Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: February 10, 2017 Guest: Adam Schiff, Kevin De Leon
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for joining us tonight. Happy Friday. Nice to have you with us.
Look at this awesome picture from 1968. I love every single thing about this picture. This is the central middle school band from Oroville, California. This is the majorettes part of the band and they are marching through downtown Oroville, California, on May 4th, 1968.
This picture is perfect. And this picture is the property of the California Department of Water Resources.
The reason the California department of water resources had a photographer on site taking pictures that day of the majorettes in Oroville is because that day the governor of California and his wife came to Oroville, California, to tour a really big awesome new piece of water infrastructure.
California governor at the time was Ronald Reagan. He and his wife Nancy went to Oroville for the dedication of the brand new Oroville dam. It looks kind of fun as these things go. They got to see all the giant machinery. They got to go inside the dam.
See up there in the white sneakers in the sort of light-colored plaid shirt with the super cute hair cut? That`s Ron, Jr. He got to go along, along with an unnamed friend who was there with them. It looks like they were having a good time. Looks like having a cool visit.
Ronald Reagan gave a speech. It was a hot day. You can see next to him while he was giving the speech, they had the big cooler of water, just in case.
There had been a big parade downtown to welcome to governor and all the dignitaries. They had not just the majorettes from the middle school. They had the high school band, too.
Lots of people showed up to this thing. Look how many people were there. Look at that. Thousands of people turned out for the dedication of the Oroville Dam.
I think we have one picture of the crowd that`s in color as well. Don`t we have a color? Yes, look at that. 1968, who are the ladies in green? What was their role in the dedication?
So, I mean, you look at photos like this, it makes you realize that being a governor, it kind of has its ups and down, right? On the one hand, you get to see some cool stuff. You got to take your family and go on cool behind- the-scenes tours. The local middle school and high school bands will come out to meet you when you do something.
But then there`s the little indignities, right? This, for example, is what they gave Ronald Reagan as his souvenir from that day at the dedication. I know it kind of looks like a snow globe or maybe like a polished piece of granite or something. What that actually is, is a ball of dirt. Specifically, it is dirt from this moment in history.
Ronald Reagan was there in 1968 for the opening ceremony of the Oroville Dam, but this was the moment they ceremonially broke ground on the construction. This was 1957. This was a previous governor of California, Goodwin Knight. Everybody called him Goodie Knight, as in good night. He`s got a shovel full of dirt there. This was 1957 at the groundbreaking.
Somebody at the ground breaking had the foresight to save that exact shovelful of dirt they dumped it into like a bag or an empty fish bowl or something. Saved it for the day the dam would be complete and up and running. I mean, they could have saved a little of it but they saved a lot of it. They saved this giant amount of dirt from that shovelful and then they gave it to Ronald Reagan. They sent Ronald Reagan back to the governor`s mansion that day with a giant jar of a previous governor`s dirt. Thanks for visiting, Mr. Governor. Give it pride of place somewhere.
Like if you moved into a new apartment and the landlord triumphantly handed you the vacuum bag from the old tenant. Here`s the original dirt from the former occupants of these rooms. Congratulations. Pride of place.
But the Oroville Dam, they dedicated in the 1968. It`s a big deal. It`s huge. It is taller than Hoover Dam.
It`s the tallest dam in the United States. It`s 770 feet tall. It was completed in 1968, took them almost a decade to build. And it`s just one of those unimaginably large things that we humans have made.
Again, the dam itself almost 800 feet tall. You can see here the giant reservoir that was created when they built the dam. That`s Lake Oroville. It`s one of the two biggest reservoirs in the state of California.
And that reservoir, Lake Oroville, it`s basically the central thing in the grand plan that made California work as a state with a huge population and big cities and tons of irrigated farmland. This is the centerpiece of the whole system in California that moves water from the northern part of the state the Sierra Nevada down into the Central Valley to irrigate the most productive farmland in the country and further down to the cities and the population centers in southern California. Lake Oroville is massive. It is made possible because the Oroville Dam is massive, tallest dam in the country.
Now, in terms of sort of how it`s situated here, this actually gives you a pretty good view, I think. You see below the dam, that`s the Feather River. The Feather River, big river, flows into -- I think the Sacramento River which ultimately flows into the San Francisco Bay at the end of the day.
And what they do is they can release water from that giant reservoir into the Feather River. They can do in the a few different ways. One of the things they`ve got is a power plant that`s right at the base of the dam, so they release water at great force to fire that hydroelectric power plant. They can also release a little bit of water through tunnels that are at the base of the dam.
They had a drama with that a couple years ago. They were trying to open up the tunnels to let some water through to the Feather River and something went wrong and there was a giant suction failure with the opening and closing of the valves and two workers almost got sucked downstream and they had to hold on to some broken piece of railing they were able to grab on to.
I mean, it`s a good reminder this is like a big piece of infrastructure. This is a lot of water. This is a very, very powerful thing.
But in terms of the way it fits together, there`s a couple ways they can get water from the reservoir to the Feather River below. They can move it through power plant. They can move it through those little tunnels.
But if they really want to move water, out of the reservoir, down into the river, what they do is they use this big gutter. They use this big concrete spillway. Looks kind of like a Luge track or something, right? Like a cross between an onramp and a ski jump.
But it`s a big concrete spillway and it does exactly what it looks like it does. It takes water off the top of the reservoir and can shoot it down that gutter into the Feather River and it`s really big. It`s about a mile long. It`s made of concrete. It is a key part of this huge piece of American infrastructure.
This is what it looks like in normal times when it`s dry, when they`re not using the spillway. This is what it looks like in normal times when it`s on, when they are putting water down that spillway, very dramatic, right?
But on Tuesday afternoon this week, this is what it looks like again, normal times. Tuesday afternoon this week, something went wrong at the Oroville Dam, and instead of the spillway looking like this, like it always does, like it has since Ronnie and Nancy Reagan opened that up in 1968, for the first time ever, this Tuesday, it did not look like that.
Instead it looked like -- oh, wait, that`s not right. That`s not what that`s supposed to look like. That was Tuesday afternoon. See it shooting out the side there? See all the muddy -- yeah.
Tuesday afternoon, they realized something was going very wrong on that spillway. Water shooting out, all sorts of places where it`s not supposed to be, scouring down that hillside, the water not confined to the gutter, what`s going on?
They shut it off to have a look and what they saw is -- oh, this is what it looked like. This was Tuesday of this week. See the giant hole there? That`s a problem.
Basically a giant sinkhole opened up in the middle of this that spillway. And obviously, every second they`re going to put more water down that sluice, it`s going to erode that sinkhole more and more. So, they shut off the water initially.
Here`s the thing, though, they can`t keep that water shut off because even though that giant hole has opened up in that spillway, they actually have to run water down that spillway right now. They can`t stop, because like Oroville at the top, it`s full.
As of midday today, it was 98 percent capacity. California is not having a rainy season this year, they are having basically a monsoon season and, oh, yeah, let`s see what that means for the drought. I know, I know big questions about overall climate and weather and California`s drought and all that stuff, right.
But for the immediate problem at hand, if they can no longer run water down that spillway because the spillway is busted, if they can no longer run water down that spillway to relieve the pressure in the lake, if the lake fills up and overfills and overtops that dam, if that happens, the water doesn`t run down the tidy little purpose built concrete chute into the feather river below, if it overtops the dam, instead for the first time in the history of this dam, where the water goes is what they call down the emergency spillway which is not really a spillway at all, it just means the water just comes down the hill.
And if all that water runs down the hill at force, it will at some point bring the hillside down with it into the Feather River and eventually into the Sacramento River and into the delta and out to the San Francisco Bay. There`s the possibility that an uncontrolled flow could flood downstream towns all along the way.
So, this is a heck of a choice, right? You either shut down the water down that spillway, let the dam get overtopped and run instead down the hillside all the way downstream and see what happens to California or you keep thundering water down that broken sinkhole concrete gutter and see how long it holds.
You know, it started off as a 300-foot long gash. It has kept on spreading and spreading, they -- look. They say presumably it will split down to the bed rook.
But what are you going to do? They have to keep running water down that thing. They don`t have a choice. So, they`re just running the destroyed spillway. They`re running it to complete failure. Hope for the best, the best option. Pray for some dry days.
So, we have been watching this since Tuesday night. People all over California had been watching this very closely. This happens to be the drinking water source for more than 20 million people in the state of California.
Now, the dam itself, they say the dam itself is safe. The dam they say is built into bedrock. They say even if that whole hillside gets scoured out, continues to get blown apart the way it is, they say the dam will hold, they`re confident of that, and that`s good, because it`s almost an 800-foot tall dam, tallest dam in the country.
But I feel like grasping a story like this is almost a test of perspective. It`s a test of whether or not you can appreciate the size of large objects in the news. My dad, my dear old dad, has worked in the California water system for years in various capacities, and he`s been texting and e-mailing me about this all week. So, I`ve been, you know, looking at news coverage all week, looking at pictures on the California Department of Water Resources website all week.
And I could tell when I saw the pictures of the spillway something dramatic was wrong. But I will confess to you -- dad, I will confess to you right now, I did not truly appreciate what a literally big deal it was. What a large deal it was until I saw this one particular picture and at first glance it looks like the same old picture of that hole in the middle of the spillway until you realize that the tiny little yellow dot there is a full grown man and that shows you the scale of this thing, right?
That`s people inside there. That`s how big that hole started out as. And that`s -- OK, now, I get it. That`s the massive size of the undertaking it is going to be to fix this thing when it`s over even if they somehow avoid catastrophic flooding or danger to the dam itself through this crisis.
It`s like in King Kong where you know you`re dealing with a big ape. You know he`s big, that`s the plot of the movie. But then you see him on the Empire State building and you`re like, oh! That`s how big he is!
So, we will keep an eye on this tallest dam in the country and its travails through tonight and into the weekend. But I feel like that is not just a story, it`s a bit of a news help. I feel like that lesson in watching the story about the dam in California, that lesson about perspective, about appreciating the full magnificent size of this story, I feel like that principle is also at work in what is the biggest politics news of the day. And we`ve got that story broken down into absolutely enormous bits, next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last night at the very end of the show, we reported some breaking news that the "Washington Post" published a news story about national security advisor Michael Flynn. It was very carefully written story, long, had three bylines of three big deal reporters from the "Washington Post." At one point in the story, they mentioned they had nine sources for the central claim in their reporting.
Today, "The New York Times" published their own version of the central claims in that "Washington Post" story.
And you know, at one level, I can appreciate that this story just kind of looks like -- oh, I`ve heard something about this. Oh, the sinkhole is spreading a little further, right? Seems like an incremental development and the ongoing concerning news about the new administration and its ties to Russia, right? Just feels like an incremental little shift in something we`ve been watching for a long time.
But if you can step back from this story just for a second, if you can look at it fresh, maybe array some news stories we already understand around it for the purpose of gaining perspective on it, I think what this new development is about the national security advisor is basically like an 800 foot tall dam that`s about to be overtopped. This is not a little marginal development in a medium-sized story. This is like an, oh, my God, you can`t possibly keep running water down this thing, what do you mean we have no choice, she`s going to blow.
We`ve got Congressman Adam Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee. He`s going to be joining us live in just a moment to give us his perspective on this story. He said today, if this new development, if this new report is true, then the national security advisor must be fired. So, he obviously thinks it`s a big deal.
But let me break it down this way: basic revelation is sort of simple and stunning when you boil it down. Right after Christmas this year, when Barack Obama was still president, the U.S. government announced sanctions against Russia in retaliation for them interfering in our presidential election. You might remember they took back that waterfront compound that had been used by Russian intelligence in Maryland and they kicked a whole bunch of Russian diplomats out of the country immediately with no notice.
And at the time, we might also remember, we were advised to expect retaliation, a tit for tat, right? Whenever we expelled diplomats or, you know, seized property or do something like this, there`s always a tit for tat reaction between either the Soviet Union and us, or now Russia and us. It`s been this way for decades.
So, the Obama administration did their sanctions, kicked the diplomats out on the 28th of December and we all braced on the 28th of December to hear what Russia was going to do in response. But they did nothing on the 28th. And then on the 29th, there was this entire day in which they also did nothing.
And then when they did announce their response on the 30th, their response was, we`re not going to respond. It was weird. The Kremlin expressed its disappointment that Russian diplomats and their families who had been stationed in the United States would now have to be in transit over the Christmas holiday and that`s so sad for the kids from those families.
President Putin further explained he wouldn`t be doing any tit for tat retaliation. He would not be expelling any American diplomats from Russia. And in fact, American diplomats and their families, their children in particular would be welcome at the Kremlin to come to his Vladimir Putin Christmas party. It was so weird.
But here`s where the "Washington Post" picks up the story, quote, "Putin`s muted response took White House officials by surprise. It triggered a search by U.S. spy agencies for clues."
One former senior U.S. official tells "The Post," quote, "something happened in those 24 hours between Obama`s announcement and Putin`s response." Officials began poring over intelligence reports, intercepted communications and diplomatic cables. They found evidence that Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the United States had communicated by text and telephone around the time these sanctions were announced.
Now, one of the nice things about this reporting is we get this kind of blunt admission that, quote, "U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies routinely monitor communications with Russian diplomats." OK. I mean, I guess we guessed that, but that`s good to have bluntly in black and white.
One of the other nice things about this reporting is this blunt force take it to the bank assertion by the "Washington Post" that their sources on this story are, quote, "nine current and former officials." Nine. Nine, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls.
"The New York Times" similarly cites multiple federal officials who, quote, "have read transcripts of the call."
So, we`ve got U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies bugging the Russians, right? Listening in on this Russian official`s calls and what they hear, according to these multiple and multiply corroborated reports is the man who`s going to go on to be Trump`s national security advisor, calling the Russian government and essentially telling them, "Don`t worry about these sanctions that the U.S. government is putting on you." He`s calling Russia to undermine the sanctions that President Obama has put on Russia for their attack on our presidential election.
He reportedly told them in essence, hey, you know what, don`t bother reacting to these sanctions. Don`t worry about it. Once Trump is sworn in, we`ll fix it. We`ll take care of it.
Now, working secretly with a foreign power to undermine the actions of the U.S. government, that`s kind of a big deal. I mean, even the Trump folks recognize somebody doing that would be kind of a big deal. They recognized it enough that they took great pains to deny the heck out of this for weeks now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The subject matter of sanctions or the actions taken by the Obama administration did not come up in the conversation.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They exchanged logistical information on how to initiate and schedule that call. That was it, plain and simple.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States` decision to expel diplomats or impose a censure against Russia. Those elements were not part of that discussion.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: I can confirm, my credibility on the line.
So, this White House chief of staff, White House spokesman, vice president of the United States personally confirming there`s no way Mike Flynn would have crossed that line. There`s no way he would have undermined the U.S. government with a foreign power. There`s no way he would have talking about those sanctions and undermining the impact of those sanctions with the Russians. No way.
As of Wednesday this week, Mike Flynn was still confirming to the "Washington Post" that he absolutely did not speak about those sanctions with Russia. But then when "The Post" went back to him with this nine- source reporting all but explicitly quoting what we now know, transcripts of the U.S. intelligence intercepts of that phone call, then, last night, Mike Flynn apparently changed his mind, now says, "I know that I previously said I definitely didn`t talk about sanctions. Now I don`t remember if I talked about sanctions."
So, bottom line, how big is this? Is this a marginal development in this story that we`ve all been watching?
First thing to appreciate here is the lying. Either the White House spokesman, the White House chief of staff and the vice president all bluntly lied knowingly about Mike Flynn and what he was doing with Russia or they lied inadvertently, unknowingly because they were saying something they thought was true because Mike Flynn told them a lie and they passed it on thinking it was true.
Either way, that can`t stand, right? That seems like a big deal for the top people in a brand new administration. You`re going to lie to me and have me take it to the American public and it makes it look like I`m lying or you`re asking me to lie on your behalf and I do and get nailed for it?
Point one, the lying. Second point to appreciate is the direct bottom line of this story which is that the senior national security advisor in this new administration personally interfered in U.S. government efforts to punish Russia for interfering in our election.
But in terms of assessing the size of this news, there`s one last point that`s starting to feel almost unappreciably big. And that`s what I want to put to Congressman Adam Schiff in just a moment because of his experience on the intelligence committee and it is this. Buried in the seventh paragraph of the "Washington Post" story and in the fourth paragraph of the "New York Times" story, buried well below the lead is the news that this discussion between Mike Flynn and the Russian government undermining U.S. policy toward Russia, undermining the U.S. effort to punish Russia, undermining these sanctions, it wasn`t stand alone thing. It was not the first of many conversations that have continued since the new administration was sworn in and he`s become national security advisor. No, that wasn`t the start of them talking.
Both papers are now reporting again with this sourcing that is deep, both papers where now reporting that Mike Flynn`s contacts with the Russian government started during the campaign, not since he`s been national security advisor. Not since the transition after Trump was elected when the Obama administration was still technically there, but Trump was on his way in. But while Trump was still running for president, during the campaign, while Russia was interfering in the U.S. election to try to elect Donald Trump president, his top national security advisor on the campaign was in repeated contact with the Russian government at that time.
Look, this is from "The Post". Quote, "The talks were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and the Russian official which began before the November 8 election." Here`s "The Times," "Current and former American officials says the conversation about sanctions was only one in a series of contacts that began before the election."
During the campaign while Russia was interfering in the election, the Trump campaign was in contact with the Russian government. We`re now confirming? Really?
OK. Well, CNN reports tonight that American intelligence officials have corroborated some of the disputed dossier that was assembled about Trump in Russia by a former British spy who has now disappeared.
If you recall, this very controversial dossier which was published by BuzzFeed News, it contained two main allegations. One was that the Russian government had allegedly collected damaging compromising personal information about Donald Trump that was of a salacious and personal nature. The other main allegation in that dossier was that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government while they interfered in our presidential election.
Well, CNN reports tonight intelligence officials, U.S. intelligence officials who have been investigating that dossier, they have now corroborated parts of it. Again, the two parts are the salacious personal stuff or Donald Trump`s campaign collaborated with the Russian government while he interfered in our election. CNN reports tonight the part that has been corroborated by U.S. intelligence is not the salacious personal stuff. So that leaves --
We should note that the White House is disputing CNN`s reporting tonight. They`re calling it fake news. But that`s where we are.
Is part of the reason we got this new president not just because some foreign government tried to make that happen? Is part of the reason we got this new president because his campaign worked with a foreign government to influence the outcome of our election, to make that outcome happen?
If so, it feels to me like that`s not a sinkhole. That`s not a busted spillway or an eroded hillside. To me, that feels like blowing the dam.
MADDOW: So, we`ve learned in the last 24 hours ago by reporting from the "Washington Post," and "The New York Times" and NBC News confirming that despite repeated denials from him and other administration official, National Security Advisor Mike Flynn spoke with the Russian government about the U.S. sanctions on them for undermining our presidential election. He reportedly undermined the impact of those U.S. sanctions on Russia by communicating secretly with the Russian government before Donald Trump took office.
"The Times" and "The Post" are also reporting with multiple sources that General Flynn was in contact with the Russian government during the presidential campaign which raises questions as to whether or not the Trump campaign may have been collaborating with a foreign government while that foreign government was making efforts to interfere with and influence the outcome of our election.
Asked about this blockbuster new reporting tonight, the president said -- I`m paraphrasing here -- but he basically said, "The what now?"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know about it. I haven`t seen it. What report is that?
REPORTER: "The Washington Post" is reporting that he talked to the ambassador of Russia before you were inaugurated about sanctions being --
TRUMP: I haven`t seen that. I`ll look at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The question now is, once the president looks at that, do we expect him to do anything about it?
Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff. He`s the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman Schiff, really appreciate you being here on a Friday night. Thanks for your time.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It`s good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I`m sort of grappling with the size of this report. I feel like it`s easy to see this as another incremental story in a slowly growing thing that a lot of people are concerned about at the one level. On the other hand, it feels like a very big bad story. What`s your assessment of how damaging and worrying this is?
SCHIFF: It`s enormously damaging and worrying. I think you set up the context so well and I have to say you do a marvelous job in putting it together and letting the American people just see how big this is.
You know, from my perspective, the context is as simple as this -- the intelligence community found that Russia interfered in our election with the purpose of helping elect Donald Trump. And having achieved that objective you have one of Trump campaign`s foremost surrogates, General Flynn, having a private conversation with the Russian ambassador around the time that President Obama announces sanctions to punish Russia for that very interference and Flynn reportedly says, don`t worry about the sanctions on you for helping us win. Once we take office, we`ll take care of it.
If that`s true, it`s absolutely staggering. It certainly ought to result in his immediate removal from office and if the further actions are true that this was part of a course of conduct throughout the campaign, then you have very serious legal violations as well. And, obviously, that is something that we are investigating on the intelligence committee and we have to get to the bottom of.
MADDOW: Now, in terms of the legal issues here, some people have been talking about the fact that General Flynn, when these contacts happen during the transition, he was a private citizen although it was clear he was about to be a public official, people who are talking about whether that violated the Logan Act, which is a prohibition on individual private citizens undermining the U.S. government with foreign contacts. That`s obviously a law that`s never been prosecuted, even though we`ve had it on the books since the 1700s.
Is that -- when you say there may be legal issues here, is that what you`re talking about or are there other potential illegalities here?
SCHIFF: No, it wasn`t what I was talking about. You know, the Logan Act is certainly implicated here. But as a former assistant U.S. attorney myself, that would be a very difficult statute to prosecute. I think there would be very heavy burden to make that kind of case.
I think what may be more significant here in addition to the fact that the General Flynn would be working against the U.S. national security interest is the fact that he misled the country about it afterwards. In that case, I think the cover-up may be the worst element.
But the illegality I`m talking about is if the Trump campaign during the course of the campaign, including Michael Flynn, was collaborating with Russia to interfere in our election, all kinds of laws were violated and that will have very serious repercussions. That is among the most serious allegations we`re investigating.
MADDOW: Is that espionage? Is that treason? Is that -- I mean, are those the kinds of categories of laws we`re talking about then?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, it`s possible that it comes out to that. I think there frankly will be a number of statutes that would be implicated that would be far easier to prove than those exceptional ones. But if effectively the Trump campaign was colluding in the illegal hacking of information, the illegal publication of information, the theft of data, was receiving essentially in-kind support from a foreign adversarial power, there are any number of laws violated. So, if those allegations prove to be true, stepping down from office will be the least of worries from Trump administration officials.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff of California, thank you for -- this is very serious stuff. Thank you for being so clear and straightforward and calm in your discussion about it. I get my hair on fire a little bit about this stuff, but I feel like you are a beacon here. Thanks, sir.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Very busy night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Late Wednesday night this week, there was very dramatic, very emotional news out of Phoenix, Arizona. It was late that night, people putting themselves physically in the way of this van, they`re trying to stop it from moving, they`re trying to prevent a local mother who was inside that van from being taken to Mexico.
Her name is Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos. She`s 36 years old. She came here from Mexico when she was 14 years old. She has two teenaged school age kids who were both American born, American citizens. She herself has not been to Mexico since she was a kid. She has lived here her whole adult life.
But after 22 years of living here, she was deported yesterday to Nogales, Mexico. She`s being described as the first person deported as a result of President Trump`s orders, his executive order that ICE should priorities deportations for anyone with any kind of criminal record, no matter what it is.
In her case, her crime was using a made up Social Security number so she could work at a local water park a decade ago. While appealing that case, she`s been following the rules since then. She`s been checking in with ICE every year, every six months, wherever they tell her to, she checks in.
But on Wednesday, when she checked in as she always has, they arrested her, and these protests erupted while her husband and kids waited outside.
And now, it seems like her arrest and deportation may be the start of something bigger. After we saw that really emotional footage on Wednesday night, all day Thursday, we started hearing rumors and reports that ICE officers, that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, started rounding people up that they rounded up over 100 people in southern California. That prompted big protests in southern California.
All day yesterday, people watching raids play out said this appeared to be something new, it appeared to be a big coordinated action by Immigration and Customs. All day, ICE pushed back saying these were false reports, this was business as usual. They said it was an extreme exaggeration to say they picked up 100 people in southern California.
Well, tonight, we`re learning it was more like 160 people in southern California. "The Washington Post" tonight is reporting there were immigration raids not just in southern California but in at least a half dozen states. Home sweeps, officers going into people`s homes, and workplace raids in places as far flung as Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles area, North Carolina, South Carolina. We`re also getting reports of checkpoints set up in North Carolina and also in Austin, Texas.
And the difference between the government`s description of what it`s doing and what`s apparent that`s really happening on the ground that itself has lit up outrage among opponents of this new change in policy. One of those appointed joins us next. You will want to hear this. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Despite official denials from the Trump administration, it appears that there have been a sudden rush of raids, roundups of immigrants in six states yesterday and today. Now, those reports had been circulating among advocates and immigrant communities over the last 36 hours or so. Now, "The Washington Post" is confirming what activists have been saying and what ICE, what the Trump administration has been officially denying.
The leader of the California state Senate late tonight responded this way, quote, "I appreciate that ICE finally disclosed details about their recent raids, but stunned to learn that ICE`s public comments made yesterday were blatantly false. When news first broke of raids happening across southern California yesterday, ICE told the media that reports of 100 immigrants being arrested were grossly exaggerated. Yet today, they admit they arrested 160 people.
ICE told numerous media outlets that yesterday was a routine day, which it most clearly was not. And they have yet to disclose the crimes each person was convicted of to support their arrests. The disconnect between what was coming out of the ICE regional office yesterday and what was publicly disclosed today is deeply troubling and needs to be fully explained by the Trump administration."
Joining us now is Kevin De Leon. He`s the California Senate leader who issued that strong statement tonight following these not just unannounced but officially denied raids across his state.
Senator De Leon, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Appreciate your time.
STATE SEN. KEVIN DE LEON (D-CA), SENATE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Rachel. I enjoy behind here tonight.
MADDOW: So, usually, we turn the federal government for an explanation about the scale, the motivation and the results of sudden actions like this. In this case, it feels like we can`t trust what the government is telling us about their actions. What do you understand of the facts of what have happened in the last 48 hours or so?
DE LEON: Well, Rachel, it`s been difficult to get information out from ICE authorities. Historically, even under the Obama administration, they have always been somewhat forthcoming and transparent with who they are detaining, who they`re deporting and the reasons why. But with the Trump administration, there`s a new attitude. It`s overly aggressive. It`s a new tone and tenor.
And we`re really concerned because we tried incessantly last night to get the facts, to get the figures. And obviously, they were not sharing with us the facts. In fact, I believe even worse, that they were misleading the public.
I find it quite galling that they attempted to lecture the public when it came to a sense of public misleading of what was actually happening yesterday. But it`s been very difficult given a new Trump administration. They`re very overly aggressive with what they`re doing and they said they did not arrest 100 individuals. In fact, we find out today it was actually 160 individuals.
MADDOW: One of the things that we saw -- we`re showing footage while you`re speaking there, sir, about the spontaneous protests that happened last night in Los Angeles. People reacting in anger and clearly in surprise to what had happened.
One of the other things that we`re seeing is there`s, for example, a pledge that people are taking called Here to Stay, where people are basically pledging to bodily put themselves on the line to try to stop people from being deported, to try to block arrests, to try to help people evade the authorities or to put themselves in the way while these arrests are happening.
Do you have any reaction to that? Do you understand the impetus for that? Do you feel like that might drive confrontation here?
DE LEON: Well, I can tell you this, Rachel, that there is a lot of fear.
There`s a lot of panic throughout the community, not just in Los Angeles, but throughout California and throughout the nation. There`s a lot of consternation. The anxiety is extremely high, especially among children who are fearful that they may not -- no longer see their mothers or their fathers. Children are being dropped off at school and are fearful that come in the afternoon, that standing at the curbside waiting for their mother or father, they may not actually appear.
The panic and anger is so high that there has been talk about human shields, about ordinary U.S. citizens actually protecting nannies, gardeners, people who clean our homes and take care of our children and creating this sort of human chain to protect them. I don`t condone this type of comportment, but I can -- I understand why the anxiety, the consternation is so high here in California.
MADDOW: State Senator Kevin De Leon, the California State Senate president, thanks for your time tonight, sir. Keep in touch with us about this.
DE LEON: Absolutely, thank you.
MADDOW: We need good sources of information as this and I am as troubled as you are that we can`t get it from the federal government. Thanks, sir.
DE LEON: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. The weekend has not officially arrived yet, and already, I can tell you next week is going to be jam-packed. I can tell you some of what`s going to be jam-packed into it.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK, the guy behind the camera here, who you don`t see, the guy holding the camera, is the constituent. The guy in front of the camera, the unhappy person right in the center of the frame, that`s the congressional staffer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you authorized to speak for Representative Zeldin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am speaking for him right now, letting you know --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So, the Affordable Care Act, one of the provisions is that insurance companies have to dedicate 85 percent of your premium to actually delivering health care. Does Representative Zeldin support or oppose that part of the Affordable Care Act?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can get that information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. The Affordable Care Act guarantees that women cannot be charged more for their premiums than men. Does Representative Zeldin support or oppose that part of the Affordable Care Act?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, I can get you that information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. The Affordable Care Act guarantees that children can stay on their parents` health care until they`re 26. Does Representative Zeldin support or oppose that part of the Affordable Care Act?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can say is that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know where I`m going with this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We do see where you`re going with this, staffer trapped in front of the ladies` room there.
That`s what it`s been like with constituents expressing themselves toward, in this case, New York Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin. Today, Congressman Zeldin canceled a town hall two months in advance of when it was supposed to happen in April because I think he is not particularly liking what it means for him and his staff to hear from his constituents these days.
But you know what? I wanted to show you that clip of that confrontation over the Affordable Care Act. I think it shows that people in general are getting very good, at being very articulate about Obamacare all of a sudden, right? Whatever the fights in past had been about, right? With the people on the right saying, oh, it`s socialized medicine and it`s death panels and stuff, and people in support of it not necessarily being able to be that snappy.
People, all of a sudden, are really good about articulating what`s good about the Affordable Care Act when they`re talking to their member of Congress, when they`re talking to congressional staffers. This, for example, was last night in Tennessee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Jessie Belfont (ph), and I`m in your district. It`s from my understanding the ACA mandate requires everybody to have insurance because the healthy people pull up the sick people, right? And as a Christian, my whole philosophy in life is pull up the unfortunate, OK?
So, the individual mandate, that`s what it does. The healthy people pull up the sick. If we take those people and we put them in high-risk insurance pools, they`re costlier and they get -- there`s less coverage for them. That`s the way it`s been in the past and that`s the way it will be again. So, we are effectively punishing our sickest people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was at a meeting last night in Tennessee with Republican Congresswoman Diane Black. People are getting very good at putting their member of Congress on the spot about health care right now.
And for people who want to save the Affordable Care Act, that skill is about to become important. It`s about to become way more important than it`s even been thus far, because last night at 2:15 in the morning, the Senate confirmed Tom Price to be the new health secretary. Zero Democratic votes. 2:15 a.m. seems about right for that vote. I`m sure it helps to have zero attention, zero audience on a vote like that, particularly thanks to Tom Price`s ethics problems, his lots and lots and lots of ethics problems.
But if Republicans in Congress have had a hard time sort of getting it together to start taking away health care yet -- they haven`t even come up with a way to explain it to their constituents yet -- swearing in Tom Price today is expected to put some steam in that Republican engine. So, Tom Price has been sworn in.
In terms of what happens next in the cabinet, Republicans could be voting tomorrow on Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, if they wanted to, but they`re taking the day off instead. They said they would work through the weekend. They`re not working through the weekend, so expect a Steve Mnuchin vote on Monday.
Monday is the same day that we expect protests nationwide against the president`s pick of labor secretary, the man whose CEO of Carl`s Jr. and Hardee`s. His name is Andy Puzder. His confirmation week will begin in Monday with protests at Hardee`s and Carl`s Jr. restaurants in over two dozen cities, protesters highlighting the multiple labor violations and discrimination cases at Puzder`s own company while he`s been CEO. Their contention is he`s unfit to be in charge of labor laws for the country when he`s been breaking them so badly as a businessman.
The following day on Tuesday, a court in Missouri will decide whether or not to unseal his divorce records from back in the day. The government watchdog is asking that those records should be unsealed because they reportedly include claims of domestic violence made by Mr. Puzder`s ex-wife toward him. Mr. Puzder has denied those allegations. His ex-wife now says she takes them back.
But his critics argued that those claims, if they`re true, would make him plainly unfit to be in charge of efforts like combating workplace harassment and violence.
So, Monday, the protests at Carl`s Jr. and Hardee`s. Tuesday, we have the court hearing on the domestic violence allegations in his divorce records. And Thursday, we get Puzder`s confirmation hearing, the one that`s already been delayed four times.
So, like the Senate, get some rest this weekend. You`re going to need it.
That does it for us tonight. See you again Monday.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD." Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, Ari.
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