Interview with John Hickenlooper. TRANSCRIPT: 5/29/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Mary Gay Scanlon, John Hickenlooper

GEORGE WILL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  So, it`s very hard to -- I mean, you say he is overturning norms. 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Right. 

All right.  George Will, just so you know, the Cubs are up 2-0 in the third, the Internet tells me.  Thought you would want to know it.  Fellow Cubs fan. 

WILL:  Life is good. 

HAYES:  Yes, maybe we can get off this losing run here.  Thank you very 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.  Thank you, my friend.  Much appreciated. 

HAYES:  You bet.

MADDOW:  Thanks for you at home joining us this hour. 

You know, it is one thing to see it in black and white.  It is another thing to hear him say it out loud. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL ON RUSSIA INVESTIGATION:  If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.  We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.  Under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.  A special counsel`s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy.  Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Charging the president with a crime was not an option we were even allowed to consider.  By the way, though, if we had concluded that he didn`t commit a crime, we would definitely tell you that, and you`ll notice we`re not telling you that. 

It has been two years now since special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the last presidential election.  Two years and 12 days ago is when he was first appointed.  Today was the first day that we have heard from Mueller himself in his own words, and honestly, the consequence of hearing from him today for the first time is I think what is now the widely-held expectation that the Democratic- controlled Congress will have no choice but to open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, not because they want to.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been blunt and consistent and insistent in making sure she would frankly rather stick a fork in her eye. 

But now we know that what Congress didn`t fully appreciate when they all initially cheered the appointment of Robert Mueller, when they praised him personally, when they praised the decision of the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to look into this matter, what I think Congress didn`t fully grasp at the time was that the regulations under which Mueller was appointed meant that if this investigation turned up serious evidence of serious misconduct, if it turned up evidence of potentially criminal behavior by the president, the only and inevitable outcome of that determination by the special counsel would be that Congress themselves would have to do something about it. 

I am quite sure that nobody in Congress would have been nearly as excited about Robert Mueller taking on this job and about a special counsel being appointed at all had they realized from the outset that that`s what would happen at the end of Mueller`s investigation if he found the most serious and seriously negative thing in his investigation, it would go to Congress for them to handle.  But now we know from the horse`s mouth as of today, finally, more than two years into this thing that according to Justice Department policies, any evidence of a president`s criminal behavior that`s turned up by a special counsel, any evidence of that is to be given to Congress to deal with. 

That`s what you do with that information, full stop.  It doesn`t go to anybody else.  Congress, it is on you guys. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER:  The matters we investigated were of paramount importance.  It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned.  When the subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government`s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. 

The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation.  We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. 

Under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.  The department`s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points.  The opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available.  Second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  So the Justice Department opinion that says you can`t charge a president says, first, that a special counsel should nevertheless collect and preserve evidence of a president`s potential criminal behavior.  Why is that?  Why collect and preserve that evidence if you can`t charge that president as a result of that evidence? 

Well, among other things, if in fact there turns out to be evidence that shows a president may have committed crimes -- well, you are going to need that evidence to indict the president for those crimes one way or the other.  To bring charges.  It`s just that indictment cannot come from the Justice Department. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER:  The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  The determination of a president`s criminal culpability is a process that does not and cannot take place within the criminal justice system.  That is a determination to be made in Congress. 

And, you know, to be clear and to stomp on a point that I think will make the first paragraph of William Barr`s obituary some day, what Robert Mueller made clear today is the determination as to whether or not charge the president, the decision to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing, that is not to be made within the whole criminal justice system, which means it`s not to be made by the special counsel`s office within the Justice Department.  It`s not to be made by the Justice Department at all, which means presumably, that it is also not to be made by the top official at the Justice Department, the attorney general. 

Nevertheless, Attorney General William Barr took it upon himself to do that, to assess the president`s potential criminal wrongdoing and to publicly proclaim no charges, no charges, everything the president looks fine, everybody the president did looks fine. 

So what I`m giving you here, this is not groundbreaking analysis, right, of Mueller`s statement.  Robert Mueller`s public statement today really didn`t leave much wiggle room for contrary analysis, and that is exactly the point of him personally making a succinct public statement about his own work and his own reasoning, so the American people could clearly understand it. 

I mean, reading the 458-page Mueller report is awesome.  I highly recommend it.  You should do it.  But as a person who read the report, I still find it helpful to have the dude that wrote it up there saying hey, you know, here`s what it says, and here`s the important bits you want to make sure you don`t miss out on. 

That is finally what we got from Mueller today.  That`s a helpful thing for public understanding, on top of telling people to read the report themselves.  And because it was a helpful thing to hear it from him today, to have him make that public statement, it is therefore not surprising and not a bad thing that the well informed press and members of Congress and presidential candidates and the public have all been sort of greeting his statement today with some exclamation points, right?  With some shock and surprise, even though, yes, it`s true, this stuff really was in his report. 

Yes, Mueller and his team really did find that they could not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice.  They were looking to see if they could clear him.  They could not. 

Yes, the obstruction efforts they documented were really serious, and they did impede the ability of Mueller and his investigators to get to the bottom of Russian interference in the election and the Trump campaign`s involvement in it.  Yes. 

And, yes, Mueller and his team said in their report that the special counsel`s office didn`t have the option of charging Trump, even if they wanted to, or of even saying that they believed Trump committed crimes.  They didn`t have that option because of the Justice Department policy that precludes charges against a sitting president.  Yes, that was in the report. 

But when Mueller said it today, nevertheless, it was greeted as huge news.  I mean, Mueller had explained in his report that because of Justice Department policy, it`s only Congress that can and must -- he basically says in the report and must determine the president`s criminal culpability for committing obstruction of justice here.  That was my favorite part from the whole written report, right? 

That Congress, he says, that Congress may apply obstruction laws to the president`s corrupt exercise to the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.  Congress has the authority to prohibit a president`s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice, right? 

Mueller is saying, you know, it`s no big deal if you want to apply obstruction laws to the president, unless you want to uphold our constitutional system of constitutional balances and no person is above the law.  If you want to do that, you want to apply the obstruction institutes here. 

And, Congress, you know, it`s no big deal whether or not you want to pursue the president for corruptly using his authority to obstruct justice.  It`s no big deal unless you want to protect the administration of justice in the United States of America.  I mean, it`s already made that case that Congress can and must act based on this kind of evidence. 

And it was stunning to see it there in the report in black and white in the first place.  But honestly, it is something all together different to see him say it out loud, in person, unfiltered, making a public presentation of your findings matters.  Which makes it all the more remarkable and significant that instead of just letting Mueller do that from the outset, we the people have muddled through more than nine weeks of the attorney general making up porky pies about what Mueller did and didn`t do, and claiming that Mueller was leading a spy ring and telling Congress that Mueller should have never been allowed to investigate this stuff in the first place, and no collusion, no collusion.  What are you going to do, lock me up, Nancy? 

I mean, that`s been the past nine weeks.  Imagine if Mueller had just been allowed at the outset to release the introductions that he and his team wrote, summarizing the two volumes of their report.  Imagine if at the outset, Mueller had just said publicly what he finally was allowed to say publicly today about his investigation and about his report.  Imagine that had been from the outset how we learned about what Mueller found and what Mueller did and what the country and specifically the Congress is expected to do with the evidence that Mueller turned up that he couldn`t use to bring charges but somebody could. 

And so now, the Congress really is in a different place than they were before 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time this morning.  Because Mueller has now for the first time in more than two years, he has been allowed to speak on his own terms, and he has made clear in no uncertain terms that the next move is not going to come from him.  It is going to have to come from Congress. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER:  So that was Justice Department policy.  Those were the principles under which we operated, and from them we concluded that we would -- would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime.  That is the office`s final position.  Now I hope and expect to be the only time I will speak to you in this manner. 

Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report.  We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself.  And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American. 

Thank you.  Thank you for being here today. 

REPORTER:  Sir, if you`re subpoenaed --

MUELLER:  No questions. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  No questions.  I said no questions. 

The work speaks for itself.  Here it is.  We in the special counsel`s office can`t charge him.  Here`s the evidence we found, though.  We`d tell you if he clearly didn`t commit obstruction, and, boy howdy, are we not saying that.  We tried to clear him.  Couldn`t. 

And by the way, obstruction is a really serious crime, and to the extent that there was criminal obstruction here, and we lay that out over more than 100 pages, that was obstruction of a really, really important investigation into something very, very bad for our whole country that every American should really care about.  And did I mention, that`s it from me?

I mean, I think that Congress will still get testimony from Robert Mueller probably by hook or by crook.  I`m still interested in the question of his team, the prosecutors and agents and analysts that worked with him will also testify.

A House intelligence chairman already said today: Thank you, sir.  We`re looking forward to your testimony.  That`s a good hint that he is still going to be asked to testify. 

But there is a reason that there was unanimity today from presidential candidates, even from the ones who have been more reticent on this issue in the past.  Today in response to Mueller`s statement, none of them are being reticent today.  There is a reason that all today said impeachment inquiry must be opened. 

There`s a reason that the statement in response to Mueller today from Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, where he said this, he said given that special counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the president, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies, and other wrongdoing of the president, and we will do so. 

There is a reason that after Jerry Nadler made that statement today, there was some bewilderment that Nadler then gave a life press statement to reporters in which he still wouldn`t just say that he is opening an impeachment inquiry.  When he says we will do so, what does he mean?  We will do what? 

I mean, Democrats wanted to follow Robert Mueller`s lead on this investigation as far as they could -- understandable, cautious, restrained, and in many ways admirable.  But today that`s over because today we found out from the horse`s mouth, we found out from Mueller himself exactly how far Mueller could go. 

And so now, upon Mueller`s resignation from the Justice Department, upon finally hearing from him about his own work, now the -- I believe widely held expectation is that the House will open an impeachment inquiry into the president.  Presented with this evidence and with the clarifying out loud, unquestionable assertion from Mueller himself that it is now their job to do something about it, Congress will have to do something about it. 

I mean, the question now is I think no longer whether the Democrats will decide to open an impeachment inquiry.  The question now, it seems to me, just has to be when.

Joining us now is Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon.  She is a Democratic of Pennsylvania.  She`s vice chair of the Judiciary Committee. 

Representative Scanlon, it`s really good to have you here with us tonight.  Thanks for coming in and being here in person. 

REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA):  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  Let me just get your reaction to what Mueller said today. 

SCANLON:  Well, what Mueller said today wasn`t a surprise to anyone who like yourself has read the report.  It was great to hear him say it out loud.  It`s been really frustrating to those of us who have read the report to see its conclusions misrepresented, glossed over, completely mischaracterized by the White House and by Attorney General Barr.  So having it come straight from the horse`s mouth was valuable. 

MADDOW:  In terms of his clear assertions today that it is not for the criminal justice process, it is not for the criminal justice system to determine whether or not there is criminal culpability on the part of the president, that has to be something outside the criminal justice system.  Clearly, he doesn`t mean some sort of, you know, game show review.  He doesn`t mean some sort of luck of the draw.  He means Congress pursuing impeachment proceedings. 

With him clarifying that today -- obviously, I mean, I explained the way I see this, I feel like he`s sort of called the question for the Congress in terms of whether or not an impeachment inquiry will be opened.  I know that you have called for that recently yourself. 

Do you think that this changed today the calculus as to whether or not Democrats will do it? 

SCANLON:  I think we`ve seen an escalation of people as they`ve gotten through the report, as they`ve read it, Republicans and Democrats, they come to this conclusion themselves.  The question is whether the American people will come to that conclusion, because what we`re seeing is that the Republican Party and the Senate majority is either not reading the report or they don`t care what`s in the report because we heard from Senate leadership over the weekend that if the House is to start impeachment proceedings, they`re just going to shut it down. 

It doesn`t seem to matter to them what evidence is brought forward.  But I think when people do read the report, when they hear from Robert Mueller, they understand that these are serious crimes against our country, and they have to be dealt with. 

MADDOW:  Let me unpack that a little bit, though, because as I understand it constitutionally, if the House were to open an impeachment inquiry, decide that the evidence was sufficient to vote on articles of impeachment and did vote to impeach the president, it would go to the Senate and it would not be Mitch McConnell`s choice as to whether or not a trial was held in the Senate on those articles.  The chief justice as I understand it would have to conduct that trial.  Certainly, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans could do everything they wanted to try to undercut it, but they wouldn`t be running it. 

And I wonder if therefore it could still have some additional sort of utile value in terms of explaining to the American people what happened and why this is so serious. 

SCANLON:  Well, I think that`s why so many of us have started calling for an inquiry, because it`s important that the American people understand what`s in there.  And it`s a really dense document, and you can`t tweet it.  We`ve tried. 

MADDOW:  You organized an out loud reading of the report. 

SCANLON:  Yes, we did.  We did.  Because we couldn`t get -- because the administration was stonewalling, wasn`t letting us bring in the witnesses who could say the president told me to lie. 

The president told me to make up documentary evidence.  The president called me.  His lawyer called me.  They said oh, we love you.  Please don`t cooperate. 

We haven`t been able to bring those witnesses in yet, but we will.  But it`s important that the American people hear from them, because right now, we do have this block of the public that hasn`t focused on the report, and ultimately, we need them to.  This is a serious proceeding, and we need to have the public understand what the consequences are and what is the conduct we`re talking about. 

MADDOW:  Congressman Jerry Nadler talking with me here in that seat just the other night seemed to be basically agnostic on the issue of impeachment, seeing the value of it, also seeing the arguments against it, but not crusading one way or the other in public and there has been reports he has tried to talk Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi into doing it.  She has been very overt and insistent that we ought not to as a country, that this is not something that would be of value. 

What`s the status of those arguments?  I mean, how does this get decided?  Ultimately, it`s the chairman`s decision.  You`re the vice chair of the committee. 

You`re -- as a leadership of the committee, it`s your call as to whether or not this is opened. 

SCANLON:  I think what he is not agnostic about that we need to expose the evidence to the public.  And we need to have hearings.  Whether you call them impeachment hearings or whether you call them oversight hearings. 

MADDOW:  But why not call them impeachment hearings? 

SCANLON:  Well, I think there is concern about how that`s going to be played by the White House.  They played everything else. 

MADDOW:  They`re going to tell you that you`re trying to impeach the president, whether or not you are.  That`s pretty much baked into the 2020 calculus at this point.  I`m sure they have already cooked up the ads that say it. 

It`s hard -- the political calculation on here seems very nebulous, whereas the constitutional imperative has never seemed more clear than it does today. 

SCANLON:  Well, there is the constitutional imperative.  And I think that is what is drawing more and more members of the House, as I said both Republican and now Democrat to say we have a duty to protect the Constitution, and that`s what`s at stake here. 

MADDOW:  Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, an incredibly important gig right now.  Thank you so much for coming in person. 

SCANLON:  Thank you.  Appreciate. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Good for Bob Mueller yet again doing his duty of making sure that the American public fully understands what`s going on here.  He told us a lot, and I would suggest that he told us enough to interpret what he said as a referral for impeachment proceedings. 

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Yes, the message really is over to you, Congress.  If the Justice Department can`t charge a sitting president with an actual crime, then it goes over to Congress to decide whether to charge the president with a high crime.  This is as close to an impeachment referral as you could get under the circumstances. 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The only ones who can hold the president of the United States accountable right now is Congress.  These are impeachable offenses.  It is our constitutional responsibility as members of Congress to bring a judgment of impeachment against this president. 

BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think Robert Mueller made it as clear as day for all of us.  He`s telling us if we want to prevent this from happening again to our democracy, we have to hold those responsible accountable, and the only method that we can do that is for our representatives in Congress to begin impeachment proceedings. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That`s just some of the 2020 Democratic candidates today reacting to Mueller`s statement today, which he announced the conclusion of his tenure as special counsel and his resignation from the Justice Department. 

Roughly summarized, the 2020 Democrats` response was pretty uniform.  This is the biggest impeachment referral you will ever get.  I didn`t actually see any of them departing from that line. 

So what happens with that?  According to current NBC News tally, people have been sort of trying to track this through public statements, of the 435 members of the House, there are 46 Democrats and 1 Republican, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash who have openly called for opening an impeachment inquiry.  Nearly four dozen members of Congress, including the vice chair of the Judiciary Committee who was just our guest here moments ago. 

You know, after the Saturday Night massacre in the fall of 1973 when Nixon fired his way through the Justice Department to try to get rid of the special prosecutor who was investigating him for Watergate, after that, there was a stampede toward impeachment proceedings against Nixon among Democrats in the House.  It almost went without saying that impeachment proceedings would open. 

Similarly, following the release of the Ken Starr report in 1998, Republican members of the House instantly and uniformly backed impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton.  Isn`t this current restraint among House Democrats in the wake of what Mueller has publicly presented, isn`t it a little unusual just historically speaking? 

Joining us now is Michael Beschloss, NBC presidential historian.  He`s the author most recently of "Presidents of War."

Mr. Beschloss, it`s great to see you.  Thank you very much for being here tonight. 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Thank you.  Me too, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  So, is this restraint that we`re seeing from the Democratic leadership in the House, do you think it is unusual given the historical circumstances here? 

BESCHLOSS:  Yes, I do.  I think it really defies history.  Just as you said in the case of Richard Nixon after the Saturday Night Massacre, a lot of members of the house wanted impeachment, and also, Leon Jaworski, the special prosecutor, sent the secret report over to the House that was called the Watergate road map -- you and have I talked about that before -- 1st of March, 1974 with supporting evidence, and that allowed the House to essentially good ahead.  And that was considered to be so hot it wasn`t released until about seven months ago. 

And then in the case of the Starr report, that was released to the public in September of 1998, and Starr sent that immediately to the house, along with 18 boxes of evidence.  And once again, the members of the House which was Republican at this point said let`s impeach, and they began the investigation. 

There was not this feeling that we have to hold back because maybe we`ll look too political. 

MADDOW:  Mueller indicated clearly today that his preference is not to have to say another word about the investigation, not to have to testify.  Is there any help from history on that point?  Is there precedent in terms of special counsels or other high profile public investigators like this having to testify or electing to testify after making some form of their findings public?  Do you think that Mueller be forced to testify? 

BESCHLOSS:  I think he will be.  I think he will not get his wish, if it really is his wish.  He may feel if he has to testify, it is better for him to do that after having today made a point that he is doing it extremely reluctantly, and maybe more in sorrow than in anger. 

But it would be crazy if we were not called to testify.  And I don`t know about you, Rachel, but Robert Mueller does not look to me like the kind of person who is going to defy a congressional subpoena that is to testify beyond what he`s just said in that report. 

Kenneth Starr testified before the House in the impeachment investigation against Bill Clinton November of 1998.  That`s a precedent. 

MADDOW:  Michael, I also wanted to ask you about your reaction as a historian to the arguments that Democrats are making.  You often hear them making these arguments sort of by proxy.  Like Mary Gay Scanlon who is just here, vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, she thinks they should open an inquiry.  She has been very articulate about it. 

When I asked her here, "Well, why isn`t that happening," she is sort of arguing by proxy, saying what other people are saying is that Democrats worry about the political consequences of that.  And the way that usually gets shorthanded when people draw a historical analogy is to the Clinton situation, that when Clinton was impeached in the House in 1998, it obviously failed in the Senate, and politically it was seen as something that boomeranged on the Republicans, ending Newt Gingrich`s career among other things. 

BESCHLOSS:  Right. 

MADDOW:  What do you make of that argument, whether it`s implicit or explicit?  Do you think there are appropriate historical parallels to draw between this situation and that one? 

BESCHLOSS:  Not much.  I`ve never been impressed by the Clinton situation as a precedent for this, showing us what might happen.  Clinton was in the high 60s in approval, very much different from Donald Trump.  The offenses he was accused of were in retrospect a lot more modest than the possible crimes that we`re reading about in the Mueller report. 

So, if you`re looking at the Clinton case and saying, does this show us that if the Democrats begin a House impeachment investigation, they have to worry about losing the election next year, I think that`s a really false parallel. 

And the other thing, I think you said it a little earlier in the program, you know, all very nice, the more important thing, those members of the House, they all took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution.  And if they do not do anything about these possible crimes that Robert Mueller has described very vividly in this report, they`re essentially saying we`re not going to -- we don`t care about the rule of law.  And obstructing justice, if that`s what Donald Trump has done, that will become the new normal.  And later presidents will feel very free to do it too because they`ll just say the House will not do it if they think it will get them into political trouble. 

What should always prevail is a feeling by members of the House that they`re going to protect the Constitution.  And if they do not do that, we`re going to be in a lawless society, and we will lose our democracy. 

MADDOW:  Michael Beschloss, NBC presidential historian, thank you for that very sobering perspective, sir.  It`s always great to have you here. 

BESCHLOSS:  Thank you, Rachel.  Thank you so much. 

MADDOW:  All right.  Lots more to get to tonight.  In fact, our next 2020 candidate interview is just ahead tonight, somebody who we have not had before on this show before, and boy, is he here on a good night.  That`s next. 

We`ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  This week, we are looking at the prospect that for the first time since Roe versus Wade, an American state will have zero legal access to abortion.  Zero legal abortion providers. 

Missouri`s Republican-controlled government has made it their business to try to put out of business every clinic that provides abortion in that whole state, and they`ve done great at it.  Over the past 10 years, they`ve winnowed it down from at least five clinics providing abortions in the state to now just one last clinic for the entire population of Missouri.  And as of last night, that clinic says it`s been informed by the state`s government that the state is going to refuse to renew their license to operate immediately this week, which means by the day after tomorrow, the state of Missouri may become the first state in the country to go dark in terms of abortion rights since Roe v. Wade supposedly enshrined that right into law across the land. 

Now, there was a court hearing on this Missouri issue today that was called off at the last minute, sort of an unusual development.  Nobody seems to know exactly why the court hearing on this today got called off or now how this is going to resolve in such a short time frame.  But that Missouri situation, it comes at a time when people in Republican-controlled states across the country are seeing those states ban abortion.  And it comes at a time when the conservative majority on the Supreme Court seems as eager and capable as they`ve ever been of striking down the laws that otherwise have kept clinics open. 

So, you know, that`s one way to do it.  That`s what Republican-controlled states are making their priority in 2019, banning abortion in print, and banning abortion in practice, and seeing how far and how fast they can push the Supreme Court to make it go away nationwide.  That`s one way. 

Here is an opposite way.  If you were driving down the highway in Colorado in 2012, you might have seen billboards like these.  I want her to know I`m ready to be a dad.  Pregnancy, just talk about it.

They had billboards in Spanish, too.  This one says, we are ready for a relationship, not a baby.

This is part of a state public health campaign in Colorado that year to try to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in that state, which of course down the line naturally reduces the number of abortions in the state as well. 

This public policy program -- this public health program in Colorado, it was built around a specific technology, long-acting, reversible contraception, specifically, these little guys.  This is an IUD.  It`s a long-acting reversible contraception.  That`s a method of preventing pregnancy.  It`s more reliable than the pill. 

With the IUD, you put the device in and you don`t have to do anything to keep it going.  You don`t have to remember to take some pill at the same time every day.  It just works consistently until years down the road you may eventually need a new one, or years down the road you decide you may want to get pregnant so you have yours removed. 

But IUDs are expensive.  They cost hundreds of dollars.  A lot of clinics can`t afford to give women a free IUD or subsidize one. 

So, Colorado saw that as an issue, saw the public health need there, and decided there was a way to fix that.  And starting in 2009, they did this unique program.  Colorado got millions of dollars in private grant money to buy tens of thousands of IUDs for public health clinics all over that state so those clinics could then offer IUDs to their patients for free or at reduced costs, as a way to reduce unwanted pregnancies in the state, particularly among teenaged girls. 

And, boy howdy, did it work.  Colorado officials site that IUD program as the primary factor for the den birth rate dropping by 54 percent.  The teen abortion rate in Colorado dropped by even more, by 64 percent.

What began with a private grant became a line item in the state budget to keep funding IUDs for Colorado women who wanted them.  It was signed into the budget in 2016 by the state`s governor at the time, Democrat John Hickenlooper. 

People talk about Hickenlooper as an unconventional politician who has a record of results.  Well, that`s one of the conventions that undergirds that reputation, a phenomenally successful, radically new idea in public health that absolutely worked. 

John Hickenlooper started off as a geologist.  Didn`t work out.  Decided to open a brew pub in Denver.  Sure, that makes sense. 

Turns out that took off.  Hickenlooper went on to become the mayor of Denver.  Then he served eight year as the mayor of Colorado, one of the most popular governors in the country, and one of them with the most practical track record among all of his peers. 

Hickenlooper left the governorship in January.  Now, he is running for president.  And, of course, it`s not the centerpiece of his campaign, but it`s a memorable and unique part of it that he has earned the right to propose and pursue because he did it already in his state. 

As part of his presidential campaign, Governor Hickenlooper is now proposing a national version of that public health problem -- public health program, that IUD program he helped oversee in Colorado. 

Policy paper from his campaign says, quote: In light of the systemic attack on women`s reproductive rights in states across the country, a federal program which expands access to affordable, effective contraception is even more necessary than when Colorado`s program began ten years ago.  As president, Hickenlooper would subsidize the cost of long-acting reversible contraception for women who can`t afford it and dramatically expand access for all American women. 

Joining us women now for the interview is John Hickenlooper.  He is the former Colorado governor.  He is a current candidate in the Democratic presidential primary. 

Governor, it`s great to see you.  Thanks for being here. 

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  A lot of people are talking about the size of the Democratic field and what it takes to stand out, what it takes to get donors` attention.  This is something that we have covered on the show years ago when you were in the midst of this, in the midst of fighting political battles over this in Colorado.  At the time, you were overtly saying you would never run for president. 

Nobody would think you would do this or something, as a gambit to run for president.  But this is one of the things that you pursued as governor that I think kind of sets you apart and tells a story about you that I think both people will remember, but also as a kind of window into your practicality. 

Do you think that`s fair?  And was this harder to get done than it seems from the outside? 

HICKENLOOPER:  Well, I think that it`s a fundamental inalienable right that women should have control of their own bodies.  And I think that`s what`s going on, this constant assault on women`s reproductive rights, you see it in Alabama, Indiana, even Missouri now, so many states that it`s horrific. 

And what we did was we went the other direction, right?  We went out and expanded women`s access to IUDs and Norplants, long acting reversible contraception, as you described it, and reduced teenaged abortion by 64 percent, teenage pregnancy by 54 percent and in the process saved $70 million out of Colorado tax money. 

So, the notion that the people that are so opposed to abortion don`t recognize that in many ways by eliminating women`s access to reproductive health, they`re actually going to increase the number of abortions.  It`s unconscionable. 

MADDOW:  Do you feel like -- part of the reason this was interesting to me at the time we initially covered it is because when you were running for reelection as governor of Colorado, your Republican opponent tried to make an issue on this a real straight forward cultural war way, that you were a bad person for pursuing this, and this wasn`t respectful of family values.  He was pretty critical on the issue. 

And I feel like you, rather than just directly rebutting him on that, you sort of threaded this third way.  You found another way to say, you know, look at one of the things we did here is greatly reduce the number of abortions. 

HICKENLOOPER:  You know, I got elected in 2010.  When I got elected, I was the first Denver mayor in 120 years to get elected as governor of Colorado.  And as you know, 2010 was one of the worst years for Democrats in history, followed closely by 2014 when I won reelection. 

And a big part of that success was the result of really going all over the state and making sure that when we talked about women`s health care, that we had the clinics and the community health centers and, you know, a network that really as much as possible, even in those difficult to reach smaller towns, that we gave women choices, and allowed them to control their own bodies. 

MADDOW:  I have a lot to ask you about your time as governor and as your campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination this year.  Stay right where you are. 

Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado is our guest.  We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Back with us in the studio and for the interview is John Hickenlooper, former Colorado governor who is now running in the Democratic presidential primary. 

Governor, thanks for sticking with us. 

HICKENLOOPER:  You bet. 

MADDOW:  It has been reported that you were considered as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Is that true? 

HICKENLOOPER:  Yes.  I was down to one of the last three or four that went through all the vetting. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  Well, do you wish you had been her running mate?  What do you think about how 2016 went?  Why do you think Donald Trump was able to beat her? 

HICKENLOOPER:  You know, that`s a whole long story, and I don`t want to relitigate the past.  I certainly admire Secretary Clinton, and she`s been a great adviser at various points in my career, and even in this presidential --

MADDOW:  You`ve talked to her about this run? 

HICKENLOOPER:  Oh, yes.  She and Bill, we had a long dinner, and they gave a lot of advice.  And it helped me focus, right? 

I mean, the reason I`m running is because I think Donald Trump is fueling a national crisis of division.  And Trump is the symptom, not the disease.  I`m not saying it`s essential to beat Donald Trump, but I`m running because, you know, this crisis of division is taking the country backwards, but I don`t think socialism is the answer, right? 

I think we`ve -- in Colorado, we got business and nonprofits and Republicans and Democrats to get to near universal health care, to, you know, get to a point where we really address climate change issues, and we beat the NRA with some tough new gun laws, right? 

As an entrepreneur, I mean, I am an entrepreneur, and a governor.  And as such, I`ve been able to bring people together and get big progressive things done that people said couldn`t be done. 

MADDOW:  Why identify socialism as the alternative here?  I feel like the Republicans have tried to define the Democratic Party as a socialist party?  Are you just saying Bernie Sanders would be a bad nominee? 

HICKENLOOPER:  No, no, I think that many of my colleagues are promoting large expansions of government.  I don`t think we`re going to succeed in addressing climate change if -- within that legislation, we`re guaranteeing federal jobs for everyone.  I don`t think we`re going to get to universal health care if it includes taking 160 million people and taking them off their private insurance which many of them don`t want to lose. 

I mean, I think we`ve got to get focused if we`re going to address these issues and be surgical in how we propose solutions.  I think, again, my record of -- I think I`m the one person who has actually done what everyone else is talking about. 

And I think at a certain point, if we`re going to win in Ohio and Michigan and North Carolina, we`re going to need someone with -- who is a progressive but a pragmatic, and maybe a dreamer but also a doer, but someone who can show that they`ve gotten stuff done. 

MADDOW:  You know, though, if you were the Democratic presidential nominee this year, that with all of your pragmatism and all of your record of working across the aisle, Donald Trump will run against you and the entire Republican Party will run against you as a socialist. 

HICKENLOOPER:  Of course.

MADDOWE:  And that would be the term -- you`ve just used that to disparage some of your candidates that are running on the same side as you on the Democratic side.  But that will be the moniker they put on everybody no matter what you do.  And so, why play into that by saying socialism is the problem? 

HICKENLOOPER:  Well, I`m not playing into it.  What I`m laying out is real solutions.  I don`t think those solutions include, you know, large expansions in government. 

I think that we -- if we`re not careful, if we don`t distance ourselves from socialism, I think we`re going to allow, we`re going to turn the election over, a victory over to the worst president in the history of this country. 

MADDOW:  You think that`s the key to beating Donald Trump is making sure you don`t seem socialist? 

HICKENLOOPER:  I think part of defeating Donald Trump in those swing states is to make sure we are seen as real pragmatic solutions.  That what we`re suggesting and really promoting are active solutions that bring people together and get, you know, big challenging solutions to our problems. 

MADDOW:  Let me -- speaking of pragmatism.  I opened up talking about that incredibly innovative and successful public health program that you championed in Colorado. 

HICKENLOOPER:  Right.

MADDOW:  And faced down its critics and won support for it and made it permanent and all the things that did you there.  If you are -- you`re now proposing something like that should be done nationally.  If you are elected president, John Hickenlooper, Democratic president, sworn into office, January 2021, Mitch McConnell still controls the Republican- controlled Senate.  You`re never getting that program through. 

Mitch McConnell has -- will say just like he did with Barack Obama, I`m not letting anything through, I don`t even care if any Republicans like the idea.  That said, if you ran for Senate, in Colorado, and you are the candidate who could most easily take a Republican Senate seat in Colorado, you would have a more -- you would have a better chance of flipping the Senate to Democratic control.  You would propose that legislation, it would sail through a new Democratic president would sign it into law. 

I mean, pragmatically, I wish you were running for the Senate. 

HICKENLOOPER:  No, I understand, and you`ve obviously been talking to Chuck Schumer. 

MADDOW:  No, I never talk to Chuck Schumer.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  But I can do this math myself. 

HICKENLOOPER:  No, of course.  And I -- you know, I spent my whole life as an entrepreneur and mayor and governor putting teams of people together and Republicans and Democrats, people from business, from non-profits, creating amazing teams that have taken on unimaginable challenges, and we have gotten the big stuff done. 

And that`s what excites me, it`s what motivates me, it`s what I`m really good at.  And I think I`m that person that can bring people together and really get done the big progressive things that people say can`t get done.  And at a certain point, we`ve got to challenge this fundamental nonsense in Washington and replace it with some common sense. 

MADDOW:  John Hickenlooper, who until January was the governor of Colorado, one of the most popular and accomplished governors in the country -- sir, thank you so much for coming in. 

HICKENLOOPER:  You bet.

MADDOW:  It`s good to have you here.  I hope you come back. 

HICKENLOOPER:  I will.

MADDOW:  All right.  More news ahead.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Hey, one more thing about this dramatic statement that we got from Robert Mueller today in Washington, his announcement that he hoped today would be his last word on his investigation.  You should know that as Mueller was wrapping up those remarks at the Justice Department in D.C. today, two blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue, the chief federal judge in D.C. District Court was hearing a sort of rollicking set of arguments in one of the ongoing cases that Mueller`s investigation has spawned. 

Mueller may want to be done but his work is not.  For almost a year now, a young man who worked with Roger Stone, a young man named Andrew Miller, has been fighting tooth and nail to try to avoid responding to a subpoena from Mueller that directs him to testify to a grand jury.  Now, Miller`s lawyers have tried everything to keep him from having to testify, everything from challenging the legality of Mueller`s appointment in the first place, to saying that this grand jury testimony must be about the Roger Stone case since Roger Stone has already been charged, then prosecutors can`t possibly need to have this kid to testify anymore.  They`ve tried everything. 

Well, today, after months and months of legal wrangling over this and what must be huge legal bills for this guy, today the chief judge in D.C. District Court finally just shut the whole thing down and Andrew Miller will testify now the day after tomorrow or he`s going to jail.  We got this transcript late tonight from this proceeding. 

The judge says, quote, to Miller`s lawyer, quote: You understand that if Mr. Miller does not appear before the grand jury on Friday, he will be in contempt and there will be a warrant issued for him?

Miller`s lawyer says: Yes, Your Honor. 

The judge says: Do you understand that? 

Miller`s lawyer says: Yes, your honor. 

And then the judge says: Does your client understand that? 

And then Andrew Miller who is on speakerphone says on speakerphone: Yes, Your Honor. 

And so, the judge says: All right, I will expect I will hear from the government should Mr. Miller fail to appear on Friday, at what time Mr. Zelinsky?  She asked Aaron Zelinsky, prosecutor from the special counsel`s office.  Zelinsky says: 9:30 a.m., Your Honor. 

The judge says; 9:30 a.m., Friday, Mr. Miller`s presence is required. 

So again, this has been going on for like a year that they`ve been trying to get grand jury testimony from this guy Andrew Miller.  They have issued a subpoena, as you know, subpoenas are not an invitation.  They are mandatory.  You do not have a choice as to whether or not you can obey a subpoena, take note. 

Miller has been fighting this for a very long time.  But as of today, that case is finally settled and he is finally expected to give his testimony to Mueller`s grand jury on Friday morning at 9:30. 

A side note here is that Mueller`s grand jury is continuing to meet.  Mueller may have just pronounced his work done but a whole bunch of this stuff is ongoing.  Stay tuned. 

That does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again tomorrow. 

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". 

Good evening, Lawrence.

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