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Labor Secretary resigns TRANSCRIPT: 7/12/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Guest: Julie K. Brown, Josh Gerstein

COUNCILWOMAN CINDI NGUYEN, NEW ORLEANS, LA:  I will be out here tomorrow with them to make sure that the levee is going to be good.  They have put - - they added sandbags to make sure the water doesn`t topple over.  They will feel confident about the levee system and our citizens are going to be safe. 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN":  All right.  Councilwoman Cindi Nguyen, we`re all pulling for you.  Thank you for joining me.

That is "ALL IN" this evening

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.  Good evening, Rachel.

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

HAYES:  You bet.

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Happy to have you with us tonight. 

Honestly, there are a whole bunch of different developing news stories we are following tonight on what, of course, is a very busy Friday because that`s what Fridays are always like now for some reason. 

Tonight, just within the last hour or so, we are getting in images from protests all around the country that are being held under the banner of Lights for Liberty.  These are protests organized over the last week or so.  They are apparently more than 700 of these protests and vigils happening basically simultaneously right now, many of them outside Border Patrol and ICE facilities. 

These protests and vigils are against the Trump administration`s treatment of immigrants, especially following the several weeks that we have had of raw and disturbing accounts of the conditions in which the Trump administration is holding people, including little kids who are being kept apart from their families.  We expect one of these Lights for Liberty protests to get under way in the next hour in Yuma, Arizona, outside this Yuma Border Patrol station. 

We have been reporting on this station since NBC News obtained a bunch of significant incident reports describing alleged abuse of kids being held apart from the Border Patrol stations.  Earlier this week, Customs and Border Patrol announced that an investigation had been opened into one claim that NBC obtained from a 15-year-old girl, claiming she had been sexually assaulted by a uniformed officer at the Border Patrol station.

As far as we can from the paperwork that NBC obtained, that girl`s claim that she was sexually assaulted, although she formally came forward and made that report to a federal case manager, as far as we can from the written material obtained by NBC News, that girl`s allegation was not investigated by any agency until NBC News obtained that incident report and started asking the federal government questions about it.

Again, one of these Lights for Liberty protests is scheduled for that Yuma Border Patrol facility tonight, but there are hundreds of these happening tonight around the country.

Late tonight, we got a searing pool report.  You know how pool reporting works in terms of the presidential and vice presidential visits.  It`s official visits by the government.  A pool reporter will be assigned from the press pool that`s covering it, to essentially be the reporter of record when all the reporters can`t go at once on the visit or on the event that`s being described.

The pool report we got tonight that is making such waves and is going viral and I think maybe changing the conversation a little bit tonight comes from the border station in McAllen, Texas.  Vice President Mike Pence was in McAllen, Texas, tonight, at that border station.  And the pool reporter assigned to be traveling with the vice president, in this case it was Josh Dawsey from "The Washington Post." 

Josh Dawsey was accompanying the vice president.  He was assigned the possibility to be the poll reporter writing up what happened and what the vice president does and saw.  This is the pool report that Josh Dawsey just filed. 

Quote: After negotiating with the vice president`s office, pool was taken into an outdoor portal at McAllen border station, around 5:00, where almost 400 men were in caged fences with no cots.  The stench was horrendous.  The cages were so crowded that it would have been impossible for all of the men to lie on the concrete.  There were 384 single men who allegedly crossed border illegally.  There were no mats or pillows.  Some of them were sleeping on concrete.

When the men saw the press arrive, they began shouting and wanted to tell us they have been there 40 days or longer.  The men said they were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth. 

It was sweltering hot.  Agents were guarding the cages wearing face masks.  We were pulled out of the portal within 90 seconds and a White House official said the Secret Service had expressed opposition to the vice president going in.  The vice president briefly went into the room.

Pence said later at a news conference, quote: I was not surprised by what I saw.  I knew we`d see a system that was overcrowded.

It should be noted the crowding is not an organic phenomenon, right?  The reason those men are crowded into that cage is because that`s how the Trump administration is holding them.  The conditions of confinement are the responsibility of the entity confining people by force, right? 

I mean, this is what the Trump administration is doing on purpose and presumably the reason they sent the vice president there to see it with a pool reporter is because they like what they`re doing there.  They want you to know this is what they are doing to people because presumably they think this helps them politically to be seen to be treating immigrants this way, you know, like animals in pens, lamented for their smell and how unwashed they are when they`re not being allowed to wash themselves and they`re being held in outdoor portals with nothing to lie down on and no way to clean themselves for 40 days at a stretch.

The Trump administration, I mean, in arguably has created this scenario and is maintaining it because they think it works for them politically and now they are showing it off.

Today, the House Oversight Committee released a report summarizing the information that committees been able to obtain thus far about the treatment and mistreatment specifically of kids taken away from their parents by the Trump administration.  That report includes individual accounts of boys and girls as young as four months old who have been taken away from their parents by the Trump administration.  We`ve linked to this report tonight at if you want to check it out for yourself.

Among other things, the Oversight Committee breaks out the story of some of these individual kids as best as they`ve been able to trace it, and there`s privacy concerns here obviously so they don`t name the kids using their names but they do tell their specific stories.  For example, a boy they described as child two, an 8-month-old boy from Honduras who was taken away from his father at the border.  The father was then moved to multiple facilities away from his 8-month-old son, including in two other states and then the father was ultimately deported without his baby son. 

The report concludes in that case, quote, at the time of his release, the baby had spent nearly half of his life without his parents in the custody of the Trump administration.  It is unclear whether the child and father have been reunited.

Again, part of the report today released by the oversight committee.  There was also an oversight hearing today in which a veteran Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia basically could not contain himself in response to the testimony that committee had received today about conditions on the border and what the various government inspectors who were testifying to the committee could say about whether or not anything would get any better.


REP. GERALD CONNOLLY (D-VA):  You can talk all you want about whether the poor border control is overwhelmed.  That makes no excuse for how we are treating children.  If there`s one basic value that all unites as Democrats and Republicans as Americans is how we treat children.  Their children, our children, it doesn`t matter.  That`s a fundamental value.

And I`ve sat here and listened to horror stories.  I thought it was fiction.  I thought it was a novel reading from Charles Dickens, and the conditions that prevailed 19th century London, children without soap, children in filth conditions that none of us would ever countenance with their own children. 

Well, any child in our care is our children.  The equivocation, the enabling, the rationalization is inexcusable is there no limit to what you will justify in this administration.


MADDOW:  Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly today at an oversight hearing about the conditions in which immigrants and specifically kids are being held by the Trump administration.  That hearing, this visit by the vice president to the McAllen border station, this sort of terrifying new report from the oversight committee, these protests that we`re watching unfold tonight around the country, this is all happening, this is all roiling and happening amid the backdrop of expectations that the Trump administration may launch these new nationwide raids to round up immigrant families starting this weekend.

The president basically pounded his chest about that today when he was talking to reporters at the White House and he bragged that those raids will be starting on Sunday.  This is the way he wants to run for re- election.  He wants to be seen to be rounding up immigrants by the millions.

Amid reports that the raids will be targeted to big American cities, including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco and others, there have already been protests in several of these cities against the anticipated raids.  Mayors in many of those cities have directed local police to not cooperate with federal agents if they try to carry out those raids.  Mayors in multiple of these cities have told ICE they will not be allowed access to local law enforcement databases to try to carry out these raids. 

As we reported last night, the Trump administration originally announced that New Orleans would be one of the ten cities they would prioritize in these raids they say they`re planning for this weekend.  They then quickly walked that back once day presumably checked the weather in New Orleans. 

As of tonight, Tropical Storm Barry is due to be a hurricane by the time it`s expected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast tomorrow, depending on the exact track of how Barry moves north out of the gulf, New Orleans could be looking at crippling even catastrophic flooding as a result of this storm depending on at how it plays out.  I mean, this is one of the main things everybody`s going to be watching overnight and through this weekend.

Even as that tropical storm heads toward hurricane force winds, it`s expected that the winds themselves are not necessarily going to be the biggest problem with this storm, it will be the rainfall which could be epic and it will be arriving at a time when the Mississippi River is already swollen with floodwaters and when New Orleans is already experiencing street flooding.

So I mentioned there`s a lot of developing stories tonight that we are watching tonight and we`re going to be watching that overnight and into the weekend.  This is the kind of thing I mean.  I mean, we`re already having a lot of news already but a lot of the stuff that is happening tonight in the news is stuff that is both happening now and expected to develop over the next 24 to 48 hours, stuff that could become even more serious over the next day or two or three. 

This is going to be one of those news intensive weekends I`m sorry to say.  On tonight`s show, one of the things we`re going to be talking about is the newly announced delay in the testimony of Robert S. Mueller, the special counsel, who had been expected to give testimony to the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee Wednesday next week.  Just in the last hour, the chairmen of the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee announced that they are postponing Mueller`s testimony by a week. 

Robert Mueller will not testify next Wednesday, July 17th.  Instead, he will now testify on July 24th, so the following Wednesday. 

As part of that agreement to delay his testimony, the two committees say they will get more time to question the special counsel in public session, although it still remains kind of vague and murky as to what the longer questioning time for Mueller has to do with him getting a one-week delay before he testifies.  Why are those things related?  I don`t know. 

We`ll be talking about that this hour, including the related question of whether or not Mueller`s prosecutors, whether or not people working on Mueller`s team are going to be testifying alongside Mueller or not.  We had previously thought that Mueller would testify an open session and some of his team members, some of the prosecutors working for him would thereafter testify in closed session with those committees.  That appears to now also be in flux.  We will have more on that coming up later on this hour.

Also what I mentioned, there`s one other story you may not have on your radar yet in terms of things that may develop soon.  This is a story that was first broken by "Axios" today.  It was later confirmed by NBC News, and in this story did get a little pick up here and there once it broke but I`m just highlighting this right here right now because I think this is one of those stories that might end up being a much bigger deal when it fully develops and it might develop quickly, so it`s worth seeing it coming.

What "Axios" and then NBC News today reported is that President Trump may be taking initial steps toward firing the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.  Now, Dan Coats, the DNI, is one of the people on the president`s cabinet who the president regularly and openly complains about all the time.  But this -- the thrust of this new reporting about Dan Coats potentially being fired is that the White House basically is floating a trial balloon about who they might want to replace Dan Coats if in fact Trump fires him.

According to "Axios" and NBC News today, Trump wants for his new director of national intelligence -- this guy.  Seriously, he wants the author of the book "Obamabomb" to be the new director of national intelligence, according to today`s reports. 

His name is Fred Fleitz.  He`s not a famous person.  It`s OK if you don`t remember that name.  He did briefly make headlines last year when Trump`s newest national security adviser John Bolton tried to bring Fred Fleitz onto the National Security Council for about five minutes.  The freak out in national security circles around that was palpable and it did give rise to some sort of lurid stories about Mr. Fleitz.

But now, I mean, it was one thing for them to try to put this guy in a staff job working for John Bolton.  Even if it was a staff job in the National Security Council, which is an important thing, that caused enough of a freak-out in national security circles.  But if these reports are correct today, that Trump is now going to try to put him in the Senate confirmable position of director of national intelligence -- I mean, that`s going to be -- I mean, hilarious is not the right word, I know.  But if this is going to be something if they actually try to do this.

I mean, this is a guy who -- I mean, if they try to make him DNI, if they try to fire Dan Coats and bring this guy in instead, just for context here, this is a guy who would have to be brought into the Trump cabinet to become director of national intelligence from the job he has now.  The job he has now is he works as the senior vice president for policy and programs at a think tank.  That think tank where he runs its policy and programs is the leading proponent of the crackpot theory that the U.S. government is secretly being run by the Muslim Brotherhood. which has infiltrated the highest ranks of American government and we just don`t know it.

He has argued that we need to have a new House on American Activities Committee.  We need to revive that committee from back in the `50s, except this time we won`t be rooting out pinkos and commies.  This time, we need that committee back because it needs to root out the secret Muslims that are operating inside the U.S. government, do you believe that, holding government jobs while also being Muslim, right?  Oh that must obviously be stopped.

This is also a group, I should mention, that said the Oklahoma City bombing back in 1995, that was not the work of Timothy McVeigh. Yes, I don`t believe everything you`ve heard, obviously, that was a Muslim who did that.  It was like Saddam Hussein or some other Muslim.  We`re not sure, but it was definitely a Muslim and I wasn`t Timothy McVeigh that blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.  That`s his think-tank.

He also has made a name for himself on the Fox News Channel in the Trump era by going on TV and saying that the intelligence community`s assessment that Russia interfered in the U.S. election in 2016, that was, in his words, rigged.  He`s not saying that Russia tried to rig the election in 2016.  No, Fred Fleitz says that when the intelligence community assessed that Russia was trying to intervene in the election, that assessment was rigged because the intelligence community is rigged because Russia wasn`t doing nothing.

Well, now, according to "Axios" and NBC News, Trump wants to make him director of national intelligence and he wants to fire Dan Coats in order to make room for him.  Again, these are just initial reports but given the way turnover works at the highest levels of the Trump administration like including in the cabinet, this could blossom forth at any moment.  And I think it is worth keeping an eye on that possibility before it happens because it really would be an amazing thing for them to try.  I mean that would be -- that would just -- that would be a good test of whether or not the U.S. Senate, you know, lives and breathes if they were confronted with an asked to confirm somebody like that to a job like that.

But as I said, in the Trump cabinet, there`s always room to move.  You know, we started out naively about this time about two years ago when we thought on this show ha, ha would be simple, it would be helpful, might be clarifying for our viewers if we could just simply chart, just simply show our viewers a list, a simple list of top-level abrupt departures from the Trump administration, right?  Started off naive and super innocent so this was the summer of 2017, we`re like -- oh, we`ll just make a list. 

Within a few months, it started to become apparent that that big stack of names and titles might be a little intimidating the fonts kind of small there so we tried switching to pictures but that ended up just looking like one of those triple bingo guards -- bingo cards you get at a really high level church hall bingo like we`re one of the newbie first-time players can`t keep up because everybody`s playing triple bingo and nobody can go that fast unless you`re a pro.

So, he dropped the bingo card look then we went back to list format.  Eventually, we stopped trying to make them all in one column.  Then we actually tried moving the camera back a little bit so we could keep the two columns but the columns could get taller and you could see more of them eventually we had to pull the camera back far enough that you could like see my genes under the desk because we are pulling the camera back so far to make the screen as big as possible. 

Then we ultimately tried three columns instead of to Google but we had to make the foot so small people thought we were kidding and that those couldn`t really be real names and real job titles, they really were.  Eventually, in order to try and make the font and big enough to read while keeping all the relevant names and titles on the screen of all the people departing the Trump administration, we ultimately went to a whole different wall of the studio, literally they put in a whole big monitor that was the size of a wall and we thought, whoo, now we`ve bought herself enough real estate that might work.

It turns out that taxed the system a little bit and we haven`t blackouts from time to time -- oops, yes.  Eventually, we tried wrapping around to the other wall.  But that ended up being sort of folly technical-wise, so we gave that up too. 

And you know what?  I am not the only person who has tried to track this stuff this way.  I mean, this was a good-faith effort and people are still trying to allow people to visualize the magnitude of turnover in the Trump administration. 

I mean, earlier today on MSNBC, they had a valiant effort.  I thought this was pretty good just picking the top tier departures from the Trump administration that you`re organizing them by year, right?  This was a good effort.  I still think it looks like different days shopping lists that accidentally got merged into the same notes document. 

CNN recently started doing kind of an artful one where they make everybody looked like a star so you know it`s like Hollywood squares but instead of three by three with Bruce Vilanch in the middle, it`s a row of 15 with Tom Price in the middle and little sparks shooting out of the bottom of John Kelly there.  Whoo.

I mean, it is it`s hard to track no matter how much time and effort you spend trying to visually organize the information it`s too much to get your head around.  I mean, even if you just talk about people who had their cabinet-level jobs or other super senior jobs -- I mean, I mean, that`s Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Rex Tillerson, John Kelly, Jim Mattis, David Shulkin, Kirstjen Nielsen, Jeff Sessions, Nikki Haley, Linda McMahon, right?  There was the acting defense secretary guy Patrick Shanahan is - there were almost cabinet secretaries like Andy Pozner, remember?

And that`s all separated apart from all the national security advisors Trump has gone through and all the White House press secretaries has gone through and all the communications directors he`s gone through, and all of the other senior White House staff he has gone through in various scandals and blow ups. 

So, today, when Alex Acosta became -- I mean, what is it, the 11th, 12th, 13th --- depending on you how you count the nth Trump cabinet official to resign in disgrace or scandal or in extravagant vulgar melodramatic conflict with the president, I mean, when Alex Acosta resigned today, he was following a well-trod path.  I mean, just his job -- I mean, remember Alex Acosta only got the labor secretary job in the first place after Trump`s first pick for the job, like a guy Andy Pozner was derailed by the emergence of the videotape of his wife in a disguise on the Oprah Winfrey show talking about being battered by her husband.

I mean, the worst thing that has ever happened involving any non-imprisoned cabinet or would-be cabinet official in any other presidency in the modern era would rank like 12th or 13th in terms of scandal potency in the Trump cabinet.  But the scandal that took Alex Acosta`s job today is one that is not over.  His role in securing an inexplicably lenient non-prosecution agreement for the wealthy and well-connected pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was public knowledge.  You would think that it might have been the sort of thing that might would have popped in the vetting for Alex Acosta before Trump ever appointed him to a cabinet position in the first place.

But that role of Alex Acosta in signing the non-prosecution agreement for Jeffrey Epstein, that apparently only became too much of an embarrassment for the Trump administration when Epstein ended up back in court this week this time in New York.  Well, tonight, federal prosecutors in New York told the court in a surprise filing that Epstein shouldn`t receive bail now that he`s been arrested again and he should be held in custody until his trial, until he goes on trial and these new sex trafficking charges.  They say he should be kept in custody and not let out on bail because among other things they say he`s been tampering with witnesses. 

They now allege that he wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to two of his alleged co-conspirators in a way that prosecutors say suggests he might have been trying to tamper with them as witnesses and keep them from testifying against him.  He allegedly sent that three hundred and fifty thousand dollars immediately after the "Miami Herald" published the bombshell investigative reporting that basically broke the Epstein case back open then that resulted in these new charges and that resulted in the labor secretary today becoming the nth Trump cabinet official to lose his job in scandal.

The investigative reporter from the "Miami Herald" who did that work who said all of this in motion is our guest, next.


MADDOW:  Late last year, the "Miami Herald" published an investigative series called "Perversion of Justice", and that investigative reporting at the "Miami Herald" has changed the world.  In that series, reporter Julie K. Brown tracked down and wrote about the efforts to get justice by multiple child sex abuse victims of the wealthy and connected Jeffrey Epstein after an inexplicably lenient non prosecution deal that Epstein got from then U.S. attorney Alex Acosta in Florida. 

Since the stories were published in the "Herald", a lot of major things have happened like this week, a new arrest of Jeffrey Epstein who now faces up to 45 years in prison on sex trafficking charges.  The U.S. attorney in New York announcing those charges took time to credit some incredible investigative reporting and helping his office track down Epstein and bring these new charges.  When he said that he was talking about the reporting of Julie K. Brown.

Today, after the pressure became too much even for the Trump administration on this issue, the U.S. attorney who had given Epstein his non-prosecution deal years ago in Florida, today, he resigned as Trump`s U.S. secretary of labor.  That inexplicable deal that Acosta gave Jeffrey Epstein back in the day hadn`t been enough to keep Trump from putting Acosta in his cabinet in the first place but the pressure now because of Epstein`s case and Epstein scandal resulted in Acosta losing his job.

And tonight, we got a new explosive allegation from prosecutors in New York that after the "Miami Herald" series was published late last year, Epstein, according to prosecutors, wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to his alleged co-conspirators and what prosecutors say could be attempts at witness tampering.  The prosecutors have notified the court of their belief that those payments could constitute witness tampering in an effort to prevent the New York judge overseeing Epstein`s case from freeing him on bail while he awaits trial. 

Joining us now is Julie K. Brown, "Miami Herald" investigative reporter who broke this story open and who changed a lot of lives in the process.

Ms. Brown, thanks very much for being here.  It`s nice to have you back.

Let me ask you just first of all your reaction to this latest this latest news -- federal prosecutors are saying that just two days after you published your series last November, Epstein started wiring hundreds of thousands of dollars to two of his potential accomplices.  What do you make of what prosecutors are intimating here in this filing?

JULIE K. BROWN, MIAMI HERALD INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER:  Well, I think prosecutors have a lot more information than we know about and I also think that that probably factored into the decision of Mr. Acosta to step down right now because I think there`s a lot more information and evidence that`s going to come out.  It sounds as though they have been building a case for quite a while if they`ve known about this wiring of money in the aftermath of my series they probably have other information and possibly even cooperating witnesses or cooperating people from Epstein`s camp who are going to reveal a lot more damning information.

MADDOW:  In terms of what prosecutors alleged to the court tonight, among the documents they filed seem to be records from Florida and not from New York, that indicated that Epstein was sort of looked at very seriously for potentially having intimidated witnesses and tried to tamper with witnesses around the time that Florida was considering how to adjudicate the claims against him when Acosta was the U.S. attorney.

Do you know if witness tampering or obstruction of justice type charges were considered against Epstein back in 2007, back in 2008, when he was facing those Florida charges?

BROWN:  Yes, they weren`t only considered but there was a couple of draft plea agreements that were done early on in the case where they were going to charge him with witness tampering.  That was one of the things that they considered as a result.  In part, some of the victims who were asthma as we know teenagers were followed and their families were followed one woman reported that her father was run off the road this was happening back in Florida in when they were investigating this.

So, you know, he tried to intimidate a lot of people, including the police, including prosecutors.  He dug up dirt on everybody that he could so this is part and parcel of his method of operation - you know wield his power and influence in order to scare people from cooperating and from going forward with prosecutions.

MADDOW:  Because of that record and so much of it we know because of what you`ve been able to document about how his case was handled in Florida. because of that record, I`m struck by what you said earlier that there may be new cooperating witnesses here who may be able to work with prosecutors here,. work with police and the FBI in terms of building this case and prosecuting these new charges against Epstein, that`s obviously been a real point of contention that`s been part of how he`s escaped some measure of justice all this way is that there haven`t been people who`ve been willing to cooperate with prosecutors against him?  Do you think that might be changing now?

BROWN:  Well, if these people -- you know, he didn`t do this trafficking of alleged trafficking operation all by himself.  He had a whole crew of people helping him, schedulers and recruiters and pilots and drivers.  So, you know, it`s always been a question of why Acosta and the FBI back then didn`t try to get some of these people to cooperate.  You know, they did all lawyer up and have seen paid for some of their lawyers.  But at some point, you would think that they would have been able to do that.

And now I think what New York is trying to do is to try to get them to reveal new evidence that is focused in New York because there`s going to be some kind of a fight with Epstein about the fact that he signed this non- prosecution agreement in Florida and that these -- anything that he did in Florida can`t be prosecuted.  So, it would -- so New York prosecutors are likely trying to get information on his crimes, possible crimes that he did in New York.

MADDOW:  Julie, I just have to ask you one last question while have you here, and it`s just -- I`ve talked to you about this story over the months, as you`ve been breaking this, and I really do think that it`s changed the world.  Right now, it`s changing national politics too.

Just have to ask how you feel in the middle of all this having done all of this shoe leather work, having made all of this contact with his alleged victims who were chasing this on their own for so long?  How it feels for this to be having the kind of impact that it`s having now after all the work that you put into it?

BROWN:  Well, you know, I always say, you know, that the real heroes in this story are the victims that we`re willing to come out. I mean, they were very scared to talk.  You know, this is a man that has a lot of power it happened a long time ago.  These women moved on with their lives and so, for them to share their stories with me was just an incredible honor and, you know, I`m very really happy for them.  You know, they contact me frequently and they`re just, you know, just shocked that it has really made a difference in it that something might be done for justice that they`ve been fighting for, for so long.

MADDOW:  "Miami Herald" investigative reporter, Julie K. Brown -- Julie, I know you got a lot of demands on your time right now. Thank you so much for helping us understand.

BROWN:  Thanks.

MADDOW:  All right.  We`ve got a lot more to get to this very busy Friday night.  Stay with us.



REPORTER:  Is the Mueller hearing to be delayed, sir?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  I`m not saying anything about -- 

REPORTER:  Are the negotiations still ongoing?

NADLER:  I`m not going to say anything.

REPORTER:  Are you going to announce it by the end of the day?

NADLER:  I`m not going to say anything.  Now.

REPORTER:  Sir, why did you agree to only two, two and a half hours?

NADLER:  I just said, I`m not going to say anything.

REPORTER:  Were you getting complaints from your members about not being able to ask questions?

NADLER:  How many times do I have to repeat I`m not going to say anything about the Mueller situation?


MADDOW:  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler besieged by reporters this afternoon amid reports that special counsel Robert Mueller`s testimony which had been scheduled for Wednesday next week either had been postponed or might be postponed or was in some sort of state of limbo.  Tonight, we do have an answer.  Nadler and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announcing tonight that Mueller`s testimony has indeed been pushed back a week, so instead it won`t instead of happening the 17th it`ll now happen the 24th -- a week from Wednesday.

In a statement, the two chairmen said quote we are pleased to announce that special counsel Mueller will provide additional public testimony when he appears before our committees.  What they mean by additional is that Mueller had originally been scheduled to testify for two hours in front of each committee, now will there be three hours in front of each committee not two.

Now, why is there any connection between the whole thing getting delayed a week and the committee`s getting an extra hour with Mueller?  I have no idea but that`s what`s happening.  I should also note that certain questions about the testimony really remain totally unanswered, including whether Mueller`s deputies are going to be testifying as well. 

We`ve been told by Adam Schiff on the air the night the subpoena to Mueller was first announced, that Mueller staffers would be speaking in closed session with the Intelligence Committee after Mueller himself testified in the open to the committee.  We were then told by Chairman Nadler that Mueller staffers would also be speaking in closed session with his committee too.  Well, now, maybe those closed sessions with Mueller`s prosecutors, those are off maybe.

"The Wall Street Journal" has since reported the names of which to Mueller deputies might be testifying before the committees, and amid what is reported to be pressure from the Justice Department that those two senior members of Mueller`s team shouldn`t talk to the committees at all, there was a new report in "The Washington Post" this afternoon that testimony by Mueller`s deputies may now be cancelled completely. 

From what we`re able to report, trust it as far as you can throw it, at this hour, what we understand is that the issue of the testimony of Mueller staffers hasn`t been canceled but it remains in flux, it`s not a settled matter.  That`s as much as we can figure out from our own sources.  Like I said, clear as mud.  Why is this so hard?

But again, big headline tonight, special counsel Robert Mueller`s testimony not next Wednesday the 17th -- it`ll be a week later, but he will testify for an additional hour. 

OK, more ahead.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  There was some what appeared to be bad news for the Trump White House today as a federal appeals court for the first time waded into the efforts by the Democratic controlled House to get stuff from and about the president by subpoena.  There`s been all these subpoenas.  There`s been nothing in response to these subpoenas. 

Today, it went to a federal appeals court for the first time.  And today`s fight was over financial records relating to the president that are held by his longtime accounting firm Mazars.  These are the records that the House subpoenaed after the president`s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen testified under oath that those records might show evidence of the president committing bank fraud and insurance fraud.

Well, the House heard that from Michael Cohen, subpoenaed those records from Mazars, the president then sued Mazars to keep them from complying with that subpoena.  A federal judge ruled in may that the subpoena was valid and Mazars needed to hand over those records to Congress.  The president appealed that judge`s ruling and that brought us to today -- to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C., where we got to hear, not read, but hear president Trump`s new personal lawyer, William Consovoy, making his case that Mazars shouldn`t hand over the president`s records. 

And the argument itself turned out to be astonishing because the case the president`s lawyer is making to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, like one level below the Supreme Court, right, is that Congress can`t get this subpoena, Congress can`t get these materials because they have no power to oversee the president.  They have no power to access any information that would allow them to oversee the behavior of the president.

And you can like here the incredulousness in the judges` voice in response to them making this argument and, I mean, it literally you can actually hear it.  We have the tape of it and that`s next.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  OK.  The first voice you`ll hear here is one of the federal judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, federal appeals court.  The second voice you will hear is the president`s new personal lawyer.  And what you`re going to hear is the judge questioning the president`s lawyer today in court, basically asking the president`s lawyer, are you seriously arguing what I think you`re arguing?


JUDGE PATRICIA MILLETT:  I`m sorry, I`m let me try to understand your argument here.  Is your argument that the Committee on Oversight has not been given any power of oversight as to the office of president?  That`s one or is it that they only not been given subpoena power is the office of the president?


MILLETT:  OK.  Which means they can`t even look.  They can`t ask questions.  They can`t look.

CONSOVOY:  If that`s between them and the parties, I would have an understanding to object if someone sent a letter that had no compulsory process.

MILLETT:  No, no, but under your theory of the rule that absent of this clear statement, there is no oversight authority at all.  That has been confirmed.  Or invoked by Congress.

CONSOVOY:  So the answer is yes.


MADDOW:  Ah, the answer is yes.  Congress can do no over -- it`s good to have the tape of it, right?  Otherwise, you wouldn`t get to hear that the judge laughs in the middle of her restating this argument to the president`s lawyer, right?  They`ve never put judge laughs in the transcript but you can clearly hear her laugh in the middle of that.

I mean, in this case today over whether the president`s accounting firm has to hand over his financial records in response to a subpoena from Congress, it really does seem like the president`s lawyer is arguing that Congress can`t get those records because Congress is not allowed to oversee anything that relates to a president.  I mean, even if hypothetically the president is super, super corrupt, even then Congress can`t oversee anything about that?

Here`s the same judge again.


MILLETT:  Imagine you have in the future the most corrupt president known to humankind, open, flaunting, doing it.  What law could Congress pass?

CONSOVOY:  I think it`s very difficult to think of one and I understand that sounds extreme -- 

MILLETT:  OK, you can`t think of one, right.


MADDOW:  I understand that sounds extreme.

That was today in the Appeals Court in D.C.

Joining us now to discuss today`s oral arguments in that hearing is Josh Gerstein, senior legal affairs contributor at "Politico".  He was there at the courtroom today.

Josh, thanks for making time to be here.  I really appreciate it.


MADDOW:  It is so good to be able to actually hear it happen instead of having me read it and trying to get the inflection right from the transcript.  It is -- I feel like we get a lot more color in terms of the tone of how this went from sitting in the courtroom.  It seems like from your reporting at "Politico", you had the impression that these arguments didn`t go well for the White House and they did go well for Congress.

GERSTEIN:  Yes, it was about an hour, an hour 15 minutes straight that William Consovoy, this Trump attorney, was up there really being grilled by the panel, at least by two of the judges on the panel and Judge David Tatel, who was the other Democratic appointee on the panel, said, well, what laws could Congress apply to the president?  Consovoy said, well, maybe his records could be regulated a little bit.  And Tatel pointed out, well, all presidents filed these financial disclosure forms, surely, that kind of disclosure is constitutional and Consovoy was having none of it, said, no, he wouldn`t agree that that was constitutional.

So, I think at that point he had basically lost at least two-thirds of this panel and, you know, you began to wonder if the arguments were not being teed up for the Supreme Court because I just didn`t think it was a winning case.  It was too much of a maximalist kind of Federalist Society type position to fly at the D.C. circuit.

MADDOW:  In terms of teeing this up for the Supreme Court and taking that kind of maximalist position, is that something that is aimed correctly at the Supreme Court?  Is there a reasonable belief among the president`s lawyers that this Supreme Court is currently constituted might like this kind of argument, might not see it as -- might not greet it as incredulously as these two judges on this panel today did?

GERSTEIN:  I think it`s definitely a possibility given the makeup of the Supreme Court at the moment.  It`ll probably ride as it has in the last year or two on Chief Justice John Roberts.  What I think the fundamental tension here in the Trump administration argument is they`ve been going to courts like the Supreme Court and saying, when we do something controversial, don`t look you know behind the curtain at all only look at exactly what we say publicly is our reason for doing this and now they`re taking the flip side of this argument when it comes to Congress and they say, well, Congress says they`re doing this for legislative reasons but we want you to pull the curtain back and look and they`re just doing it because Nancy Pelosi says that she`d like to see the president in jail.

And I think it`s going to be difficult to move from those arguments on the Trump-related cases to the arguments that they`ve made previously in other disputes and probably even in the Supreme Court they may have a little bit of difficulty getting traction with that.

MADDOW:  And, Josh, on the substance of this -- obviously, there`s this subpoena to Mazars.  There`s a sort of similar subpoena that was given to Deutsche Bank to try to get banking records from the president, and both of those subpoenas the president brought lawsuits to block those institutions from complying with them.  In the lower courts where the president lost both times, there was a lot of discussion about the need for speed here, about how Congress wanted to move with some alacrity on this and they didn`t want unnecessary delay.

In terms of just thinking about the substance here and whether or not Congress is going to ultimately get these records, what kind of time frame do you envision in terms of this being resolved?

GERSTEIN:  I think it`s possible that this could be resolved within a matter of months now.  I think that the appeals court panels have made pretty clear that they want to move expeditiously on this we could see decisions from them in a matter of weeks.  There`s still other processes that could play out like trying to go to the full bench or the appeals court.

And one real question here may be whether the Supreme Court wants to weigh in.  The president can`t force them to do that and so, there`s always a chance that because it`s a highly politicized dispute, that maybe the Supreme Court decides they don`t want to get into it particularly, if this hits them over the summertime while most of the justices are out of town.  I think there is a chance that they might decide they`re not really interested in delving into this dispute in great depth.

MADDOW:  In which case, it wouldn`t go above the level of the court that it`s in now if the Supreme Court decides not to review it.


GERSTEIN:  Yes, that`s right.

MADDOW:  Josh, didn`t mean to step on you there. 


MADDOW:  Thanks for joining us here.  I appreciate.  Yur reporting on this today at was super clarifying. 

GERSTEIN:  Anytime, Rachel.

MADDOW:  I appreciate you being here.

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


MADDOW:  Overnight tonight, we`ll be watching Tropical Storm Barry which is churning in the gulf right now and heading for Louisiana.  The National Weather Service predicting the storm will make landfall over the central Louisiana coast early tomorrow morning as a cat-1 hurricane.  They expect it to weaken as it moves inland but rain is the biggest threat here. 

Forecasters say the slow-moving storm will likely sit over that already waterlogged region for days.

And so, once again, the country is praying for New Orleans and for competence and our nation`s disaster response if the worst comes to pass.  This is a developing situation.  We do not know what the next 24 hours will bring, but MSNBC, of course, will be monitoring the storm all weekend.

That does it for us for now, though.  We`ll see you again on Monday.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening.

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