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Flint Water Crisis doc to air tomorrow on PBS. TRANSCRIPT: 9/9/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Mary Gay Scanlon, Abby Ellis

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Rukmini Callimachi and Wendy Sherman, 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.  Thanks much appreciated. 

HAYES:  You bet.

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 

His name was Walter Hickel.  Walter J. Hickel, he was known as Wally when he was a kid.  He was born in Kansas, grew up to be a Golden Gloves boxer.  As a young man, he struck out on his own to seek his fortune in California.  Ultimately, he made his way alone, up to Alaska. 

His obituary in "The New York Times" after he died said that he started off in Alaska working as a bartender, then a carpenter, then he was an aircraft inspector. 

Then he bought a half-finished house, he finished it himself, sold it, bought two more houses, sold them, eventually he became a major home builder in Alaska.  And then he started a motel chain in Alaska.  Ultimately, he opened a shopping center in Alaska that included the very first escalator in the entire state.  What?  Stairs that move? 

Except at that point, Alaska wasn`t even a state yet.  Wally Hickel was a key part of Alaska lobbying to become a state.  He started lobbying for that years before it finally happened in 1959.  And then, Wally Hickel became the governor of the new state of Alaska just seven years later in 1966. 

So, Wally Hickel was one of those sort of, only in America, incredible man of action success stories, culminating with him becoming both very rich and very influential and becoming governor of his adopted home state. 

But after he served as Alaska governor in 1966, 1967, 1968, he ascended still higher.  He left Alaska, came to Washington, D.C., because President Richard Nixon named Wally Hickel to become part of his cabinet, to become the new secretary of the interior. 

And it seems pretty clear that at the time, Nixon expected Wally Hickel to be a down the line, pro-business, pro-development, pro-drilling kind of guy.  And to a certain extent, he was.  But Wally Hickel also did his own thinking and he ended up being sort of way too much of a mixed bag for Nixon even right from the start. 

By the time, Wally Hickel was a couple of years into his tenure in Nixon`s cabinet, Nixon seemed to well and truly regret ever bringing Wally Hickel to Washington in the first place.  The relationship broke down entirely shortly after the Kent State shootings when student protesters against the Vietnam War were shot and killed by National Guardsmen. 

Secretary Wally Hickel sent a letter to President Nixon on May 20th, 1970, that took an oppositional stance to the Vietnam War and in a cardinal political sin, his letter to Nixon was leaked to the press, and, therefore, to the public, before Nixon ever received it at the White House.  Ooh, ooh. 

Hickel`s letter said that Nixon was, quote, embracing a philosophy which appears to lack appropriate concern for a great mass of Americans, our young people.  Regardless of how I or any American might feel individually, we have an obligation as leaders to communicate with our youth and listen to their ideas and their problems. 

Well, that letter was offensive enough to Richard Nixon that Nixon soon fired him.  And that was the end of Wally Hickel`s tenure as U.S. secretary of the interior.  He went back to Alaska and became governor again.

That said, around that time that Nixon was firing Walter J. Hickel, Nixon was also doing something really important when it came to the U.S. government and specifically the way the U.S. government works on issues that were totally relevant to Wally Hickel`s cabinet agency, this agency that was being run by the dreaded Wally Hickel, President Nixon was right then sort of reorganizing the way the U.S. government dealt with those kinds of issues, Department of the Interior kinds of issues. 

In 1970, Richard Nixon was in the middle of in fact creating a whole new federal agency called NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  And even though it was a new agency being created in 1970, the component parts of NOAA weren`t new.  In fact, they were some of the oldest continually operating parts of the U.S. government, right, dating back to the Weather Bureau, which was founded in 1870 or the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, which was founded in 1871, parts of what would ultimately become NOAA can be traced back to an agency founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1807, the survey of the coast, which is just an awesome name for a governments function. 

But all this stuff about the oceans and the land and the weather, it`s really fundamental old stuff for the U.S. federal government.  And there had been a few earlier efforts at reorganizing those sort of science-driven parts of the U.S. government, but by 1970, it was clear that the tame had come for a new umbrella agency.  They would create NOAA. 

And, obviously, it would be part of the Department of the Interior, right?  I mean, that is the part of our government that deals with natural sciences, that deals with stuff like land and sea and air.  And that`s where you think it would go, right? 

Rationally, yes.  But history is human, and humans are sometimes things other than rational, sometimes humans are small thinkers.  And grudges can be powerful things. 

And Richard Nixon hated Wally Hickel so much that I think the ideas that he didn`t want to give him anything cool or good or shiny and new.  And so, in 1970, under Richard Nixon, the newly formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association was created not in the Interior Department.  Nixon needed to put it somewhere else because he didn`t want to give it to Wally Hickel.  And so, Nixon somewhat inexplicably decided that NOAA would be part of the Commerce Department. 

Sure, why not?  There`s no reason for it to be in the commerce department, and there was no reason for it to be in the Commerce Department from the beginning, but that`s what Nixon did. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If you`re wondering what the genesis of this was, apparently it had something to do with President Nixon being unhappy with his interior secretary for criticizing him about the Vietnam War.  And so, he decided not to put NOAA in what would have been a more sensible place. 


MADDOW:  That was President Obama in 2012 trying to kind of fix Richard Nixon`s grudge 42 years down the road.  President Obama at that time was proposing that the Weather Service and all the other component parts of NOAA should be put back where they arguably belonged in the first place, right?  They should be part of the Interior Department, that`s the part of our government that deals with this kind of stuff. 

It`s a rational argument from President Obama and the Obama administration.  It was the kind of reorganization that would just make rational, taxonomic sense, right?  That said, it did not fly.  And NOAA is still in the Commerce Department. 

And that is why on Friday when it came time for the Trump administration to come down heavy on the acting head of NOAA, when it came time for the Trump White House to tell the head of NOAA, reportedly, that his job was on the line, forget the National Weather Service forecast, forget the science done at your agency, forget it.  NOAA instead needs back up President Trump.  NOAA instead needs to put out a statement saving the president`s face for political purposes. 

When it came time for the freaking weather service to get political orders to undo their science and instead prop up some random, untrue utterance made by the president, when it came time to do that, now you know why, the cabinet secretary who had to shoulder that burden, the cabinet secretary who reportedly made that call was slippers himself, this guy, Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce of all people who, according to "The New York Times" today, phoned up the acting head of NOAA on Friday and told him that he and all the other top appointees at that agency would be fired unless they put out a new statement from their agency disavowing and undercutting the true and accurate statements and forecasts of the National Weather Service to instead align themselves more closely with the false recent statements by the president. 

And that reported threat appears to have worked.  Quote: The secretary of commerce threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency`s Birmingham, Alabama, office contradicted President Trump`s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama. 

That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that day by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, disavowing the office`s own position that Alabama was not at risk.  The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew criticism from the scientific community that NOAA, a division of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes. 

According to three people familiar with his actions, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross phoned the acting exterior of NOAA from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings.  He instructed Dr. Neil Jacobs to fix the agency`s perceived contradiction of the president.  According to "The New York Times," Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand but then was told the political staff at NOAA, including him, would be fired if the situation was not fixed. 

Dr. Jacobs then personally participated in drafting the statement that Wilbur Ross demanded and did as he was told, put out this statement undercutting his own employees and the scientific work of his own agency, which was accurate and correct and properly reported. 

And the response was, in fact, blistering. 

The scientist who is the chief operating officer of NOAA under President Obama said, quote: Perhaps the darkest day ever for leadership.  Don`t know how they will ever look their workforce in the eye again.  Moral cowardice.  Again, he was the COO of NOAA under President Obama. 

The head of the union that represents employees at the National Weather Service says, quote: I have never been so embarrassed by NOAA.  What they did is just disgusting.  Let me assure you, the hard working on employees at the National Weather Service had nothing to do with the utterly disgusting and disingenuous tweet sent out by NOAA management. 

By Sunday, by yesterday, the National Weather Service had sent an all-hands email to its entire workforce basically trying to, I think, preserve morale -- excuse me, Saturday, not Sunday, to preserve moral and stand up for their own workforce in the face of this just really embarrassing fiasco. 

The all-hands email on Saturday to National Weather Service staff said, quote: We want to assure you that we stand behind our entire workforce and the integrity of the forecast process.  We continue to embrace and uphold the essential integrity of the entire forecast process as it was applied by all National Weather Service offices to assure public safety first and foremost, with "All" in all capital letters. 

Today, the head of the National Weather Service spoke at a weather conference that coincidentally was held in Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama, and it`s interesting.  You have the commerce secretary, right, the Department of Commerce is the cabinet level agency, then NOAA is the umbrella agency, and then the National Weather Service is within that. 

Here`s the head of the National Weather Service today speaking at this conference in the midst of this incredible, unprecedented, weird political pressure on that agency to lie to help the president, to undercut their own science, to undercut their own forecasts which is public needs to count on.  I mean, in the midst of this incredible situation, we`ve learned that the acting administrator of NOAA went along with it, objected but then went along with it. 

What`s the weather service guy going to do?  Well, he gets up at the weather conference and mottles good behavior, makes clear that whatever pressure there has been under the leadership of that agency, including presumably on him, whatever the Trump appointed leadership of NOAA was willing to bow to in terms of weird anti-scientific political pressure, at the level of the National Weather Service at least -- no, not having it. 


LOUIS UCCELLINI, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DIRECTOR:  The Birmingham office did this to stop public panic, to ensure public safety, the same goal as all the National Weather Service offices were working toward at that time.  The integrity of the forecast process was maintained by the Birmingham office and across the entire National Weather Service, and actually, the entire enterprise, including the local media.  So, unlike, (INAUDIBLE) by asking (INAUDIBLE) and Birmingham employees and the president, to please stand and be recognized. 



MADDOW:  This is the head of the National Weather Service saying that what the Birmingham, Alabama, National Weather Service office did here was correct, the Birmingham office did this to stop public panic to ensure public safety.  The integrity of the forecast process was maintained.  And then you see the standing ovation. 

That happened today.  NOAA is the overall agency, right?  That`s who gets the call from the cabinet secretary that oversees them, telling them, you`re going to be fired if you don`t disavow your own workforce and your own science and instead put out something that bolsters the president.  The leadership at NOAA apparently went ahead and did that.  That agency is now convulsed over that absolutely unprecedented impingement on their scientific integrity, which really at the end of the day, is all they have. 

But the chief of the National Weather Service, which is a component part of that agency, the National Weather Service is not having it and not going along with it.  And you can see that from the standing ovation that the Birmingham office got there today that he basically asked for, he himself got his own standing ovation at this weather conference today for having praised their integrity. 

Basically saying, listen, they contradicted the president and they`ve been undercut by their own agency for doing so.  But they did the right thing.  They had integrity. 

Well, the top scientific official at NOAA, the top scientist has now announced that he will investigate what happened here and whether it violates the administrative order that governs the scientific integrity at NOAA. 

Quote: My understanding is that this intervention to contradict the forecaster was not based on science but on external factors, including reputation and appearance.  The content of this news releases is very concerning as it compromises the ability of NOAA to convey life-saving information.  If the public can`t trust our information, or debase our forecasters` warnings and products, that specific danger arises. 

He says, quote: I have a responsibility to pursue these truths.  I will. 

Now, for his part, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is not explicitly denying the reporting that he placed this call to the head of NOAA on Friday that resulted in NOAA putting out this crazy statement undercutting the science of their own agency, but Wilbur Ross` office is denying that on that call he threatened to fire anyone.  I mean, we`ll see in terms of the chief scientific officer at NOAA investigating this in terms of a matter of scientific integrity. 

We have also since learned the inspector general for the whole Department of Commerce is now going to investigate this matter, and there are now thunderous cries from multiple members of Congress that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross should resign over this whole debacle. 

Other than that, a pretty normal Monday.  It`s almost easier today to talk about what scandals aren`t breaking today than to list the ones that are.  Today, CNN had an incredibly damning exclusive report, which they had to themselves all day today.  I should mention that just within the last hour, even though CNN had this exclusively all day, the crux of this reporting has now been matched both by NBC News and by "The New York Times."  But the basic story from all three outlets is the same. 

It`s about the intelligence community in 2017 taking a dramatic step basically to try and protect an incredibly important intelligence asset who was working for the U.S. government from inside the Russian government. 

Quoting from CNN which first broke the story: In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the U.S. successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest level covert sources inside the Russian government, according to multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge.  The removal of the Russian was driven in part by concerns that President Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the source as a spy.  The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with the foreign minister and the Russian ambassador. 

You remember that highly classified intelligence had been provided by Israel that Trump nevertheless blurted it out to the Russians and blew that up. 

Quote: The disclosure to the Russians by the president prompted intelligence officials to resign renew earlier discussions about the potential risks of the U.S.`s source inside the Kremlin being exposed.  Knowledge of the Russian covert source`s existence was highly restricted within the U.S. government and intelligence agencies.  According to one source, there was no equal alternative inside the Russian government as the source provided both insight and information on Vladimir Putin. 

The whole grounds, of course, on which all the conservative media and Donald Trump opposed Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign was that she couldn`t be trusted with classified information, right?  Because she had a private email server where she did some of her State Department work, even though there was no indication that had ever been hacked or compromised or that she had used it for actual classified information.  But nevertheless, that means she can`t get anywhere near the presidency, right?

What the CNN report is saying is that -- and now with NBC News and "New York Times" matching it as well, is that as president, Trump so egregiously mishandled classified information and in so doing destroyed highly sensitive, highly effective foreign intelligence information by telling the Russians about them, that U.S. intelligence decided that President Trump might burn America`s best source inside the Russian government.  He might expose that person.  He might get that person killed.  And so, they had to emergency exfiltrate that person out of Russia to save his or her life. 

And not only does that tell you something about our president, it also means that U.S. intelligence no longer has that priceless source in the upper echelons of the Russian government.  On top of that, we`re still getting more information about the bizarre story broken on Friday night at about U.S. military flights between Alaska and Iowa and Maine, those -- originating in places like that, flights going from those American states to the Middle East, those flights have been inexplicably stopping off at the president`s Scottish golf course, both from the way out and on the way back. 

Now, "The Scotsman" newspaper and "The Guardian" newspaper in London have already fleshed out a bunch of these details because they have been covering their own domestic scandal and controversy over the U.S. military suddenly doing this rapidly expanding amount of business with this random Scottish airport and the domestic embarrassment of that government-owned airport in Scotland near the president`s golf course being in business partnership with the president`s resort.  Scottish government is really, really, really, really anti-Trump.  And you`re not going to win any votes in Scotland by being pro-Trump. 

For the Scottish government to own this airport that`s doing all this business with the U.S. military is a domestic scandal of its own.  For that airport to be linked -- that government-owned airport to be linked to the Trump business was a scandal of its own, and "The Guardian" and "The Scotsman" have been discovering that scandal domestically on those terms. 

But, again, this airport is suddenly getting a rapidly expanding amount of business, millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of business from U.S. military planes stopping there all the time now.  That airport has denied having any official business relationship with the Trump Organization -- at least they denied that while local reporters at "The Scotsman" newspaper Were asking. 

That denial worked fine for a while until "The Scotsman`s" reporter Mark McLaughlin turned up this document which, as you can see, announces official partnership between the Trump Organization and that airport.  So much for that airport denying that it had any official relationship with Trump`s business. 

In addition to the questionable propriety of having U.S. military personnel stay overnight at the president`s golf resort while on official military business, which the Air Force now says it is reviewing, apparently recognizing the apparent impropriety of such arrangement.  In addition to that -- these airmen, being billeted at Trump`s resort, billing the taxpayers for it, right -- the Trump Organization having an official business relationship with that particular airport also makes it a very big deal that the U.S. military has been rapidly up-scaling the number of military takeoffs and landings and spending millions and millions and millions of dollars there, all of a sudden, to buy gas for the planes at commercial airport rates, thus, propping up that business, propping up that airport more than any other stream of revenue coming into it. 

The president`s golf resort needs that airport to stay open.  With the president in office, all of a sudden, the military is doing tons of really lucrative business at that airport.  Airport`s staying open.  It`s good for Trump`s business.  And did I mention the airmen are also staying at Trump`s business while they`re there? 

Part of the scoop that "Politico" had there on Friday night is that in the U.S. House, the Oversight Committee is now investigating that matter.  The Oversight Committee, the Foreign Affairs and the Intelligence Committees have also now announced they`re investigating what the president appears to be trying to do in Ukraine. 

As we talked about last week, Congress has approved $250 million in military aid to Ukraine to help Ukraine stand up against Russia.  President Trump has apparently intervened to block those funds from being disbursed.  If he can continue to that for the rest of the month, those funds will go away and Ukraine won`t get that money. 

As problematic as that is on the surface, "The Washington Post" has now reported that that $250 million is essentially being used to extort Ukraine with the Trump administration conveying unofficially to Ukraine that they won`t get that military aid at all unless the nation of Ukraine provides help to President Trump`s re-election campaign in the form of some sort of investigation or maybe a prosecution of Joe Biden or members of the Biden family ahead of the 2020 election since that will help Trump get re- elected. 

Announcing the new investigation into these allegations, Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Elijah Cummings said this today, quote: If the president is trying to pressure Ukraine into choosing between defending itself from Russian aggression without U.S. assistance, or leveraging its judicial system to serve the ends of the Trump campaign, this would represent a staggering abuse of power, a boon to Moscow, and a betrayal of the public trust. 

So, like I said, what isn`t going on today?  I mean, each individual one of these scandals would be the biggest to afflict any presidency.  And not just since Nixon, but like since presidents.  And they`re all happening, like, all at once.  This is all today`s news. 

The Judiciary Committee in the House today unveiled the grounds on which they are going to move forward with their impeachment proceedings.  They released their proposed rules and procedures for how they are going to investigate the president on multiple fronts with an eye toward potentially drawing up articles of impeachment during the course of this Congress.  It revealed those rules and procedures that they`re going to vote on later on this week, the vote itself is likely to happen on Thursday. 

Honestly, there`s been a lot of infighting among Democrats as to whether they should start impeachment proceedings and when.  They are now finally doing it.  They`re going to vote on this on Thursday. 

Honestly, their biggest problem might be that having waited this long to start these investigations, it`s kind of hard to narrow it down in terms of what you might want to start with first.  I mean, honestly, just the last - - today`s news, where would you start? 

The vice chair of the Judiciary Committee joins us next.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  OK.  We have some breaking news for you.  This just came out in the past couple of minutes.  Big picture as I mentioned at the top of the show, CNN was first to break this remarkable story today that the U.S. government had gone in 2017 and exfiltrated a high-level spy from inside Russia, a covert operative who was operating within the U.S. -- excuse me, within Russian government but reporting to U.S. intelligence agencies.  It was basically an excellent intelligence asset for the U.S. inside the Russian government.  CNN reporting that this covert operative had access to Vladimir Putin, and that part of the reason for the extraction was concern in the intelligence community that President Trump was repeatedly mishandling classified information, including during a meeting with high- level Russian officials in the Oval Office in May of that year. 

The exfiltration reportedly happened shortly thereafter basically as an effort to save the source, to keep that source alive in case it was -- the source was burned by the Trump administration. 

Now, as I mentioned, "The New York Times" and NBC News have confirmed the core of this story, but NBC has added a remarkable bit of reporting.  I`ll tell you their headline here: Possible Russian spy for CIA now living in Washington area. 

Quote: A former senior Russian official is living in the Washington area under U.S. government protection, saying current and former government officials.  NBC News is withholding the man`s name and other key details at the request of U.S. officials who say reporting the information could endanger his life, yet the former government official who had a job with access to secrets was living openly under his true name.

On Wednesday, an NBC News correspondent went to the man`s house in the Washington area and rang his doorbell.  Five minutes later, two young men in an SUV came racing up the street, and parked immediately adjacent to the correspondent`s car.  The men who identified themselves as only friends of the Russian asked the correspondent what he was doing there.  NBC News has not confirmed that the Russian living in Virginia fed the CIA information about Russian election interference, but for reasons NBC News is withholding, he fits the profile of someone who may have had access to information about Putin`s activities and who would have been recruitable by American intelligence officials. 

The Russian will likely be moved from the place he is currently living in the interest of keeping him safe, say current and former officials. 

Joining us is Ken Dilanian, NBC News correspondent, who covers national security and intelligence. 

Ken, thanks for joining us on very, very short notice.  I appreciate you making time. 


MADDOW:  Is the correspondent in this story you? 

DILANIANI:  It is, Rachel, it is.  It`s me. 

MADDOW:  So, you -- so this is -- this is a former Russian official who`s living in Virginia.  You figured out who he is.  He`s living under his real name and basically you`re able to describe him as somebody who might have been in position in the Russian government to provide the CIA the kind of information that`s being reported here, even though you can`t directly verify that he was the conduit? 

DILANIAN:  That`s right.  It`s a little bit frustrating because I can`t even explain why we started looking at this person in the first place because U.S. officials are telling us that those details would quickly lead to his exposure.  But what I can say is this was a former senior Russian official who had access to Vladimir Putin who was working for the Russian government and who, as of yesterday was living in a house in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. 

I went to that house, I knocked on the door.  He wasn`t home, but as you read there, five minutes later, I was sort of accosted by a couple people that appeared to be agents of the U.S. government carefully monitoring that house.  And, of course, we`ve now been asked by U.S. officials to withhold a lot of the details, including the name of this person. 

And, you know, we can`t report to our standard that this is the same CIA asset that "The New York Times" and CNN are talking about, but when you use a bit of logic, there aren`t many officials that the CIA as cultivated as sources.  In fact, there may have been only one during this period.  So we can all use our own judgment about that. 

But what`s clear and surprising, actually, is that this man is living in the Washington, D.C., area in the open in his true name. 

MADDOW:  And -- I mean, you talk about the drama of you knocking on his door, he`s not there, you get back in your vehicle and then these young men who you believe may have been U.S. government employees keeping an eye on him pull up right next to you to start asking you what you`re doing.  And it`s clear they were Johnny on the spot in terms of watching his house, but you did make it up to the door. 

And so, when I think about what happened to people who are perceived by the Russian government to be traitors, people who are perceived to be spies, you look at the assassination attempts and successful assassinations that we`ve seen around the globe, the fact that you were able to get up to the door suggests they`re not watching him all that close. 

DILANIAN:  That`s right.  When I asked both U.S. government officials and former officials who worked on these problems about that, what they say is, look, it`s probably not a secret to the Russians that this person is here.  When he left Russia, you know, it became clear to them that he had been working for the U.S.  But what they don`t want and what they think happened in Skripal is to taunt Putin with the idea that here`s this turncoat, here`s this former Russian official who spied for the CIA living in the United States. 

So they sort of feel there`s a measure of safety.  They don`t expect the Russians to come over and assassinate him until unfortunately he`s discovered by the media in the world and we all start writing about him.  That essentially pokes the bear.  This is what my sources are telling me.

That`s why they`re now more worried about his safety than they were 48 hours ago, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  And that reporting, obviously, you`re able to describe him living in Virginia, him living under his real name and all these other details, but essentially that poking the bear started with CNN and NBC reporting out his existence, the exfiltration and all these things.  Essentially, the idea is that as the media was going to figure him out and this was going to start to become a story, things were going to get increasingly dangerous for him. 

DILANIAN:  That`s right.  And I fear even though we are withholding details and acceding to the wishes of U.S. officials who say passionately that they believe his life could be at risk, it isn`t that hard to find him and others are going to work to do that. 

MADDOW:  Right.

DILANIAN:  And, you know, in the climate we live in, eventually, it will come out.  But there`s now time for the U.S. government to move him and his family to a different location. 

MADDOW:  Ken Dilanian, NBC News correspondent and intrepid knocker-on of doors, Ken, thanks for joining us on short notice and congratulations on this report.

DILANIAN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  All right.  The vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, as I mentioned, is going to be with us tonight. 

Plus, we got some interesting news tonight on a story that we`ve been covering on and off for a couple of years now that you are going to want to hear the update on. 

Stay with us. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The House of Representatives today voted almost unanimously, 410-4 to grant broad subpoena powers to the House Judiciary Committee in its inquiry into the impeachment of the president.  Only once before has the House taken such a vote in the matter of impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, and 99 percent of the members voted for the unqualified subpoena powers. 


MADDOW:  Historic vote, February 6th, 1974.  Had it only happened once before in the history of the republic in the administration of Andrew Johnson. 

After Nixon, it wouldn`t happen again until October, 1998, when the Republican-led House voted to proceed with an impeachment inquiry to then President Bill Clinton. 

But now, the Judiciary Committee is about to do it again, for only the fourth time ever, announcing today that by the end of this week, they`re going to vote to set the rules for their own impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump. 

Joining us is Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon.  She`s vice chair of the Judiciary Committee.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for being here.  Appreciate your time. 

REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA):  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  So we have heard the chairman of your committee, Chairman Nadler, say for sometime that essentially the impeachment inquiry is underway.  But this is going to be a formal vote. 

How will this resolution change what happens going forward? 

SCANLON:  Well, you know, we spent a great deal of time spinning our wheels trying to get hold of the evidence underlying the Mueller report, trying to get hold of the Mueller report itself.  We`ve gone to court to do that now, but our investigation has to expand. 

We`re trying to move by the end of the year to determine whether we`re going to file articles of impeachment or not.  And there are a number of things beyond the Mueller report that we need to look at.  We need to look at whether there was corruption in the election.  We need to look at, you know, the president`s profiting off his public position, and we need to look at whether he`s abusing his powers through things such as offering pardons to people to impede the investigation or cover up wrongdoing that he has ordered. 

MADDOW:  In terms of that sort of time frame -- I mean, part of the way that we have to think about how much time you and your committee will need is to imagine the scope of things you are going to look into.  I mentioned at the top of the show tonight kind of half joking that it may be hard to figure out where to start.  I mean, obviously, the Mueller report on -- particularly on obstruction of justice gives you 10 different things to look into, the sorts of issues you were just describing, dangling pardons, profiting from his office, other abuses of power, even just today`s news would give you five or six different places to start. 

Do you think you`ll have enough time to focus on what is going to be the most potent issues by the end of the year? 

SCANLON:  I think -- I think we`re going to have to.  I mean, it`s a matter of constitutional integrity, it`s a matter of, you know, the future of our country and the separation of powers.  So, we`re just going to have to make the time to do it. 

It is really interesting, as you noted, there are so many things to look at.  Personally, I`ve been trying to focus on the things that were outlined by the authors of our Constitution and it was things like misuse of pardons, bribery or corruption in an election, being under the sway of a foreign government, profiting off of your public position. 

What the Founding Fathers didn`t expect is we would have a president who would try to tick all of the boxes. 

MADDOW:  I noticed specifically in the resolution, as they laid out -- I know you haven`t voted on it yet, but in terms of what was released from the committee, that there`s a provision that allows lawmakers to review grand jury material in classified settings.  This is material that was presented by witnesses to a grand jury, usually that`s treated very -- with a lot of respect for its secrecy and it`s all in the legal process. 

How important is that and do you expect that`s going to be key in terms of the central issues that you`re going to focus on? 

SCANLON:  I think it`s going to be very key, as Bob Mueller made clear when he testified before us, he didn`t make prosecutorial recommendations with respect to obstruction of justice because he viewed it as impossible under rules of engagement of the Department of Justice.  We`ve seen a similar thing with respect to the allegations of campaign finance fraud and the payment of hush money to folks who might have impacted the election. 

Also, that Southern District of New York investigation and grand jury didn`t proceed with charges against the president who has only been identified as individual number one in that proceeding, but we need to look at this whole array of evidence that, under the Constitution, as the Department of Justice is interpreting it right now, they say they can`t do anything about it, but as Bob Mueller said, that`s Congress` job. 

MADDOW:  Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee -- oh, I have one thing I wanted to ask you.  It was also announced that Corey Lewandowski is going to come appear next week.  Is that going to be an open hearing or closed hearing? 

SCANLON:  As I understand it, if he shows up, it`s going to be an open hearing. 

MADDOW:  Aha, thank you very much.  I sneak it in at the end there.  It`s actually a very -- it`s bad practice in terms of an interview, but I forgot I needed to ask you that. 

SCANLON:  Well, happy 11th. 

MADDOW:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate it.


MADDOW:  Eleventh there is that it`s our 11th birthday as a TV show, which means in dog years, we are 632. 

We`ll be right back. 


MADDOW:  As I mentioned to Congresswoman Scanlon a moment ago, our little cable TV show turned 11 years old yesterday.  Thank you to everybody for the nice notes. 

We have been around long enough to have a shorthand for lots of things on the staff.  For instance, we call this next video clip the beer water clip.  It is the instantly recognizable symbol of the lead poisoning of Flint, Michigan.  The reason the water is the color of light beer as it comes out of the tap is because the pipes the traveled through are corroded.  Bits of the pipes are now inside the water, changing the color and making it toxic to drink. 

When Michigan`s Republican Governor Rick Snyder took away Flint`s local democracy and his state managers ordered the city of Flint to start drinking from the local Flint River, they didn`t take the necessary steps to prevent the river water from corroding the pipes in the city.  That`s how Flint got poisoned, toxic lead from the chewed up pipes traveled through local faucets and ended up in the bodies of moms and dads and little kids who live in Flint. 

There was also another problem with the water in Flint.  The same conditions that sent lead gushing into the town`s drinking glasses and sippy cups and baby bottles, those same conditions are also perfect for growing the bacteria behind a deadly form of pneumonia.  It`s a water-born disease known as Legionnaires`. 

In January 2016, Governor Rick Snyder revealed that Flint had experienced a spike in cases of Legionnaires` while Flint was drinking that corrosive river water.  The state settled on 12 as the official death toll from that part of the outbreak.  And that`s been the official count ever since, 12 people lost to Legionnaires, likely connected to the change in flint water, 12 deaths. 

Since then, reporters and scientists have grappled with this fatal aspect of the Flint Water crisis and whether what the state reported accounted for all that had happened.  In January of 2017, "Bridge Magazine" in Michigan used state data to compare the last time Flint had good water to the two years it drank from the river.  Were there additionally deaths in the years with the bad water? 

It turns out, yes, many.  "Bridge Magazine" found dozens of additional pneumonia deaths during the bad water years.  And now, a team of reporters who spent months going through death records by hand looking for records of anyone who died of pneumonia while Flint was drinking from that river.  They then took that data to epidemiologists affiliated with Emory University in Atlanta.  They asked those outside experts to take a look. 


NARRATOR:  After running the numbers, the team concluded that there had been about 70 more pneumonia deaths than normal. 

KRISTIN NELSON, PH.D., EMORY UNIVERSITY EPIDEMIOLOGIST:  That means that there could have been a little bit more than 70 and there could have been fewer.  However, the most plausible number that we came up with for our models is 70. 

ZACHARY BINNEY, PH.D., EMORY UNIVERSITY EPIDEMIOLOGIST:  This is definitely consistent with the idea that there were some Legionnaires` cases that did not get diagnosed and therefore not get included in the official count for the outbreak.  It`s likely that the Legionnaires outbreak was bigger than that reported by official authorities. 

NELSON:  These physicians had the higher level of awareness about the Legionnaires disease outbreak earlier than they did.  It`s possible that that could have ultimately led to fewer cases and fewer deaths due to Legionnaires. 


MADDOW:  The best number they came up with 70.  And that last point is key.  If the doctors had been warned to watch out for Legionnaires, fewer people might have died of it, and a lot of people were dying in Flint at that time. 

This new documentary from "Frontline" is a second report done by a different team using different data and different methodology to reach the conclusion that there were dozens of statistically unexpected deaths from pneumonia during the Flint water crisis.  The most likely number according to "Frontline" is 70, 70 people dead. 

There is, of course, a lot we don`t know.  The Michigan health department had said the water switch coincided with an uptick in the flu, and maybe that`s what caused more people in Flint to get pneumonia and die and not Legionnaires from the water.  Maybe it was just a coincidence.  Who can say?

But Flint is now more than five years into this crisis.  Now with a new report of 70 unexpected deaths, any one of which may have been caused by what is in that water, how many people really did die as a result of what the state government did five years ago in Flint?  Does anybody face fitting consequences for any of it, even for the 12 deaths the state acknowledges, let alone the dozens that seem likely? 

In a case like Flint, what would justice look like? 

Hold that thought. 


MADDOW:  Abby Ellis is the director of the "Frontline" documentary that is called "Flint`s Deadly Water."  She`s part of this time of Michigan reporters who have uncovered what appear to be 70 unexpected deaths from pneumonia during the time of the flint water crisis, raising the questions whether those deaths should be included in the Legionnaires` outbreak that is likely connected to that crisis. 

Ms. Ellis, thanks so much for being here.  I really appreciate it. 


MADDOW:  So, officially, the death toll attributed to pneumonia and Legionnaires` disease that is linked to the Flint water crisis is a dozen. 

ELLIS:  Right. 

MADDOW:  The statistical analysis that you guys have been able to do in terms of medical records suggests the number is dozens.  It`s more like 70. 

ELLIS:  Correct. 

MADDOW:  How much of this is correlation?  How close can you get to causation? 

ELLIS:  So you know, what we found is we went through all the death certificates in the city of Flint during the time of the outbreak, and we commissioned this team of epidemiologists to determine whether or not these deaths were statistically significant, and whether or not they coincided with the outbreak.  There`s no way of knowing who or if any of them may have died of an undiagnosed case of Legionnaires` disease. 

But what we do know is there was an excess of 70 deaths, pneumonia deaths during the outbreak of Legionnaires` disease, and in certain pockets of the city, we found confirmed cases of Legionnaires` disease in the same neighborhood, confirmed pneumonia deaths.  In one neighborhood, we have a mile long, we`ve got three cases of Legionnaires` and six pneumonia deaths. 

MADDOW:  Wow. 

ELLIS:  And that is consistent with the notion that, you know, some of these cases of pneumonia may have been undiagnosed case of Legionnaires`. 

MADDOW:  One of the things I think has gripped the country about what happened in flint is not just the tragedy of the city being lead poisoned and what that means particularly for the kids there.  This prospect of Legionnaires associated deaths makes it all that much more stark, and there is this issue of the government`s own behavior here.  I am struck in your documentary about the prospect that doctors knowing to look for this might have been the difference between people being alive today and being dead. 

ELLIS:  That`s right. 

MADDOW:  That they needed to know that this was something they should be screening for. 

ELLIS:  Right.  So, not every antibiotic is effective against Legionella.  So doctors and health care providers have to know there is an outbreak in order for them to test for it.  Otherwise, you might just show up to the hospital and you have symptoms of pneumonia, and they`ll give you a basic antibiotic and it won`t work and you`ll continue to get sick and you might die. 

So the medical community being made aware very early on after the first case, the second case is crucial in order to thwart the outbreak.  And in Flint, we see that we spoke to doctors who didn`t know that there was an outbreak until January of 2016, over a year and a half after the outbreak began when the governor announces it at this press conference. 

MADDOW:  Remarkable.  Abby Ellis, again, director of the new "Frontline" documentary "Flint`s Deadly Water", which you can watch everywhere tomorrow when it airs on PBS.  Thank you so much for doing this work and thanks for helping us understand it.  It`s just remarkable reporting.  Thanks.

ELLIS:  Thank you for having me. 

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


MADDOW:  Thanks for being with us on what has been just a remarkable, you know, pinball, multi-ball frenzy of a day in the news.  Let`s hope for a calmer day tomorrow, given that it`s going to start with a status conference in the Mike Flynn case, I doubt it`s going to be a normal day, but anything could happen. 

We`ll see you again tomorrow night. 


Good evening, Lawrence.

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