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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 6/14/17 Congressman Scalise Shooting

Guests: Adam Entous, Amber Phillips, Bill Euille, Dan Kildee

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 14, 2017 Guest: Adam Entous, Amber Phillips, Bill Euille, Dan Kildee

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Appreciate it.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

We are continuing our coverage this hour of what Chris was just talking about there. This news out of Alexandria, Virginia, where a senior member of the Republican leadership team in Congress, Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, has been shot and wounded today by a gunman who fired dozens of rounds into a baseball diamond where Republican members of Congress and their staffers and some former staffers were all holding an early morning practice in advance of tomorrow`s annual charity benefit congressional baseball game.

Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot and wounded. He was reportedly shot in the hip. Luckily, one of the other Republican members on site at the time is a doctor.

Congressman Brad Wenstrup of Ohio was playing with Republicans on their congressional baseball. He was at the practice. He is an army surgeon who served in Iraq. And he was one of the members of Congress who was able to personally able to render immediate first-aid to Congressman Scalise at least as soon as the gunman was down, as soon as the gunman was reportedly shot by police, and it was therefore safe for these other members of Congress to get to Congressman Scalise as he lay grievously wounded in the infield of that baseball diamond.

Congressman Scalise has had surgery today after his gunshot wound. He remains in critical condition tonight. A former congressional staffer, a man named Matt Mika was also apparently playing with the Republicans on their congressional baseball team. He was also very seriously hurt today.

According to Mr. Mika`s family, they say that he suffered multiple gunshot wounds in today`s attack. Mr. Mika has undergone surgery. He is also listed in critical condition this evening. So, those are -- those are very serious wounds and very serious injuries.

In addition to those two very seriously injured men, there was also a young staffer for Republican Congressman Roger Williams who was shot in the leg today. And then there are the law enforcement injuries.

As a senior member of the House leadership, Congressman Scalise had apparently a three-member protective detail from the U.S. Capitol Police, a detail with him 24/7. Two of the three special agents on his protective detail today, two of the three people who are there with him at the baseball practice today, two of those officers were hurt as they confronted the gunman, shot at him and tried to stop this attack in processes. Special agent Crystal Griner was reportedly shot in the ankle. She was then reportedly airlifted to a nearby hospital for treatment. Another special agent who was on Scalise`s protective detail, David Bailey, he was also injured. Initial report suggests he may have been hit with shrapnel while pursuing and engaging in this gun fight with the suspect.

The third special agent in that detail has also been named, special agent Henry Cabrera, but thankfully we can report he was not injured, even though two of the other three members of that team were.

Another Republican congressman whose staffer was shot in the leg, Congressman Roger Williams, he was also hurt in this incident today. He was taken away on a stretcher at one point. I should tell you that Congressman Williams was not shot. His injury was that he either apparently either broke his ankle or badly sprained his ankle somehow in the melee that erupted once the shooting started.

So, this all happened just after 7:00 a.m. local time this morning. This is a remarkable and terrible event, especially given the continuing uncertainty tonight over the fate of the two people including the senior congressmen who were shot and wounded quite seriously in this attack. Given the number of shots fired, given the number of people injured, honestly, it feels like a miracle that nobody other than the shooter himself was killed in this incident.

We are a country that has a huge amount of gun violence, an internationally unparalleled amount of gun violence and internationally unparalleled frequency of multiple victim mass shooting events.

But even with that peculiar and bloody American history, even frankly with another mass shooting happening within hours of this one, today in California a gunman at a UPS facility in San Francisco shot and wounded two people and shot and killed three other people and shot and killed himself in front of police officers. Even with that competing horde just today, even with a mind-numbing frequency of gun violence in our question and our inability to muster any instructive policy solutions to try to stop it, a mass shooting specifically targeting elected officials, targeting and hitting members of congress? That is a form of American violence that is a different kind of shock to us as a country.

So, we are continuing to cover that story tonight as it continues to develop and particularly we`ve got eyes on local law enforcement as well as the FBI. The FBI is the agency that has taken the lead on the investigation into this shooting. We`ve got eyes on them in terms of any further statements that they`re going to make tonight, any further announcements about the investigation or indeed interestingly any questions or requests they may make of the public.

The FBI has already issued this formal request for information about the shooter in this attack. This is not a wanted poster because he`s already dead. He was apparently shot by police officers on the scene. He later died in the hospital.

But the FBI has issued this request for information, asking the public if anybody knows anything about him, asking the public for any information no matter how minor, no matter how small. Anybody who may have encountered him, anybody who may know him, they want to know about the shooter. They have identified him as James T. Hodgkinson, age 66, resident of Illinois.

Because his target was the Republican congressional baseball practice, and because Hodgkinson had outspoken political views, there`s speculation and concern that his political views may have been the motive for his attack. His social media presence indicates he was very critical of President Trump. He had very critical of Republicans generally even before President Trump. He was an angry critic in particular of the issue of income inequality.

In electoral politics, he was apparently a fan and supporter of Vermont Senator Sanders. There are reports that he may have been a volunteer for the Sanders campaign last year, although the Sanders campaign said today they have no record of him.

His local paper in Illinois frankly says he once submitted a letter to the editor that cited statistics about political donations that he says he heard on this TV show, because he says he watched this TV show. I should tell you that we went through our correspondence today, as soon as we got his name, as soon as we got that detail about him, we didn`t find any evidence that he ever sent anything to this show or tried to contact us at all.

But, obviously, the combination of the target of his attack, these Republican members of Congress and the online evidence of his political views, that has driven speculation, driven concern about whether this was a politically motivated shooting today. And although we have had a lot of shootings in this country, there have not been a lot of politically motivated shootings over the history of this republic.

We will wait to see where the evidence leads. The FBI said explicitly today, and without any caveat today the motive for this shooting is one of the things they hope to figure out through their investigation. That investigation obviously is just getting under way, part of the reason they`re seeking from the public any information anybody has about the shooter.

Now, I should tell you tonight we may actually have some interesting information to add as to what is known about the shooter`s very recent life. One of the big questions about the shooter is what he was doing in Virginia. As I mentioned, he is a resident of Illinois, a resident of Belleville, Illinois. But his neighbors in Belleville told reporters they haven`t seen him a couple of months.

Now, the timeline here is pretty specific. Local police in Illinois say they responded to reports of gunfire from the shooter`s home in Illinois in late March this year. They said they responded to those reports, they determined when the police turned up at his house that the owner of the house, the man who committed today`s shootings, was in fact shooting a rifle outdoors near his home. They say they cautioned him that day he was too near other houses and too near other people to be shooting right there.

But they apparently didn`t treat it as more serious than that. They say he had a state firearms ID. He was licensed to have the gun he was shooting. They just told him he shouldn`t be shooting it there. That police response was March 24th of this year.

But if we put together that police report with what local authorities from the FBI said today, it may be the case that the shooter in today`s incident left home in Illinois and came to Virginia very shortly after the police came to his house on March 24th. The FBI announced today in Virginia that the shooter is believed to have been not in Illinois but in and around Alexandria, Virginia, the site of today`s shootings, they said, since March.

Well, we know from that local police report that on March 24th, he was still in Illinois. So, it would appear that it was sometime after that that he came to Virginia. Now, nobody quite knows why he came to Virginia at that time. What his intentions were, nobody knows all that much about what he has been doing in Virginia since then and how that may contribute to our understanding of what happened in this attack and, of course, any potential motive.

But tonight on this show this hour, we`re going to be speaking with a former local official from Alexandria, Virginia. The reason we booked him tonight is because he says he had repeated contact with the shooter in Alexandria in the past few weeks leading up to today`s shooting. He spoke with him numerous times.

So, that former local official from Alexandria, Virginia, is going to talk us to about what he saw, what this man said to him and what he knows about what this guy was doing in Alexandria, Virginia before this terrible shooting early this morning. That is coming up live this hour.

We`re also going to be talking live with a really good reporter who has been live on the scene of the shooting most of the day today. And, of course, if there is new news this hour about the investigation or about the victims, we will bring that to you as it happened. In particular, I have to tell you, we have eyes this hour on the medical facility where Congressman Scalise and this former congressional staffer, Matt Mika, are being treated after they both had surgery today. We`re going to be looking for any updates on their condition tonight.

As I mentioned just a few minutes ago, we`re told both of them have been through surgery and both successfully made it through surgery today and both are tonight considered to be in critical condition. Congressman Scalise shot at least once, we`re told in the hip. Matt Mika, we`re told, shot multiple times.

So, that`s all ahead. That`s what we`re going to be watching for.

As we await further information on that tonight, though, as we continue to cover this remarkable and tragic developing story, we`ve also tonight got standing by live one of the lead "Washington Post" reporters on a very big breaking news story that "The Washington Post" has just put on its website tonight that concerns the White House.

This is the story. This is the headline. Adam Entous is standing by to talk to us about this. He`s one of the bylined reporters on this story, along with national security reporters and justice reporters, Devlin Barrett, Ellen Nakashima, and Sari Horowitz.

"The Washington Post" is first to report tonight with this story, they`re first to report what a lot of news outlets have been trying to nail down over the past couple of weeks. They are first to report tonight that special counsel, Robert Mueller, is not just looking narrowly at the question of whether the Trump campaign was involved on the Russian attack in the presidential election last year, Robert Mueller, according to "The Post", is also now investigating as a related matter whether the president himself has been involved in an effort to obstruct justice in the investigation into that matter.

So, here`s "The Washington Post" lead tonight, quote: The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia`s role in the 2016 election is now interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether the president attempted to obstruct justice. According to this new report from "The Post", quote: The nearly year old FBI investigation, until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign, on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Kremlin in that meddling. "The Post" reports that also the FBI investigation had been focusing on whether there was any evidence of financial crimes among Trump associates.

But now, in addition to all that, what "The Post" describes as a major turning point in the investigation, apparently for the first time, this FBI investigation now includes the president`s own conduct. It`s true that fired FBI Director James Comey just testified under oath that he told President Trump that President Trump was not personally a target of the FBI`s investigation, at least while James Comey was still in his job, still running the FBI.

According to "The Post" tonight, quote, Officials say that changed shortly after Comey was fired. And now, "The Washington Post" reports the remarkable news that the president of the United States is the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI into potential obstruction of justice.

Joining us now is Adam Entous. He`s the national security, foreign policy and intelligence reporter at "The Washington Post."

Mr. Entous, thanks for your time tonight. Really appreciate it.

ADAM ENTOUS, THE WASHINGTON POST: Glad to be here. Thank you.

MADDOW: So, this is a big story you guys have broken tonight, but obviously, it`s breaking alongside a lot of other big important news. So, for people who haven`t had a chance to digest what you guys have just reported, I want to go through a couple of really basic questions about it if you don`t mind.


MADDOW: With what you are describing, with what you are reporting tonight, would it be accurate to say this means the FBI has an active open criminal investigation into the president personally, that he`s the subject of an FBI criminal investigation?

ENTOUS: He`s -- you know, he`s the subject -- the way it was described to us, is a file that`s been opened on the president for the first time that is looking at him for obstruction, potentially for obstruction of justice. Now, that doesn`t mean that`s where Mueller will end up after he does these interviews.

He could decide after talking to Comey, after reviewing the evidence and interviewing others that what they tell him does not back up bringing any charges or trying to bring any charges for attempted obstruction. This is just he is beginning these interviews, that`s what we have learned.

MADDOW: When you say a file has been opened, I know that`s a term of art when it comes to the FBI. What exactly does that mean?

ENTOUS: It means they`re investigating whether or not he attempted to obstruct the investigation.


ENTOUS: It`s as simple as that.

MADDOW: Opening a file just that`s FBI speak for we are now looking into this matter?

ENTOUS: Well, that would be my speak, some of the sources use that terminology.


ENTOUS: I mean, I think the simplest way to look at it is, they have been looking into Russian meddling. They have been looking into whether or not there was any coordination between the campaign and the Russians, which Trump denies and they`ve been looking into potential financial crimes and what we`ve learned now is that they are looking at potentially obstruction, which they are investigating the possibility that Trump was intending to obstruct the investigation and as part of that investigation, we`re seeing the first tangible steps that the special counsel is progressing along that investigation by interviewing top officials.

MADDOW: Now, let me ask you a little bit about that timeline there. You`re reporting that the FBI started this investigation of the president for possible obstruction of justice within days of Comey being fired.

ENTOUS: Right.

MADDOW: If that`s true, that would mean that when Robert Mueller came on as special counsel, which was eight days after Comey was fired, more than a week after Comey was fired on May 17th is when he was named, that would mean that Mueller would have taken over that investigation into the president`s actions, once it had already been started by the FBI the week before. That would mean it wasn`t Robert Mueller`s decision personally to launch this investigation into the president, it would have been started before him, is that right?

ENTOUS: Yes, that`s what we were told by our sources, that basically Mueller, when he came in, basically absorbed a lot of investigations that were out there, that had been started looking at different aspects of the case. And so, all of these are brought together under the special counsel, and so, that way he can decide how to deconflict, you know, and -- you know, between the different aspects of the investigations that are under way and basically decide how to deploy his resources.

MADDOW: And, Adam, if this was started before Mueller got there, can we conclude from that this was an investigation, again, of the president of the United States, which was a remarkable thing, that it was started either at the direction of or at least with the OK from the deputy director, acting director, Andrew McCabe, and potentially his supervisor on these matters before Mueller got there, form the deputy A.G., Rod Rosenstein.

ENTOUS: Yes. I`m not sure exactly the order with which this was approved, you know? So, I would hate to make an error by ascribing to it a particular official in terms of what`s required.

You know, obviously, what occurred here was, you know, that you had the firing of Comey and you had Comey producing memos to document what occurred. And those, along with other officials -- other information which has come forward, there`s a memo produced at the National Security Agency documenting a phone call that was made also in March that was basically between Trump and the head of the NSA.

In that call, according to officials and what`s documented in this memo, Trump basically asks Rogers to publicly go out there and basically push back on the notion that there is any evidence of collusion or any evidence of coordination. That is the sort of information that the special counsel right now is trying to review, do these interviews and they have to decide -- he has to decide, how does he want to proceed on this.

MADDOW: Adam Entous, one of "The Washington Post" reporters who broke this remarkable story tonight that the special counsel is investigating the president himself for potential criminal obstruction of justice -- Adam, thank you for your time tonight. Congratulations on this scoop.

ENTOUS: A pleasure.

MADDOW: All right. Again, this is one of two obviously big stories that are happening in the country right now. I will just note that there is the possibility that the president is learning this news tonight from the "Washington Post." We know that at least as late as April, Director Comey told the president that he was not personally the subject of an FBI investigation. According to "The Washington Post" reporting, that changed and the president became the subject of an FBI criminal investigation right after he fired James Comey.

We don`t know yet and "The Washington Post" isn`t able to report whether or not anybody went to President Trump any time since then and told him, yes, I`ve got to correct what Comey told you. Since he told you you were in the clear, actually no, you are the subject of an investigation. We don`t know if he was ever informed of that or if he`s just reading these headlines and learning it tonight, too.

More ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: So, it has been a remarkable day in the news. We`re following two major stories. One is a big update on the ongoing Washington presidential scandal that we have been covering for weeks now. "The Washington Post" reporting tonight that the president is the subject of an FBI criminal investigation into potential obstruction of justice. "Washington Post" first to report that tonight. That`s happening on one track.

On a second track, we have got this ongoing story, this ongoing reporting about this remarkable attack on congressional Republicans this morning in Alexandria, Virginia, as the Republican side of the congressional baseball team was holding its practice in Alexandria, Virginia, and they were ambushed by a shooter who fired dozens of rounds.

Now, we`re going to have a couple of interviews about this tonight, including from a reporter who was there live at the scene all day today. But I want to tell you that we have just received just in the last couple of minutes, received a detailed update from MedStar Washington Hospital, which is the hospital where that former congressional staffer who was shot multiple times, Matt Mika, it`s where he`s being treated. This is also where Congressman Steve Scalise is being treated, the detailed report, the update that we just got is about Congressman Scalise.

He has -- he was shot, we knew that today, he was shot in the hip. He has survived, been through surgery. We knew that ahead of this broadcast tonight.

But now, we have considerable more detail from the hospital. It`s not great news. I`m gong to read you exactly what the hospital has just released. Quote: Congressman Steve Scalise sustained a single rifle shot to the left hip. The bullet traveled across his pelvis fracturing bones, injuring internal organs and causing severe bleeding. He was transported in shock to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, which is a level one trauma center. He underwent immediate surgery and an additional procedure to stop bleeding.

He has received multiple units of blood transfusion. His condition is critical and he will require additional operations. MedStar Washington Hospital Center says, we will provide periodic updates.

Again, that`s the update from MedStar Washington Hospital Center, this trauma center, about their treatment of Congressman Steve Scalise. A very situation there.

Joining us now is Amber Phillips. She`s a reporter of "The Washington Post" who`s been at the scene of today`s shooting all day today.

Ms. Phillips, thank you for being with us tonight. I know it`s been a very, very long day.

AMBER PHILLIPS, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, a very long day. But I`ll tell you, Rachel, I got here this morning surely after the shooting to find a community on an otherwise normal Wednesday absolutely shaking with the terror that is really consistent with that report of how Congressman Scalise is doing. That includes the lawmakers -- I saw them as they came off this field and they described to me, you know, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, and everyone running for cover in an open field. The only thing they could find was the dugout.

Steve Scalise got shot in the hip as they confirmed they saw that happen, and he was on the ground bloodied, tried to lay flat but also dragged himself from the infield to the outfield to get away from the shooter and Senator Jeff Flake who I talked to, said he was in the dugout wanting to help his friend but couldn`t do anything. I mean, just seeing a trail of blood in his wake, it was really a horrific situation. And the lawmakers were just completely shaken up.

MADDOW: Amber, let me ask you, given this report that we just had from the hospital where Congressman Scalise has been treated, they`re obviously describing very serious injuries. It was a single rifle shot. A single shot from a rifle can do incredible damage even if it doesn`t kill you. They`re saying that bullet entered his hip, it traveled across his pelvis, injured multiple internal organs. He underwent severe bleeding. He had to have additional surgery immediately, and additional procedure to stop bleeding. He`s going to require additional operations.

I mean, it`s a very serious condition that they are describing for the congressman still in critical condition.

Was it clear to the other members of Congress, with the other people who saw what happened, just how serious Congressman Scalise`s injuries were?

PHILLIPS: I think not this serious. They left no indication -- gave no indication to me that he had lost so much blood, it caused multiple blood transfusions.

But they did know he was very seriously wounded. You know, the lawmakers said they ran up -- one of them is a doctor from Ohio. They ran up to Scalise after the gunman was knocked down. And they started trying to cutaway his uniform.

And just -- Senator Jeff Flake was using his hands to staunch the bleeding. Someone brought over gauze. And they said that they found the bullet hole going in the hip but couldn`t find the bullet, the exit side of the other hip.

He was conscious. He was asking for water. He was clearly in a lot of pain is what the lawmakers told me. But I don`t think they realize it was this serious that more than 12, 13 hours later, he would still be in the hospital gravely wounded with a lot of procedures and a lot of recovery left to go.

MADDOW: Yes. And still in critical condition. Just a remarkable tragic story.

Amber Phillips is covering it all day today with "The Washington Post." Amber, thank you. Again, I know it`s been a very, very long day. Thanks for being with us tonight.

Coming up next here, we`re going to be talking with somebody who is a very -- an interesting witness given that the FBI has now put out a request to the public in general for information for anybody who knows anything about the shooter in this case.

The shooter has been identified by the FBI. He is deceased, appears to have been shot by police at the scene of this attack and he died today in hospital. But the witness who we`re going to talk next is actually the former mayor of Alexandria, Virginia. And he says in the weeks leading up to today`s shooting, he had multiple and extensive contacts with the man who appears who have carried out this attack. That former mayor joins us next.


MADDOW: The FBI earlier today made the decision to make a general request to the public for information about the shooter into today`s attack on congressional Republicans at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. The shooter, as you saw there on the poster, the shooter is deceased. He`s been identified by the FBI as James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old Illinois resident.

Investigators are asking the public for information about him, from anybody who might have known him or talked to him in recent weeks and months. They say that could include people from a wide swath of the country because the shooting happened in Alexandria, Virginia, but he is not from anywhere near there. He`s from Belleville, Illinois, which is more than 800 highway miles to the West. Bellville is an outlying suburb of St. Louis.

Investigators said today that he is believed to have been in Virginia, in the Alexandria area since sometime in March, possibly living out of a cargo van on a local Alexandria street nearby the baseball field where the shooting happened today. That field, I should also tell you, is right next to the local Y, local YMCA. The Alexandria YMCA is so close to the ball field that a bullet from today`s attack landed in the gym`s swimming pool. You can see the bullet hole in one of the gym`s windows there.

It was at that YMCA that our next guest remembers seeing the suspect and talking to him frequently, several days in a row, just about every morning in the recent weeks.

Joining us is Bill Euille. He`s a former mayor of Alexandria, Virginia. He works out at the Alexandria Y. He says he`s conversations with that suspect in recent weeks.

Mr. Mayor, I really appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you for being here.


MADDOW: How did you realize today that this man who you`ve been speaking with, who you encountered at the local Y might have been the shooter in today`s attack?

EUILLE: Well, I was on my way to the Y this morning to do my daily, weekly workout from Monday through Friday. And prior to leaving home just five minutes before I started getting text messages from folks saying, hey, are you all right? I said, why? What`s wrong? They said, well, there`s a shooting incident near the area of the Y.

So, I got in my car, called the Y and make sure things were OK, and they said, no, we`re on lockdown. And then, I arrived here on the scene and stayed there for a couple hours, and then a couple of hours later, I get a text message from one of the staff members informing me that -- he said, you and I know the killer. And I said -- I was shocked so I called them. And I said to him, I said, what do you mean? He said, he`s the guy that`s been here every morning on his laptop.

And so, more than a month and half ago, I encountered him as a new member of the Y. And as I finished my routine workout and having coffee, citizens, residents walked by and they said, hey, Mr. Mayor, how you`re doing, we miss you. And others would say, hey, can I talk to you about a problem I have?

So, they sit on the converse. And the next day, he approached and said, hey, are you really the mayor? I said, yes. So, we got to know each other from that point.

And it was, where are good places to dine and eat in Alexandria for lunch or breakfast? And then, it was like, hey, I`m looking for a job, can you help me find a job? And I referred him to the city`s website for a job vacancy listing and then I e-mailed him a job announcement for a safey inspector. He said he was a home inspector.

And so, everyday routinely as I go into the Y, I would encounter him either having his coffee on the laptop, sit at the table next to him and I`d be doing my thing on my iPhone and coffee, and occasionally encountered him coming out of the sauna but never really witnessed him physically exercising or working out.

Then I concluded recently that this is odd that this gentleman is here everyday. He seems like a loner and in the locker room last week, I noticed when his gym bag was wide open while he was in the shower area, it looked like all of his personal belongings, it`s clothes and books and everything were in his gym bag, which is unusual. So, in my own mind I concluded, maybe he is someone that`s homeless.

I never approached him to talk about it. But, you know, we never got into heated political conversations other than the fact there`s a TV when you walk in the main entrance of the Y. Other folks including myself, we would be having conversations about whether the president was -- whatever he was doing or whatever they were saying about him tweeting, that was the right thing to be doing, and/or others would comment about Congress needs to get their act together and let`s just start working on behalf of the citizens. But he never chimed in pro or con other than to just simply say, I agree. I agree.

I`ve been telling folks all day, he seemed calm. He seemed very, you know, well-organized. He spoke very well. He was very respectable. He even a couple weeks ago started bringing donuts and cookies into the Y for others to share, while, you know, as they were walking by.

So, I -- my conclusion was that this was someone that was troubled. Something was certainly burning and blowing on the inside of him. And upon arriving on the scene this morning, my conclusion not knowing it was him, that this apparently was a targeted event simply because the baseball -- the congressional team has played on this field probably several times a month for the last four or five years, and never encountered any problems or circumstances.

Then I learned that he was in the Y this morning briefly, and as he -- after he left, within a couple minutes, that`s when everyone started hearing gunfire.

MADDOW: Mr. Mayor, when you say that the team has used that field frequently, was it known specifically that that was where the Republicans practiced? There`s -- I mean, obviously, we`re looking into motive here whatever the attack was driven by, people were talking about his political views, his political expressions to try too figure out if this was a politically motivated attack against Republicans specifically.

Was that -- was that widely known or ever discussed?

EUILLE: Not with me. I don`t think he ever had that conversation with me because he knew I`m not only the former mayor, but, you know, very -- well placed in the community. Probably didn`t want to have that conversation with me.

But he did have it with, I understand some other staff folks at the Y. He inquired about who this team was and then he said, are they Democrats or Republicans? They said, well, they`re Republicans. And so, again, whatever his anger and frustration was, he strategized today was the opportune time to do what he needed to do.

MADDOW: Mr. Mayor, just one last question for you. Obviously, the FBI has put out this statement to the public appealing for people who might have information about him. I assume that you expect you will be speaking with either local law enforcement or the FBI about your encounters with him?

EUILLE: I do expect that. Not today, I`ve been doing interviews since maybe 11:00 a.m., but I would expect them to be making contact with me tomorrow. I know they were talking with YMCA staff today as well.

MADDOW: Bill Euille, the former mayor of Alexandria, Virginia, who was ended up being coincidentally, a remarkable witness to this man before he carried out these attacks today over the last few weeks. Appreciate hearing about it from you tonight, sir. Thank you very much.

EUILLE: You`re welcome.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to come tonight after what has been an unbelievable news day. Stay with us.


MADDOW: So, I want to bring into our coverage now a congressman, who we actually contacted today, expecting to talk about a totally different story involving his district. Today, you might have seen the headlines the attorney general of the state of Michigan announced serious criminal charges in the Flint water crisis. Involuntary manslaughter charges filed against a number of high ranking state officials, including the chief of the state health department, and the state appointed emergency manager, who was running Flint at the time the water change was made.

I should tell you, the state`s chief medical officer was also criminally charged today with obstructing justice, all related to the Flint water crisis. Dan Kildee is the congressman who represents Flint. We planned to talk with him about that story out of Flint, Michigan tonight.

But I have to tell you that Congressman Kildee is also coming to us tonight straight from a unity dinner that was held in Washington tonight in the wake of today`s shooting. Congressional Republicans targeted in an ambushed shooting today at their baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

Congressman Kildee plays for the Democrats congressional baseball team. He`ll be playing in tomorrow`s game, which despite today`s shooting, that game has not been cancelled.

Congressman Kildee of Michigan joins us now from Washington, D.C.

Sir, thanks for being with us tonight. I know it`s been a very difficult day.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you, Rachel. It has been a really tough day.

MADDOW: Let me just first get your reaction overall to the shooting today. Obviously, we just got this serious news from the MedStar Washington Hospital Center about Congressman Scalise`s condition, which remains critical. It sounds like he was very seriously hurt today when he was shot in the hip in this attack.

Let me just get your overall response.

KILDEE: Well, we`re just stunned and obviously our hearts go out to Steve and the other victims and their families. We`re really pulling for them all.

You know, we have a lot of difference here in Congress. We fight about the issues but, you know, we`re people that work together, you know? I see Steve everyday. The Republican members who are at that practice, many of them are really good friends of mine.

So, all the partisanship, all differences is completely meaningless in a moment like this. We are just really pulling for our friends and we hope they`re going to be OK.

MADDOW: This decision was made, this symbolic and kind of inspiring decision that the game should go on, that an attack like this shouldn`t stop what is after all a good fair play exercise in partisanship that is the congressional baseball game, a charity event. You play for the Democrats.

How do you feel about the fact that the game is going to go ahead tomorrow? It seems like it`s sort of a nice thing but also it`s going to be difficult.

KILDEE: It will be hard but I think it`s hard for a good reason. We have to show everybody that we can come together, that we can still pull together and do this event to raise money for charity. And, you know, this game means more than just a single game. Throughout the whole year, it`s one of those things that allows us to talk to one another about something other than our differences. We kind of tease one another about the game.

So, I think it`s really important that we demonstrate to the country and really to the rest of the world that we`re not going to let something like this come between us and one another, to sort of come between us and doing some good in a way that`s unifying. I think in some ways, this year`s game is more important than any other game we ever played.

MADDOW: Congressman Kildee, you are not just any member of Congress when it comes to important stuff in the American news. Your district, Flint, Michigan has been going through this incredible, ongoing now, years-long crisis. The shooting today happens on the day that we`ve got this other huge news of the president being the subject of an FBI criminal investigation and the "Washington Post" reporting tonight.

It also comes on the same day that you and your constituents getting the news that there are going to be serious criminal state charges brought against a number of high ranking officials because of the Flint water crisis, because of the decision that was made that ultimately ended up poisoning Flint.

I got to ask you your reaction to those criminal charges being filed today?

KILDEE: Well, it is a measure of justice. Justice comes in lots of different forms for the people of Flint. One of the ways that we see justice is when people who did this to Flint are held responsible for what they did, but it doesn`t make things better for the people. So, obviously, we want to see this. I will not prejudge the results of these charges.

But it`s somewhat comforting to know that the system works. That when you see a state government do something as bad as they did to the city of Flint, that individuals will be held accountable for it. But we need more. We need other forms of justice. Well need people to make it right. We need the state government to step up and make it right.

I`ve got to say, Rachel, the people of Flint owe you a great debt of gratitude. You were one of the very first people to bring attention to this. And without national attention, I`m not sure that this day ever would have come or any of the other help that we`ve been able to get. So, for that, I`m personally very grateful to you.

MADDOW: Oh, that`s nice to you to say. I didn`t -- the only reason I was able to cover it was because of the activism by people in your district and the way that people were able to be so articulate and scream so loud about what was happening so that we couldn`t help but notice.

Congressman Dan Kildee, you`ve been through a lot. Thanks for your time tonight.

KILDEE: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. A huge news day. I`m going bring into our conversation next an expert to talk about this big breaking news at the federal level today. The special counsel is according to "The Washington Post," they have opened a criminal investigation into the president of the United States. President Trump now personally being investigated for possible criminal obstruction of justice. This is almost unprecedented in American history.

Expert opinion on what that means exactly next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: In addition to the shooting today in Alexandria, Virginia, apparently targeting Republican members of Congress while they were at their congressional baseball practice at a public park. We are still absorbing this additional remarkable news story tonight from "The Washington Post." the report that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating the president himself for possible obstruction of justice.

"The New York Times" has now reported their own slightly different version of this. "The New York Times" headline which is just posted is Mueller seeks to talk to intelligence officials, hinting at inquiry of Trump. "The Times" is fleshing out the fact that Mueller has requested interviews with three high-ranking or former intelligence officials, people who were not involved with the Trump campaign. "The Times" describing this as an indication that he will investigate whether Trump obstructed justice.

"The Post" is reporting that he is investigating Trump for that. "The Times" is reporting that it is indicated that he is likely doing that. So, there is a slight shade in difference between the two papers.

"The Times", though, also reports that the Mueller investigation has asked the NSA for documents and notes related to the NSA`s interaction with the White House as part of the Russia investigation.

Joining us for some perspective on this is MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber.

Ari, thank you for this. I appreciate you being here.


MADDOW: So, I should say first that the White House`s -- the president`s personal lawyer has put out a statement in response to "The Washington Post" report saying that this is an outrageous, inexcusable and illegal FBI leak of information. Is what "The Washington Post" reported necessarily an FBI leak of information? Is that the only place this information could have come from?

MELBER: Absolutely not. A lot of the material seems to suggest that people who`ve been approached about the investigation may be leaking. And that would be understandable if the intelligence agency`s leadership is being contacted.

The headline here is stark. The president of the United States is under criminal investigation for his conduct in office. There has been a lot of reporting about what happened during the campaign. This touches that and extends beyond it.

MADDOW: In terms of these intelligence officials who are being queried now by the Mueller investigation. It`s the NSA director, Admiral Rogers, it`s the recently departed deputy director of the NSA. Get back to him in a second and it`s Dan Coats, who is the director of national intelligence.

The reason that that recently departed deputy director of the NSA is apparently being investigated is reportedly he is the one who wrote up an NSA memo describing the interactions that the NSA director had had with the president about whether or not he should get involved in that FBI investigation.

Does that tell us that the Mueller investigation is basically trying to corroborate whether the president used other officials to try to block that investigation?

MELBER: It certainly suggests that is of investigative interest, to use the term of art. And it suggests that those individuals were potentially memorializing things for some of the same potential reasons that Jim Comey outlined under oath. They have lawyers. They have a general counsel in every agency, and they have strict rules, particularly because the foreign intelligence agencies know they`re not supposed to be involved on the home front. All this discussion about surveillance and intercepted communications, they try to stay out of Americans` rights and certainly the FBI`s inquiries.

MADDOW: OK. Ari, on a legal -- as a legal matter, one of the things that has been raised as we`ve seen congressional investigations unspool, and different Trump administration officials get called to testify is there are these questions as to whether or not the White House will try to stop those officials from appearing, whether the White House will try to block those officials from talking about specific things, communications with the president in particular.

It`s a different standard when it comes to talking to investigators who are looking into a potential criminal matter, right? You can`t assert executive privilege to stop somebody from speaking to criminal investigators.

MELBER: The Supreme Court press on this is United States versus Nixon.


MELBER: It regards President Nixon`s assertion of what he called an absolute executive privilege. And the Supreme Court rejected that and said it is only qualified. And they said the area where it is the shortest, the smallest, weakest if you will is in the area of a criminal inquiry because then those normal interests that are broad and wide. No one doubts national security secrecy is a presidential power. But it goes its ebb, the court held, and this is the precedent when there are criminal or confidential inquiries because those can trump even the president`s power in that arena.

I would also note the other huge implication here is the deputy attorney general overseeing this inquiry.

MADDOW: Rod Rosenstein.

MELBER: Rod Rosenstein -- is according to the evidence we have very likely a witness to what we can confirm tonight, what we`re being -- seeing reported tonight in the firing. He may have to recuse.

MADDOW: So if -- I`m sorry to interrupt you there with my exclamation of surprise. But you`re saying if Mueller`s investigating Trump for potential obstruction of justice in his firing of Comey, if Rosenstein should reasonably be expected to be called as a witness for that part of the investigation, he can`t oversee the Mueller investigation at all. He would have to recuse that would put Rachel Brand in charge of overseeing the investigation? Number three person at DOJ?

MELBER: Exactly. And even according to the White House`s official story, the main people involved in the story of James Comey are President Trump and Rod Rosenstein.

MADDOW: MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber here on short notice for breaking news. Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

MADDOW: Appreciate it, my friend.

All right. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.