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Senate democrats meeting on Stopgap bill Transcript 1/19/18 The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Mazie Hirono, Fredreka Schouten

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: January 19, 2018 Guest: Mazie Hirono, Fredreka Schouten

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris, I know you had a couple of Fridays off, around the birth of your child.

HAYES: I did.

MADDOW: And maybe had a sense of things, you would be coming back to a normal workweek situation. I hope you didn`t forget Fridays are always insane.

HAYES: An absolute buzzsaw.

MADDOW: Yes, that`s exactly right.

HAYES: Every day.

MADDOW: And anybody that thinks like the news week winds down and Fridays are easy days, may (ph) take the day off. No, it`s oppositeville.

HAYES: A raging fire, as always.

MADDOW: Have a good weekend, my friend. Thank you.

HAYES: Thanks. You too.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this here. Yes, happy Friday. Nobody gets to have a normal Friday anymore, not for the foreseeable future. If there is one thing we learned in the past year, right? If it`s Friday, go to work.

It is 9:00 on the East Coast right now and that means three hours to the federal government shutting down. Now, why exactly are they shutting down the government? That`s a way better question than it should be when we`re this close to shutting down the government when nobody can answer why it`s happening.

Never before in American history have we had a full government shutdown while the same party controlled the White House and the House and Senate. But you know what? Hey, why not try something completely unprecedented in American history every single day of the year for a full year?

Why not? This is what our lives are like now. History is no longer something from which we can extrapolate. All change. Every day. Try it.

Here is what we think is going to happen over the course of this evening. Here is why everybody is going to be watching the news into the wee hours tonight. Now as I said, it`s just after 9:00 p.m. on the East Coast.

In order to prevent the shutdown of the federal government, the Senate has to pass a bill that funds the government and they have to pass that by midnight. Well, one hour from now at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, they have scheduled a vote on that and nobody knows how that vote is going to go by our last informal count, it still looked like they might not even be close.

But here is the thing, just in the past few minutes, all of the senators on the Democratic side have gone into an all hands on deck meeting. So far, the Democrats have not been willing to cross over and vote for the Republicans` bill in part because they have been clear from the beginning that they will only move forward if there is protection for the DREAMers, for the young people that came as kids protected by the DACA program.

The Democrats, though, are meeting right at this second. They`ve been meeting in the LBJ room in the Capitol. I have been in that room to do interviews. Sometimes, they set up interviews in that room because it`s very, very fancy. It makes you feel very important to be in that room. Hopefully, it`s inspiring them to some higher purpose.

The Democratic senators have been in there talking about what they will do for this vote, which again happens at 10:00 p.m. I think we`re going to have one of those Democratic senators on the phone with us, or maybe in front of a camera if we can swing it in just a couple of minutes, just as she`s coming out of that meeting. Hopefully, she`ll be able to tell us what the Democrats have decided to do.

That said, right now, that yes or no vote, that crucial vote is scheduled for the top of this hour and as far as I`m concerned, only Frank Thorp, only Frank Thorp, NBC News Capitol Hill producer and reporter could possibly tell us what is likely to happen.

Mr. Thorp joins us now live from Capitol Hill.

Frank, thank you very much for your time tonight. I`m not over stating your powers here, am I?

FRANK THORP, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL PRODUCER: No, no, no. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it. That`s a lot to live up to.

MADDOW: Well, what`s up? What`s going on there as best you can tell? What do you think we should we be watching for over the course of this next hour as we`re heading towards this crucial vote?

THORP: We`re looking at whether or not more Senate Democrats are going to come out in support of this House C.R. As you said, there`s going to be this vote at 10:00 and they need 60 votes to move forward to a final vote on this bill, and right now, they don`t have those votes. They are looking at a failed vote in this instance.

You have four Senate Democrats who have come out and said that they would vote for this measure, but that means they need at least nine more. And so, they are in a situation here where they actually have been shuttling around. They have been having meetings, Democrats are meeting now.

Marc Short, the legislative affairs director from the White House, has been shuttling between offices here, between McConnell`s office, Cornyn`s office, Republicans are trying to meet. They are trying to figure out something they can get around that they can actually get to where they can keep this government open.

But as of right now, there is no plan B. I just ran into Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and I asked him, what is plan B? He said, I don`t think we have a plan B right now.

So, right now, what we`re looking at is a situation where if this vote goes down, conversations will have to start, and if anybody wants to get anything done, there`s been discussions about whether or not there`s a three-week C.R. or a shorter C.R., but a lot of leadership aides have been saying those won`t go anywhere. So, seriously, Rachel, we`re in a situation where if this vote goes down at 10:00, there is no plan B.

MADDOW: And, Frank, when the Senate takes a vote, do they have to pass the same thing the House passed so there is a bill that can be reconciled between the chambers that the president can sign?

THORP: Well, so, this vote at 10:00 is going to be related to the House- passed vote or the House-passed C.R. But like I said, the Senate procedurally if everybody agrees to coalesce around a bill, that could happen very quickly. All it takes all 100 senators to do so. But if this looks like the brink of a shutdown, if they get into tomorrow or Sunday or Monday and all of a sudden, they decide this is enough, they can all 100 senators agree, OK, let`s have a vote now on a C.R., or a government funding bill that will actually keep the doors open. Keep the lights on here in the Capitol.

But like I said, those conversations here go back and forth. It`s like can we do a three-month C.R., can we do a two-month C.R. There`s been talk about whether or not they can do a five-day C.R. to keep negotiations going on DACA and what to do with the DREAMers. But at the moment, those talks have really gone nowhere because they`ve been waiting to do this vote that`s going to happen at 10:00. Now, there is the thing, to vote could have happened last night and Senator Chuck Schumer offered to do this vote last night to prove this vote would go down yesterday. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, no, no, no we want to have it tomorrow. They were trying to put pressure on Democrats so they would have the vote right up at the brink of a shutdown.

The reality is, though, nothing has changed. The vote count really hasn`t changed. We haven`t seen any Democrats surprisingly going to vote yes on this bill. Right now, we`re in the same situation we saw ourselves in 24 hours ago.

MADDOW: Frank Thorp, NBC News Capitol Hill reporter and producer -- Frank, I have a feeling this won`t be the last time we speak with you this evening. Thanks for joining us. Please let us know when you have any new dirt. Really appreciate it.

THORP: Will do, thanks.

MADDOW: All right. We`re going to bring into the conversation now, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. She`s a Democratic senator. She just left that meeting of all her fellow Democratic senators and has been able to get on the air with us tonight live.

Senator Hirono, thank you so much for being with us.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: So, what can you tell us about this -- the Democrats meeting that you`ve just left? What was decided?

HIRONO: The caucus is still going on, so as far as I`m concerned, things have not been decided. Where I am is where a lot of my colleagues are and that is without a protection for the DREAMers, without funding for children`s health, and without funding for community health centers, without parity and opioid support, et cetera, the House-passed bill is going nowhere in the Senate.

MADDOW: What kind of discussions are happening among your fellow Democratic senators? We just heard from our Capitol Hill producer and reporter Frank Thorp there, that there are four Democratic senators who are planning on voting for this funding measure that would leave the total nine short in terms of how many votes they would need to keep the government open at midnight.

What kinds of negotiations are happening among Democrats now?

HIRONO: Let`s start with the proposition that nobody wants the government shutdown. We should never have come to this point because there was bipartisan support for a DACA or DREAMer bill.

When the president said that I will sign a bipartisan bill and when he was presented with one, he said no way. We have support for children`s health. We have support for community health centers, so there was no reason for us to get to this point.

And for the House to pass a bill that only has funding for the children`s health center, they are pitting one group against another. It`s like saying, do you want your right arm cut off or left arm? We shouldn`t be cutting off any arms. We should have gotten to this long before tonight.

So, as you mentioned, Rachel, the people who are in charge of both the House, Senate and the presidency, the Republicans, they set the agenda. They have brought us to this pass. At this point, we should all act like adults.

As far as I`m concerned, Congress is a separate branch of government. For us to be waiting around to see where the president wants to go, it would be helpful if the president could tell us where the heck he is because he keeps changing his mind. But short of that, we should do our jobs and take care of the DREAMers, take care of the children`s health, take care of our community health centers and opioids and those things that there is already agreement on and get on with it, and send a bill to the White House and the president can sign it or not as he will.

MADDOW: Senator Hirono, you said there that nobody wants a shutdown. It does seem like, I mean, we don`t know what will happen over the next two and a half, three hours but it does seem like that`s where we`re heading. Do you have the sense there is a plan B or at least an after plan? If we hit the shutdown at midnight, if there is no progress to be made tonight, what happens next?

Obviously, the government starts to go through the process of shutting down. That`s a painful and expensive process. When do things start up again in terms of trying to find some way to reopen it?

HIRONO: This totally avoidable shutdown, if it happens, I would expect would be that there would be a sense of urgency on everyone`s part to get on with it and end the shut down ASAP and address the concerns that we all agree upon. Those are the measures that I just talked about.

MADDOW: You sound like you`ve been taken over by a drum major.

HIRONO: There is a lot going on here tonight.

MADDOW: I know, everybody is working very late. Thank you for joining us, for stepping out of the caucus.

HIRONO: Thank you.

MADDOW: Please keep us apprised tonight, Senator.

HIRONO: Thank you, aloha.

MADDOW: Senator Mazie Hirono stepping out of the ongoing Democratic senators` caucus right now.

So, think about what that means. As far as we know, they went into that LBJ room, all senators at about 8:30 p.m. We spoke with Senator Hirono`s staff hoping to get her on the air, thinking that if we put her on the air right around now, they might have been done and she could report to us what was going on there.

What she told us now is she stepped out in order to give us that update, but she`s now going back in. That caucus is still underway. What that means is that Democrats right now at 11 minutes past 9:00 on the East Coast are still negotiating among themselves as to how they`re going to vote in less than an hour. This vote is going to happen at 10:00.

Very interesting point from Frank Thorp as well, from our Capitol Hill reporter and producer. Frank was saying that this vote that they are about to be taking tonight at 10:00, which is about, you know, should we or shouldn`t we shut down the largest organization on earth in two hours?

That very momentous vote is the exact same vote on the exact same terms that could have happened last night. That`s what the Democrats reportedly put forward. That`s what Senator Chuck Schumer offered last night.

Listen, you want to see where everybody is? You want to make everybody get on the record to see exactly where we are? Republicans said no because they wanted that vote to be even closer to the shut down deadline. Then over the course of today, nothing changed. So, that`s how we got to this absolute brink.

We`re going to stay on this, obviously, over the course of this evening. We expect the vote to be at 10:00. We haven`t heard anything about that being delayed. The Democrats are still huddling, all eyes on them at this point.

But they are a lot of votes short of keeping the government open and as we reported, there is no plan B and there is no plan for what to do after the shut down goes into effect. There is not like oh, things are shutting down. Now, we meet in this other context and talk about this other list of things. Everybody is just joining hands and jumping.

That`s no way to run a country.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: As we continue to watch the U.S. Capitol tonight as we hurdle towards what appears to be a government shutdown for which no one can quite explain the reason.

Consider the year 1952. 1952 was the year that Queen Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth in Britain. That is when she assented to the thrown and became queen.

Twenty-five years later, in 1977, they are celebrating the 25th anniversary of her becoming queen. They`re celebrating her silver jubilee, Britain decided to celebrate that anniversary of her rise to the throne by giving her -- drum roll, please -- her own subway line. The jubilee line on the London tube was given to the queen basically as a present in 1977. They named it for the 25-year anniversary of her becoming queen.

But then, she just kept on ticking. In 2002, she had her 50-year anniversary, her golden jubilee. On the occasion of her golden jubilee, her 50 years in power, Great Britain invented a new chicken salad just for her, jubilee chicken. There apparently had been a coronation chicken for her back from the `50s. Coronation chicken was basically just chicken with mayonnaises and curry.

When they invented the new chicken salad for her for her jubilee chicken at her 50-year mark, they updated the recipe. It was still chicken and mayonnaises but this time instead of curry, it had lime and ginger in it.

For her 50th anniversary, for her golden jubilee, they also threw her a very large rock concert on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. A lot of other people appeared to enjoy that, if not her. They gave out picnic baskets including jubilee chicken sandwiches to hundreds of thousands of people who came to Buckingham Palace for the celebration. The queen did not appear to dig the music at he concert, but we did for the ages obtain two and a half seconds of videotape of the queen standing next to Ozzie Osborne. Yes, that`s him.

But she kept on ticking after that. Of course, her 60-year anniversary, her diamond jubilee was in 2012. For that one, they gave her probably what she didn`t want. They gave her yet another concert.

They also incidentally had a chef update the recipe for the jubilee chicken. Once again, mayo and by the 60-year anniversary, they apparently use coriander. It`s probably very light, very nice.

I think by the 60-year anniversary, but diamond jubilee they were running out of nice things to do for her. We`ve done the fireworks. We`ve done Paul McCartney. We`ve done the chicken recipe a million times, what do we?

For that 60-year commemoration back in 2012, they did all that stuff. They also in some ways went kind of small and poignant. In Canada for example, a group of Canadian and British mountaineers claimed Mountain Barbeau in the Canadian Arctic and at the summit, they collectively held a tea party at the top of the mountain to celebrate the queen`s 60 years in power. That`s what the diamond jubilee was like.

When she inevitably makes it to 70 years in power and it is time for her platinum jubilee, they`re going to have to fly her to the moon or something. They have already pulled out all the stops for these commemorations. There is only so many things you can do with chicken and mayonnaise.

Here in the United States, we don`t have a thing that you`re supposed to do to commemorate the ascension to power of an American president. Even for, you know, revered presidents, even for, you know, revered president from centuries past, we don`t celebrate their ascension to power the way they do in some other countries.

I think that`s because in America, the presidency is a permanent thing. No one person is ever larger than the office itself, and the office itself never goes away, not as long as we have this republic. But still, it does feel like a big milestone for us as a country that we are rolling up on the one-year mark for this remarkable new presidency.

President Donald Trump was sworn in one year ago tomorrow. It does feel particularly unpropitious to look at that milestone from an international lens, in terms of how America was seen in the world with this new president. Gallup has just released its world poll of how America and American leadership are viewed in 134 countries across the globe. One year into the Trump presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is weaker worldwide than it has ever been before in the history of the Gallup world poll.

The previous low in terms of the previous worst view of American leadership, previous worst was a 34 percent approval rating for U.S. leadership under the presidency of George W. Bush who you might remember was very unpopular globally in particular because of the Iraq War. Under this president, we have dropped through that floor. We have dropped four points below that previous low point, so that median approval of U.S. leadership across the world stands at a record low of only 30 percent.

And it has been a precipitous drop. It dropped 18 points in one year since Barack Obama left office. In our hemisphere, in the Americas, it`s even worse than the rest of the world. The image of U.S. leadership in the other countries of North America and South America, the image of U.S. leadership in the Americas has not only dropped to a new low in our hemisphere, it has dropped by more than half just in one year since Trump has been in office.

In terms of global leadership, the rest of the world no longer sees the United States as the top rated global power in the world. That title now belongs quite comfortably to Germany. We`ve been knocked down to below China and just below above Russia.

At the same time, Gallup released those global numbers, Gallup also separately found that as he reaches the one-year mark in office, President Trump has the lowest average rating of any elected American president ever over the course of his first year. There has never been an American president who is more disliked in his first year in office than this one has been. And that`s true both around the world and here at home.

So, you know, that`s something, right? What a time to be alive. And even though that record disapproval here at home has been true over the course of his entire first year in office, him hitting the one-year mark itself is proving to have some particularly cringe-worthy elements. This year for the first time ever as you know tonight, we`re expecting to celebrate the one-year mark of a new president`s first year in office by shutting down the federal government.

Literally, as the clock strikes midnight, we will hit 365 days of Trump and the federal government will shut down in that instant. And that`s never happened before as a president hit the one-year mark. But beyond that, it`s also never happened before while one party is in control, unified control of Washington, the White House and the House and the Senate.

So, there has been meetings and negotiations and press statements and mutual public snarking all day from members of the administration, and from members of the U.S. Senate. The Senate will be voting in less than an hour, less than 40 minutes from now.

But as of right now, there is no clear sign that tonight`s midnight shutdown is going to be avoided. While the inauguration was a year ago tomorrow, a year ago Saturday, I think for a lot of Americans, the indelible images that really stick with us from a year ago in Washington are not just the pictures of President Trump being sworn in, they are also these pictures. We knew heading into inaugural weekend there was a women`s march called for the day after the inauguration in Washington. We knew that heading into the inaugural festivities. I think there was some inkling that those marches might end up being big, but honestly, nobody including the organizers expected that more than a half million people would turn up in Washington alone the day after the inauguration. Nobody expected that that march and demonstration in Washington alone would dwarf the inauguration itself from the previous day.

What was even more overwhelming is that was not just D.C., not by a long shot. The D.C. protest as massive and overwhelming as it was, was one of many and it wasn`t even the biggest. Atlanta was massive. Los Angeles was absolutely massive. New York City was almost unimaginably big. Seattle was basically taken over by their march. Chicago was huge.

There were hundreds of these marches and almost all of them were bigger than people expected them to be. Many of them were the largest ever held in those cities. The women`s marches held a day after Trump`s inauguration a year ago, those turned out to be across the country, the biggest single day of street demonstrations in American history.

Well, this weekend, one year on as the government likely shuts down, you will see women`s marches in D.C. and New York and in Los Angeles and around the country. They won`t be as big as they were the day after the inauguration. I don`t think anything will be that big for a long time in this country. But this president and the movement of Americans opposed to this president are both really hitting the one-year mark in various kinds of strides.

As we look towards the likely shut down tonight, as we hit this one-year mark and as the president presumably still plans to go to Mar-a-Lago to celebrate his one year in office despite the shut down, and as the women`s march plans to hit the streets once again tomorrow, you should know, you should know, that there is one thing about this one-year mark that is really, really, really not ageing well and we got that story for you next.


MADDOW: -- spot for this administration to this day, I know, and I`m not poking at it because it bothers them. I`m not poking at it just to be mean, I swear. It actually ends up being important for current news right now to know and to be real about the fact that the Trump inauguration one year ago was not a very well-attended inauguration. I know it bugs them for people to talk about that. They had made that clear from day one.


SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe. Even "The New York Times" printed the phota -- a photograph showing they -- that a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth and crowd and intensity that existed.


MADDOW: I have had a full year to diagram that sentence, and I still cannot -- what is the thing? I know he says at the beginning, this is the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period, and everybody swallows their tongues, what? But then, what`s the thing he says at the end? Play that again.


SPICER: The phota -- a photograph showing they -- that a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth and crowd and intensity that existed.


MADDOW: Photograph showing that a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth and crowd and intensity that existed. I still don`t know, I still don`t know what that is.

But the thing about -- but the thing about this being the biggest inauguration ever, that was not true. If we`re going to be honest and fair about this, I think it is worth considering that the reason it wasn`t a very well-attended inauguration is because they didn`t really try, right?

There wasn`t really much to this inauguration. There were only a handful of inaugural balls. I think there were three inaugural balls as compared to like 10 for the last Obama inauguration. The inaugural parade was like tractors and stuff. And I love tractors more than anybody else you know, but there were empty stands I think in part because people didn`t want to sit in the rain for hours and hours and hours and watch tractors.

The musical acts who they booked were like DJ Robby Drums and, you know, dancers and stuff, Irish dancers and tap dancers. There is nothing wrong with that. It just makes for a small inauguration.

The biggest inauguration ever was Barack Obama`s inaugural in 2009. That`s these pictures. That makes sense, right? The country was pretty unified against the outgoing administration, even if you hadn`t voted for Barack Obama, here was the nation`s first African-American president, right? This was a ginormous inauguration, biggest ever.

And for the 2009 Barack Obama inauguration, they raised more money than anybody ever raised for an inauguration before. There was $53 million to pay for that inauguration, but they spent it because it was huge. It was the biggest event ever in Washington.

One of the things we noted early on this past year about the Trump inauguration is that even though it was comparatively modest, it just wasn`t that ambitious and it was fairly sparsely attended, frankly, it was dwarfed by the protests against it that happened the next day, but despite all of that, despite the smallness of the Trump inauguration, for that inauguration, they raised double the amount of money that they raised for the biggest inauguration ever for Barack Obama in 2009, and that never really made sense at all.

That`s like if your family saved up and set aside $40,000 to buy a new family car and your whole family is like wow, that is a lot of money to spend for a new car, we are going to get a really nice new car. We set aside $40,000. That`s a really big deal for your family and then decided that you`d also set aside $80,000 for lunch, right? It doesn`t make sense. That doesn`t cost twice as much as that.

Why did the Trump inaugural raise all that extra money for that comparatively small event and where did the money go? They raised over $100 million. It was clear early on with the empty stands and the like the high school bands and the country fair kind of entertainment that they could not have spent over $100 million on this inaugural festivities. That was very clear early on and they copped to that.

Early on starting last year, starting last January, a year ago, they explained that any excess funds left over after the inauguration would be donated to charity. Now, when there was no sign that happened, in March of last year, they announced that the inaugural fund would be wrapped up and the excess funds would be donated to charity and it would happen by late April.

Well, then, that didn`t happen, either. By June, facing continued questions, the head of the inaugural committee announced nobody should worry what happened to the money. He announced that, in fact, a full audit had been done of the inaugural committee spending. A full audit had been done by an outside independent entity. That said, tellingly, they refused to say who that auditor was and they refused to release the results of the audit.

By September, there was still no sign of where all that money went or who had it. The inaugural committee announced that they would be winding down, they`d make a full account of their funds, all the charities would get all of their millions by November. Well, that doesn`t appear to have happened either.

When the hurricanes hit Texas and the Caribbean, Tom Barrack, the head of Trump`s inaugural committee, announced that $3 million of the leftover money would be donated to hurricane relief. He named three charities that would split a $3 million donation. The Red Cross wouldn`t say whether they got that donation, Samaritan`s Purse would not say whether they got that donation, the third one was supposed to be the Salvation Army. Salvation Army told us today they are checking and they will get back to us.

But until we hear from them, there is no confirmation that any of these payments were actually made, nor have they closed the inaugural committee. Inaugural committees are always closed by now, nor have they accounted for any funds, nor has anyone associated with Trump`s inauguration even posited a plausible scenario for what they did with what is likely to be many tens of millions of dollars.

And in any administration, a pile of tens of millions of dollars sloshing around unaccounted for somewhere inside the White House, that`s not a good thing. In this White House, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

So, we`ve been trying to figure this out for months. We have contracted Tom Barrack, who is the chair of the presidential inaugural committee. He`s a long-time friend of the president until Michael Wolff`s "Fire and Fury" book came out, there was talk Tom Barrack was going to replace John Kelly as the new White House chief of staff. Then, in Michael Wolff`s book, Tom Barrack is quoted as saying about President Trump, quote: he`s not only crazy, he`s stupid.

Mr. Barrack denies he said that about the president, but you could imagine that sort of thing might cause some strain in their relationship. I don`t know. Regardless of what`s going on with Tom Barrack more broadly in the administration, though, he is the chair of the presidential inaugural committee and he has not been able to give us explanation for what has gone wrong here, for why the committee hasn`t wound down, why they haven`t been able to make any account of where the money went, despite all of their promises and all of these interstitial dates, about all these dates, all these days that were supposedly going to come out.

I should tell you Tom Barrack`s office did return our calls and were nice, but they have steadfastly refused to answer any of our substantive questions about this money. So, we figured out, well, who else can we call? Usually, this is not a hard thing to figure out, like inaugural funds are pretty straightforward things, right? You raise money to pay for a specific thing that ends on one day. You wind up, you pay all your subcontractors, you tell people what happened to the money and you go away. Like usually, it`s really simple. This one we had to scramble to figure out who else can we call? There is no sort of -- there`s no regular way to do this. This has never been a problem before.

Well, when we didn`t get anywhere with Mr. Barrack, we then tried calling the treasurer for the presidential inaugural committee, right? This is a money issue. Now, the treasurer is a much lower profile figure than Tom Barrack. He`s not a well-known person. His name is Doug Ammerman. We`ve obtained the FEC filings for the Trump presidential inaugural committee. Mr. Ammerman is listed officially as the treasurer of that committee, which means ultimately he should be responsible for explaining what happened to the money that went into and that conceivably came out of that giant fund.

I don`t know how Doug Ammerman ended up being the treasurer of President Trump`s inaugural committee. The only other way he has ever made government-related news was when he was named as an unindicted conspirator in a major criminal tax evasion case involving his former employer, KPMG.

We wrote and called companies where Mr. Ammerman sits on the board to try to get in touch with him, thinking that might be a way to reach him but Mr. Ammerman would not return our calls. At least he hasn`t yet. We live in hope.

The other person we tried contracting, really the only person we could think of to try to contact about this is the deputy chairman of the inaugural committee. Maybe he could explain what they did with the money. Why they said it would be cleared up in January and then in April and September and November and still not been cleared up and nobody knows where the money is.

We contacted the deputy chairman of the presidential inaugural committee to ask him those questions and we didn`t hear back from him, either. But you need to know in his case, he has a pretty good excuse, because the deputy chairman of the Trump inaugural committee was Rick Gates, who was currently under indictment by a special counsel Robert Mueller for a dozen felony charges related to money laundering among other things.

As part of that litigation, Rick Gates has been ordered by the court to not talk to the press or say anything in public about his case. And even though the stuff we want to ask him about is not technically about his case, at least we don`t think it is, it is not surprising that Rick Gates didn`t respond when we tried to ask him what happened to these unaccounted for tens of millions of dollars.

We did also try Mr. Gates` lawyer and we haven`t heard back from the lawyer, although like I said, we live in hope. We`ve hit the one-year mark for the Donald Trump presidency. Nobody is getting a commemorative subway line or a reimaginged chicken salad, right? We don`t do that in this country.

But there is something novelistic, even poetic about the fact that we are marking one year in office with a potential shutdown of the federal government, while it`s under unified Republican control. And as we hit this one-year mark tonight at midnight, we have yet to resolve, we have barely scratched the surface at figuring out a major financial and potentially legal scandal about an unaccounted for giant slush fund that people around the president have been not telling the truth about for a year and are now refusing to answer any questions about, which means alongside all of the others, there is a significant Trump administration follow the money scandal that dates literally to the very first day he was president of the United States.

Joining us now is Fredreka Schouten. She`s a reporter for "USA Today". She`s been able to follow this trail further than any other reporter that`s worked on this story.

Ms. Schouten, thank you very much for being here tonight. I really appreciate it.


MADDOW: So, as I explained what`s going on here in terms of why there is questions about this stuff and what we don`t know, does that basically jive with your reporting? Is that basically your understanding of the situation?

SCHOUTEN: That`s basically it. I have not been able to get any answers, either. Mr. Barrack`s spokesperson who, as you said, very polite, said they could not comment at this time when I asked them this week what happened to the surplus funds, you know, how much money is there left? So, yes, pretty much a brick wall.

MADDOW: We -- one of the things I think is difficult about this story is that it`s hard to look at the inauguration which is what those funds were supposed to pay for and to guesstimate what might have been spent there, to guessimate how much is likely left over. If there are tens of millions of dollars sloshing around somewhere inside the Trump inaugural committee unaccounted for, it would be good to have a ballpark figure of what they might be.

The only thing that we`ve been able to try to compare is that big inaugural concert. One of the Obama inaugurations had a very, very like A-list celebrity gigantic concert. They aired on HBO with a special. It had all this A-list talent. That was said by the Obama inaugural to have cost about $5 million.

There is one case, one on background comment from an inaugural figure in the Trump era who said that their concert cost them $25 million, five times as much as the Obama one.


MADDOW: That seems not credible. Have you been able to track down any of those other comparisons or explanations for what stuff might have cost?

SCHOUTEN: No, no, and that`s one of the things. That $25 million figure emerged in an "Associated Press" story and one of the questions is whether you can compare the two concerts because the Obama concert had tons of A- list acts and so it was very easy to get it on television and it appears there may have been some broadcast costs for this inauguration that added to the expense but again, we don`t have any answers. And nor will we for awhile and, you know, the reason this is all so important is that this is the very first time that money was raised in the name of the president.

I mean, this was the first opportunity for people who may not have supported the president during the campaign to show up and give money to him because it was a sure bet, right? He was elected, and a lot of big businesses gave huge checks. I think that`s part of the reason they were able to raise so much money is that people, you know, Tom Barrack said to me the day of the inauguration, I spoke to him in the capital and I said this was easier than campaign fundraising because everyone wanted to jump on board once he was elected.

MADDOW: And, of course, they got rid of the caps, the per donation cap that have previously govern the size of inaugural donations under George W. Bush and Obama, so that meant that the sky was the limit in terms of these donations. That makes me want to know what happened to that money.

Fredreka Schouten, reporter at "USA Today", I have a feeling if anybody is going to figure this out, it`s going to be you. Thank you for helping us understand this.

SCHOUTEN: Take care.

MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. We just got something in that could give us an idea how this Senate shutdown vote is going to go tonight. We`re looking at 15 minutes we think million this crucial vote happens. We`ve got a live report next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: T minus two hours and a few minutes, don`t do math on TV, until the federal government shutdown, unless the United States Senate passes a bill to keep it funded before then. In terms of what`s going to happen tonight, it`s kind of anybody`s guess. We are still expecting the big vote to happen just in a few minutes at the top of the hour.

If you want to handicap how that vote is going to go, you`re on your own. I do not bet. But people are starting to read a lot into the fact that according to Jake Sherman of, apparently, Democrats in the House have just scheduled a work meeting for tomorrow morning, a members only meeting tomorrow morning on the topic of, quote, Republicans continued refusal to work with Democrats to keep the government open. So, read into that what you will but I read that as Democrats -- at least Democrats in the House not having very high expectations that the government is about to get funded tonight, thereby averting the shut down so everybody can go home for the weekend, not if they`re planning an all meeting tomorrow to talk about why the shutdown happened.

Among all the things that now hang in the balance, obviously, the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people who work for the federal government who are potentially about to be furloughed. Also, crucial programs like the CDCs flu tracking program. The flu this year has already killed a lot of people. Also, the fate of the Dreamers, people brought by the DACA program that the Republicans have been trying to kill.

Also, there is something else you should know about. Last fall, funding for the Children`s Health Insurance Program, CHIP, ran out. This is a noncontroversial program. It`s a health insurance program that covers 9 million kids across the country.

It was originally created by Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy, a totally bipartisan, noncontroversial, super high support in both parties. It`s seen as a bipartisan success story. But the program`s funding ran out last fall. And instead of reauthorizing that program right then and there, Republicans passed a quick fix to fund it a few months longer.

Well, that quick fix is about to run out again tonight, unless Congress reauthorizes it, which they definitely could have already done by now. Taking on CHIP as a standalone matter would not be a controversial thing. Instead, they decided to attach it to this short term spending bill, as a way to try to coerce Democrats to get on board with everything else they`re trying to do.

Well, while that`s happening in Washington, in the meantime, states have been scrambling to alert parents that their kids` health insurance coverage could soon be cut off if Congress doesn`t extend CHIP`s funding. In some cases, health insurance for kids and babies and pregnant women, insurance that these people already have, is going to be cut off as early as February. Connecticut`s health care program, for example, is alerting parents to schedule appointments for their kids before the end of March, when the Connecticut health program is scheduled to end.

There`s a lot hanging in the balance right now, but watching this happen in Washington sometimes makes it feel like a game. If you`re a parent right now who`s got a kid who`s being treated for an ongoing critical or even terminal illness, right, and you`re facing potentially -- you know, medical bill that is will not just be hard for you to pay but that you can`t pay, and because of what`s happening tonight your kids are going to lose their health insurance because Congress is playing with this and they`re playing with all the rest of it. What`s happening tonight isn`t just ridiculous, it`s disgusting.

The Senate is expected to hold a vote at 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight on the short term bill passed by the House Republicans yesterday. It doesn`t seem at this moment that there are enough votes to stop the bill, sorry, to pass the bill and prevent a shutdown. Things are very, very fluid right now.

We`re going to take a quick break and when we come back, we`re going to be live for the duration watching this happen. Stay with us.


MADDOW: -- do you know where the government of the most powerful country in the world is? Yes, nobody, nobody does.

Kasie Hunt is NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent and Kasie has a live report for us right now from -- about a few minutes ahead of what we expect to be the big vote here, about whether or not we`re going to shut down tonight.

Kasie, what can you tell us?

KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rachel, I can tell you, this is actually some breaking news here. Democrats emerging from behind closed doors, they have been meeting to talk about what their options might be to potentially avert a government shutdown. They have come out of the meeting, saying that they have no intention of doing so. The option would have been a three-week continuing resolution to try and give them more time to negotiate.

Lindsey Graham actually put out a statement a few minutes ago suggesting that option, February 8th. That was something that Republican leaders -- essentially it was intended as a public signal that that`s what Republican leaders want to do. But Democrats have decided it is not what they want to do. It is not good enough for them.

So, I spoke to Richard Blumenthal coming out of that meeting. He said, look, it looks like we are going to be unified. It looks like we are not going to do this. We are going to vote this down.

I spoke also briefly to Marc Short, the legislative director. He is here. He has been shuttling behind closed doors. I asked him if he thought that they were going to have a solution before midnight. He said if this vote goes down on a Senate floor here in a few minutes, he doesn`t really see that as a very likely possibility.

So, at this point, at this hour, it looks as though we are headed for a government shutdown of at least some period of time. We will, of course know in the next two or so hours because funding does run out, of course, at midnight. So, that really leaves an open question about how they might move to resolve it later on. The House has been kept around in town in the event of a shutdown. Democrats are planning a 10:00 a.m. meeting for planning. It`s possible that something, a temporary measure could start in the House, make its way back to the Senate. But it`s also possible that we could be looking at a potentially longer term shutdown, depending on how the politics of this play out.

I think Democrats have really listened to and we talked some about this on our air today, people have been describing it as a base of the Democratic Party. I think it`s broader than that. There are a quite a few Democrats in red states obviously who are facing tough re-elections, that`s a problem for Chuck Schumer to keep his majority. But for the vast -- for the most Democratic Caucus -- they are hearing from a broad base of supporters, yes, the base, but also beyond that, people who have been activated by this president and who really want to see Democrats show some backbone and take a real stand.

I mean, there`s as lot of symbolism to this. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of President Trump`s inauguration. He was supposed to have a star-studded black tie gala down at Mar-a-Lago. He`s called it off, cancelled it. There`s quite a bit I think the Democrats can point to politically.

Now, that said, this could be very unpredictable. It typically is. But it`s historic in modern times for a party that controls the White House, the House, and Senate to see the government shutdown on their watch.

MADDOW: Absolutely. And, Kasie, you`ve got you split screen right now with the shot of the live floor of the Senate right now. And there`s -- we can see a few senators, we can see a few people in there. They`re expected, we were told earlier to be voting in a minute.

Do you think that they`re still going to hold this 10:00 p.m. vote, given that according to your reporting, the way the Democrats are talking about this, this appears to be a foregone conclusion?

HUNT: Rachel, I`m going to ask my camera man if he can turn it around so I can see what they have on the air, that might help me a little bit. So, yes, you`re seeing this, they have not started voting yet, it does not seem as you pointed out.

I spoke to John Cornyn just a few moments before coming over to see you, he said that he was still expecting them to hold this vote. So, from where I sit and there`s no real sign that, you know, the plan has changed dramatically, I`m going to keep texting and talking to my sources. Obviously, if you do see a major delay, if we get to 10:15, 10:30 and still nothing, that could be a suggestion that there are still some last-minute things going on.

But honestly, the definitiveness with which Democrats came out of the meeting makes me like, it would be a pretty tough, pretty tough an expected thing at this point.

MADDOW: Yes, and coupled that with the fact that the informal whip count we have all been able to do show that it was were nowhere near close in terms of having the 60 votes they needed.

Kasie Hunt, NBC Capitol Hill correspondent, right in the thick of it, breaking this news for us tonight -- Kasie, thank you. Much appreciated.

HUNT: Great to see you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Don`t go anywhere. MSNBC is going to be live tonight throughout it all. Put on some comfy slippers, maybe some popcorn, settle in, you might want to let the dog out now because you are not going to go want to get up and let the dog out anytime in the next hour.

Right now, we are expecting a vote imminently on whether or not the government is going to shutdown at midnight. As we heard from Frank Thorp earlier this hour, and what we just heard underlying there from Kasie Hunt, it looks like there`s no plan B if they don`t get the vote and it looks like they`re not going to get this vote.

That does it for us tonight.


Good evening, Lawrence.



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