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Several USDA workers quit. TRANSCRIPT: 7/19/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Joe Neguse, Jennifer Wexton

BARBARA BOXER (D-CA), FORMER U.S. SENATOR:  If I was in the Senate, I would be helping to lead the charge against this guy. 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  All right.  Barbara Boxer and Dorian Warren, thank you both for being with me on this very hot summer Friday.  It`s hot out there.  Please be careful if you are in the heat zone this weekend. 

That is ALL IN for this evening.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Are you going to be in the heat zone this weekend, Chris? 

HAYES:  I`m going to be in the heat zone, I`m going to hydrate.  But I mean, it`s 98, 99, like you start to get -- you know, people should be careful. 

MADDOW:  This is one of those days when you look at the map of the country, and it makes you start to sweat even if you are in a cool environment while you are looking at it. 

HAYES:  I was so gross from the subway when I got the work today, I had to change my shirt.  We have to find a t-shirt in a drawer somewhere, just to --    I`m going to leave you with a nice image.


MADDOW:  I am on crutches because I sprained my ankle and so, I get sweaty the first step I take outdoors.  Like the way you looked when you got off the train is how I look when I get to the curb.  So --

HAYES:  All right.  Stay cool and dry. 

MADDOW:  Thank you, my dear. 

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Very happy to have you with us.  Happy Friday. 

A lot to get to this hour in a heterogeneous news day.  A lot going on from a lot of different quarters. 

We`re going to start with George Nader.  This is George Nader.  1985, George Nader was indicted in Washington, D.C. on child pornography charges.  He ultimately beat those charges in court because he and his legal team got the charges dismissed on the evidence in the case being improperly seized from his Washington, D.C. apartment. 

But that was not the end of it.  Not by a long shot.  Five years later, George Nader was indicted again on similar charges after he was caught with child pornography.  This time not in his apartment, but in his luggage as he flew into Dulles Airport in the D.C. area.  George Nader was convicted in that case and he served time on the child porn charges.

But that was also not the end of it.  Five years after that, prosecutors now say -- excuse me, 10 years after that in 2000, George Nader trafficked a child for sex into the United States.  He brought a 14-year-old boy to the United States from Europe for the purpose of sexually abusing the boy here.  Prosecutors said that Nader did that in the year 2000 and they say they have evidence to prove it.  We`ll have more on that in a moment. 

But three years after that alleged incident in year 2003, Nader was also convicted in the Czech Republic of abusing underage boys, multiple boys.  It is unclear what his sentence might have been in conjunction with that conviction in 2003, but the conviction itself is a matter of public record.  Then after that career, in 2016, the same George Nader turns up in the Trump campaign.  In what is an astonishingly scandal-ridden presidency, populated by an astonishingly strange cast of characters, George Nader remains one of the most unsettling figures in all of Trump world. 

Again, to be clear, to disambiguate here, we are not talking about Jeffrey Epstein, seen here with the president who is also now in custody awaiting child sex trafficking charges.  This is a whole different guy who you can see in this picture with the president who is now in federal custody awaiting a whole different set of child sex trafficking charges, as well as serious child porn charges and not for the first time.  George Nader`s role in the Trump campaign and the Trump transition and even in the Trump administration is not a glancing thing.  He`s not just a guy who showed up at a fund-raiser once. 

In August of 2016, which is sort of the peak, kind of the height of the 2016 presidential campaign that year, George Nader turned up at Trump Tower in a meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. and Erik Prince and a guy named Joel Zamel.  The purpose of that meeting was reportedly to offer the Trump campaign help in beating Hillary Clinton from foreign sources.  The United Arab Emirates were offering material assistance in the campaign of a social media manipulation effort that would be designed to turn off Clinton voters and activate Trump`s voters. 

Nobody quite knows what happened to that pitch for that foreign assistance for UAE and Saudi Arabia, but that pitch was facilitated by George Nader at that meeting at Trump tower and we know that Nader ended up paying one of the other guys at that meeting, Joel Zamel, a couple of million dollars as soon as the election was over.  What was he paying for? 

We also know from the "New York Times," that even after that August 2016 meeting as Election Day got closer and closer and people were more and more frenetic in the campaign, for some reason, George Nader was still a very welcome presence in Trump world.  "New York Times" describes multiple meetings taken in the final weeks of the campaign between George Nader and Trump`s national security adviser, Mike Flynn and his campaign manager, Steve Bannon and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. 

In the final weeks of the campaign when guys like that should have had time to meet with no one, they were taking multiple meetings with George Nader.  After Trump won and before he was sworn in, in December of 2016, there is George Nader again meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel with the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, MBZ, who went out of his way to not inform the Obama administration that he was making that visit despite the fact that he was the ruler of a foreign country and that`s what you are supposed to let the U.S. government know about, if you are a ruler of a foreign country and you are visiting the United States.

He did not tell the Obama administration he was here in that meeting in 2016 during the transition.  The cast of characters involved George Nader, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates and once again, Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner.  And this time, another friend of Jared Kushner, Rick Gerson. 

Gerson turns up dozens of times in the Mueller report particularly because of his role in funneling some sort of Putin-approved document that he obtained from the head of a Russian investment fund connected to the Kremlin, he then delivered that document to the Trump transition apparently with direct approval from Vladimir Putin.  So, that happens in December of 2017. 

Then, in January of 2017, hey, there`s George Nader again this time at a meeting in the Seychelles Islands which had been set up so Erik Prince could meet the same Russian investment fund guy who was there as an emissary of the Kremlin, Erik Prince was supposed to be there as an emissary of the incoming Trump administration. 

They meet in the station islands in a in a meeting that is described in detail and is still mysterious in the Mueller report.  But again, right there in the middle of that meeting, there is that same guy, the child porn guy, George Nader. 

Once the Trump administration took office, George Nader is described as a frequent presence in the White House making frequent visits in particular to spend time with Steve Bannon in his White House office just off the Oval.  He also reportedly was part of multiple pitches that were made to the Trump administration involving Elliott Broidy who was now reportedly under federal investigation both for his role in the inaugural and his role and potentially influence peddling with the Trump administration in part through his great connections with this guy George Nader who had so many ins with the Trump campaign and the Trump transition and the Trump White House, he was a perfect conduit for a guy like Broidy. 

Well, last month as George Nader was flying in from Dubai to JFK Airport in New York City, Mr. Nader was arrested yet again on yet another round of child pornography charges and today in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia, he was formally indicted on those charges yet a tentative trial date set for September.  When the indictment was unsealed today in federal court, we learned that prosecutors have now added that charge of child sex trafficking dating back to the year 2000, an allegation of Nader bringing a 14-year-old boy into the country to abuse him that year.

In today`s court hearing, Nader`s defense team signaled that they were going to challenge that charge, the child sex trafficking charge on the grounds that the statute of limitations for that crime has expired.  It was in the year 2000.  It was there for too long ago for him to be charged with that crime. 

The prosecution signaled that they believe they have some workaround in terms of why they think they can still charge George Nader with that child sex trafficking account even though it did happen so long ago.  The prosecution incidentally also signaled today in court that at least one of their witnesses that they will call to provide evidence for their case against George Nader is somebody who speaks Czech, who speaks the Czech language.  So, presumably, that that means there may be some nexus here to the still somewhat mysterious child abuse charges for which Nader was convicted in 2003, but about which no U.S. reporters are really been able to figure out very much.

So, bottom line, if you`re wondering -- no, all is not well.  None of this is normal, even if you ignore every single thing the president of the United States has ever said, including all of the atrocious, deliberately outrageous, racist things he has been saying just over the past week.  Even if -- even if you`d never heard him speak, nothing about this presidency is normal.  This is not normal what you are seeing on the screen here.

And none of the scandals surrounding this president, including this one, or anything like what we have seen from other presidents, from even the worst presidents.  Part of the reason George Nader, convicted child porn aficionado George Nader, part of the reason he has surfaced as a character in Trump`s world is because his name appears in the report from Robert Mueller`s investigation more than a hundred times.  Nader gave multiple interviews to FBI agents working with Mueller`s team.  That`s how we know a lot of what Mueller ultimately reported about those still somewhat mysterious meetings that were happening it with the Trump campaign and the Trump transition and the Trump administration and various foreign entities that Nader was involved with.

But I`ll tell you, a lot of the stuff in the Mueller report that surrounds George Nader and that might explain his overall role here, a lot of it is blacked out as grand jury material or even as protective investigative techniques as one of the pages of the report, I think that`s page 148, just tons of stuff from Nader and it gets to the part where you`re going to get the full narrative from him and it`s all blacked out as grand jury material.  If we ever do get a judge to allow the grand jury material from Mueller`s report to be released to Congress and to the public, a lot of what we will see is fleshing out of what Nader was able to provide to FBI agents in the Mueller investigation before he had to go back to jail to face more child pornography charges, and now child sex trafficking charges as well.

As of right now, George Nader is in custody awaiting both of those sets of charges.  At a hearing today in the Eastern District of Virginia, the federal judge hearing his case cut off Nader`s defense lawyers when they even tried to raise the prospect that he might get out on bail.  The judge said, quote, I think given the nature of the charges and the extensive overseas connections that your client has, the decision to have him detained is appropriate. 

And then the defense lawyer says, your honor, we`re asking that this court reconsider that issue.  We filed a motion when the case was still under seal earlier today.  The judge said, all right, well, I will have a look at it.  The defense lawyer says, thank you, your honor.

And then the judge says, but, right now, I did look at the pretrial services report.  When I saw the amount of time your client is outside the United States and the extensive contacts he has and quite frankly the types of charges here carry enough of an exposure, that the incentive to flee would be quite high.  In other words, yes, I`ll read your motion to let him out but really?

So, there`s George Nader whose presents spreads like kind of a -- like a -- like a food stain through the pages of the Mueller report.  Newly charged as of today, now not just with additional child pornography charges on top -- on top of the child porn charges that he`s already faced him done time for in the past, but now, he`s also charged with international child sex trafficking.  That indictment unsealed today, his bail denied.

And this happens, of course, just as Washington braces itself for the expected testimony of Robert Mueller on Wednesday of next week.  Now, there has been a ton of back-and-forth about the exact details and the logistics of Mueller`s appearance.  What we`re now looking at is that he`s going to do three hours with the Judiciary Committee first, and then he`s going to do two hours after that, with the comparatively smaller Intelligence Committee.  The first round with the Judiciary Committee will likely focus more on the alleged obstruction of justice by the president.  The second setting with the Intelligence Committee will likely focus on Russia`s attack on our election and the Trump campaign`s involvement in and awareness of that attack.

Now, as for whether or not Mueller`s prosecutors, his team will be allowed to testify as well -- it`s interesting, quietly, a few days ago, the lead FBI agent who worked on Mueller`s team, a man named David Archie did do nearly five hours behind closed doors with the Intel Committee in the House.  It was a closed-door hearing, so therefore we do not know what happened there, but that happening without much fanfare is a bit of a coup for the intelligence committee because other Mueller personnel are having a hard time getting in the door. 

The Justice Department is reportedly trying to block two of Mueller`s prosecutors from appearing at all.  Neither of these two Mueller deputies is a Justice Department employee anymore.  And so, technically, the Justice Department doesn`t get to say what they do now that they`ve both gone back to private life. 

Nevertheless, the Justice Department is reportedly trying to block them from appearing in conjunction with Mueller`s testimony next week, so we still don`t know exactly what`s going to happen there.  We hope to get some clarity on what`s going to happen with the deputies and Mueller`s prosecutors, at least before Mueller starts his testimony on Wednesday.  It`s possible we may be able to get a little bit more clarity on it tonight when we have a member of the Judiciary Committee here in person, in studio, to ask.

But you should also know how do you wanted this into what is going to obviously be a big week next week, you should also know that this weekend, you have the opportunity to get yourself ready for next week`s big week. 

First of all, on Sunday night, MSNBC is going to be airing a special.  It`s basically a prep session for you and for the whole country on Mueller`s investigations and Mueller`s report and his findings.  That`s going to be hosted by the great Ari Melber at 9:00 p.m. Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday night, right here at MSNBC.  Attendance is mandatory.

Now, if you are driving somewhere for the summer weekend or if you`re going to be folding laundry or mowing the lawn or doing a big mess of dishes or anything else where you might have time to listen to something, I might also commend thee to the brand-new podcast just launched today that`s aimed at sort of explaining the Mueller report but also dramatizing it and making it cool and listenable.  This was just dropped today by the good folks at Lawfare.

And I know a lot of people have read the Mueller report out loud, including members of Congress reading it out loud.  I know it`s been like projected onto stuff, it`s been turned into theater.  The Lawfare folks have done a really, really good job producing this as an audio document, basically as a podcast, and to make you understand it, to make it so cool and suspenseful.


NARRATOR:  It is in 2014, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the heart of the city, a small nondescript office building sits beside Bolshaya Nevka River.  Inside, workers stare at computer screens, open to Facebook and Twitter, furiously typing.  Their tasks: sow discord, disinformation and doubt.  Their target: the United States of America.

Through fake social media accounts and armies of bots, they are flooding online media with disinformation.  This is a troll farm.  Its name?  The Internet Research Agency. 

This is The Report, an audio series from Lawfare, breaking down the report of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.


MADDOW:  Can you see yourself driving down the highway, the miles just slip it away, you lose yourself in that?  Come on.  The Report podcast kind of explaining and dramatizing the Mueller report just come out from Lawfare, just in time for you to listen to that this weekend because you need to get prepped for Mueller`s testimony next week.

Also, the Sunday night special at MSNBC at 9:00.  Do not be caught unawares, right?  This is the time to get ready.  Next week is going to be a big deal.

One last thing, you should also know that ahead of Mueller`s testimony, just today, there was a big new volley from the Democratic-controlled Congress to the Justice Department and specifically to SDNY, which is the Southern District of New York, the U.S. attorney`s office that this week unsealed documents on a judge`s order that related to the hush money case, the campaign finance felonies case that put the president`s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen in federal prison. 

In a letter today to SDNY, to that U.S. attorney`s office, Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is demanding information from the prosecutor`s office about why it is that Michael Cohen was the only one charged with those felonies and whether or not the president would have been charged with those felonies if he were someone other than the president and whether or not main justice and Attorney General Bill Barr interceded in that case to shut it down with no further charges being brought and with lines of inquiry being cut off involving the president`s business.

Cummings has told SDNY as of today, he wants copies of any immunity deals that were granted.  He wants evidence that was collected in the case against Michael Cohen.  He wants evidence specifically related to the president`s potential involvement in those felonies.  He wants answers, he wants written answers. 

Quote: Did your office conduct an investigation into potential criminal conduct by the president of the United States?  Did your office collect evidence of the president`s direct participation in potential criminal conduct?  Did your office not indict the president due in part or in whole to the Department of Justice policy that prohibits the indictment of a sitting president? 

What was the involvement or influence of the Attorney General William Barr in any decisions in this case?  For any potential crimes relating to your investigation, did your office, the attorney general or any other Justice Department official render a prosecutorial judgment with respect to the president?  And it goes on and on and on.  I mean, the last question he has is, why have no other participants in the campaign finance violations been charged with a crime? 

And I will tell you, the likelihood that SDNY is going to respond to Chairman Elijah Cummings and hand over all this material that he`s requesting is about the same likelihood that I`m going to hit a land speed -- land speed record this weekend on my crutches.  No, it`s not going to happen.  I mean, U.S. attorneys offices don`t respond to enquiries from the Hill.

I mean, they may get something from main justice, but that`ll be controlled by William Barr, and what`s he going to say, yes, yes, I did it. 

Ahead of Mueller`s testimony though, I do think that this volley from Elijah Cummings is important, because this is a direct sort of shot across the bow at the Justice Department that they should have to explain their decisions and they should have to explain who made those decisions, at least and specifically when it comes to potential criminal behavior by the president of the United States and the Justice Department collecting evidence of that and assessing what should be done about it.

So, this is why you have to study it this weekend.  I mean, it`s still going to be a good weekend, but for citizenship class which convenes with double days next week, we all have to do a little bit of homework.

More ahead tonight.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  T-minus five days until special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before Congress starting Wednesday morning.  He`ll spend three hours in open testimony before judiciary and then two hours of open testimony before intel. 

Last month, when it was first announced he`d testify, at that point, some of Mueller`s lieutenants, his staffers, prosecutors who worked with him, they were also expected to testify after Mueller behind closed doors, in private transcribed interviews.  We on this show had confirmation live on the air, first from the Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and then from the Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler that those lieutenant interviews were at least planned. 

Since then, that plan seems to have fallen apart a little bit.  NBC News is now reporting that those interviews are definitely not a sure thing any longer.  Quote: There are still ongoing discussions with the House Intelligence Committee and the Department of Justice to allow some of Muller`s deputies to appear in closed classified session so they can discuss information that cannot be revealed publicly, like portions of the redacted report or underlying evidence.

One Democratic staff are telling NBC News, quote, this just seems to be another effort by the attorney general to limit the amount of information coming out of the special counsels office in order to protect the president.  So even with testimony scheduled, there`s still a ton of drama.

Joining us now is somebody who`s going to be one of the people questioning Mueller five days from now, whether or not the deputies are there, Congressman Joe Neguse is a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Sir, thanks for being.  It`s nice to have you here in person.

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO):  Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Let me ask you about that deputies issue.  Is that settled?  As far as we can tell, it was on and then it was reportedly off, and now, it`s influx.

NEGUSE:  So, I don`t know the answer to that question. 


NEGUSE:  I`m not -- I`m not sure.  There are a lot of moving parts.  I would differ, of course, to the chairman of our committee, who I think is doing tremendous job, the negotiations are ongoing.  And so, I think from my vantage point and I think the vantage point of the American people, the focus ought to be on the special counsel himself. 

MADDOW:  Do you think it would be valuable to hear from the staffers, to hear from the prosecutors or the FBI agents?

NEGUSE:  Sure.  I mean, I think -- I think it`s important, you know, if anything this last two months has showed that we are in need of the ability to really hear from the fact witnesses themselves.  So, from my vantage point, questioning the special counsel next week will be a very important milestone.  It`ll be an opportunity for the American public to finally hear from the special counsel directly about the significant evidence of criminality that he uncovered, and the conclusions that he reached a result thereof.

But it`s just the beginning, not the end.  I mean, we also need to hear from the fact witnesses, from Mr. McGahn, from Ms. Donaldson, from many others.  As you know, you`ve had the chairman on your program many times, we just recently authorized the chairman to issue a number of subpoenas for additional fact witnesses, many of whom never worked for the administration and we believe can make no colorable or cogent argument this, you know, supposed privileges that they`ve continually tried to invoke, which have no legal basis but nonetheless these witnesses can`t even assert that.  So we expected them to appear as well.

MADDOW:  The legal wrangling over those fact witnesses, it`s frustrating to a lot of observers and people who serve won`t still want this story to be - - further unravel before the American people just because it is taking a long time, and you and the chairman both have expressed that you`re on strong legal footing, that they`re asserting privileges that don`t exist, that ultimately you win.  Is the idea that, yes, this is taking a long time, but ultimately after we went in court, the dam will break and we`ll get all of them all at once?  Or is every single one of these fact witnesses going to take months or years to spool out in which case, we`re all going to be in an old folks home by the time we get to the end of the first volume of the report?

NEGUSE:  I certainly hope it`s the former -- 


NEGUSE:  -- and not the latter, and I think that`s probably the case.  I mean I think we are on very strong legal footing.  I think these witnesses ultimately will be compelled to testify and appear before the Judiciary Committee, and as I said next week`s hearing ought to be where the focus is.  It`s a very important first step. 

I will also say, part of the challenge has been the fog of confusion that was created by this administration`s wholesale obstruction of Congress.  As you know, you`ve documented it on your program many at times, the administration constantly rebuffing Congress, refusing to obey congressional subpoenas that were duly issued, has created a fog of confusion around the special counsel`s findings, and I think that`s why the hearing next week is so important, so that the public can finally understand what he concluded.

MADDOW:  Have you guys been doing like moot court, like dry run, practice sessions, where somebody pretends to be Robert Mueller and you all figure out how to get to the bottom things like have you been doing that kind of practice sessions?

NEGUSE:  We have been preparing.  I won`t reveal the internal deliberations of the committee and the activities.  I will just -- I`ll say this, I mean is -- 

MADDOW:  Just tell me who`s playing Robert Mueller.  Just tell me if you got de Niro.

NEGUSE:  We`ll do that after next Wednesday.

MADDOW:  All right.

NEGUSE:  I mean, I will say this, there are very capable, talented lawyers serving on this committee, many of whom you`ve had on your program.  We are prepared.  We are unified.  It`s an important moment, the stakes are very high.

MADDOW:  If in the moment, it needs to go longer than three hours, you guys have the power to make it go longer than three hours?

NEGUSE:  I would defer to the chairman on that question.

MADDOW:  Well done.  This is discipline in action.

Congressman Joe Neguse, member the House Judiciary Committee, a disciplined man -- thank you very much for being us.  Great to have you here.  Come back soon.

NEGUSE:  Thank you, Rachel.  Definitely.

MADDOW:  All right.  Much more to come.  Stay with us tonight.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT:  Can you see it?  Oh, no, it`s a bee.  It`s OK, guys.  Bees are good. 

CHILD:  They sting and they`re scary.

OBAMA:  They won`t sting you.  We`ll be OK.  Wait, wait -- 


OBAMA:  Hold on, hold on.  You guys are wild things.  You`re not supposed to be scared of bees. 


MADDOW:  That was actually a very good move.  No, no, wait we`re reading where the wild things are your wild things, I was like -- that was like maybe the smartest thing to say in that moment, obviously, still had absolutely no effect.

If you Google the two words Obama and bees, that is what pops up like 4,000 times.  And don`t get me wrong that is a very good piece of tape.  But it is worth scrolling down past those first 4,000 results until you get to the dozens of articles, including scientific articles, outlining President Obama`s near obsession with trying to do something about bees, about the declining honeybee population in this country, a population that has plummeted over the past few decades and that has profound potential consequences on, you know, us being able to eat. 

The reason this bee thing matters, the reason the President Obama cared so much about this issue during his presidency is because bees enabled the production of 75 percent of the food crops in the world.  Most of the fruit vegetables and nuts that all of us eat, they exist because of the role that bees play in pollinating those crops.  So, if bees go away so does the food.

Bees are vital to the nation`s economy.  Bees and they`re pollinating efforts, they contribute more than $15 billion annually to the U.S. farming industry.  So, of course, President Obama sort of a walk right willing to look at the science on stuff like that, he took this issue very seriously.  President Obama even formed a special task force to deal with protecting pollinators, to deal with this specific crisis, to stave off the decline of the honeybees.

That work is now getting thrown out the window.  Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that it is suspending its bee survey due to budget constraints.  Just this week, the Trump administration approved broad new usages for a pesticide that even the Trump administration says is, quote, very highly toxic to bees.  Oh, good. 

Turns out, that was just a curtain raiser for the big show though.  That`s next.


MADDOW:  For weeks, we`ve been covering the Trump administration`s efforts to take apart science at the USDA by telling the scientists at that agency they need to up and move to Missouri with their families right now or they`ll all be fired.  Dozens of high-level scientists working as career civil servants of that agency we`re told they had a grand total of one month to decide whether they would move halfway across the country in order to keep their jobs. 

The government doesn`t even have an office for them to move to in Kansas City, but for whatever reason, the Trump administration says this move has to happen right now, right now, no extensions, no exceptions.  Two-thirds of the USDA scientists affected by this decision are already known to be accepting termination rather than taking the move, to avoid the forced uprooting of their lives and their families by the federal government.  One USDA employee who was told to move or be fired to someone who is currently undergoing chemotherapy.  Another is receiving treatment for multiple sclerosis.  We learned this week that both of those scientists asked for an extension from the government for more time to decide whether or not they could feasibly make this move across the country on short notice without compromising these sensitive matters involving their health, neither of those requests for an extension was approved by USDA.

Democratic members of Congress this week wrote to Trump`s Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make sure he knew about the hardship some of his employees are facing in the wake of his decision, his mandate.  Quote: They now face the unconscionable decision of having to choose between insurance benefits or relocate to an entirely new city and attempt to find a team of specialist physicians to provide treatment. 

These members of Congress are asking for more information about how many USDA employees have asked for hardship extensions and how many of them have not been approved.  Congress is saying they want these answers by Monday, as in Monday, this upcoming Monday.

Joining us now is the member of Congress whose signature is first on that letter, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton from Virginia.

Ma`am, thank you very much for being here tonight.  It`s nice to have you here.

REP. JENNIFER WEXTON (D-VA):  Thank you, Rachel.  It`s great to be here.

MADDOW:  So let me ask about how you and your committee came into contact with these employees that you mentioned in your letter who requested these hardship extensions from USDA due to their health.  How did you come into contact with them?  How many people do you think might be in this kind of circumstance?

WEXTON:  Well, they`ve been contacting us about you know the issues that they`re facing as they`re trying to make these incredibly difficult decisions on such a short timeline.  So, they`ve been contacting us.

You know, there`s a total of 544 employees who are going to be moving.  We don`t we don`t know what we don`t know right now, unless they`ve affirmatively reached out to us, and that`s one of the reasons that we felt it was necessary to write to Secretary Perdue and ask that he disclose to us how many have requested such extensions and what the grounds are for determining if they`re going to grant an extension, how many have been granted, what the grounds were for those.  You know, we just -- we just don`t have any information at this time.

MADDOW:  As you say, this is more than people who`ve been given this ultimatum and a number of scientists who we`ve been in contact with, lots of veterans of the agency have said publicly that what they think is going on here is that the Trump administration is basically torpedoing the ability of this agency to do the kind of scientific work that they are renowned for.  This seems to be targeted at the sort of science core of USDA.

Do you have any insight as to as to why the administration is doing this or do you -- are you an agreement with people who suspect that might be the reason?

WEXTON:  Well, they`ve said that they want to move this agent these agencies out to Missouri, to St. Louis, to be closer to the farming interests out there, you know, as rather than being in Washington, D.C.  I question the veracity of that, both given this administration`s history of pretextual reasons for the things that it`s doing. 

And also, I mean, where it`s located now between the D.C. metro area -- I`m from Virginia.  Virginia is our number one -- our number one industry is agriculture, same goes for Maryland.  In Missouri, it doesn`t even make the top four.

So I certainly question that.  I think the much more likely explanation is that these agencies have created research and scientific and economic research which directly conflicts with this administration`s political goals.

MADDOW:  Briefly, if you don`t get the answer that you`re looking for from this letter that you and your colleagues have sent, if you can`t get the information that you were looking for, is there discussion on your committee of potential subpoenas or potential investigation into this decision?  Obviously, if you`re -- if you`re concerned that this might be pretextual, that they might be lying about why they`re doing this, and what their real intentions are, is that potentially going to be a matter of congressional investigation?

WEXTON:  Absolutely.  I mean, this is something that over which it`s entirely appropriate for us to conduct oversight.  You know, we in the House of Representatives has also passed to appropriations bills which prohibit the agriculture Department from using money in order to implement this move.  So I hope that makes it into the final spell its spending bill.  But I am still hopeful that Secretary Perdue will provide the responses we requested by Monday.

MADDOW:  Congressman Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, thanks for joining us tonight.  I`m -- I`m stuck on this issue.  I am really -- I am not getting over it, and I hope you`ll keep apprise as you learn more.

WEXTON:  Thank you.  Yes, thank you for drawing attention to it.  It is -- it is a huge issue that`s really pervasive and problematic and is going to have very bad ramifications for a lot of folks if it`s allowed to go through.

MADDOW:  I believe, I believe you.  Thank you, much appreciated.

WEXTON:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  All right.  Much more ahead tonight.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Like Doritos, the guy says, like the chips, the snack chips, Doritos.

It was January 2009, the person writing the email, a guy who works at the nation`s largest manufacturer of opioid pain pills, the guy from the pain pill manufacturer, is writing this email and he sends it to a distributor of those pain pills in Ohio.  And he manufacturer guy says in his email that 1,200 bottles of oxycodone 30 milligram tablets had been shipped to that distributor and were on their way. 

This is the response he gets back from the distributor guy in Ohio, quote: Keep them coming, flying out of here.  It`s like people are addicted to these things or something.  Oh, wait, he says, people are.

And the guy from the manufacturer responds, quote: Just like Doritos, keep eating, we`ll make more.

Keep eating them, we`ll make more.

This email was first made public in a new report in "The Washington Post" tonight.  It`s obviously about the opioid epidemic in this country and why we have one.  This is an epidemic of course that has killed more than , Americans already and counting. 

This latest story exposing email exchanges like that one where these guys are excited about how many cases of pills they`re shipping because of all the people addicted to them, it is just the latest in a blistering series of stories about opioids that "The Washington Post" has broken this week since "The Post" and their reporters at the beginning of this week basically got themselves a golden ticket.  They got themselves a journalistic key that unlocked part of this story that has never ever been accessible to the public before. 

"The Post" and their reporters and got it through the courts this week and it has opened up this floodgate of stories about stuff we didn`t know what`s going on with this epidemic before.  We`ve got the story behind it coming up next.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Pick a place anywhere in the country, all you need to know is the state to start.  Pick somewhere you`re familiar with or where you live now or where you grew up, start with the state.  Let`s say, South Carolina, then add the county, let`s say for our purposes here, Charleston County.  You put those in, just click submit, and then look this amazing new tool shows you which distributors were getting pills from opioid manufacturers and distributing them in your county.  It also shows you which manufacturers were also shipping pills to those distributors in your county.

But then look at the next column, pharmacies.  You can also go drugstore buy drugstore individual drugstores.

And if you want to know how many pills they`re distributing you can literally go store by store by store drugstore by drugstore pharmacy by pharmacy.  And if you want to know how to make sense of the number of pills being distributed store by store, here`s an easy distillation of it -- how many highly addictive opioid pain pills were these companies and distributors pushing into your town through these individual drug stores and pharmacies. 

From this database, you can tell the number of pain pills per person per year were being distributed in New York county, and you can do this right now through the Website of "The Washington Post".  We`ve posted the link tonight at, so it`s easy for you to find.  But you can do this for any county in the country. 

And the reason you can do this now is because it turns out there is a database of every single opioid pill legally sold in this country, every pill, down to the one.  It`s a list maintained by the DEA.  It tracks every pill from the drug manufacturers, to the distributors, to the individual pharmacies all across the country. 

And it exists so the DEA can supposedly track suspicious sales.  Well, the big pharmaceutical companies and distributors are required to report each transaction involving an opioid pain pill to the DEA, and that`s how this database exists.  But who has access to this database?  It has always been kept secret.  It`s always been kept hidden from the public view -- until now.

A team of intrepid reporters from "The Washington Post" and from "The Gazette Mail" in Charleston, West Virginia, have been trying to get access to this database for a couple of years now.  "The Post" initially filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the database.  It was denied.  The government did not want the database made public.

But perhaps more importantly the drug companies really, really didn`t want it made public.  They repeatedly told the courts as people tried to pry this information loose that if this information about what pills went where was made public, that might give their competitors might give the other drug companies an advantage in the marketplace.  Yes, the competitors might find out where the hungriest most addicted markets were, that`s valuable information, you know how many pills you can sell in some of these little towns, we can`t let that information out there.

So, the drug companies have to submit information that ends up in the database, but then the database is kept secret.  These reporters were trying to get the database made publicly available, made public to them in their newspapers.  They kept getting rebuffed in the courts on this, but "The Washington Post" and "The Gazette Mail" ultimately saw a window in Ohio, with a federal judge who`s been overseeing the single largest civil action in U.S. history, which is about opioids.  It`s a case that has consolidated about different cases all brought by state and local governments against the big pharmaceutical companies that make and sell these pills. 

That federal judge in Ohio had previously allowed some of the plaintiffs in that case, some of the cities and towns to themselves access some of the data from this big, important, mind-blowing database.  And -- but it was under a protective order, so that even though they could see it for their own purposes, they couldn`t tell anybody about what they could find there.

In a legal proceeding, that`s what`s known as a good place to start.  And so, the good folks of "The Washington Post" and the "Gazette Mail" tried to build on that and they filed to intervene in that case, saying, listen, if you can let these localities see this stuff under a protective order, we as news organizations and through us the public, we should be able to get access to this database too. 

And initially, that federal judge told those journalists no.  But the newspapers didn`t accept that answer.  They appealed the judge`s ruling.  Lawyers for the post argued that this information served a public need to know, it would serve the public interest in understanding and fighting the opioid crisis to actually know which manufacturers and which distributors sent how many drugs, we`re in which drug which drug stores sold them.

Ultimately, it was a federal appeals court that agreed with the news organizations on this and ruled in their favor, quote, the data will aid us in understanding the full enormity of the opioid epidemic and might thereby aid us in ending it.  And with that six years of data from this massive database tracking every single opioid pill sold in America was made available to the public.  And "The Post" made this widget on their Website that allows you to access it in this incredibly convenient way.

And that`s why you can now get this individual data for any place in the country, just pop it in put in the state first and then the county next, and it is amazing to scroll around and do it. 

If you picked the county where you know and you click on that, you will recognize the pharmacies that pop up in that third column.  And now that we have access to that database for the first, thanks to those reporters and their legal intervention here, we can all now see for the first time what`s been going on down to the individual pill, as "The Post" puts it, quote, the number of pills the companies sold during the seven year time frame here are staggering, far exceeding what has previously been disclosed in limited court filings and news stories. 

Yes, far exceeding what we knew was out there.  I wonder why they never wanted anybody to see this database, huh?  Turns out -- turns out you might not want the country to know that you`re shipping out more than 12 billion highly addictive pain pills in a year, 12 billion pills to a country with only 320 million people in it.  Yes, I probably wouldn`t want anybody downloading that data either.

So, what "The Post" has been able to get their hands on is data from 2006 to 2012.  That`s the seven-year period.  What the report that`s all that the reporters were able to get out of the courts for now.  One of the amazing things here is that so many more billions of pills were being shipped out than anybody knew about, but also it got worse and worse and worse over time. 

Again, this is a seven-year period starting in 2016.  And over those seven years, from 2006 to 2012 is the opioid crisis lit the country on fire, right?  And the death rate started skyrocketing and the country started freaking out about it.  Over the course of those seven years from 2006 to 2012, well a hundred thousand Americans were killed by these drugs in that period, we can now tell they kept upping the number they were shipping every year. 

In 2006, they were at 8.4 billion pills.  By 2012, they were up more than 50 percent from that, at 12.6 billions pills.  By 2012, that mean they were shipping at an average of 36 highly addicted pain pills for every man, woman, and child, and baby in the United States.  And now, you can check the see if your county was on par with that or maybe doing better than that, good for you, or maybe you`re one of the counties where the companies went whole hog. 

Again, just for context here, the per person average as of 2012 was that they were shipping out 36 pills for every man, woman, and child in the country, 36.  In Norton, Virginia, which is the smallest city in Virginia, up in the mountains, basically just a small town, up there, they weren`t shipping 36 pills per person.  They were shipping 306 pills per person over the course of just one year.  It`s astonishing. 

The other thing that`s amazing about this data base, though, is it doesn`t tell us how many pills we are shipping overall and to where and how they went up and up and up each year, as the country got more and more addicted.  They also tell us what the companies knew about their own behavior, because this is what they knew they were doing.  This is their own data that they plugged into this database. 

So, they knew.  So, this company, SpecGX, knew that they were shipping 4.7 million highly addictive fills that year into Norton, Virginia, into a town of 4,000 people, 4.7 million pills? 

Walmart knew that it alone was distributing 3.4 million highly addictive pills that year into a town of 4,000 people.  Quote: The database reveals what each company knew about the number of pills it was shipping and dispensing and precisely when they were aware of these volumes year by year, town by town, and case after case, the companies allowed the drugs to reach the streets of communities, large and small, despite persistent red flags that those pills were being sold in apparent violation of federal law and diverted to a black market. 

"The Post" has been reporting out the details of what they are learning from this database that they had pried loose from the government.  They`ve also, to their credit, released it now for everybody to see and to search for your own community.  You just click on your state, click on your county, see the exact number of pills per person that have been unleashed on your community during this time period. 

It`s just a remarkable tool.  We`ve got it for seven years.  Hopefully, we`ll get it for every year.

A lot of powerful companies wanted to keep this secret, but now we all have access to it, thanks to these journalists who kept fighting, who didn`t take no for an answer.  Thanks to "The Washington Post" and West Virginia`s "Charleston Gazette Mail". 

I don`t know if you love your local paper or you hate your local paper, if you hadn`t it read it in so long, you don`t remember, but regardless, do it anyway.  Subscribe to your local paper.  Your country needs you to. 

That does it for us tonight.  We will se you again on Monday. 

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD".  The great Joy Reid, sitting in for Lawrence tonight.

Joy, I took your first 58 seconds.  I`m very sorry.

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