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Rep. Slotkin (D-MI) on tensions in Iran. TRANSCRIPT: 9/16/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Kamala Harris

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Naomi Klein, the book is called "The Case for a Green New Deal," "On Fire: The Burning Case for Green New Deal" -- thank you very much.

NAOMI KLEIN, AUTHOR:  Thank you, Chris. 

HAYES:  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.  Much appreciated.

HAYES:  You bet. 

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.

It was less than a month ago where we found buried deep inside a stack of 54 different exhibits and a legal filing, inside those 54 exhibits, we ferreted out a single page that showed really big news.  News that somebody inside the government was trying to raise the alarm, was trying to blow the whistle, about something going wrong with the way the IRS was handling President Trump`s taxes, ad the IRS` audit of the president`s taxes. 

Now, there was no press conference about this.  There was no hearing.  There was no public ruckus at all. 

It was just the unheralded release in a court filing of this letter letting the Treasury Department know that some federal employee had come forward and sent an unsolicited communication to the Ways and Means Committee in Congress setting forth what the committee called credible allegations of evidence of possible misconduct, specifically, potential inappropriate efforts to influence the audit of the president`s taxes. 

That was less than a month ago, right?  This sort of roundabout revelation through court filings that trace back to this very quiet, very low-key committee in Congress, that oh, by the way, credible allegations have come forward from inside the government that there have been inappropriate efforts to influence the handling of the president`s taxes and his audit at the IRS.  Well, that seems like a story, right? 

I mean, I know it is folly to play the, you know, imagine if it was President Obama game, but it`s almost impossible not to play it with this one, right?  Imagine if a committee in Congress while President Obama was president said they had a whistle-blower who had come forward with evidence about somebody interfering in the handling of President Obama`s taxes, and the auditing of President Obama`s taxes, right? 

The committee has the evidence, the Treasury Department is stonewalling.  There are efforts to chase it down.  There is a whistle-blower but we`re not allowed to know what the whistle-blower says. 

I mean, they literally would cancel three consecutive shows on the Fox News Channel to make way for a nightly new three-hour-long primetime show on Fox that was just about this scandal, right?  Every night. 

Obama taxes, whistle-blower-gate, release the evidence.  That`s what they`d call the show and it would run for three hours every night and would have call-ins when they re-ran it in the overnight hour.  I mean, it would be everything in the conservative media world. 

In our world, when this, in fact, happens, but it`s President Trump, it`s just like, oh, yes, oh, yes, I think I heard something about that.  I wonder what happened to that.  Sorry, no time to even chase that one down if we wanted to.  Too many other scandals have happened between now and less than a month ago when we first learned about that one. 

So, we did less than a month ago get a whistle-blower claim about the handling of President Trump`s taxes and we still don`t know what that claim was, right?  But now, indeed, we`ve got another one.  Another reported whistle-blower claim from inside the government and this one is, if anything, more ominous and more worrying than what we got last month in the other whistle-blower complaint about his tax. 

This time, according to a late night letter and subpoena from the Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, this time, it`s somebody we think within the office of the director of national intelligence, somebody within the intelligence community, who has sent a complaint and some sort of evidence or statement to the inspector general for the intelligence community and that inspector general reviewed this whistle-blower complaint and found it credible.  Also found it to be matter of urgent concern. 

So, whistle-blowers are supposed to have protected lanes of communication, so they can surface their concerns, if they see something going wrong inside government that people ought to know about.  So, in this case, this is a whistle-blower in the intelligence community.  This person is supposed to take the whistle-blower complaint to the inspector general of the intelligence community. 

Once this person tells the inspector general what his or her complaint is, that is supposed to set in motion a very specific series of things that nobody`s supposed to have a choice about.  They`re just supposed to happen automatically because of the statute that protects whistle-blowers, right? 

And in this instance, what`s supposed to happen is that the inspector general, upon receiving that complaint, assessing it to be credible, which the I.G. did, assessing it to be urgent, which the I.G. did, well, that inspector general is then supposed to send the complaint to the head of the relevant agency -- in this case, to the director of national intelligence.  That all happened as it is supposed to.  I.G. did his or her part, right? 

Then, the next thing that`s supposed to happen is that that claim from the whistle-blower is supposed to be sent within seven days from the director of national intelligence to the committees, the relevant committees, in Congress.  So, in this case, the director of national intelligence is supposed to send that urgent, credible complaint to the Intelligence Committee headed by Congressman Adam Schiff in the House.  And you`ve only got seven days to do it and you don`t have a choice in the matter. 

And that`s the part that just isn`t happening.  We have an acting director of national intelligence, appointed recently by President Trump.  That acting director of national intelligence got this whistle-blower complaint from the inspector general. 

It`s labeled urgent, it`s labeled credible.  But according to Adam Schiff`s office, instead of sending the thing on to the Intelligence Committee, which the law says they must do, and they must do within seven days, they instead consulted with the Justice Department about what they should do with this whistle-blower complaint.  They then sent Adam Schiff a letter saying, no, we`re not giving it to you.  Yes, it exists.  You`re not getting it. 

Telling Chairman Schiff that the complaint wasn`t going to his committee, it wasn`t going anywhere because in the view of the director of national intelligence, this complaint is about a person who is outside the intelligence community and it involves matters that are privileged. 

Well, I mean, do the math, right?  The only person who`s really in the chain of command for the intelligence community who isn`t in the intelligence community is the president, and it`s not clear who matters of privilege would apply to here except the president.  So, it kind of seems like this is maybe a complaint about the president that the director of national intelligence is holding and not allowing to be released as he is required to do so under law. 

Here`s how Adam Schiff sums it up, quote, the committee can only conclude based upon this remarkable confluence of factors that the serious misconduct at issue involves the president of the United States and/or other senior White House or administration officials.

So, somebody has come forward inside the government, we`ve learned within the past month, somebody has come forward inside the government to say, hey, there`s been improper effort to influence the handling of the president`s tax returns and the audit of his taxes.  We don`t know what happened to that whistle-blower`s complaint. 

Someone has also now come forward from inside the government to say he or she has evidence of serious misconduct and the intelligence committee believes that it must be an allegation about the president or another senior Trump administration official and that complaint is just being sat upon by the newly appointed acting director of national intelligence.  But at least in that case, the acting director of national intelligence now has a subpoena on his desk, telling him that he needs to hand over that complaint in unredacted form tomorrow.  He needs to hand it over by tomorrow.  And if he isn`t willing to hand it over by tomorrow, he should be prepared to testify at an open hearing two days later on Thursday of this week. 

So, watch this space, as they say.  We won`t be canceling all programming on this network and running a three-hour special on this every night until it`s resolved, but it`s not like the will isn`t there.  I would do it. 

Also, watch Capitol Hill tomorrow at about 1:00 p.m. Eastern when we`re expecting open televised testimony by Corey Lewandowski who was candidate Trump`s first campaign manager before he was replaced by the now-imprisoned federal inmate Paul Manafort. 

Corey Lewandowski will undoubtedly try to make a big spectacle of his televised testimony.  He is a Trump loyalist.  He reportedly wants to run for a U.S. Senate seat, himself, next year from New Hampshire. 

But what the judiciary committee in the House wants to question him about tomorrow is his memorable recurring role in the Mueller report where Corey Lewandowski`s name appears more than 120 times, including this very hard- to-miss subheading in the table of contents: The president asks Corey Lewandowski to deliver a message to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to curtail the special counsel investigation.

He`s in the table of contents.  That section of the Mueller report has a gajillion references to Corey Lewandowski`s interviews with the FBI about the president telling them that he should tell Jeff Sessions to end the special counsel`s investigation, that he needed to stop looking at Trump and his campaign.  There`s details in there about Lewandowski sort of confessing to the FBI that he locked up his notes from that conversation with the president in a safe. 

There`s notes from his conversations with the FBI about the President telling Corey Lewandowski that he should go ahead and tell the attorney general that the attorney general was fired if he didn`t go along with this plan and Corey Lewandowski is, like, how do I fire the attorney general?  I don`t even work for the government.  I can fire him? 

Again, Corey Lewandowski should be testifying in open session tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, to the Judiciary Committee in the House. 

Rick Dearborn, he was a former deputy chief of staff who was also involved in this "fire Jeff Sessions" mishegoss.  Also, Rob Porter who was fired as White House staff secretary when he couldn`t get a security clearance because of the multiple domestic violence claims from both of his ex-wives.  He was also involved in this mishegoss. 

Dearborn and Porter were also subpoenaed to testify tomorrow alongside Corey Lewandowski.  We`re starting to think that neither of them will show up.  We have letters from their lawyers tonight indicating that they are not going to show up because of the president`s assertion that anybody who has ever worked in the White House is absolutely immune from ever having to testify. 

That said, Corey Lewandowski is definitely expected to testify tomorrow even though he never worked in the White House.  The thing about this is weird is that tonight, the White House is saying that Dearborn and Porter won`t show up at all, but the White House is saying that even with Corey Lewandowski who didn`t work in the White House at all, who has never been a government employee, the White House is nevertheless asserting tonight that they have advised Mr. Lewandowski to limit his testimony.  And not talk about his conversations with the president, right? 

It is unclear on what authority the White House might be trying to limit Lewandowski`s testimony, again, he doesn`t work for the White House, doesn`t work for the government, never has in any capacity.  They should have no authority as to what he does and doesn`t say, particularly, when he`s there under subpoena. 

But we`ll see how that evolves tomorrow.  Again, we do expect Lewandowski to be there, so if he`s going to show up and say I`m not going to testify, and he`s going to try to assert some sort of privilege and he`s never been a government employee, it should be fireworks at the least.  And you know, if the scandal chore wheel seems to never stop spinning these days, it`s hard to keep up with what`s the scandal now, I have to tell you because it turns out the chore wheel of scandal in this administration is a flywheel, like, it`s weighted and it never stops. 

I mean, they will spin out new scandals every single day they are in office.  So even with all of that already happening, naturally today, there`s word of yet another investigation into yet another Trump administration scandal. 

"The New York Times" first to report today that the House Oversight Committee has told the Trump administration`s secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, that she needs to hand over documents related to her family`s shipping company.  Elaine Chao is the transportation secretary for the U.S. government, but -- see the visual here?  So, that`s her, that`s her dad.  See what they`re sitting in front of? 

She has made a habit of doing events with her father who runs her family`s shipping company.  She`s made a habit of her doing events as secretary of transportation sitting next to her father while the two of them sit in front of, like, the flags and the seals of the U.S. Department of Transportation, making it seem like maybe he works there, too.  Or he`s officially sponsored by them somehow? 

She has also brought her father onto Air Force One.  She has talked in interviews about her father and President Trump having such a good relationship, which is nice, you know, ah, it`s her dad.  But it`s also been awesome and very highly capitalized on by the family business that her dad runs.  As they have been trying to project their international reach, their apparent endorsement by the U.S. government, they`ve been turning that into their own business interests. 

Elaine Chao at one point reportedly tried to arrange for her family members to meet with Chinese government officials on her own planned official U.S. trip to China as transportation secretary.  It was only when the State Department personnel in China who were asked to set up these meetings for Elaine Chao`s family, it`s only when they squawked in protest that she backed off the request that her family members should be in on those meetings and the trip, itself, was ultimately canceled. 

It`s also worth noting that as Elaine Chao has used her public position to boost her family`s business over the past few years, her family has also reportedly given millions of dollars to her and her husband, the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, which means that if she has been using her public position to boost the fortunes of her family business -- well, her family`s fortune has been in an immediate sense turned right around and parse out to her and her husband while she has been doing that. 

Elijah Cummings and the Oversight Committee are now demanding documents and communications from the Transportation Department and from Elaine Chao, and because she is a member of the Trump administration, presumably, the transportation department and Elaine Chao refuse entirely to hand anything over, and then we`ll start another big long legal saga on this scandal, too. 

Oh, and state prosecutors in New York have just issued subpoenas to obtain eight years of federal and state tax returns for the president and for his business, starting in 2011 and through to this year.  This will open the one gazillionth new legal fight for the president`s tax returns.  But as a point of interest on this one, these are the same prosecutors who within the past few weeks reportedly went up to the federal prison in Otisville, New York, to meet with the president`s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.  In those conversations with prosecutors, Cohen reportedly made a proffer agreement which means he may have offered information to these New York state prosecutors in exchange for some sort of grant of immunity for himself in the event that state charges are brought involving the president and/or his business. 

But we now know that state prosecutor`s office has opened a criminal investigation of the president and his business, related at least in part to the hush money payments that sent Michael Cohen to prison.  We know they`re talking to Michael Cohen.  We know that Cohen has made a proffer offer to them. 

We know they have now subpoenaed the president`s tax returns from the last eight years.  This is a criminal grand jury sitting in Manhattan that has issued this subpoena.  The Trump administration and his lawyers will fight this subpoena, no doubt, but at this point, they`re fighting with, like, a giant squid with a thousand arms.  I mean, at some point with this many different points of contact, even through the legal system, this stuff is likely to come out. 

So, watching all of that unfold just in today`s news.  But, of course, what has dominated the news today has been what now seems like an inevitable national circling back to the controlled implosion that was the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. 


BRETT KAVANAUGH, THEN-SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE:  My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations.  You have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy. 

Since my nomination in July, there`s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything, to block my confirmation.  People have been willing to do anything, to make any physical threat against my family, to send any violent email to my wife, to make any kind of allegation against me and against my friends, to blow me up and take me down. 

You sowed the wind.  For decades to come, I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwind. 

The behavior of several of the Democratic members of this committee at my hearing a few weeks ago was an embarrassment.  But at least it was just a good old-fashioned attempt at Borking.  Those efforts didn`t work. 

When I did at least OK enough at the hearings that it looked like I might actually get confirmed, a new tactic was needed.  Some of you were lying in wait and had it ready. 

A long series of false last-minute smears designed to scare me and drive me out of the process before any hearing occurred.  You`ve tried hard.  You`ve given it your all.  No one can question your effort. 

But your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and destroy my family will not drive me out.  This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons. 


MADDOW:  Revenge on behalf of the Clintons.

Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court after a confirmation hearing in which he screamed at the committee, denounced members of that committee as embarrassing, asserted that he believed the whole effort to vet him during the confirmation process was a hit job, that was revenge on behalf of the Clintons. 

In the course of his confirmation hearing, he not only levied accusations like that against the members of the committee that he was about to be voted on by, he also melted down like no nominee has ever done in a judicial confirmation hearing, let alone for a seat on -- let alone one for a seat on the Supreme Court. 


KAVANAUGH:  My family`s been destroyed by this, Senator.  Destroyed. 


KAVANAUGH:  Whoever wants -- you know, whatever the committee decides, you know, I`m all in -- 

FEINSTEIN:  The question is --

KAVANAUGH:   -- immediately.  I`m all in immediately. 


KAVANAUGH:  I`m here.  I wanted to be here -- I wanted to be here the next day.  It`s an outrage that I was not allowed to come and immediately defend my name and say, I didn`t do this, and give you all this evidence. 

I`m not even -- I`m not even in D.C. on the weekends in the summer of 1982.  This happened on a weekday.  Well, when I`m not at Blair High School for a summer league game.  I`m not at Tobin`s house working out.  I`m not at a movie with Suzanne? 

You know, I wanted to be here right away. 

FEINSTEIN:  We hear from the witnesses, but the FBI isn`t interviewing them and isn`t giving us any facts.  So, all we have is what they say --


KAVANAUGH:  You`re interviewing me.  You`re interviewing me.  You`re doing it, Senator. 

FEINSTEIN:  What you`re saying, if I understand it, is that the allegations by Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez, and Ms. Swetnick, are wrong. 

KAVANAUGH:  Yes, that -- that is emphatically what I`m saying.  Emphatically.  The Swetnick thing is a joke.  That is a farce. 

FEINSTEIN:  Would you like to say more about it? 


We drank beer.  My friends and I, the boys and girls.  Yes, we drank beer.  I liked beer.  Still like beer.  We drank beer.  We liked beer. 

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI):  Did it relate to alcohol?  You haven`t answered that. 

KAVANAUGH:  I like beer.  I like beer.  I don`t know if you -- 


KAVANAUGH:  -- like beer, Senator, or not?  What do you like to drink? 

WHITEHOUSE:  Next one is -- 

KAVANAUGH:  Senator, what do you like to drink? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you consider to be too many beers? 

KAVANAUGH:  I don`t know.  You know, whatever the chart says. 


MADDOW:  The blood alcohol chart.  What he meant to say there. 

On the sheer issue of temperament, it was almost impossible to imagine the person in that confirmation hearing witness chair becoming any kind of federal employee, right?  Let alone a federal judge.  Let alone a Supreme Court judge.  I mean, given the meltdown of Kavanaugh in the hearing room, it was hard to imagine him even going back to sitting on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, let alone him being elevated to the Supreme Court. 

But Republicans control the Senate and the most they could be pushed on his nomination, even after multiple Republican senators said in the hearing that they found the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford credible when she testified about being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh, even after her testimony and all these Republican senators saying how credible they found her, the most Republican senators could be pushed to do was to allow the FBI to look into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh before they voted. 

Maybe.  Even that was a hard sell.  Even that, during the hearing, melted Kavanaugh down further. 


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL):  I want to know what you want to do. 

KAVANAUGH:  I`m telling the truth. 

DURBIN:  I want to know what you want to do, Judge. 

KAVANAUGH:  I`m innocent.  I`m innocent of this charge. 

DURBIN:  And you`re prepared for an FBI investigation? 

KAVANAUGH:  They don`t reach conclusions.  You reach the conclusion, Senator. 

DURBIN:  No, but they do investigate questions. 

KAVANAUGH:  I`m innocent. 

DURBIN:  And you can`t have it both ways, Judge.  You can`t say here at the beginning -- 

KAVANAUGH:  I wanted a hearing.

DURBIN:  Here`s your moment.

KAVANAUGH:  Look, this thing -- 

DURBIN:  I welcome any kind of investigation, and then walk away from this.

KAVANAUGH:  This thing was sprung on me -- this thing was sprung at the last minute after being held by staff.  You know -- 

DURBIN:  Judge, if there is no truth to -- 

KAVANAUGH:  And I called for a -- I called for a hearing immediately.

DURBIN:  Why would you resist that kind -- 

KAVANAUGH:  Here`s some (ph) dots.

DURBIN:  -- of investigation?  Why would you resist that kind of investigation?

KAVANAUGH:  Senator, I -- I welcome -- I wanted the hearing last week.

DURBIN:  I`m asking about the FBI investigation.

KAVANAUGH:  They`re -- the committee figures out how to ask the questions, I`ll do whatever.  I`ve been on the phone multiple times with committee counsel.  I`ll talk to -- 

DURBIN:  Judge Kavanaugh, will you support an FBI investigation -- 

KAVANAUGH:  -- I`ll do -- I`ll -- 

DURBIN:  -- right now?

KAVANAUGH:  -- I -- I will do whatever the committee wants to --  

DURBIN:  Personally, do you think that`s the best thing for us to do?  You won`t answer?

KAVANAUGH:  Look, Senator, I -- I`ve -- I`ve -- I`ve said I wanted a hearing and I`d said I was welcome anything.  I`m innocent. 


MADDOW:  Ultimately, there was an FBI investigation, sort of, for a week.  It was apparently controlled, tightly controlled, by the White House.  Well, now in a book adaptation strangely submarined on to page A19 by "The New York Times" and run under a headline that had nothing to do with the content of the story, itself, two "New York Times" reporters, Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin, have reported that they were able to find multiple corroborating witnesses for one of the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that he had dismissed at the time of his hearing. 


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA):  Are Ms. Ramirez`s allegations about you true? 

KAVANAUGH:  Those are not.  She -- none of the witnesses in the room support that.  The -- if that had happened, that would have been the talk of campus in our freshman dorm. 


MADDOW:  The claim by Deborah Ramirez referenced there by Senator Kennedy was first reported during Kavanaugh`s confirmation in an article in "The New Yorker" magazine by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow. 

Deborah Ramirez said that Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party and pushed his exposed genitals at her, causing her to touch them.  Kavanaugh, as you heard, denied that happened. 

What Pogrebin and Kelly report is this, quote: Ramirez`s story could be more fully corroborated.  During his Senate testimony, Kavanaugh said if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been the talk of campus.  Our reporting suggests that it was.  At least seven people including Ms. Ramirez`s mother heard about the Yale incident long before Kavanaugh was a federal judge.  Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting it was discussed among students at the time.

This revelation and further reporting from Pogrebin and Kelly that indicates that the FBI didn`t just investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh, at least 25 names are given to the FBI to corroborate the Ramirez allegations and the FBI spoke with none of those people, right?  These revelations that the FBI just didn`t do an investigation into the multiple allegations against Kavanaugh -- I mean, they never interviewed Kavanaugh.  They never interviewed Christine Blasey Ford.  They never interviewed 25 names that Deborah Ramirez gave them to corroborate her claims. 

Reporters now later, less than a year later working on this, are able to, in fact, find seven different witnesses to corroborate her claims.  FBI never bothered. 

All of this is prompting a revisitation of the Kavanaugh confirmation debacle, which happened roughly this time last year.  But it`s also now calling -- resulting in new calls that Kavanaugh should, perhaps, be impeached from the high court, for among other things lying under oath during his confirmation process including about some of these sexual assault allegations. 

One of the prominent Democrats who`s now making that call that Kavanaugh should be impeached for lying under oath is California senator and Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris.  And she joins us next. 



SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Are you willing to ask the White House to conduct an investigation by the FBI to get to whatever you believe is the bottom of the allegations that have been levied against you? 

KAVANAUGH:  The FBI would gather witness statements.  You have --

HARRIS:  Sir, it`s --

KAVANAUGH:  They don`t --

HARRIS:  I`m not -- I don`t want to debate with you how they do their business.  I`m just asking: Are you willing to ask the White House to conduct such an investigation?  Because, as you are aware, the FBI did conduct a background investigation into you, before we were aware of these most recent allegations. 

So, are you willing to ask the White House to do it?  It`s a yes or no, and then we can move on.

KAVANAUGH:  I`ve had six background investigations over 26 years --

HARRIS:  Sir, as it relates to the recent allegations, are you willing to have them do it?

KAVANAUGH:  The witness testimonies before you, no witness who was there supports that I was there.

HARRIS:  OK, I`m going to take that as a no, and we can move on. 

I only have a few seconds left and I`ll just ask you a direct question.  Did you watch Dr. Ford`s testimony? 

KAVANAUGH:  I did not.  I plan to --

HARRIS:  Thank you.  I have nothing else.

KAVANAUGH:  I plan to -- 

HARRIS:  Thank you.

KAVANAUGH:  I plan to.  But I did not.  I was preparing mine. 


MADDOW:  California senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, during Brett Kavanaugh`s confirmation hearings. 

This was Senator Harris this weekend in light of new reporting about the sexual assault allegations against Justice Kavanaugh. 

Quote: I sat through those hearings.  Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people.  He was put on the court through a sham process and his place on the court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. 

He must be impeached.

Joining us now here in studio for "The Interview" is Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat from California, 2020 presidential candidate. 

Senator, it`s nice to see you. 

HARRIS:  Nice to see you.

MADDOW:  Thanks for coming in.

HARRIS:  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  A sham process.  You`re saying that he lied to the committee.  What do you mean specifically?

HARRIS:  Well, as you mentioned, I was a part of that hearing, and a sham process that we were not given all the information that was available.  At the 11th hour -- literally, the night before the hearing was to begin, thousands of pages were dumped on us.  We knew and certainly I knew that there were credible allegations that should have been investigated that were not. 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

HARRIS:  There was the process by which Christine Blasey Ford, who literally had nothing to gain by coming forward, Rachel, nothing to gain, she had a perfect life.  And she looked at the fact that this guy was being nominated and said, the American people have a right to know what I know.  And she was treated like a criminal. 

And now, the guy`s sitting on the court and yet again, more allegations.  Part of my inquiry during that process -- if you can believe it, it was a year ago this, you know, this month -- was to ask even Christopher Wray, because I serve not only on Judiciary, I serve on Senate Intelligence Committee and Homeland Security. 

And so, Christopher Wray came before the Homeland Security Committee.  And when I was there, I asked him, who made the decision about the scope of that FBI investigation after we learned about Dr. Ford?  The White House did. 

So, the invisible/not-so-invisible hand of the White House was basically orchestrating, choreographing, curating, what the Judiciary Committee would learn about this nominee to serve for a lifetime on the highest court in our land, a court that is supposed to do the work of justice, a court where inscribed in the marble that houses it, we say: equal justice under law. 

It was a sham. 

And when we talk about expecting that people will have a sense of respect for the system of justice, we have to recognize that the process by which he was confirmed has created a crisis of confidence in that court. 

And, you know, and -- and so, yes, I`ve called for impeachment.  I -- there -- I believe that is the clearest way for us to get an investigation of these allegations and we should open an investigation of these allegations. 

And I know some have said, well, it`s probably going to go nowhere because it will come over to the Senate if the House returns articles of impeachment and then it will go nowhere in the Senate, because we`ve seen the majority in the Senate, you know, frankly, you know, coddle the misbehavior of this president.  But my perspective is that, that may be the end result for political purposes.  That may be engineered as a result. 

But the American people and our system of justice, I believe, deserve that there will be a meaningful investigation into these allegations.  They should have happened before he was confirmed.  It didn`t.  But it is within the power of the United States Congress to do it now. 

MADDOW:  You think that an inquiry, which, of course, would have to start in House Judiciary, and hearings, an investigation into this matter, airing out these accusations, even if Mitch McConnell would say in advance, which I`m sure he would -- we`re never going to take this up in the Senate.

HARRIS:  Right. 

MADDOW:  Knock yourselves out, Democrats.  This will help us politically, you`re just -- this is just sour grapes.  We`re never going to take a vote on it. 

You think that the inquiry, itself, and airing out these allegations, getting to the truth of it is worth it no matter the political cost if there is a political cost? 

HARRIS:  Yes, and I tell you why, Rachel, we`re talking about a system of justice.  And in a real system of justice, meaning a system that has integrity, allegations such as these, multiple allegations, should be pursued and then do the investigation.  Go where the facts lead us.  If there`s nothing there, that`s fine.

But these are serious allegations that have repeatedly been raised.  There are at least 25 witnesses in one case.  This has to be something where we all agree that if we`re going to have integrity in the system, we have to pursue justice.

And, you know -- so, listen, let me tell you what else I`m calling for.  If the United States Congress doesn`t act, well, then let`s appoint -- let`s appoint an outside counsel.  Let`s appoint an outside counsel, somebody who can -- who is neutral, who can review the evidence in this case, determine the credibility of the witnesses.

And let us as the American people, let Congress, the Judiciary Committees, have the information to determine if this person should rightly serve on our highest court for a lifetime. 

MADDOW:  In terms of how this is going to be dealt with going forward, it`s clear, Jackie Calmes has -- a great reporter at the "L.A. Times" -- has a book coming out on Kavanaugh.  We`ve got this new book that has yet to come out from these two "New York Times" reporters -- 


MADDOW:  -- that led to the publication of these revelations today.

It has been only a year since Kavanaugh`s confirmation.  I wonder if this is left to essentially journalists to get to the bottom of these stories if this will be a feature of the tenure of Kavanaugh`s time on the court. 

If a formal investigation -- I don`t know.  I mean, it`s hard for me to see any end to this.  I don`t think he would ever be removed from the court through the impeachment process.  I don`t think the Senate Republicans would ever allow that to happen. 

If the Democrats do take the Senate, it would be a narrow majority.  You need a supermajority for removal. 

It just seems to me this will be the story of Brett Kavanaugh`s time on the U.S. Supreme Court, no matter what happens from here on out.  And it just feels incredibly damaging either way.  I find myself enervated by it, in terms of the impact on women in particular. 

HARRIS:  You`re right.  I mean, listen, of the initial hearings that happened a year ago, the number of women, and men, who approached me, you know, in public places and cried about what this meant to them because there`s so much about this issue. 

And I as a prosecutor personally prosecuted sexual assault cases and cases of this general nature, and one of the worst things that happens is that when we are not willing to believe the victim and take them seriously. 

Take them seriously.  Investigate the case.  Determine and assess credibility.  But let`s take the allegations seriously.  And it`s a very serious allegation. 

So, you know, I think that -- you know, what we have seen, frankly, is we`ve seen a suppression of evidence.  If the bodies that are charged with actually investigating fail to do it and block it off, or tailor it, I would argue that`s suppression of evidence. 

MADDOW:  Senator Kamala Harris -- obviously, a former prosecutor, former attorney general for the state of California, now a Democratic presidential candidate -- stay right there.  I have more things to ask you. 

HARRIS:  Will do. 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back with Senator Harris right after this.

HARRIS:  Will do.  Will do. 


MADDOW:  Back with us is California senator and 2020 presidential candidate, Kamala Harris. 

Oh, people -- if people can only we`re talking about in the commercials. 

Actually, I want to ask you about something in the news that broke over the weekend about Saudi Arabia and Iran. 

HARRIS:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  We`ve seen the attack on the Saudi oil production facilities.  The U.S. government is asserting that it`s Iran.  There`s no visibility into the evidence that they`re suggesting behind that. 

What do you think the president`s options are at this point?  And do you trust what they`re saying about what happened? 

HARRIS:  Well, I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee and I know we`re going to be briefed.  But short of having that information -- listen, we have to look at this in the context of other behaviors by this president as it relates to Iran. 

He took unilateral action to withdraw us from the Iran nuclear deal.  People -- some people liked it.  Some people didn`t.  Some people thought it should be stronger than it was.  But it was very well-negotiated and people were complying with it. 

And he pulls us out of it based on unilateral action, frankly, from my perspective, borne out of his fragile ego.  And everything that we have seen happen since was predictable to one extent or another. 

Iran poses a real threat to the United States based on its nuclear capabilities.  And the negotiation of the JCPOA and that -- that Iran nuclear deal was a smart way to put a cap on that in terms of escalating the threat.  And now, we look, and then apparently, he`s tweeting out, you know, this bravado about, you know, locked and -- locked and loaded.  What the -- what does that mean? 

OK?  And also --

MADDOW:  Well, it`s an implicit military threat. 

HARRIS:  Yes, it is. 

MADDOW:  That the U.S. is going to use -- we`re going to use U.S. force. 

HARRIS:  Yes, it is, yes, it is, yes, it is.

And again, you know, listen, as far as I`m concerned, this president is motivated by his -- his personal insecurities more than he is our national security.  And so, what we`re looking at is, again, a threat that might be taken seriously.  And I -- and I would dare to say that that threat was issued without serious consultation with our allies, with our military leaders, with our diplomatic leaders.  What are our alternatives? 

Let`s also be clear, if this president is thinking about putting us in a position where we`re in a war with Iran, the consequences will be absolutely unacceptable and tragic in terms of the young men and women who are American soldiers who would be sent and deployed into something that was completely avoidable. 

MADDOW:  If you did believe, if you were president right now, and you came to believe that Iran had carried out this act -- and, again, you know, we have the president`s assertions, the government`s assertions on these things, we haven`t seen the evidence.  But if a U.S. president came to be convinced that Iran had shot these missiles into Saudi Arabia to screw up their oil output, would you approach that as if the United States had -- the United States had a responsibility to backstop Saudi Arabia militarily?  There`s an assumption that we would, but would that be true in a Harris administration? 

HARRIS:  Well, in a Harris administration, one, we wouldn`t have gotten ourselves into this mess in terms of we would -- we would have stayed as part of the partnership that was part of the Iran nuclear deal, and we would have kept our word.  And we would have held up our end of the bargain. 

Also, let`s step back and look at this president`s relationship with the Saudis, and the Kingdom.  Do you know that this president during his tenure in the White House has issued five vetoes total?  Four of them related to Saudi Arabia. 


HARRIS:  When the United States Congress was taking action, for example, to say that they -- that we would not fuel their jets -- this president vetoes it.  Long stories about all of the people that stay at his hotels and his - - you know, this and that. 

Look at Khashoggi.  The American intelligence community has made it very clear about the Saudis` involvement in the assassination of a journalist who had American credentials, but Donald Trump prefers to take the word of a Saudi prince over the word of the American intelligence community on this issue. 

So, we have to look at this in the totality of circumstances that have been presented to us, to recognize that I do not believe that the current president of the United States is working in the best interest of the people of this country.  I -- I have good reason based on everything we know publicly to suspect and to be concerned that his motivation is more out of self-interest than it is the interest of the American people.

And, again, let`s not forget that he cannot do this, nor should he be able to, without an authorization of use of military force by the United States Congress.  There is that piece of it also. 

But the bottom line is that -- you know, I`m traveling our country and meeting with the families who are sending their sons and daughters to these endless wars.  And this president better take very seriously any threat that he makes to enter us into another war and send our young men and women into battle. 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back with Senator Kamala Harris. 

Stay with us.


MADDOW:  When California Senator Kamala Harris announced her 2020 presidential campaign, she did so at an event in Oakland, California -- not far from where I`m from -- that had people as far as the eye could see.  The largest campaign event held thus far by any 2020 presidential candidate, Kamala Harris` launch. 

There may have been an event tonight in New York City that matched it.  Senator Elizabeth Warren downtown had what appears to have been an equally giant event.

It feels like as the sort of -- as the campaign goes forward, as the sort of tiers of candidates settle in, as we know who`s making the debates and stuff. 

HARRIS:  Uh-huh.

MADDOW:  But the competition is really joined much more than when I saw you the last time. 

HARRIS:  Uh-huh.

MADDOW:  How are you feeling about your campaign and where you`re at? 

HARRIS:  I`m feeling good.  I`m feeling good.

MADDOW:  Tell me. 

HARRIS:  I -- there is an incredibly amount of enthusiasm.  I mean, Rachel, we`re -- we`re going -- obviously, a lot is the primary states: New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada. 

People are standing in line for hours.  They`re, you know, from -- in the winter, people standing in line in a snowstorm, to 100-plus degrees during the summer.  People who have never been engaged are getting out there and being involved. 

I`ve even had daughters who are bringing their Republican fathers, right?  I`ve seen people who are literally 100 years old who have seen everything and they`re fed up and they`re engaged.  Children of every age. 

And, you know, listen, this is about a campaign that is about saying -- look, one, we`re better than this.  So, the obvious point is we need to defeat Donald Trump.  And I fully intend to do it.  As you know, the way I`ve been talking about it is we need somebody on that debate stage in the general who can successfully prosecute the case against four years of Donald Trump.  And as far as I`m concerned, there`s a nice, long rap sheet on which to do it. 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

HARRIS:  And then also for my campaign and for me personally, it`s about the fact that we`ve got to unify the country.  And we need somebody who has the ability to bring our country together around our common values, around our common hopes and dreams, around the commonality that is the thing that wakes us up in the middle of the night -- because when we all wake up thinking that thing in the middle night, it usually has to do with the same thing, regardless of what party we`re registered to vote with, regardless of some simplistic demographic some pollster put as in.  That`s what I`m talking about. 

And it`s -- I think that what we`re seeing is that is what people want to know, which is that you`re strong enough to beat the guy who needs to get out, but that you also have the ability to see the commonalities between people who seemingly have nothing in common and bring us together around those issues.  And that`s the strength of our campaign. 

MADDOW:  Senator Kamala Harris from California, 2020 presidential candidate -- it`s great to see you, Senator. 

HARRIS:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Thank you for coming in. 

HARRIS:  Thank you.  I appreciate you.  Thank you.

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


MADDOW:  A lot is in flux. 

This weekend, we got the news of a big reshuffle at the Bernie Sanders New Hampshire campaign.  He won New Hampshire in 2016.  He`s now replacing his state director and his top adviser in the state. 

Also, remember that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper quit the 2020 race last month to run for Senate and everybody was worried for him because it was such a crowded Senate field that he was getting into.  Well, since then the top three major Democrats in the race other than Hickenlooper have all dropped out to clear the field for him.  We learned about the third one just this weekend. 

And as I mentioned to Senator Harris just tonight, Elizabeth Warren`s campaign is claiming the largest crowd yet for any event in the campaign for any candidate.  Campaign saying that over 20,000 people were in Washington Square Park for Elizabeth Warren in downtown New York City tonight. 

I should tell you that tomorrow night senator warren will be by exclusive guest right here on set in New York City. 

But that does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.

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