Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 22, 2016 Guest: John Lewis, Katherine Clark, Cory Booker
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: Although I doubt they are listening to me because they are there on the House floor and they are fired up. They`re going to be there all night. We`re going to see what happens next.
Josh Barro, Sabrina Siddiqui, thank you so much.
That is "ALL IN". We will be following the developments all night.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now, picking up our coverage.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: My latest proud moment in I am proud to work with Chris Hayes is when you just ripped off an angry, top-of-your-head, completely accurate detailed summery of the fiduciary rule of a way of explaining what was going to happen next this fight.
You are a special kind of cat, Chris Hayes.
HAYES: Thank you, Rachel Maddow.
MADDOW: Well done.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour on what has turned out to be a pretty dramatic day in the news. Congressman John Lewis is going to be joining us live in a moment. He`s the one who kicked off who has been a day long historically unprecedented sit in on the floor of the House today. We`re also expecting a live hit with Senator Cory Booker who crossed from one side of the Capitol over to the other today to go join these members of the House in what they`re doing tonight, which is going and as I said, unprecedented.
We are also I should expecting a very late night of televised live political coverage here at MSNBC tonight as this dramatic event in Washington which started before noon today as it continues through night, possibly into the early hours of tomorrow. One member of Congress today when asked directly how long she was prepared to continue this sit in, she responded by saying she was prepared to be there until hell freezes over. We`ve got the thermostat with a video camera on it in hell to tell you if that happens and that would send the Democrats home.
Even as things have gone nuts in this particular way in Washington today, I do think at times like this as we keep an eye on what`s going on there whether the Republicans are about to storm the House floor and whether or not there`s going to be a physical space altercation between the House Democrats and the House Republicans which House Republicans are threatening to do over the course of this hour -- I mean, this is really nuts and we don`t know what`s going to happen over the course of this hour and we will keep cameras on as best we can as we continue to monitor what is essentially illegal streaming live video off the floor of the House.
But when crazy moments like this happen in Congress, I think it is fair to remember that things do sometimes go crazy in Washington. It`s not like really strange things never happen in Congress.
Por ejemplo, it was a hot summer day, a Friday in July in 2003 in the summer of 2003 was a time when Washington was really on edge. The war in Iraq had started that spring, President Obama had already declared "mission accomplished". It was clear that the war was grinding on and would continue to do so indefinitely. At the same time that summer, the whole rationale for the war, this idea that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that rational was publicly unraveling.
That was all happening that hot tense summer in Washington, D.C., 2003. At the time, Republicans were in control not only of the White House. They were also in control of the Senate ad they were in control of the House.
So that was the stage on that hot July day and that Friday in July in 2003, things really did go nuts. Even in a way more nuts than they did today. When it happened in 2003, it started with a fight off a pension bill of all things. Republicans were trying to pass something. Democrats were trying to slow it down. When what otherwise might have been a standard partisan dispute basically went completely off the rails.
Democrats decided in the midst of this argument they were having that they were going to leave one of their Democratic members in the committee room with all the Republicans while the rest of the Democrats retreated to another room in the capitol to work out their strategy. Now, unfortunately, or I guess fortunately, depending on your disposition, the one guy who Democrats decided to leave behind to hold the fort against all the rest of the Republicans was a famously, pugnacious, Democratic loose cannon named Pete Stark.
And Pete Stark decided he was not going to just take up space and prevent the Republicans from doing something by unanimous consent, by him objecting he was not going to delay things politely until the rest of the Democrats could get back in the room, no Pete Stark decided if he was going to be the one Democrat in the room with those Republicans, he was going to fight with all of those Republicans, almost literally.
After one Republican congressman, that hot July Friday, 2003, one Republican congressman told Pete Stark that he should shut up and thereafter transcripts from the time show Congressman Pete Stark saying to that Republican congressman in response, quote, "You think you`re big enough to make me you little wimp. Come on. Come over here and make me. I dare you, you little fruit cake."
And then he says it again, the transcript, "You little fruit cake. I said you are a fruit cake."
Now, depending on your view of the word fruit cake, depending on how you like politics that was awesome a confrontation or a terrible confrontation. Some liberals at the time started a campaign to double down on Pete Stark`s fruit cake threat. They started a mini campaign to send actual fruit cakes through the mail to Republican chairman of the committee. And for people who did not want to shell out money, they started faxing pictures of fruit cakes to all the chairmen`s various offices.
The idea was that the fruit cakes arriving in his mail and the fruit cakes appearing on his fax machine would drive the committee chairman to distraction. They just thought that would get under his skin, it would rattle the guy, because that guy had shown weakness.
He had proven he could be rattled, because instead of rising to the occasion and being the adult in the room when members of the committee started telling each other to shut up, and threatening basically to beat each other up in the committee room, what that chairman decided to do in July 2003 after the :fruit cake, fruit cake, you`re a fruit cake, shut up, come here, you little wimp, make me," after that whole confrontation, what the chairman decided was not only that he had had enough, but he decided he had a novel idea for solving this problem in his committee. He called the cops.
I think he actually called 911 or had a staffer call 911 from Congress and they basically told the dispatcher at the police department, hey, would you say some armed police officers into the U.S. Capitol to move these Democrats members of my committee out of this room that they`re holed in that I don`t want them in there anymore.
And the Metropolitan police were like, oh, no, don`t drag us into this, that`s not what we do. They in turn called the House sergeant at arms to see if the sergeant at arms would handle it. The sergeant at arms reportedly went over, checked it out and basically told the committee chairman that he and his committee members needed to stop being big babies, they needed to work this out themselves. This was not a law enforcement issue for cops, this was a political issue, leave the cops out of it.
Now, to his credit, that hair trigger committee chairman who called the cops later took to the floor of the House and said with a lot of contrition that he had been very wrong to call the cops. He said his decision to call the police in on other members of Congress he said it was, quote, "plain stupid."
He didn`t exactly apologize but Congressman Bill Thomas, he did cry through his whole contrite statement on the floor of the House and it was a very humble statement and when he was done he got a big, big, big bipartisan standing ovation in the House for him having been so contrite about what he did which was in fact to call the cops on other members of the Congress. Things sometimes do go nuts.
Another hot summer day in 2008 in the heat of the presidential campaign that year when it was drill baby drill time in the Republican Party, House Republicans for several days that July 2008, they all trooped down to the floor of the House to give a whole bunch of speeches on drilling. There were no cameras on, the microphones were turned off, even the lights were off for most of it, but they gave all these speeches anyway begging to drill, baby, drill, drill the Arctic.
Nancy Pelosi was in charge of the House at that point. She was speaker when the Democrats held the majority. Pelosi kept the House in recess through all of those Republican speeches on drilling while the Republican members of Congress kept taking the floor in the dark basically just talking themselves out.
Four years later, 2012, Nancy Pelosi was no longer speaker. She was the minority leader by that point, and she led a walk out, a dramatic walk out down the steps of the Capitol by House Democrats. That was when Republicans were deciding to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
So, Congress doesn`t always follow regular order. You have walk outs. You have refusing to acknowledge the House is in recess. You have making people giving speeches with no microphones and keeping the lights off. You even at least have one example in modern times of Republican members of Congress calling the cops on Democratic members of Congress not to mention the "shut up, shut up, fruit cake, make me shut up" fights.
Things sometimes get nuts in Washington, especially in summer, I think, especially in the post-1990s congressional era we`re still in where the House mostly does nothing and the minority party in the House really never is allowed do anything at all. Because of that pent up frustrations sometimes lead to a real break with regular order. There are sometimes moments when the House goes crazy, and all normal functioning of our Congress breaks down.
But those moments are rare. They really do only happen every few years and even when they do happen it has never before in the history of our Congress been anything like what we have been watching unfold on day today and into tonight. It was about 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time when legendary civil rights activist and Georgia Congressman John Lewis took to the floor, invited all his colleagues to come stand on the House floor alongside him.
He gave a short, intense, emotional speech about gun violence and Congress not responding to it in any meaningful way. He demanded that the House vote on the narrowly targeted gun reforms that have 90 percent support among the American people. They want to vote on the same things that the Senate demanded on vote on last week with that 15-hour filibuster.
John Lewis gave the short, impassioned, emotional speech and then unexpected he said he would not leave the floor of the House until those votes happened. And then he and the Democratic members of the House who stood there with him, they did something that nobody`s ever seen before. They sat down in the well of the House.
There has never been a sit in on the floor of the House, never before today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: The time for silence and patience is long gone. We`re calling on the leadership of the House to bring common sense gun control legislation to the House floor. Give us a vote. Let us vote. We came here to do our job. We came here to work.
REP. MARCIA FUDGE (D), OHIO: I need to ask the Republicans what do they really stand for? We stand for a moment of silence. I want you to know probably most of you don`t know, I`m in a very small club in this House. I`ve lost a family member to gun violence. My only brother. My only sibling died at the hands of a gun.
I want to know whether you stand for him because they didn`t. A 5-year-old killed in my neighborhood sitting on his mother`s lap, why didn`t they stand for him? A 5-year-old boy playing in his backyard, shot down playing football, why didn`t they stand for him?
I want to know what do they stand for? Do they stand for Trayvon Martin? No. Did they stand for Jordan Davis? No. Did they stand for (INAUDIBLE)? No. Did they stand for Michael Gardner or Tamir Rice? No, they didn`t. What do they stand for?
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: If we stay here today, tonight, tomorrow, whenever it is, and we demand a vote those cowards are allowed to vote and show where they are. (INAUDIBLE) walk in the back of the room. We`ve said there aren`t any Republicans on the floor. There are Republicans on the floor. They`re hovering in the back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on out.
REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Speaker Ryan, wherever you may be, whether you`re hiding in your office or doing interviews on camera right now, do your job. Remember this, you are the speaker of the House, not the speaker of the NRA. You are the speaker of the entire House, Republicans and Democrats alike. It is time that you do your job and let us have our vote.
REP. WILLIAM KEATING (D), MASSACHUSETTS: America is sending out a 911 to the only first responders that they have. That`s us. That`s Congress. There`s no one else to answer that call. That`s our job. That`s our duty.
Speaker Ryan, answer the call.
REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: Mike Thompson handed me this news flash that NRA radio show has put out. Here`s the news. The NRA radio show compares participates and Representative John Lewis`s gun violence sit in to criminals and terrorists. Does that firm up your determination to stand on this floor?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
LARSON: For a body that has held hostage, a group of individuals that won`t even allow us to vote, so call John Lewis a terrorist because he`s getting in the way. All we`re asking for is a vote. If that`s a terrorist action, then I guess we`re all terrorists.
LEWIS: Sometimes you have do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way. We have been too quiet for too long. There comes a time when you have to say something, when you have to make a little noise.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right.
LEWIS: You have to move your feet. This is the time. Now is the time to get in the way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LEWIS: The time to act is now. We will be silent no more. The time for silence is over. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: The impetus for today`s dramatic action is gun violence and the fact that after the worst gun massacre in the history of our country there are no votes to respond to that massacre or the broader problem of mass shootings. That`s the broader impetus, obviously.
The specific impetus, though, appears to have come from two members of Congress who you will be able to remember as a pair because conveniently, they are Lewis and Clark.
Katherine Clark is a Democratic congresswoman from Massachusetts. She decided the House had to do something, after Orlando, even though Speaker Ryan was apparently planning no legislative action whatsoever.
She did participate last week in the walkout when Democratic Congressman Jim Hines decided not to participate in that regular moment of silence that Congress holds after mass shootings. She felt that she wanted to do something more than that. She contacted Congressman John Lewis from Georgia to try to work with him to come up with some other way they could dramatize the problem to try to force some kind of action.
And together, the two of them apparently hatched this plan. As for how long it`s going to go we don`t know. It`s been almost ten hours. When Nancy Pelosi was asked today by reporters how long the Democrats would continue their sit-in, her answer was, until we get a bill.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters was even more blunt. She took to the floor of the House today and said, she was prepared to continue to sit-in until, quote, "hell freezes over." Well, hell is still apparently hot because the Democrats are still there right now as I speak, and that is all because of this idea and this action started by our next two guests.
Joining us live from the Capitol are Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Georgia Congressman John Lewis.
Thank you both so much for being here tonight. Congratulations on the success of this effort so far.
LEWIS: Thank you so much for having us.
REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Congressman Lewis, let me start with you.
I know what you`ve said today about what your aim is here and what moved you to do this. What specifically do you want in order to consider this action successful? What would trigger an honorable reasonable successful end to this as far as you`re concerned?
LEWIS: It is my desire and the desire of my colleagues and all of us on the Democratic side for the speaker and the leadership of the Republicans to bring a bill. Bring a bill to the floor and give us a vote. Let us vote.
Vote for the American people. Vote for the little children. Vote for our mothers and our fathers, our sisters and brothers. Vote for the people who died, who were hurt in Orlando.
That`s all we`re asking for. Nothing more, nothing less.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Clark, I understand that part of the reason this happened today is that you felt frustrated after Orlando that Congress wasn`t doing enough, that you contacted Congressman Lewis and the two of you came up with this plan together. Is that an accurate depiction of what happened and where did you, how did you come up with this tactic specifically?
CLARK: Specifically, it came from Congressman Lewis who when I approached him on the floor to say how much I wanted to end the silence in Congress, that I couldn`t take any more moments of silence that weren`t followed by action on behalf of grieving parents and grandparents and the American public, we have do something.
And John Lewis in his way, incredible, generous person that he is, said he wanted to do something dramatic and that he was in. I knew that if we have John Lewis, the icon of the civil rights era, the conscience of Congress to partner with so many others wanted to join immediately and worked over the weekend to plan and pull this together.
So, it may have been a conversation that I started with Mr. Lewis but this is really on behalf of the caucus for the American people.
MADDOW: Congresswoman, when we talk about that planning over the weekend, let me ask you about one specific part of this. Part of the drama today was when the C-Span cameras turned over because the Republicans gaveled the House into recess. C-Span doesn`t control the cameras. Those cameras are on when the House majority, the Republicans want them to be on.
In terms of your planning, did you know that was going to happen? Did you have a plan to work around in terms of members of Congress streaming video from the floor and sending out pictures from the floor? Was that an improvised tactic when this happened and it was a surprise to you?
CLARK: We thought it would happen, but the fortunately we have some very tech savvy members of Congress who were able to put it on Periscope and allow C-Span to film that but we have been filming and taking pictures on the floor to try and capture this moment for the American people because we had hoped they would leave the microphones on, but they didn`t. And we needed to be able to have the American people understand that all we`re asking for is a vote on two very common sense measures.
MADDOW: Congressman Lewis, you are frequently described as a civil rights icon, including by your colleague there with you tonight. I know from your history you`re an expert tactician in terms of civil rights and civil disobedience.
How long should this go on? How long are you prepared to go, sir? And how do -- how do you see it ending if congressman -- Speaker Paul Ryan decides not to allow a vote?
LEWIS: Well, we are prepared. We are prepared to stay here as long as it takes. We are saying, no vote, no break, that if we cannot have a vote, then we shouldn`t break within we should just stay here.
I`ve said to some of my colleagues that we`re anchored. We shall not be moved like a tree planted by the rivers of waters. I remember during the sit ins of the 1960s when someone would ask, John who should we do, I said we must find a way to dramatize the issue, make it real, make it plain, make it simple so we can educate and inspire the American people.
MADDOW: Congressman Lewis, let me ask you one last point about what we`re anticipating this hour. Republican members of Congress have suggested that they are going to physically arrive in the chamber sometime this hour, they`re going to try to move House business forward on an unrelated piece of legislation, they`re talking about basically a physical confrontation between members, they`re not talking about violence but they`re talking about stepping over members of the Democratic caucus who are occupying that floor and sitting in.
What are you anticipating there and have you talked among your members about how to respond if there is some uncomfortable physical proximity there.
LEWIS: We believe in the way of peace and love and a way of nonviolence. We will respect the dignity and the worth of our colleagues but we shall not be moved.
MADDOW: Congressman John Clark, Congresswoman -- excuse me, Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Katherine Clark, forgive me I have been trying to give you guys the next Lewis and Clark that you deserve because of your work in finding this particular path tonight.
Good luck tonight. Let us know how things go. Keep us apprised. Thank you.
CLARK: Thank you.
LEWIS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead as this dramatic situation continues in the House including what we are anticipating to be the arrival of the Republican members of the House in some numbers over the course of this next hour.
We`re going to have Senator Cory Booker here live as this historic sit-in continues into the night.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Democratic members of Congress continue their unexpected sit in inside the U.S. Capitol tonight. Look at what`s happening outside the U.S. Capitol.
What you see here is what appears to be a spontaneous gathering of people outside the Capitol in support of what Democrats are doing inside it. We took these images within the last hour. It`s twilight there in D.C. People present are chanting "no break, no bill" on and off. That`s what our reporters say. "No break, no bill" is, of course, what congressional Democrats have been saying for over nine hours and counting tonight during the sit-in on the House floor.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is among the lawmakers who have skipped outside from time to time to address the crowd of supporting protesters there. It`s unclear exactly how many people gathered outside the capital tonight. Some reports indicate we were talking about hundreds but not only the protests inside but the protests outside is till going on at the U.S. capital right now as we speak into the night tonight.
Much more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Do not adjust your set. I know that these pictures are fuzzy. They`ve been fuzzy all day. We`ve been watching this sort of low-fi, illegal, pirated video stream out of Congress all day today. But this is the current live feed from the United States Congress, from the floor of the House.
Democrats have been holding the House floor in some cases by sitting on literally the floor of it since just before noon today. They are rounding hour 9. C-Span cameras only operate in the House when the House majority wants them to be operating and the House is in session which means we`ve been looking at footage like this all day because the broadcast that we`re able to get from the floor of the House is basically Facebook live and Twitter video and Periscope video. It`s all streaming video and photo sent by members themselves.
Now, the rules of the House say that members of Congress aren`t supposed to do that. They are not supposed to transmit video from the floor of the House, but members of Congress have been breaking that rule all day and at times C-Span has been taking Periscope video as basically their pirated feed from the floor of the House since the official cameras are turned off.
But House Democrats are demanding a vote on keeping suspected terrorists from buying guns. They`re demanding a vote on expanding background checks. Those are both wildly popular policies among the American people. Support for those both of those measures up well over 80 percent, in some cases, over 90 percent, large scale majority support for both measures among Democrats and independents and Republicans and gun owners.
So far, House Republicans are showing no sign they`re going to it allow that sort of vote. In fact, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the House leadership seem to be indicating they plan on essentially storming the floor which the Democrats are occupying in order to do other House business on totally unrelated matters on issues not at all related to gun rights. If, in fact, the House Republicans get there today, they will find a large number of House Democrats and even Senates Democrats occupying that space, there`s no word yet how the two camps will negotiate that physical space if, in fact, House Republicans get in there and try to take over.
It`s a weird day. We do not get many days like this in our national politics. I mean, one of the ways you could tell this day was different was when Democratic senators kept leaving their side of the capital and taking the long trek all the way across to the other side of the Capitol to help the House colleagues to take part in this sit in.
One of the first senators who did that today was Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey. He`s going to join us live from the Capitol shortly.
Stay right there.
MADDOW: We continue to watch the ongoing drama at the U.S. capital tonight as Democrats have taken over the floor of the House in an unprecedented sit in to try to force votes on gun reforms. We`ll keep sharp eye on those proceedings as they continue into the late evening and perhaps overnight tonight.
While that`s underway, today has been a really interesting day in presidential politics. The art of reading well from a teleprompter is not a primary responsibility of the president of the United States, but by necessity in these modern times, it is something that presidents have to do a lot.
And with that in mind, deep breath, everybody, this could be your next four years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our country is going to start working again, jobs, people are going to start working again. Parents are going to start dreaming big for their children again, including parents in our inner cities.
Americans, Americans, the people that we love, Americans. America first. Make our country great again.
Americans are going to start believing in the future of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump today in his highly anticipated speech which was delayed after the Orlando massacre. This was the speech his campaign promoted as essentially his definitive case against Hillary Clinton.
The Clinton campaign today responded with a point-by-point rebuttal of Trump`s speech, and also with a dueling address by Hillary Clinton in which she laid out her economic plan before a big and enthusiastic crowd. And she, of course, continued to criticize Donald Trump as unfit for office.
So, this is going to be like now, for a few months, right? Trump versus Clinton, Clinton versus Trump, rinse repeat, rinse repeat, rinse repeat, just ad lib your bumper sticker slogans over and over again when you lose your place in your speech and you can`t figure out what to say next.
On the Democratic side, though, there are two things going on outside the immediate Clinton versus Trump comeback that are raising a lot of expectations and a lot of interest, and both of them came to a head to came to a head today and you should know about them. The first is about Bernie Sanders, Secretary Clinton`s primary opponent.
He is still technically in the race. Senator Sanders campaign today announced he`ll be giving a speech at town hall in New York tomorrow which is a great venue. It`s the venue you pick when you want to give a big speech that`s going to be remembered for a long time.
That late announcement about the speech tomorrow in New York City, it led to speculation that maybe that speech tomorrow in New York City would be Bernie Sanders` concession speech. That said his campaign spokesman emphatically waved off that possibility to MSNBC today. The campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told Danny Freeman today from MSNBC that Bernie Sanders will not concede in that speech tomorrow night at town hall in New York.
That said in an interview on C-Span today, Senator Sanders did get pretty close to conceding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: Have you begun to prepare your speech for the convention? Will you speak at the convention?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s hard to say. It doesn`t appear I`m going to be the nominee, so I`m not going to be determining the scope of the convention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bernie Sanders saying for the first time, "it doesn`t appear I`m going to be the nominee." So there`s that.
The other Democratic issue that`s sort of madly fizzing in presidential politics today is the question of Hillary Clinton`s potential running mate. As I say those words, the reason we are showing images of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is because multiple sources have now confirmed that Elizabeth Warren is being vetted by Secretary Clinton`s campaign.
She`s not just being considered. She`s being vetted. We know that because there are confirmed reports from Democratic sources that Senator Warren met at her home in Washington, D.C. with the lawyer who is leading the vetting process for the Clinton vice presidential selection.
Today, Senator Warren took a high profile role, sitting in with House members in their day long and now night long protest over gun rights while the Clinton campaign simultaneously put out this announcement today that Clinton and Warren will be appearing together in Cincinnati on Monday for their first joint appearance since Senator Warren endorsed Secretary Clinton.
Now, Clinton and Warren campaigning together, talking about sharing their shared vision for the country, that doesn`t necessarily mean that Hillary Clinton is picking Elizabeth Warren for her vice president. It doesn`t mean she`s already picked Elizabeth Warren for her vice president and this is the roll out. But it does mean that Hillary Clinton is undoubtedly and knowingly raising expectations that she is going to pick Elizabeth Warren.
And raising those expectations, that itself has real political consequences. So, we don`t know yet but, hmm, watch this space.
MADDOW: The biggest domestic politics story right now is, of course, this dramatic and unexpected takeover of the House by congressional Democrats. They`re demanding a vote in the House on two widely popular gun reforms. House members have been sitting in in the House of Representatives since before noon today. There`s no sign yet of when this will end. We don`t know if it will end any time tonight or if will go on through the evening and into tomorrow.
Now, this didn`t exactly come out of nowhere. We know that Democrats have frustrations on gun reform that have been building for months and years now, but even though we know that bigger context, we really did not know they were going to do this today and into tonight. So, the surprise of this tactic, the dramatic and unprecedented nature of this tactic, the fact that we have no idea how this is going to end, that makes this the biggest domestic politics story in the country right now by a mile.
The biggest international politics story in the world right now by a mile is the vote that`s going to happen tomorrow in the U.K. Tomorrow, the U.K. is going to vote on whether or not Britain is leaving the European Union. Today was the last furious day of campaigning by both sides before tomorrow`s big vote.
Now, in terms of the logistics, considering the time difference between us and the U.K., polls open across the U.K. at 7:00 a.m. local time tomorrow. That`s 2:00 a.m. on the East Coast tonight. In a few hours polls open in that vote. The polls will close 15 hours after they open so that`s 10:00 p.m. local time tomorrow night in the U.K. That means polls will close 5:00 p.m. Eastern here tomorrow afternoon.
The turnout is expected to be really, really high. Turnout on this vote is expected to be something like 80 percent, which is extraordinary. The vote is also expected to be close. Suspense is going to be high not only because of the stakes of this vote, but also because there`s no exit polling at all.
The first results will be real data. They won`t be projections. They`re not expected until late tomorrow night, our local time here on the east coast. Final results will likely not be announced until 2:00 a.m. East Coast Time Friday morning maybe.
As I say, the polls and the run-up to tomorrow`s vote have been extremely, extremely tight with very little to split, the leave camp and the remain camp. Then, again, as we saw two years ago when the U.K. had their big vote on whether Scotland should be an independent country, those polls were spectacularly wrong.
So, these results are going to be hugely to the U.K., to the European Union, frankly to the world and its financial markets, in an immediate sense. But there`s true suspense about what`s going to happen with this British vote.
So, stay with MSNBC during the day tomorrow and into the night tomorrow night as results of this historic vote start coming in.
Stay with us right now for more on what`s going on with this dramatic scene in the U.S. capital. Much more ahead tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Just a few minutes ago, Congressman John Lewis told us live here on this program that he and his colleagues have no plans to end their unprecedented sit in on the floor of the U.S. House, which is over ten hours long now and counting. I kept asking Congressman Lewis how does this end, can you envision getting what you want so that it ends, how will you end it if you don`t get what you want? He really says they`re not planning on ending it. And so, we really don`t know how long they`re going to go.
There`s one logistical thing to keep in mind here about this, this is not a filibuster, the way you would see in the United States Senate. There`s no agreed upon parliamentary way to hold the floor in the U.S. House. That`s why we keep saying nothing like this has ever happened before.
There`s never been a sit-in on the floor the House before. There`s never been an effort to occupy the floor of the House in an ongoing way to do your own business instead of the letting the House and majority do their business.
Well, that means in the House there aren`t any existing rules to follow about how long you have to stand or whether you`re allowed to step off the floor, or whether you`re allowed to for example use the bathroom, which ends up being the human factor that limits the length of filibusters.
There are no rules about stuff like that and House Democrats are doing this in a group, which means House Democrats can as far as we know keep this up for as long as they want, for as long as they can physically keep people, some number of Democrats on the floor of the House. They say they`re staying for the long run.
If they do stay for the long run, that does mean they`re going to need something to eat. For that they got some help from Senator Elizabeth Warren today. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SANDER LEVIN: John, we`ve been joined by a number of senators.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I just brought Dunkin Donuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I know it sounds like a political point, but in this case, it`s just a fact -- Senator Elizabeth Warren delivers donuts.
Still ahead tonight, we will be joined by another senator who spent a long time on the House floor today and into tonight. Cory Booker joins us in just a moment. Quick break and I`m going right back.
MADDOW: OK, something appears to be shifting at the Capitol. As you know, House Democrats started sitting in just before noon time, around 11:30 a.m. Eastern tonight, they have been occupying the House floor ever since. They are demanding votes on two very popular gun reform measures. They want a vote on expanding background checks and they want a vote on people on the no fly list being excluded from the right to by a firearm in this country.
We`ve been watching that all day. We had no idea how this was going to end. There`s no filibuster rules in the House. There`s never been a sit- in on the floor of the House by sitting members of Congress before. And in fact, we don`t know what it would take for the House Democrats to end this on their own terms.
What they`ve said is they want to vote on those measures. We`ve not heard from House majority, we`ve not heard from Speaker Paul Ryan that he will allow a vote on these measures they want voted on.
So, how does this end?
Well, one of the things we`ve been watching is noise from the Republican side, indications from the Republican side that Republican members were going to enter the House, that they were going to enter the House sometime this evening and start other House business on matters unrelated to gun reform. When that happens, if and when that happens, what you`ll see is the video feed from the House will be less fuzzy because it will no longer be a pirated video stream sent from the floor of the House by members of the Congress basically illegally streaming video that we`re picking up and C-Span is picking up and others.
At that point, if the Republicans do gavel the House back into session, the real C-Span cameras will be turned back on and we`ll have a clear picture. We`ve been watching all night to see if this is, in fact, going to happen. They have sounded the buzzers in the capital to indicate the House is about to come back in session so we`re expecting to see Republicans walking into this scene on the House floor any moment.
One of the Democratic senators who has been helping out, who has been sitting in with these House Democrats today is Cory Booker, Democratic senator of New Jersey. Senator Booker joins us now live from the Capitol.
Senator Booker, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being with us.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you for having me on, Rachel.
MADDOW: How has it been for you today participating in this? Obviously, you`re a visitor on the House floor, but you`ve been supporting your House colleagues. How has it been? And what do you think has been achieved if anything?
BOOKER: It`s been extraordinarily inspiring. I mean, you have a bunch of House members who have basically said this is not going to be business as usual. A moment of silence is not enough for the greatest mass shooting in the history of the United States, and to see them take this action, which is not only good in the context of just the House, but what it really does is it inspires and informs more people in our nation to engage and begin to put pressure like they did in the Senate on House Republicans to move and try to do something in a compromised fashion with Democrats to make this a safer nation.
MADDOW: Senator, there`s been a lot of anticipation and I think even some worry about what we think is about to happen presently on the floor of the House, which is that we`re expecting Republican members of the House to basically wade into this scene, into this physical space that`s been occupied by Democrats all day, in order to conduct business unrelated to gun reform, in order to essentially try to end this. What do you anticipate is going to happen there? What are your expectations?
BOOKER: Well, this is unprecedented. I literally ran back so I`m sweating now to be here. Paul Ryan just walked past behind me.
I know something is about to go down on the floor but I sat over an hour with my House colleagues, was one of those people streaming video and they were resolute, they will not be moved. So, this is going to be an interest moment in the history of the House where you have Democrats in an act of civil disobedience occupying the House led by one of the most esteemed member, right or left, in this country, this in elected office. Nobody has more moral authority than John Lewis does.
So, it`s going to be interesting to see how Paul Ryan handles this. My prayer is what you see happening in the Senate now, that despite pressure from the NRA, you have Senate Republicans break with the NRA and try to find common ground to move this forward. I`m hoping that happens in the House as well, so that we can do something. It probably won`t be enough to satisfy many of us, but at least it will be a step in the right direction about protecting ourselves from these gaping loopholes that criminals, terrorists, spousal abusers can exploit to get their hands on weapons.
MADDOW: Senator, I know enough about your past and how you got to where you are because we`ve known each other a long time, that you`re a student of social activism, social movements and how social justice gets achieved, by hook or by crook. In that context, I have to ask you about the fact there is about to be a confrontation. There is about to be literally a confrontation of these two sides in that space.
Do you have any advice or any specific thought in terms of how to make that as constructive and civil and I guess noble as possible?
BOOKER: Well, when you have somebody like John Lewis on the floor and I had chills because I do remember the history that we share where John Lewis in an act with many other hundreds of people stood on the bridge and despite tear gas and billy clubs and violence where he bled the soil red. I think it`s being led by a moral leader like John Lewis, I have no fear.
And the truth is, we tend to demonize each other on both sides of the political aisle, I have a lot of faith, having gotten to know intimately a lot of my Republican colleagues on the Senate side, they are good folks, they don`t want a physical confrontation in the House or the Senate, I have no fear of that happening.
But I do wonder, I have a big question mark in this unprecedented act by Democrats, and a really bind that Paul Ryan in. I do not know how this gets resolved in this moment right now and as soon as I leave you I`m going to that floor to bear witness to what will be a historic moment.
MADDOW: We saw on your side of the capital when Chris Murphy took the lead in that 15-hour filibuster just days ago, that did force a vote in the Senate. Mitch McConnell was willing to essentially cave to those demands. And when you helped, lots of other senators helped Chris Murphy hold that floor for so long, the Senate did vote, but the Senate voted no, not only on the Democratic gun reform measures that were so popular, supported by such a large proportion of the public, but also on the Republican sort of substitute measures on those same topics.
Does that feel like it was still in advance? I mean, you got the vote but the vote was no. Did that just sort of satisfy the status quo or did you get somewhere with that?
BOOKER: No. You and I both know in the history of this country, with big movements, a finite defeat is not the final defeat. And what happened on the Senate side I know is that thousands tens of thousands of Americans were calling their legislators, their senator and both sides were feeling that pressure.
So, after that defeat, it wasn`t over. You had Republican senators like Susan Collins being willing for the first time, you see a lot of folks willing to buck the NRA and work with Democrats to find some type of common ground to move the ball forward.
So, I don`t see it as a defeat at all. I think this was an important progression. Chris Murphy and others leading a filibuster, activating people who really are living that tired saying of Washington that change does not come from Washington, it comes to Washington, lots of people brought their sentiment there, their passion, Republicans and Democrats, gun owners and non-gun owners saying, how can we be willing to sell arms to the enemy with people who are terrorist suspects being able to easily buy weapons.
So, I`m proud of what we`re seeing right now. We`re seeing movement happen. Last I heard was between five and ten Republican senators who were willing to go against the NRA and support Susan Collins bipartisan effort. So, we`re making progress.
It`s not what I want to see with universal background checks to really stop terrorists from, maybe you might close off one loophole, but they can still go to backdoor, but progress is being made. The real thing right now and I think the House is saying this, is we need more people to let their voices be heard.
As has been said in history, the only thing necessary for evil to be triumphant is for good people to do nothing. We need to put more pressure on congressional actors, to do something about this, or else unfortunately with the regularity of bloodshed in this country, with the regularity of murder after murder, day after day, and with every two months or so, there being a mass shooting, we must -- we must do something now to prevent the kind of routine bloodshed that is seen nowhere else on the planet earth except here in the United States of America, with criminals and terrorists and so easily get their hands on guns.
MADDOW: New Jersey Senator Cory Booker joining us live from the Capitol.
Two requests for you, Senator, number one is, stay in touch with us as this continues over the course of the evening. And number two is please hydrate.
BOOKER: Yes, thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thanks, Cory. It`s nice to see you.
BOOKER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Our coverage of this dramatic scene in the House continues throughout the night.
Lawrence O`Donnell picks our coverage now.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END