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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 6/28/2017 Line of Discredit; WH, Sen. GOP try to discredit C&M

Guests: Deborah Swackhamer

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 28, 2017 Guest: Deborah Swackhamer

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC`S "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

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

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us as well this hour. Happy Wednesday.

The governor of Ohio is, pop quiz, governor of Ohio? You`re right, John Kasich.

John Kasich is a Republican. He`s currently Ohio governor. He ran for president last year. He won almost nothing in terms of presidential primaries.

But oddly, he still had quite a lot of longevity as a primary candidate. John Kasich was the last man standing against Trump in the competition for the Republican presidential nomination.

But I think, this is maybe arguable, but arguably more so than any other Republican presidential candidate last year, Kasich really ran directly against Trump from the very beginning. Even before 2016, in November 2015, John Kasich ran this unconventional sobering serious ad against Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like anyone who is listening to consider some thoughts that I`ve paraphrased from the words of German Pastor Martin Niemoller.

You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with their government because you`re not one. You might not care if Donald Trump says he`s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants because you`re not one. You might not care if Donald Trump says it`s OK to rough up black protesters, because you`re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you`re not one.

But think about this: if he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you, and you better hope that there`s someone left to help you.



MADDOW: John Kasich ran that ad in November 2015. Even before the Republican primary contest had started.

Donald Trump responded by saying he was going to sue John Kasich for running that ad. Despite that threat, Donald Trump did not actually sue John Kasich for that ad. By that very early point in the presidential campaign, that was still 2015, even by then, Trump had already established this part of his M.O. as a candidate. Weeks before he threatened to sue John Kasich over that ad, and didn`t actually sue him, he`d had his lawyers send a threatening I`m-going-to-sue-you letter to the Club for Growth, a conservative activist group when they ran another negative ad against Trump. In that instance as well, like he did with John Kasich, although Trump pounds his chest and sent the threatening letter and said, I`m going to sue you, he didn`t actually sue them. actually keeps a running tally of this tactic from Trump during the campaign. It`s an amazingly long list, the number of times he has done it. Looking at it now, it`s like a trip down rich guy idly threatening to be litigious lane, which is a terrible place to live.

After he said he would sue John Kasich and he did not, after the said he would sue the Club for Growth and he did not, he then threatened to sue a pro-John Kasich super PAC for running a different negative ad against Trump. But he didn`t actually sue them either. That was in November 2015.

By December 2015, a Jeb Bush donor in Florida had taken out a big newspaper ad criticizing Trump. Trump responded by saying, I`m going to sue you for that ad. Trump did not sue that guy for that ad.

Then in January, he announced that he would sue the "Washington Post" for their reporting on one of his casinos going bankrupt in a particularly spectacular way. He said he would sue the "Washington Post" for that article. He did not sue them for that article.

That then kicked off an amazing two-week period in February of last year when Donald Trump threatened to sue Ted Cruz three different times for three different things in less than two weeks. First, he threatened to sue Ted Cruz for winning the Iowa caucuses. Then he threatened to sue Ted Cruz for not being a natural born citizen. Then he threatened to sue Ted Cruz for what he most likes to sue about, which is negative ads -- a negative anti-Donald Trump ad that Ted Cruz had run.

He threatened to sue him for all those things. At which point Ted Cruz, having been threatened with three lawsuits from Donald Trump in two weeks, Ted Cruz actually got up in front of reporters at that point and said, please, sue me. You keep saying you`re going to sue me. Do it. File the lawsuit. This would be fun in court.

Donald Trump never filed the lawsuit. Donald Trump never filed any of the lawsuits against Ted Cruz. That was his busy February of not suing people.

Then, in March, he got busy not suing the Republican National Committee. He threatened to sue the Republican Party over him not getting enough delegates out of Louisiana. He did not actually sue them.

Then, in April, "The Associated Press" ran an article about a business catastrophe that was a Trump-branded condo project in the nation of Panama. "A.P." published their Panama article about him. Trump said, I`m going to sue "The A.P." for that article. He did not sue "The A.P." for that article.

Later that month, reporter David Cay Johnston, you remember David Cay Johnston, he got those two pages of Trump`s federal tax returns a couple of months ago, David Cay Johnston was working on a piece about Donald Trump last spring. He spoke to Donald Trump in the process of reporting about that piece. Donald Trump told David Cay Johnston he would sue him for his reporting. He did not sue David Cay Johnston.

The month after that in May, he said he would sue the "Washington Post" again for a different article. He did not sue "The Washington Post" that time either.

Last summer, in July, the guy who had been his ghostwriter on the book "The Art of a Deal," he gave comments to the "New Yorker" magazine for an article they were writing on Trump. He was talking about what it was like to work with Trump on "The Art of the Deal." Trump responded by calling that guy personally and telling him, I`m going to sue you. Trump did not sue him.

I mean, this went on all the way through the campaign. In October, just a month before the election, he told "The New York Times" that he was going to sue them when they published an article about some of his state tax returns. He told them he was going to sue them. He did not sue them.

Eight days after that, he told "The Times" he was going to sue them again, this time for an article about women who said they had been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. He told "The Times" he was going to sue them for publishing that article. He did not sue them for publishing that article.

Ten days later, by which point more than a dozen women had emerged, who said they had been sexually harassed or assaulted by Donald Trump, he announced that he would sue all of those dozen women, individually. He did not sue any of them.

Pretending to file lawsuits against people, announcing that he`s taking legal action against somebody, when he actually does nothing of the sort, that is a tactic that Donald Trump was known for in his business life. I don`t think anybody quite knew whether it would carry over into his life as a public figure, but -- I mean, you saw the way he behaved in the campaign. I guess we should have known by then that`s how he was going to do as president, too. This is what he does. This is what he`s always done.

On June 8th, of this year, fired FBI Director James Comey testified that President Trump, before he fired Comey, he had had multiple one-on-one communications with Comey, in which Trump pressured him about the FBI`s ongoing Russia investigation. That opened up a whole new line of potential criminal inquiry into the White House and into the president specifically, because of obstruction of justice can be a criminal matter.

After Comey testified on June 8th about his conversations with the president, about the Russia investigation, after he testified June 8th, the president`s personal lawyer who had previously represented Trump in things like threatening to sue "The New York Times," his personal lawyer put out word the day after that Comey testimony, put out word that the president was going to respond to that testimony from James Comey by taking legal action against James Comey.

It`s kind of hard just to flat-out sue somebody for saying something that`s apparently true under oath that you can`t rebut. But nevertheless, the president`s private lawyer said he would be filing legal complaints against James Comey for that testimony. He would be filing complaints with the committee that he testified in front of.

James Comey is not a member of any congressional committee. He is not a member of Congress. What would a complaint to a committee of Congress do? Nobody knows. But it would be a complaint.

Also, Trump`s lawyer threatened there would be a complaint filed against James Comey with the Department of Justice inspector general. Now, at that point, James Comey was no longer an employee of the Department of Justice. Remember, Trump had fired him. So, it`s not clear what the Department of Justice inspector general would do with this complaint about somebody who did not work at that agency.

But Trump and his lawyers came out, pounded their chests, and said, watch out, James Comey, here come the legal-ish filings against you, right? Better mortgage your house. Better get yourself some lawyers.

They made those threats on June 9th, the day after James Comey had given his congressional testimony. And that opened up this interesting waiting game. Would the president and his lawyer follow through on these threats?

This is not the kind of thing a president usually does, right? Is the president really going to file legal complaints about somebody who gave congressional testimony against him? What would these complaints look like? Sort of wait with baited breath wondering was going to happen here?

A week after, they said they were going to file those complaints, friendly reporters at the Fox Business Channel announced they had a scoop on this subject. They had just heard from Trump`s lawyers that those legal complaints against James Comey, that they had been threatening, they were not ready yet. The filing of the civil complaints against James Comey would be, quote, slipping to next week.

That next week has now come and gone. Still no legal complaints have been filed by the president, or his lawyers, against James Comey. And now, "Bloomberg" was first to report today that there`s not going to be any legal complaints filed against James Comey at all.

As a businessman, even as a candidate for president, the patented Trump threat to sue is kind of its own reward, right? You seem tough, you seem pugnacious, you seem like you won`t take anybody`s insults, and maybe to the extent people believe that you`re going to sue, you make other people think twice about lobbing any other criticism at you, because they keep hearing about you filing all these lawsuits. And if nothing else, that sounds very expensive.

In private life, as a businessman, even as a candidate for office, the threat itself was presumably the point. And Trump has always been able to count on people not following up in the end to see if he ever actually filed all those lawsuits that he threatened. When you`re president, though, somebody`s always going to follow up everything you say, especially when you do something as unpresidential as threatening somebody who`s probably going to end up being a very important witness in a legal proceedings that may arise against the president in the near future.

So the Comey legal complaint threat climb-down has ended up being a headline, because President Trump made this threat as president. And people follow up on what presidents say. So, it`s news today that they had made this threat to James Comey, to go after him legally, and now they`re climbing down from that.

And with that climb-down today, thus collapses one part of the broader effort by this White House and their allies to try to smear and discredit the people who were investigating him, or who are still investigating him, on the Russia issue, and now on obstruction of justice.

Now, because James Comey and Robert Mueller are Republicans, because they are life-long law enforcement officials, because they`ve had decades in public service in which they earned reputations that don`t rub off easily, neither Bob Mueller nor James Comey is a particularly easy target for the White House, and their allies, to try to take apart.

When it comes to Comey and his role specifically in the obstruction of justice investigation, that centers on this president, the difficult thing about this strategy of trying to smear James Comey, as if he`s unreliable or somebody who shouldn`t be trusted or somebody whose integrity is in question, look, there are these legal complaints that you might have heard were being filed against him, right? The problem with going after James Comey and what he can testify to as to whether or not the president was pressuring him on the Russia investigation before he fired him, the problem with going after Comey is that Comey, as we know, took great care to make sure there was corroboration for his testimony to that fact.

Yesterday in Congress, a serving high ranking FBI official, head of the national security division at the FBI, testified in the Senate under oath that, yes, he had been briefed by James Comey about Comey`s interactions with Trump when those interactions happened. So, there`s one high ranking currently serving FBI official who can be called on under oath to testify whether or not -- as to whether or not Comey`s story about his conversations with the president stands up. And that FBI official is head of the national security division. He`s about one of a half dozen high- ranking FBI officials who are likely to be called to testify in that regard.

In addition to those high ranking FBI officials who are all going to make very credible witnesses because they`re all high ranking FBI officials, tonight, we also learned that the Senate Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement presumably with special counsel Bob Mueller, they have reached an agreement to obtain the memos that James Comey wrote contemporaneously right after he had his interactions with the president that are now subject of this criminal obstruction of justice investigation.

Senate Intelligence Committee is getting the Comey memos. Two questions to ask yourself about that. Number one, does that mean we ever get to see the James Comey memos? Because the Senate Intelligence Committee does lots of its work in secret, in classified settings.

And even though everybody thinks all of Congress leaks like a sieve, the Senate Intelligence Committee doesn`t really leak. Trust me. I try to get everybody to leak. That`s my job.

They do not leak. Senate Intelligence Committee, they squeak when you try to squeeze them. It`s very frustrating.

So, if they`re the ones who are getting Comey`s memo from the FBI, I don`t know if that means as we humans, we citizens are ever going to get to lay eyes on it.

Second question to ask yourself about this tonight -- why is it that the Senate Intelligence Committee that`s getting that memo? They explicitly, according to their chairman, are not investigating the obstruction of justice. The Comey memo, according to what we`ve heard about it, is specifically about President Trump pressuring James Comey, pressuring the FBI director to drop an open investigation.

Materially, for the purposes of obstruction of justice, it doesn`t really matter what the investigation was about. If a president tells an FBI director to shut down an FBI investigation, that`s an obstruction of justice issue. Obstruction of justice is not being investigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee. So, why are they the ones getting the memo?

Where they are supposedly investigating the obstruction of justice is in a different part of the Senate, it`s in the Judiciary Committee. Apparently, they`re not getting the Comey memo.

And there`s also something a little bit weird going on over there that you should know about. As this presidency and this White House have been so beleaguered, so pressured by these unprecedented, ongoing, very serious investigations that have already resulted in at least one federal grand jury being impaneled in Virginia. They`ve already resulted in the appointment of a very formidable special counsel in Bob Mueller. They`re already resulted in five separate investigations into the administration`s behavior up to and including in some cases the behavior of the president of the United States himself, right?

As we have watched this White House and this presidency feel the heat over the seriousness of this scandal that has surrounded them even in the early days of this presidency, it has been fascinating in human terms to watch the president, right, to watch the president himself and his administration in terms of how they`ve responded, how they would like to try to discredit the investigators who are looking into them. How they would like to do anything they can to try to shut this thing down.

But you know what, it`s not just them alone. It is increasingly clear that they are not having to do that all on their own.

I mean, the idea here is that when Trump does this stuff, when he tries to discredit the investigators looking at him, he does it in his like crazy Trump-y way. He has his, you know, very aggressive, good-haired, New York lawyer threaten to sue you, or threaten to file legal complaints against you. And it`s not real, but it`s supposed to be threatening anyhow, right? That`s kind of lurid and strange way that this president behaves and that`s interesting.

But it turns out we`re now seeing in addition to him and all of his interesting craziness, he has normal Republican politician allies. Normal Republicans who are now trying to do the same thing that he is doing. They`re trying to short-circuit and discredit the investigation -- at least they appear to be doing that. But they are not like Trump. They are doing it through normal political ways that we have seen before.

That`s next.


MADDOW: During Watergate, Nixon supporters tried to say that the special prosecutor Archibald Cox was a partisan Democrat, a political hit man who was out to destroy the Nixon presidency for partisan political reasons.

When the George W. Bush administration created a lethal scandal of their claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon reportedly asked the CIA to investigate the top U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq who turned up no evidence of Saddam having any WMD. When the CIA`s report came back without enough evidence to smear Hans Blix, Paul Wolfowitz reportedly went through the roof in response, hit the ceiling.

When the CIA itself sent an envoy to check out if Iraq was pursuing nuclear materials in Africa, the envoy found that Saddam was not doing that. The Bush administration nevertheless said he was doing that. The Bush administration`s response to the ensuring firestorm was that they fed the conservative media, damaging material about that envoy who the CIA had sent to Africa, including the fact that his wife was a covert operative for the CIA. They named her. They outed her.

And in the ensuing investigation into that is sort of bad ass U.S. attorney named Patrick Fitzgerald got appointed as a special prosecutor to look into the outing of that CIA agent. The Bush folks and the allies in the conservative media went after him, too. A guy named Bill Kristol went on FOX News and said this Patrick Fitzgerald, he`s just a partisan. He`s just out to politically wound the Bush administration.

You know, in this current administration, we`re used to this new president doing stuff his own way. He does stuff in kind of a crazy way for politicians, right? But going after the investigators who are looking into a president, who are looking into a scandal, trying to smear the investigators? That`s not something that only crazy seeming presidents do. That`s something that normal political figures do and have done since the beginning of time.

And we are now seeing a concerted effort on the right to try to attack former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Director Robert Mueller. It`s amazing to see the conservative media trying to destroy two former FBI directors. That is a hard sell.

Beyond that, we`ve also seen a turn in the conservative media just in the past few days where they have also started to attack the acting director now of the FBI, Andrew McCabe.

And now, here`s the thing to watch that`s happening in the United States Senate. In the U.S. Senate, it`s the Judiciary Committee that`s supposedly investigating obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice, question of whether, among other things, the president might have fired James Comey as a way to try to stop or pervert the FBI`s open investigation into various matters related to Russia.

Now, this Judiciary Committee is apparently not getting its hands on the Comey memo about his interactions with the president. That`s going somewhere else in the Senate. That`s strange enough in its own right.

But in terms of their own work in the Judiciary Committee, where they`re supposed to be investigating obstruction of justice, we`re now seeing the Republicans on that committee kind of start to go after the investigation itself, in a way that hasn`t really been picked up on. It hasn`t really been widely reported today. But it`s happening in plain sight.

Republican chairman of that crucial committee is Chuck Grassley, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. The head of the relevant subcommittee here is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

As of today, Grassley and Graham have sent a request to the FBI that the FBI hand over, look at this, all FISA warrants and requests for FISA warrants that the FBI had issued in their Russia investigation, and in the investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in that attack.

Hand over all the foreign surveillance warrants that you have asked for? Tell us what you have requested? I mean, that would be a really remarkable intrusion into the FBI`s investigation, right? This is an ongoing investigation into the Russian attack and the possibility that there were Americans who helped with it. If in the middle of that investigation, the FBI has to hand over all of their draft requests for warrants, all of their requests for warrants, and the response they got from the courts, they were requesting those warrants from, that would essentially lay bare everything they are doing in the middle of them doing it.

This is a remarkable request. We have posted this letter to the FBI that Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham just sent today. We posted it at our Web site at so you can see it if you`re interested in this stuff. Check this out. This is weird.

And you will see from the way they have written it that not only do they want basically to access all of the core materials from these ongoing FBI investigations into Russia, these warrants, they also appear to be driving at the question of why the FBI started its investigation into potential collusion by the Trump campaign in the first place. Remember that FBI investigation started last summer, last July.

These Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are now asking about why you started that investigation, what you had, what did you submit to the court, how did you get your warrants?

What they appear to be up to is basically trying to discredit the FBI for having started this investigation at all. What they`re implying is that the whole FBI investigation all stemmed from that dossier of allegations against Trump and his campaign. That one that was published in "BuzzFeed" in January, the Christopher Steele dossier. They`re saying, implicitly, that that dossier of material is unproven and suspect, and that that`s what the FBI`s whole investigation is all based on. And therefore, it`s all nonsense.

President Trump is flamboyant and, you know, prone to outrageous seeming conduct, like threatening legal action against his political opponents, whether or not he eventually follows through on those threats. His Republican allies, though, including those who are supposedly leading some of the investigations into him, they are not flamboyant. They are not outrageous in the same way that he is. They did these things in subtler ways.

But just do me a favor, look at this letter that we have just posted on our Web site tonight. You can see there in black and white, and in blue signature at the end, you can see the Senate Republicans basically trying to take apart the FBI for having done these investigations of Trump at all.

The attacks on the FBI are happening in the conservative media. They`re happening from the White House. They`re now happening in the official correspondence to the FBI from the Republicans in the United States Senate who are supposed to be participating in this investigation on their own terms.

Heads-up on that, they are trying to stop this thing in its tracks before it comes to its conclusion. Heads-up.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Some new polling came out on the Republican plan to kill the affordable care act today. Four different polls showing that approval for that bill ranges from a high of 27 percent, which is terrible, down to a low of 12 percent support, which is just astonishingly inhumanly bad -- 12 percent approval. People would rather get hit by a car.

Nevertheless, the Senate says they`re still trying to pass this thing. And so, Washington today looked like this.


PROTESTERS: My medicine costs almost $3,000 a month. My medicine costs almost $3,000 a month!

Without it, I`ll go back to paralysis. Without it, I`ll go back to paralysis!

I might die. I might die!

I don`t want to die. I don`t want to die!

We don`t want to die. We don`t want to die!

Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!


MADDOW: Today in Washington, it was like this everywhere. About a dozen of Colorado Senator Cory Gardner`s constituents staking out his off today. But he was just one of the pack of Republican senators who are (INAUDIBLE) by protesters oppose to the Republican bill to kill the Affordable Care Act.

At one point today, Capitol Hill reporters noted that every single floor in the whole Russell Senate Office building had at least one protest going on all at once against the Republican senators on the health bill.

Protesters sat down under a cluster of American flags outside Senator Lisa Murkowski`s office.

They sat down inside Senator Rob Portman`s office, in the sitting area at his office. Portman`s staff reportedly asked the Capitol police to please not make any arrests of those protesters. But police nevertheless brought out the zip ties and arrested some of those people from Portman`s office anyway.

Same thing over at Marco Rubio`s office, about a dozen people have a makeshift march in a tight Senate hallway outside his office door. Eight more people got picked up by police there and thrown out of the capitol there.

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey had a small human blockade sitting outside his D.C. office today. One of those protesters was arrested and dragged away by his arms.

This friendly looking group here swung by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton`s office, a lot of them from the Indivisible chapter that calls them the Ozark chapter of Indivisible. That group included this young woman from northeast Arkansas. Her name is Katy McFarland.

She uses a wheelchair, as you can see. She told Senator Cotton`s office that the Medicaid cuts in the Republican bill would kill her. She was arrested today. Her hands put up in zip ties.

By the end of the day, at least 40 people were arrested at the U.S. capitol today in protest against the Senate Republicans` health bill. Protests were outside the Senate offices, too, in considerable numbers. More than 2,000 people reportedly in the streets today protesting against the Republicans` bill.

In the face of all this pressure, Republicans in the Senate failed to bring their bill to a vote this week. They pulled it because they knew it would fail. Their hope now is presumably is to go dark for a while, to work on this bill quietly, behind the scenes, without fanfare, with the hopes they can twist the arms of the no votes hard enough that they can get this bill passed down the road, where fewer people will be paying attention and fewer people will be showing up at their offices.

But you know what? This weekend, the U.S. Senate leaves D.C. and they all go home for their holiday recess. You can guess what will be waiting on their door steps to welcome them home.

Joining us now is the one and only Chris Hayes, the host of "ALL IN."

Thank you for sticking around, my friend.

HAYES: My great pleasure.

MADDOW: You have been doing better reporting on the politics of this and the policy of this combined than anybody else. So, you`re not here just because I like you.

HAYES: Thank you. Thank you.

MADDOW: I learned more about this from you than anybody else.

What do you think is the most important thing to watch in terms of whether or not the Republicans are going to pass this? And if they do pass it, will it be something that we would recognize or a whole new bill?

HAYES: So, they have to do this very difficult thing, right, which is to move the bill to the left and right at the same time.


HAYES: Now, at first, you would say, well, that`s impossible, right? It`s a seesaw. They go over here, it`s going to go this way, right? But there`s this thing they do in Washington, I watched and I remember when I was at "The Nation" reporting, there`s a way to do that, which is to deregulate and throw money.

This is the vaunted Washington tradition of achieving bipartisanship or appeasing both sides, which is to do something like what`s in the House bill, which is, you know, the states can waive out of all these regulations, preexisting condition protections, guaranteed issue --

MADDOW: Everybody`s health care gets much worse.

HAYES: Everyone`s health care. Particularly, particularly, and this is what`s so insidious, particularly in states controlled by Republican governors, right? Or Republican legislators that are going to take advantage of those waivers, right?

So you give the conservatives that. And at the same time, you give the moderates billions of dollars. That is the way that they could conceivably get there.

Here is the big problem: Medicaid. Medicaid, Medicaid, is sitting at the core of it. Medicaid cuts are the most unpopular part of the bill and they are the biggest thing the bill is doing for budgetary reasons. And those folks that are in those hallways, those are the people whose lives are on the line. There`s no way to get around that.

MADDOW: Let me interject. Medicaid, the single, largest provider of health insurance in the United States.

HAYES: Correct.

MADDOW: Nobody is covered by more. No -- I mean, people think of it as like this niche thing that covers the poor, that covers the disabled, that covers nursing homes. Medicaid covers more people than any other type of insurance in the country.

HAYES: Not only that, it covers -- there`s 32 percent of households in West Virginia have someone on Medicaid.



Shelley Moore Capito, who is a key vote here, anything resembling this would be one of the most remarkable acts of state self-sabotage by an elected representative than I ever witnessed, and possibly ever in the recent legislative history of the United States, were she to vote for anything in the ballpark of what they are proposing.

MADDOW: Given the importance of Medicaid in her state.

So, you`re saying that if they -- since Medicaid is the spine on which this whole thing hangs, it`s the whole strategy, everything they`re doing here is about cutting Medicaid, that since they can`t get around that, no matter what else they do around the edges, it`s never going to be enough to bring over enough people to pass it?

HAYES: Well, unless people really knuckle under. I mean, that`s really the question.

I mean, forget the conservatives for a while. People want to rely on Rand Paul and Mike Lee. I mean, the people to watch are Rob Portman, Dean Heller, Shelley Moore Capito, and Susan Collins, all Republicans who represent states that have Medicaid expansion. They need to do things for their constituents.

And ultimately, the bill will come down to, do they actually care about their constituents on Medicaid in the states? Or are they willing to take some kind of symbolic tweak that lets them vote for it? That to me is the real question at the core of this.

Because you are correct, they can`t -- they have to cut Medicaid because they want to repeal taxes. And the only place -- why do you rob a bank? That`s where the money is. Why do you go to Medicaid? That`s where the spending is.

So, they want to repeal the taxes. They got to go to Medicaid. If they`re going to go to Medicaid, it`s going to be brutal. And those are the people to watch.

MADDOW: And that is very helpful, because all of this nonsense that other people who don`t understand this as well keep saying, oh, look, how interesting, Mike Lee is opposed.

HAYES: Yes, keep your eyes on the Medicaid. That`s right.

MADDOW: Thank you.

HAYES: All right.

MADDOW: As I said, you`ve been doing a great service on this. I appreciate it, man.

HAYES: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got a special guest here tonight for "The Interview." She is right in the middle of what is becoming a brand-new scandal in Washington. It is becoming a scandal because she personally stood up and blew the whistle on it to make that so.

That`s "The interview" tonight. That`s coming up. Stay with us.


MADDOW: A lot of things are very different in this new administration compared to the last one, compared to all previous administrations actually. But we`ve been following with particular interest the new administration`s overhaul of the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, because it appears to be an agency that they are using to very quickly and with a lot of determination upend a lot of rules that took a long time to put in place, that are rules designed to protect public health and safety.

We`ve been watching the EPA closely. We`ve been watching the EPA from the start, including this salient moment in February.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Should I give this pen to Andrew? Dow Chemicals. I think maybe, right?



MADDOW: Andrew. Andrew?

The president there signing an order for agencies to start the wholesale deletion of health and safety rules that sort of keep industry in check. And then he looked around, thanked by name, Andrew. Andrew, the head of Dow Chemical.

Andrew, welcome to the oval office. Have a ceremonial pen. You`re the guy we`re working for now.

We got some new news today about where the boss of Dow Chemical has been hanging out with regard to the new administration. "The A.P." reporting today the Dow Chemical CEO met with the head of the EPA while the EPA was deciding the fate of a particular Dow Chemical pesticide.

Here`s the entry on EPA chief Scott Pruitt`s calendar, which we have obtained. March 9th, 3:05 to 3:30, meet with Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical, Hilton Americas, Houston, eighth floor, room five. Alcove for check-in.

And then three weeks later, the head of the EPA brushed aside the findings of EPA scientists and said, no, I`m not siding with you, instead I`m siding with Dow Chemical, whose CEO I just met in that hotel room.

He declared Dow Chemical`s pest side would be just fine. There would be no ban. Never mind what the EPA scientists had already said about it.

We`ve seen so many whiplash changes from the last administration to the new one. But the sidelining of science is one thing you`ve been able to watch in real-time.

Last month, we got the news that EPA was canning several members of an important science advisory board, apparently after the scientists had initially been told they could stay. One of the ousted scientists said the cuts, quote, just came out of nowhere.

Now, for the record, the EPA says no one was fired. The agency said the scientists could all reapply for their jobs if they wanted to, send in your resume.

Soon after the EPA showed those scientists the door, the remaining chair of the board was called by Congress to testify. The House Science Committee wanted to hear from her about what was going on inside the EPA, how she saw the role of science in helping government make decisions.

Here`s the thing: when officials at the EPA found out about that, when they found out that she planned to testify as a scientist, they sort of went bananas. This is from the freaking chief of staff, the new Trump administration chief of staff at the EPA, the day before that scientist`s scheduled appearance saying he needed to, quote, get a copy of her testimony and discuss her question period, sending her talking points that the EPA wanted her to use in her testimony as a scientist, telling her it would be important to clarify her testimony, which she had already submitted. Telling her it would be important to say the scientists that were serving with her on her board, they hadn`t really been fired.

But by the time the EPA chief of staff tried to send her those talking points and instructions, that scientist had already filed her own written testimony with the congressional committee. She told them, the EPA she was not going to change her words. She told "The New York Times" this week she did not at all appreciate the interference from the EPA chief of staff, trying to change her testimony as a scientist.

Quote, I was stunned that he was pushing me to, quote, correct something in my testimony. Quote, I was factual, and he was not.

Despite the pressure from on high at the EPA, that scientist did get up there on Capitol Hill and she testified, just as she planned to do, in her own words, as a scientist. She has been unwavering in her response in the EPA and the way they`ve been trying to pressure her as a scientist.

And she joins us here for "The Interview" next.


MADDOW: If you personally were called upon to stand up to the president of the United States or a brand-new federal administration in the U.S. government, you could scarcely come to that moment with a better god-given name.


DEBORAH SWACKHAMER, SCIENTIST: My name is Deb Swackhamer and I`m a former professor from the University of Minnesota.


MADDOW: Swackhamer. You heard her right. Scientist Deborah Swackhamer appeared before Congress last month to testify about the need for robust and independent science and making governmental decisions about public health and safety. Professor Swackhamer was there to give basically a warning about the appearance of politicizing and marginalizing science within the EPA, down to that hollowing out of academic scientists on the EPA board that she chairs.

We now know that behind the scenes, the EPA was trying to get her to change her testimony so she would be more in line with agency talking points. Professor Swackhamer responded, quote: My testimony is submitted and embargoed. I assure you my main message is mine, mine, mine alone, and it is that strong science is needed to ensure public health.

And then scientist Deborah Swackhamer went to Capitol Hill exactly as she promised she would, and she delivered her testimony despite that pressure.

Joining us now for "The Interview" tonight is Deborah Swackhamer. She`s chair of the EPA`s Board of Scientific Counselors. She`s professor emeritus of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota.

Professor, thank you very much for being here. I really appreciate it.

SWACKHAMER: Thank you for having me.

MADDOW: You are currently chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors at the EPA.

SWACKHAMER: That`s correct.

MADDOW: What is the role of that board?

SWACKHAMER: This board reports to the assistant administrator of research and development at EPA, and we guide the assistant administrator in the research that`s done internally at EPA.


SWACKHAMER: So, it`s all about just what`s going on in EPA. We don`t deal with regulations. We don`t deal with policy. We`re dealing with kind of the basic science that`s going into eventually maybe to support regulations.

But we`re overseeing that science and giving advice on, is it the right science? Are they doing it with the best methodology? Is it, you know, the gold standard? Is it going to withstand scrutiny when it goes --

MADDOW: So you`re helping the decision makers, the active decision makers at EPA make sense of and understand the import and the solidity of the science that`s going into EPA decisions?

SWACKHAMER: Yes, and it`s even a little further upstream than that. Is it good science? Is it the right science?

MADDOW: What is the state of that board now?

SWACKHAMER: Well, many of the -- most of the members have been told they are not going to be continued into a second term, and so the board that used to be about 68 members is now going to end up being 11 members as of September 1, because so many of those members were going to have the first term renewal, but now those members aren`t going to have a first term renewal. So, basically the board has been kind of decimated.

And our activities have been essentially suspended. We`re sort of in suspended animation because all of our future meetings have also been canceled.

MADDOW: All of your future meetings?

SWACKHAMER: Yes. We had six scheduled in the fall, and then we were in the process of deciding how those -- what the agendas were going to be and how those meetings were going to move forward. And they all were canceled because there are no committee members to attend them. I mean, we don`t have enough warm bodies to keep BOSC going. BOSC is the acronym.

MADDOW: Given what the role of this board is, which seems crucial when you describe it in the terms you just described it, is it your sense that EPA is replacing the role of this science advisory board with something else? Are they getting advice on how to interpret scientific problems and scientific work and the science done within the EPA from people other than the scientists who used to do it?

SWACKHAMER: I don`t know how they`re going to be doing that unless they`re doing it internally. So, if you`re going to have really good science to support strong regulations because you go to court and have to have robust science in order to withstand that, you have to have peer review of that science. So, you do the science, and then I look at it as an outsider, and I say, you know, you could have tweaked this, or maybe you want to do that, or you didn`t include this study and you should have, you know. Then you`re getting that outside review, a fresh set of eyes, an objective review.

And without that, you can really go astray. You really don`t have strong science. So, EPA is going to continue to do science, but they`re not going to have that really strong outside, independent viewpoint for some time because BOSC, the Board of Scientific Counselors, it`s going to take them six to nine months to probably get that repopulated, get new meetings scheduled and actually do anything. So, they`re going to miss about a year of valid, important, kind of critical science advice. It`s a very critical time right now for them.

MADDOW: How unusual was it for you to get this pressure that you got from the new chief of staff at the EPA about your congressional testimony?

SWACKHAMER: Well, it was highly unusual for me because I`ve only testified in front of Congress a few times. So that alone was a pretty unusual experience.

But getting these e-mails the night before was very disturbing. It was very -- I have to say I was pretty intimidated because I had made it very clear to everyone that I was testifying as an independent scientific expert, and I was not testifying as an EPA witness. And I had told EPA that and cleared it with their ethics folks.

So I knew what I could and could not do given that I was also chair of this committee. So, I was following what I thought were the right rules, and after the first exchange of e-mails, we kind of sorted out that I`m not an EPA witness.

But then I kept getting these e-mails. And then I got that final e-mail which was, we want you to change your testimony. And it was a minor point, but it was changing the message I was giving. It was changing the wording, and I thought who are they to be telling me what I`m supposed to be saying when it`s my testimony? And further more, I`ve already submitted it.

So I was very intimidated by that. I wasn`t happy about that.

MADDOW: And you gave your testimony as you intended to give your testimony.

SWACKHAMER: Absolutely.

MADDOW: Deborah Swackhamer, chair of the EPA`s Board of Scientific Counselors, emeritus professor at the University of Minnesota, thank you for helping us understand this at all levels. And thank you for what you did.

SWACKHAMER: Thank you so much.

MADDOW: Good to meet you.

SWACKHAMER: Thank you.

MADDOW: We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Where does the time go? That does it. I was totally preparing to do a whole another segment.

Control room just got in my ear and said, Maddow, time`s up. Sorry. Got an amazing thing to tell you tomorrow.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again then.


Good evening, Lawrence.