STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: That`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help. We need help.
HAYES: The nightmare in the Bahamas continues to unfold as Dorian moves up the East Coast and the President just won`t let go of Alabama.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In all cases, Alabama was hit.
HAYES: Tonight, the latest on the devastation and what`s happening with our unchecked and unbalanced Commander-in-Chief. Plus, the list of republicans choosing retirement over reelection just keeps getting longer. And about those buybacks.
BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans will -- who own AR- 15s, AK-47s will have to sell them to the government.
HAYES: The proposal to curb gun violence being met with predictions of more violence.
MEGHAN MCCAIN, CO-HOST, THE VIEW: You`re talking around going and taking people`s guns away from them. There`s going to be a lot of violence.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. Where are hurricane goes is a matter of life or death. For those in the path, those who are just outside of it, almost nothing matters more than that. And it`s a core function of government to figure out where disaster is likely to strike and to let its citizens know to protect and take care of people in the path of the storm.
People`s lives depend on it. Billions of dollars rest on it. The stakes here are as high as they can possibly be. And just ask the people in the Bahamas right now how much it matters where the track of a storm goes.
While Dorian moves along the southeast coast and brings destruction and danger, the most powerful person in the country whose job it is to protect Americans is obsessively tweeting about, talking about in public and apparently in private doctoring images of something that happened last week to make himself look better, obsessively, convulsively.
I mean, if anyone did what the president is doing in your workplace, in your classroom, in your friend`s circle, you would say what the heck is wrong with you. What is wrong with you? It all started on Sunday when the president tweeted that Alabama was one of the states that "will most likely be hit much harder than anticipated."
After that, the National Weather Service 20 minutes later corrected him gently tweeting, "Alabama will not see any impacts from Dorian which is an important fact for the people of Arizona -- Alabama to know and for the National Weather Service to tell them.
And since that moment, the president has seemingly spent most of his time as the hurricane has moved through the Bahamas and up the coast and it`s affecting Americans right now trying to prove he was right, to the utterly ridiculous lengths of sitting in the Oval Office delivering what he called an update on the hurricane not only showing a storm track from last week but one that included a sharpie bubble falsely extending the hurricane track into Alabama.
And the thing is he is still not leaving it alone, tweeting about it repeatedly since then and again and again and again. None of which changes the fact that his tweet on Sunday was simply wrong. And it`s not just that he made a mistake, he now has to try to alter the reality of the world around his mistake to save face.
He has to do something akin to suborning perjury from other people in the federal government to lie to us all collectively. Look, Kevin McAleenan, the one who fetched the day`s old chart for Trump yesterday, he`s the acting head of Department of Homeland Security.
Acting, of course, because so many of the folks managing this disaster are acting because the president apparently can`t be bothered to nominate people for top government posts. NOAA which is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, they will not respond to correct Trump`s Alabama nonsense either.
And then just hours ago, the President roped in his homeland security and counterterrorism visor into the whole lie. Rear Admiral Peter Brown released this statement saying that he briefed Trump on this "spaghetti models which showed possible storm impacts outside the corner of the projected tracks including Alabama yada, yada, yada, yada, yada.
My God, all for the President. This clearly deficient and unfit individual who`s acting out of his unfitness constantly in matters of genuine serious high-stakes with-- and this is important -- no one reigning him in.
You know, it was a year ago today that someone inside the administration had the idea to write not bed anonymously in New York Times to tell us, don`t worry folks, we`re saving you from this guy. I don`t know. Maybe there is stuff we don`t know about that they have saved us from.
But from the outside, it really doesn`t look like anyone is saving us from this person. It looks like he is acting in a way that is unhindered by any restraint. So inside the White House, there`s a person claiming they`re saving us while publicly there has been no Republican lawmaker other than Congressman Justin Amash, now an Independent not coincidentally who has stood up against the President.
But many of them are heading to the exits including four senators all who currently chair committees and a dozen House members and that is not including two who decided to leave office before their term had expired, five of the House Republican retirements from Texas alone, three of those five in highly competitive districts.
And just for good measure, one of those 14 retirements Congresswoman Susan Brooks at Indiana is the Republican Party`s recruitment chief for House candidates heading into 2020. Whatever the stated reason for all those Republican retirements, it sure doesn`t look like they have much faith in Republicans regaining power in the House the next election.
They`re making a calculation that they are staying in the minority. So with useless anonymous promises about who is saving us from this president and no Republican lawmakers to really slow him down, the question remains, I guess, it falls to the Democrats. And what are the Democrats going to do to stop this madness when they come back next week?
For more on that, I`m joined by Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania. She`s the Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. She co-wrote a piece back in July explaining "why we`re moving forward with impeachment."
I want to put that to the side for a second, the question of impeachment which is constitutionally specified as requiring the presence of high crimes and misdemeanors, and just ask you the question of what do you -- how do you assess the President`s fitness for his position, his fitness for the position as this hurricane is here in the U.S. and he is acting in this way?
REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): Well, I think it raises the question of his duty to the country not to make up his own reality but to deal with the reality we`re presented with. I mean, drawing a bone spur on a map of a hurricane doesn`t make it any different than what the facts are.
HAYES: What is the plan when the House Democrats come back?
SCANLON: Well, you know, we have been moving along a path of trying to get the underlying information from the Mueller report. Nobody other than the Attorney General and Mr. Mueller and a couple of people in the White House have seen the entire Mueller report yet.
We haven`t seen most of the statements and underlying evidence there, so we have been pursuing you know, over the course of the recess enforcing subpoenas to get that information and to get some of the witnesses in who we`ve been denied access to by the White House. So that`s one prong of it.
And then the other prong is looking at the other allegations of what are potentially high crimes and misdemeanors.
HAYES: What is the time frame here? I mean you know, we`re in a situation right now where it`s very apparent there is no one in the White House checking the President. I don`t think he`d be able to act like this if he were. We know of all the departures, the place is hollowed out. They`re scraping the bottom of the barrel for staff. Everyone is acting.
It does feel to a lot of people that we just keep rolling the dice and getting lucky, that like there some urgency here of making some kind of case about whether this is the person who should be constitutionally entrusted with taking care the laws are faithfully executed.
SCANLON: Sure. And that`s you know, where the Judiciary Committee and several of the other committees have been pressing forward. I mean, we are dealing with a really unique situation here where we have an administration that is decided to throw the balance of powers between the three branches of government and all, you know, historic case law out the window.
We have an administration that has said we`re not going to cooperate with Congress. And in the past, instead of having discussions about well, are you entitled to this document or that document, or is there a rational basis for this, we`re being told we`re not going to show you anything.
HAYES: Is that unprecedented?
SCANLON: Yes, absolutely.
HAYES: I guess my question is what powers do you have other than resorting to the courts, right? I mean, you have the power of the purse but you struck this deal to fund the government through the next election. You have no leverage on that whatsoever.
He can tell you to go, you know, buzz off and redirect $3.6 billion into building his wall which you explicitly did not fund. What is your leverage to fulfill your constitutional role to stop him from doing these things?
SCANLON: Well, I mean, that`s where these investigations are proceeding. We have gone to the courts. He doesn`t control everybody. I mean, he`s got his enablers who are still you know, working with him. It really does feel quite extraordinary that you know, we have so many people who are willing to say or not willing to say that the emperor has no clothes.
I mean, you`ve talked about some of the conduct that is just completely beyond the pale. And the fact that people in his administration and outside his administration still keep trying to justify what is completely unjustifiable is really quite extraordinary.
HAYES: But here`s my interpretation and what many people`s interpretation of the actions of House Democrats since taking over the gavel, is that House Democratic caucus doesn`t think the President is a good president. They think he`s bad. They think he`s unfit.
They think he may be dangerous but they don`t see it essentially as a kind of national emergency in which every day goes by there`s a sort of ticking clock toward some kind of long-tail risk landing in all of our lives.
Like my sense from the House Democratic leadership is like yes he`s bad, yes we`re going to be thorough, we`re going to go through the process, the Constitution is the Constitution, the courts is the courts, but like we`re not Jack Bauer racing against some clock. There are a lot of people think that the situation is Jack Bauer racing against a clock. What do you say to them?
SCANLON: I agree that it`s Jack Bauer racing against the clock. A lot of us ran because we were so disturbed at what we were seeing coming out of D.C. I think one of the issues here is OK, we are dealing with the Constitution. It`s not supposed to be easy to impeach someone.
What we are engaging in right now -- I mean, we have a lot of allegations of conduct against the President which if proven would constitute high crimes and misdemeanors. I mean, the Founders talked about things such as being under the influence of another country. They talked about getting elected through bribery or other false means.
They talked about using your office for personal profit. And they talked about abuse of power, not a crime but abusing your constitutional powers, and the example they used was offering pardons to people to your subordinates to get them to do illegal acts or to obstruct investigations.
So basically this president is ticking all the boxes in terms of what the framers of our Constitution thought were impeachable offenses, but the job of Congress is we have to have the goods to move forward. I mean, God bless us if we`re able to clear the president of some of this conduct, but right now it`s kind of the situation where someone is arrested because there`s information justifying an arrest. But we can`t bring this thing to trial until we have the evidence.
And we`ve got a situation where we`ve gotten out of control administration that is not obeying the rules. And so you know, we`ve got Congress and the courts working together to say no you have to do this. Now, if he`s going to defy two branches of government, we end up in a different place.
HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
SCANLON: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me now to discuss the exodus to so many Republicans the House, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele and MSNBC Political Analyst, and Norm Ornstein co-author of One Nation After Trump, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Michael, what do you make of the retirements?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there are there number of things that are that are roiling and beneath the surface here starting with the fact that it isn`t fun being in the minority. That is one of the key elements here particularly if you were part of the big wave of 2010 and you`ve enjoyed that majority status since that time.
To then lose it really puts a lot of pressure on you to sort of stay committed to the game. And so folks particularly when you look at someone like Congressman Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin that shocked everyone just kind of stepping aside, that gets to point two, running the risk of not only trying to get back the House with what you`ve got but then losing some of that and putting a lot of pressure in seats like Wisconsin and in Utah for example which are -- which are on the bubble.
In a lot of these other states, Chris, you`re looking at Alabama and in places like that. Republicans aren`t necessarily going to lose a congressional seat in Alabama but it does put pressure on the system.
HAYES: Do you -- Norm, you`ve been chronicling this era and age and the kind of surreality of why everyone is sort of pretending things are just going along. To me, the Sharpie moment is such a dumb, dumb, dumb moment, but it just signals to me that like there is no one`s stopping him and there`s no one minding the store.
And this is like the most serious thing that a government does is give its citizens information about a storm and no one can stop them from doing that. So like what does that mean for how bound we all are by the guardrails?
NORM ORNSTEIN, CO-AUTHOR, THE NATION AFTER TRUMP: So I`ve never seen anything quite like this before, Chris. There has been no pushback at all on corruption, maladministration, lies, and everything else that we have seen from any Republican in the House and Senate.
And what I believed at this point is this is not a traditional political party that we`ve been used to in the past. It`s more like a cult. It`s not a party of philosophy anymore, it`s a party of theology, it`s a cult of personality. And if people stay, if they don`t speak up, then they`re going to have to swallow hard day after day.
Look at all of these members from places like Tennessee which are having money taken away from military bases to pay for the vanity project of a Trump wall or the money taken away from disaster relief at this point.
Look at Lamar Alexander who`s leaving. You can`t say he fears a primary. You can`t say that he needs the lobbying clients. He doesn`t want to be shunned by all of the people around him, his friends, his colleagues, the people on Fox News and elsewhere. And so they swallow hard until some of them decide they just don`t want to take it anymore.
HAYES: There`s this quote, Michael, from a Justin Amash profile that was very interesting. Now, obviously, Amash is sort of outside the tent now so there`s some degree to which he hasn`t stand up to say this.
He says, there are a lot of Republicans out there who are saying these things privately but they`re not saying publicly. I think it`s a problem for our country, a problem for the Republican Party, a problem for the Democratic Party when people aren`t allowed to speak out. Do you think that`s true?
STEELE: Yes -- no, it`s absolute true. And it`s a huge problem. And Justin Amash is an example of what happens currently inside that cult of personality if you buck the personality. If you go up against the man, you`re going to have the system come down and condemn you because they don`t want that raft to fall on them.
They don`t want their names to appear in a tweet. They don`t want to be redlined in the sense that they`re going to be you know challenged in a primary so they behave. And the country I think suffers from that. And the leadership in the party is feckless in that regard.
And I think something to the point if I may real quick on the last point about those bases and other locations that are being hit by Trump`s decision to withdraw money. You`ll be surprised to find out how much people don`t mind that. They support that yeah because the wall is the bigger goal, the bigger cause.
And damn it, if that means that we shut down the base for three days out of the week, then that`s what we`ll do.
HAYES: There`s -- I mean, the best example this is Mitch McConnell`s own Kentucky has got a military base that had a middle school construction project. Now, presumably, they need the middle school which is why the appropriate the money or maybe they don`t. Maybe it was a ridiculous boondoggle.
But presumably, they need a middle school there and there`s some parents on a base who want to send their kids to a new middle school and that`s not going to happen. And Norm, that -- I mean, that normal sort of truck and barter that happens between a white house and its congressional allies like the fact that even that is gone, it just it does feel as we enter into this session that there is -- it`s all sort of stripped bare at this point.
ORNSTEIN: It absolutely has been. And I would take it even further because there are some of these areas doing basic oversight in the Senate about horrible things that have happened in government. I`ll go back to Lamar Alexander who in the past we would have seen as a statesman chairing the health education labor and pensions committee.
No hearings on the child separation and the Department of Health and Human Services which has run some of these terrible places and of course private entities including private prisons who are making money off of this. Nothing on the outrageous and the Department of Education, on student loans or private colleges or universities, voting for confirmation for people who`ve lied to the Senate and are clearly corrupt.
This goes even beyond swallowing hard when a base gets closed for a few days. It is a total abdication of moral authority and responsibility by an entire political party.
HAYES: Michael Steele and Norm Ornstein, thank you very much. Up next --
ORNSTEIN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: -- the devastation in the Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian churns north along the coast the U.S. The very latest next.
HAYES: Hurricane Dorian is grinding its way up the southeast coast bringing heavy rain and strong winds. Right now the eye of the storm hugging the coast of South Carolina. Earlier today, the storm weakened to a category two. Still, the National Hurricane Center expects life- threatening storm surges and dangerous winds around parts the coast of North and South Carolina -- that`s Charleston South Carolina you`re seeing there -- as well as potential flash flooding.
The Bahamas that took the full brunt of the Hurricanes force leaving behind an unfolding humanitarian disaster. The death toll now 23, the Health Minister says that they expect that number to rise. Joining me now from the Bahamas NBC News Correspondent Morgan Chesky. Morgan, how are things there?
MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, it`s tough to put into words. We had a chance to witness some of that devastation firsthand today. The airport at Marsh Harbor which is on Abaco Island which took the brunt of Dorian when it made its way through the northern Bahamas finally opened the airport today and we were able to land there.
And the first thing you see upon walking off are dozens and dozens of people gathered outside with simply nowhere else to go, trying to find a way off the island that they tell us no longer has anything left for them because their homes were taken away as well as all of their possessions.
We made our way into the short drive into town. Part of the roads still underwater and we encountered a clinic there which was a shelter when Dorian hit saving the lives of countless people but it`s now become a public gathering place of sorts where several hundred people were outside like those at the airport with nowhere else to go.
And I had a chance to speak to one family. And when I asked them what they could use the most, this is what one mother had to say.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now there`s no more Marsh Harbour.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing. Our home is gone, everything going. No clothes to wear, no food to eat, no water to bathe.
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CHESKY: And we have just now confirmed that the death toll has been as it increased to 30 people now. As you mentioned, that number could still be going up. Everyone I spoke to there in Marsh Harbor says that a lot of the relief that has been talked about has yet to make its way into a lot of the remote areas there simply because of the extent of the devastation that Dorian has brought to that portion of the island where those wind gusts were more than 200 miles an hour.
Meanwhile, on neighboring Grand Bahama, the big issue there right now, Chris, flooding with at least 50 percent of the homes damaged or destroyed as a result of that storm surge combined with incredibly intense rains as Dorian stalled over that part of the island. Chris?
HAYES: Morgan Chesky in the Bahamas, thank you for that reporting. I want to turn out a former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate. Craig, the situation in the Bahamas looks extremely dire, particularly in Abaco. What do you see as the most important priorities right now and do you think the government there has the capacity to make sure that real genuine humanitarian disaster doesn`t set in now?
CRAIG FUGATE, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR, FEMA: Well, the Bahamian national emergency management is coordinating a lot of things. First party is going to be search and rescue recovery of the -- of those that we lost and still reaching those areas and then start getting supplies in there.
And I think this thing we got to remember. This is the Bahamian lead response. The United States has already sent the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of Foreign disaster assistance, our disaster response team to work with the Bahamian government as resources, teams are starting to flow in the area.
But as you just heard, until you can get into the islands, you really can`t get much of this response going. So that`s going to be the first priority to be able to get back onto the islands search and rescue recovery and the immediate supplies that are going to be needed to start stabilizing those islands.
HAYES: What`s the most important thing for folks to have? I imagine it`s just -- it`s clean water is the first thing and shelter and then getting power back up.
FUGATE: Yes. But I think the other thing is -- the most important thing is neighbors helping neighbors all across these islands. Most of the initial help and response it`s just Bahamians helping each other.
FUGATE: So you`re going to go from that to once you get everybody rescued is the basic things of safe drinking water, shelter. Start looking at what it`s going to take to get infrastructure back online. I won`t be surprised that there may be decisions made for some people to relocate to family on other islands just given to the devastation that`s there.
HAYES: You know, we`re in the living through the front edge of an era of increasingly extreme weather and climate disaster and climate crisis. Are we getting better as a -- as a sort of civilization or at dealing with disaster preparedness and rescue and rebuilding?
HAYES: We`re not?
FUGATE: No. We tend to build back the way it was. We tend to plan for what we`re capable of and then we hope it`s not that bad. You know, climate change, you can talk about all you want to. I think we need to be talking about how we`re adapting our communities, our systems, and our infrastructure for what has already happened and is happening now.
HAYES: And what would that adaptation look like? What do you mean by that?
FUGATE: Well, in the States, the big thing here is making sure our building codes reflect the increasing impacts that we look at our flood problem, not as something that`s defined by insurance rate maps but what could flood.
We`re seeing rainfall events in the U.S. post-tropical and non-tropical that a lot of this flooding isn`t even in the areas that are designated as high-risk flood zones by FEMA. So we need to get it out of our heads to looking at the last 100 years in historical events is preparing us for what`s happening because it seems like every couple of weeks, every couple of months, every couple of years, we`re having record-setting events. That means we have no recorded history of. Looking backwards is not preparing us.
HAYES: That`s a really, really, really important point. Craig Fugate, thank you so much for being here.
FUGATE: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, a gun buyback proposal in the threat of violence in its wake. That story next.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you address the fears that the government is going to take away those assault rifles, as you call them, if you`re talking about buybacks and banning semi-automatic rifles?
O`ROURKE: Yeah. So, I want to be really clear that that`s exactly what we`re going to do. Americans will, who own AR-15s, AK-47s, will have to sell them to the government.
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HAYES: In the wake of the latest mass shooting in his home state of Texas, presidential candidate Beto O`Rourke has been out front very explicitly making the case for a mandatory purchase by the government of every military style weapon in the country, a position we should note that is supported somewhat remarkably by 46 percent of the country, almost half the population.
In response, some conservatives have argued that you can`t do that because if you try to implement that policy, law-abiding good guy with a gun gun owners will resort to violence en masse.
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TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: So this is what you`re calling for is civil war. What you`re calling for is an incitement to violence, it`s something that I wouldn`t want to live here when that happened, would you?
MEGHAN MCCAIN, CO-HOST, THE VIEW: You`re talking about going and taking people`s guns away from them. There is going to be a lot of violence.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, THE VIEW: But they lived without them for many years during the ban.
MCCAIN: I`m not living without guns.
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HAYES: It gets to why this debate is so strange and so different from some other policy areas. At some level, the threat of violence does loom over all of it all the time.
Joining me now, UCLA`s school of law professor Adam Winkler, author of "Gunfight: the Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America."
Adam, I want to start with what the constitution does and doesn`t allow in terms of policies floated. And I know some of this is yet to be determined by the Supreme Court, but what is your understanding of what the law and the constitution allows vis-a-vis something like what Beto O`Rourke is proposing?
ADAM WINKLER, LAW PROFESSOR, UCLA: Well, a mandatory gun buyback program of military style rifles very well may be constitutional. It really depends on whether a ban on those particular weapons would itself be constitutionally permissible. We`ve seen those bans enacted in a number of places, a number of states and cities, and courts to date have generally upheld such laws. If those laws are constitutionally permissible, it would likely be constitutionally permissible to have a mandatory gun buyback program for at least those types of weapons.
I think something like a mandatory gun buyback of things like handguns, which the Supreme Court has said are weapons that are constitutionally protected would be likely unconstitutional.
HAYES: So the constitution -- the Supreme Court jurisprudence on this, and Heller and Scalia`s controlling opinion in that that, which sort of revolutionized the way the court deals with it, I mean, he explicitly does say, right, like look there are bans on certain kinds of weapons that are going to pass constitutional muster?
WINKLER: That`s right. I mean, the NRA has been selling us a story about the unconstitutionality of virtually any form of gun control for a long time. And the truth of the matter is we`ve always had gun control in America, maybe not particularly good gun control, but it goes all the way back to the founding fathers. And even Justice Scalia in the Heller opinion said clearly that there is plenty of room for gun control under the Second Amendment.
HAYES: There is another policy being floated, and then I want to talk about this idea of violence. The idea of a license, that`s something that Cory Booker has proposed, and others, that a license -- and the polling on this is somewhat remarkable to me, given the facts of how this works that a license to purchase a gun, 82 percent yes, 16 percent no. That`s a very wide majority.
What is your sense of the legality or constitutionality or feasibility of that?
WINKLER: I think there is no doubt that a licensing program would be constitutionally permissible. The founders had their own kind of gun registration back in the founding era. If you had a military-style rifle or a weapon that you needed to have to serve in the militia, those weapons would be registered and put on government roles.
And even most gun rights advocates who are attune to the law and the Second Amendment jurisprudence admit that a licensing scheme is likely constitutional. And indeed in New York today you have a licensing system. If you want to have a gun in your home you have to get a permanent to do it.
We have a right to marry under the constitution, but you still have to get a license to exercise that right.
HAYES: That`s a great point.
I guess finally on this, you know, there are different arguments people make for what the Second Amendment is about. But one of them is that it`s fundamentally about denying the state of monopoly on violence, it`s about essentially having the ability to wage war, if possible, protect one`s liberty against the violent incursions of the state if it comes to that, and that`s what I think you see expressed in people saying look, if you try to take guns and mandatory buyback, people will use those guns violently to push-back against this government.
My question is, was that the idea behind the Second Amendment? I mean, really, was that what was being conceived of when it`s put in the document?
WINKLER: Absolutely not.
Look, the founders were trying to create a government, not sow the seeds for that government`s destruction. And in fact, when there were armed rebellions, like the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania under the administration of President George Washington, Washington himself went into battle and fought to quell that rebellion.
The idea of the Second Amendment, as the Supreme Court said in the Heller case, is about protecting your right of self-defense, your right of personal protection, it is not a right to rise up and revolt against the government.
HAYES: All right, Adam Winkler, thank you for being with me tonight, learned a lot.
WINKLER: Thank you.
HAYES: Still ahead, the trolling of Mike Pence on his whistle stop tour in Europe. But first, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, one of the accomplishments President Trump is most proud of is his appointment of federal judges. One nominee the president might want back is Matthew Peterson, who Trump nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia back in 2017.
Peterson made it as far as a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it only took a few questions from Republican Senator John Kennedy for it to become apparent that maybe Peterson wasn`t cut out to be a judge.
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SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, (R) LOUISIANA: Have you ever tried a jury trial?
MATTHEW PETERSON, DISTRICT COURT NOMINEE: I have not.
KENNEDY: State or federal court?
PETERSON: I have not.
KENNEDY: Have you ever tried taking a deposition by yourself?
PETERSON: I believe no.
Have you ever argued a motion in state court?
PETERSON: I have not.
KENNEDY: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?
KENNEDY: As a trial judge, you`re obviously going to have witnesses.
KENNEDY: Can you tell me what the Daubert standard is?
PETERSON: Senator Kennedy, I don`t have that readily at my disposal, but I would be happy to take a closer look at that.
PETERSON: That is not something that I`ve had to contend with.
KENNEDY: Just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is?
PETERSON: I would probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Peterson withdrew from consideration following that debacle and returned to his day job on the Federal Election Commission.
And you might think that kind of public embarrassment would make it tough to find a new job, but you would be wrong. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Matthew Peterson failed as a Trump judicial nominee, but he still had a very important job as a member of the Federal Election Commission where he was tasked with helping to maintain fair, transparent elections.
Peterson was appointed to the commission in 2008, twice served as the body`s chairman in 2010 and 2016. But after 11 years in the job, Peterson announced last week he was resigning from the already shorthanded commission, leaving the FEC unable to conduct the most fundamental aspects of its mandate, including processing complaints of election malfeasance.
And what kind of opportunity would cause someone who spent the last decade at the FEC to cripple the agency with their exit? Politico reported Peterson will be a partner of the law firm Holtzman, Vogel, Josefiak, Torchinsky, that doesn`t mean much to most people, but a Washington Post report from 2016 described the firm`s specialty as, quote, "helping wealthy donors, corporations, and political action committees influence elections, often in secret."
That`s right, Matthew Peterson, the failed judicial nominee essentially shut down the FEC heading into the 2020 election to join a law firm that specializes in helping rich people and corporations influence elections in secret. Very cool.
Hopefully for Peterson`s sake, his new job does not require him to go anywhere near a courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: Have you ever tried taking a deposition by yourself?
PETERSON: I don`t believe no.
KENNEDY: OK. Have you ever argued a motion in state court?
PETERSON: I have not.
KENNEDY: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Right now, Vice President Mike Pence is in the air on his way back from what was a pretty rough week abroad. The vice president`s journey began in Poland, where he was taking his boss` place at a World War II commemoration. The president needed to stay home, you will recall, so he could monitor Hurricane Dorian and squeeze in not one, but two rounds of golf.
Pence went to Ireland on Monday where he had meetings in Dublin, but decided to stay on the opposite side of the island at Trump`s property in Doonbeg, reportedly at the president`s behest, which made for some very awkward explaining.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats have criticized you today for staying at the Trump property in Doonbeg. T hey say you`re enriching the president. What`s your response to that criticism?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s wonderful to be back in Ireland. It was important for me. Before our original trip plan to at least spend one night in Doonbeg. And I understand political attacks by Democrats, but if you have a chance to get to Doonbeg, you find it`s a fairly small place, and the opportunity to stay at Trump National in Doonbeg to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel made it logical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The vice president then found himself in hot water with the Irish after he praised the UK`s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit, both very unpopular on the Emerald Isle, prompting this headline from an op-ed in The Irish Times -- I`ll just let you read it. Ouch.
And the next stop was Iceland, where our notoriously anti-gay vice president was greeted first by a row of not so subtle rainbow pride flag, and then by the Icelandic president and first lady, both wearing pride bracelets.
And just when it seemed like things could not get any worse for Mike Pence, he arrived in London for a meeting with the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is also having a mind-bogglingly terrible week full of Brexit chaos, and he managed to change the subject long enough to have a go at Pence about meat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It`s still the case, you know, the United States of America, the people of the United States of America, don`t eat any British lamb or beef or haggis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yeah, they don`t eat any haggis. So weird.
Good luck getting Americans interested in eating sheep intestines.
The vice president is now finally on his way back to the U.S., expected to land in D.C. around midnight. But I don`t think his relief will last too long. Just wait until he finds out what almost happened to Alabama while he was gone.
HAYES: Last night we got seven hours of pretty detailed policy discussion on the most pressing civilizational issue of our time, climate change, from the Democratic Party candidates, once again highlighting that the most important issue facing our planet is debated by one party and one party alone, not the other.
And there is just a shocking gap between the level of policy command, knowledge and details, all the things that used to be taken for granted, frankly, in contenders, among all the Democratic candidates versus the president of the United States who seems obsessed with trying to prove that at some point in the past Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama.
Now to bring in former Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat from Missouri, and NBC News and MSNBC political analyst, along with Joshua Johsnon, host of the show 1A on NPR member station WAMU.
Senator McCaskill, I`ll start with you, I mean, it is striking when you enter the universe of the Democratic primary from the universe of American politics at the moment, there`s like a warp thing that happens to you where the just -- and this isn`t a thing that just used to be part of Democrats. I mean, I`ve watched Republicans have deep policy conversations, but there`s only really one place in America where this is happening right now.
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) FORMER SENATOR, MISSOURI: Yeah. I mean, the bad news is, it was seven hours. I don`t know how many people watched all seven hours. The good news is, even if you watched part of it, you got a sense that these were serious candidates, serious leaders who understood this issue, that felt very strongly about having detailed plans to deal with it. And frankly, that they are intellectually sound in terms of respecting science and knowing public policy.
It is such a stark contrast to the Sharpie show in the Oval Office that it is startling. And I wish more voters would tune in just long enough to get a sense of the strength of the field of the Democratic candidates who we have this year.
HAYES: You know, we`re going to do a climate forum ourselves in a few weeks and a climate special as well. And Joshua, one thing also that comes through is just the centrality and primacy of this issue in this primary in the Democratic Party.
You know, issue primacy and prioritization is almost as important as what gets filled in in the actual policy, particularly in primaries, and we saw Trump raise the salience tremendously in immigration in his own primary. We are watching I think climate really achieve a new level of salience here. What do you think?
JOSHUA JOHNSON, HOST, 1A: I think it`s a win in part for Washington Governor Jay Inslee. This was the top of his agenda. And, you know, there are people who stole some of his lines -- Senator Kamala Harris stole openly a retort from Senator Inslee to one of President Trump`s lines that wind turbines cause cancer. She said they cause cancer, they cause jobs.
So, yes, there has been a higher priority put on climate issues, and necessarily, because climate change is real, we are actually affecting the environment and the science is pretty much solid on this.
I think the challenge is that as we`re trying to have these policy discussions which are necessary. We`re also trying to figure out who voters like the most. And so watching this CNN forum -- and, no, I did watch all seven hours. I watched as much as I could, but, you know, I`ve got a Playstation and I`ve got a life.
But even watching the forum, it was hard to make an apples to apples comparison between the candidates. You know, one of the things we try to do when we interview the Democratic candidates is ask them at least one of the exact same question: why should the American people elect you president?
And what I needed was for the exact same question in the exact same words to be asked to everybody. Because otherwise, you have candidates who are going for sound bites and moments and quips and retorts, and, you know, there were several. But as a voter, if I`m a Democrat and I`m trying to figure out who has got the best ideas on climate change, I know who may have moved me the most, I know who may have had the biggest gaffes, but I`m not sure how to compare them one by one when it comes to not presence, not politicking, but policy on how to save the world.
HAYES: Well, there`s a question there, right, senator, which is about how much that itself matters, right. Like how much do the policy details matter? And one thing I`ve struck by is Joe Biden has had a very stable lead from basically when he announced to now. He is -- there is tremendous amounts of respect and affection for him among Democratic primary voters, both for him personally and his long career, and for his adjacency to Barack Obama whose vice president he was. But it does strike me that like in these kinds of forums where you`re talking about just like political communication, he is not the best, I think, of a lot of people, like that does not seem to be his strength in this.
And as someone who knows him well and has worked with him, like what do you think of his ability to communicate policy in this campaign thus far?
MCCASKILL: Well, I think he struggles when he gets on defense. And since he is the frontrunner, and has been the stable frontrunner, as you said, from day one, he is going to be on defense a lot. And I think he is going to have to learn how to pivot and stay true to the message he wants to deliver.
Frankly, he made a really good point last night. Yes, the United States has to lead on this issue. Yes, we have to be bold. But we have to re- establish our leadership in the world on this issue, that`s what Trump has done, in my opinion, in one of the most immoral acts that he did was walking away from the Paris Accord.
And Joe Biden does have a good point, and people do understand that he is going to have the kind of resume that gives him credibility on the world stage instantaneously. He has that, and most of the rest of them don`t.
HAYES: But. There`s this thing that`s happening -- and true I think in terms of his resume, right, like he knows world leaders, but there`s this thing that`s happening in the campaign where it`s like there`s Joe Biden, and you know he is Joe Biden. And so Joe Biden projects something, because he is a well-known figure and such a fixture.
But if you were to do like a blind taste test, which is not a thing that can happen, but it`s get to your point, Joshua, right, about the message versus the messenger and ask people like are they listening to what these people are saying and what their plans are? Or is it just like, I know that guy and I want that guy, which may be enough?
JOHNSON: Well, here is the think, Senator McCaskill is right that Joe Biden made the point about American leadership around the world. Other candidates made the same point in the town halls, but at least that`s a consensus in the field.
Here is the way I`m looking at this, did you see The Avengers movies?
JOHNSON: OK, Joe Biden is Robert Downey Jr. They are all super heroes. But he is Robert Downey Jr. He says things that may be a little off, he does things that may be a little off, but he is bankable. And if there`s one thing that the Democratic leadership is terrified of, it`s losing to Donald Trump in 2020. And Democratic voters, too.
If they cannot pull this off in 2020, there will be heads rolling in the Democratic leadership, because Democratic voters are saying, this is it a layup. What do you mean we couldn`t win? So I think at this point, it`s a little bit more about who can we -- who is going to be best for top billing right now?
HAYES: I think there`s a combination of it`s a layup and also we are panicked we are going to screw it up, and those things end up in weird conflicted ways about what that means in terms of who people feel safe with or who they don`t feel safe with. And sometimes I think their intention with each other internally.
Former Senator Claire McCaskill and Joshua Johnson, thanks for joining us.
Before we go, a reminder that tomorrow night, we are once a gain live in front of a live studio audience here in 6A -- Studio 6A on 30 Rock. It`s our third and final, for now, live show. We have a great hour planned. I have been loving this. It`s been so much fun. It`s going to be a lot of fun. And we hope that you tune in.
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