REP. RO KHANNA (D), CALIFORNIA: If the court becomes corrupt and doesn`t follow centuries of precedent, then I think we really have a crisis in this country.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Congressman Ro Khanna of California, have good weekend. Thank you very much.
KHANNA: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now with Joy Reid, in for Rachel.
Good evening, Joy.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you very much.
HAYES: You bet.
REID: Much appreciated. All right. Have a good night.
HAYES: You too.
REID: Thanks to you all at hoe for joining us. Rachel has the night off, but she will be back on Monday with a very special show.
Meanwhile, we have a lot to get to on yet another packed, newsy Friday. Donald Trump is off to Japan after a week of really strange news conferences and sparring with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He leaves behind a Washington which could charitably be described as broken. The House this morning failed to pass a $19 billion disaster relief bill after a single Texas Republican, Chip Roy, objected.
The Senate last night managed to pass the bill. The only way Senate Republicans are willing to with the boss`s, Trump`s, support, even without money for Trump`s vanity border wall. Congressman Roy objected to that, so he tanked the bill, taking with it funding for Puerto Rico and other parts of the U.S. hit by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires. That relief will have to wait until Tuesday when the House will try once again to fast track it.
Meanwhile, across the pond, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation in an emotional farewell speech. May is stepping down after failing to get parliament to accept her latest plan for Brexit. So, lots and lots is up in the air, including who her replacement will be.
But we start tonight with President Barack Obama`s final G20 summit in China. It was September of 2016, right before the presidential election, one of president Obama`s final trips abroad. There he is standing next to Angela Merkel and all the other world leaders.
There`s always a bit of pageantry to these things, awkward family photos and waving to the camera. But there was something about President Obama`s final G20 that is unlike all the others that he had attended. When it happened, it was so striking and even dramatic that it made the news that night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Overseas now, where President Obama held what could be his last ever meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a tense face-to-face on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in China. The two clashed over the issues of Syria and cybersecurity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, it is true that President Obama and the Russian president talked about Syria and cybersecurity during that tense one-on-one meeting. President Obama said in a press conference that he also used that meeting to confront Putin over Russia`s attempt to hack some U.S. websites. But the conversation that led to these dramatic photos, Obama kind of towering over Putin, was not just about chiding him over Russia hacking random American Web sites. We later found out that that tense pull-aside at the G20, at that pull-aside, President Obama told Vladimir Putin that he knew Russia was attacking our election in order to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.
President Obama told Putin that he knew all about his plan to hack our election. And he told him to cut it out. And when you look at those photos now, consider that the context of them is that the president of the United States was trying to stop an attack by a foreign power by going straight to the source and telling him face-to-face to stop.
But it`s also important to consider how President Obama knew that Russia was behind the attack in the first place. At that point, there was not a lot of public facing information that Russia was behind the attack on the Democratic National Committee or the Clinton campaign. But President Barack Obama did know, because a source inside the Kremlin had told the U.S. government about it.
"The Washington Post" put together some stunning reporting about this a couple of years ago. In 2016, a source deep inside the Kremlin told intelligence officers at the CIA that Vladimir Putin had direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential election. That piece of intelligence was so sensitive, so top secret, that CIA director John Brennan refused to put it in the president`s daily brief for fear that too many people inside the government would find out about it.
Instead, he sent it to the White House by courier in an envelope marked "eyes only," to be seen only by the president and three of his most senior aides. The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read, kind of a burn-after-reading moment.
When the Obama administration held meetings about the Russian attack in the Situation Room, when they discussed the information coming from this super secret source from the Kremlin, they would turn off the cameras in the room, that`s how sensitive it was. Sometimes senior officials were told to show up at a meeting in the Situation Room but no one told them what the meeting was about ahead of time to safeguard the intelligence from that Russian source.
It was a level of security that had not been seen since the planning of the raid to capture Osama bin Laden. That source inside the Kremlin, the one the U.S. bent over backwards to protect, the CIA spent years cultivating him, having eyes and ears on the Russian president who I will remind you is a former KGB agent, it was a huge get for the CIA. And that source is believed to still be alive. As far as we know, Vladimir Putin never figured out who inside the Kremlin leaked his plan to attack our presidential election. He never found out which one of his people told the CIA.
But now, all of that is at risk. Last night, Donald Trump directed his attorney general and consigliere Bill Barr to conduct a review of how the Russia investigation was conducted by the FBI. After years of Trump`s Republican apparatchiks claiming that the Russian investigation launched on false pretenses, and Trump himself demanding that the Justice Department investigate his political enemies and his constant claims that the Russia investigation was illegal, that his campaign was spied on by the Obama administration and that the investigation into the attack on our election and Russia`s attempt to help get Trump elected amounted to treason -- after all that, Donald Trump finally has an attorney general he thinks can prove the conspiracy theories are true.
And this president has given Attorney General Barr immense, unprecedented authority to declassify any documents or intelligence tied to the Russia investigation he wants. He has ordered the CIA, the FBI, and all the intelligence agencies within the government to give the attorney general whatever he asks for no matter how sensitive or top secret it might be. And he has given the attorney general permission to do whatever he wants with those secrets. He can even release them to the public if he so chooses.
Donald Trump clearly hopes or maybe believes that armed with that classified intel, William Barr can prove once and for all that the Obama administration illegally spied on his presidential campaign and launched a Russia hoax, a Russia witch hunt. That, of course, is not what happened. But Donald Trump has tasked his attorney general with reverse engineering the evidence for his conspiracy theory by digging around inside our intelligence agencies.
And let`s not forget that he has given that assignment to someone who already cherry-picked selective information from the Mueller report to make it look better for Trump. He could cherry pick the intelligence that he releases about the Russia investigation too, to give the boss what he wants to see. The implications of that are not just political. David Sanger and Julian Barnes have a great piece on this over at "The New York Times" today about the dangers of a president authorizing his attorney general to declassify state secrets to meet his political needs. Quote: Intelligence officials believe the danger of the move by Mr. Trump was that it could endanger the agency`s abilities to keep its sources secret, including that source inside the Kremlin, the one that tipped off the U.S. government about the attack on our election.
Quote: The most prominent of those sources among them may well be a person close to President Vladimir Putin of Russia who provided information to the CIA about his involvement in Moscow`s 2016 election interference.
Last night, when Donald Trump re-upped his accusation that certain FBI investigators who participated in the Russia investigation are guilty of treason, he was reminded by a reporter that treason is punishable by death. In response, did he take it back? Nope. Trump simply responded by listing the FBI investigators he thinks are traitors by name.
Meanwhile, even as the president is raising the specter of treason, using his attorney general as a cudgel against his political enemies and allowing that attorney general to fire classified intelligence from a kind of confetti cannon out of the windows of the Justice Department, or maybe put the intel on Fox News, that same Justice Department is now prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, get this, for publishing classified information, raising the specter that Barr`s Justice Department could one day decide to prosecute actual journalists for publishing classified information that they didn`t allegedly help to steal.
If it all seems like we`ve reached a boiling point, if you are feeling like this is a dangerous combination of ingredients in this news cycle bouillabaisse, you are not alone. NYU law professor Ryan Goodman tweeted this: Espionage indictment of Assange imperils freedom of the press. Executive order gives the Attorney General Barr unprecedented power to go after perceived enemies in the intelligence community. The president named specific people who have committed treason punishable by death. Mayday, mayday.
And joining us now is Ryan Goodman, NYU law professor and co-editor in chief at Just Security.
Professor Goodman, great to see you.
RYAN GOODMAN, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Good to see you.
REID: So, let`s start with the William Barr declassification part of this scenario.
Vladimir Putin surely wants to know who this Kremlin source was.
GOODMAN: A hundred percent.
REID: Donald Trump has been known to invite various high leaders of Russia into the oval office without any Americans present, to take phone calls with Vladimir Putin without any American note-takers and to be extremely solicitous of Vladimir Putin.
Is there a danger now that through the work of William Barr, Vladimir Putin gets to find out who it was that gave us this information?
GOODMAN: I think so. That`s what "The New York Times" piece also suggested, that there are now people inside our intelligence community who are very fearful that this particular source will be endangered. You know, that Oval Office meeting that president Trump had with the Russians, he revealed intelligence information that he shouldn`t have given them that also endangered another ally of ours.
So, he definitely seems to want to favor the Russians in so many different ways. If he truly believes in his kind of cooked-up mind that this was a hoax, the hoax also includes even just Russian interference, not even collusion or working with the Trump campaign, then why wouldn`t he want to expose the person responsible for having told the CIA that it was happening?
So, I think there`s all reasons that people are very fearful for this particular individual`s life and for others, and for other sources that the intelligence community would like to have in the future. Why would they cooperate with the United States when this is the risk that they could face?
REID: Right. We already have, you know, Donald Trump and his allies furious at Christopher Steele, somebody they would perhaps like to put on William Barr`s menu. You have this source who, again, Donald Trump has shown that he`s averse to giving up information that the Kremlin wants, and he and Vladimir Putin have the same interest.
Donald Trump wants to believe or wants the rest of us to believe that there was no collusion, that Russia didn`t help him get elected. So he might have a motivation to want to throw this person under the bus. I mean, if you are in the intelligence community right now and you`re discovering that you maybe could become a target of William Barr, what are you supposed to do now or who do you do if you`re one of our sources overseas?
GOODMAN: I think there`s a great fear, because this president does indeed take his own personal and political interests into account at a much higher level and not U.S. national security interests. So I do think this is about the legitimacy of his election. He does not want the American people to understand how much the Russians helped and worked on his behalf to get him elected.
So, the idea that he could expose somebody, and that`s part of this hoax, that`s what he wants to do. And he`s now given Barr, who seems willing to be his henchman, this immense power, totally unprecedented, to not just get the information but to release it to the public.
And in fact it refers to another executive order that says if Barr deems it of public value, he can do it and override any other agency. And one cabinet member now can order other cabinet members to follow his directions.
REID: So, William Barr, I`ve had friends who are in the legal world call him a monarchist, he essentially believes in this idea of a unitary executive, the president with almost unlimited power, uncheckable power by Congress. But we now seem to have a unitary attorney general. That he in a sense by ascribing to Donald Trump`s immense power, now he has immense power.
How dangerous is that power in the hands of somebody who has made it pretty clear that his goal is to protect and defend Donald Trump and to make real Donald Trump`s beliefs even if they are actually conspiracy theories?
GOODMAN: I think it`s entirely dangerous, given that it`s this particular cabinet member who has the power of law enforcement, and the fact that we now have the Assange indictment going after potentially the press, because it puts the press right in the crosshairs. I think they love the narrative framework that suggests that Assange is like the press, committing espionage because they`re the enemy of the people. So, it`s all baked into their kind of doctrine. And the doctrine, as you describe it, it`s like the president is at the apex and right beneath him is the attorney general commanding everyone else and certainly commanding the law enforcement authority of our country.
REID: And how ironic that they`re giving William Barr the authority to do what they`re about to prosecute Julian Assange for doing.
GOODMAN: Yes, it`s incredible. And it`s a paradox. It`s just remarkable, in the same day.
REID: Yes. Irony is dead.
Thank you very much, Ryan Goodman. Great to talk to you, NYU law professor and co-editor in chief of Just Security. Really appreciate you.
Well, it does seem like -- if it seems to you like this might be historic territory, there`s a definitely a case for that. On October 8th, 1971, President Richard Nixon called a meeting with his CIA director, Richard Helms. The official reason was to discuss CIA document classification. But that was code for something else and we know that because we have the audio tape of Nixon huddling with White House aide John Ehrlichman before the CIA director got there.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN EHRLICHMAN: I was kind of mysterious with him about why you were doing all this. I said to him, look, the president has got some very heavy negotiations coming up in the future, and I implied that it was important for you to understand the whole background of the Cuban missile crisis because you`re going to negotiate with the Russians.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: OK. So they told the CIA director that Nixon needed these secret files so he could prepare for negotiations. But listen to what they really wanted it for.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
EHRLICHMAN: Supposing something we can really hang Teddy or the Kennedy clan with. I`m going to want to put that in Colson`s hands and we`re going to run with it. I think what you will say to him --
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I`ll make the decision.
EHRLICHMAN: You have to make the decision in the last analysis. And you have a perfect right to --
NIXON: I have a right to.
EHRLICHMAN: That`s right.
NIXON: I`m the president. The CIA is not. It`s a self-perpetuating bureaucracy.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, that`s unassailable position, it seems to me.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: OK. So, Nixon was prepared to use the machinery of government to get information that he could use against his political enemies. You heard him say there, I`m the president, the CIA is not.
Joining me now is Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, who pointed out this episode from history today. And, Michael, you always bring the funk, as they say, because that is amazing.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I do my best, thank you.
REID: Let`s -- so, Nixon is thought of in history as the president who most warped the notion of the presidency. But we now have a president who is essentially one-upping him on the idea of saying, I`ll just have the attorney general of the United States declassify things and I`ll just have him also prosecute my political enemies.
BESCHLOSS: Oh, yes, Donald Trump is taking Richard Nixon to the sixth power. And Nixon had a couple of things he was looking for there. And I interviewed Richard Helms, the director of the CIA under Nixon, whom he hated and distrusted, many times.
And what he said is that Nixon kept coming to him through Haldeman and others and saying, I want the Kennedy administration`s Bay of Pigs files, files on Cuba. Helms figured that what Nixon wanted was evidence that John Kennedy had ordered the assassination of Fidel Castro. Also, the Nixon people kept on wanting material, as you had on the tape, Joy, on the coup against President Diem in South Vietnam in 1963.
Once again, they thought if they were to tie JFK to the murder of Diem and his brother, they were Catholics. They thought that that would undermine the Kennedy`s appeal to Catholics in the United States.
REID: First of all, was that unprecedented in the use of -- I mean, this sort of -- intelligence agencies are relatively modern things, but is this an innovation of Richard Nixon, this idea that he could take the levers of government and then look for them to dig up dirt, basically do Watergate over and over again?
BESCHLOSS: It was with the CIA, maybe that was a little bit innovative. But Franklin Roosevelt abused the FBI, he asked for FBI files that he could use against his opponents, same thing with LBJ, same thing with some other presidents. And I think the pertinence to Donald Trump here is that Nixon was looking for two things.
Number one, he wanted dirt against his enemies, the Kennedys. He was worried that Ted Kennedy might run against him. He was also worried that the CIA had secrets that would be damaging on him. He didn`t know what that could be.
And if you take that into the present, what is Donald Trump doing with this effort to get all this stuff from all these intelligence agencies? If Nixon is any lesson, I would say, number one, he wants to know what they have against him, what he might have done in the past, or even the present, and the other thing is that he may be asking these intelligence agencies for secrets that he can use against his own political enemies, maybe Barack Obama, maybe Hillary Clinton, maybe even Joe Biden.
REID: Yes, and we know that obviously under Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, Valerie Plame was outed, they outed a CIA asset when they thought it was good politics for them.
What traditionally has reined in a president`s desire to take this immense power within the executive branch and use the CIA or the FBI or the Justice Department simply to persecute their political enemies? What reins them in, typically?
BESCHLOSS: Most presidents have a sense of restraint. They know they shouldn`t abuse power as president of the United States.
And the other thing is fear of getting caught. Since Watergate, 1974, presidents have been very nervous they might be caught doing some of the things that Nixon did that led to three counts of impeachment that were suggested against him. One of them was abuse of power.
And, Joy, what`s a better definition of abuse of power than going to all these intelligence agencies and getting damaging information they might have on yourself as president and also possibly on your political enemies.
REID: Yes, fear of getting caught. But there has to be consequences when you`re caught. See, there`s the -- ay, there`s the rub.
BESCHLOSS: That is for sure.
REID: We shall see if there`s any for Donald Trump.
Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, thank you so much. Have a wonderful --
BESCHLOSS: A chilling evening. Thank you so much, Joy.
REID: Yes, indeed. Thank you.
Well, it has been 63 days since special counsel Robert Mueller handed in his final report. But who`s counting?
And ever since then, we`ve been collectively holding our breath, waiting to hear from the man himself, Robert Mueller.
But something that Chairman Jerry Nadler told Rachel right here last night has blown everyone`s mind. Will we ever hear from Robert Mueller? We`ve got more on that, next.
REID: It has now been more than two months since Robert Mueller ended his investigation and submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr. For all the talk about Robert Mueller since then, for all the reading and analyzing and misrepresenting of his report, we have not actually heard from Robert Mueller. And it would seem like that is not for lack of trying.
House Democrats have been insisting they will get him in to testify. They say they`ve been negotiating with the Justice Department and with Mueller directly. But still, no Mueller. So why not?
Last night on this program, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler gave Rachel the first concrete explanation, at least a partial explanation, for what`s going on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Mueller, he -- I think I can say at this point that he wants to testify in private.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Why?
NADLER: Ii don`t know why. He wants to testify -- he`s willing to make an opening statement but he wants to testify in private and we`re saying he ought to -- we think it`s important for the American people to hear from him and to hear his answers to questions about the report.
MADDOW: Does he want to testify in private and have it be a closed session where we the people would not even get to see a transcript of it?
NADLER: No, no, no. We would see a transcript. But I -- we`d see a transcript.
MADDOW: Do you have any sense of -- I mean, why would witnesses usually say something like that? Or do you have any indication of why he might want that?
NADLER: He envisions himself, correctly, as a man of great rectitude, apolitical, and he doesn`t want to participate in anything he might regard as a political spectacle.
MADDOW: House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler saying Robert Mueller does not want to testify in public. And that was new information. That was news, when Chairman Nadler said that, because before that we hadn`t had any solid information about what exactly was holding up Mueller`s testimony.
So, where does that leave the Democrats, particularly on the issue of impeachment? We keep hearing there is a battle in the caucus about whether to open an impeachment inquiry and disagreement over whether such an inquiry would help lawmakers get the information and witnesses they`re after. And one of the things you consistently hear from those who urge a go-slow approach is that we need to hear from Robert Mueller first.
Joining me now is Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Judiciary Committee. He`s also a former professor of constitutional law, which is handy.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Delighted to be with you, Joy.
REID: So, this week, you changed your mind, you`re now in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry. May I ask first what changed your mind?
RASKIN: Well, I don`t know how much my mind really changed. You know, the Republicans, they moved for an impeachment inquiry against Bill Clinton right after they got the Kenneth Starr report. Our thought was, you shouldn`t just take the report and go to impeachment, let`s hear from the major witnesses, let`s hear from the special counsel, let the public digest and assimilate it.
You know, I read the report in the two or three hours after it came out, I read it again over the weekend. But I would say 99 percent of Americans still haven`t read the report.
In there of course is documentation of 11 different episodes of presidential obstruction of justice and at least four or five of them are just airtight cases, it seems to me. But we thought we would go through a process where the witnesses came in, where Mr. Mueller came in, and we took America through it and we also explained, you know, what high crimes and misdemeanors are and what an impeachment inquiry is.
But we`ve been stonewalled at every step by President Trump, by Attorney General Barr, who pulled basically a curtain of propaganda over the whole country for many weeks and misstated and distorted the contents of the report, prompting special counsel Mueller to write two letters of protest, saying you`re confusing the country with what you`re doing. But, of course, that was the whole point.
So I think most of us on the Judiciary Committee have just thrown up our hands and we said, let`s just go ahead and say what seems obvious to us from a fair reading of even the redacted report, which is there is evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors in there and let`s go ahead and launch an impeachment inquiry.
Now, the big conceptual breakthrough this week is people finally got to discern the difference between an impeachment inquiry, which is an investigation into the facts and a clarification and elucidation of the legal standards, versus impeachment articles, which is the final indictment which may or may not be brought at the end of an impeachment report.
REID: Right. Let me ask you as a logistical matter, if Robert Mueller is still refusing to testify publicly, because it does seem that there is a much greater value for the public to actually hear him speak than to read transcripts of what he`s saying.
REID: Would an impeachment inquiry enable the Congress to compel his testimony in public?
RASKIN: Well, we have the authority to subpoena witnesses. And so we can ask him to come in and we can subpoena his testimony. And, you know, the courts have preferred when Congress negotiates with witnesses from the executive branch. Of course, Mueller is no longer working for the executive branch. I know that the chairman, you know, in his wise ways, wants to try to make an accommodation with Mueller to do it.
But look, we are at a point now where dozens of members of Congress have said that an impeachment inquiry is indicated. Speaker Pelosi, you know, herself said this week that we`re in the midst of seeing a presidential cover-up, and that`s an impeachable offense, she said.
So the word is out on the table. Impeachment inquiry as a concept is on the table, along with a lot of other things. Today, the 25th amendment has some surging back into focus, Joy, because of these extraordinary events that took place in the White House.
REID: Yes. Very quickly on that, because you did mention Speaker Pelosi, Donald Trump`s incredibly erratic response to her is really over the top, and having his cabinet members attest to his great calm, it is getting weirder. Is there now active talk, because we know from sources there may have been talk inside the White House of the 25th Amendment solution, so is that an active conversation inside the House now?
RASKIN: Yes. Well, Speaker Pelosi, you know, showed her compassion when she said there should be a family I want invention. Unfortunately some conditions are way beyond the capacity of a family intervention to address. This might be far more serious.
You know, Professor Bandy Lee, psychiatrist at Yale Medical School, had a group do a mental health analysis of the special counsel`s report, and they came back and said basically the president is failing at every level of basic mental and cognitive health. He cannot take in information successfully. He cannot process information successfully. He cannot engage in decision-making without bias, distortion, impulsivity, impetuosity. And he cannot keep himself and others free from the danger, which I guess were like the basic minimal requisites of mental health. And they`re saying it`s missing in that case.
So, the Constitution has a mechanism for this, the 25th Amendment, which was adopted in 1967, in the nuclear age, precisely because Senators Birch Bayh and Robert F. Kennedy and other framers of the 25th Amendment said the president is way too serious. You know, we got 535 members of Congress. If one of them is incapacitated, we can absorb that, but we got one president --
RASKIN: -- in the nuclear age. That is very serious business.
So, there`s a number of parts of it. And several of them have been invoked before.
REID: Yes, and we`re out of time, but shouldn`t --
RASKIN: I would like to come back sometime to talk about the 25th Amendment.
REID: Well, very quickly before you go, wouldn`t that necessitate some kind of conversation with William Barr, who is doing Donald Trump`s bidding?
RASKIN: Well, Barr is basically acting like a personal defense lawyer for the president, a consigliere, he`s not acting like a responsible head of the Justice Department. There were people there, apparently Rod Rosenstein, who raised the 25th Amendment.
What people need to understand about it is people understand that the vice president and the majority of the cabinet can determine that the president is unable to successfully discharged the powers and duties of office.
RASKIN: But it`s not just that. The vice president and a majority of a body set up by Congress can do the same thing.
RASKIN: Congress in more than 50 years has never set the body up. And we can set that body up, which should exist for all time without respect, necessarily, to President Trump, but we can set it up and we should set it up, because, you know, when in case of emergency, break glass, and then you`ve got to activate the provisions of the 25th Amendment.
REID: We`re going to have to have you come back and have a longer conversation. Thank you very much, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, member of the Judiciary Committee, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time tonight.
And up next, there is a long weekend -- I mean, a long weekend Friday night news dump.
REID: Call it a Friday night news dump, Memorial Day weekend style. With the Senate out of town for the holiday, the president reportedly plans to pick hard line Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli as the new director of U.S. citizenship and immigration services.
Ken Cuccinelli served as state attorney general for Virginia several years ago. Then, he ran for governor in 2013 and lost. Since then he`s been a mainstay in right wing Republican politics, notably leading a charge in 2014 to primary establishment Republican incumbents. He backed a failed primary challenge to Senator Mitch McConnell that year.
And when his name surfaced last month as a possible new secretary for homeland security, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell told the president in so many words, do not pick the Cuccinelli guy. But conservative groups have been lobbying for Cuccinelli, and so, welcome to Friday news dump land.
The president reportedly plans to tap Cuccinelli for a big immigration job. According to "The Washington post," Mitch McConnell has vowed to block Cuccinelli from getting confirmed for any position on account of his attempting to turf McConnell out in 2014.
OK. Well, here comes the Cuccinelli nomination anyway. Maybe Mitch McConnell can use the long weekend to adjust to the idea.
We`ll be right back.
REID: For decades, abortion rates activists have warned that Roe v. Wade is more fragile than most people assumed. Well, now, there is a real sense both on the right and left that with Brett Kavanaugh replacing Justice Kennedy in what used to be the swing seat, that the Supreme Court is on the verge of gutting the landmark ruling to give women the right to choose. We`re seeing a virtual stampede of Republican-run states attempting to ban abortion in order to get a case before the high court.
The latest example comes to us from Missouri, where this afternoon, that state`s governor signed a balance banning abortion at eight weeks, before many women even know they`re pregnant. The law contains no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
It is now the eighth state this year to pass abortion restrictions. With that happening with those risks to individual rights, what we are also seeing is a massive response by pro-choice advocates. Earlier this week, more than 400 rallies were held in cities from coast to coast to protest these laws. And today, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit over Alabama`s abortion ban which outlaws abortion in nearly every case and punishes doctors with 99 years in prison for providing abortion services.
The ACLU has also said that it is exploring all options to stop that Missouri law from taking effect. In Mississippi, late today, a federal judge blocked that state`s abortion ban from going into effect. Just last year, the same judge declared a 15-week abortion ban as being unconstitutional.
And in his ruling against this even stricter law, the judge did not mince words, writing, quote, here we go again, Mississippi has passed another law banning abortions prior to viability. This law threatens immediate harm to women`s rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortion services until after six weeks. It prevents a woman`s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.
Joining us for both the legal and the political perspectives on this fight are Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU`s Reproductive Freedom Project, and Destiny Lopez, co-director of All* Above All Action Fund.
And, Brigitte and Destiny, it`s so nice to have you with us tonight. Thank you for being here.
In the time that you have been working on issues like this, has there been a similar period of this kind of flurry of antiabortion activity in the states?
BRIGITTE AMIRI, ACLU REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM PROJECT DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Thank you.
REID: So, Brigitte, let`s start with you. In the time that you have been working on issues like this, has there been a similar period of this kind of flurry of antiabortion activity in the states?
AMIRI: Well, there`s always been a flurry of anti-abortion activity in the states. And the bans that we`re seeing now are a culmination of a decades- long effort by the anti-choice movement to ban abortion. And we`re really seeing their true colors. Instead of chipping away at the right, which they`ve done for many years, they`re now taking direct aim at the right to abortion.
REID: Yes. And do these laws, which seem on their face, I`m not a lawyer, but seem on their face to be unconstitutional, to violate Roe versus Wade, are women nervous that the Supreme Court won`t uphold at least one of them?
AMIRI: They`re blatantly unconstitutional bans. I do want to make a point that right now, abortion is legal in all 50 states and we don`t want people to be confused about access. But you`re absolutely right that Roe versus Wade is in peril. The Trump administration has vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices that would overturn Roe versus Wade.
And so, even those laws will definitely block in a district court and the court of appeals, the real question is what`s going to happen when these cases get to the Supreme Court?
And, Destiny, Democrats have never really focused on the United States Senate and on the Supreme Court as voting issues. It`s been a real frustration I think of a lot of women, quite frankly, that they can`t get this issue to be salient even among women voters. Have you seen that start to change on the ground?
DESTINY LOPEZ, ALL* ABOVE ALL CO-DIRECTOR: Yes, I mean, I think as you said, we`ve seen outrage on the ground, right? You had tens of thousands of people show up across the country at these 500 protests in D.C. and Puerto Rico. They`re outraged, they know that what this agenda is about is about bullying and shaming and ultimately punishing women, and particularly women of color.
So, if we think about kind of the outrage that we saw at the Kavanaugh hearings, now we`re going to have a drumbeat of that outrage going up through 2020 where we`re going to see women who have been the bedrock of the resistance come out in record numbers. We know that folks of color, the proportion of them that`s part of the electorate is increasing every year, they support this issue, they oppose these restrictions.
And young people are frankly probably going to save us, they voted in record numbers as the most diverse generation ever. They voted in record numbers in 2018 and we anticipate their numbers to be even higher in 2020. And they absolutely oppose these restrictions. They`re going to want candidates from the Senate to the White House who do the same.
REID: Will a single Republican United States senator lose their Senate seat because of this issue?
LOPEZ: I mean, I think if we see the continued outrage that we`ve seen, I think as we`ve seen these bills kind of being rammed through, when we know what they`re really about, right? These bills have nothing to do with abortion care. They have nothing to do with science or medicine. They include all this inflammatory rhetoric.
And so, I think if we continue to see this kind of outrageous attempt to ban abortion outright, you are going to see people at the voting booths making some different decisions.
REID: And what`s the worst case scenario, Brigitte? I think people need to be prepared. If Roe versus Wade falls, then what happens?
LOPEZ: A number of states will ban abortion and a number of states will continue to allow abortion. And so, the reproductive rights and reproductive justice movement are planning for that worst case scenario now, to make sure that states that will be a haven for abortion care don`t have restrictions to access to abortion.
So, we`re seeing proactive measures like in Maine, just passed a measure that repeals a law that says only doctors can provide abortions. And now, advanced practice clinicians can provide abortions.
REID: And, Destiny, very quickly before we go, have the presidential candidates on the Democratic side been providing any air cover to this issue, enough air cover on this issue?
LOPEZ: Yes, I mean, I think in some ways they`re almost stumbling over each other on this issue, right? We`ve seen record numbers of these candidates on the trail saying that they support abortion rights, they`ve got plans to create offices on reproductive freedom, they want to repeal the Hyde Amendment.
So, I think there`s a real commitment from much of the Democratic field at least right now to ensure that not only do we protect Roe, but we go beyond it. We ensure that people in this country can access abortion care wherever they live and however much money they make.
REID: All right. Well, Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU`s Reproductive Freedom Project, and Destiny Lopez, co-director of All* Above All Action Fund, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate your time.
AMIRI: Thank you.
REID: And you`re not going to want to miss -- you`re not going to want to this, a DIY solution, a workaround, if you will, for one of the pettiest moves from the Trump administration. But we have a fix for it, and that is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Since Secretary Lew`s departure, we have not heard anything regarding the status of the currency redesign. Will the redesign meet the 2020 deadline, yes or no?
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: So, let me comment that the primary reason we`ve looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues. Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: This week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin admitted to Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat at the House Financial Services Committee, that he is postponing plans to put American icon Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. President Obama and his treasury secretary had wanted the Tubman $20 redesign ready by next year to honor the 100th anniversary of women obtaining the legal right to vote.
Thousands of Americans had weighed in on the design of the bill, to help choose the first female face of American bank notes in more than a country, and the first black person, period. It was a groundswell support for the woman nicknamed "Moses" who escaped slavery, returned to the South to lead dozens of others to freedom, served as a Union Army spy, and spent her later years speaking on behalf of women`s suffrage.
Happy 100th anniversary of women`s democratic enfranchisement to all.
And the extra bonus, putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 also meant evicting the slave owning architect of the Trail of Tears from his paper territory and marching him to the back of the bill.
But now, Trump`s treasury secretary is saying none of that will happen, at least not until 2028. And his reasoning: the Treasury has to focus on other bills because of, quote, "counterfeiting issues."
The editorial board of "The Washington Post" is not buying it. Quote: The explanation Mr. Mnuchin offered for the delay, the need for more time for counterfeiting issues would be laughable if it were not so insulting. Are we really expecting to believe that the administration one that boasts about its can-do capabilities needs eight more years to implement a new redesign? If indeed counterfeiting matters are the primary reason for currency redesign, shouldn`t you start with the $20 bill since it is one of the most widely circulated?
Symbols matter. Backpedaling on putting the first African-American woman on paper money tells women and girls and people of color that they don`t and never have mattered. Mr. Trump has shown another way to show that he does not really aspire to be president of all-Americans.
However, if you believe representation matters and don`t want to wait to see Harriet Tubman`s face on a $20, there is a creative genius who figured out how to do an end run around the Trump administration. He`ll be here to show us how it`s done, next.
REID: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin first refused to commit to putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill back in 2017, foreshadowing the news this week that actually he will not be redesigning the $20 bill at all.
When a designer in New York heard that noncommittal tone two years ago, he started making these just in case. We`re going to show them, 3-D printed stamps that super impose Harriet Tubman`s face over Andrew Jackson`s face on any $20 bill. He has already sold 600 of the stamps and since Mnuchin broke the news out of the bill, he`s totally out of stock and toiling trying to make more but agreed to show us how they work.
Joining us is the designer of the 3D printed Harriet Tubman stamps, Dano Wall.
Dana, thanks for being here.
DANO WALL, ARTIST & TUBMAN 3-D STAMP DESIGNER: Thanks for having me.
REID: So, first of all, let me make sure -- is this legal to put a stamp on money?
WALL: Yes, there are a couple things you can`t do to American currency. You can`t mark it in such a way as to destroy it or make it unfit for circulation.
WALL: You can`t stamp any advertisements for products on them. But besides that, as long as you`re not changing the denomination or marking over the text on the bill in any way, it`s not against the law.
REID: And why did you decide to make these?
WALL: I think in 2016 when Jack Lew announced that the revised $20 bill would include Harriet Tubman, I was really excited. I think this country has a long issue with representation and equity. And generally, I think we live in racist society and currency by virtue of its ubiquity has the power to spread ideas about who we are as a nation and what we represent.
And so, I felt it was really monumentally symbolic important change to include Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill and was really enraged and heartbroken when it sounded like that was going to be taken away.
REID: Yes. Well, let me let you demonstrate for us. We want to get a demo here of how had you do it. So, go ahead, take a 20 here, make a Tubman out of it. We love it.
All right. Here we go.
WALL: So, stamp has a 3-D printed handle and the rubber face is molded and there`s a cutout here that lines up with the seal of the Federal Reserve. So you just line that up. As straight as you can. Press down.
WALL: And --
REID: And suddenly.
WALL: There she is.
REID: It`s a Tubman.
Can you get this? I`m going to turn it so we can see it for the camera. There we go. And now, suddenly, you go from having an Andrew Jackson Trail of Tears bill to a Tubman. I have another one here so we can show you what they look like.
What is the reaction to this quickly before we go?
WALL: I`ve been spending basically only Tubmans since I started making these in 2017.
WALL: For the most part, people are just in their day to day routine, and they don`t notice.
WALL: But sometimes they do, and it sparks a conversation about how she was going to be on the $20 bill and I think it`s a good entry point into talking about representation.
REID: I think Marie Kondo might say it also sparks joy. I like it. I`m going to be spending Tubman. Got a change for Tubman.
Dano Wall, designer of the 3-D printed Harriet Tubman stamps, thank you so much for your time.
WALL: Thank you.
REID: Appreciate it.
That does it for us tonight. Rachel Maddow will be back here on Monday.
And you can catch me this weekend on "A.M. JOY", 10:00 a.m. My special guest on Sunday will be Valerie Jarrett, President Obama`s longtime senior adviser and she has some thoughts on the Tubman $20 bill.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD". Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, Ali. And have you got a chance for Tubman?
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END