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Trump Turnberry TRANSCRIPT: 8/6/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Ted Lieu, Letitia James

ADRIANNE SHROPSHIRE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BLACKPAC: Like we are all effected  in the same way right now and I think that being able to understand that,  use these -- the campaign ads and messaging to tell each of our stories is  to across and create a sort of unifying -- you know, unified country to  fight what we`re going to need to fight on the other side of this. That`s  going to be really important for them to use these campaign ads and these  messages in that way. 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Adrianne Shropshire, that`s -- that was  great. Thank so much. I really appreciate it.

SHROPSHIRE: Thank you, Chris. 

HAYES: That is "ALL IN" on this Thursday night. 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel. 

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

And thanks to you at home for being with us here tonight. 

This is Dr. Joseph Varon from Houston, Texas. He is the chief medical  officer of United Memorial Medical Center which is in North Houston. 


DR. JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER:  I`m pretty much fighting two wars, a war against COVID and a war against  stupidity, and the problem is that the first one, I have some hope about  winning, but the second one is becoming more and more difficult to treat. 

And why do I say that? Because people are not listening, whether it`s, you  know, we`re backed by science or just plain old common sense, people are  not listening throughout the country. 

CHRISTINA MATHERS, NURSE: I worked this past Wednesday. I had three  patients. I -- I wasn`t feeling too good at the beginning of the shift, so  I let Dr. Varon know. And he was like, you need to get to the E.R., and  they told me I was positive. 

RILEY HARRISON: I couldn`t breathe. I was at work, and I couldn`t breathe.  So the little wind that I had left, I made it home, and my wife called the  hotline. But if you`ve got a death wish, catch COVID. 

REPORTER: You got a what? 

HARRISON: You got a death wish, play with COVID. 

MATHERS: All this fighting and all the screaming and all the, you know,  finger-pointing. Enough is enough. Whatever happened to just common  humanity and decency. I don`t -- I don`t know. The world is hurting. 

So, for people to be mad and yet myself as a medical person, people just  need to stop and listen to them, to us. We`re not going to lie. Why would  we lie? 

VARON: You know, I have been in the middle of earthquakes, in the middle of  bombings, in the middle of tsunamis. I`ve been in every possible  catastrophe that you can imagine. And by far, this is the worse. This is  the worse because this is a continuing situation. 

The other ones, you know, something bad happens and then you take care of  things and that`s it. Here continues to occur, and what is probably the  most disappointing thing, the thing that annoys me the most is that we keep  on doing our best to save all these people, and then you get another batch  of people that are do exactly the opposite of what you are telling them not  to do. 


MADDOW: Dr. Joseph Varon is the chief medical officer at that hospital in  North Houston, United Memorial. 

You also saw there Christina Mathers, who is a nurse on his staff, who  herself got infected. Also one of their patients, Reilly Harrison, age 67,  saying if you`ve got a death wish, catch COVID. If you`ve got a death wish,  play with COVID. 

As of tonight, NBC News calculations show that the number of Americans who  have been killed by coronavirus has now topped 160,000 -- 160,000 Americans  gone in just six months. And an epidemic that is still raging out of  control. Today was yet another day of more than 50,000 new cases reported  and another day of more than 1,000 new deaths reported among Americans just  in the past 24 hours. 

David Leonhardt at "The New York Times" today took a look at how much worst  the United States has handled this epidemic compared to every other major  country on earth. And -- I mean we know it, but it`s just staggering in the  specifics, right? We Americans, we`re only 4 percent of the world`s  population. We are 22 percent of the world`s coronavirus deaths. 

If you look just in the past month, in just this past month, 1.9 million  Americans got infected. Compare that to our allies. Compare that to like  countries in the rest of the world. Compare it to Canada, Australia, South  Korea, Japan, all of Europe, all of Europe. If you combine all of those, if  you combine, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and all of Europe, all  of their new cases over the past month, our cases alone are five times as  high as all of them combined. Nothing like it on earth. 

The Ohio governor, Republican Governor Mike DeWine, tested positive for  coronavirus today when he was on his way to go meet with the president on a  trip to Cleveland. 

The Center for Public Integrity obtained a recording from last night which  they published today, which is the only way we know that the White House  coronavirus coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, is now warning ten specific  localities around the country that their numbers are dangerous and they  need to take action. She`s specifically warning Baltimore, Atlanta, Kansas  City, Portland, Omaha, Nebraska, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, and Washington,  D.C. as well as the whole Central Valley of California. Those are the  warnings currently from Dr. Deborah Birx. 

Now, the White House made no public announcement that these cities and  these areas are in trouble right now, but we have a free press, and someone  leaked the audio of Dr. Birx delivering those warnings in a private call,  and apparently that`s now how we find out what the federal government can  tell us about where the emergencies are right now in this epidemic.  Somebody on the call leaks it to the press. They publish it. That`s how we  find out what the White House is worried about in terms of who has it bad  right now that needs to make changes because their numbers look terrible. I  mean this is the system? 

So there`s a lot going on tonight. There`s some fascinating news tonight  that has just come out of Kansas. We`re going to be talking about that this  hour as we`re having these ongoing national fights about going back to  school and mask rules and all the rest of it. Kansas just did what amounts  to a natural experiment that the whole country can very plainly learn from.  This is something that hasn`t really had any national attention yet, but it  should. We`re going to give it a little national attention later on this  hour here on this show. 

We`ve also got New York Attorney General Tish James here with us tonight.  Attorney General Tish James was on this show 16 months ago when she  announced that her office had begun an inquiry into the NRA, the National  Rifle Association, one of the most powerful political entities in this  country, one of the most influential players in Republican politics.  Obviously, they`ve been the major special influence in this country that`s  blocked any gun-related reforms even as gun violence and mass shootings  have just gotten worse and worse and worse. 

New York Attorney General Tish James today announced the culminating result  of her office`s 16-month investigation into the NRA. What she announced  today is that her office is now seeking to shut that organization down.  They are chartered in New York. They are under the jurisdiction of New York  law. She says they are in violation of New York law, and they should be  dissolved. 

Whatever you think of the NRA as a political entity and as a special  lobbying interest and what effect they`ve had on our country, Tish James`  office says in their lawsuit today that they basically have been able to  document that whatever else the NRA is, it`s also a gigantic scam. Its top  executives, according to the attorney general`s office, have been ripping  off the organization to the tune of, like, tens of millions of dollars a  year, year after year. They`ve been funneling NRA members` donations into  their own pockets and to their own family members and friends and allies  for years, to the point of what Tish James today called, quote, brazen  illegality. 

New York Attorney General Tish James announced her office`s civil suit  against the NRA and a number of its senior executives today. That suit  includes some very lurid details about the way her office says NRA  executives stole tens of millions of dollars and what they spent it on. The  list of what they spent it on is quite amazing in its own terms. 

Tish James is going to be here live in just a moment to talk about that  lawsuit, why it`s happening now, why she thinks the NRA should not just be  penalized, it should be dissolved as an organization. 

I should tell you I know this got a lot of attention today, and you may  have seen that the president, president Trump today responded to the news  of this action by Attorney General Tish James by saying that the NRA should  dissolve itself, that it should, like, disestablish itself in New York and  move out of New York, move out of Tish James` jurisdiction. The president  said today publicly that the NRA should reconstitute itself somewhere else  like Texas instead. 

We`re going to talk this hour about why the NRA actually doesn`t have that  option. And the president darn well knows it because his own bogus charity,  the Trump Foundation, was itself shut down by the New York attorney  general`s office not that long ago because of a whole different slew of  brazen illegality and alleged self-dealing. If the president could have  evaded that fate by just picking up and moving his fake charity out of New  York and moving it to Texas, he would have done so to save his own skin. It  was not an option for him when his bogus scam charity got shut down by the  New York attorney general, and it is also today not an option for the NRA  no matter what the president says. 

So we`re going to talk about that tonight and Tish James is going to be  joining us live in just a moment. 

MADDOW: But speaking of self-dealing, before we get to that, I also want to  update you tonight on a story that sort of broke way open right here at the  end of this show last night. 

This is Ambassador Lewis Lukens. He`s had a 30 year career at the State  Department. For a time he was our acting ambassador to Britain in the Trump  administration until November 2018, he was the number two official at the  U.S. embassy in London. He was second in command to the billionaire Woody  Johnson, who President Trump appointed ambassador to the U.K. 

Lewis Lukens is now retired from the Foreign Service. He was sent home by  Ambassador Woody Johnson about seven months before his tour of duty was due  to end there, and he chose to retire at that time. But now that he`s a  private citizen, he is now speaking out in person and on the record about  what he saw happen during his tenure there. Watch. 


LEWIS LUKENS, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION AT U.S. EMBASSY IN LONDON: The  ambassador came back from a meeting at the White House. The very next  morning he came and talked to me. He said the president wants me to do  this. Who should I talk to? How should I go about doing it? I said, you  can`t. You shouldn`t. This is unethical, probably illegal. 

A couple weeks later he asked again. I gave him the same answer. And then  he went and had a meeting with the British minister responsible for  Scotland and made the request or made the suggestion at least after which I  was informed of that. I wasn`t in the meeting but I was informed directly  after by someone who was, and I, you know, let Washington know, but also  kept detailed notes on my own of what was happening at the time. 

MADDOW: Can you spell this out? I realize this may be elementary and seem  very obvious to you, but just for the benefit of me and for our viewers,  can you spell out why you told Ambassador Johnson that he really shouldn`t  do this, why it would be unethical and, in your words, potentially illegal? 

LUKENS: Well, look, it`s a clear example of trying to use U.S. government  resources and the position of the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James  to line the president`s pocket, to promote his personal business and  support his financial -- personal financial interests. 

So, you know, you don`t have to take a three-hour course in ethics to  understand that that`s a violation of the oath of the Constitution that we  take as diplomats and the ambassador took before he came to London to  protect and serve the American people and the American constitution, not  the president`s financial -- personal financial interests. 

MADDOW: Do you know if, in fact, the State Department inspector general  investigated this matter? 

LUKENS: The inspector general team was in London for about three to four  weeks last October, and as I understand it, they didn`t talk to me when  they came out there, but from colleagues at the embassy, my understanding  is that this issue was raised with them as well as several other  allegations. They spent about a month at the embassy talking to staff,  talking to leadership in the embassy, and then went back to Washington. And  what they normally would do is write their report, which is then sent to  the embassy for their final approval of it and commentary on it. And at  that point the report sort of screeched to a halt and has not gone anywhere  since. 


MADDOW: Lewis Lukens was the number two official at the U.S. embassy in  Britain when he says the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson, at  President Trump`s request, went to the British government and asked the  British government to move the British Open golf tournament to the  president`s golf club in Scotland, which would be a clear and large  financial benefit to the president and his business. 

As Ambassador Lukens put it, quote, you don`t have to take a three-hour  course in ethics to understand that it`s a violation of the oath of the  Constitution that we take to protect and serve the American people and the  American Constitution, not the president`s personal financial interests. 

Ambassador Lukens is in sort of a remarkable position here, right, because  he was a witness to this. He says Ambassador Woody Johnson told him about  his conversations with the president about this, about this request the  president made that Ambassador Johnson should ask the British government to  do his personal golf club this big favor. The ambassador described that  conversation as having taken place between himself and President Trump in  person in the Oval Office on January 29th, 2018. 

According to Ambassador Lukens, one day later on January 30th, Woody  Johnson came to him and asked Lew Lukens for his advice on how he should  follow through on the president`s request. Mr. Lukens says he told Woody  Johnson not to do it, that it was unethical and illegal. Lewis Lukens says,  though, that he talked to Ambassador Johnson about it again several weeks  later, and the ambassador still wanted to go ahead with the request. Lukens  said he again told Woody Johnson that he should not do it. But then he says  Ambassador Woody Johnson went ahead and actually did it, made the request  anyway. He did convey the president`s request about his golf club and the  British Open to the British government. 

And there was Lewis Lukens taking detailed notes at the time, and as he put  it, telling Washington, letting Washington know, reporting his observations  and concerns about what was happening back to the State Department in D.C. 

As of last fall, several months ago, the State Department I.G. apparently  had done some investigation of these allegations. But then the report on  those investigations, the report on what happened, somewhat mysteriously  and very atypically disappeared and has not been made public. NBC News  reporting that that report was designated as classified for some reason,  and then shortly thereafter the inspector general who conducted that  investigation was fired, and we still don`t know why he was fired. 

And that is something that Congress is currently investigating because not  only does Congress not know why that inspector general was fired, neither  does he. Congress recently released the transcript of a closed-door  deposition they did with the inspector general, Steve Linick, where Linick  told members of Congress, in this case, Congressman Ted Lieu, quote, I  don`t know why I have been removed. There`s been no valid reason presented  to me for that removal. 

Congress is trying to figure it out. Linick still doesn`t know why he was  fired, but he was fired apparently, according to NBC News reporting, at the  same time his reporting on what happened with that request about the  president`s golf club was mysteriously marked classified, submarined, and  kept from public view. 

This week, the Foreign Relations and Oversight Committee sent subpoenas to  senior State Department officials to try to get to the bottom of why that  inspector general was fired and to try to figure out whether it may have  been a cover-up of some kind. To add further drama to this, this week the  new inspector general, who was put in place to replace the guy who they  precipitously fired, the new one announced that he too is leaving abruptly  after less than three months on the job as the new State Department  inspector general, leaving without explanation. Secretary of State Mike  Pompeo saying simply that he wanted to go home and it happens. 

I should mention that that acting inspector general, the guy newly  appointed to that post, he`s not only leaving the inspector general job to  which he was just named, he`s also leaving the government entirely with no  explanation. But the U.S. ambassador to the U.K., Woody Johnson, is still  at his post in London even after all this has come out. I mean despite what  appears to have been his direct involvement in carrying out this scheme  that the president put him up to, to try to use the U.S. government and  employees of the U.S. government to get him a sweet business deal from a  foreign government. 

As Ambassador Lukens said here last night on this show and as he apparently  told Ambassador Woody Johnson when this happened, this scheme that the  president arranged involving his ambassador and the golf club thing, it may  not only be unethical and against State Department policy, it may be  illegal. 

Well, to that point, the story has taken a further step forward now because  now the FBI has been asked to investigate this matter as potentially  bribery, the solicitation of a bribe. Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New  York and Congressman Ted Lieu of California, both of whom incidentally are  former federal prosecutors, they`ve now written to the FBI director,  Christopher Wray, asking the FBI to investigate whether this was a crime. 

Quote: Dear Director Wray, as former prosecutors and current members of  Congress, we request the FBI to look into whether U.S. ambassador to the  U.K., Robert Wood Johnson IV, committed any crimes. Multiple media reports  document Ambassador Johnson trying to steer the lucrative British Open golf  tournament to the Trump Turnberry resort, which would benefit Donald Trump  and his family. We do not know the details of Ambassador Johnson`s  conversations with British officials, but if he was being influenced in the  performance or omission of any official acts in exchange for foreign  officials moving the British Open to Trump Turnberry, that would constitute  solicitation of a bribe. 

The representatives go on to spell out what part of the U.S. Penal Code  establishes solicitation of bribery as a crime. They say in this case,  quote, Ambassador Johnson is a public official, and he sought something of  significant value, moving the British Open to Trump Turnberry for Donald  Trump. 

If Ambassador Johnson`s conversations with British officials included him  stating that he would either perform or omit to perform certain official  actions in exchange for them moving the British Open, then all the elements  for soliciting a bribe are met. We believe the public reporting has  provided more than enough of a factual predicate to open an investigation  into Ambassador Johnson. Thank you for your attention to this important  matter. 

Joining us now live is Congressman Ted Lieu, who not incidentally sits on  the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees the State Department.  He`s also one of these members of Congress who is calling for that FBI  investigation. 

Congressman Lieu, thank you so much for making time. I really appreciate  you being here tonight. 

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW: In the wake of this recent public reporting and these shocking  allegations from Ambassador Lewis Lukens, you first called for the  resignation of Ambassador Johnson, who`s still currently in post in London.  You`ve now taken it a step further and said that the FBI should investigate  this as potential criminal behavior on his part. 

Why do you think it rises to the level of what you want to be a criminal  investigation here? 

LIEU: Thank you for your question. 

We know that what Ambassador Johnson did was unethical. What Congresswoman  Kathleen Rice and I want to know is was it also illegal. And in this case,  two out of three elements of solicitation for bribe have already been met.  He is a public official, and he definitely asked for something of value for  Donald Trump. And if he said anything in exchange for that, that would be  solicitation of a bribe. That was some sort of official action. 

And why is this report, this I.G. report on what he did even marked  classified? Because if all he did was make that request, that would not be  classified. What would be classified is if he said something, and that`s  what makes this thing even more suspicious. That`s why we want the FBI to  investigate because he may have said something that he should not have  said. 

MADDOW: In terms of that State Department paper trail, there has been a  sort of remarkable string of reporting. Here is Lewis Lukens telling me  last night that he conveyed his concerns to Washington. He said he told  Washington about the same concerns that he expressed to Ambassador Johnson. 

We`ve also got the -- his exact words, quote, I let Washington know but  also kept detailed notes on my own of what was happening at the time. We`ve  also had some remarkable and interesting reporting from the "Associated  Press" that describes multiple state department officials conveying  concerns about this home to Washington, home to State Department  headquarters, expressing alarm and concern about these unethical and  potentially illegal acts. 

Should you and your colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee or  anybody else in Congress be able to follow that paper trail in, in fact,  all of this stuff was dutifully documented by career officials who  witnessed it and who knew it was wrong? 

LIEU: Absolutely. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has already  subpoenaed a number of officials. I`ve interviewed I.G. Linick along with  other committee members, and it`s pretty clear he had no basis for getting  fired. We don`t know why a card now has had somebody resign. This is part  of a pattern of corruption that we see in the State Department, not just  Ambassador Johnson, but also you have allegations that the U.S. ambassador  to Brazil was asking Brazil to basically take actions to benefit Donald  Trump`s reelection. 

I think Ambassador Johnson should resign. But since he hasn`t, I believe  the State Department needs to recall him back to the United States for two  reasons. First of all, Ambassador Lukens on your show confirmed that  Ambassador Johnson made that request to British officials to move the  British open to the Trump Turnberry resort. And, second, there are multiple  allegations that Ambassador Johnson made racist and sexist comments. 

You can`t have these kinds of allegations in a very critical position for  the U.S. government.

MADDOW: If in fact the inspector general did investigate those comments you  just described from the ambassador and this matter of potentially  soliciting a bribe, as you and your colleague puts it in this letter today  to the FBI, if the I.G. has looked into these matters, what`s to stop the  senior leadership at the State Department from burying that inspector  general report forever? Is there a way that it can be surfaced? Obviously  it seems to require some fresh investigation it sounds like you and your  colleagues are eager to do that. 

But if the I.G. has already done on the ground investigation of what  happened here, how can that report be either brought to the attention of  the public or to the oversight committees like the one on which you serve? 

LIEU: Public sentiment matters. That`s why shows like yours are so  important. Congressional oversight matters, and the committee is absolutely  going to ask for this report to be made public. 

I still think it`s awfully suspicious that it`s marked classified. I`m not  clear why that would be the case. And we definitely want to see this  report, and the State Department owes it to the American people to clear  the air if nothing happened, or if something bad happened, to issue the  report and then have the chips fall where they may. 

MADDOW: Congressman Ted Lieu of California, sir, thank you for your time  tonight. Thanks for helping us understand this. I feel like this story is - - felt like it`s been sort of on a slow burn for a while, but it is coming  to a boil. Thank you, sir. Much appreciated. 

LIEU: Thank you. 

MADDOW: I should mention that there is going to be some potential  furthering of this story tomorrow. NBC News is reporting tonight that the  person who currently serves as executive secretary to Mike Pompeo, the  secretary of state, her name is Lisa Kenna. She is set to appear before  congressional committees tomorrow. She has previously testified that she  doesn`t have any knowledge about the inspector general`s firing, but she  has had some troubling things about whether or not she was asked, as  Pompeo`s executive secretary, to do things that basically constituted a  misuse of resources in the State Department. 

So, again, Lisa Kenna, she`s up for an ambassadorship right now. She is due  to testify in Congress tomorrow while this is a roiling controversy now,  including this new request to the FBI to investigate this as a potential  criminal matter. Expect that she will be asked about that, and that may be  of news interest. 

We`ll keep you posted. We`ve got much more ahead here tonight. Stay with  us. 


MADDOW: Here`s the specs. The yacht is called Illusions. At first I thought  it was called the illusion or the illusions. It`s just called Illusions,  like talking heads. 

It`s 108 feet long. It has a full staff, also a chef. It has four  staterooms. I think a stateroom in this context means bedroom, but I`m not  sure. Whatever they are, whatever staterooms are, Illusions has four of  them. 

Illusions is a big enough boat that it comes with other boats and vehicles  that ride on top of it. It comes with two jet skis and a 16-foot-long jet  boat. It`s a boat that comes with a boat. 

I do not know my way around a yacht. I do own a row boat, but I don`t know  anything about yachts. I would not know the makings of a good stateroom if  I laid down in one for a nautical nap. 

But I`ll tell you, for news purposes, you should know that boats that make  the news, they tend to have a paper trail online. And so I think this might  be the boat in question. This might be Illusions.

When you Google Illusions yacht, at least, this is the bad boy that pops  up, and it does have the, like, embedded jet skis and the jet boat and the  fancy bedrooms and all the rest of it. 

The reason I went on a very pleasurable Internet deep dive for this today  is that some good ship illusions, some yacht of that name has now been  cited as evidence in the long, long, long, long list of allegations of  fraud and multi-million dollar self-dealing at the NRA, at the National  Rifle Association, in a lawsuit that was filed today by New York`s Attorney  General Letitia James. 

The NRA as an organization is chartered in New York. It has been chartered  in New York for well over 100 years. As a New York institution, as a New  York charitable institution, it has to follow the rules and laws for  nonprofits operating in New York. 

And according to the attorney general`s lawsuit, the longtime president of  the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, often stayed on the Illusions yacht without paying  for it. Those trips were a present from one of the NRA`s vendors with Mr.  LaPierre getting to use the chef and the jet skis and presumably all four  staterooms for free. 

What he didn`t do was disclose his acceptance of what the New York A.G.  alleges was this very expensive gift on the NRA`s financial disclosures and  that is something that is required by New York state law. From the lawsuit,  quote, in Mr. LaPierre`s testimony to the attorney general, he said that  the reason he failed to disclose the use of the yacht was for security  reasons and because he considered the yacht to have been used for a  legitimate business purpose. 

But wait, there`s more. According to the New York attorney general, Wayne  LaPierre spent $500,000 of the NRA`s money -- that`s NRA donors, right, NRA  members providing money to the NRA for its purpose as a nonprofit. Instead,  Wayne LaPierre is taking a half million dollars of that money to spend  specifically on private airplane flights to the Bahamas and back for his  family at least eight times over just the last three years.

The attorney general says he spent more than $13 million of the NRA`s money  on a private travel consultant, arranging additional private flights and  luxury cars for him and his family over the last six years. There was also  at least one African safari for Wayne LaPierre and his wife, which the A.G.  says they improperly accepted from another NRA vendor. The A.G. ticks off  lots of fancy Christmas gifts for LaPierre`s friends and family and golf  club membership fees and a $12,000 hotel bill at the Four Seasons not for  Wayne LaPierre but for his niece. 

Over the course of four years, the lawsuit alleges that Wayne LaPierre was  reimbursed for more than $1 million worth of personal expenses straight out  of the NRA`s coffers. So your uncle with the NRA sticker on the back of his  pickup, which he`s really excited to put up there because it shows that  he`s an NRA member, do or die, he`s been dutifully giving them their money,  he`s been like putting Wayne LaPierre`s niece up in the Four Seasons and  flying Wayne and his family back and forth to the Bahamas. That`s what this  membership money has been going to. 

The lawsuit filed today is over 150 pages. The New York attorney general,  Letitia James, sets out in fairly stunning detail her case for how the  president of the NRA and several of his top lieutenants drained more than  $64 million out of the NRA for their own personal gain over a very short  period of time, just over a period of a few years. 

The NRA has been an outsized political force in this country for a long  time. They have been an axis of power in conservative politics. They`ve  been a crucial ally to this specific president. 

In 2016, the NRA donated more money to Trump`s presidential campaign than  they`ve donated to any other presidential campaign since they`ve come into  being. But now with this lawsuit today, the New York attorney general is  moving to dissolve the organization entirely, she says as punishment for  years of financial fraud and abuse that amount to brazen illegality. 

We have seen New York attorney general -- we have seen the New York  authorities pursue and win that exact outcome before in the Trump era.  They`ve done it repeatedly. In 2016, you might remember, it was the New  York attorney general`s office that settled a lawsuit over the president`s  fake Trump University, right? 

The president`s fake university, Trump U, he had to pay a $25 million  settlement to the people who said they were defrauded by that scam as a  result of that lawsuit by the New York attorney general`s office. Trump  University was dissolved. 

Then it happened again in 2018 when the Trump Foundation. The New York  attorney general filed a suit detailing a long-running fraudulent, and  self-dealing behavior at the Trump family`s so-called charity. As a result,  the Trump Foundation was dissolved and its remaining assets were  distributed to real charities. 

Well, now the New York attorney general is doing the same thing with the  NRA. They have asked a court to permanently dissolve the organization,  redistribute its remaining assets to real charities for real charitable  use. 

Now, in response to this action today by New York`s attorney general,  President Trump suggested publicly today that the NRA should just pick up  and move out of New York to escape all of this legal hullabaloo, to escape  Tish James` jurisdiction in New York. He said that the NRA should move to  Texas to go on and lead a, quote, very good and beautiful life. 

Why does he talk that way? 

Anyway, according to legal experts that we consulted today, the NRA can`t  do that. They can`t just pick up and ship themselves and their assets to  Texas in some big cargo crate. And frankly, the president should know that.  If that had been a solution to this kind of problem, he might have done  that with the Trump charity, right? 

But Tish James has the right as New York attorney general to ask a court to  dissolve the NRA and to distribute those assets for public benefit. They  can`t do so without her consent, right? They can`t just up and say, we`re  no longer in New York. We`re taking all our assets and going elsewhere,  because they are incorporated the way they are in New York, she`s in charge  of what happens to them, and she has now lined up her case alleging serious  illegality and misuse of that organization. 

She`s going for it. The people of the state of New York versus the NRA. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James joins us live here next. Stay with  us. 



LETITIA JAMES (D), NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: The NRA`s influence has been  so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades, while top  executives funneled millions into their own pockets.

Wayne LaPierre, Woody Phillips, Joshua Powell and John Frazier instituted a  culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight at the NRA  that was illegal, oppressive, and fraudulent. 


MADDOW: New York Attorney General Letitia James speaking this morning just  after filing a lawsuit that seeks to entirely dissolve the National Rifle  Association as an organization. The NRA is chartered in New York as a non- profit and thus is subject to New York law. 

Joining us now is New York`s attorney general, Letitia James.

Madam Attorney General, thank you so much for taking the time to help us  understand this case tonight. 

JAMES: Thank you for having me, Rachel. 

MADDOW: So you came and did an interview with me. You spoke with us here on  the show nearly a year and a half ago when this investigation started. What  did you and your office discover over the course of your investigation into  the NRA that made you decide to seek the most dramatic possible remedy  here? The actual dissolving of this organization? 

JAMES: It was the diversion of millions upon millions of dollars from the  charitable mission of the NRA. It was this culture of misappropriation,  this culture where individuals were using the NRA as their personal  piggybank. 

One (ph), LaPierre as the executive vice president, his council, his  treasurer, and his chief of staff, these four individuals plus the NRA  itself, a 76-member board and audit committee, a compensation committee,  all of them turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to all that was happening. 

They doled out no-show contracts. No bidding contracts. They sought the  loyalty of members of committee.

They sought to quite those who were dissidents and they also ignored the  complaints of whistleblowers, a number of whistleblowers who understand and  recognize the financial impropriety that was happening within NRA, to the  point where the NRA today is operating in the deficit.

And despite all of that, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, and the NRA would seek to  engage in personal attacks as opposed to dealing with our complaint and the  fact that we laid bare. And the fact is that it was a not-for-profit  organized under the state of New York, And that they attempted to violate  the law, evade the jurisdiction and evade certain protocols that should  have been in place. 

And it`s unfortunate that they failed to ensure these financial controls.  It`s unfortunate that they failed to adequately -- adequately respond to  whistleblowers. It`s unfortunate that they attempted to conceal the nature  and scope of whistleblower complaints. It`s unfortunate that they attempted  to hide information from external auditors. It`s unfortunate that they  engaged in these related party transactions and that they engaged in a  number of conflicts of interest. 

And so, we seek to dissolve the corporation because their behavior was  pervasive and persistent and it`s throughout the entire corporation. It`s  important that these four men and the NRA not again serve on any not-for- profit board in the state of New York and that they recoup and provide  restitution to the NRA as a result of all of its losses, including its  excessive compensation packages for these leaders.

And that`s why we are seeking that the NRA be dissolved because it has gone  on for far too long, an unchecked corporation with too much power and a  corporation that unfortunately ignored the law. No one is above the law,  including the NRA. 

MADDOW: Now, in response to your suit today which obviously made national  news, right? This is -- this is a big deal given the political influence  and reach of the NRA both overtime and now.

The president responded by saying that he thinks that the NRA should just  get out of New York, move itself to Texas. The Texas attorney general then  tweeted that the state, of course, would welcome the NRA with open arms. 

When we saw that the president and the Texas attorney general said that  today, we contacted a number of legal experts who told us that that`s not a  possibility, that may be a good PR move, but the way that NRA is chartered  in New York, they can`t just up and move to any other state. They certainly  can`t take any of their assets, which includes their name, their brand and  any of the ways in which they have represent themselves to the public. 

If they tried to do this, will you have to take legal action to block them  from doing that? Do you see them as having any legal toehold to stand on if  they try to evade your jurisdiction by just dissolving themselves in New  York and leaving? 

JAMES: The NRA has to account for this not-for-profit corporation. They  have to account for a court of law. We filed in the Supreme Court today in  the state of New York and until such time as they account for their looting  of this corporation, this corporation cannot leave the state of New York at  this point in time. They need the approval of the office of attorney  general.

And so, until such time as there is a full accounting, restitution, and  they are removed as leaders of the NRA, and we will dissolve the  corporation in it`s entirety, and they will not serve on any other not-for- profit in the state of New York, these individuals are not in a position to  leave the state of New York and the NRA as a corporation. It`s also  important to know that the attorney general of D.C. also filed an action  today against the NRA Foundation and the district attorney -- the attorney  general of D.C. is alleging that the foundation was subject to the  influence of Wayne LaPierre. 

And so, we are, again, waiting the outcomes of these two major lawsuits  that again question whether or not this corporation, the NRA itself, and  these four individual defendants, in fact, failed to ensure and put in  place fiscal controls which allowed them to basically loot the corporation  and use it as their own personal piggybank.

MADDOW: New York Attorney General Letitia James, thank you for your time  tonight. I know that actions like this make you a national lightening rod,  and that puts a lot of pressure on you and your office. That makes me all  the more grateful that you are willing to come here and explain in your own  terms how you arrived at that decision and what it means. Thank you so  much. 

JAMES: Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW: All right. 

Coming up next, as I mentions the at the top of the show, there`s some news  out of Kansas tonight that hasn`t had a lot of national attention yet but  absolutely has national implications. It even comes with a little clip and  save chart you can put up on the fridge. That`s next. 

Stay with us. 


MADDOW: At the beginning of last month, the Democratic governor of Kansas,  Laura Kelly, signed a mandate for masks statewide in Kansas. But  Republicans in the Kansas legislature had taken action to strip the  governor of the emergency powers that let her do something like that. So as  a result, her statewide mask order didn`t really happen. Individual  counties had the right to not do it if they didn`t want to, and that`s what  most counties did. 

The story of what happened next in Kansas comes now from the head of the  state health department. He`s now briefed reporters and the public on what  happened once that mask order went into effect in a handful of counties  that said OK but not in most counties in the state. 

The secretary showed this chart of daily cases per capita. This is the  seven-day rolling average of cases per capita in Kansas. He tracked the 15  Kansas counties that decided they would enforce the mask mandate that the  governor announced last month, and they tracked the remaining 90 counties  in the state that chose to make it just a recommendation, just a  suggestion. 

And you can see the results for yourself. The counties that followed the  mask mandate, that put a mask mandate in effect, they bent the curve. They  brought their case numbers way down. The counties that didn`t make masks  mandatory didn`t bend the curve down. The virus there is still chugging  along. 

This is how the health director explained what the takeaway should be for  all of us here. 


DR. LEE NORMAN, KANSAS DEPT. OF HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY: Bottom,  bottom line is do masks work? Here in this natural experiment called  Kansas, where we essentially, not due to any great design, but it has  worked out that way, some counties have been the control group with no  masks, and some have been the experimental group with masks are worn. And  the experimental group is winning the battle. 


MADDOW: If you know anybody who has doubts about whether mask-wearing  works, have them take a look at this natural experiment in Kansas. Kansas  has proof. You bring the curve down with a mask mandate. You don`t without  one. We will post the Kansas chart at 

We`ll be right back. 


MADDOW: Thanks for being with us tonight. I will see you again tomorrow  night. 

But now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence  tonight. 

Good evening, Ali. It`s great to see you.


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