CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: But the two things that do seem like they`re not gong to change, right, is the virus won`t change. The virus is there, it`s going to do. And Donald Trump won`t change.
And it`s like I keep coming back to those two things are the two fixed parts of where we are as a country right now, which is that, that virus is going to do what it`s going to do and behave the way it behaves, and the president is going to do what he does, and behave the way he was, and neither of them are going to change, and that is why we are in the middle of the sort of disaster that we`re in right now.
ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Right. So, I mean, look, I think - - you know, maybe the economy miraculously recovers. Maybe the virus -- maybe something, there`s some sort of external factor that changes the rate of infection with the virus and it doesn`t continue to like burn through the population at the rate it`s burning through now into November. Maybe Joe Biden makes a catastrophic mistake or unearth some terrible thing from his past, I don`t know.
It`s five months, we`ve already had an economic collapse, an uprising against racist policing and a pandemic, and it`s we`re like halfway through the year. So, who knows what`s going to happen between now and November.
SERWER: But for the moment, you know, Trump has shown an inability the rise to the occasion.
HAYES: Adam Serwer, whose great piece can be found in "The Atlantic" online or I think in the print magazine. I don`t know. Did we do that anymore?
Thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
SERWER: No, it`s online. Thank you.
HAYES: All right. That is ALL IN for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. I owe you one my friend. Thank you very, very much. Appreciate it.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. "Time" being the operative word there.
I will tell you, speaking of time, I was initially scheduled to have today off from work. There is a small mouthed bass somewhere in range of my canoe that I urgently need to meet, and soon if I am going to maintain my good nature and sanity for much longer. But I don`t have a day off today as it turns out because when a news day like this rolls around, the day off must wait, some other time, not today. Not when today was like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Last Friday, without explanation, Attorney General William Barr announced that Geoffrey Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York was, quote, stepping down, unquote.
This was, of course, untrue. Mr. Berman had not resigned. The work of Mr. Berman`s office has included a number of criminal investigations aimed at individuals close to President Trump. Among them, the president`s attorney, Michael Cohen. The president`s inaugural committee, and Rudy Giuliani, the president`s current counsel, campaign adviser and direct lining to Kiev.
The effort to move Mr. Berman is part of a clear and dangerous pattern of conduct that began when Mr. Barr took office and continues to this day.
Mr. Barr`s actions make clear that in his Department of Justice, the president`s allies get special treatment. The president`s enemies, real and imagined, are targeted for extra scrutiny. And the needs of the American people and the needs of justice are generally ignored.
Early this year, after the president`s associate Roger Stone was convicted of obstructing justice, Mr. Barr overruled his career prosecutors and recommended a lighter sentence for President Trump`s friend.
In May, Mr. Barr abruptly reversed course in the prosecution of Michael Flynn, the president`s former national security adviser who pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Once again, the president tweeted his feelings about the case.
Once again, Mr. Barr reached into the proceedings -- understand, these are merely the symptoms of an underlying disease. The sickness that we must address is Mr. Barr`s use of the Department of Justice as a weapon to serve the president`s petty, private interests. Our witnesses today will speak to the extremes to which Mr. Barr has reached to carry out the president`s bidding.
I am special grateful to Mr. Elias and Mr. Zelinsky who are current department employees for their bravery in appearing before the committee. This administration is a record of witness intimidation, and I have no doubt they will try to exact a price for your testimony. But you are patriots, and you have done your duty here today.
It gives me hope for what may come at the Department of Justice when Bill Barr is finally removed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When Bill Barr is finally removed.
Congressman Jerry Nadler, the head of the Judiciary Committee talking about the prospective removal of Bill Barr from office. He did say to reporters today that it was possible that his committee would pursue impeachment of Attorney General William Barr. Mr. Nadler also today predicting that the whistle blowers who came forward today to name names and make serious accusations about what President Trump and Attorney General Barr have been doing to the Justice Department and the rule of law -- Congressman Nadler predicting out loud today that they will be retaliated against by the administration for coming forward today as whistle-blowers. We shall see.
But John Elias did testify today about the attorney general ordering what the department believed were frivolous and uncalled for investigations of companies and other entities targeted by the president for political reasons. And Aaron Zelinsky did testify today about interference from on high into the sentencing of Roger Stone because of Roger Stone`s association with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AARON ZELINSKY, MEMBER OF MUELLER`S TEAM WHO PROSECUTED ROGER STONE CASE: I was told that the acting U.S. attorney was giving Stone a break because he was afraid of the president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Aaron Zelinsky, it should also be noted, today named names of more senior at the Justice Department who he says received the political pressure to botch the Roger Stone sentencing and who discussed it at the highest levels including with the attorney general. It`s important that Aaron Zelinsky named those names today because it gives us a sense what have might come next in this investigation into what has happened at the justice department.
As Kyle Cheney at Politico.com put it today, quote: A federal prosecutor today offered lawmakers a road map to investigate alleged political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone. Aaron Zelinsky, one of four lead prosecutors in the Stone case, told the House that senior officials, including the head of the Justice Department`s public corruption unit freely discussed concerns that they were being pressured to go easy on Roger Stone during sentencing.
In other words, thanks to Aaron Zelinsky coming forward, this whistle- blower, and not only saying what he knew, but naming names, other people in the department currently serving, who know more about what happened -- because of that, Congress now knows who to S&P to try to fully document these allegations of the attorney general and potentially even the president intervening in a criminal case to help the president`s friend, right?
So as remarkable as this hearing and these whistle-blowers testifying were today, the bottom line is, especially after what Zelinsky said is, hey, Congress, go get it. Here`s where to look, here`s where you need to talk to next. So, that was just remarkable today. It was everything you would expect, contentious, bickering sniping among member of the committee.
One Republican member of the committee was drumming his hands trying to drown out some of the witness testimony. Even the Republican`s own witness at this hearing today, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, admitted under questioning today that in his words maybe the president has intervened in federal sentencing procedures to help his friends. He said maybe. He was there as a Republicans` witness, but yeah, maybe the president has done that. It was just bizarre.
And this intense and bizarre hearing today happened within hours of Bill Barr`s Justice Department telling a federal court that they`d be fine with it if Roger Stone doesn`t report to prison next week and instead puts his surrender date until this fall. The federal judge in the Roger Stone case is now demanding an explanation of that stance by the Justice Department by tomorrow.
The hearing today also happened within hours of two conservative judges on a federal appeals court ruling that the judge in the Mike Flynn case has to go along with Attorney General Bill Barr wanting to drop that prosecution of Mike Flynn, despite the fact that Flynn pled guilty. Even if the judge has reason to believe the prosecution of Mike Flynn was dropped for a corrupt reason or even for potentially an illegal reason, these two conservative judges on the appeals court ruled that the judge in the Flynn case has to go along with it anyway. He can`t inquire as to what made the Justice Department drop that prosecution.
Remarkable ruling from the appeals court. Very, very controversial. We are basically counting down waiting to see if that ruling is going to be appealed, including potentially to the Supreme Court, which would be quite a dramatic turn.
I should also mention -- you may remember we had Congressman Jerry Nadler here on the show here on Monday night. That`s when he said in the interview that he did here that he was preparing a subpoena for Attorney General William Barr himself to come testify on these issues.
Well, now, we`ve learned that the morning after Jerry Nadler did that interview here Monday night, yesterday morning, the Justice Department called up Jerry Nadler`s committee and in fact scheduled a date for William Barr to come in and voluntarily testify so as to avoid the planned subpoena that Jerry Nadler told us about here on Monday night. Bill Barr really doesn`t want to be subpoenaed so he is going to come in next month for voluntary testimony. You know, since he has been attorney general, Bill Barr has never once testified to the House, but now he says he will. Next month.
We`ll see. And we`ll see how far this investigation into his alleged political interference in individual federal criminal cases to benefit the president`s friends -- we`ll see how far that investigation has gotten by the time Bill Barr is due in that seat.
Meanwhile, the virological implosion continues. Here`s how the epidemic is going right now in some of our closest allies around the world, Italy in the upper left. That`s Germany in the upper right. That is Spain in the lower left.
All countries that got hit good and hard, good and early, just like we did. Obviously, allies of ours, industrialized democratic countries. They have all just had a heck of a go with it.
But now, here`s us. That is what an abject total failure our response has been under this administration. Look at us compared to Italy, Germany, Spain, these countries that were so hard hit, hard hit at a time that gave us warning that it was coming. So, we had an advantage, we had prep time over those European countries.
But that`s how disastrously poorly managed our epidemic has been. And that`s why it is the worst in the world that`s why there are more dead Americans than dead citizens of any other country globally because of this coronavirus. That has been the fault, that has -- that is what it looks like when you have a failed national response to a public health crisis like this.
And, of course, we Americans are the ones who are paying the price for it, over 121,000 Americans dead as of tonight. And now, as of tonight, we have got the highest rise in case numbers we have ever seen in a single day in the United States throughout the course of the epidemic. The previous record for the largest number of new infections reported in one day had been set back in late April, April 25th.
Well, tonight, we blew through that with over 36,000 new infections reported as of 6:00 p.m. today. And, you know, it was probably inevitable that we would hit this new national benchmark given the large number of states and the large income of large states that keep reporting record numbers of new infections on their own.
I mean, the three most populous states in the country are California, Texas, and Florida, right. Well, California, Texas, and Florida all just reported record new numbers of new coronavirus cases today.
California hit a record number of new cases, more than 4,500 new infections on one day, on Sunday. On Monday, they topped 5,000 new infections. On Tuesday, more than 6,000 new infections. Now, today, more than 7,000 new infections just in California alone.
In Florida, they topped more than 5,500 newly reported infections today. It`s the highest number they ever hit. The state of Florida still refuses to compile hospitalization numbers in any useful statewide format.
But "The Orlando Sentinel" reports today based on communications with individual hospitals that at least half a dozen hospitals in South Florida have completely filled their ICU wards already. They are already at capacity at Coral Gables Hospital and Homestead Hospital in Miami-Dade County, Broward Health North in Broward County. And at least three other hospitals in Palm Beach County, Lakeside Medical Center, Bethesda Medical Center West, and St. Mary`s Medical Center, again, all those last three in Palm Beach County, Florida. All six of those hospitals in South Florida say they have zero ICU beds available, they are at capacity, while the state of Florida continues to hit record numbers every day.
So California blowing through, by huge numbers, its record case numbers every day for the last few days now. Florida is starting to do the same with ICU beds already maxed out in multiple hospitals. And that`s the same situation we have got going on now in Texas as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: My first message to the public that`s watching this is people must know the facts. And the facts are that COVID-19 is expanding far faster and far wider than at any time during the pandemic in Texas, and that is exactly why we are having to take additional measures.
We`ll tell you that there is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas. Today, we will have more than 5,000 people test positive once again, as well as have more than 4,000 people hospitalized because of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Texas Governor Greg Abbott doing multiple local news interviews now as his state tops 5,000 new cases for the second straight day.
The situation in Texas is worrying right now. You can tell that in part because suddenly the state`s governor is no longer doing his Mike Pence impression, right, and saying everything is just fine. You do now have the governor out there ahead of the official release of these numbers each day, going out and warning news outlets in the country the terrible numbers are coming. This is a big deal.
I mentioned Mike Pence. Let me say while I am on the subject, just a sidebar here, Vice President Mike Pence today really did do a lunch with Republican senators about coronavirus where he told Republican senators that they should accentuate the positive. They should look on the bright side.
According to "The Washington Post," Vice President Pence told Republican senators today to, quote, focus on encouraging signs. That is the person that is supposed to be running the White House coronavirus response.
We hit the largest number of new infections we ever had as a country today. On that day, he is telling Republican senators at lunch, smiles everyone. Smiles. Say it is fine.
In the real world though, the governor of Texas, the very Trumpy governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, is doing local news interviews every day warning Texans about the massive epidemic they`ve got now and how they`ve got to do something to turn this around.
Hospitalizations of the state of Texas have more than doubled since the beginning of June. We`re still in June. Montgomery County, Texas, just north of Houston, just announced they think they are running out of beds so quickly that the county is purchasing a, quote, portable shelter in which they are going to build out another 75 hospital beds for that county in Texas.
The Houston situation is dire overall. Ninety-seven percent of ICU beds full in Houston. Houston ICU is now at 97 percent capacity as Texas coronavirus cases break records.
Houston is one of the biggest cities in the country, population of millions. Their ICUs are full now.
We`re going to talk with the top elected official in Houston, Harris County Executive Lina Hidalgo in just a moment about that. She has been warning about this moment. It has arrived. We`re going to speak with her live from Houston in just a moment.
But, yeah, when the three most populous states in the country are thundering through their case number records, just blowing them away now day after day, the case numbers in the country are going to start to breaking records, too. The question is, when it slows down. Why it might.
It`s not just the big states though. I mean, Oklahoma just hit a new record again today. They keep doing that. This is -- this is Tulsa. Look, this is what the new record number of cases in Tulsa, Oklahoma, looked like today, where the president held his rally this weekend.
North Carolina and Arizona both hit hospitalization records in the past couple of days. Arizona statewide is 88 percent full in terms of its ICU beds. North Carolina says they`re going to pause their reopening and they`re going to start requiring facemasks statewide now in public.
Tonight at midnight, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York will start restricting travelers from other U.S. states that have 10 percent positivity rates in their testing. That means travelers or returning residents coming from these nine states will have to quarantine for 14 days if they want to come to the Tri-State Area. The initial list of states that will be affected by the quarantine ban are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Washington state.
Those are the states that currently meet the criteria for a mandatory quarantine if you want to come to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. Even if you are a resident if New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, if you have been staying or visiting any of those states, when you come home and you will have to quarantine for 14 days.
We`ll see how the enforcement of that goes in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. It`s not clear how it will be enforced. But at least attempts to impose measures like this were probably inevitable, as some states start to handle this and a lot of states didn`t.
It`s inevitable that some states that are doing relatively okay are going to band together to try to make policy together if the federal government is just not going to work on this thing, right? Like we`re the United States for a reason, and we fought that banding together as 50 states and doing stuff as a country would be a good idea for us, not only in the world, but for us in our individual states.
If the federal government is not going to work on this thing that`s killed 121,000 Americans in 16 weeks with no signs of stopping, while we are breaking new records all over the country, including nationwide right now, if the federal government is just not going to work on it, then we will form new, smaller subgroups of United States, to try to work on it together since the federal government is just abandoning ship.
So, you got the Tri-State Area that went through hell and high water and is coming out of it bending the curve all the way down. You see those states now banding together and saying, well, we`re going to try to protect ourselves from the states where this thing is out of control.
Today in Virginia, for example, it looks like that`s going to be the first state in the country to issue their own statewide binding workplace safety rules for what companies have to do to keep workers safe from coronavirus in the workplace. It is really weird. It is really odd that an individual state is trying to do this since this is the sort of thing that the federal government does.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the federal government is in charge of doing this. But in the Trump administration, they`re just not -- they`re just not working on it at all. And since the federal government isn`t doing any at all on that score, while lots and lots of people are going back to work in the face of the threat of getting infected at work, yeah, states are going to have to make up the rules themselves for themselves, because the president has just decided that the federal government won`t do it.
So, in ways large and small, the failure of the federal government to address the coronavirus disaster will start to pull the states apart from one another and to pit the states against each other in some ways. And if we have good leadership in the states, we can all hope and pray that the states will try to work together cooperatively and collectively to advance their mutual interests. But ultimately, what we are going to have happen is confrontation and conflict and competition where states feel like they have to look at the interest against other states, and the states will dislocate and pull apart like that because of the failed, failure effort.
Mike Pence with Republican senators today being like seems fine to me, accentuate the positive?
So, there`s a lot going on. It`s at least all in the theme, you know? It`s all dystopia. It`s all on a theme of how disastrously bad American governance, perhaps the worst American governance in the history of this country, how that manifests in terms of rule of law, in terms of the health and safety of the people, in terms of the blatant la-la-land gaslighting, distraction, circus, and nonsense from the people who are supposed to be leading this great country in this dark time.
So, yes, the fishing should wait for at least another -- another day or so.
We`ve got a lot to get to tonight. Stay with us. We are off to the city of Houston, Texas next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALIS CUMMINGS, BAYLOR ST. LUKE`S MEDICAL CENTER DIRECTOR OF PATIENT CARE: Already today, we transferred a patient in and immediately we had to intubate her. She is in her 40s.
And it`s very overwhelming to see on top of the fact that when we came in this morning, we learned that one of our patients who had been with us here for a while passed last night. That is really sad.
And then another patient was able to make it but then we are helping his family saying good-bye issues. It is not a normal good-bye. It is under mask and gown and PPE, and they get one person for one hour to say good- bye. It`s just -- it`s just not natural to say good-bye in that way. And that is overwhelming.
Also today, we are trying to prepare for this surge. We are trying to find ways to be proactive because we want to have enough beds for our patients that need our help so we are converting what we have had which is a place for staff to sit and put their feet up for a minute and eat a meal in quiet without interruption. But they`re going to have to convert the two joining rooms back to patient rooms, so frantically trying to rearrange our supply room into our number two, so that my staff can still and go sit down for a minute and have a place to eat that is comfortable and quiet for a minute, and just replenish for themselves for just a minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Alis Cummings is a nurse in Houston, Texas. She`s director of patient care at Baylor St. Luke`s Medical Center, which means she is in leadership there, and she has to think about keeping her staff together, keeping them going, making sure they get what they need. She`s describing now how her nurses are going to start eating their meals in a corner of a supply room, because they had them in a room, but the hospital needs all the room they can get now for COVID patients. And so, got to find someplace else for the Zen bin (ph) as she put it.
The exhaustion she is describing, what is her work towards keeping her staff going. That stress is, of course, right now compounded by the fear that Houston health care providers are feeling right now about what this huge new case numbers, not just generally in Texas but specifically Houston are going to mean, in terms of what has to happen in Houston hospitals, in terms of crushing the region`s hospital capacity.
And I use that verb advisably because the data from Houston is bad. As of today, according to the city of Houston, 97 percent of the ICU beds in the city of Houston are full. That`s up from 90 percent of ICU beds just two days ago in Houston.
Meanwhile, new infections, new case numbers are not expected to level off in Houston for weeks, and all of that together has health officials and leaders in Houston freaked out. At least that`s how it seems, a little freaked out about what these next few weeks are going to bring, and whether the hospitals will be able to treat all the patients that come through their doors.
One professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston warning over the weekend that the city of Houston is on track to have the worst outbreak in the country, worse than New York had. The mayor of Houston saying today that his city is in a health care crisis with new cases moving in the wrong direction in his words very fast. We`re moving very fast in the wrong direction.
Lina Hidalgo is the executive county in Harris County, where Houston is. She says now that coronavirus in Harris County is an unprecedented and dangerous situation. The curve will not flatten ones it own and we cannot afford to wait.
Joining us now is Lina Hidalgo. She`s the judge in Harris County, which is the top elected official in charge of America`s third largest county which is experiencing one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks on earth right now.
Judge Hidalgo, thank you for taking time to be here tonight. I really appreciate it.
LINA HIDALGO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: First, let me ask you, I am trying to describe what is happening broadly in Texas but specifically in Harris County and in Houston from afar. Let me ask if I have anything wrong or if there`s anything else -- anything I`ve gotten wrong or anything else important we should understand about the situation you and your county are in right now.
HIDALGO: No, it`s is crushing to see that testimonial from the nurse and if there is a silver lining, it is that the hospitals operational capacity is hitting 92 to 97 percent. But as she said, they`ve been working to make room, to make surge capacity and sustainable surge capacity which gives us a little bit of a chance to perhaps have a chance at success.
Does that mean that we will succeed? Who knows? And certainly not without severe action on the part of the community.
But the reality of it is, we`ve been watching these hospitalization trends -- this is no surprise. If you increase close contact to such a degree as has been happening here, you`re going to have more hospitalizations and the projections show that we would run out of all beds anywhere between the next 10 and 40 days and now we know that it takes about three weeks to flatten the curve with the most severe restrictions.
MADDOW: In terms of that dire horizon, that sort of dire horizon in terms of running out of all beds. When you talk of surge capacity, one of the things that we heard from other health officials and that we`ve seen in other places is that surge capacity is sort of -- it`s never easy. But it`s easier to organize in terms of physical space and literal beds and getting equipment in place.
The thing that`s hard to manage in terms of surge capacity is the right number of trained health care professionals to staff those beds and to staff particularly intensive care patients who need so much attention and so much work from so many professionals.
Are you at all worried about health care staffing levels as Houston looks toward and Harris County looks toward moving into an intensive care surge capacity kind of situation?
HIDALGO: Absolutely. There is a reason the beds are not permanent. And you have to look at the beds, the staff, the PPE. So, you know, we are standing up, we have a medical shelter that is ready to go to supplement the need if it came down to that. But that`s not where we need to be.
The idea is not to have such disregard for human life saying let`s just wait until we get to the very edge and fill that capacity. For one, it`s not sustainable. But also, this is the community you have to remember during Harvey where neighbors were helping neighbors out of floodwaters, where the concern for human life was overwhelming.
And that`s what it is. It is an invisible hurricane, so to speak, where your neighbor`s home is being flooded and we need to go and help out. And that`s what it takes, is we are going to need folks to work together.
Of course, the issue is that while I have the authority to issue restrictions in the past, I no longer do. And so, I`m working with the state to try to find a solution quickly and at worse, I will make sure and be very clear with the community as to what the recommendations are because we are headed towards a precipice and it may well be too late.
MADDOW: If you did have the authority to issue restrictions in Harris County in Houston in terms of people`s behavior and what should happen, would you order at this point? What do you think will be necessary in terms of mandatory restrictions?
HIDALGO: So, you have to remember, Harris County is Houston and 33 other cities. It is a large area. We know what doesn`t work. That is the status quo, that is the ability for people to go to bars, restaurants, clubs.
I have been saying we`re at the second highest alert level. We`ve been on that for a couple of weeks, so I`ve been asking the community not to do that. But recommendations, that is just human nature. Folks get the sense that life is back to normal.
What we know works is a stay home order. Do I want to go there? No. From the beginning of the reopening, I`ve said that I`m committed to making it succeed and we pulled out all of the stops on tracing, on isolation, on quarantine options for our first responders, on this medical shelter, work with nursing homes and all kinds of things.
But the reality of it is, we need to avoid being the canary in the coal mine as far as what a reopening should not look like and we need to figure out how to do it sustainably.
MADDOW: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, let me just ask you one last question before we go. Obviously, Harris County is capable, big, very -- very large as you said, you know, third largest populous in the country in terms of counties. And you guys have your act together. You guys know, you have good governance, you know what you`re doing.
Given all that, I`m almost hesitant to ask, but is there something you need in terms of national help? Is there something that Harris County needs to tap the rest of the country for as you face these very, very scary numbers right now?
HIDALGO: I hope folks that are reopening too quickly, folks that are getting complacent will see what is happening here and will take it as a warning and recognize that the virus hasn`t gone away, that it spreads from person-to-person contact, and that we can`t get complacent with this virus. Other than that, what I need is the ability for the community to buckle down. We did it first already with the first wave. We were able to bring those case numbers to fund them before it started reopening and we`ve got to do it again.
MADDOW: Lina Hidalgo, Harris County, Texas, judge -- thank you so much for being here. Good luck. This is going to be a tough few weeks in Harris County. Please keep us apprised.
HIDALGO: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. No outrageously busy news day is complete without an incredible dramatic late legal filing. That`s next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today at the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., in a 2-1 ruling, the judge in the Mike Flynn case, Judge Emmet Sullivan, was ordered to stop inquiring as to why the Justice Department and Attorney General Bill Barr have dropped the prosecution of Mike Flynn even after he pled guilty. The appeals court ruled that Judge Sullivan should rubber stamp what the Justice Department did here, he should stop asking questions as to why they did this sort of crazy thing. He is directed now to pull the plug on Flynn`s prosecution and be quiet about it. That was 2-1 ruling.
The third judge, Judge Robert Wilkins dissented from the ruling, and his dissent the kind you end up unable to stop yourself from reading even if you`re not a lawyer. Let me give you a taste of why.
This is from the dissent. Quote: It`s a great irony that in finding Judge Sullivan to have exceeded his jurisdiction, this court so grievously oversteps its own jurisdiction. This appears to be the first time we have issued a writ of mandamus to compel a district court to rule in a particular manner on a motion without first giving the lower court a reasonable opportunity to issue its own ruling.
Quote: In 2017, then acting attorney general told the vice president that Flynn`s false statements posed a potential compromise situation for Flynn with the Russians. Just a few months ago, the prosecution said that Flynn`s false statements to the FBI went to the heart of a valid counter- intelligence inquiry and were absolutely material. Now, in a complete reversal, the government says none of this is true.
Quote: This is no mere about-face. It is more akin to turning around an aircraft carrier. Today, the majority of this court declares that nevertheless, in spite of the government`s abrupt reversal on the facts and the law, these circumstances merit no further examination to determine whether they maybe additional reasons for the prosecutor`s actions, and if so, if any such reasons are impermissible.
Quote: Judge Sullivan must be given a reasonable opportunity to consider and hold a hearing on the government`s request to ensure that it`s not clearly contrary to the public interest. I therefore dissent.
To ensure that it is not clearly contrary to the public interest.
Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Barb, thank you for coming back.
When we talked last night, I had no idea we would have so much to discuss 24 hours later.
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Every day is a surprise in this administration, Rachel.
MADDOW: It is remarkable. I mean, we`ve got this hearing today at the Judiciary Committee in the House where we`ve got Justice Department whistle-blowers coming up and saying, yes, the Justice Department is now bringing cases and dropping cases and interfering in cases in ways that are designed to benefit the president politically and help his friends and hurt his enemies. That`s happening.
We work in the Justice Department. We have seen it happen. And you have got this 2-1 ruling in the Appeals Court where this judge in Flynn`s case is told to shut up and take it, that he doesn`t have the ability to review what the Justice Department did in Flynn`s case.
I found the appeals court ruling today absolutely baffling. As a former U.S. attorney, though, did it makes sense to you?
MCQUADE: No. I agree with you. In fact I was sharing texts with colleagues and friends, and the words I was seeing was stunning, shocking, astonishing, all of those kinds of words. I think it is because we see the way the world the dissenting opinion does as you just said.
The world that the court was looking at here says that a case may be dismissed only with leave of court. If that means anything, it means that Judge Sullivan should at the very least have the ability to at least hold a hearing. And so, on the merits, it seems that makes no sense. But even if you disagree with the merits, the idea of granting mandamus is so unusual and so extraordinary that I think that part alone gives me some glimmer of hope that the full court might pick this up in what`s called en banc, with the full court might review it, because it sets a really terrible precedent for other cases.
Ordinarily, you allow a district court, a trial court, to make its ruling and then there was a process of appeal. It comes later, to review what the court did.
What Flynn`s lawyer attempted to do here is and end run around, even allowing Judge Sullivan to make a ruling, going straight to mom and dad said, tell him not to issue an order or have a hearing. And they did that. That`s so unusual and I think could be so damning to future cases with the Department of Justice, and I`m cautiously optimistic that the full court might vacate this opinion and rehear it.
MADDOW: Barb, let me ask you as a lower than average intelligence non- lawyer observer on this, as somebody who just -- I`m kind of dumb as a stump on this stuff. I get it. I realize, I have no mind for these things.
But it seems to me looking at that ruling today that in the -- let`s say that Mike Flynn got this prosecution dropped, right? He gets prosecuted. He pleads guilty. He`s about to be sentenced. He freaks out, he is going to prison, and he decides he is going to bribe people. He`s going to start bribing people in the Justice Department to get him off.
I`m not saying that`s what happened. This is just a hypothetical. If at that -- if at that point the Justice Department said, OK, yes, we don`t -- we are going to withdraw this prosecution. We don`t want Flynn to go to prison at all.
And the judge had reason to believe something that corrupt had happened, doesn`t this ruling say, well, it`s all right, doesn`t matter, you are not allowed to inquire as to why this might have happened even if it was something totally egregious and corrupt?
MCQUADE: I think it does. You know, one of the things that the majority opinion focuses on is that there is a presumption of regularity in prosecution unless there is evidence to the contrary and the court said we see no evidence to the contrary here. But what the dissent points out is that Rule 48 is not just there to protect defendants. That`s the part that the majority focuses on. It also says it is there to prevent defendants from getting -- who are well-connected and powerful from getting preferential treatment because that`s in the public`s best interest.
And it`s also there to make sure that the court doesn`t get taken along for a ride in some sort of corrupt scheme like the one you described there. And so, that`s the merits issue aside from the procedural issue. So, I think on both of these counts, this decision should be reversed.
MADDOW: Well, we`ll see about an appeal. Obviously, Judge Sullivan could ask for it to be reviewed by -- en banc by the full D.C. Circuit. Any judge on the D.C. Circuit could say we should look at this en banc. There is also the possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court. This is not over yet.
Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan -- Barb, really appreciate you helping me through this. Thank you.
MCQUADE: You bet, Rachel. Thanks.
MADDOW: All right. Much more still to come here tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last night, and then all day today, we watched as two American cities worked on taking down Confederate monuments. One monument for a staunch defender of slavery, Vice President John Calhoun in Charleston, South Carolina. The other, a monument for Confederate soldiers at the state capital in Raleigh, North Carolina.
And it turns out taking down centuries olds and several thousand pounds heavy monuments is time-consuming work. In Raleigh, it has taken three days and quite a few different cranes to fully disassemble even just the pillar of that 75-foot tall monument to Confederate soldiers.
It was around 11:30 last night that they finally removed the last piece of that monument in Raleigh. In Charleston, crews started their work near midnight last night, hours after the city council voted unanimously to take down that statue of John Calhoun. They labored at it in the heat for most of the day today.
But it`s interesting. One of the things we`re now seeing about the length of time it just takes logistically to remove these gigantic monuments is that while it`s happening, people gather around to watch and you get to hear what they think about these monuments, and these moments, seeing them being taken down after all these years.
That John Calhoun statue, for instance, one in Charleston, is 115 feet tall. It has literally stood over the city of Charleston in 1896. Here is what some people who live in Charleston told "The Post and Courier", their local paper today, about having lived in that particular shadow their entire who lives.
Quote: This has been a symbol of hate since the day it was put up, said Jason Crowley.
Or Sheryl Newman Whaley (ph), a fifth generation Charleston native, she said, quote, I don`t know how many people I was blood related to that was under his enslavement. He`s not going to be looking down on us anymore. I`m getting emotional just thinking about it.
Or Tomeka Gabston (ph), she says, quote, this moment was about the uprising we saw across the country. We`re just happy that the mayor and the council came to the same conclusion as the people.
Ashton Calloway (ph) told "The Post and Courier", quote, after having this thing looming over me my entire life as a person of color in 2020, I`m happy to see this symbol of slavery come down.
So while the president sits in the White House fulminating about making it may cost you ten years in prison if you vandalize a monument in federal land, more cities and states are deciding for themselves that now is the time to take these monuments down. Charleston paper reports that church bells played "Amazing Grace" as they finally prepared to lower old John Calhoun to the ground. He left his pedestal today at 5:07 p.m.
Actually, I think we`ve got a shot of him there back down on earth. Doesn`t he look a little annoyed to you, like how dare you? Maybe like a cat stuck in a bathtub. Who can say?
Maybe he changed his mind about the whole thing while he was up there. Maybe he also was glad to be done with it.
Charleston sure sounds glad of it.
MADDOW: Quick update for you tonight on a story we brought you a few days ago about the Trump administration staging a hostile takeover of something called the U.S. Agency for Global Media. That`s the agency that oversees government-funded independent media outlets like Voice of America.
President Trump installed a new director of that agency. Soon thereafter, the head of Voice of America and her deputy resigned abruptly without explanation. Then, 48 hours later in what they called a Wednesday night massacre, the heads of all of the other agencies networks were all suddenly fired all at once.
The new Trump appointed director not only fired the heads of all of the networks, he also fired all of the members of all of the boards of directors that advised all of those networks. Everybody was fired all in one fell swoop. Instead, he installed a bunch of hand-picked sort of junior varsity Trump people there. None of whom have any experience whatsoever in news or journalism or diplomacy.
Well, on Friday night, we had on the show two of those newly fired board members. Ambassadors Karen Kornbluh and Ryan Crocker, both of whom are real heavyweights in their field. They both expressed alarm of the decapitation of all these news agencies.
Well, now, the update is that Ambassador Kornbluh and Ambassador Crocker are among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that has just been filed against the new Trump appointed director who fired them. Their lawsuit says the wholesale firing of the heads of all those networks and the governing boards, those firings were illegal, they should be nullified by a judge and all of the network heads and the board of directors should be reinstated.
I mean, legal drama aside, the president really does sort of appear to be trying to commandeer the federal government`s gigantic media arm for his own purposes. But now, at least we know that the people who have been ousted there are not going down without a fight. So watch this space.
That`s going to do it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
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