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Senate to vote Thursday on two bills. TRANSCRIPT: 1/22/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Sherrod Brown, Jennifer Levi

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you very much.  See you, Chris. 

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:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend.  Much appreciated. 

HAYES:  You bet.

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

George W. Bush was re-elected to a second term as president in November 2004, of course.  That means his second term in office started in 2005.  And that first year of his second term, 2005, it is remembered mostly for, well, escalating public outrage over the ongoing war in Iraq.  It is remembered for the tremendously and fatally mismanaged national disaster that was Hurricane Katrina and the failures thereafter. 

And although we don`t remember it as much now, looking back at it now, at the time, one of the big bad things that took up a lot of space in the news in 2005, alongside those other bad things was bird flu.  That`s what happened in 2005, the international freak out around bird flu.  Deadly bird flu found across Asia.  Bird flu in Turkey, deadly strain.  Lethal bird flu found in Croatia.  Week after week after week of headlines like this, particularly in the late part of 2005. 

Here is BBC in the lower right there hitting peak freak out on the subject that was September 30th, 2005.  Bird flu could kill 150 million people. 

By Halloween that year, 2005, "NBC Nightly News" was running terrifying packages like this one to inform you what all the freak out was about and to let you know soberly that, really, you should be as freaked out as everybody else because there is nothing you can do to protect yourself. 


REPORTER:  Among dozens of influenza strains, H5N1 is worrisome now because it is spreading rapidly in birds and infecting a few humans, often fatally.  If the virus mutates so it can spread easily from person to person, millions around the world could be infected.  That is called a pandemic. 

How likely is a pandemic any time soon?  No one knows.  What can families do now to protect themselves? 

Experts say that before a pandemic strikes, there is little individuals can do, that`s why there is so much demand for preparedness plans from federal, state and local officials. 


MADDOW:  Look at the imagery there, right?  I mentioned that this ran on Halloween night, on "Nightly News" in 2005.  With the big word "pandemic" shaking across the screen, the Hitchcock view of the birds at dusk, the looming shaky "Blair Witch" cam footage of the hospital bed that waits for you, right?  Halloween 2005. 

The next day, President George W. Bush went to the National Institutes of Health to give a very sort of tense and uncomfortable speech about bird flu and why you should freak out about it.  And he was there to announce that there would be a new federal plan. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT:  My responsibility as the president is to take measures now to protect the American people.  If a virus were to develop the capacity for sustained human-to-human transmission, it could spread quickly across the globe.  If allowed to smolder undetected, it can grow to an inferno that spreads quickly beyond our ability to control it. 

REPORTER:  The president`s plan, early detection of any outbreak, stockpiling and rapid production of vaccines, ready response from all levels of government to contain the spread. 


MADDOW:  All levels of government.  That was November 1st, 2005.  President George W. Bush at a difficult time in his presidency, 2005 did not go great, and he`s there announcing a new national effort to prepare for the oncoming pandemic of bird flu that`s going to kill 150 million people.  And that was 14 years ago. 

Nobody much remembers that now about that part of the George W. Bush administration, but it turns out even things like that that do not loom large in history, they sometimes come around again in ways that could be helpful for our current round of presidential problems.  We are now in the second month of the federal government shutdown over president Trump`s demand that we build a wall between the United States and Mexico.  We have never had a government shutdown this long.  So there is no existing game plan for how to try to keep the essential functions of government running while no money can be expended and the people who actually effectuate those elements of the government are not being paid.

And the federal court house system in New York, so not New York state courts, but federal courts in New York, the administrator of the federal courts in the southern district of New York has just told "The New York Times" and WNYC that among the strategies they`re employing in his federal courthouse to try to keep administering the justice system while nobody in it is being paid, among the things they are now starting to do is that they have dusted off the old bird flu plan from the George W. Bush administration. 

Bush gave that uncomfortable speech at the NIH November 2005.  It did in fact set in motion planning across various agencies and elements of the government to be ready, to have contingency plans in place in the event there was a worldwide and nationwide bird flu pandemic that was going to bring the United States and maybe even the whole world to its knees.  A little bit over a year after the Bush administration presented that plan or ordered that plan, after Bush gave that speech, the Justice Department and its Bureau of Justice assistants, in fact, rolled out this nuts and bolts plan.  They called it an emergency roadmap for the courts for continuing operations in the event of a worldwide bird flu pandemic. 

Quote: While it may be difficult for court managers to envision the impact of a pandemic on court operations and to plan for such a scenario, it is imperative that such planning takes place before such an event occurs.  To wait and see if such a pandemic will actually occur is to risk the future operation of the court at a time when it would be most needed.  Should a pandemic occur, the operation of the courts like all government agencies will be seriously affected. 

It`s estimated that some 40 percent of the workforce will be unable or unwilling to report to work.  Such a reduction of available human resources could be catastrophic to the continuation of court services.  Courts will need to develop mechanisms to ensure the continuity of vital court operations in a manner that doesn`t jeopardize the health and safety of the judicial workforce or members of the public appearing before the court.

This is what they were contending with.  This is what they were trying to plan for.  I mean, if 40 percent of everyone has the bird flu, how did they imagine in 2007 that the federal court system would be able to still stay open if for no other reason they`d have to be ruling on all inevitable draconian quarantine orders and all the other emergency actions the government would have to take to deal with the gigantic bird flu pandemic.  What did they think they could do? 

Well, they could fax.  Quote: The court`s pandemic emergency plan should consider alternative methods of accessing employees` expertise and abilities.  Computers, along with fax machines and other telecommunications, should be considered to allow staff members to function off site.

Quote: Public health officials are the court may deem to necessary to restrict public and even court user access to the court facility to prevent the spread of disease.  The court should carefully consider the nature of such restrictions, employing technology such as televised court proceedings may help remedy this issue.

So, what if you can`t let anybody in the courthouse because everybody`s got the bird flu?  Or if you don`t yet have the bird flu, you might get the bird flu if they brought it into the courthouse with them. 

This is the plan they came up with for the U.S. federal court system in 2007 in case judges or defendants, I mean, or any of the court staff couldn`t come to the courthouse because of all of the bird flu killing everybody everywhere. 

According to the administrator of the federal courthouse in the Southern District of New York, right now, that is the exact plan they are dusting off right now to try to cope with the crisis that we are in now, which of course is manmade, not bird made.  The administrator of the court tells WNYC today, quote: We have an old plan that was put in place many years ago with the bird flu.  We`ll dust it off.

The basics of plan?  Judges would stay home, court staff would stay home, attorneys would stay home, but when somebody`s arrested, they need to be seen for a bail hearing in a certain amount of time.  The backup plan is hearings by video. 

So, the bird flu pandemic plan formed after George W. Bush gave that awkward speech in 2005, it was developed by 2007, sent around to courts around the country.  In the federal courts of New York, they say it is tested annually.  But according to this new report from WNYC, the old bird flu plan will, quote, get a thorough workout this week in the Southern District of New York.

Quote: Prosecutors and marshals accompanying defendants to hearings will all participate with a camera link, as well as judges, lawyers and prosecutors. 

So this is the plan now.  We will all just pretend that we have transgenic, potentially fatal, communicable diseases and we`ll work that way.  And maybe that will be cheaper.  And so maybe then we can keep going for longer. 

That`s the plan.  That`s the only plan -- that`s the closest thing we have to a plan to deal with what we`re doing to ourselves right now. 

As we ended one month of the federal government shutdown last night, one of the things we reported on here last night at the top of last night`s show was the prospect that FBI agents and other federal law enforcement and national security personnel could potentially be in trouble because of the shutdown in terms of their security clearances if they continued indefinitely to be put under serious financial strain by the shutdown.  Serious financial strain is a red flag for security clearances because if you`re under serious financial strain, the idea is that you might be more susceptible to bribery or anybody else financially enticing you to give up information or to do things you otherwise shouldn`t do, given the sensitive and national security information that you`ve got access to. 

Well, today the FBI Agents Association held a press conference and they put out a long sort of scary document warning about just those kinds of threats.  Quote: FBI special agents are subject to high security standards that include rigorous and routine financial background checks.  Missing payments on debts could create delays in securing or renewing security clearances and could even disqualify agents from continuing to serve in some cases.

The head of the FBI Agents Association was also asked about that by reporters today.  He had a stark response. 


THOMAS O`CONNOR, FBI AGENTS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT:  We have to go through rigorous background investigations to become an FBI agent.  Annually, agents have to do a financial disclosure.  Every dollar that is attributed to us has to be documented, and if there are any defaults on loans, any missed payments, your credit report history is extremely important because it goes towards your ability to have a security clearance. 

This lack of funding to the FBI is hurting operations, it is hurting personnel across the board, and it is going to hurt our recruitment and it is going to hurt our retention.  FBI agents that are currently on board have opportunities to go into the private sector and double or triple their current salaries.  You tell me what you would do if your family needed security financially and you`re not getting it. 


MADDOW:  The head of the FBI Agents Association was also asked today about basically bottom line, how bad this gets in terms of public impact, in terms of public safety as the shutdown keeps going, given the kinds of impacts he was describing on the FBI for the month of shutdown that we`ve already been through. 

So he gets ask that question.  Watch him try to answer that question here.  Watch for the pause as he tries to figure out a way that would be OK to answer that question. 


REPORTER:  If the shutdown continues, what is the worst case scenario in terms of public safety? 

O`CONNOR:  The FBI needs to be fully funded so that we can do our jobs, stop terrorist attacks, prevent criminal activity, arrest bad guys.  That`s what we do.  We need to do that to keep this country safe. 


MADDOW:  The FBI Agents Association, as I mentioned, they also distributed this document, which is full of sort of granular information from individual agents around the country about how exactly their work in law enforcement and national security is getting screwed up by the shutdown.  This, for example, is from an agent working both overt and undercover counterintelligence matters against a top threat to national security.  That`s how the agent is described. 

And these are the agent`s words, quote: The shutdown has eliminated any ability to operate.  It is bad enough to work without pay, but we can only conduct administrative functions while doing it.  The fear is our enemies know they can run freely.

Another agent in the northeast region says, quote: The operational impacts of this shutdown are immeasurable.  We have postponed the indictment of subjects due to the shutdown. 

Another agent in the southeast region says, quote: With staff from the U.S. attorney`s office, meaning federal prosecutors office, being furloughed, approximately 20-plus grand jury subpoenas are not being delivered.  And that actually turns out to be a recurring theme from these agents in describing how the shutdown has basically stopped their work. 

Here is another.  Quote: I have been advised by our U.S. attorney`s office that because of the shutdown, there are no funds allocated to pay for grand jury subpoenas.  As a result, only emergency subpoenas are being issued and any nonemergency subpoenas will not be processed until after the shutdown.  This is causing affected investigations to be put on hold until the shutdown ends.

I mean, this is the premier law enforcement agency on earth, right?  This is where they are at right now, heading into month two.  Quote: We are out of tires.  Our mechanics are cannibalizing out of service vehicles in an effort to replace flat tires.  We are almost out of copy paper. 

Supplies needed for forensic processing are being expended and not being replaced.  We are now almost out of trace evidence materials, casting material, DNA swab kits, et cetera, with no ability to replenish them.  We`re out of tires. 

So, when does this end?  The national head of the ACLU, Anthony Romero, freaked me out on the show last night when she said as serious as a heart attack that he fully believes that this shutdown is indefinite.  That there is no reason to expect we will have federal governance in any foreseeable future. 

This afternoon, there was a little flurry of excitement when "The New York Times" briefly posted this headline.  Senate leaders agree to votes that offer possible path to re-open government.  I say they briefly posted that headline because they quickly took it down when it became clear that actually the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is offering no such thing, he just keeps putting up actually increasingly conservative, increasingly hard-line versions of the bill that says the president wants to build a wall between us and Mexico. 

And maybe he does want that and maybe Senate Republicans want that more than anything, but just putting up that bill over and over again is not a path that is ever going to end this shutdown.  Tomorrow, indivisible groups across the country will host a call-in day, asking people to call their own U.S. senators, just their home state U.S. senators, to urge them all, all senators, Republican and Democrat, to vote for the bill that`s already passed the House that would just cleanly re-open the government with no other changes, with no other policy commitments. 

And we will see if that national call-in day by indivisible makes a difference.  I don`t know.  But ultimately here, though, something will have to happen, right? 

I mean, however much the president and congressional Republicans really want to build a wall between us and another country, presumably they will have to agree to re-open the government at some point while they otherwise wage the fight to try to achieve that end, right?  I mean, logjams do break.  Standoffs do end.  Straight lines curve and sometimes there are surprise endings. 

Today, after an all-night negotiation session, the L.A. teachers strike came to an end.  It was six days, more than 30,000 schoolteachers on strike, the second largest school district in the country.  Those teachers are now expected to be back at work tomorrow morning.  The strike will end with the teachers having achieved a modest pay raise for themselves, but also a start on smaller class sizes, a guarantee for nurses in the schools and librarians in the schools and counselors in the schools. 

Many of the school kids who walked out alongside their teachers to support them in their strike, the school kids wanted an end to the random search policy in the L.A. school district, where kids at some schools were being stopped and frisked like criminal suspects just for literally showing up to school.  The number of schools where that sort of policy is in effect will be significantly reduced because of the ending of the strike and the terms on which it will now end. 

Standoffs do end.  Fights get fought and they get resolved.  And while we try to figure out how this big one ends, I mean, our various crises and conflicts and dramas persist, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on a whole bunch of controversial issues today, including the ban on transgender service members in the military and the mystery case involving a subpoena from the special counsel`s office to some unknown company owned by some unknown country.  We`ll get some expert advice to talk about the Supreme Court actions a little bit later on this hour. 

Just tonight, in a blockbuster vote in the House of Representatives, the House voted overwhelmingly, look at that vote, 357-22.  That vote tonight in the House to express support for our most important military alliance, NATO.  And to block any effort by President Trump to destroy NATO by pulling the United States out of it unilaterally.  That is a policy outcome he apparently made multiple runs at over the last year, if anonymous senior Trump officials talking to "The New York Times" are to be believed. 

  But that vote to support NATO and to block Trump from pulling out of it, that includes every Democrat who voted in the House tonight and it includes 149 House Republicans who crossed over to vote with the Democrats and against the president on that.  A hundred and forty-nine Republicans, only 22 Republicans voted no. 

That news arrived tonight along with word that in the House, Democrats have just added a whole bunch of aggressive progressive members of Congress to the crucial Government Oversight Committee.  The Government Oversight Committee, if you want to picture this, that`s the committee that has oversight over kind of everything.  It`s chaired by the estimable Congressman Elijah Cummings, who will likely end up being one of the highest profile, most powerful and most high-impact Democrats in Washington once his Oversight Committee is up and running and firing on all cylinders.  A key part of that is finding out who his members are. 

The new members of his committee, we can report tonight, will include high- profile progressive freshmen like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Presley, which means buckle up if you were not expecting the confrontation this new Democratic House and the Trump administration to come with fireworks worthy of any good Fourth of July. 

So, it`s far cry from, like, the Trey Gowdy Oversight Committee for the first two years of the Trump administration, right?  I mean, cabinet officials are dropping like flies and Gowdy like, yes, I don`t know that we need to oversee this so much as we need to overlook this.  I just -- 

But things do change.  Impasses get passed.  Old dusty plans that might have seemed like misfires for a decade and a half come around and turned out to be useful down the road.  Yes, maybe you`re imagining 40 percent of your workforce couldn`t come to the courthouse because of the bird flu.  And maybe that didn`t pan out that way, but if 40 percent of your workforce or more can`t come to the courthouse because of President Trump, well, maybe the same plan will still work, even without the infection. 

Things do change.  Logjams do break.  But even with all the imagination I can apply to this particular problem, I still do not see how we get out of this shutdown and I definitely do not see how we get out of this with further damage to the most important things that the government does. 

That said, here tonight right here in the studio next is somebody who just might know. 

Stay with us. 



ADM. KARL SCHULTZ, COMMANDANT, COAST GUARD:  Shipmates, thank you for continuing to stay on the watch.  The master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard, myself, and your senior leadership team, as well as the American public, stand in awe of your continued dedication to duty and your resilience of that and your families. 

We`re five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay.  You as members of the armed forces should not be expected to shoulder this burden.  I remain heartened by assistance available to you within the lifelines and by the outpouring of support from local communities across the nation.  But ultimately, I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members. 


MADDOW:  That is Admiral Karl Schultz, who is the commandant of the United States Coast Guard speaking tonight.  It was just posted this evening, to service members in the Coast Guard, letting them know he finds it unacceptable they`re having to rely on food pantries and donations, telling them that their leadership has their back and, yes, they`re going to continue to be unpaid week after week after week. 

This is the first time that U.S. Coast Guard Service members have ever gone without pay through any of the shutdowns we`ve been through as a country.  And this one appears to be indefinite.  This is now week five. 

Joining us now is Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.  He`s a member of the Senate Finance Committee. 

Senator, it`s really good to have you here tonight.  Thanks for coming in. 

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  I am -- I feel like the more I talk to people who have clear eyes and can see the horizon on the shutdown thing, the more I am worried it might have no end, that there might not be a way to end it, nor any intention to end it on administration or congressional Republicans. 

BROWN:  I think that -- I mean, it`s clear that Mitch McConnell has got to do his job.  Donald Trump -- he thrives on this.  We all know if he gets the $5 billion, that he`ll do this again in six months and throw another temper tantrum and shut down the government, a little like a 2-year-old wanting another cookie and crying and give him a cookie and he`ll do it again. 

I don`t see any question about that.  I mean, a majority of Americans understand that`s what`s happening.  Mitch McConnell has got to stand up and do his job. 

And when I go through the Cleveland airport, I mean, we have a lot of Coast Guard people in Cleveland, Lorain, along the Long Lake area, and I see their service and how important it is.  I talk to TSA agents at airports all the time, particularly Cleveland and Columbus and Cincinnati, and they -- you know, they are worried about -- they have to go to their bank or their landlord or they -- how do you do child care when you ask the people taking care of your children?  Could you wait three or four or five weeks until I pay you? 

You just can`t be -- these families are under such stress they don`t show it in the workplace much fortunately, but it`s so hard on them.  And, you know, there is a group that we don`t talk about much, and those are federal contractors that are making -- that provide food service, that work in the kitchens and do the security and do the custodial work at federal facilities.  They`re making $10, $12, $15 an hour.  If they have a union, they`re making a little more, if they don`t, they make a little less.

And they have not -- in the past -- they`ve lost their jobs, in the past, and they haven`t gotten back pay.  So they are really let out of this. 

MADDOW:  So, you`re saying that federal workers who are being forced to work without pay right now are in bad enough straits.  But if you`re a federal contractor, if you`re working as a custodian or food service worker, I mean, for the federal government, at least federal workers will get their back pay, but people who work -- the contractors won`t?

BROWN:  In the past, they never have.  So, these are $12, $15 an hour jobs, or less.  They`re preparing the food in the kitchens and cafeterias that serve the public in federal buildings or serve workers in the federal buildings.  They keep the buildings clean.  They keep people safe, security officials there, security officers. 

And they have been left out in the past and with those kind of wages, we should know they are going to payday lenders and, you know, Rachel, when you go to a payday lender, and you get a loan for two weeks, you go back and have to borrow again and you end up in this downward spiral where you`re playing 300 or 400 percent in interest only. 

And the president doesn`t -- he clearly, I don`t think he probably knows about those people and he sure doesn`t care about them.  That`s why Mitch McConnell has got to do his job. 

MADDOW:  When you say Mitch McConnell has to do his job, though, let`s game this out, because if right now, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer agreed that they would just pass what the house passed, which is just cleanly reopening the government, no policy changes, let`s just reopen this, whatever we want to fight about, let`s fight about it after we get the government back open. 

I am assuming that President Trump would not sign that bill.  That means that you need to build a veto-proof majority in the Senate.  McConnell would need to get all of the Republican senators on board essentially in order to pass it by a large enough margin that the president can`t veto.

BROWN:  But --

MADDOW:  Is that what you --


BROWN:  Yes, before the shutdown, every single senator voted for that actual language, the House will probably pass again tomorrow or Thursday, it will come back to us.  All of us voted for it.  Again, we vote -- we all just voted for it a month to five weeks ago before the shutdown, before -- when Pence promised Republicans at a lunch that the president would sign it, then the president changed his mind when, you know, the right wing machine went into over drive.

But if we do that, if the president vetoes it, maybe he would, maybe he wouldn`t at that point, we could over ride it and I would think there is enough pressure, enough House members, they go through airports, they talk to TSA agents.  They stood in lines with their constituents -- unless they have some back entrance I don`t know about.  They stood in line for an hour waiting to get through TSA because there are fewer agents now in many cases, because they are overworked and not paid and they`ve got to arrange child care, they have to take days off sometimes to arrange all that. 

So, I think the pressure builds.  I mean, it`s a democracy that they should respond to.  And that`s really our hope here.

Because Trump is going to continue to use this to speak to the base, divide the country to play into this phony populism that is -- you know, I mean, real populism isn`t anti-Semitic, it`s not racist, you don`t divide people, you don`t push people down to lift others up.  That`s the game Trump is going to continue to play.  That`s why the Senate, Mitch McConnell needs to act like a grownup and do this, this week. 

MADDOW:  Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, will you stay right there for a second?  There is another matter I need to ask you about. 

BROWN:  Sure.

MADDOW:  Senator Sherrod Brown is our guest.  We`ll be right back.



BROWN:  He said this shutdown has a higher purpose than next week`s pay.  Imagine that, a billionaire president living in this beautiful house paid for by taxpayers, and having his estate in Mar-a-Lago, that he would say this shutdown, this Trump shutdown has a higher purpose than next week`s pay. 

Missing one paycheck, one two-week paycheck or two two-week paychecks, or even if the president gets his way, three two-week paychecks, may seem like a lot to the billionaire president and a multimillionaire cabinet with their massive investment portfolios, but it means a whole lot to those people.  Missing a paycheck is a big, big deal. 


MADDOW:  When Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio gave that speech back on January 9th, the shutdown was in its 18th day, which was almost unimaginable.  We`re now at almost double that. 

Joining us once again is Senator Brown of Ohio.  Senator, thank you again. 

BROWN:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  A lot of people want you to run for president and I know this isn`t your favorite topic of conversation, but part of the reason why is because of the way you are making that argument there, which has been the kind of argument and the kind of way that you have spoken in public office your whole life.  You winning reelection in Ohio, even as a lot of people say that Ohio is going -- becoming an increasingly red state, you winning reelection fairly comfortably.  Your ability to communicate on issues that are really paycheck issues and pocketbook issues for people of all striations across this country is something I think people are hungry for when they ask you to run. 

Does it stress you out that people are putting that on you or do you -- how are you dealing with those requests (ph)? 


BROWN:  Sure.  I mean, it`s --

MADDOW:  It would stress me out. 

BROWN:  Yes, it`s not without some anxiety to think about any of this.  And I -- you know, Connie and I are seriously thinking about it. 

I -- you know, I think whoever the Democratic nominee is if I run and I`m it or any number of well-qualified people that announced or will announce, the dignity of work really needs to be a central theme because I think in their campaigns, I think that too many people sort of look at the Democratic electorate and say you either talk to the progressive base or you talk to working class voters, and you`ve got to do both. 

I mean, you`ve got to do both, not just to win Ohio or win the heartland or win the Electoral College, you got to do both.  As a long-time progressive and as an advocate for workers, it`s the way not just to win elections, it`s the way to govern, and it really is at the core of who I am and who I think a whole lot of American public and a strong majority of the Democratic Party is. 

Do both.  Talk in terms of progressive issues and talk about what we need to do for workers, on trade policy and tax policy and over time rule and all of that. 

MADDOW:  I think a lot of people think of those as two different lanes because they think to talk to the progressive base of the Democratic Party such as it is, you have to talk about issues that essentially have been turned into cultural wedges that are designed to alienate working people from the image of the Democratic Party.  And you have really straddled both of those lanes.  You have operated in both of the spaces your whole public life. 

Why has that never been a problem for you? 

BROWN:  Well, you go to my hometown in Mansfield.  You go Zanesville, you got to the city of Cleveland, or you go to Appalachia, and people have the same hopes and dreams.  People think if you work hard, you ought to be able to get ahead.  And if your love your country, you fight for the people who make it work -- whether you punch a clock or swipe a badge or raising children or caring for an ageing parent or working on a salary or working for tips. 

This expansive sort of expansive definition of work to respect work, to honor work, I don`t think -- I don`t think our government -- I mean, you`ve got a White House that looks like a retreat for Wall Street executives.  They`re not listening to workers.  Whether it`s in the shutdown or it`s the tax bill or it`s Trump trying to scale back the over time rule where 130,000 Ohioans, 5 million Americans were getting a raise that were working 50 and 60 hours a week.  We`re going to get time and a half for the first time and the president tries to take it away. 

I mean, it`s this long-term betrayal of workers from this administration from his time as a businessman to now when that`s why he doesn`t care about those low wage workers or any of the 800,000 that are either furloughed, or have lost their jobs, or working without pay. 

MADDOW:  You said that you and your wife Connie are thinking about whether or not you might make a run.  When are you going to decide and will you talk to me about it when you do? 

BROWN:  Sure, sure.  I`ll always talk to you, Rachel.  So, of course. 

We are going to the four early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina.  We will - we are going to do a dignity of work listening tour.  I`m not trying to have the largest rally or the biggest crowds. 

I want to listen to people and hear them whether -- and when I talk about the dignity of work, it`s -- you know, it`s a barber in Cedar Rapids, it`s a physical therapist in Concord, it`s a restaurant worker in Nevada, and it`s in Florence, South Carolina, it might be a construction worker.

And just that -- I mean, people in this country are working harder than ever before.  They`re seeing corporate profits are up, executive compensation is exploding.  Their productivity is up and their wages are flattened.  And there`s something -- there is something intrinsically wrong with our economy, and it starts with respecting work and talking and governing that way. 

MADDOW:  Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, thank you for talking to me about these things.  And I don`t mean -- I realize everybody is bugging you about this whole question about whether or not you`re going to run.  I don`t mean to bug you about it, but I am super interested to think what you might bring to the debate and how you might -- 

BROWN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  -- your presence in the debate, whether or not you win, your presence in the debate will drive the discussion towards those issues because you`ve been so effective at talking about them all those years. 

BROWN:  Thanks.

MADDOW:  So, thanks.

BROWN:  Thank you.  Always, thanks, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  It`s good to have you here.

All right.  We`ll be back.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  There were a bunch of big developments at the U.S. Supreme Court today.  Two of which I think I basically understand.  And one of which we`re about to have extra help to walk us through because I definitely don`t get it. 

First thing to know, though, is that the justices agreed to take up a big gun-related case for the first time in nearly a decade.  This will be the first Second Amendment case the court heard since the instillation of Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  His appointment cemented what is expected to be a fairly radical pro-gun conservative majority on the court.  This case the court decided to hear in the fall is a challenge to a New York City gun law which says if you`re licensed to have a gun in your home, the only other place you can take that gun is to an authorized shooting range inside city limits. 

"The New Yorker" is challenging the law want to be able to take their guns other places like specifically to their second homes outside the city.  And your level of sympathy may vary for New Yorkers demanding the right to shuttle their firearms back and forth between their many, many homes. 

But this case does setup the Supreme Court`s five conservative justices potentially to rule much more broadly on what kind of restrictions anyplace in the country is allowed to put on where you can have your gun.  So, that is something to watch. 

Another thing that happened in the Supreme Court today is new movement in the mystery case we have been following that appears to involve special counsel Robert Mueller.  This is a case that has been making its way mysteriously through the federal courts in D.C. and I say it`s mysterious because this case has been basically entirely under seal.  It concerns a corporation of some kind owned by a foreign country, we don`t know which one, and that unknown foreign owned corporation has been fighting a grand jury subpoena from Robert Mueller special counsel office. 

Now, again, we`re not allowed to know what the company is or which country it`s from.  We`re not even allowed to know the identities of the lawyers arguing the case, which I find bizarre, but lower courts have repeatedly ruled against this foreign corporation, lower courts have repeatedly ruled that it does have to compile with the subpoena from Mueller. 

In fact, we learned in today`s Supreme Court filing that the company was initially ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 a day as long as they weren`t compiling with the subpoena.  At least that`s what the special counsel wanted.  Instead, a federal court judge in D.C. said, no, $10,000 a day isn`t good enough, let`s make it $50,000 today. 

So they are paying $50,000 in fines every day they don`t comply with the subpoena.  Today, the Supreme Court allowed this foreign corporation to file a petition again under seal.  It`s partially redacted, asking the justices to take up this case and our best understanding is that it`s not unheard of for the Supreme Court to allow petitioners to file anonymously or semi-redacted petitions like this, but it is pretty rare. 

So what we now have on the public record is these redacted filings.  We did learn from these redacted filings today the company is a wholly owned agency or instrumentality of a foreign state.  So, it`s not partially owned by a foreign country.  It`s wholly owned by a foreign country.

We also learned this company says it was subpoenaed as a witness in this investigation, whenever the investigation is, and it also appears that today, the secret foreign company lost yet another round in the lower courts.  The D.C. appeals court today again ruled against this company, something having to do with them having to comply with that subpoena.  That came alongside the ruling from the release of their appeal to the Supreme Court. 

Again, though, I can only tell you so much about what that D.C. circuit court ruling was about because, again, it is sealed.  So, we will be watching the Supreme Court to see what they do with this application from this mystery corporation from this unknown foreign country but they appear to be losing at pretty much every level of the court system thus far and having to pay a pretty high price for it with each passing day, whether or not the Supreme Court ultimately changes that course of events, we`ll find out when we find out. 

So, that`s a couple of things that happen today at the Supreme Court.  But I told you there was another development at the court today for which we need expert help and that one is next.  Stay right with us. 


MADDOW:  You partly saw the headlines about this today.  Ever since President Trump tried to ban transgender troops from serving in the military, the policy he issued by tweet, apropos of nothing.  That effort has been blocked by federal courts as lawsuits over the proposed ban have been argued. 

But today, there was a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in which the five conservative justices on the court lifted some of the nationwide injunctions that had kept this partial ban from going into effect.  Here`s the part I can`t understand, though.  As far as I can tell, the court did not lift all the injunctions.  As I said, multiple courts have blocked this policy from going into effect. 

It certainly doesn`t seem like the justices have ruled on the merits of the policy.  It seems they are setting themselves up for that in the future.  But the question is, what`s the status right now?  Is the ban in effect?  What does today`s order mean for service members and people looking to join the military right now?  What does this mean going forward? 

I know enough to know I don`t get it yet.  But joining us now is Jennifer Levi.  He`s the director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLAD, a LGBTQ legal advocates and defenders, one of the groups that sued the Trump administration over the ban. 

Jennifer, thanks for being here.  Much appreciated. 


MADDOW:  So, you hear my confusion here.  I don`t -- I m not -- A, I`m not a lawyer, and B, I don`t think I was totally sure on the administrative status of this proposed ban before today.  I`m definitely not sure right now. 

LEVI:  Well, two things happened today.  One is that the court rejected the government`s request to hear the case right now.  It would have been premature for the court to hear it, and so, the government`s not going to be able to leapfrog the ordinary appellate process and have the case heard now. 

But the other thing the court did was to green light the ban, in terms of it going into effect.  Although you`re absolutely right, that there are remaining barriers that the government will have to challenge if it wants to begin to implement them. 

MADDOW:  So, it cleared its way through some of lower court orders that have blocked the ban for going into effect, but not all of them. 

LEVI:  Not all, that`s right. 

MADDOW:  So, when are those going to get adjudicated?

LEVI:  Well, the government is going to ask the district court in which one of those barriers are still in place to lift that ban and we`ll have to see how that goes forward.  It`s up to the government at this point.  I will say there`s been a tremendous amount of -- lack of clarity I would say from the government about how it intends to proceed and that`s been true from the minute the tweets were issued by the president. 

MADDOW:  Well, the tweets were issued by the president.  The effectuation of what appeared to be his tweeted order at the Pentagon was itself a bit of a morass. 

LEVI:  Absolutely.

MADDOW:  And so, now, given that murky origin story, given the path this has taken through the courts, given this partial step by the Supreme Court today, if you`re an openly transgender service member serving right now, are you in fear of getting kicked -- are you living tonight in fear of getting kicked out because of this? 

LEVI:  Well, here`s what we know, that the military has said when this ban goes into effect, there is a small group of individuals who came out in reliance of the open service policy who will be allowed to continue to serve.  They`ll be doing so under a policy that deems them unfit, and that will have very concrete impact on their ability to continue to serve. 

MADDOW:  And they won`t be kicked out but considered unfit while still serving. 

LEVI:  That`s right.  That`s right.

MADDOW:  That`s insane. 

LEVI:  It makes no sense and it really underscores how unprincipled the ban is because it would allow transgender people to continue to serve, recognizing that those individuals have met all of the very high standards for continuing in military service, and yet would exclude other people who have not come out yet and would exclude all transgender people who seek to enlist.  So, it makes no sense.  All the ban would serve to do would be to exclude people who can meet military criteria and qualifications from serving. 

MADDOW:  When the justices do ultimately hear the merits of this case, are you pessimistic about how they`re going to rule?  I mean, this is a 5-4 conservative ruling today.

LEVI:  That`s true.  But it did not speak to the merits of all, and it really only put in place even temporarily the permission for the government to put the ban into place.  I will say that I`m optimistic because I don`t think that there`s any basis for the government to demonstrate that there is a reason why transgender people who meet military criterion can`t serve.  And we`re actually optimistic because in rejecting hearing the case now, it allows us to go back down to the district courts and put on the evidence that we think will absolutely refute the government`s statements that transgender people can`t serve in the military. 

MADDOW:  So you think when you get your shot at the merits, you`re going to win? 

LEVI:  Absolutely.  And we also think that, you know, the fact that transgender people have been putting themselves, their lives in the line every day in service to their country, it`s going to help to prove our case. 

MADDOW:  Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLAD, it`s really good to have you here.  Thanks.

LEVI:  Thank you so much.

MADDOW:  Nice to see you.

All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  To wrap up tonight, last night`s show we opened the show with a long story about a Belarusian model, a woman named Anastasia Vashukevich, who has been caught up in the saga about the Russian government interfering in U.S. elections and she`s been caught up in what appears to be a very dangerous situation for her in which she says that she has evidence, she has video and photo and audio recordings which implicate to a certain extent a specific Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska involved in the Russian meddling. 

Last night, we focused on the fact she was arrested by Russian authorities while transiting through an airport last week, and over the weekend she appeared in court as you see in this video sort of scarily apologizing over and over again to that oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, and saying there will be no more recordings and she had no more proof and she had nothing else she wanted to say about it. 

The update I have for you on that story tonight is that Anastasia Vashukevich was released from custody in Russia today, but we know very little about that.  By this time tomorrow, we expect to learn more.  Her lawyer says there will be a press conference tomorrow in which they will explain what they believe has happened in her case.  We will have that update for you tomorrow. 

Tomorrow night, we will also have Senator Kamala Harris of California here for her first live TV interview since announcing that she`s running for president.  Tomorrow is a big night.  Stay with us.

We`ll see again then.


Good evening, Lawrence. 


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