RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, Joy. Much appreciate it, my friend. Thanks a lot.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here this Monday night.
If the FOX News Channel is insufficient pro-Trump for you, you may or may not know that there is another boutique little news outlet that is designed specifically for Trump mega fans. It`s called One America -- One America News Network.
The Trump White House gave this boutique outfit a hard pass for access to the White House grounds and a permanent seat in the White House briefing room. Remember when the White House used to hold press briefings? They had a seat for those.
President Trump also started quoting this little news outlet and frequently telling people that they should be watching them, praising their ratings, which is the highest possible praise from this president, right?
Today has been a more ridiculous than most day in the news and there is a ton going on, and we`ve got a very busy show. But I have to tell you, perhaps the single most perfectly formed story of the day, the single most like sparkly story of the entire day is this scoop from reporter Kevin Paulson at "The Daily Beast" who has sussed out that Trump`s favorite more Trumpier than Fox TV network, the one that the president has been promoting and telling everyone they should watch and is better than Fox, turns out that network has a full time on air reporter who covers U.S. politics who is simultaneously on the payroll of the Kremlin. What?
Because at the same time he works for Trump`s favorite One America News team, he is also being paid by the Russian government to produce government-funded pro-Putin propaganda for a Russian government funded propaganda outfit called Sputnik. Sputnik, of course, had a key role in the Russian government`s intervention in the 2016 election to help Trump, according to the intelligence committee`s assessment of that attack. Sputnik has also formally registered with the U.S. Justice Department as an agent of a foreign power.
I mean, there is a lot of news today, but among the giblets the news gods dropped off their plates for us to eat off the floor today is the actual news that this super right wing news outlet that the president has repeatedly endorsed as a preferable alternative to Fox News, because he thinks Fox is insufficiently pro-Trump, so now he likes this is other outlet better. We literally learned today that that outlet the president is promoting shares staff with the Kremlin.
I mean, what? I mean, it`s an easy thing to throw out, you know, like an epitaph in the Trump era, right? Hey, that looks like Russian propaganda. In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda. They`re on air U.S. politics reporter is paid by the Russian government to produce propaganda for that government.
I mean, this is the kind of news we are supposed to take in stride these days. And we do our best.
That is just one of the things we learned today. And I guess you just swallow that and then you move on. And we expect that they won`t fire their Kremlin staffer and we expect that the president will keep promoting them, and we expect that other right wing news outlets wonder if they should have a Kremlin staffer doing U.S. politics reporting, too.
It probably makes it easier to get the message. I mean -- anyway, let`s get to it. As I said, there is a lot going on. And given all of the drama that`s happening right now in Washington and how much more dramatic it`s going to get in Washington over the next two days, I actually want to start tonight with something in Washington that was a tremendously solemn occasion, because today, the country started the process of laying to rest former Supreme Court justice, John Paul Stevens.
John Paul Stevens was a Republican. He was appointed to the circuit court of appeals by Republican President Richard Nixon, that he was appointed to the Supreme Court by another Republican president, Gerald Ford.
Justice Stevens nevertheless eventually found himself to be the leader of the liberal wing on the U.S. Supreme Court where he served for over three decades. Justice Stevens author the famous dissent in Bush v. Gore and in Citizens United. He authored the ruling outlawing the execution of the mentally disabled. He authored two of the key rulings that tried to subject Guantanamo, America`s weird, lawless third country prison in Cuba, to some kind of accountable rule of law.
Justice Stevens retired from the court in 2010 whereupon his seat on the court went to Justice Elena Kagan. Tomorrow, there will be a private burial for Justice Stevens. But today, as he laid in repose at the great hall of the Supreme Court, it was Justice Kagan who now holds his seat who spoke for him.
In her remarks, she singled out -- this was interesting to me. She singled out his law clerks, law clerks who had served with him in each of his 30- plus years on the court.
They, of course, all came to the court today to honor him and she started sort of addressing his law clerks, which was interesting. She started with a reference to his famous work ethic and how much the work of his own chambers he famously shouldered himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELENA KAGAN, ASSOCIATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Justice Stevens, more than those justices, did not need law clerks.
When I`ve talked with you over the years and in these last few days about Justice Stevens, you all say the same thing. You all say that he was the best boss you ever had. You all say that you learned and the most from him.
That you learned the most in that year that you spent with him than in any year before or since. You learned how to lead a good and honorable life. You learned about treating people with dignity and with courtesy and with respect and with kindness.
And you learned about the importance of putting all your legal talents and gifts to use and serving others. And as you`ve lived by those lessons and as you pass them on to others after you, you perhaps do the most to honor Justice Stevens to honor his legacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Justice Elena Kagan speaking today at the great hall the Supreme Court as Justice Stevens laid in repose. If you`re ever the boss of anything in your life, imagine somebody being able to say things like that at your funeral someday, right?
Justice John Paul Stevens, in addition to his service to the judiciary, he served in World War II. He enlisted in the military the day before Pearl Harbor, the day before. He was a code breaker. He won the Bronze Star.
Tomorrow, in a private ceremony, he will be buried at Arlington. His passing, his interment feels like a particularly powerful touchstone at this exact moment in our national life.
The day after Justice Stevens is buried tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, Robert Mueller will testify to Congress about the Russia investigation that he led and his report and his findings there have been a bunch of interesting headlines all day today about what to expect when his testimony gets underway on Wednesday and how it`s already being fought over.
First, we learned today that that he will make an opening statement of some kind. This means that in terms of your Wednesday, you should plan to be in your chair and watching and ready to go at least by 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, which is when they gavel in the session because Mueller is giving an opening statement, in addition to whatever opening remarks we`ll get from the chairman and the members.
Now, we do not know what`s in Mueller`s opening statement, but his spokesperson told reporters today that Mueller`s opening statement didn`t have to be cleared with the Justice Department, and it has not been cleared with the Justice Department. Now, that`s important and interesting because it means that nobody knows what he`s going to say.
But it also means, even though the Justice Department has really been trying to pressure Mueller about his testimony and the constraints they want on it, if Mueller is already planning an opening statement that he is not planning on showing the department ahead of time, that at least means he is retaining some independent control over his remarks regardless of what the Justice Department is telling him to do.
Just before we got on the air tonight, Jake Gibson at Fox News was first to report on this letter that the Justice Department has just sent to Robert Mueller today, trying basically to circumscribe his testimony on Wednesday morning.
Dear Mr. Mueller, I write in response to your July 10th, 2019, letter concerning the testimonial subpoenas you received from the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in the House. Then it quotes a little bit what Mueller said and his one public press conference at the end of May. And then it basically pulls out the guillotine in terms of Mueller`s testimony.
Quote: the department generally does not permit prosecutors such as yourself to appear and testify before Congress, regarding their investigative and prosecutorial activity. Should you testify, the department understands that your testimony should not go beyond the public version of your report to the attorney general. There should be no testimony concerning the redacted portions of the public version of your report. In addition, it is the department`s long-standing policy not to discuss the conduct of uncharged third parties named Trump.
The department policy also precludes any comment on the facts developed and legal conclusions by the special counsel`s office with respect to uncharged individuals, the president.
The letter then goes on to say that Mueller is not allowed to say anything about discussion about investigative steps or decisions made during your investigation, claiming all of those things are covered by privilege.
And then it closes, quote: I trust this information is helpful and then it is signed by associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer.
Bradley Weinsheimer was appointed to that job by Jeff Sessions last summer. In a typical for the Trump administration misspelled press release, the announcement of Bradley Weinsheimer getting that job literally the second paragraph of that announcement contained both a typo, Weinsheimer will began serving and then it said this, Weinsheimer will began serving as acting associate deputy attorney general and then it says there right there in black and white, in this position, he will have no role in overseeing the special counsel. He will have no role in overseeing the special counsel except now.
There he is signing this new letter to Mueller tonight that directs Mueller to not say anything at all to Congress about Trump or about any of his investigative decisions a special counsel on telling that everything else he did discover by privilege and otherwise stuff that the department either expects him not to talk about or wants him not to talk about.
A senior Justice Department official tells us tonight that Mueller`s July 10th letter to the Justice Department which this letter tonight says it`s in response to. Apparently, that letter from Mueller to justice was simply a one paragraph letter sending the Justice Department the subpoenas he got from Congress and asking for guidance on what he could say.
Now we know from the publication of this letter that the Justice Department took 12 days to respond to Mueller on that, and now, tonight, they`ve given him this order to basically not tell Congress anything at all, especially not about the president or anybody else who wasn`t charged, and it is cite by a Justice Department official who is supposed to have no role in this matter at all.
So, we`re going to get some expert help on that in just a second in terms of the implications of this letter and what Mueller might do about it. But you should also know that the president does appear to already be freaking out a bit about Mueller`s Wednesday morning testimony, whether or not you see the justice department letter that was sent to Mueller tonight as part of that freak out is up to you.
But the president himself is saying directly online that Robert Mueller shouldn`t be allowed to testify Wednesday morning. He is once again claiming that Robert Mueller has some terrible conflict of interest that nobody`s ever really been able to explain.
Here`s one thing to keep an eye on tomorrow though on the eve of Mueller`s testimony. Tomorrow, one day ahead of Mueller, FBI Director Chris Wray is due to testify at an oversight hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I mean, even if Robert Mueller is going to say as little as possible on Wednesday, even if he follows the strictures of this letter that he received tonight and says basically nothing, Robert Mueller and his team -- well, I mean, Mueller`s investigation included a whole team full of high- level FBI agents, right?
Mueller`s team was handed on going, open FBI investigation for them to fold into their work. I mean, if the FBI has things that should answer for in this scandal, right? If the FBI director has questions that he should answer when it comes to the investigation that Mueller led. When it comes to the counterintelligence investigation into whether the president is or was compromised by a foreign power which was an FBI counterintelligence investigation, when it comes even to these newly unsealed Michael Cohen search warrants that show FBI agents seeking from the court and obtaining approval to get evidence of Michael Cohen communicating about his campaign finance felonies with Trump and with the Trump campaign while he was in the process of committing those felonies.
I mean, if the FBI director is going to take questions on any of them, his testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow might be a very worthy warm-up act for Robert Mueller testifying the following morning, particularly because the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee that Chris Wray is going to face tomorrow tend to be sort of on top of it when it comes to their questions. And this isn`t all of them but you recognize these folks, right?
I mean, not to be weird, but three of the four people on screen here are right now running for president and they`re in the Senate and not the House. So, these senators, Senator Harris, Senator Booker, Senator Klobuchar are never going to get a chance to ask Robert Mueller anything but they will all be able to question FBI Director Chris Wray tomorrow, along with Mazie Hirono and Dick Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse and all of the other Judiciary Committee Democrats led by Senator Dianne Feinstein.
And as we close in on what we all expect to be this key moment in our democracy this week, simultaneously, we are also seeing an almost unimaginably huge outbreak of Democratic accountability in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. You saw these images today, right? I mean, this today, these were some of the largest protests ever in the history of Puerto Rico.
The protests today shut down the city`s streets and highway and everything on the island. As a significant portion of the population of Puerto Rico turned out to demand the resignation of the Republican Governor Ricardo Rossello for corruption, for leaked messages among him and his staff that showed an unvarnished language what they really think of the people of Puerto Rico, for the botched response to Hurricane Maria and the thousands of deaths that entailed. These crowds in Puerto Rico today were just absolutely stunning.
And the governor`s own stumble into an interview for which he clearly was not prepared on Fox News with Shep Smith, honestly, may have nailed his political coffin shut today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS HOST: The oversight board that controls Puerto Rico`s finances, you said, go F yourself. And when your representative said he is salivating to shoot the woman who`s the mayor of San Juan, you said, you`d be doing me a grand favor.
So, attacks on women, attacks on gays, attacks on the dead relatives of your residents across your own island. And after all that, who is left to support you? And is it safe for you to continue to attempt to govern?
GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO: Well, again, I have apologized for that. I`m making amends for all of those efforts. Talking to people --
SMITH: You apologized for what specifically, Governor?
ROSSELLO: For all of the comments that I have made on the chats.
SMITH: Why did you say those things? What was it that inspired you to say those things to other officials in such a cavalier, dismissive way? Do you remember what it was over that?
It wasn`t just a day. It wasn`t just a week. It wasn`t just a month. It was two months, 900 pages in December and January of that sort of language from the governor, by the way, about his own people.
ROSSELLO: Yes. Well, again, some of that language is not mine. Some of it was discussed by --
SMITH: That`s true because it was someone else who -- then, you`re right, because I want to clarify that and I apologize because someone else said I would like to shoot the female mayor of San Juan. And then it was who said, oh, you`d be doing me a great favor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Shep Smith is very good at his job.
I don`t know if Governor Rossello maybe thought he was going on a different part of Fox because I don`t -- I don`t know if he didn`t -- I don`t know if he really didn`t think he would get these kinds of questions about why a million Puerto Ricans are in the streets demanding his resignation and shutting down that capitol, right? I mean, I don`t know what he expected, but I`m sure that did not help.
Governor Rossello says he will not run for re-election and he has resigned his leadership role in his own political party. But for now, he has not yet resigned his office which is what the people in the streets today are seeking. And, you know, honestly, it has been a remarkable day in the news.
These images today of violent mobs of men clad in white shirts wielding metal bars and bats, attacking people, grievously wounding dozens of people including lawmakers and journalists, these men clad in white shirts, many of them, the victims said they believed to be organized crime members, many people who are caught up in this say they believe the men were essentially dispatched to Hong Kong by the Chinese government. Many of these men in his white shirts who were beating people in these train station and other places in Hong Kong today were carrying the flag of mainland China as they did so.
These images today, terrifying as they are, follow a report in the "Financial Times" that president Trump recently advised the president of China that the U.S. would back off and say nothing no matter what President Xi did to crack down on the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. He could do whatever he wanted. The U.S. would not bother him.
And indeed even as we all saw these images from the protests and from these violent attacks today, there was no response from the U.S. government today. The president was asked about these violent attacks by masked gangs of men today. The president told reporters that he had seen the footage and then he said, quote, you know, it`s been relatively -- I think it`s been relatively non-violent. That was his response today after the reports that the president assured China they can do what they want and the U.S. would say nothing.
President Trump hosted the president of Pakistan at the White House today. Do you remember when the president attacked the Khan family, the parents of Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq fighting for the U.S.? His parents spoke at the Democratic National Convention and the president attacked Captain Khan`s family and his parents specifically?
The president said, quote, if you look at his wife, meaning Captain Khan`s father`s wife, Captain Khan`s mother, if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably -- maybe she wasn`t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.
That was how the president attacked them.
The Khans are Pakistani-American. The president attacked Mrs. Khan as maybe not being allowed to speak because she`s a Muslim, because she`s Pakistani. She, of course, explained that she was too grief stricken by the loss of her son to speak and that`s why she stood next to her husband as he gave his remarks at the DNC.
But the president attacked her anyways. Maybe she is not allowed to speak. Who knows? You tell me.
Well, today, take another look at that American tableau that President Trump assembled today to host the president of Pakistan. Look around the table. Notice anything?
Who knows? Maybe the women aren`t allowed in there in the United States. Who knows? You tell me.
So there is a lot going on. On top of everybody being on edge about Mueller`s testimony Wednesday morning, there is a lot going on. This is no time to check out.
As I mentioned, we just obtained this remarkable letter from the Justice Department, just received it tonight. The letter tells Robert Mueller that he basically cannot talk about anything in his testimony on Wednesday morning. Now that we have received that letter signed by a career Justice Department official who has just appointed to his current job this past summer by Jeff Sessions, I feel like we need some expert help to under the significance of the letter, what Mueller might do in response, how this might your expectations from Mueller`s testimony this week. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself, and the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Robert Mueller in May saying if he was called to testify to Congress, he wouldn`t go beyond what was already in his report. Robert Mueller was subsequently subpoenaed by the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in the House. He`s due to testify Wednesday morning.
But now, tonight, in last-minute letter from the Justice Department, a career official who`s now associated deputy attorney general at the Justice Department is telling Mueller that he must stick to the findings in his report. He may not answer any questions beyond what he wrote. Quote: Any testimony must remain within the boundaries of your public report.
The Justice Department also telling Mueller tonight that matters within the scope of his investigation that are covered by executive privilege include any discussion about investigative steps or decisions made during your investigation. The Justice Department is trying to close off Mueller from being able to answer any questions on those matters.
Joining us now is a former spokesperson for the Justice Department during the Obama administration, Matt Miller.
Matt, thanks for joining us on short notice. I really appreciate it.
MATT MILLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Of course.
MADDOW: So part of this letter echoes what Mueller himself basically told the country to expect from his testimony, that he wouldn`t go beyond what`s in his report. But elements of this letter seemed to go beyond that, telling Mueller that he won`t even be allowed to answer questions about investigative steps or decision-making processes that Attorney General William Barr has talked quite a lot about and has gone out of his way to sort of characterize what Mueller did and why. Mueller, according to the Justice Department, won`t be allowed to rebut those things or explain them in his own terms?
MILLER: Yes, I think you`ve hit on what I believe is the most remarkable thing of that but of this letter. The attorney general has testified before Congress three times about this report. He`s healed the press cards about it. He`s held he`s talked about a number of interviews, and he has talked about his own decision-making. He`s talked about Mueller`s decision-making. He`s talked about the president`s motivations for why he took some of the actions that he did and has done so in terms that go far beyond what the report says.
So, to me, it feels a little bit like a rerun of the initial release of the report where DOJ`s position is that Bill Barr can come out and say anything he wants about this investigation and why DOJ made the decisions they did and what`s appropriate and what`s not, but that no one else, including the special counsel should be allowed to do so.
MADDOW: And given that -- I mean, I think not just in the abstract but given the context here, given that Barr has characterized not only Mueller`s findings, but Mueller`s decision-making process and what he thinks was wrong or right about it, and investigative decisions that Mueller made, and what he imbued -- how he imbued them with meaning -- given that context, will Mueller receive this as black letter instruction that he will follow to the letter, or is this the sort of thing that he might have his own ideas about, given that he`s a private citizen and the Justice Department doesn`t really get to control what he does?
MILLER: You know, you`re right. He can ignore this if he wants to. You know, Jim Comey and Sally Yates both came and testified to Congress after they had had left the department. Sally Yates had gotten a similar letter to this one. It wasn`t quite as aggressive, but reminding her that she was supposed to respect certain privileges and both of those former officials ignored the department came in and just said what they wanted to.
And Mueller could do that too as a private citizen. There`s no way they can stop him. But I suspect that he will respect the guidance given in this letter and the thing that makes me think that it is both what he said in his previous appearance, it made it clear that he doesn`t want to testify and the fact that he asked for this letter.
You know, he is -- he`s going in as a private citizen but he`s there under subpoena. So if he went in and just declined to answer some of the questions we know he`s going to get from Congress just because he didn`t want to answer them, he doesn`t really have any legal right to do so, and I think what the Justice Department has done here is they both blocked him from testifying about a number of things, if he wants to take their instruction, but they`ve also given him a legal reason to do so, to say, look, I`m under orders by the Justice Department that I can`t to answer these questions because they`ve said they might raise certain privileges down the road.
MADDOW: In terms of the propriety of this letter when they do assert that everything that happened in his investigation is subject to privilege, does that seem like an aspirational claim to you by the Justice Department or does that seem realistic?
MILLER: Look, I think these are the -- I think it`s important they didn`t just assert here that the typical executive privilege you often hear bandied about, which is the presidential communication privilege conversations between the president and top aides. They went to assert every other privilege that the department sometimes holds out.
And those typically are not recognized to be supreme when they come in to Congress`s need to police misconduct, especially presidential misconduct. And I think that`s what the problem is with everything in this letter. You know, they make the very good point in the letter that DOJ prosecutors don`t usually come in and testify about uncharged individuals -- well, that`s true but the difference here is the subject -- the main subject of this investigation couldn`t be charged. So, all of the privileges, all of the typical rationale that would usually apply don`t apply in a case when it was the president that was under investigation and by DOJ`s own logic, its Congress that`s supposed to miss -- to police any misconduct by the president.
MADDOW: Right, and particularly when the attorney general has been very happy to talk about the not charge -- the no charge decision for this individual. It`s as -- this is a an interesting shot across the bow here.
Matt Miller, former DOJ spokesman -- thanks very much for being here, Matt. Much appreciated.
MILLER: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more to come including an exclusive report that you have not seen anywhere else, some footage a very important interview that was obtained by Julia Ainsley from NBC News. She`s going to be here, along with that report which again you have not seen anywhere.
That`s next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. This is an exclusive story this evening, you haven`t seen this anywhere else.
A couple of weeks ago, MSNBC broke a story about the conditions at a U.S. Border Patrol station in Yuma, Arizona. You might remember that from the show. The reporters on that story where Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff. They obtained more than two dozen significant incident reports that were written by government caseworkers but they were based on what they`ve been told by kids who had been held by the Trump administration at the border station in Yuma.
And those significant incident reports included an allegation of sexual assault against a 15-year-old girl by a uniformed officer, as well as retaliation against kids who had requests in clean food and drinking water and have their bedding taken away in retaliation for those requests. Now, up until this point, we have been relying on documents like those incident reports as well as accounts from lawyers and government workers in order to understand what`s happening in facilities like that one in Yuma, Arizona, children held that these facilities rarely speak to the media themselves out of a quite understandable fear that they might be targeted or deported or retaliated against or.
But here`s something new. Tonight, NBC News has obtained an interview with a Guatemalan boy who was held at the Yuma border facility for 11 days. Kids aren`t supposed to be held for more than hours. He was held for days.
That boy`s name is Abner. He`s a teenager. He has agreed to describe what he went through at that border facility but we obscured his face to help him protect his identity.
In this interview with NBC`s Julia Ainsley, Abner describes being held in a cell that was so crowded, he was often forced to try to sleep standing up. This is the first time this has ever been broadcast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABNER, GUATEMALAN TEENAGER (translated): Sometimes we were forced to sleep like this, we were forced to spend the whole night standing up without sleeping and there, we would endure sleepiness.
Sometimes we would stay sitting so that the smallest ones could sleep. They (little kids) almost couldn`t stand the sleepiness.
And us, at the very least, we stayed propped against a wall and we would stay the whole night there.
Enduring the sleepiness and cold. Because it was very cold inside. It was freezing.
Sometimes we would take turns. Sometimes one would stay sitting, others standing.
And like there, there were bathrooms right there, sometimes one would go where one would fit. Even if it was below or against the walls. Anywhere where we could fit.
And we could never bathe there. All the 11 days that I was there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We stayed propped against a wall. We would stay the whole night there. It was very cold inside. It was very cold. We could never bathe there. We could never be all the 11 days I was there.
In addition to being held in cells that were so crowded, he says he was forced to sleep standing up. Abner also tells NBC News that all day and all night, they would leave the lights on, making it not only next to impossible to sleep, but also impossible to know whether it was morning, noon or night day after day after day.
Abner describes being mocked when asking Border Patrol officials what time it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABNER (translated): And one goes through day and night, being very cold and with lights on. One didn`t know what time it was. Sometimes we would ask what time it was and they would tell us, "Oh, do you have a meeting to go to?"
And they would go on to reprimand us, like, "Why are we asking?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They would reprimand us for asking the time. In the interview, he also talked about being hungry. He says, quote: Sometimes we wouldn`t eat, they wouldn`t give us food. I would want to eat but I would ask them and they wouldn`t give us anything.
Despite there being no soap to bathe with or to wash their hands with, Abner also tells NBC News the only way kids and his cell were able to get any water was to lap it out of their own hands, they weren`t given any other way to drink even though they couldn`t clean their hands before they would have to do this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABNER (translated): When we had to drink water in the sink well, they didn`t give us anything to get it with. So with the hands. Like that, all dirty and they didn`t even give us a cup or anything to get it with.
We would sometimes was our hands because we didn`t have anything to clean ourselves -- no soap or anything.
We would grab the water like that and drink it. Because we didn`t have anything to grab it with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Abner also talked about seeing one boy who`s around his age, teenage boy get punched out by a guard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABNER (translated): They hit him and I don`t know, with a punch they knocked the wind out of him and they hit him over there. But I don`t know why. And over there, for three days, they took him to another room but I don`t know why. And over there, when he came back to us, he told us that they had hit him and we ourselves saw it. I saw it, we were outside and they hit him but I don`t know why.
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS: How old was that man?
ABNER: He was about 16 years old. Yes, he was 16 years old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Late tonight, a Customs and Border Protection official released this statement to NBC News in response to this reporting.
It says in part, quote: The claims are inconsistent with Customs and Border Protection`s records corresponding to the juvenile migrants` time in custody from May 25th to June 5th, 2019. It is important to note that Customs and Border Protection takes all reports of employee misconduct seriously and the juveniles` allegations of mistreatment have been referred to Customs and Border Protection`s Office of Professional Responsibility.
Joining us now is NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley who interviewed Abner and who has been on the story from this beginning.
Julia, thanks very much for being here to talk about this. I really appreciate it.
AINSLEY: Thanks, Rachel. Thanks for doing this story.
You know, I was just so glad that Abner would sit down with us. We have an excellent producer, Dede Martinez, who`s fluent in Spanish and it took time to speak to Abner and his father and to convince him to sit down. But I think, you know, these stories, especially hearing it from his mouth really does have more power to it.
And the other thing I just kept thinking the whole time talking to them is, yes, I`m finding out a lot of these details for the first time. But Abner was interviewed by government caseworkers right after he left. that`s the story we broke on your show two weeks ago about these children who sat down and they detailed -- he talked a lot about the retaliatory measures by these guards, that they weren`t allowed to get near the windows because they weren`t allowed to see the light, that they would be yelled at, called names. He was scared to ask for anything.
That has been known to our government for months and so, it`s hard to see this and to hear this and to think that so little justice has been done in the meantime.
MADDOW: Hmm. And, Julia, I know from looking at the transcript and going through those clips of that that interview were able to do with him, I know he talked to you in great lengths, specifically about being hungry. And he said -- what struck me, one of the things that really stuck with me in a sort of harrowing way as he says the older kids who are in these really crowded cells, teenage kids would go out of their way to try to make sure that the younger kids had enough food to eat, basically saying that there wasn`t enough food to go around and so the older kids were trying to take care of the younger kids. What can you tell us about that?
AINSLEY: That`s right. I mean, you know, one of the reasons they did that is because the children would cry that eight, nine year olds would cry when they were sleepy, when they were hungry, when they weren`t being treated well. And so, the older kids found that if they cried, then the guards got angry. And so, the best thing they could do is to protect these children. It was protecting all of them.
And so, sometimes, he`d say, if you had an extra hamburger, or if he even had only his one hamburger, he would give it to the younger children because the older ones they could endure the hunger. That`s the way he described it. And there was another reason for the first hours he did not lie down. He just stayed standing up so that the younger ones could lie down.
And he eventually found a place to sleep only on a pile of trash and their cell that had not been cleaned. But there really was this community there, where they had to look out for these younger children because there was no one else there to do it.
MADDOW: NBC`s Julia Ainsley, just remarkable reporting. I know the Yuma reporting from a couple of weeks ago, that national attention, it`s hoped, of course, of it`ll be a driver for improved conditions there. But I expect that this is going to have a really big impact to being able to care from these kids and this from this kid in his own voice. Thanks for doing this. Thanks for letting us break it here.
AINSLEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Dateline: St. Petersburg. April 25th, 1903, this report has been taken across the border for transmission in order to escape the censor.
Quote: The anti-Jewish riots in Kishinev are worse than the censor will permit to publish. There was a well laid out plan for the general massacre of Jews on the day following the Russian Easter. The mob was led by priests and the general cry of "kill the Jews" was taken up all over the city. The Jews were taken wholly unaware and were slaughtered like sheep. The dead number in 120 and they injured about 500. The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description.
It was 1903, and a report from what is now Moldova which back then was part of the Russian empire, what happened that day was not a one-off. Deadly organized anti-Semitic attacks were happening all over tsarist Russia at the time. They were called pogroms. They ripped through city after city, killing thousands of people, forcing thousands more to flee for their lives.
One of the people who escaped the pogroms of that time was a man named Wolf Lee Glosser. G-L-O-S-S-E-R. He lived in a dirt floor shack in the country we now call Belarus. Not long ago, his great-grandson told the story of their families escape from the pogroms.
Quote: Glosser fled a village where his forebears had lived for centuries and took his chances in America. He`s set foot on Ellis Island on January 7th, 1903, with eight dollars to his name. Though fluent in Polish, Russian and Yiddish, he understood no English.
The Glosser family started a business selling goods from a horse and buggy. Eventually, they opened up their own haberdashery, and then a whole chain of supermarkets and department stores that ultimately was listed on the stock exchange.
Quote: In the span of some 80 years, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals and most important American citizens.
The reason we know about Mr. Glosser and about the generations of his family who have gone on to thrive in America is because that family history was published last year as an op-ed but it was basically an open letter from the uncle in that family to his own nephew. The nephew being White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, architect of some of the president`s most draconian, anti-immigrant policies like the Muslim ban, like the family separation policy that results in babies being taken away from their parents.
Stephen Miller`s own uncle called Stephen Miller an immigration hypocrite whose policy ideas would have wiped out their own family.
Well, now, Stephen Miller has cooked up a new idea for immigration policy in the Trump administration. Politico.com reporting that Mr. Miller is now leading a new effort to try to make it the Trump administration`s new policy to stop all refugees from being allowed into this country, not reducing the number of refugees or making it harder for refugees to come here. They`re talking about ending the practice of people receiving refuge in America, full stop. That is Stephen Miller`s big new idea for trying to end as much immigration, legal or otherwise, that he can into this country, even if his own path to becoming an advisor to the American president, to becoming an American at all started in a dirt floor shack in Belarus and a man who fled terror and came to Ellis Island with dollars in his pocket, which is how Stephen Miller got here in the first place.
And Stephen Miller`s uncle joins us next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Dr. David Glosser says it`s been a while since he has spoken to his nephew but this did probably get his attention. Quote: Stephen Miller is an immigration hypocrite. I know because I`m his uncle.
Dr. Glosser wrote this open letter of sorts about his nephew last summer. Now that Stephen Miller`s big new idea is to stop refugees from entering this country at all and now that we have had a renewed national convulsion over the conditions in which asylum seekers and immigrants are being held, we asked Dr. Glosser if he might want to come in and talk about this matter again.
Dr. Glosser is a retired neuropsychologist and he`s coming to the studio tonight to be here.
Thank you so much for being here. It`s a pleasure to have you here.
DAVID GLOSSER, STEPHEN MILLER`S UNCLE: Good to be here, Rachel. What should we talk about?
MADDOW: Well, did you ever get a response from your nephew after that, after you first spoke out about this last year.
GLOSSER: No I`m a persona incommunicado.
You were so strong in your telling of not only your personal criticism of the Trump administration`s policies, but about how it relates to your family and what it would mean for Stephen Miller. I imagine that you thought you could maybe touch his heart, because otherwise the need to make it personal must have just been difficult and painful.
GLOSSER: Listen, I think people understand the cruelties are being enacted, but people don`t respond much to lists of statistics. I think what people respond to is a story, a personal story. What hope I had of my nephew being touched by his own history, and it was not very high to start with, he`s made his entire career and his entire personas built on this particular issue.
What I hope to do is I hope to raise other people who have the same history I do, and which I suspect you do too frankly, all these people have come into this country, we should the question is why did I -- isn`t really why did I write this piece why isn`t everybody writing this piece.
MADDOW: There is renewed national concern right now over the treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers, particularly kids being held on the border.
MADDOW: Obviously, those -- some of those stories are devastating, but I imagine it may be heartening to you to see renewed concern, to see the investigative work happening to see people protesting, to see people holding vigils.
GLOSSER: People care as it turns out. Once you -- once you break it away from the idea of their being thousands and thousands of people are being damaged and injured and hurt, break it down to individual people in the individual cases, it touches people and people will stand up and do the right thing. If they have the -- if they have the central moral values and I know what to do, they`ll do it.
MADDOW: I wonder, given your family connection to Mr. Miller and his identified role as the sort of draconian leader of the most hard line policies here, I wonder what you make of what appears to be the political calculation by presumably your nephew, definitely by the Trump administration as a whole, that harshness toward immigrants, that deliberate cruelty toward immigrants, that terrible conditions which immigrants are being held redounds to the president`s political benefit?
GLOSSER: Well, let`s break it down to the simple political calculus as it has recently come to the attention the United States Supreme Court with regard to voter suppression action taken by the Republican Party. The Republican Party has made the observation as have demographers that within the next 20 or 40 years, the United States will go from being a white majority country to being a white plurality country.
So, it makes -- as it turns out the people, who are not predominantly of European background are less likely to vote for Republicans than for Democrats. This, of course, makes it problematic for them if they anticipate remaining in positions of power in order to advance their particular agenda. Accordingly, it is not worthwhile for them to allow people into the country or to allow people to gain citizenship who may not be members of their party in the future.
This is not very hard to figure out and it kind of all boils down to that.
MADDOW: But the part of it that I find hard just to stomach just viscerally is the idea that you would not just be trying to deny the numbers in terms of immigrants who would eventually get citizenship and the right to vote, but that you would somehow galvanized native born American citizens and specifically white Americans, to excite them to vote for people who are being deliberatively and performatively cruel towards non- white people, that it would sort of tap some sort of latent racist, hate- mongering among a white population that might make a -- to elect a Republican president.
GLOSSER: What`s equally repugnant is the assumption apparently among the - - among the Trump of the Trump administration that somehow the majority of white Americans are racists. But I don`t believe that to be the case. But that being perhaps their own personal motivations, they may project that belief on to other people who do not share those feelings.
Mr. Trump obviously owns that brand. He`s proud of it. He`s not ashamed of it. He doesn`t know but the word shame means.
The last time I`m old enough to remember, you probably are not, the last time that a major presidential candidate ran on an overtly racist platform was George Wallace back in 1968.
GLOSSER: I thought we had some house a nation grown beyond that and repudiated it. But now we see that Mr. Trump and his minions have legitimized race hatred as a means of sustaining and gaining political power and influence, which by the way is not a really very new phenomenon in this country either or in other European countries.
MADDOW: Dr. David Glosser is a retired neuropsychologist. He`s the uncle of Stephen Miller, White House adviser. Sir, thank you for coming in. I really appreciate it. I know it`s not an easy thing to talk about. Thanks.
GLOSSER: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I told you tonight was going to be nuts. I told you there was a lot of news.
That does it for us tonight. I`m already in Lawrence`s hour. I`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence. I apologize.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END