JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That`s what`s going to happen.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Really interesting. We`ll be watching your programming. Stay tuned tomorrow for more of Joy`s outstanding conversations from South Carolina. Thank you, Joy, for making time tonight. Have a great weekend.
That is ALL IN to this weekend.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now with Ali Velshi, in for Rachel.
Good evening, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: The key difference between Joy Reid and me is that if I were at a fish fry on a Friday night in Columbia, South Carolina, I wouldn`t have that much politics on my mind. I would be eating.
HAYES: A lot more fish.
VELSHI: A lot of fried fish.
Chris, you have yourself a fantastic weekend.
HAYES: You too.
VELSHI: Thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour. Rachel has the night off. She will be back on Monday. I will try not to break the furniture while I`m here.
But tonight is officially the first summer Friday of 2019. It doesn`t feel like it tonight in the news.
For starters, a couple of hours ago a federal court unsealed something that we not only did not see coming, we didn`t even know it existed. A series of hundreds of text messages between Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and a fellow he calls Sean. That would be our friend Sean Hannity of the Fox News Channel.
Apparently, Mr. Manafort and Mr. Hannity were exchanging text messages on a nearly constant basis in 2017 and 2018, starting a few months before Manafort`s indictment on multiple felony tax and bank fraud and conspiracy charges, pretty much right up to the moment Mr. Manafort went to jail. The judge in Manafort`s case was examining these text messages to determine if Manafort and his lawyer may have violated the gag order on the case by talking to a TV host and now the messages have been made public. The texts are largely messages of support from Hannity.
Quote: I know this is very hard. Stand tall and strong. We are all on the same team, says Hannity. Manafort responds, and we will prevail. Exactly, says Hannity.
Hannity also spends a lot of time asking if Manafort is watching his show and they discuss Hannity`s theories of the deep state and Hillary Clinton`s crimes and how Manafort is being railroaded, sometimes, Hannity appears to text Manafort during his broadcast, quote, you watching? Manafort responds, yes. I love you.
Manafort, I hope POTUS, meaning President Trump, understands your point. Hannity replies, I tell him a lot, a real lot.
So that is how this evening started. Right now, let`s take a look at this. You are looking at a live shot from Columbia, South Carolina, or you will be momentarily where 22 Democratic presidential hopefuls are gathered to take part in one of the biggest political events in this key early primary state, namely Congressman Jim Clyburn`s annual fish fry. Tonight is the first time in the race that so many Democratic contenders are appearing together at the same event.
Also tonight, a bombshell story on the cover of "New York Magazine". Here`s the headline: This is what I was wearing 23 years ago when Donald Trump attacked me in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. The president is denying the allegations in that story tonight. We will have much more on that, ahead.
And because all of that was not enough for one summer Friday evening, "The Washington Post" says that President Trump has directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to, quote, conduct a mass roundup of migrant families with pre-dawn raids in major U.S. cities on Sunday.
Now there`s been some confusion about these raids. Trump first said the raids would round up millions, then officials said there was no such plan. Then it was reported that a much smaller plan had kind of sort of been in the works for a while maybe and now we have word that Donald Trump has ordered that operation.
The trouble with covering news like this is certainly an operation to round up 2,000 undocumented immigrants specifically targeted at families -- well, that`s a big, serious consequential thing for a lot of people. That is a scary thing.
But if there`s one thing Donald Trump is invested in more than any other, it is that he is personally ordering big, serious consequential scary things aimed at immigrants. I mean, we don`t know if this operation is actually going to happen on Sunday, but we definitely know the president wants people to think it is.
As "The Washington Post" put it today, quote, some within DHS and ICE says the president appears to be using the operation for political purposes as he begins his re-election bid. Law enforcement officials worry that by publicly discussing the plan Trump has undermined capturing those on the target list as it likely pushed migrants with deportation orders underground.
Now, if Trump is undercutting the success of his own operation by announcing it in advance, it`s probably safe to say that announcing the operation is more important to him than actually carrying it out. And that`s kind of a pattern with this president. Earlier this year, President Trump announced on Twitter that he was cutting off federal emergency aid for California that he was convinced that they were doing something wrong with the forest management or something. But it turned out he never ordered FEMA to do anything of the sort.
Last fall, Trump boasted confidently about a new tax cut that he and Republicans in Congress had come up with. They were putting the finishing touches on it. It would be unveiled right before the election. No one in Congress had any idea what the president was talking about and even White House officials quietly admitted they were mystified.
When asked about the tax cut, Trump`s own treasury secretary said this, I quote: I`m not going to comment on whether it is a real thing or not a real thing.
Trump talked about it at his rallies. It was a major applause line, but as you may have noticed, there was no new tax cut plan. There never had been.
The president likes to say that his border wall is being built, has been built, is nearly finished, or is finished. One time they even put up a flak on some replacement fencing that had been ordered by the Obama administration and they just called it Trump`s wall.
It`s created the strange, uncomfortable dynamic in which everyone, the press, foreign governments, members of Congress, they have to be gauging what relationship if any Trump`s pronouncements have to reality. Last year, after Trump announced he was calling off negotiations over the Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought here as children, "The New York Times" noted in passing, quote, it was unclear whether the president`s tweets represented any change in his immigration policy or were just the sort of venting he is known to do after reading a newspaper article or seeing a television program.
The same year when Trump announced he was delaying a trade agreement with South Korea, "The Washington Post`s" David Ignatius said one South Korean asked him, quote, were the president`s comments been holding the new trade deal, was that real? Did he really mean that or was he just ad-libbing?
The president is in effect an unreliable narrator of his own presidency, and everyone knows that which is a big, big part of what makes the current situation we are in, this fraught situation with Iran so dangerous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Did you green-light something or had you said if we do t I`ll do this? What was the order you gave?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing is greenlighted until the very end because things change, right?
TODD: You never gave a final order?
TRUMP: No, no, no, but we had something ready to go subject to my approval and they came in and they came in about half an hour before. Sir, we`re about ready to go. I said, I want a better --
TODD: Were planes in the air?
TRUMP: About ready to go. No, but they would have been pretty soon and things would have happened to a point where you wouldn`t turn back or couldn`t turn back. So they came and they said, sir, we`re ready to go. We`d like a decision.
I said, I want to know something before you go. How many people will be killed? In this case Iranians. I said, how many people are going to be killed? Sir, I`d like to get back to you on that. Great people, these generals.
They said -- came back and said, sir, approximately 150. And I thought about it for a second. I said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead.
And I didn`t like it. I didn`t think it was -- I didn`t think it was proportionate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: OK. Obviously, we don`t know what happened last night in the White House when a missile strike on Iran was ostensibly ordered and canceled. We weren`t in the room, but it is nearly impossible to believe that it went down as the president described it to Chuck Todd today. The president is saying that half an hour before the planes were to take off to launch a carefully planned missile strike, he asked his generals how many casualties there would be, and the generals who had planned this operation and presented it to the president and prepped it to go and were ready to launch, said to the president, you know what, that`s a good question. We hadn`t thought about that. We`re not sure. Let us get back to you.
If that is what happened, that level of carelessness and slap dash planning would be a scandal unto itself. Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department lawyer, suggested today that it would likely be illegal to approve an operation without knowing the estimated casualties that it would cause and then there is the multiple-source reporting from various outlets contradicting the president`s version of events. "The New York Times" reporting that the planes were already in the air when the president canceled the operation. "The Washington Post" reporting this evening that in fact the president was informed of the number of estimated casualties earlier in the day when he approved the strike.
The president being an unreliable narrator makes it difficult, if not impossible, for us as citizens to understand exactly what is happening here. Was there actually a strike ordered and then called off at the last minute? Why did that happen? Who in the administration decided it would be a good thing for us all to know that that is what happened? Because it was leaked to the press almost immediately.
Much of the information we`re getting may, in fact, by the various factions within the administration trying to box the president into a particular course of action because as we know, the president`s main source of information is this, cable television.
"The Times" reports that, quote, Mr. Trump`s national security advisors split about whether to respond militarily to the downing of an American drone. Quote: Senior administration officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, the national security adviser, and Gina Haspel, the CIA director, had favored a military response, but top Pentagon officials cautioned that such an action could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for American forces in the region.
If it is top Pentagon officials who are the primary voice against escalation with Iran, then this is probably a particularly bad time for one acting defense chief to be handing off to another acting defense chief. Tonight, the president did announce his intention to nominate that new acting chief to be the actual defense secretary, which means he will be going through the Senate confirmation process as this confrontation with Iran unspools.
Now, ever since this administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and began ratcheting up pressure on Iran, it`s been unclear what its goal is or what its end game is. Now, we`ve reached this point where to hear the president tell it last night, last night we may have been minutes away from a strike that could potentially have led to a war. And we have little to no clarity about what happened or why or what happens next.
Joining us now, Courtney Kube, NBC national news security and military reporter who just returned from the United Arab Emirates where the United States has deployed additional assets in response to escalating tensions.
Courtney, thank you for joining us tonight.
Courtney, you know the Pentagon well. Yesterday night, we got reporting that planes were in the air and ships were in position and the president called off the strike. Today, the president told Chuck Todd that the planes were not in the air.
What are you hearing?
COURTNEY KUBE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY & MILITARY REPORTER: So, the ships would already have been in position. So U.S. Central Command has anywhere between 60 and 80,000 troops, ships, aircraft throughout the region at any given time.
The aircraft -- the officials who I`ve spoken with say that in fact the aircraft were not in the air at the time yet, but that they were close. So, you know, you made a good point in the intro, and that`s the idea that the military when they were planning this operation, and they were looking at the various options, they look at all of the contingencies, and one of those is the collateral damage assessment. That is how many -- the potential for how many civilians could be hurt or killed in this kind of an operation.
What we don`t know is exactly what happened at that meeting at the White House yesterday. Did they sit the president down when they walk him through the options and explain to him the collateral damage assessment or not? But the notion that it wouldn`t be part of the original military planning is pretty difficult to understand, Ali.
VELSHI: And following on that, is it possible that the president would only have learned that approximately 150 people would die with minutes to spare? I would imagine when there`s a submission of that sort of proposal, General Barry McCaffrey told me last night that they`ve got proposals for any contingency, about places you don`t think we have aggressive relationships with.
But the idea of what we call collateral damage, the death of people, that would have to be very high up in that report.
KUBE: It would be. But, again, what we don`t know is exactly what happened when they presented that to him. If that`s something he didn`t ask the question or if for some reason they didn`t present it.
As part of basic and very standard military planning for an operation like this, especially something so high profile, I find it impossible to believe that that wasn`t part of the original planning. But, again, we just don`t know how the conversation was.
When you look at the basic idea here, I was also struck when the president said that 150 people, whether that is civilians or Iranian military, would have potentially been killed in these kinds of strikes. I mean, that is not -- the military officials I was speaking to said this would be -- any kind of reaction would be very proportional, that it would be -- to what actually happened here.
So, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard shot down an unmanned drone, an expensive drone, no loss of life. You would think that the U.S. military response would be something that would take out perhaps the place where they shot the surface-to-air missile from, perhaps the radar system that was used to lock in on the grown. Something like that.
The notion that it would involve that many casualties was really surprising to me, Ali.
VELSHI: Now, there were some disputes in the last few days about where this drone was shot. The distance between what America claims and Iran claims isn`t that big, but what Iran claims is that it was in Iranian air space and America claims it was in international air space. We`re now hearing some reporting that it was in Iranian air space.
What are you hearing about that?
KUBE: So the U.S. military denies they had any access. There was also a U.S. Navy surveillance plane, a P8 that was up around at the same time that was near it. But the military maintains they both stayed in international air space.
One of the problems here could be the fact that Iran sees a lot of the area in the Strait of Hormuz as their territorial waters and their territorial air space. So, it may just be that they still believe -- despite the fact that the community sees it as international waters and air space, they may believe it drifted into their territorial waters.
I was out on the Gulf of Oman only a couple of miles from where that drone was shot down and I can tell you that that area is considered international waters if, in fact, the drone went down where the U.S. military tells us it did.
VELSHI: Courtney Kube, thank you for your reporting on this. Courtney Kube, NBC News national security and military reporter.
Joining us now, Dr. Vali Nasr, dean of the school of advance international study at Johns Hopkins University, a veteran of the Obama State Department.
Dr. Nasser, good to see you again. Thank you for joining us.
VALI NASR, JOHNS HOPKINS PROFESSOR: Thank you.
VELSHI: The president has said that the drone was shot down in international waters as I was just discussing with Courtney, and he`s been out making the case that some sort of rogue actor may have organized the attack.
Fox News is reporting that the president was told that Iranian leadership was furious that the drone was shot down and that`s why he called off the attack. And all along the way, Iran has rebuffed these claims.
Iran has released the exact coordinates of the attack, to say that it was in Iranian waters. It`s come out and said it intended to hit the drone. It wasn`t an accident. There was a manned aircraft that Courtney was just talking about with 35 people onboard that it chose not to hit.
Why is Iran responding the way it is?
NASR: Well, I think the Iranians are frustrated with the economic pressure on them. They realize that Washington`s very comfortable applying pressure on Iran. Iran`s economy is now in shambles. The United States wants to reduce Iran`s oil to zero, wants to bankrupt the economy, crush it.
And Iranians want to essentially change the impasse that they`re in. They want to change the calculus in Washington. Put pressure on Trump. Send a signal to Trump that using maximum pressure is not cost-free. He would be running the risk of a war, and if he doesn`t want to go to war with Iran, then he has to think about this differently.
So, it`s a way for them to basically force a change in the impasse.
VELSHI: When you say if he doesn`t want to go to war with Iran, he has to think about this differently, what does thinking about this differently mean? One side he`s been inviting President Rouhani to dinner. He`s done it eight times and rebuffed the president the day before and said he would take with the ayatollah. There`s obviously some distance between negotiations with Iran and shooting down drones and launching airstrikes. What is the thinking about this differently mean?
NASR: First of all, the Iranians want the U.S. to release some of the economic pressure on them. They are not going to go to talks if they are choking on their sanctions and they`re going to be indefinitely in that situation and don`t see a way out of it.
Secondly, they don`t trust Trump. He, after all, broke a nuclear deal that was working and then he has a national security team that are hawks, that actually want regime change in Iran, want war. Trump on the one says, let`s talk. Then they look who`s standing behind Trump, is John Bolton, is Secretary Pompeo.
These are people who don`t want to talk. They want to crush the Iranian regime. As a result, it`s not very clear to them. What`s the purpose of this pressure? Is it really to talk or is it to bring about regime change and the collapse of the Iranian state.
So, just because Trump says let`s talk, it doesn`t mean that the Iranians believe he wants to talk, and secondly, Iranians want to come to talks, feeling that Trump takes them seriously. They don`t want to talks with Trump thinking that, OK, I just applied pressure and they`re surrendering, waiving the white flag. Now, I can put even more pressure on them at the table.
So they`re trying to get some leverage from Trump by saying, look, we have sophisticated military. We can`t shoot down a drone 30,000 feet in the sky. We`re willing to be as reckless as you. We`re willing to risk war.
We`re willing to hit tankers, disrupt the oil economy, hit our neighbors. You know, don`t think just because we haven`t done anything in the past two years that we`re going to play dead going forward.
VELSHI: One of the things we`ve been discussing today and for the last week that the United States has far superior military power to Iran. Iran can wage what some call asymmetric war. They have influence around the region, in small and sometimes large ways that don`t represent -- that corollary to American airstrikes, for instance.
NASR: Well, first of all, Iraq proved that, proved the technological superiority of the U.S. forces does not guarantee that it can actually successfully manage a war. I mean, we won the war against Iraq in two weeks and then got stuck in a quagmire that approved to be trillions of dollars in costs and tens of thousands of American lives. Secondly, Iranians understand the American might may be great, but the political tolerance of American leaders for risking body bags and risking the wrath of the American people is actually very short.
So, Trump -- they know that Trump doesn`t want to go to war. That`s not his inclination, but also in an election year, Trump may have vulnerabilities of going to war with Iraq. And therefore, he`s not as invulnerable to Iranian pressure as we may think.
VELSHI: Dr. Vali Nasr, dean of the school of Advance International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, thank you again for joining us tonight.
NASR: Thank you.
VELSHI: We have a lot more to get to this first summer Friday. Senator Chris Murphy will get here and we have the latest of new allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump.
Stay with us.
VELSHI: These are their names: Jessica Leads, Rachel Crooks, Kristin Anderson, Jill Harth, Cathy Heller, Temple Taggart McDowell, Melinda McGillivray, Ninni Laaksonen, Jessica Drake, Summer Zervos, Juliet Huddy, Alva Johnson, Cassandra Searles. At least 15 women have accused the sitting president of the United States of sexual assault or misconduct, most of them coming forward during the 2016 campaign before he was elected. Incidents of groping, forced kissing, unwanted sexual attention.
Today, there`s another name to add to the list but this one is different. E. Jean Carroll is a journalist. She`s written for some of the top magazines in the country. At one point, she had her own TV show.
Today, "New York Magazine" published an excerpt of her new book in which E. Jean Carroll She reports a violent assault by then real estate tycoon Donald Trump. According to Carroll, the incident took place after the two bumped into each other at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s.
A fair warning, the excerpt I am about to read is very graphic in nature, so if you`ve got young viewers, you may want to ask them to leave the room. Quoting from the piece: In Carroll`s account, Trump shoves her against a wall inside a dressing room, pulls down her tights and these are Carroll`s own words, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrust his penis news halfway or completely, I`m not certain inside me.
Like all the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, the president denies this one as well. In a statement released this evening, he says in part: Regarding the story, in quotes, by E. Jean Carroll, she`s trying to sell a new book. That should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section. I would like to thank Bergdorf Goodman for confirming they have no video footage of any such incident because it never happened.
The president also says, quote, I`ve never met this person in my life.
For what it`s worth, here`s a picture of Donald Trump talking with E. Jean Carroll in 1987 about a decade before the alleged attack.
As for why E. Jean Carroll is coming forward now, all these years later, she says, quote, receiving death threats, being driven from home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud and joining the 15 women who have come forward with the credible stories about the man -- how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested and assaulted them only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten and attack them, never sounded like much fun.
It`s taken E. Jean Carroll years to come forward but now she is speaking out. She`ll join my colleague Lawrence O`Donnell later tonight as a guest on "THE LAST WORD."
We`ll be right back.
VELSHI: If you were skeptical of the president`s claim that he learned about potential civilian casualties only minutes before a planned missile strike on Iran and then proceeded to call it off, you`re not alone. Quote: The idea that an American president didn`t bother to ask about civilian casualties before ordering a massive military strike, getting around to it only 600 seconds before the attack was to begin, is mind boggling. Don`t let this ever feel normal.
Don`t let this ever feel normal.
Joining me now is senator who tweeted that, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Murphy, thank you for joining us tonight.
You are on the Foreign Relations Committee. Were you or your chairman briefed on the idea that we were on the brink of starting war?
SEN. CHRIS MUPRHY (D-CT): I can`t speak for the chairman of the committee, but certainly members of the committee were not briefed on this. In fact, we have spent the last week pressing for a vote in the United States Senate to make it very clear that the president of the United States does not possess the legal ability to preemptively strike Iran without congressional authorization. The Constitution is pretty darn clear on that count.
And while it is unbelievable to think that the president didn`t ask about casualties until ten minutes before, it frankly isn`t surprising to those of us who, you know, have listened to how totally uncurious this president is about the national security briefings that he is supposed to being reading, how he asks very few questions about the policy proposals that are being put in front of him. And it just makes us all shudder to think about what comes after the strike if we do actually get into a long-term war with Iran.
If the president isn`t asking about casualties, is he really asking about what the effects are when it comes to American troops that are being put in harm by his recklessness?
VELSHI: Senator, let`s talk about the authorization to use military force. As Senator Schumer said today, as you just articulated that you are looking for an action in Congress for this. There`s been some chatter that this administration is prepared to use the authorization of military force that was authorized for 9/11 to go ahead with this.
MURPHY: Yes, that`s been asked. I mean, the authorization that was passed in 2001 was an authorization to root out al Qaeda primarily in Afghanistan. If you use the 2001 AUMF to suggest that anywhere any member of al Qaeda has ever been or transited through, then that is a permanent authorization for war without any congressional check in almost every single country in the Middle East and Africa.
The fact of the matter is, I don`t think there`s a lawyer worth his salt who would tell the president that you can pervert the 2001 AUMF to invade Iran over a dispute that has nothing to do with their support for al Qaeda, by the way. I mean, we`re talking about invading or a at that being Iran because of their nuclear ambitions or because of provocations that have happened in the last few weeks.
So we are all very worried about the president`s potential reliance on an outdated authorization or his just willingness to ignore the entire issue of authorization. He may just say that he has Article 2 authority to protect the United States and the Congress be dammed. That`s why we have to pass this legislation hopefully next week.
VELSHI: Now, we had heard perhaps it was the people at the Pentagon who cautioned against doing this. Maybe it was someone from the Joint Chiefs. We also have heard that -- we know John Bolton is hawkish on Iran. We know that Secretary of State Pompeo is. We`ve heard that Gina Haspel of the CIA was arguing for military action.
Now, in the past hour, you notice I didn`t mention a defense secretary. In the past hour the president has nominated the secretary of the army, Mark Esper, to be the secretary of defense. How do you foresee this nomination process going? We`ve not had a permanent secretary of defense in sometime.
MURPHY: No, we haven`t and it`s actually tragic that it`s taken six months for the president to put this name forward. We were all bewildered as to why it took so long to put Shanahan`s name for it.
Esper has much more practical experience than Shanahan. Yes, he does come from the defense industrial sector, but he also has history in policy and in military. So, I`ll be willing to take a look at his nomination. I`m glad the president has put it quickly before the Congress.
His Twitter feed exposed to the entire world how absolutely out of control the decision-making process is inside the White House. Frankly, a new secretary of defense is not going to change that reality.
The president does not consider facts. He makes it up as he goes along. This campaign of mindless escalation with Iran has had no end game behind it and I`m not sure that a new secretary of defense is going to cure those ails.
VELSHI: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thank you for joining us tonight.
VELSHI: Still ahead tonight, a new Democratic plan for getting most out of non-answers from a former White House staffer. Stay with us.
VELSHI: Former White House communications director Hope Hicks showed up foreclosed door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. We could see from the transcript yesterday that Hicks refused to answer 155 questions, including really tough ones, like where was your office located in the West Wing?
Now, House Judiciary chairman tells "Politico" that he plans to use that transcript as a real life illustration of the White House stonewalling as they ask the court to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify. The chairman says, quote, it`s one thing to tell the judge blanket immunity is not a right thing. It`s another thing when a judge can see what that means in actuality and how absurd it is.
Now, if Nadler could win that against Don McGahn, that could open up the door to testimony for more witnesses the White House has kept out of reach.
And there`s one more aspect to keep an eye on. When it was first announced that Hope Hicks would testify, another interview with another Trump insider was announced the same day, Annie Donaldson, former chief of staff to White House counsel Don McGahn.
Annie Donaldson, it turns out, was a big note-taker. Her notes figure prominently in the Mueller report like when she wrote about the president being, quote, in panic/chaos over the Russia investigation or when she wondered whether it was, quote, the beginning of the end because she was worried that the decision to terminate Comey and the manner in which it was carried out could be the end of the presidency.
On Monday, Annie Donaldson`s turn to testify before House judiciary comes up. Will she show up? Will she talk? If she doesn`t, if Annie Donaldson also stonewalls, does that give Nadler even more fire power in the court battle ahead?
Joining us now, former U.S. attorney and MSNBC contributor Barbara McQuade.
Barbara, great to have you here in person. Thank you for being with us.
Explain to me what this means. The House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is saying the transcript, the answers that they were not provided with -- it`s fodder for an argument that the White House shouldn`t argue for this immunity or this executive privilege over some of these questions.
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. They had to go through that exercise yesterday I think to establish the record that the White House was indeed going to invoke this idea of executive immunity, and it`s important to explain what that is.
VELSHI: It`s a difference right between privilege and immunity?
MCQUADE: It is. It`s a degree even greater than executive privilege. What they`re saying is that a witness doesn`t have to answer any single question at all. The mere fact that they were an aide to the president means that hands off, Congress, you can`t ask this person anything.
Now, Hope Hicks did answer questions that pre-dated her time in the White House, time on the campaign and the transition, but anything that occurred during the time in the White House, including as you said before, location of her desk.
VELSHI: Why would there be an objection to an answer like that? Clearly that`s something people would know.
MCQUADE: Yes, I think they were making the point, we are going to object to every single question. You have no right to ask her any question whatsoever.
Now, the executive privilege is slightly different, which is on a question by question basis you can invoke that privilege to say, I`ll answer most of your questions, but when it gets into these candid deliberations between the president and the aide, we want to make sure that we include -- incentivize people to be candid in their conversations by not forcing you to disclose those in the future. So there is room. It is a legitimate thing to protect executive privilege.
VELSHI: Because there might be national security issues? There might be things that are suitable for the public domain?
MCQUADE: Yes. What I worry is using executive privilege over everything, then it will be rendered meaningless down the road. It is something that`s important to use judiciously, selectively, in very limited situations. When President Trump says I`m fighting all the subpoenas, I`m refusing to answer anything, it really loses credibility when he does try to assert it.
VELSHI: Assess House Chairman Jerry Nadler`s chances. How does this work as he sues, as he goes to court, and what happens?
MCQUADE: I think there is a very strong likelihood that the committee prevails on this argument. This idea of immunity, executive immunity has been addressed by just one court. It`s been rejected by that court. So, I don`t see any reason to think it will come out differently.
They had to go through that exercise yesterday to build the record, show the judge what`s happening. Courts are reluctant to get involved in political questions between branches of government, but here where he can show we really are at an impasse, we really do need a court to direct members of the White House staff to come in. I think they`ll prevail.
VELSHI: If the court is reluctant to get involved in political items, do they have to say this is not political in order to say that Jerry Nadler prevails? In other words, it`s a legitimate pursuit of information.
MCQUADE: Yes. So, you`ll see them from time to time refrain from getting involved in questions that are political questions. But I think here, when you`ve got this -- you know, a battle of constitutional powers, I think there is enough precedent with the United States versus Nixon saying that the executive privilege is only a qualified privilege and that if the need for the information out weighs the need to keep the information confidential, then that privilege has to give.
So, I think we`ll get an answer. And I think that if Nadler persists in this legal strategy, that he will prevail.
VELSHI: The judge in Paul Manafort`s case unsealed 56 pages of text messages between Sean Hannity and Paul Manafort in 2017 and 2018 when he was supposed to be under a gag order. Did you get a chance to see any of those, make sense of what they mean and what impact they have?
MCQUADE: I did take a look at them. And, you know, it`s very interesting. What we see is that Paul Manafort is communicating with Sean Hannity. It`s not just that Sean Hannity is expressing his support for Paul Manafort, but, you know, talk about objective journalism ethics and standards, that`s one thing. Leaving that aside.
But from a legal perspective, Paul Manafort is under a gag order. I don`t want you talking about this in public because I don`t want to do anything that might taint the jury pool. So, what does Paul Manafort do instead of speaking to himself? He says, I`ve got a pretty good friend, he`s got a big audience.
So, he`s sharing information with Sean Hannity with the purpose that it will be shared on his show. He has his lawyer contacted him and they`re actually coordinating strategy so that Sean Hannity is sharing what Paul Manafort wants him to share and then Paul Manafort and his lawyers quote Sean Hannity and some of his guests on the show back to the judge and say, look what all of these legal experts are saying, judge. They think in my favor as well.
So, he`s really trying to play the public and play the judge by circumventing the gag order in this way.
VELSHI: Barbara, it is great to have you here. Thank you so much for all of the help you provide us and our viewers with.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Ali. Much pleasure.
VELSHI: Barbara McQuade is a former U.S. attorney and an MSNBC contributor.
Tonight, we have a major development in the story the show has been covering for weeks now. You`ll want to hear this, just ahead.
VELSHI: Today, it was officially revoked. For weeks now, the only abortion provider in state of Missouri a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis have been locked in a legal battle with the state health department which was trying to yank the clinic`s license. That would leave the entire state of Missouri with no legal access to abortion. State regulators had refused to make up their mind, refused to decide whether or not Planned Parenthood could keep its license.
The judge gave the state until today to make up its mind about Planned Parenthood`s license, and the state obliged. Today, in a five-page letter to Planned Parenthood, the health department told the last abortion clinic in Missouri that it would be yanking its license.
Now, this fight is not quite over. The clinic is operating under a temporary reprieve from the judge, even though its license has been revoked. The clinic can stay open and doctors can continue to perform abortions until the judge decides whether or not to let the state take away the clinic`s license. But when that will happen, when the judge will makes up his mind, that`s anyone`s guess.
And there is one other thing to pay attention to. Rachel has been reporting on this show how the state of Missouri told Planned Parenthood that in order to stay open, in order to keep its license, that Planned Parenthood must subject every woman seeking an abortion to a mandatory, medically unnecessary pelvic examination. Doctors already administer a pelvic exam right before an abortion. That is medically necessary and it`s fine.
But based on a new interpretation of state law, the state told the last abortion clinic in Missouri it must do a second, unnecessary, internal pelvic exam on every single woman who wants an abortion in Missouri, at least three days before the actual procedure. The state essentially gave Planned Parenthood a choice. Either agree to those terms or shut down.
So, Planned Parenthood agreed. The staff and physicians started talking to us and the media how traumatizing it was to put their parents through an invasive procedure that they do not need. One doctor at the clinic told us the new mandate was akin to state sanctioned sexual assault.
But they did it anyway, to stay open, and went on three weeks until Wednesday. The doctors at that clinic said, they had had enough and would stop doing the extra exams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DAVID EISENBERG, PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF ST. LOUIS, MEDICAL DIRECTOR: The idea we`ve been having to put women through something that`s totally unnecessary, uncomfortable, inhumane just because the state has reinterpreted the rules just isn`t fair. I can`t justify the harm inflict inflicted on my parents to get one of the safest types of medical care provided in the country. The fact Missouri is holding women action to care hostage and threatening the last bit of abortion access we have left in the state at my health center, I think it`s time for us to stand up and fight back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: For three weeks, the state mandated that Planned Parenthood subject women to a medically unnecessary vaginal probe before they can get an abortion. For three weeks, the state ignored what these doctors said was best for their patients. For weeks, the state made an unnecessary pelvic exam the cost of getting an abortion in the state until eventually those doctors said, no more.
Well, tonight, the Missouri state health except changing course. The state still wants to shut down the clinic, they made that clear in a letter to Planned Parenthood today, but in the same letter changed their mind about the extra pelvic exam. They say Planned Parenthood no longer has subject its patients to that invasive, unnecessary procedure three days before their abortion.
This went on for three weeks in Missouri, at the insistence of the state, three weeks. Now, after an outcry from doctors, from patients, from medical professionals around the country, the state says it`s changed its mind.
We`ll be right back.
VELSHI: There`s something worth watching on the West Coast over the weekend. This is the Oregon state legislature in Salem, Oregon. Democrats have majority control there. The governor, Kate Brown, is a Democrat. Both the House and Senate have big Democratic majorities.
One of the Democrats` priorities for this session is to pass a cap and trade bill. It`s a climate bill which Republicans adamantly oppose. However, there aren`t enough Republicans in the Oregon House or Senate to defeat a bill like that, and so the Democrats were poised to pass it.
But Republicans figured out one thing they could do. They could leave. In order to have a quorum, to make any decision or take any action at all, the Senate in the Oregon needs 20 senators to be present, 18 senators are Democrats. They need 2 Republicans to show up as well to be allowed to take action on any vote.
On Wednesday night, the Republicans all left. And they haven`t been seen since.
The Senate president formally requested the governor dispatch Oregon state troopers to go find them, so now Oregon state troopers are searching the state to find the Republicans who fled into hiding so Oregon cannot pass a climate bill.
This is what is happening politically in Oregon right now. It took a dark turn. After law enforcement got involved, this Republican state senator threatened multiple times overtly including on tape that if Oregon state troopers find him and approach him, he will shoot and kill those troopers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BRIAN BOQUIST (R), OREGON: This is what I told the superintendent. Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I`m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It`s that simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: The rhetoric caught the interest of armed militia groups in Oregon and nearby Idaho. One of whom told the "Daily Beast" they were mobilized to protect the runaway Republicans and that there was, quote, "potential for violence" and would were defend the senators, quote, "at any cost."
And now, tonight word from a reporter for a local NBC station in Oregon, that tomorrow`s Senate session canceled because reports of a planned rally that may include militia members.
I don`t know how this resolves in Oregon but Godspeed and good luck to the states police who are trying to do their jobs in the face of this.
Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back on Monday live in Miami, where she`ll be getting ready to moderate the first Democratic debate. I`ll be back on my show on Monday at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Don`t miss it.
And 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