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Governor Inslee quits 2020 Presidential race. TRANSCRIPT: 8/21/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Jay Inslee, Lee Gelernt

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  I think getting them onboard to have responsible gun ownership and alienate those that are not responsible is the future there.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  All right.  Congresswoman Eric Swalwell, and Carol Leonnig, thank you both.

That is ALL IN for this evening.

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

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

HAYES:  You bet.

MADDOW:  Much appreciated.

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

It was so hot to begin with.  And then the increase in hot air in the immediate vicinity was so rapid, so relentless that at least one reporter`s cellphone just up and passed out.  It wasn`t that the battery died, the phone died from heat exhaustion. 

This was reporter Jennifer Jacobs at "Bloomberg".  That sweaty gaggle lasted nearly 40 minutes in almost 90-degree D.C. heat.  One reporter`s cell phone auto shut down due to the hot temperature midway through Trump`s remarks. 

The ambient heat and humidity was bad enough, but after all that talking, one reporter`s phone goes into auto shutdown mode.  You know, that happens to me too, not just my phone, it happens to me, just me as a person. 

They don`t do press briefings at the White House anymore like, you know, normal ones, with the press secretary and people being allowed to sit down inside the briefing room.  Those are gone now in the Trump era. 

What they`ve replaced regular press briefings with is this new system where the president likes to yell things at reporters over the rotor wash from a nearby helicopter and he does it not on any sort of regular schedule just without warning whenever he feels like it.  Well, today, the president held along one of these one of the ones where I think he really tried to push everybody`s buttons.

The president is now denouncing the prime minister of our ally Denmark.  He`s calling her nasty.  Yes, that will get some headlines. 

The president attacked American Jews for a second straight day today, saying they have dual loyalty because they`re Jews.  Americans of other religions apparently don`t have that kind of dual loyalty or his suspicions of dual loyalty, but Jewish Americans do because of their religion.

The president today called himself the chosen one, literally he said that about himself.  I am the chosen one -- which was particularly nice after what he said about the Jews and after he this morning retweeted someone who called him the king of Israel.

The president today once again said he plans to stay in office longer than two terms.  He says he plans to stay another ten or thirteen years, who knows? 

The president today reversed himself on background checks for guns, after he reversed himself the other way on that yesterday, and he reversed himself on it the other, other way on that a few days previous. 

He reversed himself today on a made-up tax cut that he might do, might not do.  Might do, might not do, ask me again tomorrow. 

And so, I am sorry for the auto shut off of the reporter`s phone in that heat today while the president talked and talked and talked and talked and talked.  But you know what?  Maybe that phone is trying to tell us something if the president`s words are not at all a reliable indication of whether something that he`s attesting to is, in fact, true.  When his words even about his own opinions and his own plans and his own actions are likely to be rendered moot by the very next thing he says on the subject the very next time he addresses it, because he`s more likely than not to contradict himself entirely, even when only talking about himself.  If the purpose of the president even talking to reporters screaming over the helicopter noise is just to have the attention of those reporters, so his otherwise sort of meaningless words will get conveyed, but when his words are conveyed to the American people, that results in the American people having less information and not more, then why do we do this? 

I mean, then maybe it is time to go into auto shutoff mode, right, from the heat, from the hot air at least.  The headline at "Politico`s" daily newsletter today was one of those things where I shouted at my computer screen, yes, finally.  Yes.  Their lead headline today for their lead story running down all the ways the president has instantly contradicted himself over the last few days on every conceivable subject, their headline today was, quote: The case for tuning out the White House.  Or as we`ve been putting it here on this show for a few months now, watch what they do, not what they say.

And I think this is a well-earned mantra for this most unusual presidency.  At this show, we have tried to follow this as best we can as a general rule, from the very first indications we had that they were always lying to us every time they talked, every time they put someone on TV -- including on this show -- every time they were asked for comment.  It was always, always, always untrue.

Even though I believe this is the correct way to treat this administration with all my heart I have to also say though that honestly just as a citizen, this is a weird principle, right?  I mean, this is -- it is awkward to not feel like it`s appropriate or responsible to pay attention anything -- to anything that is said by the White House or specifically by the president.

I mean, I know this president does deserve that treatment, but it`s also hard because there is only one president of the United States, and so telling yourself that in order to be responsible about the news and what`s going on in our country, you have to ignore everything he says, it`s just weird. 

Imagine having a president again where when he or she says a thing, that`s a good reason to believe that thing is true or that thing will come to pass, or that`s an adequate reflection of the president`s true feelings or plans or actions, right, because the president said so and therefore you can take it to the bank. 

I mean, we`ve had that with good and bad presidents in the past.  We might have that again someday in the future if this particular presidency hasn`t broken the institution entirely. 

Well, tonight, after a particularly round-the-bend, barking at the moon day of craziness from the Trump White House, tonight, on this show, we are going to do two things. 

First, we are going to report on what they are doing, not what they are saying.  Some of what they are doing today is truly startling.  And we`ve got one of the lawyers here tonight who I think is likely to stop this new latest Trump policy from ever going into effect.  It`s a new policy that involves locking up immigrant kids, so we`re going to be talking about that.

But, tonight, we`re also going to be talking to one of the Democrats who has spent these last few months vying with 20 or so other members of his own party to try to replace this president. 

Washington Governor Jay Inslee launched his presidential candidacy this year, saying the purpose of his campaign was climate change.  He has aggressively put the issue of climate forward as the center of his message, the center of his campaign, and as what he says ought to be the center of what the Democratic Party as a whole is offering the country right now. 

Jay Inslee`s pitch was basically, not just him, but all the Democratic candidates ought to be running on climate. 

But his campaign has not ended up being like a one note John Cage symphony.  Inslee has been in there throwing pushes on everything.  I mean, climate, yes, but also everything, including the current president. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, DEBATE MODERATOR:  Greatest geopolitical threat to the United States right now?  Go ahead, Governor Inslee. 

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The biggest threat to the security of the United States is Donald Trump. 

I am proud of standing up for unions.  I`ve got a plan to reinvigorate collective bargaining so we can increase wages finally.

I`m the candidate who has the strongest gender pay equity laws in the United States.  I`m a person who has pardoned thousands or offered pardons to thousands of people for marijuana convictions.  I have a streak of justice and accomplishment that I think is unique in this field, and I think prepared me to be the next president of the United States. 

For decades, we have kicked the can down the road on climate change.  And now under Donald Trump, we face a looming catastrophe.  But it is not too late.  We have one last chance.  And when you have one chance 234 life, you take it. 

I think we`re missing two central statements we need to make.  Number one, we can no longer allow a white nationalist to be in the White House, number one.  And number two -- 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Number two, we have to make America what it`s always been, a place of refuge.  We got to boost the number of people we accept, I`m proud of in the first governor saying, send us your Syrian refugees.  I`m proud to be the first one to stand up to Donald Trump`s Muslim ban.  I`m ready to have sued him 21 times and beat him 21 times in row.  I`m ready for November 2020. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Joining us now for the interview tonight is Governor Jay Inslee of Washington.

Sir, it`s great to have you here.  Thank you for coming in.

INSLEE:  Thank you for having (ph) me again.  I appreciate it.  Yes.

MADDOW:  So, that was like a little lily pad tour of what Americans -- 

INSLEE:  Thank you.  I appreciate it.

MADDOW:  -- are seeing from your campaign thus far. 

INSLEE:  I appreciate being called a thug (ph) in the race. 

MADDOW:  Well, you know, I mean, here`s -- it`s a little bit of this is your life, but in a very condensed way. 

INSLEE:  There you go.  There you go.

MADDOW:  This is your life on the campaign trail. 

But I understand that you are here tonight to make some news. 

INSLEE:  I am.  Listen, this show has been so good to me.  This is sort of the bookends of my campaign.  We started saying climate change had to be the number one job in the United States.  I felt very good saying that the first days of my campaign.  I feel very good saying that now. 

And the reason is, this has become more urgent.  A billion tons of ice melting in Greenland at the end of the day.  But we`ve also had so many people I`ve met who are inspiring, who want us to act, who have helped me.  We had 130,000 people help me in this campaign. 

But it`s become clear that I`m not going to be carrying the ball.  I`m not going to be president.  So, I`m withdrawing tonight from the race. 

But I have to tell you, look, I`ve been fighting climate change for 25 years.

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

INSLEE:  And I`ve never been so confident of the ability of Americans now (ph) on each critical mass to move the ball.  I believe we are going to have a candidate to fight this battle.  I`m inspired to the people I`ve met across the country, the young people in the sunrise movement, and the climate strikers, these people give me confidence we can move ahead. 

So, I`m not going to be carrying the ball, but we`re going to make sure somebody else.

MADDOW:  Do you feel like the entry that you made into the race saying -- and you -- I mean, looking back at your launch video today, and you were like, let me -- basically, let me keep it completely clear -- 

INSLEE:  Right.

MADDOW:  -- people are going to call me a one-note candidate.  Yes, I`m a one-note candidate.

INSLEE:  Right, right.

MADDOW:  That`s what it`s about.

INSLEE:  Right.

MADDOW:  By being so aggressive on that one point, even with you getting out of the race now, do you feel like, to a certain extent, you did put this more on the agenda, you did cause other candidates who may end up carrying the ball to be more aggressive on this issue? 

INSLEE:  You bet.  I don`t think there`s any question about, that we`ve had real success in the effort.  First, we`ve actually proposed a real plan, a robust plan that will get us off fossil fuel. 

MADDOW:  A multipart plan. 

INSLEE:  You bet, it is. 

MADDOW:  But lots of people did one climate plan.  You did the first part of your climate plan, then the second part, then the third part, then the fourth part.  I mean, it`s more than a road map, it`s an atlas. 

INSLEE:  It`s a governing doctrine, not a campaign slogan.  And it`s now open source.  So, whoever our nominee is can use -- can use that.

I think we started kind of an arms race of candidates, to see who can raise their ambition level, and that`s helped them become more ambitious.  I think that we`ve now advanced the dialogue to have debates. 

Look, I hope the party is going to have a debate.  They`re going to vote on that tomorrow.  But your network and others are going to have a forum.  So, we clearly have raised the profile on this. 

But we`ve done something else I think, we gave people hope.  So, the grassroots has responded to this message of young people all over the country moving forward.  I mentioned that we had a big boost of support.  We had 42,000 people help us, since I finally got to talk about it in the second debate. 

So, I don`t think there`s any question that we have had success moving the needle.  And so, I think this has been a positive experience and I`m hearing from people who are happy we`re in it.

MADDOW:  Are there other candidates -- is there a particular other candidate who is still in the race who you feel like has a bang-up climate plan, someone you feel very confident in?  I mean, do you feel like you were way out ahead of all your competitors?  Or is there somebody you can endorse specifically on this issue tonight in terms of knowing what to do and how to do it? 

INSLEE:  Well, I think, you know, my plan has been called the gold standard.  And I believe that`s accurate, because it has meaningful ways to make sure we get off coal by a certain date.  We get off fossil fuels off our electrical grid by a certain date.  And we need to accomplish those things.

So, I`m going to help all the other candidates raise their level of ambition on this, to get to my level, and I`ll be encouraging to do that.  I`m going to work with them, and I hope others will encourage folks as well.  Look, this is a dynamic process.  I think people are going to approve. 

These forums we`re going to have, they`re going to be required to compel to come forward and show us the real plan that you have.  All of us can play a role in this, I believe we will have a candidate to remove the climate- denier from the White House, and I`m going to be there with them.  We`re going to be a unified party. 

MADDOW:  Let me ask you, nuts and bolts question on that point.  Is there somebody who you are planning to endorse early in the process?  Is there somebody who you want to throw your support to now, conversely? 

INSLEE:  Uh-huh.

MADDOW:  Is there anybody who`s still in the field right now who you think you might not be able to support if they ultimately get the nomination?  Is there anybody you`re really not comfortable with in terms of you potentially working to elect them? 

INSLEE:  No, I`m going to support the Democratic nominee --

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW:  No matter who it is? 

INSLEE:  You bet, it is.  I know these candidates.  Every single one of them is 100 percent better than the current occupant.  No question about that. 

I`m not endorsing a candidate tonight.  I think a number of them have intriguing ideas, but we need all of them to raise their game. 

Here`s the reason.  You know, you can argue with politicians but you can`t argue with science.  And the science is clear.  Look, when you have Siberia on fire, which it is today, when you have heat waves, when it`s 108 in Paris.  When the Everglades, the day we landed in Miami for the debate that you moderated, 40,000 acres of a swamp was on fire. 

So, we can`t argue with science.  We`re going to ask all the candidates to raise their game, I`m going to help them.  You`re going to help them.  We`re going to beat Donald Trump and beat the climate crisis, I feel good about that. 

MADDOW:  Let me ask you a little bit -- I feel like because you just withdrawn from the race, that may free you up a little bit to really speak your mind about what this has been like. 

INSLEE:  It`s good television.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  Well, tell me.  I mean, you just said pointedly at the second debate, I was really able to say what I meant to on climate change. 

INSLEE:  Right, right.

MADDOW:  I was there at the first debate.  Do you mean that at the first debate, you felt like we didn`t give an adequate attention?  Do you feel like the debate process has been either unfair or inappropriate in terms of how it`s dealt with the issues?

INSLEE:  Well, listen, I think -- I think we truly need a climate-centered debate. 

MADDOW:  Yes.

INSLEE:  Look, this is a complex issue.  This involves mobilizing the entire United States economy.  And you really can`t do that in just 60 seconds for all the candidates to have 60 seconds or 120 seconds. 

MADDOW:  I don`t think the DNC is going to do it, though.  I mean, the DNC hasn`t said they`re going to do any issue-focused debates. 

INSLEE:  Call your DNC tonight and ask them to vote on a resolution tomorrow. 

MADDOW:  Fair enough.

INSLEE:  But your forum is going to be productive. 

MADDOW:  Yes.

INSLEE:  And I think that`s going to be -- going to be helpful. 

Yes, this is a complex issue.  And we need to require the candidates to step up to the plate and show us what they`ve got.  If they do that, good things are going to happen, and I think that is going to happen across the country. 

MADDOW:  What do you think -- what do you think of this gigantic field of all your colleagues you`re running with?  I mean, I think there`s still I think roughly 20 people in the running.  I think 10 people so far qualified for the next debate.

  The question as to whether or not you were going to get there in the next debate on polls, you were going to get there in terms of your fund-raising. 

INSLEE:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Is the gigantic field hurtful to the process, but in terms of picking a robust nominee, but also in terms of articulating the kind of stuff you wanted to get out there? 

INSLEE:  No, I think we`re going to be just fine ultimately, you know?  And this is difficult from my perspective because once we got a real climate message in the second debate, we had a huge burst of support, we had 32,000 people just in three weeks -- 

MADDOW:  Wow.

INSLEE:  -- actually send us support.  But in my case, it broke a little late to be able to catch up and get the polling where it needed to be. 

I just believe we are going to be fine.  I`m encouraging people to be active as much as they can to get the right nominee and I think we`re going to have one.  Look, unity is going to be the central message of the Democratic Party. 

We have to beat Donald Trump.  We have to be unified.  I`ll make some decisions perhaps later in the race, but right now, my job is to help people raise their vision statement.  I hope they`ll do it.

MADDOW:  If anybody asks you to be their running mate, would you say yes? 

INSLEE:  I will have some statements tomorrow about my intentions.  So, you`re going to have to wait until tomorrow about my intentions.

MADDOW:  You will have statements tomorrow about your intentions? 

INSLEE:  We`ll have statements tomorrow.  We want to keep -- we want to keep you on suspense.  I need to go back to the state of Washington and talk about what I`m going to do in my future political career. 

So, tomorrow, maybe I can talk to you more about that. 

MADDOW:  I`m going to press you anyway.  You could run for governor again in the great state of Washington. 

INSLEE:  Yes.

MADDOW:  And you are making this -- presumably, you are considering whether or not you`re going to do that. 

INSLEE:  And I`ll make a statement tomorrow about my intentions in that regard. 

MADDOW:  You know, it`s very close to tomorrow right now. 

INSLEE:  But I can tell you, being governor of the great state of Washington is a tremendous job and I love it.  I will tell you that.

MADDOW:  All right.  I`m starting to get a hint. 

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  Do you think given what you were just saying about the debate process, given the size of the field, what you`ve been through -- 

INSLEE:  Yes.

MADDOW:  You are a free man.  You can now speak with absolute oneness about this process.

INSLEE:  Thank you very much. 

MADDOW:  Not like you`re not a free man either.

But do you think that other people should get out now.  Would that be helpful in terms of the Democratic Party unifying stopping the process of tearing each other down enough to build each other up more towards the general?  Are you happy for as many people as possible to stay in as long as possible?  Do you think it matters?

INSLEE:  I think that`s -- it`s an individual decision.  I hope they will make it based on what`s good for the country.  I`ve made a decision tonight that I`m not going to be the nominee.  There are other avenues for me to be very effective in pushing the climate change message.  Tomorrow, I will talk about an avenue in that regard. 

And so, I hope people will make a decision what they think is good for the country.  And I think we`ll be fine as a party. 

Look, people have had a belly full of what has gone on.  You`ve talked about that today at the top of your show.  We just need to get to the business of unifying the party.  I believe we will do that. 

I`m not full of anxiety about this.  I`m full of hope.  I`m full of confidence on climate change. 

Look, when you meet people around the country who are designing the new businesses and hiring the new people for new jobs and the young people who are kicking the old people in the fanny and saying, get off the dime and do something, this is a time we should be optimistic and confident.  I think that`s a winning strategy. 

MADDOW:  One of the things that has I think been this weird background music in the presidential campaign all along has been that when you ask Democratic voters right now, what do you most care about, you get all sorts of interesting answers on policy. 

INSLEE:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Particularly with young people. 

INSLEE:  Yes.

MADDOW:  You got climate change as a big priority issue.

INSLEE:  Yes.

MADDOW:  And, you know, health care is definitely an issue.  Immigration is definitely an issue.  But the thing -- the background -- the soundtrack to this campaign for Democratic voters all over the country is that they want somebody who can beat Donald Trump. 

INSLEE:  Right. 

MADDOW:  And that`s what you`ll get more than you`ll get any one policy volunteer.  Even with the kind of passion you`re describing in your issue and others. 

INSLEE:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  I wonder from this perspective, having just made this decision about your role in national politics -- 

INSLEE:  Uh-huh.

MADDOW:  What`s your take on that is that imperative, I`ve always said to Democratic voters or Republican voters, listen, your job in the primary is to not -- you know, you`re not making a final decision.

INSLEE:  Right.

MADDOW:  You`re participating in a group decision with other people in your party about who you like the best.  Vote your heart. 

INSLEE:  Yes.

MADDOW:  And when it comes to a gaming it out decision about the right thing for other people later, save that for the general election. 

INSLEE:  Right.

MADDOW:  Vote your heart in the primary, your head in the general. 

Democrats are trying to vote their head in the primary right now.  They just want someone who can win. 

I feel like it`s a little bit frustrating, I don`t know what to do about it.  What`s your take on that? 

INSLEE:  Well, I`m kind of with you on this.  Here`s what I think -- look, if we knew who was the most electable against Donald Trump, maybe it would make sense to make I decision just on that basis. 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

INSLEE:  But, frankly, there`s no way of knowing.  This is an unpredictable process.  We don`t know how the general electorate will behave.  Each candidate has certain strengths that may emerge to become more important. 

So, I`m of a view, at least in my decision, I`m going to decide someone who I believe can be a credible president who will be the most effective of things that I think are the most important.  I`ve made it very clear in my view, we have the most important issue that faces us, is the climate change crisis, because a lot of the things we can do maybe next year, this is not one of them.  This is the one we have to make at the top as the first order of business.

So, I`m going to look for a candidate I think who will be most effective.  Now, you know there`s a lot of other things I care about.  First one will be against the Muslim ban.  First, gender pay equity.  Biggest teacher pay.  A lot of things I care about.

But this is something that cannot wait.  So I`m going to look for a candidate that I think can be the best president, that can actually lead the nation in this direction, I hope others will join me. 

And they will beat Donald Trump.  I`ll tell you why.  He demonstrated where he was weakest last week.  It`s really interesting -- he did a tell. 

You know, the poker thing when you have a tell?

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

INSLEE:  He gave us a tell.  He showed us where he`s weakest, because he came out and said, I`m an environmentalist.  Why would someone say something so ridiculous and unbelievable? 

The reason is, because he knows that`s his weakest point.  People distrust him the most on environmental issues.  So, I think we should attack him at his weakest point with our strongest candidate.  We need to find that candidate.  We need to drive him right down the middle and drive him out of his office.  So, I`m looking forward to that candidate. 

MADDOW:  Governor Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, tonight declaring he`s withdrawing from the presidential race -- I want to tell you, sir, it`s -- I really appreciate the trust that it takes for you to come here and make that announcement here. 

INSLEE:  There`s no -- 

MADDOW:  I`m sure this isn`t (ph) your favorite night of the campaign.

INSLEE:  The worst news at the best place with Rachel Maddow. 

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  I`ll make t-shirts on that. 

INSLEE:  There you go, right.

MADDOW:  Thank you.

INSLEE:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  I really appreciate it. 

All right.  Much more to get to tonight.  Please do stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  It has been delayed and delayed and delayed and delayed and delayed.  But today, the sentencing for Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn just got another delay.  They were finally ready to go ahead with this, but apparently they still aren`t. 

The judge overseeing Flynn`s case today says that they`ve got a few more days.  He now wants written responses from both sides in the Flynn case by the end of this month.  He wants responses from both sides about Flynn`s cooperation with prosecutors and whether there`s anything else the judge needs to know before he goes ahead with the sentencing before he finally moves on to considering whether or not he might set an official sentencing date at sometime in the future, hopefully, while we are all still alive.  That happened today.

Meanwhile, of course, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is now serving a seven and a half year federal sentence while awaiting the start of proceedings on his state criminal charges in New York.  But you may remember from Manafort`s federal trial.  Manafort`s deputy on the campaign, Rick Gates.  He has turned out to be one of the most important and interesting cooperators in all of these cases.

I mean, technically, Flynn was a cooperator, but that seems to have gone off the rails.  Technically, Manafort was a cooperator, but that definitely went off the rails.  That`s part of why he`s in prison right now.

But Rick Gates` cooperation does not appear to have gone off the rails, at least as far as we know.  Rick Gates, the Trump deputy campaign chairman, testified against his former boss Paul Manafort.  He was basically the government`s star witness at Manafort`s federal trial.  Well, now, here`s an announcement that we got today in federal court that I did not see coming.  We`re about to see Rick Gates on the witness stand again, tomorrow.

Rick Gates himself is still awaiting sentencing.  His sentencing has already been delayed I think a half a dozen times while he continues to cooperate with prosecutors.  Again, the whole basic idea is the more you cooperate, the more of a break you get on your own sentence. 

Well, tomorrow, we learned that Rick Gates will be back on the witness stand in another Mueller derived case.  Rick Gates tomorrow will play the part once again of the prosecution`s star witness, this time though not against Paul Manafort.  This time against Greg Craig, President Obama`s first White House counsel who`s on trial for lying to the government about sort of a Ukraine-related scheme that he was caught up with Paul Manafort in before the 2016 campaign. 

Rick Gates being on the stand tomorrow I think is likely to be the marquee moment of the Greg Craig trial.  So far, things seem to have been going pretty rough for Greg Craig at this trial.  That said, he`s only up on one felony charge and he is contesting it vigorously.

We don`t know if rick gates is going to take the stand in the morning or in the afternoon but we will all be watching for what he says whenever he says it. 

Meanwhile, when it comes to not Trump scandal related to Trump campaign personnel, but when it comes to Trump policies, we`re also expecting a huge legal fight over something the president just announced today and that story is next. 

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  We`re going to be talking in just a moment about the new policy announced by the Trump administration today that is going to have a fight for its life in court even before it is put into effect a new policy from the Trump administration concerning how to treat immigrant kids and how long it wants to lock them up for.

In a moment, in this few minutes though before we get to that story, I do want to call back to what just happened here at the top of this show, which is that we just heard from Washington Governor Jay Inslee that he is withdrawing from the presidential race.  Now, this is not news that leaked in any way shape or form before he was here on this show tonight.  So, it is landing as a surprise.

I want to tell you, the reason I`m going back to this now is because some of Jay Inslee`s fellow candidates, candidates who are still in the race are reacting in real-time to this news that we just broke here moments ago.  So I just want to share that with you a little bit.

Senator Kamala Harris, a leading candidate who is a California senator, just posted this, quote: Few leaders have done more to shine a light on the climate crisis than Jay Inslee.  His voice will be missed in this primary but I know he will continue this fight.  That was again just posted from Senator Kamala Harris at her official campaign Twitter site. 

I think that we`ve also just gotten a tweet from Elizabeth Warren, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  Do we have that?  We could put up on screen?

Senator Warren has also just posted a message of support in response to Jay Inslee announcing that he is dropping out of the race. 

Again, though, this is information that candidates are responding to in real time because this is something that he just did live here without any advance notice that this was going to happen.  We have that Elizabeth Warren tweet?  Can we put that up there?

Elizabeth Warren: Thank you, Jay Inslee, for fighting every day to make sure that climate change remains a primary focus of this election.  Climate change is real and it`s a crisis, and I will keep fighting alongside you to take bold action before it is too late.

Again, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren both responding to this breaking news tonight from Jay Inslee. 

I believe right now that we`ve got on the phone my dear friend Joy Ann Reid, who is not running for president but who was also reacting to this news in real-time, had no advance notice this was going to happen but just saw it happened here live.

And, Joy, I just wanted to find out your take on this and how you think this is going to affect the race to have Jay Inslee dropping out?

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "A.M. JOY" (via telephone):  Hey, Rachel, always good to talk to you.  I can tell you that I was also surprised as I was watching your show, which is what I do at this time of night.

MADDOW:  You`re very kind.

REID:  I was surprised by his announcement.

I`ll tell you what, Jay Inslee, because he was one of the few single issued candidates, right, he had this lane of being the climate guy the only other candidate who has that lane at all is Tom Steyer, and he hasn`t you know registered enough in the polls to be in any of the debate, so I think he becomes one of the key endorsements that people are going to want. 

He comes obviously with a lot of credibility on the climate issue.  He`s spoken to it really passionately throughout the debates and throughout the campaign.  And so, I think for a lot of the remaining or whoever however many are left, he`s definitely somebody that you would want an endorsement from.

He`s also sort of a moderate, but, you know, progressive moderate governor.  So, I think he becomes pretty significant endorsement for someone.

MADDOW:  Yes, and I would put him as a sort of a practical progressive more than a moderate.

REID:  Yes, that`s true.

MADDOW:  But which I think is true almost of anybody who`s in an executive role.  You end up being a pragmatic whatever it is that you are.  But it`s interesting.  I mean, Inslee was qualified for this -- the next debate, the September debate, in terms of the number of donors he got, which is very interesting.  He maybe wasn`t going to get there in the polls.  I mean, he might`ve, it`s -- you know, there`s still another week by which people can put together poll results.

But it is interesting I think you`re right that the influence that he had in the race is not going to be seen in terms of the number of voters he was necessarily going to mobilize and who`s going to get the Inslee voters and the Inslee donors.  I think his influence on the race is going to be measured by the credibility that he brought to the issue of climate change.  It wasn`t just what he was running on. 

He raised the bar in terms of what was expected from all the candidates when they tried to talk about climate change.  He made it so it couldn`t just be like a check the box, yes, I`m green.  They all had to get way more detailed.

REID:  Right, and I think, you know, people underestimate the power that the climate change issue has, particularly with younger voters.  As he was talking, as I`m watching your show and watching him make his announcement, my youngest son watched it, too.  He was like, wait, he`s dropping out?  Climate change like he immediately, you know, Inslee is climate change for a lot of younger voters, and this is an issue that doesn`t get nearly enough play really in the media because, of course, the Trump tsunami is every day.

But this is an issue that really resonates with younger people.  My other son, my middle son, or our middle son came home tonight and was telling me, you know, about these rain forest fires, that this is what people his age are talking about.  He`s in his early 20s. 

So, I think we underestimate that climate change is an issue that can really deliver with younger voters and because no other candidate has really taken that issue on the way Inslee has, if he decides to endorse them, it`s not that he was bringing tons and tons of voters, but he brings that passion and credibility he could actually be pretty significant if he decides to bless one of these other candidates.

MADDOW:  I think that`s right.  And I do think that he because he kind of - - he -- he`s not only prioritizing climate change because he thinks that`s a good issue to run on, he has -- I mean, he didn`t have a climate change plan.  He had a multi-part plan that he rolled out new parts of every couple of weeks.  You know what I mean? 

And he did -- 

REID:  Yes.

MADDOW:  -- he said tonight, hey, my plan is open source, it`s a governing plan, it`s there for anybody to run with, because he upped the game in terms of the amount of detail and thought that people have to put into the issue, I do think that he sort of set the standard for what that other candidates will have to rise to it.

Let me ask you one last question about this, Joy, and he would not say on my show tonight what it is that he`s going to announce tomorrow, but he talked about, you know, loving being governor of Washington state.  He said he`s going to make a big announcement tomorrow.  He talked about needing to go home to Washington.

Political careers, you know, at the federal level and the state level, tend to interact in unpredictable ways.  My feeling if Jay Inslee is going to go home and run for another term as Washington governor, my feeling is that this presidential campaign didn`t hurt him in that regard, that he ran -- he didn`t run a successful campaign, he`s dropping out, he maybe wasn`t going to make the next debate, but he ran a campaign that didn`t embarrass himself, that probably -- that definitely raised his national profile, and that might put him in even better stead with Washington voters. 

I don`t know if I`m just feeling that way because I think it was a classy way for him to leave the race tonight.  And so, I`ve got stars in my eyes.  But I wonder how you -- how you think this race that he just left might affect his prospects at home if he is going to run for governor there?

REID:  Well, listen, I think, you know, there are a couple of different reasons to run for president, right?  Like there are some people who are sort of in a way running for the name ID that they could get them on the ticket, even if they don`t think they have a realistic shot of getting the race, not that anybody doesn`t really need to win.  Everybody intends to win, but if you don`t get there, there is a lot of benefit. 

His name ID is now much, much higher.  He is positively associated with being probably the smartest public voice on the climate change issue.  He definitely set the stage for himself to be able to do something next.  Yes, it would definitely help him run for another term, but I think there`s a lesson in really and I think you used the right word, the classy way that Jay Inslee ran this race, and I think it`s a message to people like, you know, Governor Hickenlooper, that there is a way that you can pivot out of this race into other opportunities. 

And you know one of the biggest sources of anxiety for a lot of Democratic voters is the number of candidates for president that come from states that have a Senate seat that could be contended by a Democrat, and it could maybe be one.  And so, I think as people like Jay Inslee drop out, I think you`re just going to hear even more from a lot of base Democrats who do have some anxiety and would love to see some of these candidates use the opportunity they`ve created for themselves in the name recognition and the money they`ve raised to roll into other opportunities at the state level, whether it means running for the United States Senate or running for governor.  It wouldn`t surprise me if there was a bit more pressure on other candidates polling in the ones and zeros to at least think about doing the same thing.

MADDOW: Yes, and to try to do it the way that Inslee is doing it, to try to do it on his own terms with his head held high with respect from everybody involved.

Joy Ann Reid, thank you for joining me on zero notice, and thank you for being in our show tonight.  Next time, I`ll call you in advance and plan this.  I just couldn`t let the story out ahead of time.  You know how I am.

REID:  That`s the way -- you know, I was live-tweeting here so anyway.  I was here with you anyway.

MADDOW:  God bless you, my friend.  Thank you, Joy.  I owe you, my friend.  Thank you.

REID:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  I will say, to that last point that Joy made, let me just speak to the remaining Democratic candidates who are still in the race right now.  Obviously, not all of you are going to make it to the end, you all know that.  Some of you may know right now that you are going to drop out of the race.  Think about how you are going to drop out of the race.  Think about what you want your exit message to be.

Your exit message maybe the most powerful moment that you have in the race, particularly if you do it well and if you do it in a place and on terms of your own choosing, where you get to articulate both what why you ran, why you`re leaving and what you plan to do next.

I will also say I`ve done a lot of long-form interviews of a lot of people as they were getting into this race, I would be happy to do long-form interviews with people as they are getting out.  You all have my number.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Right now, the U.S. government does not have a secretary of homeland security.  The U.S. government also does not have a chief of customs and border protection.  The U.S. government also does not have a chief of immigration and customs enforcement.  The government also does not have a chief of the U.S. citizenship and immigration services.

And all of those agencies have similar sounding, overlapping names, I know.  But together, those are all the agencies that do immigration stuff in the U.S. federal government. 

And there is no one formally in charge of any of those agencies right now, up to and including the whole Department of Homeland Security.  They`re all run by acting officials who`ve been slotted in there after the last people running those agencies left or were fired.  It`s all short-termers. 

No one confirmed by the Senate.  No one who`s been vetted at all in any way except by the White House, which is great at that, because it`s the White House that appointed these folks to run all of these agencies on just an acting basis.

Well, in the time that no one has officially been running any of the agencies that handle immigration for the U.S. government, the Trump White House has unveiled their three, most radical anti-immigrant policies since the Muslim ban.  Just in the past few weeks, with the past few weeks with nobody running all those immigration agencies, they have announced their new plan to basically block people from applying for asylum in this country. 

They announced their new plan to make it so that only people with lots of money and maybe private health insurance are allowed to immigrate to this country at all, you know like all our ancestors did, all our rich, rich immigrant ancestors who fled here seeking a safe place to park all their piles of cash, right?  All their stockholdings and their excellent private insurance plans.  You know, everybody`s family story goes like that, right?

They`ve just now today announced their third major policy change in recent weeks which is a plan to indefinitely imprison immigrant families, immigrant families and specifically kids who crossed the border.  Under a new rule proposed by the Trump administration, they`ll be held literally, indefinitely, at the pleasure of the Trump administration, with no rules anymore about how long they`re allowed to hold even little kids who are held alone and apart from their families.  It`s kind of like Guantanamo where 18 years after 9/11, were still today holding people that the military picked up in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack.  They`ve been held there for 18 years with no trial, with no charges.  It`s so weird -- that`s such a weird anomaly in American governance that we have to hold Guantanamo offshore in another country, that`s our prison in Cuba because that`s so weird.

Well, now, they want that kind of an indefinite detention capability for immigrant families and kids who may have committed no crimes whatsoever.  There`s a legally binding consent decree that requires the federal government today to not hold kids longer than 20 days.  The Trump administration has been breaking that order frequently as well, as other restrictions in that rule on the conditions in which kids are supposed to be held.

A lot of what we know about the terrible conditions kids have been held in by the Trump administration is because of lawyers who are charged with enforcing that court order, that settlement.  Those lawyers have been allowed in.  They must be allowed into those facilities to see if the government is in compliance with that consent decree. 

Well, this new rule from the Trump administration would take the government out of that legal settlement altogether.  It would allow them to hold kids forever for years if they want to.  And it would have the handy side benefit of making it so that no more pesky lawyers would have to be allowed into those facilities to monitor whether the government is doing anything the courts say they ought to be doing. 

Don`t worry though, the new plan in the Trump administration rule is that nobody else can set standards for the conditions in which they`re going to hold these immigrant kids, again now, potentially for years, potentially forever, if they want to. 

Their new rule, their new proposed rule announced today is that there will no longer be any need for any third party or state licensing of any of the facilities where they want to hold these kids, because they`re saying actually under this new rule announced today, ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they`ll license themselves.  They`ll set their own standards.  They`ll inspect their own facilities nobody from the outside will have to come in at all.  It will be fine.

This new rule announced today by the Trump administration is set to be published the day after tomorrow.  Theoretically, it will go into effect 60 days thereafter.  But the reason that`s only theoretical is because they`re going to have the living daylights sued out of them on this in the meantime.

Even so though, man -- I mean, this is seriously what they`re proposing to do.  Indefinite imprisonment of immigrant children who have committed no crimes -- months, years however long they want to hold them in facilities with no outside inspections, no lawyers peeking in, no court oversight.  And if that sounds nuts, of course, given how they`ve been treating kids thus far, that`s the point.  That`s the grounds on which they want you to reelect Donald Trump for president, because can you believe what he dreamt up to do to these kids to these kids, these immigrant moms and dads and their kids, right? 

This is a real lecture campaign announcement as much as it is anything else.  It`s also the next legal fight they`re going to wage and likely lose. 

We`ve got more ahead on that.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Watch what they do.  Not what they say.  It`s been our unofficial motto for the Trump administration for a while yet. 

Here is something they are trying to do as of today.  They have now announced plans that they want to hold immigrant families, including kids, indefinitely.  There`s a previous court settlement that set the limit for holding immigrant kids at twenty days. 

Now, the Trump administration says they want to keep them in detention indefinitely.  And also, they want that to be done with no outside oversight.  They said they`ll set their own standards and review themselves and licensed themselves and inspect their own facilities to make sure everything`s fine.

Joining us now is Lee Gelernt.  He`s the deputy director of the ACLU`s Immigrants Rights Project.

Lee, thank you for being here tonight.  Appreciate you coming in.

LEE GELERNT, ACLU IMMIGRANTS RIGHTS PROJECT:  Thanks for having me.

MADDOW:  This struck me when I first read about this new rule as something that will immediately go to court and it`s hard to imagine that the work that the Trump administration to just declare they`re no longer bound by these court orders that bound them on this.

GELERNT:  Yes, I think you`re right.  I think there`s going to be court action immediately and I think the judge has been overseeing the consent decree is going to be extremely troubled by this.  And so, I think looking at though is more litigation, unnecessary litigation. 

But it`s just thought that they want to hold these kids indefinitely and I actually think we`re looking at the worst of both worlds because they`re still separating families at the border, and I think they`re going to continue trying that although we have another court hearing coming up on that.  And then those families, they don`t separate, they`re now going to try and put in long term as you said indefinite detention. 

And the conditions are bad enough when there`s some oversight and now, they`re saying, oh no, no, no, we`ll look at the facilities ourselves and make sure they`re OK.

But the other thing I want to stress is regardless of this sort of objective quality of the conditions, raising a child in an institution has enormous effects on them.  I know the medical community has overwhelmingly said, you cannot raise a child in a detention center and expect that child to grow up normally.  They also -- it affects the dynamic between the parent and the child because what we see is the child constantly then starts to look to the guard for permission for everything.  And so, the dynamic between the parent and child becomes completely distorted.

MADDOW:  And that had happened in short-term detentions, let alone something that goes on indefinitely.

GELERNT:  For sure.

MADDOW:  Do you expect that the judge who oversees this consent decree that currently governs what the administration can do, is she personally able to block this?  I mean, does she have the first say on this?

GELERNT:  Absolutely.  I mean, those -- those proceedings will happen very quickly.  She`ll have the first say, and I think what she`ll say hopefully, you know, we expect her to say is, look, there`s a consent decree.  You can`t just discard the entire consent decree because you want to do it.

The government`s going to say, well, there`s change circumstance if this or that, but there`s no change circumstances what kids need.  Kids need to be out of detention facilities.

MADDOW:  Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU`s Immigrants Rights Project -- keep a surprise on this.  I am -- 

GELERNT:  Absolutely.

MADDOW:  -- sort of fired up about this and alarmed.

GELERNT:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Thank you.

GELERNT:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Good to have you here, Lee.

GELERNT:  Yes.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Real quick before we go, the reaction continues to roll in from other candidates as Jay Inslee has declared on this show this hour that he is dropping his presidential bid. 

Senator Bernie Sanders just saying on Twitter: congratulations to Jay Inslee on his impactful campaign to bring the climate crisis to the forefront of the national conversation.  There`s no more important issue facing humanity.  Together, we will work to pass a Green New Deal and create millions of jobs. 

Senator Cory Booker saying: Thank you, Jay Inslee, for advancing the conversation about the urgent threat of climate change.  Our country is better for it.  I know you will continue to be a powerful voice and move the needle on this issue.  We`ll be right there with you. 

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota saying: Governor Jay Inslee made the climate crisis the centerpiece of his campaign and our nation is better because of it.  Thank you for the bold ideas you brought to this race, Governor. 

Julian Castro saying: Thank you, Jay Inslee, for your unwavering effort to save our planet.  Your candidacy has kept our most pressing issue at the forefront of this race.  Let me know when you`re up for that road trip. 

I want to know what that`s about.  Anyway, there`s more, other candidates also, similar responses.  So, we`ll keep you apprised as this continues to develop. 

But Jay Inslee, one of the high-profile candidates to have left the race as of tonight this past hour. 

We`ll see you again tomorrow. 

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.

Good evening, Lawrence.

                                                                                                                THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END