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One on One with SC Dem Jaime Harrison. TRANSCRIPT: 5/28/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Colleen McNicholas, Jaime Harrison

CORAL DAVENPORT, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  You get very severe impacts.  Lots of warming. 


DAVENPORT:  Severe drought, rising sea levels.  And that`s what they`re proposing essentially to eliminate, to just not show. 

HAYES:  Just make us blind out into the future past that when everything really, really bad may start happening. 

Coral Davenport and Dan Kanninen, thank you both so much. 

That is "ALL IN" for this evening. 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel. 

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

HAYES:  You bet.

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

Just back from the long weekend, from the Memorial Day holiday.  You can see where I missed my sunscreen right there.  It`s like a smiley face right here.  Yes, can`t do anything about it.  Makeup only has its limits really. 

We`re just back from the long holiday weekend.  Already, the news cycle is cranked right back up again like it never happened.  Today, Planned Parenthood sounded the alarm that they think for the first time since Roe versus Wade, an American state is about to go to zero abortion clinics.  Zero abortion providers. 

The Republican governor of Missouri last week signed one of these draconian new abortion bans that all the Republican-controlled states are passing now.  Missouri before that was already down to only one clinic that provides abortions in that entire state.  And that`s a big state.  Well, today that clinic announced that the state of Missouri also appears to be denying them a renewal of their license, which they need to operate in that state.  And that means by the end of this week, Republicans for the first time believe they may have succeeded in one American state in banning abortion. 

Again, this is this week, the last clinic in Missouri may be shutting down.  They appear to have achieved an abortion ban in Missouri both in law with the new law just signed by the state`s governor and also in practice, by closing down this last clinic that the Republican-controlled government there had allowed to operate and stay open. 

So, the doctor who operates that last clinic, who believes her clinic may be getting shut down in the next 72 hours, she`s going to be our guest here tonight in just a few minutes.  You will definitely want to see that discussion. 

You should also know that at the end of this hour, we are going to South Carolina, where Democratic presidential contender and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris is going to be doing a live town hall tonight in Spartanburg, South Carolina. 

This Kamala Harris town hall is going to be moderated by the great Lawrence O`Donnell.  And again, it will start right at the end of this hour tonight. 

I have made an unfortunate habit of frequently sloshing my show over the top of the hour into the beginning of Lawrence`s show where I chat with him about whatever`s going on in the news.  Tonight, I have to be very disciplined and remember that I cannot do that because Lawrence is there in Spartanburg live in this big room full of South Carolina voters ready to do this town hall with Senator Harris.  We are all very, very excited about that. 

Now, as part of my own show prep for that South Carolina town hall tonight, we are also going to be joined this hour by the charismatic, ambitious, smart young man who until recently was the Democratic Party`s chairman in South Carolina.  He`s going to be here tonight with sort of a preview of the tooth-and-nail crucial Democratic presidential primary contest in South Carolina.  Also, Senator Harris`s big event in South Carolina tonight. 

Jamie Harrison, though, is also going to be making some news of his own right here live on this show in studio tonight.  So you are going to want to see that interview. 

As I said, there`s a lot going on, particularly for the first day back from the holiday weekend everything is just flat out already.  And you should expect that this is going to be a busy and newsy week all week long.  One thing to keep in mind is that by the end of this week, a federal judge has ordered that the Justice Department has to make public some of the redacted material from the Mueller report.  This was the judge in the Mike Flynn case, who set a deadline of this Friday, this week for the Justice Department to unredact any portion of the Mueller report that relates to the ongoing criminal case against Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn. 

That same judge has also ordered the Justice Department to release to the public the transcripts of conversations that Mike Flynn secretly had with the Russian government about sanctions during the presidential transition.  These are the conversations that the whole Trump transition team lied about, everyone from Sean Spicer to Vice President Mike Pence to K.T. McFarland to Flynn himself.  They all lied about these conversations and said they never happened. 

We still don`t know why they were all lying about those conversations.  But those conversations between Flynn and the Russians did happen during the transition.  We know that in part because Flynn has since pled guilty to lying to the FBI about those conversations. 

Well, there are transcripts of what was said in those communications between Flynn and the Russian government.  We are going to get those transcripts publicly released thanks to a federal judge`s order by the end of this week, along with the stuff the attorney general redacted from Mueller`s report that pertains to Mike Flynn and the case against him. 

So, you know, expect things to be nutty this week and to get even nuttier as this short week rolls forward over the next few days. 

Tonight already, it has been a little bit upside down.  In the great city of Grand Rapids, Michigan -- this is a photo from Jonathan Oosting, a reporter from the "Detroit News."  He shot this at a town hall in Grand Rapids for a very conservative member of Congress, a member of Congress named Justin Amash. 

You can see the signs there: Thank you for speaking truth to power.  Country over politics.  Thank you.  Thankful for your courage, Justin.

These are constituents of Republican Congressman Justin Amash from Michigan, and they are thanking him for a lonely and increasingly high- profile stand that he has been taking for the past few days.  A stand that his colleagues in Congress are attacking him for, that the president is attacking him for, that his own party`s leadership is increasingly attacking him for. 

But he is sticking to his guns about it, and it`s interesting.  As this has moved on into what is now a second week of this lonely stand from Republican Congressman Justin Amash, it`s becoming sort of a touchstone in the country.  I think it`s becoming an important touchstone in American politics even for the Democrats who are running for president this year. 


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, every day we wake up and there`s news.  It`s not always good.  Except I was just going to say we actually got some interesting news late last night, and that is Congressman Justin Amash -- hold on -- has read the Mueller report. 


And he said once he read it, the only conclusion he could draw is that Donald Trump obstructed justice multiple times and the House should impeach. 


Now, I`ll be blunt.  There`s not much that I agree with Justin Amash on.  He`s a very conservative congressman, a libertarian.  We don`t always see eye to eye. 

But there are two things we agree completely on.  And the first is that every member of Congress should read the Mueller report. 


And two, that the rule of law applies even to the president of the United States. 



MADDOW:  Massachusetts Democratic senator and presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, speaking recently in New Hampshire.  Those comments from Senator Warren were right after Congressman Justin Amash freaked out everybody`s partisan expectations when he went online really without any warning and -- well, he posted this first.  Again, no sort of warm-up, no setup here.  He just jumped right in. 

Here are my principal conclusions.  Number one, Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller`s report.  Number two, President Trump has engaged in impeachable contact.  Number three, partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances.  And number four, few members of Congress have read Mueller`s report.

I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller`s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony and having discussed this matter with my staff.  In comparing Attorney General William Barr`s principal conclusions, congressional testimony and other statements to Mueller`s actual report, it`s clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about special counsel Robert Mueller`s analysis and findings.

Now, at this point you`re reading along.  Where`s this coming from?  You`re thinking this is going to be interesting.  This is a conservative Republican congressman. 

And so, you know, number one, how long is he going to go on with this?  Is he really going where it seems like he`s going with this?  I mean, it signals -- he`s giving signals here that he`s going right to the -- yes, that`s exactly where he`s going. 

Quote: Contrary to Barr`s portrayal, Mueller`s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.  In fact, Mueller`s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.  Few members of Congress even read Mueller`s report.  Their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation, and it showed with senators and representatives from both parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report`s conclusions within just hours of its release.  America`s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system, even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome. 

Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome.  It deserves a government to match it.

So, that`s how he started it.  That was last weekend.  Political backlash, of course, was instant.  The president himself got online and jumped all over Congressman Amash and started insulting him.  The leader of the Republicans in the House went on Fox News and started trashing Congressman Amash.  Immediately, a pro-Trump guy in Amash`s district announced that he would primary the congressman and run against him next year. 

But despite that immediate backlash, Amash stuck with it.  He went right back online, right back to explaining what he read in Mueller`s report.  What he found so disturbing about it.  And what he thinks the administration is trying to sell the public about the investigation and the report that isn`t true. 

Two days after his initial blast he says this.  Quote: People who say there were no underlying crimes and therefore the president could not have intended to illegally obstruct the investigation and therefore can`t be impeached, those people are resting their argument on several falsehoods.  One, they say there were no underlying crimes.  In fact, there were many crimes revealed by the investigation, some of which were charged and some of which were not but are nonetheless described in Mueller`s report.  Two, they say obstruction of justice requires an underlying crime.  In fact, obstruction of justice does not require the prosecution of any underlying crime.

And then he goes on like that in that same vein.  Tweet after tweet after tweet, arguing that factually these obstruction of justice claims against President Trump are really serious claims that appear to be quite well- substantiated.  And they are exactly the kind of conduct for which the constitution prescribes impeachment of a president. 

So, a second day of Amash doing this online.  The president in response up- scales his backlash, starts telling reporters how terrible Justin Amash is and what a loser he thinks this Republican congressman is.  And then more of the Republican leadership in Congress start telling reporters how terrible their own congressman is and how terrible this thing is that he`s doing. 

But even after that second round of backlash, he just keeps going.  We get another round from the congressman.  Quote: Mueller`s report describes a consistent effort by the president to use his office to obstruct or otherwise corruptly impede the Russian election interference investigation because it put his interests at risk.  The president has an obligation not to violate the public trust including using official powers for corrupt purposes.  For instance, presidents have the authority to nominate judges, but a president couldn`t select someone to nominate because they promised the president money. 

This principle extends to all the president`s powers including the authority over federal investigations, federal officials, and pardons.  President Trump had an incentive to undermine the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which included investigating contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign.  This investigation threatened to uncover information including criminal activity that could put Trump`s interests at risk. 

Ultimately, the investigation did uncover very unflattering information about the president and his family, his associates, his campaign, and his business.  It also revealed criminal activities, some of which were committed by people in Trump`s orbit and some on Trump`s behalf. 

The investigation began before the president was elected and inaugurated, after Trump assumed the powers of the presidency, Mueller`s report shows that he used those powers to try to obstruct and impede the investigation.

Amash then lays out in detail a bunch of the behavior by the president that Mueller`s report lays out as potentially criminal obstruction of justice.  He goes through them one by one by one by one.  And then he concludes with this:

Some of the president`s actions were inherently corrupt.  Other actions were corrupt and therefore impeachable because the president took those actions to serve his own interests.

Quote: The president has authority to fire federal officials, direct his subordinates, and grant pardons.  But he cannot do so for corrupt purposes.

Imagine if every member of Congress read the Mueller report.  I mean, here`s one guy who actually did.  Look what it did to him. 

Today, after these remarkable few days we`ve had from Congressman Amash, when he has come out as a member of Congress who has read Mueller`s report and he`s willing to say that he finds it terrifically alarming, today, Congressman Amash knew that he would be facing his constituents back home in his Republican district in Michigan. 

Now, we have covered town halls in Justin Amash`s district before.  They have tended to be feisty affairs.  This is one we covered in January of 2017 when he and his constituents had one of the sort of gnarlier town halls on the issue of health care and repealing Obama care. 

But today, he knew he was going home to talk to his voters to do another town hall in his district after he became the first Republican to say he read Mueller`s report and he believed it was clear the president has committed impeachable offenses and the administration is trying to cover it up and Congress shouldn`t let them get away with it. 

So, how did he prepare to meet his constituents to talk about this at his town hall today?  It seemed the kind of backlash he`s already had from his own party and the president and the leadership of his own party, how did he prepare for his town hall today knowing his constituents are going right there with him face to face and he would have to explain exactly what this whole controversy is about?  What did he do to prepare? 

He freaking kept it up.  A new storm of statements today from Justin Amash ahead of this town hall saying today that Attorney General William Barr deliberately misrepresented key aspects of Mueller`s report and decisions in the investigation which helped further the president`s false narrative about the investigation. 

Amash today said despite William Barr trying to create a contrary public impression, quote, in fact, Mueller finds considerable evidence that several of Trump`s actions detailed in the report meet the elements of obstruction.  He says today that Barr gave misleading testimony to Congress and both in Barr`s testimony and in his public statements he, quote, used further misrepresentations to help build the president`s false narrative that the investigation was unjustified. 

Quote: In truth, Mueller`s report describes concerning contacts between members of Trump`s campaign and people in or connected to the Russian government.  It is wrong to suggest that the fact that Mueller didn`t choose into diet anyone for this means there wasn`t a basis to investigate, whether it amounted to a crime or collusion or whether it was in fact part of Russia`s efforts to help Trump`s candidacy.

Justin Amash today then rips William Barr for saying that President Trump cooperated with the investigation when Trump most assuredly did no such thing. 

And then he ends with this.  Quote: Barr has so far successfully used his position to sell the president`s false narrative to the American people.  This will continue if those who have read the report do not start pushing back on his misrepresentations and share the truth. 

Click, send.  And then it`s time to go home to meet with his constituents. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  First, I wanted to say a comment and then I`ve got a question.  First, I wanted to salute your courage. 


REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI):  Thank you.  Thanks. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And that`s coming from 50 years ago today me and six other comrades were blown up in Vietnam and one was killed, 50 years ago today. 

AMASH:  Very sorry.  Thank you for your service. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The other -- now my question. 

AMASH:  Thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My question.  Is there anything in the constitution or can we amend it where the electorate gets a mulligan? 

AMASH: So -- no, I don`t -- I don`t know if that`s a serious question.  We don`t get a mulligan. 


MADDOW:  I don`t know if this is how Congressman Amash expected this to go today.  But he literally got a standing ovation from the moment he walked in the room.  And then he got another standing ovation, the one you saw there. 

And the way this has gone tonight, he has just not backed down from making this case.  And it kind of seems like it`s going over. 


AMASH:  I think it`s really important that we do our job as a Congress, that we not allow misconduct to go undeterred, that we not just say someone can violate the public trust -- 


And that there are no consequences to it.  And if you get a chance, I encourage you all to read the tweets where it lays all of this out.  Mueller`s report lays all of this out. 

And I`m confident that if you read volume 2, you`ll be appalled at much of the conduct.  And I was appalled by it.  And that`s why I stated what I stated.  That`s why I came to that conclusion, because I think we can`t go -- we can`t let conduct like that go unchecked. 


AMASH:  Thanks. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I appreciate your courage and I`m wondering what the next steps would be to ask for an impeachment inquiry. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Our question is although we -- it`s found in the Mueller report that Trump has made impeachable offenses, we want to know, because the impeachment process can take so long, that because of the 2020 election, if impeachment process is worth the time that it takes because the election`s coming up and it takes -- it`s such a lengthy process. 

AMASH:  Yes.  So this is a great question.  And it`s something that everyone has to wrestle with.  And, you know, I wrestled with this issue quite a bit because to me the comment was obviously impeachable.  So, the question then was, do you then move forward with impeachment proceedings? 

And my biggest concern, I thought about this for a long time.  Like I said, I spent a month reviewing, analyzing, thinking about it.  And I am concerned that we`ve gotten to the point where impeachment may never be used in any circumstance.  And I think that is a greater risk than the risk that it will be used too often. 


As an example, in the Mueller report, he asked the White House counsel to create a false record.  Things like that, to basically mislead people about a statement he had made, things like that to me reflect incredible dishonesty and really harm the office of the presidency.  And I don`t think that -- 


I don`t think that you can just let that stuff go and say, hey, it`s no big deal, we`re going to have an election in two years and just let it go.  I think you have to have proceedings to deter this kind of conduct. 


MADDOW:  Republican Congressman Justin Amash at his home district tonight in Michigan.  That footage is just from a little while ago tonight. 

Incidentally, I should tell you, for specific geographic context here, like really specific geographic context, the room where the congressman is holding this event tonight has a name.  You can see it there on the brick fascia.  It`s called the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Arts and Worship.  It`s the DeVos Center at a local Christian high school, funded by the DeVos family -- as in Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education in the Trump administration.  Her family built this building. 

The reason that`s important tonight is because since Congressman Amash read the Mueller report and started speaking his mind about it and talking in the terms that you heard him talk tonight, the DeVos family has announced that they will cut him off and never give him another dime.  They have been major supporters of Congressman Amash in his home district.  The very room he`s standing in tonight to face his constituents is named for the DeVos family and was funded by them just in case he needs another concrete reminder of all the ways his own party and this administration is going to try to shut him up. 

But so far, it`s not working.  And as of tonight, his constituents are apparently prepared to hear that case that he is making. 

I`m telling you, this is going to be a little bit of a busy week.  Lots to get to tonight.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Behold the running of the interns.  Every time a major Supreme Court decision gets handed down, we get this arcane, almost sporty spectacle where interns for all the news networks wait at the courthouse to get hot off the presses decisions.  They then physically run those rulings from inside (AUDIO GAP) across the plaza where the networks` reporters are standing by ready to speed-read the newly published rulings and then report the verdicts live on the air. 

The running of the interns.  Everybody get your suits and your sneakers on.  Suits and sneakers. 

That footage is sort of iconic when it comes to important Supreme Court decisions.  But, you know, you almost never get a vantage point from inside the court.  Today, though, we found some of that rare footage. 

Look at this.  These were all the runners waiting outside the Supreme Court press room.  Other members of the press are actually inside the press room huddled in there five people deep.  Once the clerk in that press office gets the phone call from upstairs that the ruling can be officially released, it`s on.  In this case the clerk actually shouts "let`s go."

And then the copies of the ruling fly out the door and they fleet-foot their way down the steps.  This actual footage, this rare footage from inside the court is from June 29, 1992.  The reason the reporters (AUDIO GAP) in the Supreme Court press room that day and all the interns were ready to run the rulings down the stairs, is because that day the court was deciding on the biggest women`s rights case since Roe versus Wade, a 1992 case called Planned Parenthood versus Casey. 

Planned Parenthood versus Casey upheld a woman`s right to get an abortion in this country, but it upheld it by the narrowest of margins and it said that Roe versus Wade could stand but states could apply restrictions on access to abortion.  They could restrict access to abortion, however the states saw fit, as long as they didn`t cross the line by creating what the Supreme Court called an undue burden on a woman`s right to get an abortion.  Well, what constitutes an undue burden? 

In the decades since Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Republican-controlled states have tried everything conceivable to test that national definition of undue burden.  They`ve tested it in every conceivable way, come up with more and more and more elaborate and arcane restrictions that make it more and more impossible for an American woman to actually get an abortion if she wants one.  Everything from mandatory waiting periods to state-mandated pelvic exams, to banning widely used abortion methods, to targeting clinics with arcane licensing provisions that are designed to make it impossible for them to stay open as long as they`re providing abortions. 

As a result, there are now six states in this country that have only one abortion clinic in the whole state.  One of those states is the great state of Missouri.  Ten years ago, Missouri had five clinics.  Now, it`s down to one.  Ten years, five.  Now it`s one. 

And as of tonight, that state is at risk of losing even that one last clinic.  Missouri tonight is at risk of being the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since 1973, when Roe versus Wade was decided 46 years ago.  Last week, Monday of last week, the Missouri department of health notified the one remaining clinic in the state, the Planned Parenthood clinic, the state was about to take away its license. 

The clinic`s license is set to expire this Friday, i.e. 72 hours from now.  Planned Parenthood`s already filed a lawsuit requesting a restraining order against the state.  They`re hoping to restore the license and avoid service disruption.  A circuit court judge is going to hear arguments in that case tomorrow. 

But as of right now, if this goes the way the state of Missouri wants it to, as of right now, we are looking at the very real prospect of by the end of this week the first state effectively banning legal abortion in this country.  The first state to have done in the nearly 50 years since Roe versus Wade supposedly protected access to abortion as an American women`s constitutional right. 

Joining us now is Dr. Colleen McNicholas.  She`s a board certified OB-GYN and abortion provider at Planned Parenthood St. Louis, which is the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Missouri. 

Dr. McNicholas, thank you so much for being here.  I really appreciate your time. 

DR. COLLEEN MCNICHOLAS, PLANNED PARENTHOOD REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES:  Thanks for having me, Rachel.  This is clearly a pivotal moment for Missourians and for really most of the country. 

MADDOW:  I was struck by the language tonight from the Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen, who was actually a guest of ours on the show not long ago, who said this is not a drill, this is a real public health emergency. 

How -- on a scale of 1 to 100, how concerned are you that you will not be allowed to provide abortion services in Missouri and no other doctor will either by the end of this week? 

MCNICHOLAS:  Well, Missouri is certainly poised within the next 72 hours to be the only state in our nation to not have access to abortion.  And we know just from history that that has dramatic effects on people`s health and well-being. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the state`s game plan here, obviously, this was sort of sent up as a flare today.  You and Planned Parenthood letting the national press know that this is happening and on a very, very tight timetable. 

How long have you known that the state might be trying to essentially unlicense your clinic?  How long have you known that this week might be the deadline by which time they were going to try to stop you from practicing your care? 

MCNICHOLAS:  Well, I have to tell you, Rachel, this happens for us every single year.  We have been subject to inspections every year for as long as I can remember, and each year, the sort of stakes get higher and higher and the tactics get more aggressive.  We certainly have found this year that we are competing with what seems to be a never-ending, changing interpretation of their own regulations, which really just make it impossible for us to even be able to comply. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the services that you provide in Missouri, obviously, if the state no longer has a facility that provides legal abortions, the concern is that women who want to have an abortion will turn to illegal means.  Also, there is an expectation that`s been articulated by some of the justices that are on the Supreme Court now, that they think that losing abortion access in certain parts of the country is no big deal because women can just travel, they can go elsewhere and if you can`t get an abortion in Missouri, that`s no big deal, you can get an abortion in a neighboring state. 

What`s your feeling about those arguments? 

MCNICHOLAS:  Well, that`s certainly an argument of the privileged for sure.  You know, we have seen across the states that have these most restrictive laws that people who are most disadvantaged, people of color, people who live in rural areas, people who struggle to make ends meet already have limited or no access to abortion.  Eliminating that care in states like Missouri means that those women, those people are not going to be able to access abortion at all. 

It`s never been a problem for people of means to be able to access abortion.  But it is the most disadvantaged people that are going to have the most trouble. 

MADDOW:  In terms of what may happen in Missouri this week, obviously, it would be a very serious landmark for the first state in 46 years to become a state where it is not possible to legally obtain an abortion.  And Missouri as you say is on the precipice of that. 

When you are in contact with other abortion providers around the country, is there a sense that people are worried Missouri`s first but this is about to happen in other states too? 

MCNICHOLAS:  Absolutely.  I mean, we certainly are leading the charge here but we are not the only state that has been subject to sort of state- sanctioned weaponization of the oversight and licensing process.  You know, the Department of Health is generally staffed by politically appointed individuals, not elected officials.  And so, this has long been a weapon of the anti-choice movement, to try and shut down clinics. 

MADDOW:  Dr. Colleen McNicholas from the Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, which is the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Missouri facing a loss of its license this week as Missouri`s governor signs into law an abortion ban. 

Doctor, I know this week is going to be an incredibly tense time.  Please keep us apprised over these next few days as the court fight makes its way through the courts and as you and your colleagues are going to try to figure out how to manage.  Thanks for being with us. 

MCNICHOLAS:  Thank you. 

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


MADDOW:  Tonight, at the end of this very hour right here on this network, U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, is going to be doing a town hall in South Carolina.  That is going to be live right after me.  Lawrence O`Donnell moderating that town hall in Spartanburg.  You are not going to want to miss it. 

And that is an event that is important on its own terms.  It`s also going to be a really interesting sort of strategic window into the overall presidential campaign right now because I`ve been pointing this out for a while now but I can`t overstate how important it is that this is the sort of insane primary calendar that the Democrats are using to pick their nominee this year.  Basically the whole process is all crammed into a month. 

First week of February, Iowa votes.  Second week of February, it`s New Hampshire.  Third week of February, it`s Nevada.  Fourth week of February, they`ll vote in South Carolina.  Those are the four protected early states. 

But then it`s three days after South Carolina when all of these other states vote, including the gigantic states of Texas and California.  States in recent years that have held their primaries much later on in the process. 

But now, boom, they`re right there at the end of that one month of voting which means in all likelihood that once Democrats start voting with that first contest in Iowa going on to those first four early contests, once Democrats start voting, they`re going to pick their nominee really fast -- which puts an even hotter spotlight than usual on those four early states this year. 

And I think it particularly puts a spotlight on South Carolina, the fourth of the four early states.  The three -- it`s just three days before that huge Super Tuesday vote this year that again will include California and Texas. 

And South Carolina is important on its own terms.  It`s important because it`s early.  It`s important crucially because the African-American electorate and the enthusiasm -- the enthusiasm of African-American voters to turn out in the primary and crucially in the general election, that is an existential do-or-die question for the eventual Democratic nominee.  And South Carolina because of its demographics is really the first real test of that. 

Unless you`ve got a Democratic nominee that absolutely excites and speaks to and mobilizes the African-American community all across this country, you are not going to have any chance of having a Democratic president in the White House in 2020.  The first and crucial test of that is going to be South Carolina. 

So, South Carolina has to play this incredibly important role in this squished 2020 primary calendar.  Ever since we sort of realized what that calendar was going to look like, there`s been somebody I`ve been really very much looking forward to talking to about it. 

If you`re a long-time viewer of the show, you might remember that ahead of the South Carolina primary in 2016, which Hillary Clinton ended up running away with by a margin of nearly 50 points, before that 2016 primary in South Carolina, we took this show to South Carolina to talk to the charismatic, young, and very ambitious Democratic party chairman in that state.  A man by the name of Jaime Harrison, who made an intriguing case to me and to our show that although South Carolina looks deep red from the outside, Democrats should see it as winnable for statewide votes including for a presidential vote. 

Jaime Harrison ended up serving two terms as state chairman.  He went on to make a run for Democratic Party chairman nationwide. 

Tonight, he`s here for the interview.  He has political news of his own about South Carolina, which is sort of starting to feel like it`s the center of the political universe again.  The former Democratic Party chairman from that state, Jaime Harrison, joins us next.




Lindsey Graham`s story is just comical. 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  Donald Trump, I think he`s a kook.  I think he`s crazy. 

His policies are really bad for the country. 

He`s not fit to be president of the United States. 

He`s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. 

SUBTITLE:  A short while later -- 

GRAHAM:  No, I don`t think he`s a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot. 

I like the president. 

I am like the happiest dude in America right now. 

I am all in.  Keep it up, Donald.  I`m sure you`re watching. 

He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize and then some. 


MADDOW:  That is a portion of a brand new campaign video that has just become public today.  In fact just become public tonight.  It was created by Jaime Harrison, who joins us now for "The Interview".  He`s the former chairman of the Democratic Party in South Carolina. 

Mr. Harrison, it`s nice to see you. 

HARRISON:  It`s good seeing you, Rachel.  Thank you for having me.

MADDOW:  So, we just let the cat out of the bag there a little bit. 

HARRISON:  Yes.  So, the formal announcement will take place tomorrow morning.


HARRISON:  I`ll be back in South Carolina tonight and it`s going to be tomorrow morning where I will formally announce that I`m running for the United States Senate for South Carolina against Lindsey Graham. 

MADDOW:  Now, when I spoke with you in 2016 ahead of that remarkable 2016 Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina, one of the things we spent a long time talking about was South Carolina`s Democratic bench. 


MADDOW:  The effect that it has on politics in that state that the state is seen as a red state. 


MADDOW:  It`s seen as a Republican-dominant state.  And so, people who might -- who are Democrats, who might be inclined toward political service leave the state and seek it elsewhere. 


MADDOW:  It doesn`t seem like fertile territory.  You`ve clearly decided that that`s not true for you. 

HARRISON:  No, it`s not true for me.  And you remember, I talked about a Clyburn fellowship that I`d created that year.  We have now trained 125 young people in every county in South Carolina, trained them to run for office themselves. 

So, now, we have newly elected members of the state house, school board, county council, people who sit on boards of trustees.  They`re Clyburn fellows.  And many of them now are running the presidential campaigns that the 20-some-odd presidential candidates have in South Carolina. 

So, we are really leading this whole new South as we talked about. 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

HARRISON:  And I hope to be a part of that story with this campaign. 

MADDOW:  In terms of all those multitudinous Democratic presidential candidates who are running this year, obviously, you`re being showered with some attention in South Carolina.  That does provide among other things opportunities for Democrats in the state to latch themselves to national candidates. 

Is it constructive thus far this year?  Do you feel like the Democratic Party gets South Carolina, that the candidates are talking to the right people, making the right pitches, doing the right amount of listening in the right kind of places? 

HARRISON:  They are, Rachel. 

I am so proud of the campaigns that these candidates are running.  They are going to every part of South Carolina.  So they`re not just going to Columbia and Greenville and Charleston, the big cities.  But they`re going to small counties -- Oconee County, Jasper County, Barnwell County.  And they`re talking to constituents about all types of issues. 

Just in Denmark recently, I went there because they have a problem.  I know you did so much great work on the Flint water issue.  We have a problem in Denmark, South Carolina, a small town near my hometown of Orangeburg where they`ve been putting this chemical in the water for ten years.  People`s hair is falling out and those types of things. 

And so, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, a number of these candidates donated water and supplies, and really are talking about these environmental justice issues.  And that`s really, really important. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the state`s overall political cast, I think Democrats from outside the state look at South Carolina and they are pleased that South Carolina is an early state because it really affords the first test of whether or not candidates are mobilizing, speaking to, and learning from African-American constituents. 

HARRISON:  That`s exactly right. 

MADDOW:  Which is such an important part of the Democratic electorate.  It`s existential, right?  You either -- you win if you have it and you lose if you don`t. 

I think the other thing, though, that`s interesting is the ideological diversity in the Democratic Party in South Carolina. 


MADDOW:  You`ve got the complete range of very conservative to very liberal Democrats. 

HARRISON:  Exactly right.  Listen, and particularly in the African-American community. 

So, you know, African-Americans will make up 60 percent up 60 percent of the primary vote, but I could say in that community, there is a lot of generational differences between older African-Americans and younger African-Americans on a whole variety of issues, from the issues of the environment to the issue about school and whether or not we should provide it for free or not, to the issues about equality and rights. 

I mean, there are a lot of diversity within those communities, and so, I think the candidates are getting an opportunity to see that you can`t just bring a canned message and think that that`s going to resonate in the African-American community because the diversity that we see in the nation is the diversity that you see within that community. 

MADDOW:  Now, when you think about running against Senator Lindsey Graham - - obviously, he`s an institution in the state. 

HARRISON:  He is. 

MADDOW:  And he`s been in office for a long time.  The Trump era has been a little weird in Lindsey Graham years. 

HARRISON:  A little. 

MADDOW:  Do you think that the senator`s 180 degree u-turn on President Trump potentially gives you the chance to earn some crossover votes? 

HARRISON:  Well, I do, Rachel.  You know, you know my story.  I grew up in Orangeburg, South Carolina, small rural town.

My mom was 16 years old and dropped out of high school to have me.  My grandparents helped take care of me.  They had very limited education.  But they taught me the value of hard work, the value of helping others, being your brother and sister`s keeper.  They also taught me about the value of character. 

What we`re seeing with Lindsey Graham right now, it makes you question his character.  I used to this was a guy who was a statesman, right?  A guy who could stand above the fray and help solve the issues. 

But I`m seeing that he`s what George Will called a political windsock.  He`s a chameleon that has changed his colors.  We are on the verge, we saw with Stacey, with saw with Andrew, we`re on the verge of a renaissance in the South, a new South. 

And I really hope people will join me in this effort.  You know, go to my Website,  Jaime`s spelled J-A-I-M-E. 

But we are really on the verge of changing something.  And we`ve seen in recent elections in South Carolina.  We picked up a congressional seat.  We picked up a state Senate seat.  We picked up a number of House seats when the pundits in D.C. didn`t think we had a shot they think, oh, it`s ruby red, South Carolina.  They can`t win anything. 

Well, we`re winning ion South Carolina.  It`s all about investing and fighting. 

MADDOW:  Jaime Harrison.  His name is spelled J-A-I-M-E. 

HARRISON:  Like Jaime.

MADDOW:  Thank you, sir.

HARRIS:  Rachel, thank you so much. 

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


MADDOW:  Tonight, there is some interesting breaking news concerning Democratic congressman and presidential contender Seth Moulton.  If you know anything about Congressman Moulton and his run for president, you probably know that he is a highly decorated marine, a combat veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq.  Tonight, for the first time, Congressman Moulton has said publicly that he sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder following his combat deployments during the Iraq war. 

He says, quote: I had some particular experiences or regrets from the war that I just thought about every day and occasionally I would have bad dreams or wake up in a cold sweat.  It took me awhile to appreciate that I was dealing with post traumatic stress and I was dealing with an experience that a lot of other veterans have.

In 2009, Congressman Moulton told "Politico" tonight, that he started seeing a therapist weekly.  Congressman Moulton says even though he is handling his post-traumatic stress now, he still sees a therapist at least once a month. 

In revealing all of this super personal stuff, in revealing this own personal story of his own, Congressman Moulton is announcing he`s rolling out a new proposal to expand health services for the military and for veterans.  His policy includes regular mental health checkups in addition to physicals for active duty military and veterans, including a mandatory counseling session for all troops within two weeks of returning home from a combat deployment. 

There`s lots of people running in this election, but running on something, running on an issue, that is the type of thing that sets you apart as a candidate.  And when somebody`s made it as personal and revealing as Congressman Moulton has tonight, that will have an impact, both on the issue and on his prospects. 

I`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  I promised I would do it and I`m doing it.  I`m determined to absolutely positively not step on Lawrence`s show time tonight because he is all ready to start the MSNBC town hall in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with Kamala Harris. 

Lawrence O`Donnell is the moderator of that town hall and it starts right now. 

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