VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER OBAMA ADVISER: I think your basic core values are pretty well set by the time you reach adulthood.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. Valerie Jarrett, the book is called "Finding My Voice" and it`s out today, great pleasure to have you. Thank you so much.
JARRETT: Thank you. My pleasure. Thanks for having me on, Chris.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for the evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Valerie Jarrett making some news with you there, Chris, saying she`s been talking to some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
HAYES: Yes, that`s right.
MADDOW: I didn`t know that.
HAYES: I didn`t either.
MADDOW: Well done, my friend. Thanks a lot.
HAYES: Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
What a weird news day this has been. Seriously, we do -- we have odd news days now and then, it happens. We have news days with unexpected twists and turns and stuff, but we very rarely get stuff that`s this weird, just like, over the transom, you know? Here you go. Make of this what you will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope they now go and take a look at the oranges. The oranges of the investigation, the beginnings of that investigation. The Mueller report, I wish, covered the oranges, how it started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I had no idea it started with oranges. I mean, now it all makes sense. Everybody`s been teasing him about his makeup tone all this time, but every time he came out that color, it was a signal about the oranges! The oranges? It was so weird.
The president today lamenting the citrusy beginnings of the Mueller report. And I`m sure they are juicy, enough to fill a whole novel of pulp fiction. Very pulpy.
What the heck was that? And it wasn`t just one time. He kept going on and on about the oranges, the oranges. That was very weird.
But that came in the midst of the president doing a public 180, a public U- turn on whether or not he wants the Mueller report to be released.
Just a couple of weeks ago, on March 20th, the president was asked, does the public have the right to see the Mueller report? President Trump replied to that question, "I don`t mind. Frankly, I told the house, if you want, let `em see it, let it come out, let people see it. I want to see the report," he said. "I want to see the report. And you know who wants to see it? Tens of millions of people."
That was March 20th. Then five days later, so, we go Monday. The president was asked if he wants to see the Mueller report, quote, completely released. The president responded, "It wouldn`t bother me at all. Wouldn`t bother me at all."
Now, today, though, apparently, light has dawned on marble head. Light has dawned on Mt. Tropicana and the president has U-turned on that issue. The president is now publicly decrying that the Democrats want too much released from the Mueller report.
Literally, within the past two weeks, he`s been like, let it all out, I can`t wait to see it, everybody wants to see it! Now he`s like, why do they want to see it? It`s a grace that they want to see it!
What just occurred to you about what might be in the Mueller report, sir?
Today was the deadline to release to Congress the full Mueller report. The deadline set by Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and five other committee chairmen in the House. Attorney General William Barr appears to have blown off that deadline as he continues to sit on the Mueller report and allow no one to see it. As of tonight, he has no formal response to that congressional deadline.
But that means, according to the Democrats in Congress, that Barr should expect to have the report subpoenaed tomorrow. Congressman Jerry Nadler and the other Democratic chairmen have now sent Attorney General Barr this letter. Quote, on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee plans to begin the process of authorizing subpoenas for the report and for underlying evidence and materials. Wednesday, April 3rd. That`s tomorrow.
Quote: While we hope to avoid resorting to compulsory processes, if the department is unwilling to produce the report to Congress in unredacted form, we will have little choice but to take such action.
During your confirmation hearing in January, you stated that your goal would be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law. The chairman continued, quote: We expect the department will take all necessary steps without further delay, including seeking leave from the court to disclose the limited portions of the report that may involve grand jury materials in order to satisfy your promise of transparency and to allow Congress to fulfill its own constitutional responsibilities.
So this is them saying, hey, listen, we`re going to subpoena you, we`d prefer not to. You said you were going to be transparent. But, by the way, if you really are going to try to be transparent here, don`t just tell us there`s grand jury material in it and say that means you can`t look at it. If there`s grand jury material, you need to get a court order so the court can allow the release of that grand jury material. You ought to be doing that.
At another point in their letter to Attorney General William Barr today, the Democrats say that in Jerry Nadler`s recent conversation with Barr about the Mueller report, Barr, quote, suggested in that call that redactions made in accordance with Rule 6E, meaning, redactions made because of grand jury information, quote, will be substantial.
So, this is a public-facing letter that they have sent, right? They sent is this to the attorney general. They also made it available publicly. In this public-facing document, they are basically letting us know that what they`re surmising from Barr`s comments to them so far is that the Mueller report is going to be redacted within an inch of its life, on the grounds that it contains a ton of grand jury information, which William Barr is taking it upon himself to cut out, not only before he shows to it public, but before he even shows it to Congress.
The Democrats want him instead to get a court order allowing for that grand jury information to be disclosed. That is what happened in Watergate. That is what happened in the Ken Starr report. That is what has happened in every other investigation like this. That is what the Democrats in Congress would like to happen now. So far, no response on that from the attorney general whatsoever.
The Democrats today also included a long legal analysis for the attorney general, explaining on what grounds they believed they should be able to see an unredacted version of the report and why they need to see the report now. Why there is some urgency as to their request. As, again, Barr continues to sit on it for going on two weeks now.
Because I think that portion of the Democrats` letter to Barr was supposed to explode like a little bit of a firework, that legal analysis that they sent him starts off, right at the top, with this. Quote: The attorney general`s March 24th letter indicates that the special counsel found that President Trump may have criminally obstructed the department`s investigation of Russia`s interference in the 2016 election and related matters. The special counsel pointedly stated that the evidence the investigation uncovered, quote, does not exonerate the president of obstruction and includes potentially criminal acts not yet known to the public.
It is difficult to overstate the seriousness of those actions if in the wake of a hostile -- excuse me -- if in the wake of an attack by a hostile nation against our democracy, President Trump`s response was to seek to undermine the investigation rather than take action against the perpetrators. These are not only matters of addressing the harm that has occurred, these are urgent ongoing concerns. As has been publicly reported and referenced in the March 24th letter, multiple open investigations referred by the special counsel`s office to other U.S. attorneys may implicate the president or his campaign, transition, inauguration, or businesses. These important inquiries could be compromised if the president is seeking to interfere with them.
So, in other words, hand it over. They lay out in detail why all of the different categories of redaction the attorney general says he`s going through right now to cut stuff out of the Mueller report before he allows anybody to see it, they go through in detail why none of those categories of redactions should apply to a report that is released to Congress, not the grand jury stuff, not the classified material, not the ongoing investigation material. All of that stuff can be handled and is handled, as a matter of course, by Congress with sensitive documents.
But, again, this is a fight now. This is the Democrats trying to pry loose the Mueller report in its unredacted form. It`s now 11 days since Mueller submitted it.
Tomorrow, unless it is finally shook loose from the attorney general`s office, they`re telling us that we are going to get the first subpoena for the Mueller report and then we`ll have to see how the attorney general and the Justice Department respond to that subpoena. So, tomorrow should be a big day. Tick-tock.
And, if that`s not enough for one day, we are also now in the midst of an ongoing showdown between the administration and the Democratic-led Congress over these new whistleblower claims, that the White House has been overruling security staff to hand out security clearances to people who otherwise would not be approved for them. And while security clearance procedure might seem like an arcane thing, what this boils down to is that the Trump administration, the Trump White House, has been insisting on making classified information available to people who are considered to be too much of a risk to handle such information. And they`ve been overruling career security staff in order to do it.
Well, today in the midst of that ongoing standoff, we got a new story to put in this quiver. Tonight, a charging document in a Florida court indicates that the president`s private club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, was just this weekend the site of a very strange security breach of its own. A Secret Service affidavit filed in court today states that a woman, this weekend, on Saturday presented herself at Mar-a-Lago, at the Secret Service perimeter checkpoint there.
She told the agents that she wanted to use the pool. She showed two different Chinese passports to the Secret Service agents at Mar-a-Lago and, despite the fact that they weren`t totally clear on what she was doing there and she was showing them Chinese passports, they nevertheless let her in. They didn`t just let her in, she was brought to the front desk at Mar- a-Lago in a valet-driven golf cart. Then having arrived at reception, at the front desk, the receptionist at Mar-a-Lago found that the woman couldn`t give any real or plausible explanation as to what she was actually doing there.
Luckily, the Mar-a-Lago receptionist was on the case! That receptionist called the secret service back to say, uh, I don`t know why you let this person in, but she doesn`t seem to be cleared to be here. She doesn`t seem to be here for any legit reason. The Secret Service then, oops, questioned her again. She told them that she wanted to talk to members of the Trump family about Chinese/U.S. economic relations. Oh!
They then, at that point, finally noticed that even though they`d let her in because she said she wanted to use the pool, she didn`t actually have a swimsuit on her. But, they did find that she was carrying four cell phones, an external hard drive, a laptop and a thumb drive that the Secret Service discovered was infected with some sort of malware. She brought all of that stuff into the president`s private club during the president`s visit this weekend.
Again, luckily, the receptionist was on the case! So, we`re protected, America.
I mean, this comes hot on the heels of news that another woman was literally marketing access to the president and his family members and Trump cabinet officials at Mar-a-Lago for a price. She was marketing a package to Chinese nationals, marketing it in China. The deal was, you would pay her cash money and then she`d get you to Florida, get you into Mar-a-Lago, and get you access to Trump officials, Trump family members, and maybe Trump himself, if you paid her.
She is also a member of numerous organizations affiliated with the Chinese government and the ruling Chinese Communist party. She also owns day spas across Florida and was the original owner of the one where Patriots football team owner Roger Kraft and at least one major Republican Party donor were recently arrested in a prostitution sting.
So, naturally, that`s who`s selling access to the president at Mar-a-Lago. You know, what could possibly go wrong?
I will say, for my money, all of this latest Mar-a-Lago stuff pales against the time that president Trump allowed all the paying guests at a Mar-a-Lago dinner to basically sit in on a makeshift Situation Room, as he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe strategized about how to respond to a surprise North Korean missile launch. Remember that one?
It`s an outdoor dinner at Mar-a-Lago and they convene all of their advisers to deal with the missile launch and start looking at all the documents. That`s the one where staffers and waiters were gathered around the prime minister and the president looking at all of these sensitive and classified materials and the staffers and waiters were using the flashlights on their cell phones to illuminate the documents so those world leaders could read them more easily. Because it was outdoors and it was nighttime.
Luckily, you know, I`m sure those phones definitely had no cameras in them whatsoever. They were definitely just flashlight phones and not camera phones, so I`m sure it was fine to have them illuminating classified documents in that moment. I`m sure everything was super secure.
As Democrats in Congress continue to raise concerns about the Trump administration`s ability to handle national security matters and classified information, today, the Oversight Committee led by Congressman Elijah Cummings approved a subpoena to the security director from the White House personnel office, who was involved in security clearance decisions that a whistleblower has now brought to the attention of Congress. This is an 18- year career official. She works as a securities adjudication manager for the office of administration and the executive office of the president, which means she looks over people`s background checks to decide if they can get security clearances.
She says she has a list of over two dozen cases in which career security officials recommended against issuing a clearance for someone who applied for one in the Trump administration and on more than two dozen occasions, she says there was intervention from the Trump White House to overrule those career security officials and disregard the red flags that came up in people`s background checks, to give people clearances they otherwise wouldn`t have been able to obtain.
As Congress is now investigating her claims, her former supervisor, who until recently was security director at the White House personnel office, he today was subpoenaed by Congress. At the same meeting of the Oversight Committee today, subpoenas were also approved, related to the roiling controversy over the next census, the 2020 census, and the Trump administration`s efforts to insert a new question into the census about citizenship status.
This is an issue in which the administration has been absolutely ripped apart by multiple federal court rulings already. Now, Congress is after it, too. And the Oversight Committee tonight has subpoenaed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr, also another senior Justice Department official. They`re all subpoenaed to answer questions and provide documents about how the Trump administration has handled or mishandled this issue about the 2020 census.
On the issue of immigration and citizenship today, which is what the census fight is about, today, for the first time, a 2020 presidential candidate unveiled a complex, detailed, far-reaching immigration policy proposal. That policy was unveiled today by Julian Castro, who`s going to be our guest in-studio here tonight. You`ll get to hear him talk about this new proposal in his own words in just a few minutes.
But in an online post unveiling this big policy proposal today, Castro in his trademark mix of extremely eloquent and resolutely practical, he explained part of it, at least, this way.
Quote: Last year, the Trump administration told Americans that if we would just be cruel enough to separate little children from their parents, that cruelty would deter more families from seeking asylum at our southern border. It turns out this was totally wrong, both morally and factually. More families are coming. Their policy of cruelty is a failure and we should choose compassion instead. We should choose people first.
Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, he has a remarkable family story to tell to back up this big policy rollout today. His grandmother was orphaned as a child. As a child, as a 7-year-old, she emigrated from Mexico to the United States to come live with her surviving relatives who were in this country.
She made it only through the third grade. She ended up working her whole life as a maid and a cook and a babysitter. His grandmother had one daughter, one child, a daughter. And when that daughter was ready to give birth to twins, the grandmother paid for the hospital bill for the delivery of those twins by winning a cooking contest. It was a menudo cooking contest. She won $300, and that`s what paid for the hospital stay where those twin boys were born.
Those twin boys grew up in San Antonio, Texas. They both went to Stanford University, and then to Harvard Law School.
Joaquin became a congressman. He still serves in the U.S. Congress today.
His identical twin brother, Julian, at age 26, just one year out of law school, became the youngest city councilor in San Antonio history. He ultimately became mayor of San Antonio. He was the youngest big city mayor in the country.
In 2012, as a rising national star in the Democratic Party, he was tapped to give the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 4, 2012)
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American dream is not a sprint or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don`t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation, but each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor.
My grandmother never owned a house. She cleaned other people`s houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights, so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Julian Castro at the Democratic National Convention, giving the keynote address in 2012. Within two years, 2014, he was asked by President Obama to become the youngest member of the Obama cabinet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: The first time most Americans heard this man speak is when he gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention almost two years ago. And they saw this young guy, pretty good speaker, not bad looking, talk about how America is the only place where his story could even be possible. And I watched and I thought, that`s not bad.
Julian`s grandmother came to this country from Mexico. She worked as a maid, worked as a cook, worked as a babysitter, whatever she had to do to keep a roof over her family`s head. And that`s because, for her and generations of Americans like her, home is more than just a house. Home is a source of pride and security.
And maybe one day, the kid grows up in that home and is able to go on to get a great education and become the mayor of San Antonio and become a member of the president`s cabinet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After taking that job in President Obama`s cabinet in 2014, Julian Castro made the very, very, very shortest short list of potential running mates for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Ultimately, he did not get the running mate gig. And of course, we know how 2016 worked out.
But now, Julian Castro is running of his own accord. He is 44 years old. He is the only Latino who is currently a declared candidate in the presidential race. His People First immigration policy, which he unveiled today, it is the first big detailed policy proposal on the immigration issue from anybody who is running on the Democratic field.
Among other things, he is proposing what he calls a Marshall Plan for Central America, to support stability in our hemisphere and mutual economic growth and to address the most dire conditions in Central America that ultimately send people north toward our country out of desperation.
And let me just say one other thing before we bring on Julian Castro for tonight`s interview. You may have noticed that there are a gazillion people, roughly, running for the Democratic presidential nomination this year. That`s not an exact term. I`m rounding up to the nearest gazillion.
But it`s turning out to be a crowded and also an exciting contest already for the Democratic nomination, even before everyone has jumped in. As far as we can tell from our own research here on my staff, as far as we can tell, the largest field of candidates to ever run from a major party was the field of 17 Republicans who competed for their party`s nomination in 2016.
And we know how that worked out. The Republican Party looked at those 17 options and chose Donald Trump of all people. And he went on to win the general election in November.
Now, if you`re trying to handicap the field for the Democratic contenders this year, if you`re trying to game out now who might win this year to run against Trump in 2020, consider that at this point in the 2016 race, not only was Donald Trump not favored to win the Republican nomination, he wasn`t even being included in most polls at this point in the race in 2016. Nobody was even asking about him when they were polling on the race.
At this point in the Republican race in 2016, the guy who was widely considered to be the prohibitive front-runner was Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney didn`t even end up running in 2016. To that point, in the previous cycle, in 2012, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin at this point in the race were considered top-tier contenders. Neither of them ended up running in 2012.
At this point in the cycle before that, in 2008, the guy who was way out ahead in all the national polls was Rudy Giuliani, seriously. And Rudy Giuliani, he did, in fact, run for president in 2018. He won nothing. He didn`t win a single contest, didn`t even get close.
So who`s ahead in the polls for the Democratic nomination at this point tells you very, very little about who is going to win in all likelihood. But, also, again, looking at history, having a gigantic field of candidates running does seem to be a net positive when it comes to that party`s chances of winning in November. And every year is different and there are exceptions to every rule.
But if you`re going to try to draw a pattern out of big-field races, it looks good for that party. I mean, again, 17 Republican candidates in 2016, a record for either party. As unlikely as it seemed as the time, their ultimate nominee got the nomination and went on to win the presidency against Hillary Clinton.
The biggest field the Democrats have ever put forward for a nomination was the field of 16 candidates the Democrats put up in 1976. So many Democrats ran in 1976 that literally new candidates were still joining the race even after the New Hampshire primary was already over. It was a ferocious campaign among the Democrats in 1976, just like it was a ferocious campaign among the Republicans in 2016. With every one you can think of running and the competition stretching on and on and the lead changing hands a million times.
But just as the Republicans emerged from that giant field of competition in 2016 to take the White House in the fall, so, too, in 1976 with the biggest ever field of Democrats. Picking a nominee and emerging in the fall to win the White House, behind the banner of former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter.
So I know it has become sort of fashionable to bemoan the size of the Democratic field and to make light of every new entry into the race. There`s already like 15 Democrats who are either qualified for the first debate already or on track to qualify. I can name you even on top of those 15, I can name you five more people off the top of my head who I think will probably run who haven`t even announced yet who will have a pretty good shot themselves.
But as the country now takes the time to meet all of these candidates and to hear what they have to offer, you`re going to hear from Julian Castro here in just a moment, do not bemoan, do no winge about the amount of work it`s going to take us all as citizens to get to know all of these candidates this year, as more and more of them keep jumping in the race.
I mean, if you are hoping for the Democrats to win against Trump in the general election, history suggests that the size of the Democratic field is actually one of the Democratic Party`s greatest assets.
But Julian Castro is here tonight for the interview. I am very excited to have him here. Lots to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I`m very pleased to say that joining us now live here in studio for the interview is Julian Castro. He`s a former very young city councilman and then mayor of the great city of San Antonio, Texas. He was Barack Obama`s secretary of housing and urban development. Now he is running to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
Secretary Castro, thank you for being here.
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Really good to have you here in person.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about being 44 years old and running for president. If you -- if you won, if you became president through this campaign, you would be the youngest president since JFK, the second youngest ever elected. Is your youth part of what you have to offer as a candidate?
CASTRO: I think so, yes. When I go out there and I travel the country, what I hear is that people want a new generation of leadership. They want somebody that is a new face in Washington. I think they want the voice of a new generation.
And I think that during this election, inspiring young people to get out and vote like we saw in 2018, where, you know, in the midterm, young people went out and voted at a much greater rate than 2014, that`s going to be important in 2020. So I see that as an asset, sure.
Also, as you know, and others have pointed out, in this modern era of presidential politics, since 1960, JFK was 43, Bill Clinton was 46, Barack Obama was 46 or 47, so, you know, I would be 46 --
MADDOW: You`re in the sweet spot.
CASTRO: Yes, I guess I say -- I don`t see that as particularly groundbreaking, right?
CASTRO: Because that`s actually been the norm. The oldest of those Democrats that was elected during that time was Jimmy Carter in `76. You just pointed out that very crowded election, and I think he was 50 or 51. So, that`s been the norm more than the exception.
MADDOW: I think part of the way it dovetails for me and the reason I put that right up top is because of your experience as an unconventional path. You`ve been a cabinet secretary, the only cabinet secretary in the running for the Democrats. Before that, being a big city mayor. I think people sometimes conflate your brother`s experience as a congressman and thinks that you`ve been a congressman, too.
CASTRO: He shaved his beard. He had a beard for a few weeks.
MADDOW: It was such a good trick for differentiating you two.
MADDOW: I mean, is it -- is being a big city mayor better preparation for running the federal government than working in the legislature, than being in Congress, being in the Senate, as so many of your other candidates have?
CASTRO: Yes. I think what people ask me all the time, every time I go out to an event, they say, we have a crowded field, what distinguishes you? And I tell them, I`m the only former cabinet member, basically a federal executive. If you`re president, you`re a federal executive. You`re in charge of the federal government, right? And that being mayor is all about getting things done.
And people, I think, are tired of this administration`s incompetence, its inability to get good things done. And they want somebody in there that can hit the ground running, will be able to get things done. So, yes, I see both my cabinet experience and my experience as a mayor and my track record of getting things done as a real positive. And something that I think people are going to respond to as the months go by.
MADDOW: One of the things that I know you are proud of from your time as mayor in San Antonio was a universal pre-K program for the city. You paid for it by raising the sales tax by an infinitesimal amount, an eighth of a percent.
CASTRO: An eighth of a cent, yes.
MADDOW: Is that the kind of thing that you think could be scaled nationally? Does that experience in that city give you a sense of how to tackle something like that on the national level?
CASTRO: It does. Now, ours wasn`t quite universal, but we did ask voters in Texas, right? Because everybody loves a tax increase in Texas.
MADDOW: Yes, right.
CASTRO: To raise the sales tax by an eighth of a cent, because we could see that what was missing in that city was the kind of educational achievement that we needed to have, the prosperity that we wanted. And so I said, you know, I`m asking, you know, all of you to basically pay, on average, $7.81 more, a year, so that 22,000 4-year-olds can get high- quality full-day pre-K education.
And what I found was that if you`re straightforward with people, if you give them the value proposition, if you paint the vision of what we can be, then people are willing to accept that, you know? And I think that that does translate to an America where we need to invest in people, we need to invest in greater skills and education.
I had the experience as mayor of working with people who didn`t always agree with me, because even though I`m a proud progressive and a Democrat, I actually came up in a non-partisan context. So, I used to go and knock on the doors of people who were Republican, who were conservative, and talk to them about the importance of job creation, of neighborhood safety, of simple things, like streets and drainage, but also the aspirations of the community.
And I feel like one of the things that people want, because this president has been so divisive, is even those that are very progressive, we want somebody that is willing to speak to part of the country that doesn`t disagree with us. And I have experience doing that.
MADDOW: Do you think you could carry Texas?
CASTRO: I do. I do.
MADDOW: In the general election?
CASTRO: Oh, absolutely.
CASTRO: I actually believe the future of the Democratic Party is the 78 electoral votes, the 11 electoral votes of Arizona, the 29 electoral votes of Florida, and the 38 electoral votes of Texas. If I`m the nominee, I`m confident that I can carry all three of those states.
MADDOW: Beto O`Rourke has also declared his nomination -- or his attempt to run for the nomination. He`s run statewide in Texas, you haven`t. I imagine the two of you both have a serious claim to the loyalty of Democratic voters and activists and staff in Texas.
How do you negotiate that?
CASTRO: Well -- first of all, I think Beto is a fantastic guy. My brother and were happy to support him when he ran against Ted Cruz and I wish him well in this race. We`ve got 15 or 16 candidates.
But just going to go out there and work hard. Like I said, I think one of the things that distinguishes me is that I have actually run something, I have executive experience. I think people are looking for that. I have also articulated a strong, positive and powerful vision for the future of our country.
And at the end of the day, I mean, we`re going to go and work hard. I`m not a front-runner right now, but, you know, I wasn`t born a front-runner. I didn`t grow up on the west side of San Antonio as a front-runner. There are a whole bunch of people out there that don`t feel like a front-runner right now. And I`m going to go and talk to them and tell them how every single day, I`m going to work hard so that their children can get a good education, so that their family can get great health care when they need it and they have good job opportunities out there.
MADDOW: Our guest is Julian Castro, he is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Stick with us. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: There was the time President Trump blurted out highly classified code word-level intelligence to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office. There was the time his national security adviser was allowed to hang around in that job for 18 long days, after the White House was warned that Mike Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government. There was the time the president discussed North Korean missile launches with the Japanese prime minister during dinner on the terrace at Mar-a-Lago while paying guests looked on and took pictures and posted them to their Facebook pages.
Handling classified information has not been a strong suit for this White House. Now, we have a new whistleblower who says at least 25 times career staffers raised serious red flags about applications for security clearances, including applications for very senior White House officials, career security staffers noticed those red flags, raised concerns, said an application for a security clearance should be denied, but those rulings were ignored and overridden by the White House.
We know that`s the situation we`re in right now. But imagine you`re running for president. Imagine you`re going to be the next president, who has to follow in the footsteps of that.
With that issue as with so many other things from the Trump administration, how do you cram that genie back into the bottle? I mean, security clearances are a presidential prerogative. How do you go back and reestablish norms after processes like that have been broken as badly as they have by this president?
Back with us now is former HUD secretary, Julian Castro, who is now running in the Democratic presidential primary.
Mr. Secretary, thank you again.
CASTRO: Great to be here.
MADDOW: On that security clearance issue, I don`t know much about your national security background and the -- your relative hawkishness on these sorts of issues, but I do want to just get your response to this current controversy that`s happening. This standoff that`s happening now between Democrats in Congress, who are upset about the way that Trump administration`s handling national security and classified information, and the Trump administration and its defenders who are sort of saying, this is -- this is no big deal.
CASTRO: It`s ironic based on how he ran his campaign -- you know, slandering Hillary Clinton about her e-mails, her e-mails. And this administration has been the sloppiest, and that`s a generous term, the sloppiest administration when it comes to handling classified information and these issues related to national security.
My hope is that Congress will continue to assert its authority and get ahold of documents to investigate exactly what has happened in terms of the White House basically overruling the career staff that has made recommendations on whether certain individuals should get a security clearance or not.
You mentioned, you know, understanding what the norms were before this administration busted through all of these enormous. That`s important. I think not just with regard to these security clearances, this process, but a whole bunch of other processes within the federal government. I also see that as one of the reasons that, you know, I have -- I`m well-prepared for this office, because I was there before.
I had the opportunity to see an administration that was actually doing these things in the right way. And we need to get back to that.
MADDOW: We`re starting to see another standoff take shape between the congressional Democrats and the administration, particularly the Department of Justice, as to whether or not the Mueller report is going to be released to Congress or the public and in what form.
How hard do you think Democrats should push on that, if, in fact, push comes to shove?
CASTRO: The American people are with the Democrats on this. Poll after poll has showed that people want to see the full report. They know that we`re not going to know the full truth until we see the full report. You know, they won`t even say how many pages, exactly, this report is, but they summarized it only with four pages, probably for hundreds pages worth of a report.
So Democrats should keep pushing on that. There`s no reason that they should let up on that. And sometimes this issue comes up where people ask, well, do folks out on the trail in Iowa or New Hampshire or whatever, do they ask you about the Mueller report? You know, it comes up every now and then.
But what people do ask about is accountability in government. They want integrity, honesty, and accountability in government. And fundamentally, that`s what this issue is about.
MADDOW: You unveiled your own immigration proposal today, which is the first in the field from all the Democratic candidates, a comprehensive proposal -- talking about the prospect of putting people first, putting compassion back at the center of the way we deal with immigration. I feel like on immigration policy, since the early days of the Bush administration, there`s been this wah-wah pointless talking point about comprehensive immigration reform that never has motivating force behind it because there`s so much disingenuous politicking on the issue.
Do you feel like you can transcend what has become a -- not just a partisan standoff here, but what feels like a cul-de-sac where no real and substantive policy ever gets developed?
CASTRO: I believe so. I mean, that`s what I`m trying to do with the People First immigration plan they put out today. Basically, Rachel, you know, those folks that saw it today, I hope that they`ll go to julianforthefuture.com and look it up. I also had a Medium post.
I`m not buying into the B.S. that basically says that little children and mothers who are desperate and fleeing desperate circumstances are a national security threat to our nation. I said that we should de- criminalize people who are coming here, crossing the border. We should go back to treating this the way that we did basically before 2004, as a civil matter.
We need to end detention. I don`t think we should be putting people in cages.
We need to increase the number of refugees that we take into this country. You know, this is somewhat politically incorrect to say, I think, for people on the right, but we need a lot of these immigrants. You know, several of the industries in this country benefit already from their labor. Our unemployment rate right now is 3.8, 3.9 percent, right? And even at that in a lot of these industries, they can`t find the labor that they need.
We seek countries around the world that have an aging population, the United States birthrate is declining, we have an aging population. We have baby boomers that are turning 65 and drawing down more and more on Social Security. We need a young and vibrant workforce. And if we`re not careful, if we don`t get this right, in 20 or 30 years, this nation is going to be begging for immigrants to come to this country.
We have -- we are a great nation. We have people that are fleeing danger and the president wants us to believe that we have to choose between border security and compassion. I believe that our border is more secure than it`s ever been and we can continue to make investments so that it stays secure. But I want us to choose compassion, not cruelty.
MADDOW: Julian Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, can you stick with us for just one more segment? I have another thing that I`m going to ask you about that you are not going to want to answer.
We`ll be right back with Julian Castro right after this.
MADDOW: We`re back with Julian Castro, who is a former cabinet official under President Obama, is now a 2020 presidential candidate.
Secretary Castro, thank you again.
Have you spoken with your former boss, have you spoken with President Clinton about your intentions here?
CASTRO: Do you mean President Obama?
MADDOW: Yes, who did I say?
CASTRO: Clinton. I spoke with President Obama --
MADDOW: I was in a parallel universe there for a second. Sorry.
CASTRO: I had a chance to speak with President Obama and Secretary Clinton right before I announced and let him know I was going to run and got some good advice.
MADDOW: Uh-huh. You were almost Hillary Clinton`s vice presidential running mate in 2016. What did that process teach you or what were your reflections from that?
CASTRO: Oh, it`s crazy. It`s the craziest process in politics, because there`s this dance that you`re supposed to do of not really being interested --
CASTRO: -- and, you know, you`re not even under consideration.
Also, what I`ve enjoyed about being in politics is going out to the people, you know? And that process is so much about sort of the decision of the candidate, as it should be, and so it`s kind of, you know, it`s all behind the scenes. That`s not really my type of politics, but --
MADDOW: It`s interesting, though, because it is the most anti-democratic party of our presidential nominating process. More so even than the Electoral College. The vice president is effectively chosen behind the scenes in an invisible process by the person who is the nominee of their party.
CASTRO: Yes, and I think that she chose very well. Governor Kaine, Senator Kaine had great experience. They won Virginia, right?
CASTRO: So I don`t mean to say that there was anything wrong with that process. That`s the process. I was always just -- I wrote about this in my book last year. It`s just an interesting process, odd process.
MADDOW: Last question for you. Part of the qualifying process this year for the Democratic Party for making it into the early debates is a fund- raising threshold. You haven`t hit that fund-raising threshold yet.
CASTRO: I have not yet. No, our fund-raising has accelerated and really picked up over the last couple of weeks, but I`m not quite yet at 65,000 contributions. So, we`re out there fund-raising, working hard. You know, I`m not taking any PAC money. I`m not taking money from federal lobbyists, because I want people to know if I get elected president, I`m going to make decisions in the best interests of them and their families, not people who usually get their way in Washington. But we haven`t hit it and we`re still fund raising.
MADDOW: One last question for you and I realize this is probably an uncomfortable subject. But the elephant in the room in terms of the Democratic field is the question of whether or not Vice President Biden is going to run. Tonight in "The New York Times" just reports that another couple of women have come forward, saying that he has interacted with them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable.
I wonder how you feel about these allegations that have been made about Vice President Biden and how you think they should be handled?
CASTRO: Well, you know, it is good that in today in 2019 that we take women who come forward, like these women are and talk about how uncomfortable they`ve been made seriously. Because for the longest time, whether it was in politics, it was in entertainment, different industries, people have not been taken seriously.
The vice president, former vice president has said that that`s not what he intended. You know, he said I think that`s not what he recalled. And so, I think that that`s for the American people to decide based on the statements that people have made, what they believe.
MADDOW: Do you think allegations like that are disqualifying if they`re substantiated?
CASTRO: Well, I don`t think that he intended -- I know that he`s a good man. I don`t believe that he would have intended to cause discomfort. I haven`t had the opportunity to read the newest allegations and so I`m speaking without information about that.
CASTRO: But at least based on what I`d seen, you know, I think that`s a decision for him to make and the American people to make.
MADDOW: Secretary Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, former mayor of San Antonio, Democratic presidential candidate - - it`s an honor to have you with this much time in studio. Thanks for being here, sir.
CASTRO: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. More to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Hey, here`s some breaking news just crossing my desk. The great city of Chicago has just made history tonight by electing an African- American openly gay woman to be mayor of Chicago. "The A.P." is now reporting that Lori Lightfoot, former federal prosecutor, has beaten the current Cook County president Toni Preckwinkle to run the nation`s third largest city after New York and L.A.
It`s interesting. Although Lori Lightfoot is a former prosecutor, this will be her first time ever holding elected office. She was a surprising front-runner after the first round of voting in February. Fourteen people had been on the ballot to try to replace the current mayor, Rahm Emanuel. Her campaign was focused on cleaning up corruption in city hall, helping low income and working class people.
Tonight after this run-off, she has won. Lori Lightfoot will be the new mayor of Chicago. She`ll be sworn in on May 20th.
Congratulations, Madam Mayor.
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. But keep in mind for tomorrow, today was the deadline Congress set for Attorney General William Barr to hand over the whole un-redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Attorney General Barr has thus far been sitting on that report for 11 straight days. He has not responded at all to the congressional deadline. The House Judiciary chairman and five other committee chairmen have now notified Attorney General Barr that they plan to start issuing subpoenas to try to obtain the report as of tomorrow.
So it will not come as a surprise, the House judiciary`s process has started to begin at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Expect that to light the fuse on some fireworks in Washington tomorrow.
That does it for us tonight, though. 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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