimately be indicted.
There are a whole number of them. We don`t know exactly who. You know a couple because their names have been mentioned in the press. But I would think that the federal government now is under immense pressure to determine whether or not those people can be indicted because the paramount concern here is the victims.
VELSHI: Right. To bring justice to these victims who have suffered all these years. Initially, when this matter came up, they were not consulted when the deal was made in Florida, and now this, Jeffrey Epstein slips away by killing himself.
So I think that the government feels that I`m sure, that they have got to bring closure to this by making certain that everybody anybody who is involved in this whole sordid you know the period is brought to justice.
VELSHI: So typically when you`re trying to get to the head of something, you turn people who are lower and you maybe pay less attention to them or they suffer lesser consequences because you`re trying to get to the person at the top of this thing.
If Jeffrey Epstein is the person at the top of something that is a conspiracy and he`s gone, does mean that the power of the law, the strength of it now focuses on other people who are in there because there are a lot of investigations into who facilitated this. Do those people get a brighter light on them?
AKERMAN: Oh, I think so. I mean, I think they`re going to get extremely bright light on them. I mean, now that we know that -- I mean, there`s probably a list in this Florida deal. I mean, I`m sure that the federal government has that list. They know who was exempted out of that deal that Jeffrey Epstein had back in Florida.
I mean that`s the road map. Those are the people that the federal government is going to be looking at. And the fact that they got immunity in Florida, does not bind the federal government. It`s two separate governments. And even what the U.S. Attorney`s Office agreed to in Florida, doesn`t necessarily bind other U.S. Attorney`s offices even though it sounds as the Department of Justice.
I mean, I have not seen the papers and I don`t think anybody has seen the papers that relate to this agreement. But I think if it`s like any other standard agreement that I used as a prosecutor or as a defense lawyer, it`s going to be binding only as to the Southern District of Florida in Miami. It does not bind the Southern District of New York or other federal districts.
VELSHI: Let me ask you about the civil side of things. There have been some civil actions taken against Jeffrey Epstein and there are plans for others. The bar is generally lower for civil actions and this is a guy who had a lot of money. With him being dead, does that fundamentally make it harder or easier to make a claim on his estate for civil thing -- you know, for these claims that these women have?
AKERMAN: I guess in some ways it might make it a little bit harder and a little bit easier. I mean, there`s two sides to this. Because if you have a civil case and you brought Jeffrey Epstein in and you started asking him questions, just as he did in the other civil case, he would assert his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Now, in the criminal context, you cannot count that against somebody. You cannot take an adverse inference in a criminal case because someone refuses to testify. In a civil case, the rules are different. So I guess, one question is when Jeffrey Epstein took the Fifth Amendment in this other civil case that was ultimately settled, will they be able to use that testimony?
Probably they can. They probably can. And so they`ve got the adverse inference based on his Fifth Amendment. They`ve got all of this evidence that I`m sure they`re going to -- you know, they`ve got all of these women that were at one point or another victims of this whole situation. There`s lots of physical evidence.
There`s evidence that`s been uncovered in his safe here in Manhattan. And I`m sure as we speak right now on this island in the Caribbean, they`re uncovering more evidence. So I think at the end of the day, the victims here are not only going to receive justice on the criminal side, but they`re also going to receive justice on the civil side.
VELSHI: It`s a remarkable story. Nick, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining me.
AKERMAN: Thank you.
VELSHI: Nick Akerman is a former Assistant Special Watergate prosecutor and former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Criminal Defense Attorney in the Southern District of New York. Coming up next, the Trump administration announces a new policy targeting legal immigrants. Presidential Candidate Julian Castro joins me calling the move immoral and in-constitutional. He`s going to join me now to explain why he says that after this.
VELSHI: It`s been 154 days since the White House held a press briefing. The last time former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made an appearance before reporters in the White House briefing room and actually took questions was on March 11th just over five months ago.
But the White House does clean up the briefing room for special occasions like the time White House senior adviser Stephen Miller seen here took to the podium to defend Trump legislation aimed at slashing legal immigration in half.
Well, today was one of those days. The White House -- the White House dusted off the briefing room to announce a new policy that would make it harder for legal immigrants who rely on government benefit programs to obtain permanent legal status. The new rule is set to take effect in two months.
Now today, reporters in the briefing room pushed back on the policy pointing to this country`s long history of welcoming people of all backgrounds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that sentiment, "give us your tired, your poor," still operative in the United States or should those words come down?
CUCCINELLI: Well, I`m certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Here with me now Democrat and Presidential Candidate Julian Castro of Texas. Sir, good to see you, Secretary Castro. I guess maybe you`re still allowed to come as a country if you`re tired, but the poor and the huddled masses don`t seem to be as involved. Does this look like favoring the wealthy over the poor in immigration policy?
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, what it looks like is that this administration is not just against undocumented immigrants, it`s also against legal immigrants. And on top of that, it seems to only want immigrants that look a certain way. I believe what they`re looking for are -- it seems like well-to-do immigrants from some European countries.
And you know, the reporters today that push back and you played a little bit of that audio I think we`re very apt to do so given the history of this country. Before 1924, people could come to this country. We didn`t have the same system of immigration laws that we have now.
And a lot of those folks as people out there in the United States in our country will tell you that their grandparents or great-grandparents came here with nothing. And yet -- and I think this is a very important point, Ali, a lot of those folks helped build the great nation that we have today.
They started off with nothing but they were able to become successful small business owners or good employees and pass on you know, wealth to their children and their grandchildren. That`s how we built up this country.
So what this administration is doing without literally taking the words off of that plaque as effectively that`s what they`re doing.
VELSHI: You know, when we think about these stories that you`re talking about that go back from the 20s and the 30s, back into the 1800s, we talk about grit, and ambition, and the journey that people took, and the harrowing journey that could have killed them on the boat to America or however they came here and we seem to value that.
We seem to value that as contributing to the fabric of America leading to that American dream, to come here with ambition to prosper. What`s changed? Why is it different if they`re walking across the desert or coming in from South America for the same purposes. They have ambition and they would like to make their fortune and prosper in America.
CASTRO: I don`t think anything is different. I think you know, when you look at this generation of immigrants, they are every bit as entrepreneurial, they`re every bit as hard-working, they believe in the country every bit as much as anybody else. And so I think the point that needs to be asked is why is Donald Trump so interested in cutting off this generation of immigrants?
And it goes back to what he`s displayed from the beginning of his political career from Birtherism, to the way he started his campaign, to those comments about the Mexican-American judge, to his comments about Ilhan Omar and her colleagues. He wants a whiter, wealthier nation. That`s what he`s interested in.
VELSHI: You were the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development so you experienced -- you dealt with some of the people who are recipients of the thing, the very thing that this administration is now saying will prevent you if you are -- if you`re an immigrant from getting permanent residency, getting a green card.
What`s the association -- this is -- this administration is making an association that if you are in government benefits in any fashion, you`re not going to be a contributing member of society?
CASTRO: I saw the exact opposite when I was Secretary of Housing. I saw a lot of people who were in public housing or receiving Housing Choice Voucher, they were on some sort of assistance, they were hard-working and you know -- or some of them were people who were down on their luck but they had been hardworking and they wanted to be hard-working again. They were trying to get on a productive path in life.
So this idea that just because you partake in some government benefits, the idea that you`re somehow lazy or you have no value to the community or to the country, I mean you know, that could be further from the truth. It could be further from the truth.
And there`s an ulterior motive that this president has which is that he wants to create a country in his own image. He wants to kill the ability of both undocumented immigrants and in this case, legal immigrants to actually participate in American life. And I think that he hopes that more of them are never going to apply or be able to apply to become permanent residents and therefore get on a pathway to citizenship.
You can connect the dots between this to that citizenship question on the census that the administration so badly wants, to all of the actions that he`s taking at the border that are cruel, separating families. It`s one consistent show of a president who is a racist and basically wants a whiter wealthier nation.
VELSHI: Secretary, let`s talk about section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act which you have called for repealing. This is the basis on which when these deportations started under this administration. That was the crime in many cases.
So the average American doesn`t really think -- when they think about immigrants committing crimes, they`re not entirely sure that it`s the first crime, the one which is articulated in 1325, and that is crossing unlawfully. You think that should be eliminated. You think it should not be a crime to cross into this country unlawfully. I guess it wouldn`t be (INAUDIBLE) if you reveal it.
CASTRO: Yes, so -- that`s right. Before this law was passed in the 1920s, but from the 1920s until about 2004, it was actually rarely enforced as a crime. It was enforced, it was still illegal, there were still consequences to crossing the border, but those consequences were civil consequences, not a criminal misdemeanor which 1325 makes it a criminal misdemeanor.
Most people you know, listening I think it`s news to them that for instance the deportation process and the asylum process, all of that is civil. That is not criminal, that`s civil. However, this administration, the Trump administration began weaponizing the misdemeanor part of this 1325 to incarcerate migrant parents and separate them from their little children.
So I have said look, we can address the consequences for crossing the border and maintain border security without 1325 that has allowed this administration to cruelly treat migrants. I want to make sure that no future administration has that tool in the toolbox.
VELSHI: Secretary, good to talk to you. Thank you for joining us, 2020 Presidential Candidate Julian Castro. All right, coming up, new details about how the Dayton shooter got his weapons. Presidential Candidate Amy Klobuchar joins me to discuss whether the president is really going to take action on gun safety. That`s next.
VELSHI: Eight days after the mass murder in Dayton, a friend of the shooter has admitted to authorities that he bought the armor and ammunition used in the mass murder. 24-year-old Ethan Kollie told FBI agents that he bought the body armor, equipment for the gun and 100-round double drum magazine the shooter later used during the massacre.
Prosecutors have charged Kollie him with lying on federal firearms forms, but they don`t consider him a conspirator. And while several 2020 Democratic candidates spent their weekend in Iowa at the Gun Sense forum, the New York Post reports that the president told a room full of Republican donors on Friday that, quote, we need meaningful background checks. It is time.
We`ve had heard this kind of rhetoric from the president before without a whole lot of action to back it up. So is this time any different?
Joining me now to answer that question and more, 2020 candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, who just recently last week released her own gun safety proposal. Senator, we talked about that a little bit, and I want to talk a little bit more about it today. But do you believe that there`s real movement coming from the president of the United States on real, meaningful gun control?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D-MN) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Ali, he has said this before, seated directly across from me in the White House where I wrote down that nine times he said that he wanted to see the background checks done.
Also, my bill to close the boyfriend loophole, which more and more information is coming out about this shooter, this killer, as well as others, it turns out that about half of these mass shooters, according to a New York Times report this week, have shot someone -- a woman -- who is close to them in their immediate family or a girlfriend or someone like that as part of the mass shooting.
And so this is part of the solution, too. And this president said, yeah, put that in there, put Amy`s provision in there. And then what happens, he meets with the NRA that opposing closing the boyfriend loophole as well as the background checks, and then he folds. That is what happened then, and my guess is instead of pushing Mitch McConnell, which he could have done with one phone call to bring everyone back to vote on this, he decides to wait until the fall, hoping that public opinion will somehow lessen.
VELSHI: So things like the boyfriend loophole, which fit into the larger rubric of background checks, and even into the red flag laws, which many states have taken up. I think almost 20 states have taken this up. This is the low-hanging fruit of gun sense.
The slightly more complicated stuff is things like an assault weapons ban, which you co-sponsored, the 2019 legislation to reinstate. There are a lot of co-sponsors, none of whom were Republicans.
What kind of political support is there for these various stages of things that a lot of American -- Americans think are just sensible, particularly in your state, where people have guns. There are a lot of guns, and people believe that they should have them?
KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, we have a proud hunting tradition in Minnesota. And, by the way, where I just was for a 20-county tour in Iowa. But the point is majority of hunters, actually want to see safety rules in place. And there`s a number of hunters that support the background checks. So I think there is growing support.
And you`re right, the red flag law is simply a first step, but I think we need to get that background check bill and closing the boyfriend loophole, which by the way, means that right now if you commit a serious crime of domestic abuse against your wife, you can`t get a gun, but if you do it against your girlfriend, you can, which is outrageous. So, I think there is growing support among hunters, and people in rural areas to get this done. And hopefully that`s going to change the politics of this.
I would also note that the Republican congressman from Dayton, which I`m sure he had to do, but came out in favor of banning military-style weapons, as well as magazine limits. And to me, the fact that in 30 seconds, one man was able to gun down and kill nine people and injure many more, even though the police couldn`t have gotten there faster within one minute -- think of that. And I think that tells it all to Americans and while you`re going to see a shift.
And we already voted after Parkland to get background checks. I think they`re going to vote for more if the Republicans won`t budge and keep giving in to the NRA.
VELSHI: So, you are a United States Senator, and there are a lot of people who think that even if Donald Trump decides that he does want to move on this thing, you`ve got another impediment, and that`s Mitch McConnell who he`s not budging much on this thing. Last week, for about 20 seconds, everybody thought he was talking about being open to things, basically background checks. And I think within an hour of him saying that, his press people put out a statement saying, not really.
And all of these bills are at his doorstep -- the waiting periods, the background check and the entire Violence Against Women Act, which includes my provision that I wrote that has now passed the House on closing this boyfriend loophole. So, I think he`s really going to have to come for this. There`s going -- he`s running his own race, of course, against a fighter pilot, our Democratic candidate, Amy McGrath. And then at the same time you`re going to have people from all over the country wanting to see a change.
So, change doesn`t always happen in one moment, but I have never seen a moment where it does not cry out for gun safety rules more than this one.
VELSHI: In the last election in the -- in the 2018 election, there was some real progress with gun safety candidates. The momentum off of Parkland did actually seem to help. To what degree will that influence some of your Republican colleagues more than the NRA influences them right now? In fact, I think the gun sense candidates and their organizations ended up spending more money on the elections than the NRA did.
KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, and I hope this does. And in the end, this wasn`t about money, it was about lives, it was about the fact that those Parkland kids stood up and were so brave, and then kids across the country saw it, and they started talking to their dads and their grandpas, that they had hunting in hair family, and they said wait a minute, this, as I always say, this won`t hurt my Uncle Dick and his deer stand, we can still hunt and have these rules in place.
And so I think you saw that sea change.
And then they marched. And then most importantly they voted in record levels in that midterm election. And I think to me this looks a bit like the gay marriage change where it started in a few states, and of course some states have already voted for more gun safety rules, but we don`t have any federal accountability when it comes to the gun show loophole so they can buy a gun somewhere and then transport it across state lines.
And so I think that that is what it feels like to me. This was a true grass-roots movement that, of course, has been going on forever, from when I was in law enforcement to Sandy Hook, to what happened in Las Vegas on, but those Parkland kids captivated our nation`s attention, and now these two horrible mass shootings in El Paso and in Dayton have really to me been the last straw. And that`s where they definitely saw this was an assault weapon. Don`t tell me you can`t tell what this was. This was a military- style assault weapon with this high-capacity magazine that shouldn`t be sold out in our stores. And I think that`s the sea change you are going to see and what`s going to be waiting for Mitch McConnell, that debate when he gets back.
HAYES: There`s 100 round drum on that thing. In this state, New York, you can`t have more than 10 rounds in a gun.
Senator, good to see you. Thank you for joining me again. Senator Amy Klobuchar...
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you so much, Ali. Thanks for covering this.
VELSHI: My pleasure.
KLOBUCHAR: It`s very important.
VELSHI: Still ahead, what we are learning tonight about the serious nuclear explosion in Russia and what it has to do with the weapons system that Vladimir Putin once called invincible. That story is up next.
VELSHI: In the last week we`ve seen news of two major explosion incidents in Russia, one of which have video of, and one of which we don`t. This video was an arms depot on a Russian military base in Siberia. Look at this thing, a series of huge explosions rock the base last week, sending shrapnel flying for miles, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, a fire set off the explosions at the depot that held gun powder charges for artillery shells.
One person was killed, several others are wounded in those blasts, thousands of people were evacuated from the area.
Now, some residents apparently managed to snap photos of the huge plumes of black smoke before they left, but that wasn`t even the worst of it in Russia last week. About 2,500 miles away, off the coast of the White Sea, there was another mysterious explosion that occurred on Thursday. Now, we don`t have visuals of that. But that explosion was even more dangerous, because that blast reportedly released a bunch of radiation into the air.
While U.S. officials have been tight-lipped about the blast, the New York Times says it may be, quote, "one of the worst nuclear accidents in the region since Chernobyl." At least seven people were killed, and Russian news media reported, quote, "radiation briefly rose to 200 times normal background levels."
U.S. officials suspect the blast involved a prototype of a nuclear powered cruise missile that Russia apparently tested last week. You can see it here in this video which was played by Russian President Vladimir Putin at his state of the union last year.
I`m joined now by an expert who has been following these developments closely. Jeffrey Lewis is the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He`s the founder of armscontrolwonk.com. Jeffrey, good to see you.
What do you make of this -- the second explosion and the idea that radiation levels were elevated in Russia?
JEFFREY LEWIS, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, I think the evidence right now is pretty overwhelming that this was something nuclear in character, probably the nuclear-powered cruise missiles that Vladimir Putin showed off, as you said, during his state of the union address.
It`s not clear how much radiation was released at this point, but this is a very serious accident. And we have a large number of people dead, including five nuclear scientists.
VELSHI: Let`s talk about how do people like me, who don`t really understand that much about nuclear stuff, understand the difference between a nuclear plant like Chernobyl and a nuclear-powered cruise missile?
LEWIS: Well, so a nuclear powered cruise missile actually has a little nuclear reactor in it powering the jet engine. So, you know, you can think of it as a tiny flying Chernobyl.
You know, the good news is the reactor is going to be very small. The bad news is as we`ve seen it, it doesn`t look like the technology is all that reliable. And it`s especially odd if you imagine if Russia goes ahead and deploys one of these things, then, you know, are they going to have 100? 500? 1,000 of these things? I mean, it`s a strange technology to choose.
VELSHI: And until now, we probably had some way of limiting how many Russia had or we had, but now it seems that everybody is departing from the nuclear agreement that limited the number of arms that the United States and Russia has.
LEWIS: You know, I think that`s the real story here. You know, the weapon itself is a kind of crazy idea, but it`s really a number of crazy ideas that the Russians really are investing heavily and largely to defeat U.S. missile defenses. And we`re seeing a complete collapse of the arms control framework, the 1987 intermediate range nuclear forces treaty is gone, and it`s pretty clear now I think that the United States and Russia are not going to extend the very last arms control treaty still standing, the new START agreement.
So, we`re entering into this world where there are not going to be any constraints on these kinds of systems. And, you know, it`s starting to look a little like an arms race.
VELSHI: So, Russia, it`s widely acknowledged, was in breach of its deals anyway, and China wasn`t subject to these restrictions and was moving ahead. So what does success look like in terms of deals of this sort? If Russia wasn`t abiding by it and there were countries not limited by it, what should the U.S. be doing at this point?
LEWIS: Well, I mean, the first thing to do is recognize we can`t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Yes, the Russians were violating the INF treaty, but they are not violating the new START treaty. So we do have a treaty in place that governs what are called strategic arms, basically the missiles and bombers that can go from one country the other, right, the really long range stuff.
That treaty still exists, and the Russians are complying with it, but the Trump administration has no interest in extending it.
So, you know, the first thing to do is stop damaging the system. You know, we could go back to the negotiating table. We could extend that agreement, and then we can start working on some of the other problems, right. We can talk about Russian compliance with the INF. We can talk about ways to bring China in.
But I think what we`re seeing right now is that people like John Bolton are basically using these problems really to walk away from this entire approach and go back to an arms race.
VELSHI: Jeffrey, thank you for joining me tonight. I appreciate it.
LEWIS: My pleasure.
VELSHI: Jeffrey Lewis.
All right, coming up, fascinating new data untangling the president`s 12,000 lies since taking office. We`ll go through it after this.
VELSHI: It`s hard to keep up with the lies and exaggerations told by President Donald Trump, it`s just difficult to keep track of something that coming at you constantly, but The Washington Post is keeping up with it, and they`ve got a number: 12,019. President Trump has made 12,019 false or misleading claims over 928 days in office. Think about that, 12,019.
The Washington Post fact check checker database has been meticulously tracking the president`s public statements. You can see it charted here on a day-to-day basis. It averages out to about 13 false or misleading statements per day, according to The Washington Post.
There is a spike, as you can see, around the midterm elections last year. And the president`s average has recently climbed to about 20 false or misleading statements per day, day after day, month after month. So by August 5, the most recent day that the Post has analyzed, he had crossed the 12,000 threshold.
What does that do to this country, to society, and to truth itself? We`ll discuss straight ahead.
HAYES: Out of the 12,000 false or misleading claims made by the president of the United States, one of his favorites is that this is the greatest economy in U.S. history. He began saying that about a year ago. He`s made some version of that claim 186 times, according to The Washington Post.
But as The Post notes, by just about any important measure the economy today is not doing as well as it did under presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Ulysses S. Grant.
President Trump has also claimed he passed the biggest tax cut in U.S. history. Also not true.
For more on the culture of lies and misstatements created by this presidency I`m joined by Danielle Moody-Mills, host of Sirius/XM`s Woke AF; and Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and a columnist at The Daily Beast. Welcome to both of you. Thank you for being with us.
Danielle, what do you make of it? I mean, at some point whether it`s 9,000 or 12,000 or 20,000, which I`m sure it will get to, what do you make of it? Because I feel like after the first 10 you put yourself into the bucket of not being able to be trusted.
DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, HOST, WOKE AF: I mean, the reality is, is that after the president was inaugurated Psychology Today put out an article called "The 11 signs," warning signs "of gaslighting." This president`s gaslighting is a strategy. He does it on purpose. It`s to keep us off kilter. It`s to make us believe that there is nothing truthful.
So he tells you one lie after the other and you start to become numb to it. That`s what`s happening. And so we don`t question all of the things that he says. He starts his political career with birtherism. It turns into an entire movement. Now he retweets conspiracies about the Clintons and Epstein, and it doesn`t even make front-page news.
The whole idea is that he builds this uneasiness so that we trust nothing and no one. And then he projects, he projects lies onto other people. He tells us that other people are crazy. Isn`t it crazy to tell 13 to 20 lies a day? That should just make you automatically unfit to be president of the United States, and yet here we are.
The fact that The Washington Post has this tracker is amazing, but we`re numb to it. The public doesn`t even care. We have more stories about Joe Biden`s gaffes that he`s having than we do about the fact that the president of the United States lies to the American public every day multiple times a day.
VELSHI: Rick, what Danielle`s talking about was Donald Trump sharing an unfounded fringe theory about Jeffrey Epstein`s death in prison related to the Clintons. A Trump official, Lynn Patton, regional administrator of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, tweeted out, or posted on Instagram, that Jeffrey Epstein was Hillaried.
What do you think of this theory, though, that it`s just meant to keep us off balance? Because you don`t actually know what the truth is anymore, and we certainly don`t report on all 12 to 20 lies per day.
RICK W ILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Donald Trump relies on us to talk about the spectacle and not about the substance. And the spectacle, part of it is that he is a lying liar who lies at all times in every way, you know, including the articles "a" and "the" in every sentence. They are lies when he says them.
And so you end up with a division on the Republican side. Part of the folks on that side sort of hold their breath and go uh. Part of them like it. They think this is part of this new transgressive game that he`s playing, and oh, we`re going to own the libs by Donald Trump producing a river of BS every day.
You know, and this idea that you`re going to promote conspiracy theories, as Trump has done over the weekend since Epstein, I mean, it feeds into this desire by the right to redefine what the truth is, what the facts are. I mean, obviously, the only logical explanation was Hillary doing a high- altitude parachute jump onto the roof, rappelling down the elevator shaft and killing Epstein herself, right?
I mean, by the end of this they will have these lurid crazy theories, and they`ll believe them.
VELSHI: So, this is interesting, Danielle. On one hand the criticism is that we don`t cover all of the lies. And I get that a lot on Twitter, by the way. He lied about this, why didn`t you say that?
On the other hand, to Rick`s point, there are laws that are changing. The CFPB is becoming dismantled. The Environmental Protection Agency is becoming dismantled. The Endangered Species Act is under attack. At some point what do we choose? Do we choose to talk about how he lied again today about this being the greatest economy in the world or do we ignore the lies? I don`t know what success looks like.
MOODIE-MILLS: I feel like we have to do both and. We have to be able to call out the lies that he`s saying and also the destructive policies that he`s putting out.
Today, he told 13 lies. He`s also -- like you said, he`s dismantling the protection for endangered species. He`s...
VELSHI: Which is not a partisan matter, by the way, it never has been a partisan matter. Republicans and Democrats both agreed, and Republican -- and conservative and liberals the world over agree, protect endangered species.
MOODIE-MILLS: Right. But this administration doesn`t want to protect anything or anyone other than white supremacy, so that`s just the fact. But we have to do the work. And that`s the thing, is that all of this gaslighting, all of the lies it keeps us spinning so that we can`t pay attention to everything. But that`s the work that Donald Trump has put on our plates. We have to tell the truth about who he is, what he`s doing, how he`s manipulating the public and also tell the truth about the policies and who he`s hurting and why he`s hurting them.
VELSHI: Rick Wilson, 15 seconds to you on are there enough Republicans to do something about this?
WILSON: Absolutely not. There are no Republicans who will stand up and be brave and tell the president he`s a lying liar. And the the problem is you can`t attack the lies retail, you have to attack the liar himself, and you have to go at him, and none of them are going to do that.
VELSHI: Danielle Moodie-Mills, Rick Wilson, thanks to both of you for joining me tonight.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END