REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, I`m going to go everywhere.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: All right. We are out of time. Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much.
SWALWELL: Thanks, Joy. Of course.
REID: Good luck on the campaign trial. Appreciate it.
That does it for ALL IN this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" stars right now. And there she is.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Joy. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
REID: Thank you. Cheers.
MADDOW: Thanks to you so much for joining us this hour. Happy Monday.
By the summer of 1970, the U.S. military had been in Vietnam in one form or another for nearly 15 years. Richard Nixon had taken office the previous year, sworn in at the beginning of 1969, promising to finally end that endless war in Vietnam. But there, of course, was no sign that it was ending by the following year, 1970. On June 21st, 1970, this was the story on the front page of "The New York Times."
The headline: War stirs more dissent among G.I.s." Quote: As the war drags on, the Army is finding itself plagued by a growing struggle of another sort, against dissidence in its own ranks. The ultimate aim of the dissidents, who are aided by civilian radicals is to stop the war machine. They want to end the war in Indochina, bring all American troops back from overseas and democratize the U.S. Army. They are also seeking to create a radical force in the military that will carry its commitment back into civilian life.
These are the men who are publishing the G.I. underground newspapers, organizing protests and peace demonstrations, working closely in many base areas across the country with at least eight coffee houses and with other projects sponsored by such civilian support organizations as the United States Servicemen`s Fund.
G.I. coffee houses. Hmm.
Starting the late `60s, right through the end of the Vietnam War, individual anti-war activists and organizations like the United States servicemen`s fund, they established these coffee houses, these gathering spots sided near U.S. Army bases across the country. That were basically trying to support and build anti-war sentiment among serving soldiers, the idea was to give service members a place nearby the base, not too far of the way, where they could safely vent their frustrations with the military or vocalize their opposition to the Vietnam War or connect with civilian activists to organize against the war.
"The Times" reported in 1970 that the U.S. Servicemen`s Fund, USSF, was providing assistance to these coffee houses to anti-war underground newspapers and to other anti-war projects. "The Times" interviewed one regional coordinator for that fund, made sure to point out that, quote, he wears the mustache and moderately long hair now in style in the movement. You know what that means.
The following year in 1971, the actress Jane Fonda, and a troop of other actors and comedians actually did a tour of the G.I. coffee houses, with musical performances and readings and skits. "The Times" filed a report from one of their stops from a Servicemen`s Fund run coffee house called the Haymarket Square, near Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
In one skit, as "The Times" reported it, Jane Fonda played First Lady Pat Nixon, and in this skit he rushes in to tell her husband the president that there`s a massive demonstration outside preparing to storm the White House, and the President Nixon character says, oh, I`d better call the army. Jane Fonda/Pat Nixon says, you can`t, Richard. He says, why not? And then Jane Fonda with the punch line, Dick, it is the army out there.
So these coffee houses, this slice of the anti-Vietnam War movement, this provocative organizing effort targeting serving G.I.s, it started to get a bunch of media attention. Once it did, it got congressional attention, and that got really aggressive really fast. The Senate convened hearings into whether the U.S. Servicemen Fund was engaging in activists harmful to the morale of the U.S. Armed Forces.
And then the Senate subpoenaed the bank that the U.S. servicemen`s fund used as its bank, demanding their financial records. And the U.S. Servicemen`s Fund fought back against that. This is how the case was described in "The Journal of the American Bar Association" in 1975.
Quote: The Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security issued a subpoena to the bank at which USSF had an account. The USSF brought suit to restrain enforcement of the subpoena and to prevent the bank from complying with the subpoena. The organization alleged that the sole purpose of the subpoena was to harass, chill, punish, and deter the servicemen`s fund in their exercise of their rights and duties under the First Amendment.
The Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security. The Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security was the entity that issued the subpoena to the bank of this servicemen`s fund that was running these coffee houses. The Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security is not considered to be one of the high points in proud American governance. It was kind of a Senate equivalent to the House on American Activities Committee.
This subcommittee on internal security in the Senate, it was ultimately abolished not long after in 1977. But for the two decades leading up to its abolition, it was chaired by the floridly white supremacist, segregationist Mississippi Senator James Eastland. That`s why this case involving the servicemen`s fund and the anti-war G.I. coffee houses, the case was actually called Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen`s Fund.
That case ended up going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and it was decided in 1975 and ended up being sort of a landmark Supreme Court case. It now recognizes law when it comes to subpoenas from Congress, and the grounds on which you might challenge a subpoena from Congress. Or you might resist one or you might decry one as improper and thereby get out of having to respond to it.
And the reason it is seen as a foundational case in that regard is because the U.S. Servicemen`s Fund, the group that was funding the G.I. coffee houses, part of anti-war movement, they lost that case in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled as long as the Congress is performing its legislative duty, which necessarily includes investigations relating to all sorts of things, including the functioning of the Armed Services or any part of the U.S. government, as long as they are pursuing a legislative duty, then the question of why Congress is undertaking any particular investigation or issuing any particular subpoena, it`s none of the court`s business.
This is from a concurring opinion in the case by the great justice, Thurgood Marshall. Quote: A court`s inquiry in such a setting is necessarily quite limited. If the senator`s actions were within the legitimate legislative sphere, the matter ends there and they are answerable no further to the court.
I mean, you could be forgiven here if the side you were rooting for was the anti-war activists funding these little G.I. coffee shops near army bases, right? If you`re sympathies here were not with the segregationist white supremacist senator who was running his own personal dissent smashing subcommittee in the U.S. Senate. I also think it`s fair to assume that Justice Thurgood Marshall who vote the concurring opinion in this case, he was not a huge fan of James Eastland in most of the things that James Eastland did in the U.S. Senate.
But so much more to the point here, that the law here ever since 1975, reaffirmed over and over again since then, is that even when Congress is terrible, even if the worst case scenario when Congress is being a bunch of freaking jerks, even when Congress plainly is issuing subpoenas in what is obviously terrible bad faith, even when they are at rock bottom in terms of their credibility and what they`re trying to do, they have absolute authority to do what they want to do.
The courts may or may not like why a particular committee or subcommittee in Congress is seeking some kind of information. But they`re Congress. They are a coequal branch of government. They get to decide what they want to look into.
And the courts, as a coequal branch of government, they don`t get to weigh in on whether a subpoena idea from Congress is noble or sober or wicked or dumb. What Congress investigates is up for Congress to decide, and how Congress subpoenas information is Congress` decision.
And that clear precedent, that clear and unequivocal precedent means that our president now, today, did something desperate, that is, destined to fail and fail quickly when the president today decided he was going to bring a personal lawsuit against Congress. President Trump in his personal capacity today sued Congress, sued the Oversight Committee in the House for them having the temerity to issue a subpoena for his financial records from an accounting firm that spent a lot of years doing various financial work for him including preparing his taxes.
Even if it were a super far-fetched investigation that hey were pursuing, what the case law in this area tells us is that the courts would still stay out of it. But in this case, it`s not that farfetched. I mean, the president`s longtime personal lawyer just testified to Congress under oath that President Trump committed multiple financial felonies, and he pointed them to the documents that would show evidence of that. Kind of seems like there might be a really good reason for Congress to see those records.
And yes, the president filed this lawsuit today trying to block the Oversight Committee from subpoenaing these years of records from his longtime accounting firm. You can see in the lawsuit that the Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is personally named the defendant in that lawsuit from the president today. But as much as I`m sure the president`s lawyers are enjoying the billable hours here, this lawsuit appears on track to fail and without much suspense.
This is an area of the law where there just isn`t that much gray. I mean, I`m not a lawyer. Don`t hire me for anything.
But once the president did this today, we spoke with a number of people today who are lawyers, including experts in the field, and they told us, one, this is not an area of law where there is wiggle room. This lawsuit may be an effort by the president to slow things down but it`s certainly not going to stop what Congress is doing.
Congressman Elijah Cummings for his part responded to this lawsuit against him today by saying there is simply no valid legal basis to interfere to this duly authorize subpoena from Congress, this complaint reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal belief.
In terms of the target of the subpoena, Trump`s accounting firm, Mazars, they say only they will, quote, respect the legal process and fully comply with our legal obligations. And that in an uncomplicated way would include complying with a legal congressional subpoena.
So, I mean, we sort of now how this is going to end. It is fascinating that the president is spending his own money, we presume, to try to end this. He really, really does not want Congress to see his finances.
In addition to this lawsuit to try to stop the subpoena to his accounting firm, the president has hired a whole team of lawyers that is specifically and only working on the task of keeping his taxes and finances secret. I mean, that`s their whole job. That`s who`s doing this lawsuit for him, concerning the Mazars subpoena, that is presumably who is also going to do the other lawsuits that he will file like this for the other subpoenas that will pursue other elements of the president`s financial history.
That same team of lawyers has written multiple letters to the IRS, telling the IRS that they shouldn`t comply with the demand for the tax returns that`s been issuing by the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Again, now, in this case, the law is not gray. The law is very clear cut. The IRS is required under law to hand over those returns as requested by the committee chairman.
But they`re sending threatening legal-sounding letters trying to slow the whole thing down. Presumably we expect similar letters if not additional lawsuits to Deutsche Bank and all the other financial institutions that have worked with the president who were recently subpoenaed by the chairs of various House committees.
Congressional Democrats are just going ahead and pushing forward with investigating this stuff, despite the fact that the president seems fairly desperate to pull out all the stops to try to block them, slow them down somehow, even when it`s clearly legally pointless in the end for him to fight this in some of the ways that he is.
The question that Democrats are wrestling with is not whether or how much investigating to do. They`re all on board with that. The question now for Democrats is whether their ongoing and increasingly aggressive investigations should stay under the rubric of congressional oversight of the executive branch as they have been doing or whether they should pursue some of these investigations, to pursue some of this fact finding under the rubric of an impeachment inquiry.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Friday night became the first Democratic presidential candidate to see an impeachment inquiry should begin in the House based on the findings of Robert Mueller`s redacted report, which were made public last week.
This weekend, Elijah Cummings, Congressman Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, his committee would be the venue for an inquiry, they edging up to the line of considering an inquiry but they ultimately said they weren`t there yet. House Democrats held a conference call among themselves tonight to discuss how they might move forward. The upshot of which was that if the committee chairs committed to conducting aggressive and extensive investigations and oversight of the president, but they did not commit to opening an impeachment inquiry, at least not yet.
In terms of the oversight and in terms of these congressional investigations, Democratic committee chairs plan to summon a number of interesting witnesses in the days ahead, including newly appointed Attorney General Bill Barr and the special counsel himself, Robert Mueller, and the FBI Director Chris Wray. And now, as of tonight, the House Judiciary Chairman issued a brand-new subpoena to former White House counsel don McGahn.
Now, this is a big deal. This subpoena to Don McGahn marks the first subpoena to any Trump White House employee, current or former, since Mueller`s report became public. Calls on McGahn to hand over documents and testify on May 21st.
If you were planning on going on vacation in the third week in May, you should cancel that. If the don McGahn testimony is happening May 21st, you`re going to want to watch that.
Don McGahn is what seems to be the key witness in at least three obstruction of justice instances laid out by the special counsel in his redacted report. These include Trump asking McGahn to tell the Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he should unrecuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. Trump also ordering don McGahn to reach out to the Justice Department about firing Robert Mueller as special counsel. The president later pressuring don McGahn to deny that he had ever received that order from the president once word of it leaked to "The New York Times."
McGahn is memorably quoted in the Mueller report saying he needed to quit, leave the white house and leave the job of White House counsel because the president was asking him to do crazy -- rhymes with "spit".
So, I mean, if Don McGahn is going to testify, you will want to see that. In terms of attorney/client privilege and executive privilege, there will certainly be a fight over that. But remember, the White House counsel is not the president`s lawyer. The White House counsel is the lawyer for the Office of the President and the start of attorney/client privilege afflictions might attend to the president and some lawyer who was working directly for him not as White House counsel will not be available to shield McGahn`s testimony in the way that Donald Trump might want.
So we shall see how the Democrats decide to settle the issue of whether they`re going to investigate all of this stuff in then context of an impeachment inquiry, or whether they will continue with traditional oversight responsibilities. But one of the reasons lawmakers seem pretty well-justified in demanding particularly the president`s financial information, even as he sort of freaks out in response to these demands, one of the reasons that this line of inquiry seems sort of different and maybe more importantly than all the others is that they will be plumbing these depths for the first time. It appears that Robert Mueller`s special counsel investigation, this huge criminal investigation just accounted without Mueller having looked at Trump`s finances at all.
And given what a key issue money and influence could be in the counterintelligence matter at the heart of Russia investigation, it doesn`t seem crazy that Congress would feel the need to look at this stuff trying to get to the bottom of this scandal overall. That said, remember, in terms of the case law here, even if Congress was being totally crazy, even if this was a total wild hair and they`re doing this out of pure animus for the president, it would probably still be fine. The president would still lose in a court fight against a congressional subpoena, you know, even if it came from some old racist Senator Eastland personal activist targeting committee, right? It doesn`t matter even if Congress is pursuing things that a court might find disingenuous or objectionable. If Congress is pursuing this stuff, subpoenas work.
In this case, following the money doesn`t seem crazy. I mean, we know that Robert Mueller didn`t follow the money. There was a counterintelligence component to the Mueller investigation. He did not produce a counterintelligence report on the findings of that investigation. Instead, we learned from Mueller`s redacted report that he took all the information his investigators gathered that did not fit into the criminal refutation and sent it to the FBI for them to deal with it in some other way.
This is from Mueller`s redacted report. Quote: From its inception, special counsel`s office recognized its investigation could identify foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information relevant to the FBI`s broader national security mission. FBI personnel who assisted the office established procedures to identity and convey such information to the FBI. The FBI`s counterintelligence division met with the special counsel`s office regularly for that purpose for most of the tenure of the special counsel.
For more than the past year, the FBI embedded personnel at the special counsel`s office who didn`t work on the special counsel`s investigation, but whose purpose was to review the results of the investigation and to send in writing summaries of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information to FBI headquarters and FBI field offices.
These communications and other correspondence between the special counsel`s office and the FBI contain information derived from the investigation, not all of which is contained in this volume. This volume is a summary. It contains in the special counsel`s judgment information necessary to account for the special counsel`s prosecution and declination decisions and to describe the investigation`s factual results.
In other words, this isn`t the counterintelligence investigation. In other words, the special counsel`s report, Robert Mueller`s redacted report last week says we developed all kinds of information in the course of this investigation that we`re not going to put in our report here because it doesn`t pertain directly to criminal cases. This is just about potential federal crimes being committed. This is not the report of our counterintelligence investigation.
That said, we turned up some intelligence information and counterintelligence information, we shoved that off to the FBI. NBC News reported late last week that the FBI`s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump team and Russia is still active now. House Intelligence Committee under Congressman Adam Schiff has made clear that they expect a full briefing on what has been found thus far in that ongoing counterintelligence investigation.
And I mean, clearly some of what Mueller found does have intelligence consequences, does have consequences in terms of thinking about the prospect that people in the government or people associated with the Trump campaign may have potentially been compromised by a foreign power. I mean, we now have all this new detail about Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his right-hand man from his years in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik.
Mueller`s prosecutors repeatedly asserted in court documents over the course of their investigation that the FBI has reason to believe that Kilimnik has ongoing ties to Russian intelligence. Well, in his final redacted report, which we just got, Mueller lays out for the first time, why it is that they think Konstantin Kilimnik is actually an agent of the Russian government. The report says, for example, that Kilimnik has been working on behalf of the Russian government in very recent years, for example, trying to get a Western PR company to sell the Western press some positive spin on Russia taking over Crimea.
He`s also been traveling on a Russian diplomatic passport. Oh. We -- in that context, we still don`t know why in 2016 during the campaign Paul Manafort repeatedly gave this guy, Kilimnik, months and months and months of internal Trump campaign polling data, repeatedly. He also gave Kilimnik, quote, the status of the Trump campaign and Manafort`s strategy for winning Democratic votes in mid-Western states.
Manafort also briefed Kilimnik on, quote, the campaign`s messaging, including battleground states which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. What was all that about? This guy that Mueller is telling us all these reasons why they believe that he`s a link to Russian intelligence and he is actively working with the Russian government, including traveling on a Russian diplomatic passport and all the rest of it.
Why is that guy getting months of internal polling data and everything from the Trump campaign about how they`re planning on winning the election, targeting Democratic voters, Midwest strategy, their last, their end of the campaign messaging stuff? Why did they need all that stuff? Why was that all going to Russia? I mean, is that some of the counterintelligence stuff of Mueller`s work that we have not seen?
There`s also something that broke on Friday night, which seems relevant to all of this stuff and seems like reason enough to pursue the counterintelligence part of this investigation wherever it leads. Maria Butina is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday of this week for working as a foreign agent in the U.S., infiltrating the NRA and conservative circles on behalf of the Russian government.
Just as an example the kind of thing that Congress might want to know more about, in Friday`s sentencing memo on Maria Butina, federal prosecutors lay out Butina`s conversation on election night 2016 and in the days afterwards during the transition, including specifically about who Donald Trump should nominate for secretary of state, a position that eventually went to oil executive and Putin whisperer Rex Tillerson.
I mean, we had seen some of this in court filings before, but on Friday, prosecutors laid it out three days after the election according to prosecutors. Butina, quote, provided the Russian official with a name of an individual she claimed was being considered for U.S. secretary of state. She asked the Russian official to seek the input of the Russian government on the name she provided and told him, quote, our opinion will be taken into consideration in the United States.
The Russian government`s opinion will be taken into consideration in the United States? As to who should be the secretary of state, as to who Trump should put in the cabinet as secretary of state?
To the extent that this intelligence stuff was not reported on in Mueller`s redacted report that we got last week, to the extent that the counterintelligence investigation as NBC News reports is not over, to the extent that this counterintelligence stuff is a live matter of inquiry that has not been resolved, it`s Congress, presumably, that is going to be trying to resolve it from here on out, and to the extent that this stuff is it going to be pursued through the intelligence committee, through the FBI, through Congress, it turns out there is a problem with that at the very, very top. And I do not mean Trump. And that story is next.
MADDOW: OK. This is something that I think is going to be an ongoing problem, at least until this is resolved, or least somebody tries to explain. This is a sort of thing that can`t just hang out there the way it has been left in Mueller`s report.
Quoting from the Mueller report, quote: On March 22nd, 2017, the president asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Michael Pompeo to stay behind in the Oval Office after a presidential daily briefing. According to Coats, the president asked them both where whether they could say publicly that no link existed between him and Russia. Coats responded that his office had nothing to do with investigations and it was not his role to make a public statement on the Russia investigation.
OK. So that sounds familiar, right? That jives with what we knew heading into the release of the Mueller report. "The Washington Post" reported months ago that president Trump had asked the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to make a public statement exonerating Trump on the Russia scandal. Coats refused to do so. "Washington Post" was right in that reporting.
But then listen to this next part. This is the part that I think is going to leave a mark. Quote: According to a senior official at the office of the director of national intelligence, Michael Dempsey, Coats said after that meeting with the president that the president had brought up the Russia investigation and asked him to contact James Comey to see if there was a way to get past the investigation, get it over with, end it, or words to that effect. Dempsey said that Coats described the president`s comments as falling somewhere between musing about hating the investigation and wanting Coats to do something to stop it.
It turns out that was not the only person Dan Coats described that conversation to. Quote: Edward Gistaro, another ODNI official, recalled that right after Coats` meeting with the president, on the walk from the Oval Office back to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Coats said that President Trump had kept him behind to ask him what he could do to help with the investigation. Another ODNI staffer who had been waiting for Coats outside the Oval Office talked to Gistaro a few minutes later and recalled Gistaro reporting that Coats was upset because the president had asked him to contact James Comey, to convince him there was nothing to the Russia investigation.
So, this is multiple staffers recalling all of the same thing all around the same meeting, immediately after an Oval Office meeting with the president, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats walked out of that meeting and was upset and told multiple staffers that the president had just asked him to contact the FBI Director James Comey to tell Comey to drop the Russia investigation. Multiple staffers heard this from Comey. It was -- they described among themselves that Coats was upset about having received this reported request from the president.
We know that because the staffers were called in by the special counsel and they testified about what Coates had told them. But when those same investigators spoke to director of National Intelligence Dan coats himself, quote, Coats told this office that the president never asked him to speak to Comey about the FBI investigation. So you made it up back then?
I mean, we now have competing stories about what happened in that meeting with the president. Are the staffers for Dan Coats misremembering this extraordinary thing they say he told them about? Did Dan Coats make that up at the time and feign being upset about it? Did Dan Coats, in fact, get that order from the president and tell his staffers at the time but by the time he got in to talk to the special counsel`s office, he forgot all about it?
Or did Dan Coats tell his staffers one thing about receiving that request from the president and they saw him be visibly upset in response to it? And then when it came time to talk to the special counsel about it, he told the special counsel something that sounded better for the president, something that didn`t indicate that the president had ordered him to shut down the investigation?
I mean, which one of those explanations is what happened here? What would any of this mean for his tenure as the director for national intelligence? And actually, from a legal standpoint, how do you square the competing versions of this story?
Joining us is Barbara McQuade. She`s a former U.S. attorney in the great state of Michigan.
Barb, thank you for being here. Much appreciated.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: So the thing that I have trouble with here is that Dan Coats is obviously still the serving director of national intelligence. The competing stories that are told in the Mueller report suggest that best- case scenario, he forgot that this happened, he told his staffers at the time that it happened, but later when he talks to the special counsel`s office, he couldn`t recall. That seems like the best-case scenario, in which case I don`t want him as director of national intelligence if he`s forgetting stuff like that.
The worse case would appear to be that this happened. He told staffers about it at the time, and then when it came time to talk to the special counsel, he covered up for the president.
I find both of these scenarios disturbing given that he`s still in his role.
MCQUADE: Yes, this could be one of those instances that we see quite a bit of in the Mueller report where there`s some evidence of a crime but not enough to establish all of the elements of a crime. And so, we have some contradictory statements.
And as a prosecutor, you have to look and see whether all of the elements of an offense are established. Here you have to show the person knew the statement was false when he made it, and that it was material. So difficult to know which of those may have been missing here.
But one of the things that I would look for is, is it the kind of thing you might remember? You might not remember you talked about the weather or someone asked about your weekend. But something as startling as the fact that the president asked you to ask James Comey to stop an investigation is of such significance that it`s difficult to imagine that he simply forgot that fact.
MADDOW: As testified to by the fact that multiple staffers of his who he spoke to at the time not only all reported the same story about what he told them, that he seemed upset about it at the time. I guess if you were trying to pursue this as a prosecutor, you`d try everything you could to get as close to the facts that you could about the conversation in question. Without the opportunity to interview the president about this, is there any other way that prosecutors might pursue this?
MCQUADE: Well, I think if they were interested in pursuing it, they might re-interview some of these people. Now, at the time of the interview, I think only three months had passed from the initial meeting. That was when memories were very fresh.
And I would really love to see the underlying reports. We get just a couple sentences from the FBI 302 reports. I would be curious to see all of the things that happened in those reports. Did they ask Dan Coats to follow-up these things? Did they refresh his recollection by saying, that`s funny, because one of your aides said you understanding this thing about Comey? Does that refresh your recollection about that?
He may say it never happened or he may say, oh, now that you mentioned it, I do remember that fact. I don`t know whether any of those efforts were made to try to do that. It looks like all these interviews were conducted on the same day, so it`s difficult to know what the sequence of those interviews were and how hard they pushed to find out the truth here.
There`s also rules of evidence when you make decisions about whether to charge. At least one of these sounds like it`s likely hearsay because it was not just second hand but third hand information. So, it can be difficult to prove. So, you know, we often talk about information that is awful but lawful, so it may be that he lied and it just can`t be charged as a crime.
MADDOW: Fascinating. And I feel like this is not only interesting in terms of DNI Dan Coats, it`s a case study in terms of why it is that Congress wants not just the unredacted report but all of the underlying evidence, as you`re saying, including those reports.
Barb McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the great state of Michigan, thanks for being here, Barb. Much appreciated.
MCQUADE: Thanks very much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We got much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: For Memorial Day in 2006, "NBC Nightly News" reported on a new book of photos that was taken by soldiers serving in Iraq, including a young lieutenant from Massachusetts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SETH MOULTON, THEN-U.S. MARINE CORPS OFFICER: I felt a little bit awkward taking photographs, but it was one of those scenes that I thought we should remember. The decision was made to have a memorial service on Christmas Day. So right after this, we had a fantastic Christmas dinner, which was one of the best meals we had had in months.
And so, there`s this dichotomy that you have incredibly sad moments, often followed by really happy times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was First Lieutenant Seth Moulton. He had decided to join the Marines a few months before 9/11 after he graduated from Harvard in 2001. He ended up serving four combat tours in Iraq in five years.
For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal for valor.
But it`s interesting. Seth Moulton did not trumpet those medals, quite the contrary. His own parents did not learn that he won the Bronze Star in Iraq until 2014 when a reporter dug it up for "The Boston Globe" when the Lieutenant Moulton was running for Congress that year. He had not mentioned those medals at any point in his congressional run nor even to his family.
In the Democratic primary that year, he defeated a nine-term, 18-year incumbent Democratic congressman named John Tierney. He then won that congressional seat.
Seth Moulton won a seat in Congress in the first place by upsetting the established order of things. Since then, he`s stayed through to form.
In 2016, Moulton joined a small coalition of Democrats trying to unseat Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic leader. That did not work, but Seth Moulton did not give up. Even as Democrats were still celebrating their historic gains from this last election in 2018, Seth Moulton was working on it again trying to block Nancy Pelosi from regaining the speaker`s gavel.
Moulton`s constituents at one point let him know what they thought about that effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOULTON: The majority of Americans want this change. The majority of Democrats want this change.
MOULTON: Yes, we do. We want --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman Moulton came for the queen twice, two election cycles in a row, both times he missed, with consequences. There has been open talk on the left about a primary challenge to him for his congressional seat if he runs for his House seat again. But it`s an interesting question about that House seat because that`s not the only platform that Congressman Seth Moulton has.
Today, Congressman Seth Moulton announced that he has a whole other idea. Today, he announced he`s running for president in the crowded Democratic primary, full speed ahead.
Joining us now for the interview is Seth Moulton, congressman from Massachusetts, presidential candidate in the Democratic primary.
Sir, thank you for being here.
MOULTON: Thank you very much for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Really appreciate it.
All right. So, I`m going to go right to it.
MOULTON: Go for it.
MADDOW: So, I said on Twitter today that I was going to have you here. And I have -- I have a lot of people following me on Twitter. I don`t know why, but it`s great.
And I said that you were going to be here, and there`s something that`s called getting ratioed on twitter, which means more people respond with a reply than retweet your message to pass it to other people.
MOULTON: I know. I know.
MADDOW: I have never been ratioed before, but I was today when I said that you were going to be here because people are so mad at you about the Nancy Pelosi thing. And I got to think when you decided to make this run today, you`re running not -- you don`t get to straight up run for president. You have to run to be nominee in the Democratic Party.
MADDOW: This is really fresh in the minds of Democratic Party activists right now, this effort of you to take on Pelosi two years running. Tell me -- tell me how you feel about that anger, and about being sort of a big part of your national profile as you start to do this?
MOULTON: Well, look, I`m willing to challenge the Washington establishment. And, frankly, I think we should have a nominee who is willing to challenge the Washington establishment because outside the Twittersphere, Twittersphere, that`s what people want on the ground. That`s what I`ve heard everywhere I go.
In fact, when I`ve gone to early primary states over the last two months, this hardly even comes up. But if we are going to challenge Donald Trump, we have to show that we`re willing to change Washington. And as a result of that challenge -- which, by the way, was never just about Pelosi. It was about the top three leadership positions and it was about giving a new generation of voice in our party.
As a result of that challenge, we got the Climate Change Subcommittee, we got the Voting Rights Subcommittee, we got term limits on leadership. They`re going to allow this historically diverse class of freshmen to actually have a chance to lead themselves.
MADDOW: You don`t think the Climate Change Subcommittee would have happened without that challenge?
MOULTON: No, absolutely not. That was a product of that challenge at that time when our leadership said, okay, we have to do some things to win more people over to our side.
The fact that we came to a compromise on term limits, let`s not forget that gave Speaker Pelosi the votes that she needed to become speaker. And it did so without forcing these freshmen who had won their elections on a promise to vote against her to have to change that vote.
MADDOW: You don`t run against her in the end?
MOULTON: No, because I wanted the freshmen to keep their promise. In exchange for that term limit deal, I said I would support her. That`s good for the party, it`s good for her, and she`s doing a fantastic job of standing up to Donald Trump.
But it also ensures in the future people will look at our leadership and say not only are they willing to stand up to Trump, but they`re the party of the future. They`re going to lead us into the future.
And, frankly, if I`m chosen to be the nominee, going into the generally election with that position will make me stronger against Donald Trump.
MADDOW: The majority of voters in the Democratic Party and the majority of voters in America are women.
MADDOW: After Hillary Clinton`s loss to Donald Trump in 2016, Nancy Pelosi standing there as the most powerful woman in American politics, she`s the most powerful woman in American politics ever.
For you to be shooting at her, I think, made women mad. I think that there`s been a response against you on that, against Tim Ryan on that, that`s going to be a foundational thing for you both running for president now. And I wonder just how -- I mean, obviously, you`re a guy who`s -- you`re unafraid and you are unafraid about going at this stuff straight on. But with women voters being mad about women at the top of the Democratic Party getting shots from within, how do you regain trust? How do you build it?
MOULTON: You know, you showed a picture of my town hall. There were about 100 people there. There were 20 to 25 protesters.
Now, you got a good clip where those protesters were speaking up, but I can`t tell you how many women have come out and said we want generational change in our party as well. We want to make sure that there is a new generation that`s able to step up and lead. These amazing women who are an incredible part of this class, you know, of the 40 seats we flipped to take back the House, 21 of them were endorsed and supported by my Serve America Group, and a lot of them were women.
And they are the new leaders in the party. Many of them pledged themselves to vote against Pelosi in order to win.
MADDOW: Pelosi has a 70 percent approval rating on Democrats.
MOULTON: I`m not -- I`m not disputing the fact that she`s doing a good job right now. But we`re talking about the future. I`m talking about the future.
MADDOW: And that she`s beloved within the party. The part of premise that I don`t agree with --
MADDOW: -- is the idea that you were channeling a groundswell of anger and upset about Pelosi being a problem within the Democratic Party.
MOULTON: Well, the fact of the matter is it changed.
MADDOW: The upset of Pelosi is from the Republicans, right?
MOULTON: Look, it changed, it changed.
There was a groundswell for that change before the election and then it changed afterwards. A lot of people changed their position.
MOULTON: There are a lot of people in the party who said, OK, now I`m not against her. I was against her before. There were a lot of people who called me and others in the group, including a lot of women.
Let`s not forget, there were women at the forefront of this movement as well -- Kathleen Rice, Linda Sanchez, Marcia Fudge -- who were leading this group as well. And said we want change.
And then after the election, they said, OK, we`re fine with her.
Look, I stick to my guns. I don`t just talk about a new generation of leadership, I fight for it. I think that will make me a stronger nominee if I`m chosen to take on Trump.
But the fact of the matter is, look, this is who you get, you know?
MOULTON: I`m someone you may not always agree with, but you always know where I stand. And the toughest job that I`ve ever had to do in my life was take an incredibly diverse group of Americans, people from all over the country, different religious beliefs, different political beliefs, different races, different backgrounds and get them behind -- united behind a common mission to serve our country in the most difficult circumstances imaginable. I mean, literally, in the middle of a war that half of us disagreed with.
That kind of unifying leadership is I think fundamentally what we need in the next commander-in-chief. And I recognize there will be some women that I`ve got win back, and that`s OK. That`s OK. I`m proud to do that. I`m proud to take on that challenge because we have got to defeat Donald Trump to bring this country back together.
MADDOW: Seth Moulton is our guest. We`ll be right back with Congressman Moulton from Massachusetts. He is a declared presidential candidate in the Democratic primary. He is the 19th Democrat who has announced and you know all the ones who haven`t announced yet.
We`ll be back with Congressman Moulton right after this.
MADDOW: Back with us is Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, who`s the newest Democrat to jump into the presidential race.
Sir, thank you for sticking with us.
MOULTON: It`s great to be back.
MADDOW: So, you said this morning on ABC that you believe President Trump did obstruct justice.
MADDOW: But that it`s too soon to move on actual impeachment. Have you read the Mueller report? What do you think Democrats should do?
MOULTON: No, it`s too soon to vote on impeachment.
But let me be clear -- I voted in the House to start debate on impeachment last year. I think that we`ve waited way too long to start this investigation, to seriously start debating whether the president should be impeached.
I mean, look, he`s clearly committed crimes. I mean, he`s profited off his office, violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Thirty of his -- over 30 of his close associates have been indicted. His campaign chairman is in prison.
Don`t tell me there`s not enough to debate right now. And that`s why --
MADDOW: So, do you think the Judiciary Committee should open up an inquiry?
MOULTON: Absolutely. And they should have done it a year ago. I think in some ways, we backed ourselves into a corner by waiting for the Mueller investigation to come out, and I think that was a mistake. There`s clearly evidence a year ago. That`s why I voted a year ago to start this debate.
But Congress does two things. They debate things and they vote on things. We don`t have all the facts yet. We haven`t seen the full Mueller report.
So, it`s not time to have a vote on impeachment but absolutely we should be debating it.
MADDOW: Are you concerned or where do you fall down the issue about whether Democrats can pursue these investigations and also pursue a positive legislative agenda? I mean, I know your priorities include obviously veterans issues, national security issues. You`ve talked a lot about cyber defenses. I mean, you`re very specific in terms of the stuff you want to pursue through Congress. Can Democrats in Congress do both?
MOULTON: We absolutely must do both. And what a lot of people are missing about this Mueller report is that the one unmistakable conclusion is that Russia interfered in the election. Russia wanted Donald Trump to be elected president. And every American, whether you`re a Trump supporter or a Trump hater, should want to know why Putin wants Trump to be our president. That`s a fundamental national security question for us.
MADDOW: Do you know what the answer to that question?
MOULTON: I don`t. But I can guarantee you this -- Russia is interfering in this election today. I mean, there`s probably watching the show, and this whole like transparency of democracy that you do --
MADDOW: Hi, guys.
MOULTON: They are not fans. I can guarantee you, they are not fans. All right?
But, seriously, they are interfering in today`s election, I guarantee it, because we`ve done nothing to stop them.
If you think about it, after Japan attacked us on Pearl Harbor, we had a Pearl Harbor Commission. It was very critical of Roosevelt.
After the terrorists attacked us on 9/11, we had a 9/11 Commission. It was actually very critical of the Bush administration. Roosevelt and Bush didn`t say, no, no, no, don`t investigate because it might look bad on me.
Russia attacked us in 2016. I guarantee you, they`re going to attack us in 2020 and we`re doing nothing to stop it. That`s a national security concern we needed to he talk about and need to lead on as Democrats because it`s actually where Trump is weakest. If we want to beat Trump, we`ve got to attack him where he`s weakest and that`s what I`m talking about this in debate.
MADDOW: Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, newly declared presidential candidate, thank you for coming in. You know I was going to talk to you about that Pelosi stuff right off the bat. Thank you for being --
MOULTON: That`s totally fair. And, you know, it`s important to have that debate. And I`ll tell you what, if there`s anything that you liked or even didn`t like but want to hear on the debate stage, I hope people will just go to the website and donate a dollar so I can get on the debate stage, and bring these issues, especially these national security issues which no other candidate is talking about right now in this race, and actually where Donald Trump is weakest, where I think we can beat him.
If you want those issues on the debate stage, I hope people will donate. Thanks.
MADDOW: Thank you. Thanks for being here. Much appreciate it.
MOULTON: Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I have accidentally landed on real estate that belongs to another TV host.
Now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence. I`m sorry I`m standing on your show.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END