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Schumer on White House meeting. TRANSCRIPT: 5/22/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Chuck Schumer, Jim Himes

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend.  Much appreciated. 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  You bet.  Absolutely. 

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Very happy to have you with us. 

So, today was the day that a larger dynamic suddenly became very clear.  But today I think was the culmination of something that started to happen a few days ago.  A little bit under two weeks ago.  The first sort of crack in the dam is something that we saw just less than two weeks ago.  It actually feels like a year ago now. 

But it was May 9th, which is less than two weeks ago, and that was the first one.  That was when the president and the Trump administration more broadly started losing these battles that they have been waging now for a while to try to lock down everything, to try to lock down every witness, every document, every source of information about the president, to lock down everything in the wake of the Mueller investigation, to block anything from coming out. 

The first crack in the dam, the first one that they lost was when the judge in the ongoing Roger Stone case issued an order commanding the Justice Department to take out the redactions from the Mueller report that pertain to the case against Roger Stone.  The judge ordered that the Justice Department had to take out the redactions about the Stone case, also about the dissemination of documents stolen by the Russians during the Trump campaign.  Also about the potential involvement of the Trump campaign with the entities that were feeding those materials out to the public to benefit Trump`s campaign. 

The judge in the Roger Stone case less than two weeks ago ordered the Justice Department to unredact all the material in Mueller`s report on those topics, and she told the Justice Department that they needed to show her that unredacted material. 

I really think that was the first crack in the dam.  I mean, the attorney general saying, no, they won`t release the redacted parts of the Mueller report, no way, no how.  Oh, wait, a court order from a federal judge?  Well, yes, ma`am, right away, here you go, right?  That was the first one.  That was May 9th. 

Then we got the next one.  Another federal judge.  This one was late last week.  The judge in the Michael Flynn case ruled that the Justice Department also has to unredact the parts of the Mueller report that have to do with Mike Flynn. 

And in that instance, the judge in the Mike Flynn case, he doesn`t just want to see the unredacted Mueller report himself, he actually ordered the Justice Department to release that material to the public.  So by the end of next week, despite the attorney general saying no, no, no, he won`t release the redacted parts of the Mueller report, no way, no how, by the end of next week, per federal order, those redactions are going to be taken out and we the public will get access to that part of the report, hole and uncensored by order of a federal judge. 

And then just today we got the next crack in the dam as the Justice Department caved just a little and agreed that despite their earlier stonewalling, now they will go ahead and they will release intelligence information and counterintelligence information that was turned up by investigators in the course of his probe.  The Intelligence Committee in the House has frankly been entitled to this information all along.  They should have been given this information as what matter of course, but in the end it took a subpoena, which the attorney general first tried just defying, just not responding to that subpoena. 

Then the intelligence committee scheduled a vote to hold the attorney general in contempt for defying that subpoena, and finally, that apparently was enough.  The department caved and agreed they would start handing that stuff over, which just goes to show you, you don`t always win when you decide to fight these battles, but you definitely can`t win unless you do fight.  And sometimes when you do fight, you do end up winning. 

So, the redacted parts of the Mueller report, the attorney general said no, no, no way, but those are starting to come out.  The underlying materials for the Mueller report, the attorney general also said no, no, no way.  But those are starting to be handed over too.  Then we got another crack in the dam in another part of the Trump administration. 

This happened last night when someone leaked to "The Washington Post" the internal legal guidance that had been prepared at the IRS, making sure that the IRS itself knows that under law it must hand over President Trump`s tax returns to the ways and means committee.  The IRS` own legal analysis says this is not a discretionary thing.  This is not a judgment call for the treasury secretary or for anyone else.  There is no wiggle room here.  This is mandatory. 

And the leak of that internal IRS legal memo last night to "The Washington Post," that has not yet resulted in the IRS actually handing over the president`s tax returns, as required by law, but the IRS and the Treasury Department are now defying a subpoena to hand over those tax returns.  That means their defiance of that subpoena will soon land them in court.  It will not help them in court that the agency itself turns out to have put in writing that they know they need to hand over those tax returns. 

I mean, incidentally, it will not help them that there are people inside the IRS who are willing to provide that kind of utterly damning material to reporters in order to blow the whistle on their own bosses. 

And meanwhile, the dam is still cracking, including in new and exciting places.  Today, Albany, New York, the state legislature in the state where the president lived his whole life and where he headquartered his business interests, today, the state legislature in New York voted that they would provide the president`s state tax returns to Congress if the tax-related committees in Congress believe they need to see them. 

Now, there is no sign yet that the Democrats in Congress will take up this offer from New York state, which is offering to give them the president`s state tax returns.  But if the Democrats in Congress do ultimately decide to go that route, it is expected that those state tax returns would likely contain much of the same information as the president`s federal tax returns, which he is fighting so hard to keep secret.  And all that has happened in less than two weeks.  And it`s just the start. 

I mean, now today for the second time in three days, a federal judge has ruled that financial institutions subpoenaed by Congress to hand over materials related to president Trump, those financial institutions must comply with those subpoenas from Congress.  On Monday, it was a federal judge in Washington, D.C. who ruled valid the subpoena that the oversight committee had sent to Mazars`, an accounting firm that the president and his business worked with for years.  That subpoena directs Mazars to hand over ten years of records of their dealings with the president and his businesses.  That was Monday.

Today, a second federal judge, this one in New York, ruled from the bench that a similar subpoena sent to Deutsche Bank by two other congressional committees, that too is a valid subpoena, and Deutsche Bank must comply with that subpoena.  And just like the ruling in the Mazars case on Monday, this ruling today on the Deutsche Bank case, it is blunt and unequivocal.  We just got in the transcript from this hearing today, including the parts of the transcript where the judge reads his ruling from the bench. 

Part of that ruling, quote: The court concludes that plaintiffs have not raised any serious questions going to the merits -- the plaintiffs in this case are President Trump and his family.  The Supreme Court has likely foreclosed the path that plaintiffs ask this court to travel.  It is well- settled that the committees possess the power to issue and enforce subpoenas of the type challenged by plaintiffs.

Quote: The committees have alleged a pressing need for the subpoenaed documents to further their investigation.  It is not the role of the court or plaintiffs to second guess that need, especially in light of the court`s conclusions that the requested documents are pertinent to what is likely a lawful congressional investigation. 

Quote: In the committee`s words, plaintiff`s contrary argument ignores the clear and compelling public interest in expeditious congressional allegations into core aspects of the financial and election systems that touch every member of the public.  The court agrees. 

So, the dam appears to have been poorly built if it has formed all of these different cracks in less than two weeks.  But as always of that information that the White House has been trying to block from coming out has nevertheless started to come out, sort of all in a rush now, now we`ve got this incredibly dynamic situation in our national government, right?  Where the White House is pledging massive resistance. 

Clearly, it is not working.  Their approach is losing every day now.  This thing is slipping away from them, including crucially on the issues the president seems to be most emotional about, meaning his finances and tax history.  They`re losing those battles, right? 

Meanwhile, Democrats are in flux and in very active discussion amongst themselves as to whether or not they should open impeachment proceedings against the president based on the behavior described in Mueller`s report, and based on any number of potentially impeachable offenses they think the president may have committed.  But as the White House starts losing all of these battles in an accelerated pace now, right, as the courts, his own agencies, as they start -- as the conflict between Congress and the rest of the Trump administration has Congress winning and the Trump administration losing on all of these different fronts, right? 

And as the Democrats scramble amongst themselves and have discussions among themselves as to how to best move forward, how to keep their heads, move forward and make sure they are both taking seriously their responsibilities as the governing body that runs the House of Representatives and also the responsibilities to the Constitution to make sure this stuff is investigated, as all that precedes all at the same time, here`s just some perspective on how you might, you might expect this to go from here on out if this were a more normal time, right? 

So much is remarkable and astonishing about this presidency and its scandals.  But a president and a presidency being in serious jeopardy, right, a president being at risk of impeachment, it`s not like this is an unprecedented thing in our country, right?  We have been through that before.  We therefore know a little bit about what American politics and governance can look like in the midst of this kind of crisis, this kind of scandal. 

I mean, just take a look at D.C. at the height of the Watergate scandal, April 1974.  House Judiciary Committee had been conducting an impeachment investigation into President Richard Nixon for months, seven of Richard Nixon`s closest advisers and aides had been indicted, including his former attorney general and former chief of staff.  Special prosecutor was about to subpoena the oval office tapes, a fight that prosecutor would eventually win at the Supreme Court. 

We now know looking back on that time, April `74, that Nixon was only four months away from resigning the presidency.  But one night in April 1974, "NBC Nightly News" had three different segments on three different aspects of the investigation into President Nixon.  This is what the media landscape looked like then. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The House Judiciary Committee expects some kind of White House answer by tomorrow in its request for presidential tapes, and there was more talk today about in the committee about subpoenaing White House material. 

Senator Lowell Weicker said he has evidence that the Nixon administration from its very first days used the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies to control its political and ideological opponents. 

In the New York trial of former cabinet members John Mitchell and Maurice Stans, this is the week for the defense.  Former cabinet member Robert Finch will be called as a witness tomorrow and another defense witness this week will be W. Clement Stone, the multimillionaire insurance magnate who gave millions to President Nixon`s campaign. 


MADDOW:  That`s all the same newscast, right?  That`s what watching the news was like in April 1974. 

It`s like disastrous scandal news about the president.  Other disastrous scandal news about the president.  Furthermore, some disastrous scandal news about the president.  Can we get -- do we need to take a break?  Right?

Multiple congressional investigations, looming impeachment, Nixon`s former White House aides, the most senior officials in the government on trial, right?  Things could not have been in more of a crisis mode in the spring of 1974. 

But here`s the thing.  All of that that you just saw, all of those different elements of the Watergate scandal that all made into it that newscast, that one night in April 1974, none of those are what led that same "Nightly News" broadcast that night.  What led the newscast that same night, April 8th, 1974 was that President Nixon and the Democratically- controlled Congress had just passed a big new piece of legislation.  They just passed a new minimum wage increase that would put extra money into the pockets of tens of millions of Americans. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good evening.  President Nixon today signed into law a far-reaching increase in the federal minimum wage.  The measure will now extend minimum wage protection to an additional 7 million or 8 million workers, and ultimately about 54 million Americans will be covered. 

This is pretty much the bill which Mr. Nixon vetoed just seven months ago, but he was in high spirits today when he signed it into law at the White House.  The president put out a written statement saying he had some reservations about part of the minimum wage measure, but on the whole, the legislation contains more good than bad. 


MADDOW:  Nixon with a big grin, high spirits at the White House.  And you know, on the one hand, on its own, that leading "Nightly News" that night, that should be sort of unremarkable.  It`s basic politics, basic governance.  Republican government and Democratic Congress disagree over bill, negotiate anyway, sign a compromise into law, the American public gets a raise, right?

But in context, think about that, this is at the peak of Watergate.  Nixon and Congress are mortal existential enemies at this point.  And yet here they are, enacting a broad minimum wage increase. 

And this wasn`t the only big legislation passed during this period.  A couple of months after the House Judiciary Committee launched its impeachment investigation and Nixon was forced to appoint a new special prosecutor after firing the first one, in the midst of all that, Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law, a law written in large part by the White House and negotiated with the hostile Congress for nearly a year. 

In the summer of 1974, literally the day after the Supreme Court ruled against Nixon and unanimously ordered him to turn over the White House tapes, that day, he signed into law a bill creating the Legal Services Corporation, which provides public defenders, provides legal aid to poor Americans to this day.  That bill was a compromise that Nixon had negotiated with the Democratic Congress.  This was barely two weeks before he was forced to resign, and he is negotiating with the lawmakers who are getting ready to impeach him, negotiating with him, and successfully agreeing to this big new landmark super important federal landmark program that survives to this day. 

Right up into the end, the business of legislating and governing went on.  And that isn`t a Nixon fluke.  The same thing was true during the investigations and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. 

October 5th, 1998, the Republican House Judiciary Committee voted to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Clinton.  Just between then and the end after that year, which is when the House actually voted to impeach him, President Clinton signed over 150 bills into law.  And yes, some of those were like naming post offices and stuff. 

But some of it was major legislation that he proposed and negotiated with Congress, even while Congress was investigating him for possible impeachment, and then ultimately impeaching him.  I mean, just two days after the impeachment inquiry was opened into Clinton, Clinton signed an education bill with new programs he`d proposed to get disadvantaged students into college, to reduce student loan interest rates.  A few weeks later Congress agreed to fork over more than $1 billion to hire 100,000 new teachers nationwide.  A week later, he signed an expansion of the Head Start early child education program. 

Remember, this is with a Republican-controlled House that was not keen on government spending, even when it wasn`t preparing to impeach the Democratic government who would have to sign anything they passed.  Oh, also in the meantime, Clinton got Israel and the Palestinians to sign a peace agreement, got 160 countries to sign on to a pact to fight global warming.  And earlier that year he managed the Good Friday peace accords in northern Ireland. 

I mean, neither of those presidents, Nixon or Clinton, while they were being investigated, or in Clinton`s case actively impeached, neither of them said you know what?  I`m not going to do anything else.  I`m not going to work with any -- I`m not going to work with this terrible Congress unless these investigations into me end. 

Neither of them even tried that.  If anything, they seemed to want the opposite.  Both of them understandably were eager to give the impression that they were fairly unfazed by whatever scandal surrounded their presidency.  They were unfazed by these investigations.  They remained focused on doing the people`s business. 

That`s how it`s gone in the past.  Our current president, by contrast is shall we say fazed and very, very willing to show it. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I just wanted to let you know that I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure.  I want to do it more than you want to do it.  I`d be really good at that.  That`s what I do. 

But you know what?  You can`t do it under these circumstances.  So get these phony investigations over with. 


MADDOW:  I`m not going to do even the things I want to do unless you get these phony investigations over with. 

And you know, who knows?  It is possible that this bizarre spectacle from the president today was all planned out well in advance, right?  Maybe it was on the secret White House calendar we don`t get to see.  Maybe on that calendar today was always going to be Wednesday fake impromptu Rose Garden speech demanding all investigations cease, or the American people`s roads and bridges will get it. 

Maybe that was always what they had planned for today in the Rose Garden.  They did have a preprinted sign on the podium today when the president stood up there to make those comments.  I don`t know how long it takes them to make those preprinted signs. 

That said, there is also reporting today that suggests that the president was driven absolutely bonkers by Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats telling reporters today that they believe the president is engaged in a cover-up of Mueller`s findings and potentially impeachable behavior described in Mueller`s report.

So, you know, maybe this wasn`t long planned today.  Maybe this really was a spontaneous outburst from the president.  Maybe he really was driven mad by this allegation that he has engaged in a cover-up.  It seems weird. 

  Of all the things that Democrats have said he has done and that he has been described of doing, cover-up is the one that really stings him, the one that really bugs him for some reason?  You might expect to like being an agent of a hostile foreign power would be the one that would really stick.  But apparently he doesn`t mind that one. 

Cover-up. No, don`t say cover-up or the country gets it!  It`s so random.  Maybe being accused of carrying out a cover-up is the thing that drove him mad today and this is a spontaneous outburst. 

I think, though, it is also worth considering whether the Holy Grail is sort of upon us now.  And the thing the president most cares about, his financial history, his banking history, his tax history, whether that whole financial history and everything that we`ll say about him related to the scandal and not, that stuff is now getting pried open on multiple fronts all at once, in two different multiple courtrooms in a state legislature where he was born and where all his businesses are based.  At the IRS, where the shaky ground they`ve been standing on and trying to avoid handing over taxes, that shaky ground is quickly turning into something that seems like quicksand. 

I mean, other presidents in times of crisis have tried to keep on carrying on in terms of, you know, appearing to have a legislative agenda and in fact carrying one out -- finding common ground, moving forward, doing the people`s work, looking unfazed, that is not how this one is going to go, apparently. 

So what do you do if you have a job in this government, right?  What do you do if you are trying to run Congress, or part of Congress?  If you`re trying to think about legislation?  If part of your job is occasionally needing to meet with this guy, when he has just declared government over unless everybody leaves him alone and stops investigating him?  I mean, how do you plan your work day around that? 

The Democratic leader in the United States Senate is Chuck Schumer.  He was right in the middle of all of this today.  He said today that what he saw from the president today would, quote, make your jaw drop. 

Senator Schumer joins us live next. 



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  He came into the room, made a statement that he made was -- I won`t even characterize it.  He just took a pass, and it just makes me wonder why -- why he did that.  In any event, I pray for the president of the United States, and I pray for the United States of America. 

I`m pleased to yield now to the distinguished Democratic leader of the Senate, Mr. Schumer. 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  Well, thank you, Speaker Pelosi.  And to watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop. 


MADDOW:  Joining us now is Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.  He is the leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. Senate. 

Sir, thank you so much for being here tonight.  I really appreciate you making time. 

SCHUMER:  My jaw is back in place. 

MADDOW:  Well, tell us what cause you`d to say that today.  I mean, as far as we could tell from out here, the president was supposed to meet with you at the White House.  He walked in, got upset, walked out, and then he went out into the Rose Garden and announced he won`t do anything else as president unless all investigations into him are ended. 

It was a very weird thing to watch from afar. 

Can you tell us more what actually happened? 

SCHUMER:  Yes.  Well, first, you know, we started out with perfect good faith.  We Democrats believe in infrastructure.  It`s so important to the country.  The traditional infrastructure, roads and bridges, water and sewer, green, clean infrastructure, building a power grid so we can then build wind and solar in other parts of the country and bring the electricity here, electric cars and the way to charge them, making homes and hospitals more energy efficient, bringing broad band to rural America and inner city America. 

I had a 35-page document that I was ready to give the president and show him what we wanted to do, and we were just shocked by what happened.  The president three weeks ago, we got him to say that he would be for $2 trillion of infrastructure.  And we said now, Mr. President, you better show us how you`re going to pay for it, because in the past you haven`t done that.  He said, sure I will. 

I think two things happened at once, Rachel.  First, they were just afraid, unable to put together any infrastructure plan.  And they found a very inelegant way to wiggle out of it. 

But second, these investigations are really getting under his skin because the courts in the last two days, as you mentioned earlier, have gotten right to the core of what Trump is most afraid of, people looking at all the financial stuff, whether it`s being from the banks or from his accountant.  And so, this was preplanned.  There is no question about it.  He had that little sign out there in Rose Garden. 

The minute I walked out of the meeting after he threw his temper tantrum, they had Fox News on and they were already talking about what the president was doing.  And there was no way they could have found out unless they knew ahead of time. 

So, the bottom line is that he had no intention of doing this, and he`s just making -- showing how incapable he is of being president.  He can`t put together an infrastructure plan, which he couldn`t have done anyway, and he is unable to face the truth. 

At the meeting he said to us, I`m the most transparent president ever.  Well, Mr. President, if you are, release your tax returns tomorrow. 

MADDOW:  Mr. Schumer, one of the things that struck me as so strange today is what the president was demanding, what the president was making this public demand about is so impossible to grant him.  There is no chance that the Congress is going to say oh, sir, we didn`t understand.  You will work with us if we stop investigating you?  OK.  Then we`ll cancel all the investigations. 

I mean, it`s sort of insane, and he can`t imagine that that`s going to work.  But I wonder if he actually trying to effectuate that.  Like are there -- are there negotiations?  Are there entreaties being made to try to wind back the negotiations in exchange for some deliverable from the White House.  Are they actually trying to get that done? 

SCHUMER:  Absolutely not.  We can do two things at once.  In fact, the Constitution empowers Congress to both oversee the executive branch and pass legislation.  And as you point out, other presidents have done that. 

In fact, other presidents have had the good sense to say: See?  I`m not so bothered by this.  I can function as president. 

What President Trump showed today is these investigations are so paralyzing him that he can`t function as president and do something that presidents have done since the early days, Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt.  And that is, build infrastructure. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the motivation for what the president is doing right now, you mentioned the prospect that the president is -- that these investigations are getting under his skin.  That potentially --


MADDOW:  -- the taxes and financial information is particularly sensitive matter for him. 

New York state legislature today passed this interesting law that would allow the state to hand over his state tax returns if the tax writing committees in Congress wanted to see them.  As New York`s senior senator, I wonder what you thought of that and of the news that apparently the Democrats in the House don`t seem ready to avail themselves of that offer from your state? 

SCHUMER:  Well, I didn`t know the second part.  I think it`s a great idea, and I think they should use it.  Every president, especially this president with so many financial entanglements should be releasing their tax returns. 

You know, most members of Congress, the Senate, I`ve been doing it for years.  That`s an obligation you have to the public. 

But when you think about it, these things hit home.  How do we know?  Well, three weeks ago when we had our first meeting, the investigations were going on.  The president didn`t throw a temper tantrum, make a brief speech, and stomp out and say there are investigations going on. 

I think they -- it`s risen, the level of concern and agitation in the president`s own self has risen because of the last two days of court cases, because this was totally, totally planned.  The night before he wrote us a letter that he was going to discuss trade, he`s flailing around because he didn`t know how to do an infrastructure bill and the hard right wouldn`t let him pay for it. 

You know, we Democrats have proposed paying for it by reducing some of those tax cuts that were made on the very wealthy, making them pay more and putting that into American jobs.  That`s a great issue.  He couldn`t do that because either right wing is totally -- has totally have a stranglehold on him, and at the same time, he is so agitated by these investigations that he used that as the excuse today. 

But it was preplanned, but preplanned probably six hours or a day earlier. 

MADDOW:  Senator Schumer, if you have a minute to stick around, there`s other matter -- 


MADDOW:  -- that I want to ask you about.  You can stay with us. 

All right.

SCHUMER:  Right.

MADDOW:  Senator Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, is with us.  We`ll be right back right with him after this. 


MADDOW:  Any day now, the Republican governor of Missouri is expected to sign into law another new abortion ban, and this is, again, another one that would force even rape and incest victims to give birth against their will by order of the government.  If Missouri`s governor goes there, and he will, this will be the sixth Republican-controlled state in the past few months to ban abortion. 

Here is the thing, though.  Here`s what I want to ask Senator Schumer about why I asked him to stay over: as Republican-run states are in this stampede to pass abortion bans now and to try to get a case to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe versus Wade, the backdrop to all this legal wrangling is that Americans really don`t want this.  They don`t want to overturn Roe.  They don`t want to ban abortion, which is what all these Republican-controlled states are now doing. 

And it`s not a close question at all.  CBS just did a new poll asking Americans what the Supreme Court should do with Roe versus Wade.  Keep it as is, meaning keep abortion legal in every state, or overturn Roe, asking -- which would allow states to ban abortion. 

Look at the results: 67 percent of Americans say keep it as it is.  Keep abortion legal.  Only 28 percent want to overturn Roe and go back to the days of illegal abortions, which is pretty strong, like overwhelmingly strong national mandate against what Republicans are doing in all the states they control right now. 

So, in that kind of environment where Republicans are really running away with this thing right now, and women across the country are freaked out because of it, what kind of counteroffer are we getting from the Democratic Party on this as a policy issue right now, right? 

Republicans are charging ahead with super deeply unpopular plans to undue 46 years of legal precedent to recriminalize abortion.  It is causing nationwide concern among women and among lots of Americans who don`t want that to happen.  What is the Democratic Party offering as its countermeasure or its answer to what`s going on right now in this part of politics? 

Democratic leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer is still here with us.  Senator Schumer, thank you for letting me kind of set that all up a little bit.  Let me get your response to that question. 

SCHUMER:  Right.  Well, we have two steps in pushing our Republican colleagues on this issue.  First, Patty Murray has put together a resolution that says we support Roe.  We support a woman`s right to have her own health care and to control her own body. 

Just about every Democrat has already signed on to it, and we are asking -- every day, we will be asking our Republican colleagues are you with Roe or against Roe?  You have to state a position.  And the pressure will mount from the states. 

Now, these senators who could control what happens are hypocrites.  Why?  Some of them have said they don`t agree with the Alabama decision.  They don`t agree with the Georgia legislation.  That`s with the one hand. 

And with the other hand, they vote every time for judges whose goal it is to overturn Roe.  Here`s some of the judges they voted for.  I just want to read you this, Rachel. 

Just voted for Leonard Grasz, who said, quote, he railed against the, quote, moral bankruptcy.  That`s the legacy of Roe. 

They voted for Amy Coney Barrett who said Roe was erroneously decided and called the ACA`s birth control provisions an assault on religious liberty. 

They voted for Wendy Vitter.  This is amazing.  She said Planned Parenthood kills 150,000 people and contraceptives caused cancer.

And they just voted today on Stephen Clark, they all voted for him, just about everyone, and he said Roe v. Wade and Dred Scott were similarly awfully decided cases. 

So, we are putting the heat on them.  Hypocrites.  Oh, you don`t agree with the Alabama decision -- the, quote (ph), legislation?  You don`t agree with the Georgia legislation?  Then why are you voting for judges that do it? 

And then we are asking them, where will they sign this resolution?  They want to keep Roe?  Sign this resolution, and we can get a majority and get it on the floor of the Senate.

We`re going to put heat on them.  And the good news is, there were 400 demonstrations across America to preserve Roe.  The women of America are outraged that this hard right group, the Federalist Society is running the courts at Donald Trump and all our Republican Senate colleagues` behest.  And Leonard Leo, the founder of the Federalist Society`s goal is to repeal Roe. 

America is rising up.  They will feel the heat.  They will feel the heat ahead of time, and they feel the heat in 2020. 

They have made this issue an issue that Americans now are roused about because they see the danger.  Once they got five justices on the Supreme Court who are anti-choice, the hard right pushed in the legislatures, and now America sees that Roe is actually in danger. 

MADDOW:  Do you think that the Supreme Court, when they get whichever one of these laws they choose, when they get the chance, do you think that within the next year, Roe will be overturned by the Supreme Court? 

SCHUMER:  They will either overturn it directly, that`s what they probably want to do in their hearts, or they will so cut back and eliminate the effectiveness of Roe that in effect they will have eliminated Roe.  They will make it so hard for any woman to get an abortion that Roe will in effect be eliminated.  So they will do it directly or indirectly, but I believe they will try to do it. 

MADDOW:  Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, leader of the Democrats in the Senate -- sir, thank you for making time for us tonight.  I really appreciate you being here. 

SCHUMER:  Yes.  We have to fight this.  Fight, America, fight back.  We can win this fight. 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Today, a federal judge in Washington unsealed five search warrants from the federal investigation into the president`s long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen.  Five search warrants that had been requested by special counsel Robert Mueller back in the summer of 2017, right after Mueller was appointed to the special counsel position. 

From these warrants that were unsealed today, we learned a couple of big things.  First, we learned that as early as July 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Michael Cohen`s possible involvement in getting a plan to lift Russian sanctions into the hands of senior officials at the Trump White House.  Secondly, and perhaps relatedly, Mueller was investigating foreign transactions with a Russian nexus in a bank account controlled by Michael Cohen. 

So, he`s stovepiping a dropped Russian sanctions plan to the top of the White House, and they`re looking at Russians paying him?  Hmm. 

That same bank account that`s described in the search warrants is the one that Cohen used to receive half a million dollars from a company that`s linked to a Russian oligarch with Kremlin connections.  We know from previous reporting that the CEO of that company, the Russian oligarch himself and Cohen met in Trump Tower less than two weeks before Trump`s inauguration to discuss strengthening Russian relations with the United States. 

Well, now these Cohen search warrants unsealed today show that starting on Election Day, Election Day 2016, Cohen exchanged over 230 phone calls and 950 text messages with the CEO of that Russian-linked company. 

So, Michael Cohen is already in federal prison, and Michael Cohen was never charged with anything from this part of the special counsel investigation, but we now know because of these documents that were unsealed that in making the case for searching Michael Cohen`s emails account, the federal government specifically stated whether Russia was secretly paying Michael Cohen to shop this plan to lift Russian sanctions to senior officials in the new administration.  Quote: The United States continues to investigate if any of the payments or financial relationship described were connected to Cohen`s involvement in the distribution of a plan to lift Russian sanctions. 

So, again, Cohen was never charged for that, even though they investigated him for that.  Interesting question here, though, right?  Whatever the special counsel got by way of the search warrants, it`s not included in the Mueller report, right.  This stuff that they were after in Mueller`s report, this question about whether Cohen might have been the target of a Kremlin-linked operation to funnel money to somebody connected to the administration in order to get a dropped sanctions plan stovepiped to the top of the administration, I mean, whatever they were investigating here would spell it out in the search warrants is not described in the Mueller report. 

So it didn`t end up in Michael Cohen`s criminal charges either.  If anything, it looks like this was sort of an intelligence matter, right?  It looks like they were investigating whether this was run as an foreign influence operation in this country, targeting our own government through the president`s long-time personal lawyer. 

Well, if that was part of Mueller`s investigation, what happened to that line of inquiry?  It didn`t end up in the Mueller report.  Did something else become of it?  Who gets to see that part?  If that was chased down by Mueller`s investigators, what do they find at the end of that road? 

Well, today, after threatening to enforce a subpoena against the Justice Department by holding the attorney general in contempt if necessary, today, the House Intelligence Committee announced that they had reached a deal with the Justice Department to in fact receive information from Mueller`s investigation that the federal government had relatively been unwilling to hand over.  The Intelligence Committee now says they`re going to get 12 categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence material from Mueller`s probe.

So, the Justice Department gave in.  What exactly are they going to provide to the Intelligence Committee?  And will it answers some of the big sort of spooky still open questions about the intelligence nature of what we all thought Mueller was looking into?

Joining us now is member of the House Intelligence Committee, Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.  Really appreciate your time.

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT):  Hi, Rachel.

MADDOW:  So, what are you going to get from the Justice Department?  What`s in this agreement?

HIMES:  Well, I`m not sure we know what we`re going to get.  And the reason for that is at least twofold.  There`s two reasons for that.

Number one, a lot of the redactions that we`re in the Mueller report, and this isn`t a secret or anything.  It`s what the Justice Department said, are there because they`re there to protect national security issues, sources, methods, including any investigations that are ongoing about counterintelligence. 

The second thing I would highlight for you is that when there is wrongdoing that falls into the category of counterintelligence, that is often dealt with differently than criminal wrongdoing is dealt with.  In other words, when the FBI is looking at somebody who may have been compromised by the Russians, and I want to be clear here, I`m not saying that that`s the case with Michael Cohen, but when the FBI is looking at somebody who may have been compromised by the Russians, they may not charge that individual, because it may turn out -- and this is an essential core of counterintelligence, it may turn out that by looking at who compromise that individual, the methods they use, who`s behind it, what sort of communications they used that we can learn a lot more, of a lot more value than we can get by charging an individual for essentially spying.

So, again, I think because of those two big questions, there is still a possibility that there`s a lot of information out -- well, I shouldn`t say out there, but a lot of information that the public has not seen about Russian attempts to compromise members, people around Donald Trump, or very simply to worm their way into -- into people close to the president. 

MADDOW:  Because that kind of information wasn`t in what we have seen of the Mueller report, I think there is the sort of emerging revelation that we really -- we the public really don`t know what happened to the counter counterintelligence investigation, what happened to -- what we al expected Mueller to be looking into which was whether or not there was foreign leverage over the president or his campaign or other senior positions in the government. 

When you get this information, do you expect that you guys will be able to discern if that counterintelligence investigation, which at some point started, we don`t know what happened to it, do you think you`ll be able to discern if that`s ongoing, if that was resolved in some way, if there has been any sort of conclusion as to those core questions about potential leverage over our government? 

HIMES:  Yes, I do think we will -- we will learn that.  That is to say the intelligence committee and quite possibly other people in the Congress will learn that.  The intelligence community is required to keep us apprised of anything material that happens. 

And remember, the president, if he does one thing that`s really well, it`s clouding the waters. 

This started as a counterintelligence investigation.  This didn`t start because somebody decided to do a witch hunt against the president.  This started, as we know because there were profound concerns within the FBI about outreach made by the Russians to George Papadopoulos, to Carter Page, and then it just went on and on.  It went to Michael Flynn.  It went to the president`s son, Don Jr.

So, despite what the president would have you believe, this was always a counterintelligence investigation, and it is still very possible that that counterintelligence investigation continues.  Now, you`re asking an interesting question.  Will the public know?  This is in the realm, of course, of intelligence and attempts by the Russians to compromise.  And so, my hope is obviously that we will know.  But it is quite possible, in fact, likely that there is a lot more out there that has to do with how the Russians try to compromise people in and around the president`s circle that we still don`t, even in the intelligence committee, know about yet. 

MADDOW:  Although hopefully at least some of those edges will start getting chipped away as you get material from the Justice Department as a product of this fight that you guys just went through. 

Congressman Himes, Intelligence Committee -- sir, thanks for your time tonight.  It`s nice to see you. 

HIMES:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  All right.  One more story ahead here tonight.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Here`s something to keep an eye on.  In just a few hours, polls are going to open up in Europe, starting in the U.K. and Netherlands as the elections start up for the European parliament which is the law making arm of the European Union.  These elections are huge, and they`re going to take a few days. 

But by the end of this weekend, voters in 28 different countries will have cast their ballots for the European parliament.  Now, grimly, almost predictably, ahead of these elections, we have fresh reporting on Russia using social media to try to undermine support for mainstream parties in those elections, trying to bolster misinformation generally, trying to bolster specifically the far right parties that want to destroy the European Union from within. 

Just in the past few days, we`ve seen is the government of one E.U. country, the government of Austria, we`ve seen that government collapse over attempts by far right officials in that country to make secret deals with the Kremlin and them getting caught doing it. 

The Austrian government basically collapsed today in the midst of that Russia-related scandal, literally on the eve of the European parliament elections. 

What happened to the U.S. in 2016 with Russia interfering in our election, spreading misinformation, trying to spread distrust of mainstream politics, trying to promote the extremes, that didn`t stand alone.  It`s not just an American problem.  This is as ongoing global thing that Russia is doing. 

At a hearing in Congress yesterday, experts tried to warn the United States that this is both scary stuff and we should see the American victimization along these lines as in keeping with what`s going on globally. 

The elections kicking off tomorrow in the Europe are the next phase, next show.  People who follow this stuff say that what we`re seeing happening there is a preview of what Russia will try to do here again.  Tomorrow, in the show, we`re going to bring you a special report on how this is unfolding, and what we can learn from it. 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again for that show tomorrow. 


Good evening, Lawrence. 

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