Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 25, 2018 Guest: Michael Avenatti, Bill de Blasio
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: You bet.
MADDOW: Much appreciated.
So, there`s a lot going on in the news today. There`s a lot we`re following today and into tonight.
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort today filed an appeal against the judge`s ruling that sent him to jail 10 days ago. Manafort`s first federal trial is due to start next month. He`s now in jail in Virginia awaiting the start of that trial, because the special counsel`s office alleged to the court that Paul Manafort has been attempting to tamper with potential witnesses in his case while he was out on bail.
Well, now as of today, Manafort has filed an appeal asking the same judge who jailed him to instead reconsider that decision and put him back on house arrest. That will be taken up with the appeals court, appealing to the appeals court to overturn the ruling of the judge overseeing his case.
Also today, ABC News reports that Erik Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, founder of the private security firm Blackwater, Erik Prince has, according to ABC News, had his phone and his computer taken by special counsel Robert Mueller`s office. As the special counsel`s office continues to investigate the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election and the question of what the Trump campaign knew about it and whether they contemporaneously took any actions to abet the Russians in that effort.
Erik Prince, of course, met during the presidential transition in the Seychelles Islands with the head of a major Russian investment firm. He was at that meeting reportedly as a representative of the incoming Trump administration. The special counsel`s office, we know, has reportedly been investigating that meeting in the Seychelles Islands and others. The special counsel`s office has reportedly secured cooperation in exchange for an immunity deal from a witness who reportedly set up that meeting in the Seychelles Islands between Erik Prince and that Russian investment fund guy.
However, Erik Prince does or does not fit into the larger Russia scandal, we now know that Robert Mueller has got Erik Prince`s phone and computer. That is, if ABC`s reporting turns out to be correct.
The Dow Jones went off a cliff again today. It appears to be mostly because of the trade war-mongering of the president and retaliatory actions by our trading partners around the globe. Harley-Davidson, which iconically at least is probably the most made in America thing ever. Harley-Davidson announced today they`re going to start making some of their motorcycles overseas specifically because of Trump`s new tariffs.
NBC News today has reported some hair-raising new details about Trump giving in to Kim Jong-un`s demand that the U.S. military cancel its joint exercises with the South Korean military. We`re going to have more on that story coming up tonight. It`s actually kind of a big scoop from NBC.
Also tonight, we here on this show have got a truly, truly weird little scoop about tomorrow`s primaries. There`s a whole bunch of primaries in a whole bunch of states tomorrow but we`ve got some exclusive reporting on a political surprise out of South Carolina. On the surface, it is something that makes no sense at all, but it`s very strange and it may end up having a significant impact on an important congressional race in that state tomorrow. So, we will have that story for you ahead.
There`s lots of different news today coming in from lots of different places. Lots to get to this hour. But we are going to start tonight with something that we`ve got exclusively. It`s an exclusive story and some exclusive footage that`s never been seen anywhere before tonight.
A week ago, the story of the Trump administration taking kids and babies away from their moms and dads at the border, that story took a hard and seemingly irreversible turn a week ago when for the first time "ProPublica" obtained and published a recording , a recording of these little kids screaming for their parents inside a facility where the Trump administration had put them after taking them away from their parents.
That audio recording of those crying, screaming little kids was made surreptitiously. It was smuggled out of a Texas border region facility. It was obtained by a veteran investigative reporter at "ProPublica" named Ginger Thompson. And when "ProPublica" released that audio recording last week, it proceeded to break every living heart in America.
By the following evening, that recording was being broadcast on loudspeakers outside Trump`s hotel in D.C. as people drove into the parking facility for that hotel to attend a Republican fund-raiser, they had to drive past loudspeakers playing the sound of those screaming kids. The day after that, there were loudspeakers set up outside the White House blasting that recording at the White House itself.
By Friday at the end of last week, Congressman Ted Lieu was risk`s censure in the U.S. Congress by refusing to stop playing that recording on the floor of the House. That audio recording of those distraught kids being taken away from their parents and screaming for their mothers and fathers, that recording smuggled out of that government facility, that more than anything appears to have been what turned the tide, what made the policy of separating kids from their parents unsustainable even for this administration.
And the president reportedly now says he regrets having signed that executive order last week to end the policy, but he did sign an executive order last week to end the policy. I don`t think the Trump administration will ever admit that it was that "ProPublica" audio recording that forced their hand. But ultimately when the history of this American moment is written, I think that will probably be seen as the proximate cause.
So, the president and the Trump administration did cave, and supposedly end the policy last week. Apparently, that audio recording and all the protests and all the criticism and the lawsuits and the live wire of moral outrage and upset that they set sparking with that policy was enough to get them to kill the policy last week, but it has not been enough to actually get them to return the kids that they have already taken.
I mean, the country`s shame and outrage over that policy shamed them into dropping the policy. But they apparently are not yet shamed into any concerted effort to actually free the kids, to actually get those kids back to their moms and dads. The administration now says they`ve got well over 2,000 kids in custody that are kids they have taken from their parents.
And although the government is now bragging that they`re sure they haven`t actually lost any of these kids, they definitely know where they all are, by and large, it seems that parents who have had their kids taken don`t know where their kids are and kids who have been taken from their parents don`t know where their parents are. It is hard -- it is hard to know what it`s going to take to actually shame the Trump administration into doing that work, into actually returning kids to their parents instead of sending out press releases pretending like the effort sunder way when it profoundly obviously is not.
Well, now we are going to advance the story a little further tonight. Tonight, we have obtained for the first time a video recording taken inside a facility that is providing services to some of these kids who have been taken away from their moms and their dads. This recording that we have obtained is from a facility that is not on the southern border. So, these kids who`ve been taken away from their parents have been flown by the Trump administration thousands of miles, to be held alone away from their parents.
New York officials, including New York state`s governor and New York City`s mayor, Bill de Blasio, said they were outraged last week to learn that more than 200 kids were being held in a facility in New York City unbeknownst to local public officials. Mayor de Blasio said no New York officials had any notice that the kids were being brought here.
We learned that they were here when a TV news crew caught girls being moved in the middle of the night after they received a tip from someone who had come to learn that kids who had been separated from their parents were being brought to New York City. Well, now for the first time we can show you footage from inside that facility. These images were shot surreptitiously by a woman who worked at the facility until last week. This footage was shot late last week.
The worker who took these images and took the footage I`m about to show you has since quit her job at this facility. She has provided this material to MSNBC and NBC News on the condition of anonymity. So we will not be giving her name. But we have verified that she in fact worked at this location.
When we asked her why she surreptitiously shot this video at her workplace and took these pictures and provided them to us, she said, quote: I am here today because I feel like it`s important to make a difference. I feel that it`s time for everybody to stand up and to stop being afraid and actually help these children that are being separated from their parents. She said, quote, it`s very heartbreaking to know there`s children, even if it were just one, but there`s a lot of them in my program, and it`s sad to know that these children are crying for their parents. They don`t know where their parents are.
She explained that there had been a huge influx of younger kids who have arrived at this facility in the last couple of months, and she said that clued her into the fact that this was as a result of a change in the Trump administration`s policy. She told us, quote: there was a huge influx. The amount of kids that are little, that are coming alone, compared to the amount of teenagers, it`s way higher. So that tells you a lot.
How are these kids coming alone? That`s not OK. They`re not coming alone. They`re getting separated at the border.
As a teacher at the program serving these kids she told us, quote: we`re not allowed to know what`s going on with the child. We`re not allowed to ask any of the kids questions. If the child is not OK, the only thing we`re allowed to ask is do you want to speak to your case manager? Do you want to speak to your clinician?
So, so she says, I wasn`t aware of anything that was going on, until the news happened. And that`s when I`m like, wait, what is going on? So that`s when I do my own investigation and I`m like, no, this is not OK.
She told us, quote: We`re not allowed to hug the kids. She said, we`re not allowed to touch them at all. But she said, quote, I decided not to follow that rule this week. This week, I hugged them. I don`t care anymore.
So, we just showed you some of the video and the stills that this source was able to smuggle out of this facility. The blurry areas in these images obviously are to protect the anonymity of these kids. Obviously, these kids are not in a position to be able to consent to us using their images. And so, we are disguising their identity to protect them.
But we`ve been showing you this video and these stills to show you a little bit of what it looks like inside. Here`s footage of one little girl in particular talking about what is happening to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Are you hungry?
Why are you crying?
You want to speak to your dad?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: With my mom.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: You want to speak with your mom? You want me to call your worker? Yes? What`s your name?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Jessica.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Jessica? OK, Jessica, don`t cry.
Did you come with your mom? No? You come alone?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: With my sister.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: With your brother?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: With my sister.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: With your brother? And how old is your brother?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Ten.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Ten?
And where is your mom?
Is she in immigration?
No? You don`t know where she is?
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: You don`t know where she is? Huh?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Over there in the States.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: In the States? You don`t know what state?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Oh, in Virginia. But have you spoken to her? Do you want to speak to her again? When was the last time you spoke to her?
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Last week? You haven`t spoken to her this week? They haven`t come to see you so you can talk to her. OK, so I`m going to send the message. What you`re name again? What?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Jessica.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Jessica. And what`s your last name to tell him?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So again, this video was shot by a worker surreptitiously inside that facility. The worker who shot the video has since quit, no longer works there. That video was shot late last week.
I should tell you in the interest of full disclosure that the worker who shot that video has made clear to us that she is critical of the policy of the Trump administration separating kids from their parents. But this is the first window that we have had into these kids` experiences. I should tell you that the Cayuga center in East Harlem, New York City, where this footage was shot is not the facility that is separating kids from their parents. This -- the people who are working here with these kids are not responsible for having taken the kids away. They`re receiving kids who have already been taken away from their parents or who are alone for other reasons.
Kids are not staying overnight at this facility. The way it works with this one is they come there every day for day programs and services and then they sleep at foster homes at night. But they`re back there pretty much all day every day.
The worker who shot this footage and provided it to us is critical of the amount of staffing at this facility saying that since the number of kids held in this facility has spiked, especially since the number of little kids in this facility has spiked since the Trump administration started taking kids away from their parents, she says that the case management and medical staffing and the number of teachers and trainers at that facility has not kept up with the increasingly crowded conditions and the increasingly needy and increasingly younger population that they are now handling.
That little girl you just saw who says her name is Jessica, we don`t know the circumstances under which she and her mother were separated. Obviously, you can tell that she`s upset. We obviously have blurred her face. So, we`ve not included her last name here as a way to try and protect her anonymity.
I just want to say here one other thing about this footage before we get to some reaction to what we`ve seen here and before we speak to the attorney who is now for free representing this worker who took this footage and smuggled it out of there so people can see what`s happening with these kids before she quit her job. What I want to say is that while this is -- what you just saw is the first smuggled video footage from inside one of these facilities, it is likely to be only the first, right? There will be more.
When you take more than 2,000 children forcibly away from their parents and then you don`t make any concerted effort to return those kids to their families, when the government essentially abducts a very large number of children, including babies and then scatters them all around the country to all these different facilities, with no concrete plans to give them back to their families, that is too big an operation to keep secret. I mean, the reason we know the Cayuga facility in Harlem exists is because someone tipped off a local news station when the girls were arriving and being moved in the middle of the night. The reason "ProPublica" got that first audio tape that cracked this story open like a nut is because somebody inside a facility got that recording to a lawyer who got it to a reporter who got it to you.
The stuff is going to come out. It has to. It`s too big an effort to keep under wraps. And the people involved at every step of this process know that too.
So much so that there`s one other small piece of tape I want to play you. This is just audio footage. It`s not video footage. But it was obtained by the same worker inside the same facility last week.
And in this audio footage, you`ll hear an employee from this facility talking to the kids. And the employee from the facility is essentially warning the kids themselves, hey, don`t talk to the press. It`s in your best interests. If anybody asks you, don`t say anything.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): And do you know the other thing that is more important, and that I know I am not supposed to be telling you, but I am going to tell you the truth. If for whatever reason you tell a reporter -- you know what`s going to happen to your case?
It is going to be on the news -- and then one doesn`t know what is going to happen -- if you are going to last here for a long time. I am not trying to scare you. I am just telling you. It`s the truth.
You have to be careful not to talk. Because while you are here, you guys are OK. We are protecting you. We are trying to help you guys so that you can reunify with your family or whoever it be. Understood?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you tell a reporter, you know what`s going to happen to your case? It`s going to be on the news. And then one doesn`t know what`s going to happen. I`m not trying to scare you. I`m just telling you it`s the truth. You have to be careful not to talk.
While you guys are here we`re protecting you. We`re trying to help you guys. Don`t talk to the press, OK, kids? Or we don`t know how long we`ll be able to keep you here.
Got more ahead, including the lawyer for the woman who obtained this footage. New York`s mayor will also be joining us. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want them to know that we`re fighting for them. And I put my hand against the glass so they could put their hand against the glass. They need constant love. They need touch. This is child abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw a little girl. She had her hand on the window. And I told her in Spanish that we`re with you, that you`re not alone, that we`re going to help you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was McAllen, Texas, over the weekend. People trying to physically block a bus carrying immigrants, including kids to a detention center. You can see the boiling over in that scene. The boiling over, this incredible anger of what the Trump administration has been doing to little kids and parents on the border.
Well, now, tonight, for the first time, we have video footage from another part of the Trump immigration policy and the Trump administration`s treatment of little kids. This footage which we have obtained tonight is the first video from inside a facility that serves kids who have been taken from their parents. It`s our first unfiltered look inside one of those centers.
And the reason we were able to get that footage tonight is because Michael Avenatti is now the attorney for the former employee at that facility in New York City who shot this footage. That employee does not want her name to be public, at least at this point. But she did want us to see what she saw. She did want us to see if this footage.
Michael Avenatti, thank you for being here.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER FOSTER FACILITY EMPLOYEE: Thank you.
MADDOW: So I am used to talking to you about other matters. Your representation of Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, has made you a very visible part of some of the unrelated scandals surrounding this administration. How is it that you have ended up involved in this immigration catastrophe as well?
AVENATTI: I was contacted about seven to ten days ago by a family in California who had a mother who had been detained and had been separated from her child. And I agreed to enter the fight on her behalf. And once that became known, a number of other families contacted my office as well as some not for profits. And I presently represent over 60 mothers and over 70 children.
MADDOW: And what are -- you`re representing them in terms of trying to reunite them? In terms of their overall immigration portfolio?
AVENATTI: Both. I spent a considerable amount of time last week, Rachel, down in Laredo and other detention centers meeting with mothers. The most difficult days of my career, perhaps of my life, listening to mother after mother tell their stories of literally having their children ripped from their side in connection with this separation policy.
This is a very serious matter. I`ve dealt with a lot of emotion and drama in my legal career. Rachel, I`ve never seen anything quite like this. It is tragic.
And one of the things that is most upsetting to me, frankly, is that the government is purposely not allowing you and others to do your job. And that is to bring the reality of this to light. And the reason why they don`t want that to come to light is because it`s ugly. It`s really ugly.
If you could accompany me to interview some of these mothers, and of course they won`t allow you in the facilities, they won`t allow any of the media in the facilities --
MADDOW: At least not with cameras.
AVENATTI: Well, they won`t even allow to you sit -- to be present while I interview one of these mothers.
But if you had the ability to sit there while I interviewed these mothers and hear their stories, and if you had the ability to convey that to the American people, people would be even more outraged than they truly are. This is absolutely tragic.
MADDOW: Do you have the resources at your firm and the experience at your firm to handle big immigration portfolios for that many people?
AVENATTI: No question. We`ve also partnered up with a number of other immigration specialists with, you know, a considerable amount of experience. We`ve brought a lot of attention to this. We`re going to continue to bring a lot of attention to it.
I have never been so moved as I was listening to these mothers describe having their children taken from them and not knowing whether they were ever going to talk to them again or communicate with them. Hearing mothers recount how they told their children that it was going to be OK, that they were just going to be taken for a bath because that`s what the guards told the mothers. And the mothers asked for assurance from the guards and the guards told the mothers, yes, we`re only going to take your son or daughter for a bath.
So, they reassured their young child, Rachel, you`ll be right back. You know, trust mama. You`ll be right back. And guess what? They never came back.
MADDOW: Your client who until recently worked at this facility in New York, who took it upon herself to obtain this footage, what was her motivation for doing so? I mean, you can see that it`s -- you know, she`s the one who`s interacting with Jessica, with this little girl who we played the footage of, and you can hear her tenderness in terms of working with this kid.
We`re not -- she`s not showing any footage of these kids being mistreated in any way, obviously. But this little girl being so distraught and saying she wants to talk to her mother is very affecting. What was the motivation for your client to smuggle this footage out, and how much of a risk is she taking by doing so?
AVENATTI: Well, this is a very brave woman that did this. And her motives were pure, and that is to expose the reality of what`s going on here. She was -- she is very concerned about the fact this program has grown from somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 children to upwards of 600.
The prior press reports are not accurate. There`s not 239 or 250 kids in this program. There`s closer to 600 children in this program. The numbers have exploded over the last six to --
MADDOW: She`s expressing concern over staffing levels not keeping pace with that rapid influx.
AVENATTI: Yes. I mean, she`s expressed concern about a whole host of problems. You`ve got -- you know, I saw the Sunday -- I think it was on NBC, the assertion that the government knows where all these kids are. They`re either playing word games or they`re lying.
Look, the government knows where the kids that have been separated are, but they can`t match children to mothers. And the reason why we know that is because in over 80 percent of my cases, Rachel, 80 percent of my 60-plus cases, the government can`t tell us where those mothers` children are even though it`s been in many cases three to four weeks later. That is a significant problem.
My clients potentially are going to lose their children forever. The fact that we are having this discussion in the United States of America on American soil is outrageous. It`s disgraceful. This has no place in the world, let alone in America.
MADDOW: Last question for you. That little girl, we played the footage of, Jessica. Says her name is Jessica.
Can you tell us anything else about -- again, respecting her privacy. Can you tell us anything else about her age? She references that she had been with a sister.
Do we know if she and the sister are at least together in this program even though they`re separated from their mother?
AVENATTI: The sister is likewise in the program. They were separated in early April. We have yet to be able to determine exactly where the mother is located.
MADDOW: But two sisters were separated from the mother but the sisters have stayed together.
AVENATTI: That is -- that is correct. But look, the bottom line here is that we need more whistleblowers to come forward with images, video, and facts and evidence to present this to the American public so they know really what`s going on.
MADDOW: Michael Avenatti, the attorney for the former employee at this facility in New York City where this footage was shot. Again, this is the first footage from inside one of these facilities that has been aired anywhere.
Thanks for helping us get it and good luck. Thank you, Michael.
AVENATTI: Thank you. Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ve got more on this and a lot else besides. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Tonight, we have just aired the first footage that`s been made public that was taken inside a facility that serves these kids who the Trump administration has taken away from their parents. This is the first time that we`ve had any visual window into how these kids are living after they`ve been taken apart from their moms and dads. This footage was shot by an employee of a foster services center in New York City.
That employee shot the video surreptitiously and smuggled it out. She has since quit her job there. She captured this incredible moment with this distraught young girl saying she wants to speak to her mother. The person who shot this footage also expressed concern as to whether or not the staffing levels at this facility, the case managers, the medical staff, the teaching and training staff at this facility serving all these kids, whether it has been able to keep pace with the rapid influx of hundreds of new kids, particularly younger kids who have appeared at this New York city facility over the past few weeks as the Trump administration ramped up this policy.
Joining us now is New York City`s Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for being here.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: You`re very welcome.
MADDOW: You said last week when the existence of this facility and its use for housing these -- or not housing but serving these kids first came to light, you said it was a surprise to New York officials, that the federal government did this without ever notifying anyone in New York.
DE BLASIO: Yes. We heard about it the same way the media heard about it. And I was over there Wednesday at that very same center. And I`ve got to tell you, it was just shocking. I went around the corner and there`s 30 or 40 young kids in a classroom. Turns out the vast majority of them were from Guatemala. They`re around somewhere between 5 and 10 years old, most of them.
And here`s what we know, that some of them, like Jessica, which was so painful to watch, Jessica has been able at least to talk to someone. Some of these kids have no idea where their parents are. They haven`t talked to anyone from their family.
And I asked the case workers there, how do you know how to find the family members? And they said some of these kids come in so young, one 9-months old that went into that center, some literally can`t say their parents` name and the only way they can find the parents in some cases is they have a note in their pocket with their parents` name and phone number. But they said some kids don`t have that note, some kids lost that note, some kids are too young, don`t even know their parents` name.
And there`s no idea of when they`re going to be reunited. And this is just unbelievably painful for these kids. We`ve sent mental health professionals in to try and help here. These kids are going through a trauma that could have really lasting consequences because if any one of us as a child taken from our parent with no end in sight, imagine what that does to the mental health of a child.
MADDOW: As a news agency when we spoke to the woman who provided this footage, who`s really smuggled this footage out, she told us that she was concerned about whether or not there was adequate staffing at this facility given the fact that the number of kids has increased so rapidly and that with this new policy particularly younger kids, much younger kids take a much different type of care. That`s a concern on its face.
It would also seem to me that there`s -- that while you have to do as well as you can in terms of staffing these facilities and giving these kids everything you can there`s no level of staffing that can make up for the fact that they`ve been taken away from a loving parent who didn`t want them removed.
And so how does this -- I mean, you`ve said very clearly the federal government has not taken responsibility for getting these kids back to their parents.
DE BLASIO: They have no plan. There`s not even a semblance of a plan.
MADDOW: Well, they`re here. What`s -- who else -- if the federal government isn`t going to do it, who is?
DE BLASIO: We`re trying to, actually. So, the city of New York is providing legal help to the kids, and we`re trying to connect with the parents where we can identify them and working with legal aid organizations at the border. If we can get the parent lawyer and get the kid a lawyer we have the possibility of getting the reunification to happen.
We`re all also going in with mental health and physical health professionals because the folks at the Cayuga center, they really are trying their best. I believe it. But they didn`t expect this influx. They don`t have enough health professionals on site. So, our public hospitals are helping now. And the number one thing we`re finding again is mental health challenges.
Look at Jessica in that video. Look how distraught she is. Look how shocked she still is from the experience.
MADDOW: Yes, she`s a little kid.
DE BLASIO: She`s a little kid. And she doesn`t know what`s going to happen.
And so, we`re trying both to keep these kids together and give them support here and now, but also give them the legal help to get reunified because there isn`t a federal plan. We`re all going to have to do it ourselves as Americans who care about these kids.
MADDOW: There was a report a few days ago that a number of kids have ended up in the hospital, including at least one kid with suicidal ideation if not a suicide attempt.
Are we facing serious and acute mental stuff that`s manifesting as these kids need to be hospitalized or taken away even out of relatively supportive services?
DE BLASIO: Absolutely, absolutely. So there was not a plan here to help these kids deal with their physical needs or their mental health needs. They were kept in originally detention facilities.
So, we heard from the folks at the Cayuga Center. Some came with lice. Some came with bed bugs. Some had chicken pox. They were in a situation where diseases spread.
That`s the physical side. That`s actually the easier part of the equation. But no one accounted for the mental health side. And the trauma is lasting.
We know of all the horrible moments in history when parents were taken from their children and we know that that is a lifelong trauma. It`s happening right here in our name with our taxpayer dollars. And we`ve got to stop it right away.
And if the federal government won`t answer it, I really do think it`s up to all of us city by city to find any solution we can to reunify these families.
MADDOW: New York City`s mayor, Bill de Blasio -- Mr. Mayor, thank you.
DE BLASIO: Thank you.
MADDOW: Keep us apprised.
DE BLASIO: Absolutely.
MADDOW: All right. More to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Ulchi Freedom Guardian. Ulchi, U-L-C-H-I. Ulchi Freedom Guardian is the name of a military drill. It happens once a year usually in august for about a week. The U.S. military and the South Korean military, they team up and they conduct drills on the Korean peninsula to run a kind of simulation of what they would do if North Korea ever decided to launch some sort of attack.
But last year, Vladimir Putin had a new idea for Donald Trump for what he should do with Ulchi Freedom Guardian and other military exercises like it.
Quote: Mr. Trump had an idea about how to counter the nuclear threat posed by North Korea which he got after speaking to Russian president Vladimir Putin. The idea was this: If the U.S. stopped joint military exercises with the South Koreans, it could help moderate Kim Jong-un`s behavior."
Quote: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis disagreed with Putin`s idea, but to talk the president out of it he used an approach that aides say can work with President Trump. He says your instincts are absolutely correct and then he gets the president to do the exact opposite of what his instincts say, says one person close to the White House.
In the case of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, Mr. Trump ultimately dropped the idea of dropping the exercises after Mattis pushed him in that way, but he did order aides to give the military exercises a low profile, eliminating press releases and briefings about them. Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, these happen in August.
So, around the time that Trump was saying this ought to be canceled, this was at a time that was supposedly the apex of the maximum pressure campaign by President Trump against North Korea, right? This is the time when Trump was openly threatening war against North Korea. It`s when he was calling Kim Jong-un little rocket man and all that.
Why at that time would you order no press releases about the big military exercises you`re about to conduct on that country`s border, while you`re trying to intimidate them in every other way? Why suddenly get quiet and not put out any press releases about those military exercises? Was President Trump worried about the consequences of not following through on that advice that he got from President Putin? Was he trying to avoid antagonizing Putin by trying to at least keep those joint exercises quiet this past year?
We don`t know. But it was a strange decision by the president to try to cancel all publicity for those military exercises last year while he was otherwise beating his chest at North Korea. And now, we know that the no publicity order from the president came right after Vladimir Putin personally expressed his opposition to those exercises and he personally made that opposition known to President Trump in a one-on-one phone call.
So that was all late last year, weird enough. But this year, of course, the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises aren`t going to happen at all. Right after meeting with the dictator of North Korea earlier this month, President Trump apparently ad-libbed, sort of called an audible, and made this decision on his own to call off the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercises with South Korea. President Putin will get his wish after all. Operation Ulchi Guardian freedom thingy, it`s called off for this year.
Here`s the thing, though -- it appears that nobody else in the White House or in the military was in on that decision, at all. The South Korean military was clearly caught off guard. The U.S. military in South Korea was clearly caught off guard. The White House officials involved in planning the North Korea summit, they were reportedly caught off guard.
And now tonight we can report even the U.S. secretary of defense, the guy in charge of those military exercises the president canceled, he was completely in the dark about that as well. NBC`s absolutely relentless national security reporters, Courtney Kube and Carol Lee are out with a scoop.
Quote: Defense Secretary James Mattis was informed that Trump had ordered a pause in U.S. military exercises with South Korea only after President Trump had already promised the concession to North Korean leader Kim Jong- un. A defense official said that ahead of the North Korea summit, Trump and Secretary Mattis spoke about an array of topics that could come up in the discussions. Canceling the joint military exercises with South Korea was not among those topics.
Mattis was not expecting Trump`s announcement the exercises would be canceled the official said and as a result, Mattis did not notify the two commands most directly involved, U.S. Forces Korea and the South Korean military. In fact, Mattis found out that Trump had canceled the exercises from one of his assistant secretaries early the next morning after the summit had concluded. NBC further reports that U.S. military officials see those joint exercises as, quote, critical to readiness and interoperability in the region.
But the president apparently didn`t ask them for their opinion. He didn`t tell anyone in the White House or the U.S. military, including the secretary of defense that he was even thinking about giving this concession. But he did apparently talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin about it. That`s who asked him to do it, or told him to. I suppose it`s hard to know at this point.
But we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Here are some social media postings that you would not expect to see from a campaign manager for anyone running for Congress. But you would especially not expect to see them for a campaign manager for a Democrat running for Congress.
Look, if these illegals stole weapons and used them against the politicians that lobby and legislate to protect them, I`d be good with that. So, I`d be good with immigrants shooting politicians who are pro-immigrant. This was his too.
You know who was a socialist and a vegetarian? You know who was everything today`s liberal craves? Hitler was. Hitler was a liberal. Liberals love Hitler.
Here`s the same guy calling President Obama "our boy". "Our boy Barry" and saying that our boy berry was accused of sexual harassment while at Harvard Law School. For the record, President Obama was not accused of sexual harassment while at Harvard Law School.
Here`s the same guy, though, saying that he didn`t realize there was a sexual predator award, thanks Democrats.
This same campaign manager also sent this out, all recent mass shooters are registered Democrats, which is also not true.
This is the campaign manager for a Democratic congressional candidate. South Carolina state Representative Robert Williams, the guy on the left, is favored to win a runoff tomorrow in South Carolina to be the Democratic Party`s candidate for Congress in the South Carolina`s seventh district. On the right is his all purpose campaign manager and chief of staff, Robert Rhinesmith, who posted all that stuff online about liberals loving Hitler and all the rest of it.
South Carolina`s seventh district is in the eastern portion of South Carolina. It includes Myrtle Beach, that`s currently held by a Republican incumbent named Tom Rice. It`s considered an R-plus-nine district, which means it`s Republican plus nine points. It`s at the outer edges of what Democrats might considered winnable, but R-plus-nine might conceivably be possible for the Democrats to flip it if the Democrats have a good year and if they a good candidate.
There`s only two Democrats left in the running to try to win that seat. The other candidate in tomorrow`s runoff is Mal Hyman, who`s a professor at Coker College in South Carolina, who ran for that seat in 2016 and lost. Or there`s this guy, Robert Williams, the state rep with his campaign manager.
When we saw these online posts by Robert Williams` campaign manager, we reached out to the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for a response. They told us they were unaware of all this before we asked them about it.
But then they told us this, quote: We strongly condemn Mr. Rhinesmith`s disgusting and hateful comments and encourage the Williams campaign to take immediate action to remove him from their operation.
The candidate himself, State Rep Robert Williams told us that he hasn`t seen these posts from his campaign manager but he told us, quote, we all have a right to speak. And he told us he has no plans to take the DCCC`s advice and fire his campaign manager. So, we will see.
That runoff will be tomorrow in South Carolina. Tomorrow, voters are going to pass primary ballots in seven states, New York, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah. Tomorrow`s races will include that newly weird race in South Carolina with the liberals love Hitler campaign manager from one of the Democratic candidates.
It will also include a Republican Utah Senate primary that a guy named Mitt Romney is expected to win. That would make him almost a shoo-in to be Utah`s next senator come November.
Tomorrow`s primaries will also include a New York race in which former Republican Congressman Michael Grim is hoping voters will send him back to Congress now that he`s all finished serving his seven many of month prison sentence for felony tax fraud. See, he`s available now.
You think things are weird now? Oh, they can get so much weirder. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here`s a silver lining, kind of.
By now, you have probably heard about this statement by the president that we should do away with all legal due process when it comes to immigrants. The president tweeting that the U.S. should just start deporting people with, quote, no judges or court cases. The American president saying, no judges, no court cases and the Constitution drags itself into the bathroom and barfs and decides to sleep on the bathroom floor for the rest of the night. I know, right? Ahh!
But that public statement by the president turns out it might be helpful too. In court, several times now, we have seen the president`s own public statements destroy his case for some of his more radical policies. It happened with the Muslim ban, when states offered evidence of numerous statements by the president about his intent to implement a Muslim ban, as well as evidence they claim suggest the executive order was intended to be that ban.
In April of last year, the president said he was going to cut funding to sanctuary cities and a federal judge blocked that order, again, based in part on the president`s public statements. Quote: Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement can`t be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves, which he had made very clear in his public statements.
Same thing happened just a few months ago with the DACA program, the Dreamers program. A federal judge led a suit to block the Trump White House from undercutting that program. The judge said no, saying the president`s racial slurs and epithets created a plausible inference that the decision to cut DACA was substantially motivated by an unlawful discriminatory purpose.
This administration keeps getting in trouble for this stuff. They`ve been in office for almost a year and a half now, and there`s this repeated pattern. The president says something about a policy he wants to launch, and then he launches the policy, and then his public statements stop the policy in court.
In this instance, with the president saying no more due process when it comes to immigrants, everybody who now gets arraigned by the government on immigration charges, in a court where the president has said they shouldn`t have a chance to be heard, this is going to matter for all of their cases. His words have worked against his policies before.
What he`s saying here might actually be the silver lining because he`s telegraphing to the courts no matter what he`s trying to do to immigrants in the future, he`s already telegraphed his intent. They should get no due process. The Constitution should not apply to them. Courts will be able to cite that forever in every immigration action that his administration takes that end up in the court system -- a little silver lining.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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