RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour. Very happy to have you with us.
A little bit of breaking news for you right off the top here. We just got a court ruling in Missouri tonight. Now, for the past few weeks, we have been reporting on the situation in the state of Missouri where the Republican governor there, Mike Parson just signed into law an abortion ban passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature. That, of course, is happening a lot in a lot of different Republican-controlled states now because Republicans coast to coast believe they have finally succeeded in getting exactly the right justices on the Supreme Court to make abortion a crime in this country again.
But in Missouri, in addition to their governor signing a new state-level abortion ban, that state has also been doing something else. They have also been moving aggressively to take away the license from the last abortion clinic in that state. This is the last clinic that Missouri`s Republican controlled state government hasn`t been able to put out of business.
And the reason that effort in Missouri has been the subject of national focus is because if the state succeeds in closing down that clinic, if the state succeeds in yanking the license from the last clinic in the state, Missouri will become the first American state to go completely dark in terms of legal abortion providers since the Supreme Court ruled in Roe versus Wade in 1973 that states could not make the procedure illegal, that women in all 50 states must be allowed access to abortion. Missouri is trying to make itself the first state where it is not possible to get a legal abortion in the state.
So there have been basically three different things to watch here when it comes to Missouri. And one of course is the abortion ban they just signed into law. That ban just like all the other bans that have been signed this year, it plainly violates the constitutional standards set by Roe versus Wade. It`s definitely heading to court just like all the other abortion bans that all the Republican controlled states are passing.
So, that`s the first thing the whole country is watching when it comes to reproductive rights, right? To see if all these abortion bans that violate Roe are going to be struck down in the courts or will one or more of them beat some sort of path to the Supreme Court, so Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch and Thomas and Alito and Roberts, that happy sorority, they can overturn row and criminalize abortion. So that`s the first thing to watch, the ban.
The second thing we have been watching is what the state of Missouri is doing as they try to put that last clinic out of business. We reported here late last week that as the state government is trying to force the last clinic to close, Missouri state government has started forcing the doctors at that last clinic to administer medically unnecessary pelvic exams to women, literally unwanted, unnecessary internal vaginal probes by order of the state. Those are being administered as a mandatory thing to every woman who asks for an abortion at that clinic.
We know this is now happening because since the state started forcing them to do this a couple of weeks ago, the staff and doctors at that clinic have started raising the alarm about the fact that they`re now being forced to do this and how terrible this is for their patients. Now, there is a state law in Missouri that requires women to get a pelvic exam before an abortion. Doctors at that clinic do pelvic exams before they do an abortion as a matter of course.
But as the state is trying to shutdown that clinic, the state government really has newly decided women must now endure a whole extra pelvic examination, that she doesn`t need and that the doctor doesn`t want to give her as basically the cost her of asking for an abortion. Basically as the new price they`re extracting from each female patient before they allow the clock to start ticking on a mandatory state-imposed 72-hour waiting period which must elapse before the woman is actually allowed to proceed to get the abortion whereupon she gets another pelvic exam.
I should tell you that as of today, the state government in Missouri has let us know they`re upset about our coverage. They have put out a press release about it, denouncing our coverage of this. But our reporting on this matter is correct and the state has not substantively rebutted any of it.
As far as we can tell, they just don`t like this is becoming national news. So that`s worth watching, too, to see if Missouri keeps up this new policy of forced vaginal exams for women as a cost of asking to get an abortion. That is worth watching, to see if they keep doing this now that everybody in the country knows they`re doing it, and they don`t appear to like that.
But the third and final thing to watch on this Missouri standoff has been the court fight not over the abortion ban in the state like all of the other Republican controlled states that are passing these abortion bans. They`re all going to have federal court fights on their hands. In Missouri, there is this separate category of court fight that`s happening, which is the fight over whether the last clinic in the state will be allowed to keep its doors open.
Well, tonight, we just got a court ruling in the standoff between the state government and that last clinic, which the state has been trying to shutdown by yanking its license to operate. In tonight`s ruling from Missouri, the matter is still definitely -- it`s not over. It`s not settled definitively, but tonight a state judge in Missouri has basically added two more weeks to the clock for the clinic to stay open.
Both sides, the state government and the clinic they`re trying to shutdown will be back in court at the end of next week, we think in two weeks, to decide whether or not that planned parent hood get to keep their license open. But the judge in their ruling tonight basically gave them this week and next week to stay open in the meantime.
So, I mean watch this space on the Missouri situation. There`s a lot of moving parts here. But with this latest ruling this evening, it looks like that last clinic does have a couple more weeks to operate.
Today, the Democratic-controlled House in Washington did not open up an impeachment inquiry on the basis of the evidence turned up in the Robert Mueller investigation. But today the Democratic controlled house did hold a hearing titled "Lessons from the Mueller report: Presidential obstruction and other crimes."
Now, in theory the way this is supposed to work when a duly appointed inquiry turns up serious evidence of potential criminal behavior or other misbehavior by the president, I mean, in theory, what`s supposed to happen is Congress should fully up on that investigation by validating those factual findings from the investigation. They should speak to witnesses themselves. They should flesh out the story. Congress should decide whether or not an impeachment inquiry or some other form of congressional inquiry or oversight or censure is warranted.
That`s sort of how it should work in theory. In our lives, in this case, what happened is Mueller produced his report. Congress still can`t even get the whole thing.
They can`t get any of the supporting materials Mueller used to put his report together, and they can`t speak to any of the fact witnesses from the report, at least thus far, because that`s been the approach of the Justice Department under attorney general bar and the Trump White House, and they have been sticking to that as long as they can.
We are going to fight all the subpoenas. We are going to defy all subpoenas. We are going block all witnesses from testifying to these committees.
Because of that approach from the administration, today in the absence of any fact witnesses from the Mueller report being allowed to testify all of the fact witnesses from the Trump administration thus far have been blocked by the White House from testifying. Today, the Judiciary Committee instead convened this hearing on Mueller`s report without any of the fact witnesses from the report. They did bring in two respected former prosecutors and a conservative legal scholar who was brought in by the Republican minority on the committee.
And they brought in this man, Richard Nixon`s White House counsel John Dean who testified today at length about the parallels that he saw between the obstruction of justice allegations that Mueller outlined in his report against -- excuse me, that Mueller outlined in his report about President Trump. The parallels between those allegations and the obstruction of justice allegations that led to articles of impeachment being drawn up against Richard Nixon which, of course, ultimately led to Richard Nixon`s resignation.
So, we`ll have more tonight coming up on that hearing including speaking with a member of that committee who was part of that hearing today, and one of the star witnesses from that hearing today is going to be our guest live here tonight.
But I think to everybody`s surprise, some of the real drama in Congress and some of the real drama on that issue today happened two hours before that hearing was gaveled into session. When the chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler announced that the Justice Department had relented. The Justice Department had finally decided they were going to allow the Judiciary committee to see some of the underlying material that formed the basis for Mueller`s report.
Really, this was announced by Nadler today and this was like -- really, are you sure this isn`t some snookering plot? Are you -- is this -- I mean, we are going on three months since Mueller first submitted his report. Throughout that time, the Judiciary Committee has been demanding to see not just the redacted report but underlying evidence from this report. And for all this time, the Justice Department has been saying, no, no, you can`t see it.
That request for the underlying became a denial of that request. The denial of that request led to a subpoena. That subpoena led to a defiance of the subpoena. That became a threat to hold the attorney general in contempt. That then became a vote on the Judiciary Committee to hold the attorney general in contempt for defying that subpoena, and that tomorrow was about to be a vote in the full House to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt.
At which point the attorney general went uncle, uncle, uncle, no, no, no I give in. Don`t hold me in contempt. Whatever you do don`t hold that contempt vote. OK, I relent. Here you can see some of the underlying materials from Mueller`s report.
Which as a process is interesting. I mean, now we know that this is apparently how things are going to go. But apparently, we`re going to have to do this in this exact order over and over again in order to get any progress here.
I mean, there are things like this in life. First, you put on your undies, then you put on your pants, and then you put on your belt and you really can`t do those in any other order. But apparently, that is how it`s going to have to work with obtaining information about the Mueller investigation as well.
I mean, if you were the relevant committee in Congress that`s supposed to have that information, we apparently know that`s how you`re going to have to do it. Undies, then pants, then belt, every time. You`re going to have to go through that process.
And we know this because we saw this exact same pattern happen a week or so ago with the intelligence committee. I mean, by statute, the intelligence committees are entitled to counter intelligence information and foreign intelligence information that`s turned up by the Justice Department, including in the course of the special counsel investigation. They get that stuff. That`s why intelligence committees exist.
Nevertheless, when Mueller`s redacted report was released to the public and there was no sign-in that report of what happened to any counter intelligence investigation that had reportedly been started at the FBI, right, concerning the president and the potential import of all those contacts between his campaign and his business and the Russian government, including all of those contacts and ties they lied about. When there was no sign of any of that investigation in Mueller`s report, the Intelligence Committee, including the House Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, demanded that the Justice Department hand over that information, hand over the counterintelligence and foreign intelligence information that was produced as part of this investigation, because it`s not in the report. What happened to that stuff?
The intelligence committees are legally entitled to get that kind of information. But in that case, too, the Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr, they initially said, no, no, you can`t have it. So that request for information from the intelligence committees led to a refusal from the Justice Department, that led to a subpoena from the Intelligence Committee, which led to William Barr defying the subpoena, that led to the threat of a contempt vote being scheduled, being put on the calendar by the intelligence committee. We`re going to vote to hold you in contempt, and that caused William Barr to say uncle, uncle, uncle.
I know I`ve been saying no for a couple of months without any basis for saying no, but finally here`s some of your stuff. Don`t hold me in contempt.
This is the process you go through, right? You ask for something you`re legally entitled to. They say no, you subpoena them for it, they defy the subpoena, you say, we`re going to hold you in contempt, they say neener, neener, and you say, OK, we`re going to vote to hold you contempt, and then they say, OK, you can have it.
That`s what we have to do with all this stuff apparently, as a country to get access to this material. But having gone through that process, undies, then pants, then belts -- having gone through this process, which apparently they`re going to make Congress do for all of this stuff. As of a week or so ago, the Intelligence Committee is finally receiving some of the counterintelligence and foreign intelligence information that was the basis for Mueller`s report only because they got within an inch of holding Barr in contempt, and he finally relented.
That`s what happened with the intelligence stuff, and now, according to the Judiciary Committee, as of midday today, they are also finally starting to receive the underlying evidence from Mueller`s report. Despite all these weeks of the Justice Department saying no, and the only reason they`re getting it now is because they came within an inch of holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt.
It turns out, Attorney General Barr really doesn`t want to be held in contempt. That apparently really pushes his buttons. Well, now the Democrats in the House know which of his buttons to push and where they are.
But, again, according to the Judiciary Committee they are now getting this underlying material from Mueller`s report as of today. What are they getting exactly, we`re not sure. I`m hoping we may be able to get a little more clarity from our Judiciary Committee guest in just a moment.
But we do have some clues. In the course of the committee`s back and forth in the Justice Department the committee did produce a sort of provocative list describing things from Mueller`s report that they wanted to see. We got this in a letter from Nadler to the judiciary committee. That big long list you see on your screen there, that`s a list of 302s that the committee wants to see.
A 302 is the number on the form that the FBI uses when they write up official notes from their FBI interviews. So anytime anybody spoke to the Mueller investigation, any witness who came in and talked to Mueller, the FBI would have had at least one agent in that interview, whether or not prosecutors were there. There would always be somebody from the FBI, and the FBI would write up a 302 about the content of that interview. The right up formal notes from that interview.
Well, the Judiciary Committee has already previously explicitly told the Justice Department they want to see all these 302s. They want to see the FBI official interview notes from all of these people, from Steve Bannon who did four different interviews of the FBI and has four different 302s. From New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who got fired as the head of the Trump transition, from Michael Cohen, the president`s now imprisoned personal lawyer.
They want six different 302s from six different Michael Cohen FBI interviews. They want 302s from Rob Porter and Steven Miller and Don McGahn and K.T. McFarland, and Paul Manafort who`s also in prison and John Kelly who until recently he was White House chief of staff. They want the 302s from Jeff Sessions, former attorney general. Reince Priebus, another former White House chief of staff. Plus, a bunch of other Trump White House officials like Jared Kushner and Hope Hicks and Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders. They want 302s from all of them.
The committee has also demanded notes that were taken from a bunch of different people inside the Trump campaign and the Trump administration. They`ve got specific dates on those notes that they`re asking for because these specific notes are cited in the Mueller report. So, the committee knows that these things exist. Rob Porter`s notes, Reince Priebus` notes, Cory Lewandowski`s notes, John Kelly`s notes. Lots and lots and of notes from Amy Donaldson, she was chief of staff to White House counsel Don McGahn.
They also want lots and lots of notes from a man who`s listed here as Joseph Hunt. He formally goes Jody Hunt. He`s cited a whole bunch of times in the Mueller report both for his 302s and for contemporaneous notes while he was suffering as Jeff Sessions` chief of staff when Sessions was attorney general. They want Jody Hunt`s notes.
They also want the memo to file that Trump`s White House counsel office drafted after Sally Yates came up from the Justice Department to warn the less than one week old Trump administration that the serving national security advisor they had just installed was compromised by the Russian government, and, hmm, maybe have you ever thought that might be a problem for the country and you should get rid of him?
Remember they didn`t actually get rid of him after that warning from the Justice Department but apparently somebody in the White House counsel`s office wrote a note to file about that warning they got about Mike Flynn and what they apparently weren`t going to do in response to it. Well, the Judiciary Committee wants that memo to file.
They also want the draft termination letter for James Comey, the one the president reportedly ordered to be drawn up, explained that he was firing James Comey because of Russia. It`s before they decided that they should maybe rollout a different pretext for it.
One of the alleged obstructive acts by the president in Mueller`s report is him directing K.T. McFarland to draft a false document, saying that she could vouch for the fact that President Trump never told Mike Flynn to talk to the Russian government about sanctions. In fact, according to the Mueller report, K.T. McFarland could vouch for no so such thing. Nevertheless, the president told her to create a false record saying that she could.
She didn`t ultimately create that false record, according to Mueller`s report. She did, however, create some sort of memorandum for the record, some sort of memo to file documenting that request. Well, now, the Judiciary Committee says it wants that memo to file as well.
And that`s just some of it, right? The list goes on and on in terms of the stuff they want, which is cited in Mueller`s report and that the Judiciary Committee wants to see for themselves. Now, we don`t know exactly what they`re going to get or started getting. But according to the committee, they started getting some of it today.
Tomorrow, there will still be a vote in the House related by these efforts by Congress to get documents and to get these witnesses to testify, because Attorney General William Barr is now handing over the underlying materials from Mueller`s report to the judiciary committee, they apparently are not going to vote to hold him in contempt tomorrow which is what they were otherwise planning. But they`re going to vote to give themselves one interesting avenue to access to information.
You might remember around the time Mueller`s report came out, we learned that Barr was going to redact it, one of the big controversies was that Barr said he was going to redact from Mueller`s report all grand jury information, all information that, you know, was testimony to the grand jury, stuff that was handed over by a subpoena from the grand jury. So, those 302s, those notes from FBI interviews that was I was explaining a second ago, when you have a note like that, when you`ve done a voluntary interview, those are all from people coming in and speaking voluntarily with the FBI agents and prosecutors who were working for Mueller.
So, the reason I think the judiciary committee is asking straightaway to see all the 302s is that none of that stuff is grand jury material. All of that stuff was based on voluntary testimony to the FBI and to Mueller`s prosecutors. So that`s why they`re asking right away for the 302s. That`s not grand jury material.
But some of those same witnesses who did 302s, who came in and did interviews also gave sworn testimony to the grand jury, in addition to any voluntary conversations they might have had with the FBI. And that grand jury testimony at this point is still not being made available to the committee. And it can`t be made available to the committee unless a judge allows it to, unless a judge orders that grand jury-related information can be shown to congress.
Well, this is interesting. One of the things the House is reportedly going to vote on tomorrow is giving Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler the ability to go straight to a judge to ask for a federal court order allowing that grand jury information to finally be released to his committee. All this time, Jerry Nadler has been asking William Barr, please ask a judge, please work with us and we can ask the judge together, please start the process of asking the judge and getting the court orders so we can get that grand jury information.
And the Justice Department under William Barr has been giving him the hand -- no, we`re not going to do any of that. Well, Jerry Nadler as of tomorrow may be empowered by a vote in the entire House to go to a judge himself -- to go to a judge himself to seek the OK from a federal judge for all that grand jury information, all that grand jury testimony, anything subpoenaed by the grand jury to be given to him and his committee.
So, this is happening now. This is -- we knew this was all possible, right? But this is happening now. I mean, they had their first hearing in response to the Mueller report today.
They are starting for the first time as of today to get the underlying information from Mueller`s report because they pushed William Barr up against a wall and he felt like he finally had to do it to avoid being held in contempt. Tomorrow, they`re going to vote on the first thing they need to do in order to get that whole other category of information, all the grand jury stuff. They`re finally putting the thing in motion to get that stuff released.
And then the day after tomorrow, the Intelligence Committee is going to hold their own hearing on Mueller`s investigation now that they have started to obtain the underlying counterintelligence and foreign intelligence information that was turned up in the course of Mueller`s work. That Wednesday hearing is going to be called "Lessons from the Mueller report: Counterintelligence implications of volume 1." Volume 1 of Mueller`s report is all about the Russian attack on the election and the Trump campaign`s many, many contacts with the Russians.
So, today, big announcement, today, first hearing. Tomorrow, big vote. Wednesday, another big hearing.
It feels like it has taken them awhile to get up and running, right, in terms of trying to follow up what Mueller found, trying to plum the depths of it, trying to explain it to the public, to see what the implications are for this president and this presidency, whether or not it leads to potential impeachment. It has, in fact, taken them a while to get up and running with this stuff. But as of today, they are doing it. They are on it.
And that means the action here on this scandal, on this investigation as of today, it`s as much now in Congress as it is in the courts. And we`ll actually have a little more later on tonight about what is going on in the courts because a lot of interesting stuff has happened there, too. But again, it`s big news tonight Congress is today getting its first access to the underlying materials that give rise of the Mueller`s report and the evidence that they laid out about among other things, obstruction of justice by the president.
A member of the Judiciary Committee joins us next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): I am pleased that we have reached an agreement to review at least of some evidence underlying the Mueller report, including interview that`s, first-hand accounts of misconduct and other critical evidence. And that this material will be made available without delay to members of the committee on both sides of the aisle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Chairman of the Judiciary Committee today, Jerry Nadler, announcing that finally, Congress has succeeded in prying loose from the Justice Department, at least some of the underlying evidence that Robert Mueller and his team turned up in the course of their investigation. Congress, the Judiciary Committee specifically has been demanding this ever since word crossed that Mueller had completed his investigation.
Nadler made that announcement that some of the underlying material is finally being handed over. He announced that today just as the committee was convening its first hearing on Mueller`s findings.
Joining us now is Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline. He`s a Democrat on that Judiciary Committee.
Sir, I really appreciate you being here tonight. Thanks for your time.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): My pleasure.
MADDOW: So, what are you guys getting in terms of underlying evidence from Mueller`s report? What do you expect you`ll actually get to see?
CICILLINE: Well, we`ll get witness statements, 302s which are FBI reports. We`ll get all of the documents really that are referenced in the Mueller reports that support the findings of the special counsel. That work began today, the committee staff was over at the DOJ, an initial show of good faith looking at some initial documents.
And over the next several days, protocols would be established for the members to go there and begin our review.
MADDOW: And is the Justice Department deciding on a case by case document basis what you guys are going to see, or are you guys getting all the 302s, for example, all the whole categories of information?
CICILLINE: It is my understanding all those documents will be provided. Obviously, we`re going to have a vote tomorrow on the civil contempt citation, so that if there is a disagreement about documents not being furnished, we`ll have the mechanism to go to court and compel their production. But we expect that all the documents we`ve requested, save for the grand jury testimony, which, of course, tomorrow we will authorize the committee chair to initiate civil proceedings to obtain the grand jury proceedings as well.
MADDOW: OK. On that last point, I just want to make sure that I understand, I was trying to put that into context in the introduction here. And for me, it`s always been -- I`m not a lawyer. Following these things from outside has always been a little bit through the looking glass, but the grand jury material was redacted from the report. It would require a court order for that information to be released to Congress because grand jury secrecy is a paramount concern for the federal courts.
The Judiciary Committee, your chairman, your committee has previously been asking the Justice Department to get that kind of an OK from a federal judge. But with this vote tomorrow, the Justice Department will now be beside the point, and you guys will be able to go to the judge yourself?
CICILLINE: Right. Now, remember in the last kind of recent example of the Starr report, Ken Starr went to court to get permission to release the grand jury testimony. And the day he released the entire report, he also produced 17 boxes of documents including the grand jury proceedings. He did that on his own. That`s what transparency looks like.
Mr. Barr has refused to do this, so this will authorize the Judiciary Committee chairman to initiate litigation seeking authorization from the court to release the grand jury proceedings without the assistance of Mr. Barr. It would have been nice if the attorney general did it in a collaborative way with the committee but he expressed repeatedly that he had no intention of doing that.
MADDOW: And it`s -- he clearly is not going to collaborate with you on this. Do you have any sense he`s going to actively oppose you on this? Will the Justice Department actually try to block your committee from obtaining this information through litigation?
CICILLINE: There hasn`t been any indication that he intends to do that. It`s always better, of course, if he would be the moving party or do it with the committee, but I think the committee has a very strong standing to request and receive the grand jury proceedings. They`re essential to our review of the underlying facts of this investigation, and I expect the court will grant that request.
MADDOW: Congressman, you mentioned Judiciary Committee staff were over at Justice Department today looking at these grand jury first materials that have just been made available. Is that how this is going to work, that you`re not actually going to have that information conveyed to you, it`s just going to be shown to you and to staffers at the Justice Department, but you`re not able to take away?
CICILLINE: That`s right. We`ll go to the Justice Department to review the documents as well as our staff.
MADDOW: Does that mean that the public will never have to opportunity to be able to see this stuff? You`ll be able to see it sort of in camera, but we`ll never get to see it?
CICILLINE: Well, I mean, some of these documents will ultimately -- I mean, it really demands on what the committee does in terms of an impeachment inquiry. At this stage of the investigation, we will have an opportunity to see the documents, to discuss the contents of the documents. And if we think it`s essential to produce them for use at a hearing and they do not agree to that voluntarily, then we have the ability to issue a subpoena for their productions.
MADDOW: And having an impeachment inquiry open at this point will make a difference as to whether or not you proceeded in that way?
CICILLINE: I think there`s no question that the court has held that the power of Congress is at in zenith during impeachment inquiry. But the Congress has tremendous authority during our traditional oversight and investigation responsibly. So I expect if we see documents that we think are essential to produce for the public, we`ll have the ability to do that.
MADDOW: Congressman David Cicilline, member of the House Judiciary Committee, I really appreciate your time. That was super clarifying, sir. Thanks.
CICILLINE: My pleasure.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, today, the Judiciary Committee in the House held the first in what they tell us will be a series from the Mueller report. We`re going to have a star witness from that hearing joining us shortly.
But things are going to move fast here. After today`s first hearing and the announcement today that the Judiciary Committee is finally being given access from the Mueller`s report, that all happened today. Tomorrow, the full house is going to vote to give the judiciary chairman the authority to go straight to the courts to try to persuade a judge to also hand over the grand jury information from Mueller`s report, all of which is still redacted at this point.
And then the day after tomorrow, the House Intelligence Committee is going to start its own series of hearings on the Mueller`s report, the first one being on counterintelligence implications of Mueller`s report. So as much as the action on this scandal, on this investigation has previously been in the courts, as of today, as of this week, it really is shifting into Congress in a sort of serious way.
But that`s not to say there isn`t a lot of action still going on in the courts. Again, this week is going to be a busy one. Not only with all that stuff happening in Congress, but this week, for example, we`re going to have a status update in the Mike Flynn case, which seems to have been going a bit haywire in recent days. We may find out why that is, what exactly is happening at what appears to be the end of Mike Flynn`s criminal case, as Flynn`s attorneys and prosecutors both go back to the judge at the end of this week. So that is going to be fascinating to see.
This past week, Mike Flynn just fired his old attorneys. We still don`t know why. We may get insight into that.
Just today, the president`s lawyers argued to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Mazars accounting firm should not have to respond to a subpoena to hand over the president`s financial information. Their argument is that Congress is never, ever, ever allowed to investigate a president ever for committing any crimes.
The argument is exactly as blunt as it sounds. And it is an amazing argument, but that is what they are going with, trying to block the president`s accounting firm from responding to a congressional subpoena to hand over his financial information. I mean, their argument is literally when presidents commit crimes, presidents definitely can`t be investigated for committing crimes. See how far that takes you.
In addition this week, the bizarre and disturbing case of George Nader who is frequent presence in the Trump White House for the first year of the Trump presidency, who had taken multiple high level meetings with senior campaign officials throughout the campaign, George Nader today moved one step closer to facing trial on serious child pornography charges. As a federal judge in Virginia ruled that the government does have probably cause to move forward with its prosecution charge against him, Nader has denied bail, he`s in custody in a federal detention facility in Virginia while he`s awaiting the start of that trial.
Also late on Friday night, we learned about important new developments in the mystery case. Do you remember that? A foreign owned entity, which a lot of people think is a bank which has been fighting a subpoena for months. That subpoena required them to hand over documents to Mueller`s inquiry.
We don`t know what the company is that is resisting the subpoena. We don`t know what country they are from. In court filings late on Friday night, we learned that the mystery case company in fact handed over just under 1,000 pages of material in response to the subpoena. We learned that federal prosecutors still believed the company was holding back something that`s important.
I mean, what`s going on with the mystery case? I don`t know. But the most interesting thing about the mystery case all along is that we have had no idea what it is really all about.
But now, these newly publicly facing court documents, court filings in this case show that the investigation that gave rise to the subpoena, it preceded the appointment of Robert Mueller. It was handled by Mueller when he was special counsel. And when Mueller closed up shop this month, he handed that over to the special counsel office in D.C.
We know, according to prosecutors, that case is ongoing, it`s serious. We know that the mystery company thinks it is complying with the subpoena, and the prosecutors think they`re not. And who knows what that`s all about, but that is all still ongoing.
We also know that an associate of roger stone, a young man named Andrew Miller finally turned up to testify before the grand jury this past week after he too fought his subpoena for nearly a year. Mr. Miller`s lawyer now says he was asked about his work for Roger Stone, Stone`s movement around the Republican National Convention in 2016 or Stone`s interactions with WikiLeaks, around the time that WikiLeaks was releasing information stolen by Russian military intelligence to try to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump win the election.
One interesting point here is the Andrew Miller case finally also seems to come to a close is that Miller`s lawyers say although his clients had been initially been subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury that was being used by Robert Mueller, when Mueller finally gave his testimony this past week, it was to a different grand jury. It was not to Mueller`s grand jury. So, maybe that tells us that Mueller`s grand jury has closed up shop too as the special counsel`s office has been closed.
So, all this to say there are at least a dozen, maybe two dozen different ways this scandal and this matter writ large continue to work their way through the courts. But while we continue to monitor all that stuff now as of this week, there really are a whole new bunch of ways that it`s working its way through Congress as well.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: It`s quite striking and startling to me that history is repeating itself and with a vengeance. So, that`s why I`ve spoken out.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: The facts contained in that report would be sufficient to prove all of the elements necessary to charge multiple counts of obstruction of justice.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: The conduct described in the report constitutes multiple crimes of obstruction of justice. I`m confident that if anyone other than a sitting president committed this conduct, that person would be charged with crimes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The hearing was called, lessons from the Mueller report, presidential obstruction and other crimes. For over four hours, the Judiciary Committee today heard testimony from President Nixon`s former White House counsel John Dean, who knows a thing or two about obstruction of justice, as well as former U.S. attorneys and MSNBC contributors Joyce Vance and Barbara McQuade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R-AZ): The special counsel`s team wasn`t able to find collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but apparently you did.
VANCE: So, Mueller in his report is careful to clarify he`s not making any decision about collusion. That is a far cry from saying there`s no evidence of collusion. There`s abundant evidence of collusion in this record.
LESKO: You said, I think this case is far worse than Watergate. Obviously you were wrong that there was conspiracy or collusion with Russia. Do you admit to that?
MCQUADE: I agree that Robert Mueller concluded that he could not establish the technical crime of conspiracy. However, I do think it was worse than Watergate. I think this president worked with Russia.
The report says that the investigation identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. It also says that the investigation established that the Russian government perceived that it would benefit from a Trump presidency and work to secure that --
LESKO: I`m reclaiming my time because I only have like 25 seconds left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Re-claiming my time. If you`re going to read from the Mueller report I am definitely re-claiming my time. Because that stuff is -- Barbara McQuade joins us live next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCQUADE: The conduct described in the report constitutes multiple crimes of obstruction of justice. I`m confident that if anyone other than a sitting president committed this conduct, that person would be charged with crimes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is former U.S. attorney and MSNBC contributor Barbara McQuade who testified today before the House Judiciary Committee at their first hearing on the Mueller investigation.
Barb, thank you so much for being here. I know it`s been a really long day.
MCQUADE: Oh, thanks, Rachel. Glad to be here.
MADDOW: So how was it? Do you think this is useful thing? Do you think Congress can get anywhere by holding hearings like this on the findings?
MCQUADE: If nothing else it was an opportunity to educate the public what`s in the Mueller report. You know, I think it`s understandable that many people have not read the 448-page report and don`t know what`s in it. I know people have said all I`ve heard is no collusion, no obstruction.
Well, today was an opportunity to walk through all of the episodes of obstruction of justice and help the public understand just how serious it was.
MADDOW: Was there anything you were hoping to get to say today or misconceptions you were hoping to rebut or something else you were either expecting or hoping for today you didn`t get to say?
MCQUADE: I thought I did get a chance to say most of the things I wanted to say.
A couple of things that came up in the hearing that I would have loved to have the opportunity to correct. One was some of their Republicans began their questions to other witnesses by talking about the Steele dossier as if that was what started this whole investigation, and in fact the report says that`s not what started it at all. It was actually the comments from George Papadopoulos to an Australian diplomat that they had e-mails from Hillary Clinton that would be used in a disparaging way during the election. That`s what started the case.
And the other thing I wish I had a chance to say are that some of the Republicans seemed to deliberately mispronounce Robert Mueller`s name as Mueller. I really wanted to say it`s Mueller. I didn`t get a chance to do that.
MADDOW: Is that one of those it`s going to be a partisan tick now, the way Republicans call it the Democrat Party instead of the Democratic Party?
MCQUADE: I don`t know now. But they have to know that, right? I mean, the name Mueller was said hundreds of times except by these members of Congress who insisted on calling him Mueller. So, it seems like it.
You know, on that point about referencing the Steele dossier, one of the things I`ve been thinking about this -- I`ve been trying to think about it a in a big picture way in terms of what happens to this investigation, what happens if we do get more insight into the counterintelligence side of this, what happens if Congress is able to actually get somewhere looking at the evidence, looking at the intelligence findings, able to pursue this and answer some of the unanswered questions.
Do you feel like Republicans and Democrats are on such different planets when it comes to a factual understanding of what happened that it`s impossible to have a substantive conversation about the real implications for the country? Like is this really a Mars and Venus situation?
MCQUADE: You know, at the moment, I think there are some really polar opposites in Congress and certainly in that Judiciary Committee. You know, it was clear they were really coming from a very different place when they were thinking about the evidence.
But I think the key to this is the American people. I think if the public understands what was in that report about obstruction of justice and also understanding the significance, that by trying to end Mueller`s investigation what Trump was doing was actually threatening our national security by preventing us from understanding the Russia threat. I think if the American people understands that, then the representatives in Congress have to come around.
MADDOW: Well, your willingness to be there for all of those hours today especially in that partisan scrum and your hopefulness now that this kind of process can be a way for people to understand it, that buoys me in terms of my feeling about us and where we`re going as a country.
Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney, MSNBC contributor, and today, great public servant for that work today -- thank you, Barb.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. One more story to come here tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Running for the United States Senate sometimes requires a really big effort even if you have been an incumbent senator for decades. In 2014 when he was facing a strong challenge that year, Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell got help with his campaign back home from a fixture in local Republican -- local Kentucky Republican politics.
He turned as he had before to a Kentucky Republican fixture, a campaign operative named Todd Inman. Todd Inman helped organize a pro-coal tour of Kentucky for McConnell in 2014. According to Inman`s resume, which was posted by "ProPublica", he produced all the in-state national media campaign rallies and bus tour events and press conferences for Senator McConnell`s re-election campaign. Sixty stops along a three-week tour.
Mitch McConnell ended up winning that race in 2014, ultimately became majority leader of the Senate, the most powerful man of the Senate. And that ends up being super important as it relates to Todd Inman`s most recent job.
This is the lead of a politico.com piece that just dropped today. Quote: The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities specifically from her husband, Mitch McConnell`s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $70 million for projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection in 2020.
Elaine Chao`s aide, Todd Inman, who stated in an e-mail to McConnell`s Senate office that Chao had personally asked him to serve as an intermediary, he helped advice the senator and local Kentucky officials on grants with special significance for McConnell, including a highway improvement project and McConnell political stronghold that had been twice rejected for previous grant applications.
So, Elaine Chao, secretary of transportation, married to Mitch McConnell, she hires her husband`s former campaign aide to be her own staffer, and then she designates him specifically to help pave the way for Transportation Department-funded projects in her home`s state, things that would be particularly valuable to him as he runs for re-election.
Quote: Chao`s designation of Inman as a special intermediary for Kentucky, a privilege other states do not enjoy, gave a special advantage to projects favored by her husband, which could in turn benefit his political interests. In such situations, ethicists say, each member of a couple benefits personally from the success of the other.
Politico.com saying that Secretary Chao declined to comment for this piece. The Transportation Department told political that no state receives special treatment except for the one that has the special intermediary.
For his part, Todd Inman says he was proud to work for Secretary Chao and he praised the department`s career staff. Senator McConnell put out a statement like, you know, praising Kentucky. Kentucky continues to punch above its weight in Washington, and I`m proud to be a strong voice for my constituents in the Senate.
Yes, by punching above your weight you mean your wife the cabinet secretary installed your former campaign aide as a special liaison to prioritize your pet projects at the Transportation Department to prioritize your re- election with federal taxpayer dollars, then OK, sure. You are punching above your weight and a number of other things, as well.
She set up a special lane at the Department of Transportation specifically to fund things that would benefit her husband. I know we`re supposed to be inured to this kind of thing, but even in the Trump administration, but.
That does it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END