CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT" starts right now with Yasmin in for Ari.
Good evening Yasmin.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Good evening, Chuck. Good seeing you. You we`re going to be watching Sunday that is for sure.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Thanks for joining us everybody. After Mueller, Democrats say they are already in impeachment investigation, and Democrat now calling for impeachment joining us.
Also, Mitch McConnell under fire from blocking election security bills, as Russia meddles in elections right now.
And I`m going to be joined live by two Senators who went inside a migrant detention center in El Paso today.
But we`re going to start with an escalation in the obstruction investigation into President Trump. House Judiciary Chairman Nadler saying quote "An impeachment investigation is underway." Nadler citing impeachment as his legal argument in a petition filed today to get secret Mueller grand jury material. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Today, we are filing an application for the grand jury material underlying the Mueller report. That information is critically important for our ability to examine witnesses, including former White House Counsel Don McGahn and to investigate the President`s misconduct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VOSSOUGHIAN: So now they`re acknowledged, asking the court for secret grand jury material means they are looking at impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: The Committee is exercising its authority to investigate all these scandals and to recommend -- and to decide what to do about them, which could include articles of impeachment.
And we`ve filed that with the court. We are doing this not just as part of normal oversight, but also because it`s part of our Article I authority and responsibility to consider all remedies, including possibility of articles of impeachment, we`re considering what remedies we can do, including the possibility of articles of impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VOSSOUGHIAN: All right. So when asked if he believes they`re already in an impeachment investigation, Nadler saying, "in effect". Here is the petition, the words in peach or impeachment mentioned 85 separate times with the argument citing this, a constitutional power of the utmost gravity, approval of articles of impeachment.
Right now 96 Democrats are calling for an impeachment inquiry, seven have come out in support after Mueller`s tests, including the highest ranking Democrat so far Congresswoman Katherine Clark, the sixth ranking House Democrat, based her decision on quote "unprecedented stonewalling and obstruction".
Let`s get into it, Jill Wine-Banks, former Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor, Sam Seder, Host of "The Majority Report" radio show; and NYU Professor, Cristina Beltr n.
Jill, I got to start with you. I mean, to do or not to do. What does this escalation mean to you?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It means that Mueller really set the stage for this. He established some really key points that may not have been delivered in a dramatic fashion, but the facts are there that there was no exoneration.
That he found at least five instances of obstruction where all three elements of the crime were committed and there was actual evidence to prove those that he needs to proceed on those. There`s also impeachable offenses that aren`t necessarily crimes, you mentioned stonewalling for example.
Stonewalling interferes with Congress`s oversight powers. Congress has the power of impeachment and the power of oversight. And President Trump is interfering with both the investigation of criminal acts, just like Richard Nixon, obstruction of justice cover-up that`s what it is.
But in addition, he has taken a blanket approval of nobody cooperating. He has said no one will cooperate. I won`t give you any documents. I won`t -- and it`s not just on the criminal investigation, it`s on whether or not he`s separating families. This is a terrible invasion of the powers of Congress and our whole constitutional framework requires that we have that.
VOSSOUGHIAN: So the big question is where Democrats heading Sam, right? What is -- what are the next steps? What does this mean? Are they heading towards an official impeachment inquiry then leading to possible impeachment? What is their plan or do they even have a plan, right?
How significant is it that we heard Jerry Nadler saying in effect and I`m quoting that "in effect this is an impeachment inquiry"?
SAM SEDER, HOST, "THE MAJORITY REPORT": I mean, look, I don`t have any inside information in terms of the dynamic between Nancy Pelosi and Jerry Nadler. But he clearly is moving forward. And she clearly has, over the past several months indicated that she doesn`t want to move forward or if she wants to move at an incredibly slow pace.
And I think look, the facts are overtaking her desire. It`s becoming increasingly obvious that there`s multiple grounds for impeachment. But once you even get past the civics and the duty of Congress, from a political standpoint, it makes total sense.
VOSSOUGHIAN: It does.
SEDER: Of course, it does, because the idea -- look they`ve already passed 60 bills that are message bills, some of them are great, some of them are OK. They have not resonated with the American public. The bottom line is there is nothing left for them to do. They need to maintain their oversight, just from strictly a political standpoint. I mean, I think you need the civics apart to justify this.
But from a political standpoint, something needs to fill the vacuum that exists between now and the election. And we saw some indication of what the Republicans are willing to do. Donald Trump today was talking about investigating President Obama.
If the Democrats don`t fill that vacuum, the Republicans will. And from a political standpoint, they need to go and fill that vacuum.
But Cristina, there`s a question of timing here, right? As we well know they`re headed on vacation. They`re going to be off basically for the entire month of August. I mean, if you think about the timing of all of this, I mean, we couldn`t be looking at -- the launch of an impeachment inquiry even until late fall right.
CRISTINA BELTRAN, NYU PROFESSOR: Right.
VOSSOUGHIAN: And then we be well into the primaries by January. And then you have the election in November 2020. So there is a political calculus happening here for the Democrats.
BELTRAN: Yes. No, they have to deal with the timing of this. But I don`t think it`s really a problem. I mean I think that -- I agree with what Sam was saying. I mean, I think, that politically this is just a critical moment for a couple of reasons.
I mean one thing that`s really key here is that, while they`re on break, I think -- well, I`ll back up. I think one thing that`s been happening is they`re sort of in this dream that Mueller was going to be the patriarch who kind of created the conditions for us to say, OK, now we`re ready to impeach.
VOSSOUGHIAN: That didn`t happen.
BELTRAN: And the fact of the matter is, no one is coming to save us. Right? The only people that are going to save this democracy are the citizens and elected representatives who are holding themselves accountable and who care about the Constitution and want to do this.
So two things I think going to be important is, during the break is what are citizens going to be doing in terms of showing up at town hall meetings and saying we demand this--
VOSSOUGHIAN: And that`s huge--
BELTRAN: That`s going to be huge.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Because that`s how they spend their time in August is having these town hall meetings, so are they going to be asking their constituents the question of should we pursue an impeachment inquiry or not.
BELTRAN: And the leadership role they could play is to really say, look, this isn`t about -- he`s not -- we`re not going to get him out of office through impeachment. What we`re going to do is, there`s going to be something really key about basically putting a stamp on Donald Trump that says, this is criminal and corrupt. This is somebody who`s not protecting the Constitution.
The whole question of Russian interference in the election, there should be a mass march in the fall just demanding that these bills around Russian interference happen. Because it`s our democracy at stake, and the cavalry is not coming it`s citizens having to take care of this with their representatives and that`s the case that both citizens have to make and representatives have to hear.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Jill, there`s two things right now that Nadler is after, the grand jury material as we well know, and also Don McGahn -- subpoenaing Don McGahn and enforcing that subpoena.
Let`s talk first about the grand jury material. What are they expecting to see with this grand jury material?
WINE-BANKS: They`re expecting to see really revealing compelling evidence and based on what I know from the Watergate case and the grand jury information that we turned over, under the same rule and we applied to the court for 6(e) exceptions and gave it to the House Judiciary Committee. I know that that was what led to their impeachment.
They used that material and I believe there`s very compelling evidence in the 6(e) material. The best thing is getting Don McGahn, because that`s like John Dean standing there, raising his hand and saying I`m here to tell the truth.
And it`s much better to hear a live fact witness than to hear the supervisor of people who talk to the fact witness saying--
VOSSOUGHIAN: But to play devil`s advocate here they wanted Mueller. They got Mueller. And a lot of people saying he didn`t necessarily deliver the decision that they were looking for and that they were going to launch an impeachment inquiry. How are they so sure that Don McGahn will do?
WINE-BANKS: They accepted Mueller because they were denied everybody else. The President and Barr have interfered with their investigation, their oversight, their impeachment powers by refusing -- blanket refusal to let any witness testify.
The only one they would let testify -- honestly even if we had had Archie Cox or Leon Jaworski testifying, they wouldn`t have known all the facts any more than we would expect Mueller to. I interviewed the witnesses, not Archie Cox. We need the people who were on the trial team or in this case, in the investigation, to deliver the message. And I also want to add just to what Sam said.
WINE-BANKS: I think that we know for sure that Nancy Pelosi supported the action that was taken today. That has to mean that she has moved somewhat from opposing any action to allowing the initiation of steps and there`s a lot of reason that I think that people, back home during the August recess, are going to say you have to do this.
And here`s the danger of not doing it, I get on Twitter all the time, people are saying, "What`s the point of being a Democrat? They`re not following this at all, so why does it matter?"
SEDER: I`ll add too that I don`t know that it`s a coincidence and who knows. But Jerrold Nadler is now facing a primary challenger who is running on the idea of impeachment. Other members of the Democratic leadership--
VOSSOUGHIAN: And members of Senate as well who are so now coming out for impeachment.
SEDER: Well they`re looking at primary challenges.
VOSSOUGHIAN: So you think this is a political calculus for Nadler?
SEDER: Well, I think everything is a political calculus, frankly.
VOSSOUGHIAN: But a personal one.
SEDER: Well, listen, I think it`s -- frankly, I`m not convinced that it`s not a personal calculation for Nancy Pelosi. There is the Iron Law of power and institutions is that people would rather maintain power within an institution than necessarily increase the power of the institution itself.
I mean, it is unclear to me why Nancy Pelosi would put the brakes on this. But -- so I think all politicians act in what generally what is their best interest and incentives come from all different directions.
BELTRAN: Yes, I mean incentives clearly come from like a public that is organizing, mobilizing around this, and you can`t -- at some point expecting they need to craft a narrative and if they`re not going to craft it, then progressive organization need to craft that narrative that they can respond to, because they can`t just wait for perfect witnesses to come and reveal the political strategy. That has to be forged by actual movements--
VOSSOUGHIAN: Some though -- and I just want to get this in. Some that I`ve spoken to have said it is time for them to make a decision, because we are heading towards an election. And possibly the only way to impeach this President, if that`s in fact what you are angling for, is to vote him out of office, come November 2020.
VOSSOUGHIAN: One at a time. I`ve got lot of reactions on my panel, so Jill you first.
WINE-BANKS: A lot that can happen, the lawsuits are going to proceed and by the time Congress comes back -- and it`s important that they take the recess to hear from their constituents. I can tell you that in Watergate after The Saturday Night Massacre when everybody got fired, Archie Cox and the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General all got fired.
It was the public reaction that three days after they got fired Richard Nixon said, OK. I made--
VOSSOUGHIAN: But what did you say about Nixon? What did you -- ?
WINE-BANKS: He is a crook. I mean--
SEDER: No, he respected the rule of law. But I will say this, look, I don`t think that there`s anyone in the country who thinks that impeachments going to lead to Donald Trump leaving office. The point is, you need to put down a marker as to who is accountable, what the President can get away with.
And if the Republican Party wants to stand in front of -- any between providing justice and accountability for Donald Trump, let them run on that.
SEDER: I think that`s the point that the people are pushing.
BELTRAN: Yes, and I mean I think you can gather all this up around Russian interference.
BELTRAN: I mean, fundamentally our democracy is so threatened right now that this should be a five-alarm fire and I do think that they`re ultimately going to have to put this out as an organized event for movements to actually--
VOSSOUGHIAN: There is a fire alarm.
BELTRAN: --you need the power of narrative, is something Democrats have consistently failed on. This is their moment. They have to craft one.
VOSSOUGHIAN: There is a fire alarms -- fire in the control room right now, because they`re telling me to wrap.
Jill Wine-Banks thanks. Sam Seder, Cristina Beltr n, thank you guys all, very much appreciated. Have a fantastic weekend.
Still ahead I`m going to talk live to a lawmaker who said she`s now in the impeachment caucus after seeing Mueller testify.
And later my interview with two Senators who just went inside that controversial immigrant detention center in El Paso, reporting back on the conditions they found four children inside.
Plus why Moscow Mitch is trending today. We`re going to talk about Putin`s next hack with the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, and a new revelation about Nixon`s taxes that could blow a big hole in the President`s defense.
I`m Yasmin Vossoughian in for Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
VOSSOUGHIAN: We are back with one of the latest Democrats to call for impeachment. One of more than half a dozen coming forward in the wake of Bob Mueller`s testimony, a Congressman Lisa Blunt Rochester speaking out today saying quote "Future generations will look to us and ask where we were, what we did, and if we fell silent?" and she joins me.
Now Congressman Lisa Blunt Rochester, thank you so much for being here, really appreciate it.
REP. LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER (D-DE): Thank you Yasmin.
VOSSOUGHIAN: You said today you that this exchange from Mueller`s testimony was a key moment for you. Let`s take a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(ROBERT MUELLER`S TESTIMONY)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VOSSOUGHIAN: Why did that particular answer exchange help change your minds?
ROCHESTER: Well, first of all Jasmine -- Yasmin thank you for having me on the show. The decision to even you know come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry was one that I didn`t take lightly and that was really important to make that exchange, in addition to director Mueller talking about the fear of this being the new normal, actually was a tipping point for me.
You know, we had already received this 448 page document that showed us 10 instances of obstruction of justice. But for me, I actually thought back to the Part 1 of that document where we talked about the Russian interference in our elections.
And I thought about myself as a kid -- I grew up in the 1960s, and we used to have to get do these Air Raid drills where you`d get under your desk or you`d get out in the hall and put your hands over your neck, because we were concerned about tornadoes and about the Soviet Union them attacking us, and we`ve actually been attacked. Our country has been attacked.
And to have a campaign -- a presidential campaign actually welcome it for their own gain and then to learn from this testimony that our President has not been totally truthful, to me called for us to take bold action. And to say that in order for us to get the information we need, in order for us to get the cooperation we need, we need to move forward with an inquiry into impeachment.
VOSSOUGHIAN: So, in fact, you say in your statement, "I believe opening an impeachment inquiry gives us firmer legal ground on which to stand", why?
ROCHESTER: Well, for one thing, we all know that oversight is one of the roles of Congress and we are doing investigations. We actually have six investigations going on from different Subcommittee -- different Committees that are doing incredible work.
But when you actually embark on an impeachment inquiry, it`s -- impeachment is one of the things that is actually enumerated in the Constitution. And so therefore, the courts would be more -- we would be working faster in terms of getting that cooperation, in terms of getting those documents, I believe.
And so for me it adds an extra level of oversight. It actually adds more weight and credibility to what it is that we`re trying to accomplish, and the bottom line is nobody is above the law and so -- whether it`s the President or anyone else. And this inquiry would help us get the answers and get them in a more expeditious way.
VOSSOUGHIAN: I want to bring a Democratic Strategist and Senior Adviser to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Antjuan Seawright. Antjuan, good to talk to you.
Good to talk to you.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Thanks for joining us on this. Mueller`s testimony may have helped change the mind of the Congresswoman, but has it shifted in your belief public opinion?
ANTJUAN SEAWRIGHT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don`t think so. I think the Speaker is taking the right approach and how -- and leadership is taking the right approach that it`s a marathon, not a sprint with this. And I think we have to continue investigating and legislating.
If you look at one simple thing, this idea that we cannot govern if we do not win, we want up and down the ballot in 2018, because we want in places that Donald Trump won in 2016. If you talk to those individual members and you ask them what their constituents are saying, they`re saying I want you to commit to doing what you said you were going to do, the reason we put you here. And impeachment is not on the top of their minds.
Now, does that mean that posture and position will forever be this way? No. But I think that the Congress and the leadership is taking the right approach. And I think that the Congresswoman definitely is doing the right thing by representing the interests of her constituents.
But these members who help us make up the majority and who responsible also for giving us the majority have to respect the wishes of their constituents.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Doesn`t it depend though, Antjuan, on who exactly you`re talking about or to. Because if you`re talking about the Democratic base, yes, in fact, it is likely that they would support impeachment proceedings, the launching of an impeachment inquiry, even if this were to feed into the actual election season -- primary season that being in January.
If you`re thinking about a swing voter, if you`re hoping at someone who voted for Trump reluctantly in 2016 and is now looking for a new President and not necessarily sure where to put their vote, however they will vote for Trump, if there`s nobody better. If you`re speaking about that person, is there a risk that Democratic probably they could lose those voters -- those swing voters that they`re hoping to get.
SEAWRIGHT: Well, I think that--
VOSSOUGHIAN: --this time around.
SEAWRIGHT: I think it`s a risk either way. But I do think these members have a responsibility to act according to the people who sent them there. But we are a very diverse caucus.
And the fact of the matter is, you see that playing out publicly when you have members who are -- want to go down the impeachment highway and those who are saying let`s continue to build a case, and those who are saying let`s not do it all. And I think time will tell how that plays out.
But I think we`re taking the right approach by building the case and ensuring that every voice is heard. And I think the Speaker in the Committee Chairs and leadership is doing a good job of being inclusive in that conversation.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Congresswoman, you want to jump in here?
VOSSOUGHIAN: Go ahead.
ROCHESTER: I most certainly do. First of all, I want to say that the Speaker is doing a phenomenal job. She has led us. She has serious concerns about any divisions that this could cause--
SEAWRIGHT: Yes ma`am.
ROCHESTER: --if we don`t have a strong case. And I support that. The reality is, you`re correct, this is not the conversation that you might hear from a lot of people, even though within the past 48 hours and 24 hours I`ve had more calls into my office in support of it than ever.
But, I can tell you, we can go down two tracks at the same time. I`m on the Energy and Commerce Committee and part of what we`ve done that hasn`t been reported is just last week. We passed out of Committee 25 bills that included health care bills, that included stopping robo calls, that included protecting our consumers and climate change, 25 bipartisan bills.
So the American people do need to know what we`re doing for them--
ROCHESTER: But we have a job. Mueller did his job, we`ve got to do ours.
VOSSOUGHIAN: All right, Congressman Lisa Blunt Rochester and Antjuan Seawright, thank you both.
SEAWRIGHT: Thank you.
VOSSOUGHIAN: After alarming new reports of Russia meddling, why is Mitch McConnell blocking election security bills? We`re back in 30 seconds.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Welcome back. Mitch McConnell is under fire for punting on election security bills, as his own Committee issues an alarming new report. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, led by a Republican finds, Russia successfully targeted all 50 states. That Russia`s going to do it again in 2020 and that quote "little has been done to prevent it from happening".
The report does go on to note the Committee has seen no evidence that votes were actually changed. The report comes after Bob Mueller though said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(ROBERT MUELLER`S TESTIMONY)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VOSSOUGHIAN: They are doing it as we sit here, and Mitch McConnell is doing nothing about it. The majority leader blocking two election security bills, calling them partisan legislation. This morning my colleague Joe Scarborough put it like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST MSNBC: He is aiding and abetting Vladimir Putin`s ongoing attempts to subvert American democracy according to the Republican FBI, CIA, DNI, Intel Committee directs -- all Republicans are all saying Russia is subverting American democracy and "Moscow Mitch" won`t even let the Senate take a vote on it. That is un-American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VOSSOUGHIAN: OK. Joining me now is the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us on this. You have been at the ire, shall we say, of Russian President Vladimir Putin. So you well -- you full well know what it`s not like to be the focus of Russia, in general and of Moscow. What is your response to Mitch McConnell?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well I won`t be quite as dramatic as Joe just was there, but I agree with them entirely. This is not a partisan issue about -- from Democrats and Republicans.
What is more American, what is more patriotic than protecting the votes that Americans will cast in 2020? And I think this new report could give him and out -- he and the President. Because remember, in the past, we were talking about disinformation on Facebook, the hacking of the DNC and publishing that.
Those were designed to help candidate Trump and hurt candidate Clinton. But this new report really focuses on what the Russians were planning to do on Election Day to disrupt the integrity of the vote. That is not for Trump. That is just to undermine democracy.
And by the way, as the report points out, they had a public relations disinformation campaign designed with things like #restinpeacedemocracy. So that I think help could help to say this is something we all should get behind. It wasn`t just that Putin was trying to help Trump, which he was, but he was also planning to disrupt of elections in general, and that`s something we should all get behind to stop.
VOSSOUGHIAN: You also have Mitch McConnell saying basically this is a highly partisan bill. And he said that spent two years -- that some folks spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about President Trump and Russia, of course, referring there to the Democrats.
But as Mitch McConnell well knows, every Intelligence Agency has said that Russia interfered in America`s elections. It is not just the Mueller report. It is not just Bob Mueller`s testimony from Wednesday. It is every Intelligence Agency. And Mitch McConnell is not new to Washington as we well know. He has been there for quite some time.
So the fact that he would go so far as to say that this is a partisan bill and basing that on the investigation that the Democrats launched that, he says, went on for two years unjustly, it is perplexing to me. Why would McConnell not support something like this?
MCFAUL: Well, I think he does -- I`m speculating here, right. I know more about Russian politics than I do about American politics. But I just was on Capitol Hill a couple days ago talking to senators about what is going on with the many bills, by the way. There`s a couple that are ahead in the queue. But there`s lots of really good legislation to help protect the vote.
And I think he doesn`t want to prolong the story about what the Russians did. But I think it`s a real political mistake for Mitch McConnell and the Republicans for two reasons. One, this is not about partisan issues for the future.
Why are they just assuming that the Russians might do this? Why might the Iranians might not do this? Why might not the high school Silicon Valley hackers club here where I live might disrupt the elections. We need to protect our elections from all adversaries.
And number two, some of the things are very part -- bipartisan. The deter act, for instance, is co-signature by Marco Rubio. Last I checked he`s a republican.
And by the way, it`s a great idea the legislation says something very simple. If there is new intelligence that shows that Russians or any other foreign actor interfered in our election, automatically sanctions will go into place. Tell me how that`s partisan. That sounds pretty straightforward American to me.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Well, and in fact there was a piece out today I believe in the New York Times talking about how Iran was doing just that and I think 7,000 accounts have been shut down on Twitter where Iran has been sowing discord acting as if they were literally an Iranian-American woman in Seattle, a Harvard University student and so on and so forth.
Certainly, it says, the article says that not -- that the disinformation in campaign that Iran is involved in is it`s not as sophisticated as Russia yet but they believe it is headed in that direction. Ambassador McFaul, thank you. Good talking to you.
MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Still to come, two Democratic senators just toured the controversial detention center in El Paso, and they will be on THE BEAT revealing exactly what they saw. Plus, why revelations about Richard Nixon`s tax returns could undercut Donald Trump`s attempt to keep his secret.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Tonight, new fallout from the Trump immigration agenda. Moments ago, Trump announcing he`s reached a deal with Guatemala to restrict asylum applications from Central America. We should note, however, that the Guatemalan Congress likely needs to sign off on the agreement first. So it`s unclear whether this would go into effect if at all.
Now this as NBC News is reporting, active-duty U.S. troops now stationed inside a border patrol facility in Texas. Some saying they may be close to violating a federal law which prohibits the military from acting as a police force.
And the border patrol chief in El Paso was just reassigned following reports showing unsafe and unsanitary conditions in nearby border stations. In a moment I`m going to be joined by two U.S. senators who were just inside one of those detention centers in El Paso.
But first a look at how their colleagues in the House are addressing these issues grilling the acting director of ice over a number of troubling reports including a story that we covered just last night, a U.S. citizen detained by Border Patrol officials for 23 days despite presenting his State I.D., his Social Security Card, and his birth certificate.
The ICE Director telling Congress it`s not in his authority to say who is or who is not a citizen. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW ALBENCE, ACTING DIRECTOR, ICE: ICE does not have the lawful authority to say anybody is or is not a citizen. What we do is when we are provided with probative evidence that an individual in our custody is -- looks to be a citizen, we will release that individual from custody.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): What troubled me with your answer is that when someone looks to be a citizen. You know, I`ve got a list here of nine Guadalupe Placencia from San Bernardino, from my community. You advance it when they look to be a citizen. It just strikes me that all of these individuals are Latinos and that you`re talking about how someone looks. So can you talk to me a little bit about --
ALBENCE: I was not referring to anybody`s appearance and that was clear if anybody listen to the context what I`m saying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VOSSOUGHIAN: All right, so tonight, the Trump administration also expanding so-called expedited removals claiming the power to deport any undocumented immigrant anywhere in the U.S. who can`t prove that they`ve been here more than two years potentially without ever even seeing a judge.
I`m joined by Senators Mazie Hirono and Tim Kaine who`ve been a patiently standing by. We appreciate you guys talking to us this evening very much. You were just inside one of these facilities. Senator Hirono, what did you see?
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): We knew going to these facilities that there were not going to be the kinds of hundreds and hundreds of people that have been there even six months ago, but nonetheless to see the cells, even the agents refer to these places as cells is to realize that if there are 12 people, 13 people cramped, as have been the case in these cells, that is no way for us to be treating people who are just wanting to seek asylum in our country. So that`s one thing.
What we see is a dysfunctional kind of system and it starts with the president and his attitude toward others especially immigrants and he is doing everything he can to stymie the ability of people mainly fleeing from the northern triangle countries to seek asylum as they are legally entitled to do. He is doing everything he can.
He`s sending them to Mexico to await their asylum hearings. And now we understand that he wants them to go to Guatemala, one of the countries that so many people are fleeing from because it happens to be one of the murder capitals of the world.
So it`s as though he wants all these other countries to step up, in the meantime our country is not, and we are a country of immigrants.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Senator Kaine, I want to play some sound from a boy named Abner, 17 years old interviewed by our own Julia Ainsley. This was an NBC News exclusive interview talking about the conditions that he faced inside of a facility. Let`s take a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TEXT): When we had to drink water in the sink, well, they didn`t give us anything to get it with. So with the hands, like that, all dirty and they didn`t even give us a cup or anything to get it with.
We would sometime wash our hands because we didn`t have anything to clean ourselves soap or anything. We would grab the water like that and drink it because we didn`t have anything to grab it with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VOSSOUGHIAN: So Senator Kaine, he`s talking about the fact that he wasn`t even given a cup to drink water with which we know is incredibly essential especially in climates like where he was being detained. He was given nothing to wash with like soap. We have instances of not even a toothbrush for young children. What needs to change? What needs to happen to improve conditions in these detention facilities?
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Well, Yasmin, we have to have minimum standards for them. The House passed a bill this week for health and safety standards for any of these facilities and the Senate needs to act on those. Second, we have to fight against the kind of overcrowding we saw because we talked to families who had similar experiences but as Senator Hirono said, we were in a different posture because the attention that was put on these facilities has caused the government to dramatically reduce numbers, so the numbers have come down.
So if you`re in a facility that`s run by Custom and Border Patrol and they have -- it was built for 100 adults, so now they have 750 kids in facilities that aren`t air-conditioned, that are dangerous, where kids are you know, getting communicable diseases and they can hardly isolate them from each other, they don`t have the supplies to deal with the numbers.
But here`s the problem, CBP after they do intake and they clear somebody, they call HHS and they say we have a child that the Office of Refugee Resettlement has to pick up. HHS was saying sorry, we can`t do it. And so the numbers were growing and growing and growing in these facilities and it was completely intolerable.
So the first step was an important one, the attention that`s been drawn by congressional visits, by journalists who in good work has forced other agencies to start doing their job so the numbers have come down. But the president`s actions on say, cutting off asylum claims and people back to unsafe locations, whether it`s a single mom being forced to go back to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico or a family being sent back to Guatemala, you can`t send somebody back to an unsafe location.
So we have to fix those laws, insist upon minimum standards, and keep the public focus, attention, and pressure on so that these facilities are run in a way that would comport with American values.
VOSSOUGHIAN: So, Senator Hirono, what do you make of this -- go ahead. Go ahead.
HIRONO: Well, I also saw that interview with that young man and so we know that these facilities, the longer children are in these facilities the more traumatized they are, and this can be lasting trauma.
And so there are alternatives to detention. We don`t need to have more and more children being deemed unaccompanied minors because we are so narrowly defining what a family member is and making them go through ever-higher hoops so that the children do not have to be deemed unaccompanied minors and therefore in the custody of ORR, Office of Refugee Resettlement.
So there are a number of things that we need to do. But for the children who are being traumatized, we need to have social workers, we need to have childcare experts available to talk to these kids, not just volunteer or nurses aids, etcetera. We need professionals because we are damaging these children by the thousands with our policies.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Senator Kaine, what is your reaction to the news that this American citizen was improperly detained as an illegal immigrant?
KAINE: It`s of a piece with other things we`ve heard. Look, the policies of the administration, Yasmin, are right at the sort of nexus of cruelty and incompetence. So there`s an intentional cruelty and then there`s also sort of an incompetence about oh wow, this guy had records that showed he was an American citizen. We didn`t pay attention to him.
You saw the same thing in the family separation policy. They separated families but they didn`t keep good records about where the kids were going so that here a year after, they`ve been ordered to reunite families, there are still children who are not able to be reunited with their family.
So what the administration is doing is this sort of cruelty coupled with an incompetence that`s leading to results like this American being detained for weeks losing 26 pounds while in a detention. He never should have been in there in the first place.
But that is an acceptable by-product to the -- to the administration that is insisting upon these cruel and incompetent policies.
VOSSOUGHIAN: While I both have you here, I go to ask you this question. House Democrats as you well now know now saying they`re going to start an impeachment investigation, not an impeachment inquiry. Your own colleague Senator Ed Markey I believe yesterday stood on the Senate floor and said we need to start in the impeachment inquiry. Senator Hirono, I`ll start with you on this. What are your thoughts? Is it time?
HIRONO: I called for -- I called for the Senate -- for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry the day that Robert Mueller gave his press conference making it very clear that the Russians had interfered with our elections big time to that but for the Office of Legal Counsels admonition, I think that they would have made a decision regarding indicting or charging or sitting president. And so you know, I call for an infinite impeachment inquiry about three months ago I think.
KAINE: I`m not -- I`m not surprised that more in the House are reaching the conclusion after Mueller`s testimony. The testimony I think was pretty clear that look, we were blocked from recommending an obstruction of justice charge by an OLC document.
And Mueller has said when the normal legal process is blocked dealing with the president, the only remedy is a congressional remedy. And if you give conduct like this a free pass, then you`ve essentially said that there`s no standard.
The House was going to do what they`re going to do and Mazie and I are in the Senate. The Senate becomes a juror in something like this and we would take it up if it came to us. But the Mueller testimony elaborating on the report demonstrates that there have been a whole series of breaches of the behavior that we would expect from the office in the most serious ways.
VOSSOUGHIAN: All right, Senators Tim Kaine and Mazie Hirono, thank you both. I appreciate it. And Democrats think they have checkmate on some secret taxes and it all goes back to Richard Nixon. That`s next.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Welcome back. In the fight over Donald Trump`s tax returns, Democrats say they just pulled an ace out of their sleeve. Watergate-era documents they say demolish claims that their demand for Trump`s taxes is "unprecedented."
This week House Democrats releasing letters from 1973 showing the IRS handed over Richard Nixon`s tax information on the very same day that House Democrats asked for them. You can see one letter here, the IRS Commissioner telling Democrats they are receiving "true copies of the original joint federal income tax returns filed by Richard M. and Patricia R. Nixon."
Not only that. The 1973 request cited the same law that Democrats are relying on today, that 1924 law requiring the Treasury Department to furnish tax documents. Democrats say all this refutes Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who called their demand for Trump`s taxes an unprecedented request and who said he has never even heard of such a request.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, UNITED STATES: We will follow the law. I would expect that we would -- I`m not aware of there`s ever been a request for an elected officials tax return but we will follow the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VOSSOUGHIAN: All right, joining me now Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist David Cay Johnston who`s been digging into Trump`s finances for years. His book about the Trump White House is called It Is Even Worse Than It Looks. Thank you so much for joining us on this. How relevant is this Nixon era precedent to getting Trump`s taxes?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, it`s totally relevant, Yasmin. And in the night -- in the year since 1924, there is not a single known case of the IRS not turning over a tax return on request. In fact, Congress has at least three employees who work out of the IRS just to examine tax returns every day.
And by the way, President Trump has the same authority as the House Ways and Means Committee to see anybody`s tax return on written requests. What`s kind of appalling here is that the Treasury Secretary says he`s unaware of something he should know about and that if he`d simply asked his staff, they would have told him immediately that his state -- what the statement he actually made is nonsense.
VOSSOUGHIAN: So David, what is the difference here then? Why can they not furnish the President`s taxes when asking for them from the IRS? And what do you see as the main difference here between the current President and then Nixon?
JOHNSTON: Well, the fundamental difference here is that Richard Nixon at the end of the day, a former naval officer in World War II was a patriot who resigned when he realized that he, in fact, had committed crimes, including by the way tax crimes.
Donald Trump is a lawless man. He is the third generation head of a white- collar crime family. And when it comes to our constitution, he has this belief, as he said just this week, that as president he is empowered to do anything, which is not at all what our Constitution says.
Donald is a dictator in waiting, and in case is a good example of his belief that he should simply rule, not administer, but rule the country forever.
VOSSOUGHIAN: So what about starting now at the state level? Why not using New York State`s new tax laws to acquire the President`s at least state taxes while they`re still going after the federal taxes?
JOHNSTON: Well, as a matter of legal strategy, accepting the New York state version of his tax returns, which they could also get on the governor and other elected officials might undercut with some judges -- the argument that they want to see his federal tax returns, which are going to be very similar, but not identical.
So they want to make sure this law, Section 6103 of the tax code is enforced, just as it has been since 1924.
VOSSOUGHIAN: All right, David Cay Johnston, thank you. Have a good weekend, David. Ahead, one more thing about Donald Trump and French wine. I`ll explain, next.
VOSSOUGHIAN: Welcome back. We have some breaking news. Just moments ago, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of President Trump on his border wall. The court ruling that the Trump administration can use $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds for the wall. This overturns a lower court ruling. Trump on Twitter calling it "a major victory."
And one programing note tonight. MSNBC is launching a new documentary series "AMERICAN SWAMP." Jacob Soboroff and Katie Tur reporting on the murky underbelly of U.S. politics. "AMERICAN SWAMP." debuting this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. It is going to be awesome and those are two good friends of mine.
Also, one final thing before we go tonight. It is an alert to all wine lovers out there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to slap tariffs on French wine?
TRUMP: I might. I might. So the French put on a tax on our companies. You know that. And wrong, wrong thing to do. They should not have done it. So I may do that. I`ve always liked American wines better than French wines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VOSSOUGHIAN: So if you enjoy some French wine, my friends, cheers, because you may not be able to get it anymore unless you pay a lot of money for it. So with that -- did that work -- have a great weekend, everybody. You can catch me on mornings at "FIRST LOOK" at 5:00 a.m. Eastern. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END