IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Judiciary Committee to hold hearing. TRANSCRIPT: 6/7/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Rick Wilson, Brian Klaas, Colleen McNicholas, Rashida Tlaib, TomNichols

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Despite her wishes, despite her doctor`s wishes, that`s his wishes as state director. He is the one who came up with that, and so women have to do it.    Watch this space. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday. Now, it`s time for "The Last Word" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good night.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  What a remarkable story. I`m Ali Velshi, in for Lawrence O`Donnell. A lot to talk about tonight at the end of this very busy week, and we will have more on Rachel`s special report over the last two nights, about the concerning situation at the last remaining Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis.

Doctors there, as you just heard, required to perform invasive unnecessary procedures on women. I`ll be joined in a few minutes by one of the doctors who say the new rules there amount to state-sanctioned sexual assault.

Also tonight, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib joins me live as part of the blue wave of freshman Democrats this cycle. She is no stranger to making headlines, and now she`s making news for introducing one of the biggest proposals yet on how to lift America`s struggling families out of poverty. I`ll also talk to the congresswoman about the big week ahead on the investigations of Donald Trump on Capitol Hill.

And at the end of the show, the story behind this extraordinary video, a near collision between ships from Russia and the United States. Our guest tonight at the end of the show says this, what you`re looking at, was no accident. It`s deliberate. Is Russia testing President Trump?

But first tonight, the president has announced an agreement with Mexico following days of growing pressure from congressional Republicans, major corporations, and state governments to not impose tariffs on Mexican imports to the United States. It seems like their collective prayers have been answered.

The president tweeted about 90 minutes ago. "The tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the United States on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to stem the tide of migration through Mexico, and to our southern border. This is being done to greatly reduce or eliminate illegal immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States."

Tonight, the State Department released the broad outlines of the agreement including that "Mexico will take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration, to include the deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border."

"Those crossing the U.S. southern border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await the adjudication of their asylum claims. In response, Mexico will authorize the entrance of all those individuals for humanitarian reasons in compliance with its international obligations while they await the adjudication of their asylum claims."

State Department officials were with the delegation from Mexico for 12 hours today working out this agreement. You would be forgiven for thinking the president was solely focused on these negotiations today before the Monday deadline when the tariffs would have gone into effect.

But it seemed his mind was elsewhere. After all, who can focus on tariffs when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is getting under your skin? The president was ranting again for the second day in a row about Speaker Pelosi, after she reportedly said in a private meeting that she would rather see Trump in prison for his alleged crimes than see him impeached.

During his trip home from Europe today, the president used a series of pejoratives to describe Nancy Pelosi that we will not repeat here. That followed this remark on Fox, which he made in front of a U.S. military cemetery in Normandy, France.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  She`s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person. The Mueller report came out. It was a disaster for them. They thought their good friend Bobby Mueller was going to give them a great report, and he came out with a report with 13 horrible angry Democrats who were totally biased against me.

Nancy Pelosi, I call her "Nervous Nancy." Nancy Pelosi doesn`t talk about it. Nancy Pelosi is a disaster, OK? She`s a disaster. And let her do what she wants. You know what? I think they`re in big trouble.


VELSHI:  The president seems to have a short memory when it comes to talk of jailing opponents after his years of leading "lock her up" chants. He`s not the only one with memory problems.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST:  Speaker Pelosi now apparently telling senior Democrats she would like to see Trump behind bars. Based on no actual crime, she wants a political opponent locked up in prison? That happens in banana republics -- beyond despicable behavior.


VELSHI:  It`s not clear what triggered Trump`s Pelosi tweets, possibly just general outrage, but he seemed to be watching Fox Business on his trip home as he sent some tweets about the moon and NASA just minutes after the network discussed those very topics.

Those were the topics, the moon and Nancy Pelosi, that Trump was apparently focused on as Air Force One headed back to Washington, D.C. We can`t say for certain how involved the president was in these negotiations, but his Twitter feed might give you a bit of an idea.

However, I do know somebody who was involved in this because I`ve been watching her e-mails about it all day. Joining us by phone is NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, who has been following the discussions. Kristen, we now have some details about what Mexico agreed to in order to get these tariffs not to be imposed on Monday. It was a long and involved meeting for a second day.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone):  Ali, it was long. It was involved. You talked about the 12 hours of negotiations today. Remember that that capped three straight days of negotiations between U.S. and Mexican negotiators. So this has been an intensive process.

In terms of how involved the president`s been, I`ve been told that they have been updating him frequently, and then once he stepped off of Air Force One -- by the way, I tried to shout some questions to him today to see if in fact there was a deal. I was told that he was presented with the final outline of this deal that ultimately seems to have come together. So you talked about some of it. The sticking points they`ve worked through.

The biggest one I would say, Ali, the breaking point I would say, likely the fact that Mexico has agreed to hold asylum seekers in Mexico. That`s a big one. It`s going to require more resources on the part of Mexico, more detention center. They`ve also agreed to boost intelligence sharing. They are going to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops. So they have come to the table in ways that the United States was already pushing them to do.

The politics of this is also significant, Ali. Of course, the president was getting a lot of pressure from members of his own party who said bottom line, if these tariffs go into effect on Monday at five percent and then start to increase over time ultimately, ultimately that is going to hurt American consumers.

So tonight, this is a victory for not only the president but for the Mexicans, as well. But it may be a temporary one. They`re going to keep talking and they`re going to re-evaluate this in 90 days, Ali.

VELSHI:  So there are two elements of this. As you said, the things that the Mexicans are going to do at the U.S. border including taking asylum seekers from the United States and having them wait while their hearing is underway. That`s a fairly big departure. I don`t even understand the legality of it, but it`s a big departure from the way things work now.

And then there`s the other element in which Mexico is going to be deploying members of its National Guard including to its southern border where a lot of these migrants enter Mexico.

WELKER (via telephone):  That`s right. I think that`s an important distinction. This is going to be, I`m told, the Guatemala region and they`re essentially going to be trying to head off the migrants there to try to essentially control the flow, so that you aren`t seeing these huge swells make their way to the United States.

If you speak to officials, they say that the numbers have been staggering. They have used these figures to really try to turn up the pressure on Mexico. According to CBP, 140,000 migrants, if not more, crossed the border last month alone. Ali, it was 13th-year high.

That`s why there was so much concern, according to the White House. That`s why they were making the case that this was a real crisis and why President Trump was really moving to try to do something. Again, I can`t trust this enough. He was getting a lot of pressure from his own party --

VELSHI:  Ah-huh.

WELKER (via telephone):  -- essentially saying look, we might move to pass legislation to block you. That would have been a huge rebuke to this Republican president. So he was under pressure himself, Ali, to try to get this deal.

And what the U.S. negotiators were saying is look, it`s fantastic that Mexico is offering to send those 6,000 National Guard troops to the border with Guatemala, but we need more. And they finally got it tonight in the form of Mexico agreeing to hold asylum seekers. That is a big give on the part of the Mexican government.

VELSHI:  Kristen, I appreciate your reporting on this. Thank you for joining us tonight. Kristen Welker --

WELKER:  Absolutely, Ali. Thank you for having me.

VELSHI:  -- White House correspondent, thank you, in Washington. All right, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker.

Joining me now, Rick Wilson, Republican strategist and contributor to The Daily Beast, he is the author of the book "Everything Trump Touches Dies." Jennifer Rubin, opinion writer at The Washington Post and an MSNBC contributor, and Brian Klaas, columnist for The Washington Post and the author of "The Despot`s Apprentice: Donald Trump`s Attack on Democracy" Thanks to the three of you for joining us.

Rick, Kristen made the point at the end, that the president gets Republican support on being tough on immigration and at the border. He gets a little less support on the tariffs on China. But there was really a shot across the bow earlier this week including by Mitch McConnell who said, "Don`t do this. Don`t this Mexico thing without talking to us first."

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  That`s because Mitch McConnell realizes that tariffs are always an economic disaster. They`re always attacks on Americans and they always hurt American consumers. He also realizes that there are three economists in the whole country who believe the same thing Donald Trump believes about tariffs, and they all work for him. They`re all morons.


WILSON:  And so there was a very clear signal from McConnell and a very clear signal from other members of the Senate that this was a line they weren`t going to cross, they weren`t going to deliberately tank the economy because Donald Trump believes in some esoteric 17th century trade model that doesn`t exist and that is nothing but an economic disaster.

By the way, I don`t think -- I want to see the actual paper before we say the president achieved anything yet. This is a man who is very, very famous for making some very broad claims about his success in negotiations and when the rubber hits the road, there`s a whole lot less there than usually appears.

VELSHI:  This is an interesting point. Like Kristen said, they`re going to evaluate this in 90 days. But on paper, I`ve got the State Department`s wording in front of me, Jennifer. First of all, let`s acknowledge, it was a self-imposed crisis because there was no issue with tariffs on Mexico, and then it was a self-imposed deadline of Monday. As Kristen said, the president had to meet that deadline because he understood he wasn`t going to get support from his Republican colleagues.

That said, if what is on this paper that I`ve got, that the State Department has put out, in that Mexico is going to hold asylum seekers in Mexico and they`re going to deploy troops to the southern border in Guatemala, the president can start to translate that into something that people are going to say --

JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR, OPINION WRITER AT THE WASHINGTON POST:  No, he can`t. Those are both nonsense things. I would encourage the press to really look at these things. Under U.S. law, asylum seekers cannot be held in a foreign country. We have an obligation to hold them here. In fact, it`s already been adjudicated in complaints about this when the president tried to roll this out once before. So that is just nonsense.

In terms of the National Guard, this is an outfit that has just set up and they`re not sure that they have these people, let alone that they can deploy them to the border. So this is nonsense. I really have to urge the press. We cannot take anything he says at face value. This is all kabuki dance. We should absolutely see what we actually have gotten, see what actually legal. And I think this is all nonsense.

VELSHI:  I want to read to you from this thing because what you said, this is what I was saying to Kristen, I`m not -- I don`t understand the legality of setting asylum seekers back. The wording from the State Department, Brian, in response, Mexico will authorize the entrance of all those individuals for humanitarian reasons in compliance with its international obligations while they await the adjudication of their asylum claims.

I`ve been sort of understanding immigration for years as the international obligation is on the country to which someone makes the asylum claim.

WILSON:  Claiming asylum.

BRIAN KLAAS, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST:  That`s traditionally correct. I think this is something where we also have to think about the humanitarian implications of this because we already have a problem dealing with these migrants on our side. So Mexico, which has limited capacity compared to the United States, might have even worse humanitarian responses here.

And beyond that, I also think that generally speaking, Trump`s foreign policy and his "deal making" have involved him acting as both the arsonist and the firefighter. This is what I think we are seeing right now. He`s created this crisis, manufactured the crisis, and now is claiming victory for the status quo with some modest changes.

So I think the question is what will the long term damage be of creating this sort of tariff war and that damage might significantly outweigh any of the small concessions that we see even if they do pass the --

VELSHI:  Right, because sometimes, the firefighter can`t put out the fire that they set. With the international tariff war, Rick, with investment banks saying that the likelihood of a recession has been increased as a result of this thing, you know, the president likes to talk up the economy. He could easily set a fire that he can`t put out.

WILSON:  Look, I think that he`s been playing this game of chicken on tariffs with Mexico, with China, now with Australia. And in every single case, he has this political utility in his mind that he wants to demagogue some angle of it. And the reason I think that the entire thing with Mexico is a fraud, and as Jennifer correctly pointed out, there is no National Guard there.

The reason this whole thing got pulled back was that the economic numbers were much softer than anticipated because he`s been doing this for several months. The revision of the prior month`s economic numbers was quite a bit more significant than folks expected.

And so I think he`s sniffing the wind and knows that if the economy softens and if there`s not a big, you know, river of QE coming from the fed, he`s in some political trouble based off of that. And I think that that this is a guy who understood that his bluff had been called.

VELSHI:  And that is on top of other political trouble, Jennifer, that the president is going to continue to face this week with more things going on in Capitol Hill, hearings on Capitol Hill, hearings into corruption.

The Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings has said that he would go ahead with a contempt vote against Bill Barr and Wilbur Ross. Now, the discussion is turning to the citizenship question. To some degree, this invented crises that he can solve seem to help him navigate a little bit, but in the end, it is coming down on him.

RUBIN:  That`s right. First of all, the numbers are going to come in for next month. When the numbers are just as bad as they have been and up ticked quite a bit at the border, he has to come up with some other explanation for what`s going on.

You`re absolutely right, Ali. This next week is going to be interesting. First, we are going to have on Monday at 2:00 p.m., so tune in, the judiciary hearings in which you`re not going to have percipient witnesses. You`re not going to have Don McGahn who is not going to show up. You`re not going to have Hope Hicks.

But you are going to have some top flight former prosecutors. You`re going to have John Dean. You`re going to have someone from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative legal mind who is going to kind of begin to walk the American public through the Mueller report. And that`s going to be fascinating. That is the beginning of the show and tell hearings.

We also heard today from Adam Schiff, who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He`s going to be doing the same thing. He`s going to be inviting up former intelligence officers to explain volume one of the Mueller report.

VELSHI:  Right.

RUBIN:  To explain what a threat Russia was and why it was appropriate for the FBI to open up their investigation. So I think the House has finally figured out that their problem is not proving that Trump has done all these things. It`s explaining --

VELSHI:  Explaining.

RUBIN:  -- to the American people what is in the Mueller report.

VELSHI:  Right. That`s the problem with a 438-page report. Some people on Capitol Hill haven`t read it. A lot of Americans haven`t read it. By the way, two of our MSNBC legal contributors, Barbara McQuade and Joyce Vance, will be testifying on Monday and Tuesday. Brian, the idea now is that they are going to find all sorts of ways in Congress to spell out the things that are articulated in that report.

KLAAS:  Yeah, that`s very important. I have read the Mueller report. It`s very, very problematic. It shows a pattern of criminality. It shows a very serious attack on our election system. And the response to it has been appalling. There`s been no real effort among Republicans to not just investigate the president but also to shore up elections in the United States that are under foreign attack.

And so I think that this sort of, you know, exposure in a bigger arena is very important for the American people to understand the magnitude of the threat and the magnitude of the response that is required to deal with it going into 2020, because the Mueller report is not just about 2016, it is also about insuring that American democracy and rule of law is preserved going forward. That`s what this fight is really about.

VELSHI:  And one of the things, Rick, that Justin Amash, the one Republican congressman who has called for President Trump`s impeachment, tweeted today to this last point that Brian just made, he was talking about the change in tone from the White House.

He said, "When Barr`s letter came out the White House abruptly changed its tone. Trump said the Mueller report was great and that Mueller had acted honorably. He touted the report as total exoneration. Kellyanne Conway referred to the investigation as "the gold standard."

"But as we later found out, Mueller`s report is damning for the president. If Barr`s letter accurately reflected the report, the White House would not have the reacted positively. With Mueller`s report now out, the White House no longer has anything positive to say about Mueller and his team."

And that situation that Congressman Amash tweets about is only going to get more perilous for the White House in the coming days.

WILSON:  I agree with that completely. A big part of this is, you know, Donald Trump started tweeting that stuff out because they set up a strategy with Bill Barr, where Barr no matter what the report said, was going to issue a clean bill of health. That was a brilliant media strategy on their part.

But unfortunately, like a lot of their strategies, it falls apart very quickly when it collides with reality as it has in this case. I don`t think it`s going to get easier going forward.

I do think as you build up this mosaic for the American people about the depth of Russia`s commitment to electing Donald Trump, about the squeezy people in the campaign and about how the obstruction of justice in the White House is so unbelievably overwhelmingly documented, we`re going to end up with a different picture here politically.

I think you`re going to end up with the president going back to a lot of his old tricks, a lot of his old demagoguery. You`re going to hear about the caravans again any minute now because he is going to hate the thought that we are going to have to focus on Bob Mueller`s report and what Russia did in 2016 in order to elect Donald Trump.

VELSHI:  We just saw a little bit of the president`s interview with Laura Ingraham, Jennifer Rubin, in Normandy, France. It was an unusual interview. He said things that are hard to make sense of including referring to Bob Mueller`s incorrect testimony. The only testimony Bob Mueller has provided is a 438-page report and a short statement that he made the other day in which he resigned and talked about his report.

The point is the president is spinning a narrative here and clearly some percentage of people, Jennifer, continue to believe that narrative. What if Rick is saying is true and that he continues to spin his interpretation of it with or without William Barr`s help. Some people are listening.

RUBIN:  There are and there will be people who to the last day in office will swear that it`s all been a witch hunt and a fraud. There will be people who will insist that everything that comes out of Donald Trump`s mouth is true.

The problem is that they live in a closed narrative loop in which what the president said is repeated to them by another cable network and by talk show people. They ingest it, they spit it back, and it all turns around and around to the point in which it`s incoherent. As you pointed out, the president is not only saying things that are patently bizarre but doing it at the gravesite of Americans --

VELSHI:  Very unusual.

RUBIN:  -- at Normandy. Oh, my gosh. It really is the height of inappropriateness. But to the point, I think it does make a difference with the rest of the population. With the population that is actually somewhat attentive and somewhat influenced.

Listen, 60 percent of the American people don`t think he tells the truth. Sixty percent of the American people don`t think that his handling of this report has been exemplary to put it mildly. Sixty percent of these people think that Mueller did a good job. So there is a body of Americans out there who are at least susceptible to facts, and I think it is important to build that up.

And particularly when you look at the experience of Watergate, my colleague at the Post, Dana Milbank, went back to look at those approval ratings during Watergate. What he found was that there was a tremendous movement in public opinion by independents. So I think what we don`t know is whether there will be an impact. What we don`t know whether polarization is so bad that no one changes --

VELSHI:  Right because there was movement amongst Republicans when polling numbers changed because independents moved over. That`s what I don`t understand how that works in 2019. Independents may move over but there`s a stubborn group of people that seem to believe, as you mentioned, whatever comes out of the president or Bill Barr or whoever is carrying his water at any given time.

RUBIN:  That`s true. I think the numbers are how big are those Republicans.

VELSHI:  Yeah.

RUBIN:  How big is that block, and how far from reality is the president going to get in trying to persuade those people to stick with him.

VELSHI:  Brian Klaas, how does it play out in the coming weeks with the increasing numbers of Democrats mostly and one Republican calling for the president`s impeachment? Nancy Pelosi continues to try and manage this situation.

It is said by some that she talked about wanting to see Donald Trump go to prison as opposed to be impeached to mollify some of those people, the growing numbers of people in the caucus, who are talking about either impeachment proceedings or an impeachment process itself.

KLAAS:  Yeah, I don`t think those comments are really tenable for the long term because if somebody should be in jay, they should not be the president of the United States. So I think given the overwhelming evidence of alleged criminality, we have the Department of Justice who calls the president "Individual One" and says he orchestrated a criminal conspiracy, that`s the DOJ saying that, it`s not me.

Then beyond that, you have the allegations of tax fraud. They are documented extensively by The New York Times. You have 10 instances of alleged obstruction of justice, a case that strengthened as we heard the audio from the White House lawyer. I think there is a series of criminal acts that we`re getting a very clear picture of.

At some point, the question that I think Nancy Pelosi has not been asked that I hope she will be asked is precisely how many crimes do you have to commit before impeachment hearings at least are justified? I think that`s the question that a growing number of Democrats are going to ask and demand a larger audience for the airing of these alleged crimes.

VELSHI:  Thank you to the three of you, Rick Wilson, Jennifer Rubin, and Brian Klaas. My thanks to all of you for getting us started tonight. Coming up, the extreme war on women unfolding tonight in Missouri. Rachel Maddow had her first special report on this last night. It`s an important story.

Up next, we will have a doctor from St. Louis, from Planned Parenthood, who says what is happening there amounts to state-sanctioned sexual assault.

And later, my live interview with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. There is much to talk to her about from her reaction to the women`s rights battle playing out to her new legislation to fight poverty to the impeachment of President Trump. Stay with us.


VELSHI:  New details tonight in the disturbing attack on women`s rights in the state of Missouri. Missouri may soon become the first state in the country to provide no legal abortion services since Roe v. Wade guaranteed a woman`s right to choose in 1973.

Last week, the state`s last abortion clinic came under attack after Republican state officials refused to renew the clinic`s license which expired last Friday. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state. We`re waiting the judge`s ruling.

Now, Republicans in Missouri are adding a new hurdle by forcing women to undergo an intrusive and unnecessary pelvic exam, an internal exam, before getting an abortion. It`s having a traumatic impact on patients and doctors alike. Rachel Maddow was the first to report the shocking news last night in an exclusive special report.


MADDOW:  Doctors at this Missouri clinic, they do perform pelvic exams right before they do an abortion, which is standard medical practice, which is fine.

But now, as of this week, what the state has started doing, what the state government is now doing is that they`ve told the doctors at that one remaining clinic that they must do a second medically unnecessary invasive pelvic exam on every woman before she is allowed to start the punitive three-day waiting period that is required of all women who need an abortion in Missouri.

I mean, at that point, you`re literally just going in to sign a consent form and meet with a doctor before they have to send you home to wait for three days. Only now, before they let you go from the first appointment, you must by order of the state take off your clothes and submit to an intrusive vaginal inspection that you do not need and that your doctor does not want to give you.

KAWANNA SHANNON, DIRECTOR OF SURGICAL STUDIES, ST. LOUIS PLANNED PARENTHOOD:  We make it very clear that this is not our doing. We do not want to violate your rights. We do not want to make you do unnecessary invasive procedure that we wouldn`t do at this moment. And most women are quite disturbed at that. But they`re pretty remarkable because they`re actually apologizing to my doctor saying, I`m sorry you have to do this to me. And that`s shameful.

MADDOW:  So maybe the state is hoping that these doctors faced with this impossible imperative, maybe the state is hoping the benefit of the state here is that they`re hoping the doctors will give up and stop providing abortions all together, which of course would leave Missouri with no providers since they are down to that one last clinic.


VELSHI:  All right. Joining me now, Dr. Colleen McNicholas. She is a board certified OB-GYN at Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, which is the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Missouri. Dr. McNicholas, thank you for joining me.

There is -- I`m a numbers guy. To me, I think about it numerically. There`s an absolute relationship between illegal abortions increasing when legal abortions go away. But that question was put to Dr. Randall Williams, the director of Health in Missouri who implemented this new regulation that Rachel Maddow talking about.  And let`s hear what he said about it.


RANDALL WILLIAMS, SENIOR SERVICES DIRECTOR, MISSOURI HEALTH:  While we think access is always important, again, we just can never sacrifice safety for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you worried about lack of access will jeopardize women`s safety because they`ll be forced to seek an illegal abortion, which puts them in danger?

WILLIAMS:  I do not believe that to be true that you will see an increase in illegal abortions.


VELSHI:  Dr. McNicholas, make sense of that for me.  He does not think it will be true that you will see an increase in illegal abortions if the only abortion provider in Missouri goes away.

COLLEEN MCNICHOLAS, OBGYN, PLANNED PARENTHOOD SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI:  Well, thanks so much for having me, Ali.  I will tell you, I can`t even begin to express how disappointing it is that Dr. Williams who is as OBGYN like myself has continuously chosen to put politics above what he has learned as a physician.  And what science and evidence tells us

He continues to use fearmongering to distort the facts about the safety of abortion, really to politicize the issue and with no other reason than to shut down the clinic.  You`re right.  It is absolutely true that as access continues to dwindle, more and more people will turn to abortion outside of the legal framework.  There`s no question about that.

VELSHI:  And this really isn`t a matter of whether you agree with or believe in a woman`s right to an abortion.  We`re just discussing a medical practice here.  We`re discussing the fact that an abortion is a safe procedure in America, largely because there is access to it and it is legal.  And it is a procedure in which there is a pelvic exam before an abortion is performed.  If there`s a danger, that will be identified by an OBGYN like you.  There is no argument for the second intrusive exam. 

MCNICHOLAS:  You know, pelvic exams are incredibly invasive and really private matters.  The framework that we are always using in determining if somebody needs a pelvic exam is based on clinical scenario in which they present to us, the medical reason that we might be seeing the patient and then we always contextualize that in a framework of shared decision making.

And you are 100 percent correct that there is absolutely no reason in any person seeking an abortion that they would need multiple pelvic exams other than to just another hoop to the many things that they are having to navigate to secure their abortion access.

VELSHI:  I want to read you a tweet by a doctor who said today, "I was forced by the state of Missouri to perform an unnecessary pelvic exam on a patient terminating her pregnancy for a fetal anomaly.  She is heart broken over her situation.  I was forced to do an invasive uncomfortable exam.  It broke me as a physician to do this to her. "

But that does seem to be goal, doctor, that you go to try and break doctors or break the women going who are going for this exam with as many hurdles as you can put into place.

MCNICHOLAS:  Well, that certainly seems to be a reasonable conclusion given the tactics that are used by the state.  Given that there is no medical evidence.  And in fact, multiple organizations the American College of Obstetrician Gynecologist, the American College of Physicians, organization like Missouri Foundation for Health, all of these organizations have come out in support of Missourians in support of eliminating these total unnecessary and really quite harassing practices that the state is requiring.

VELSHI:  One of the other issues that Dr. Randall Williams brought up is he said Missouri has several states around it and people can go elsewhere for abortions.  It`s not really that clean cut because people live all over the place in Missouri, and if you`re in the middle of the state, that`s difficult.

But we spoke to a worker in Illinois who said they`re getting phone calls.  They`re getting phone calls from women who are worried that they will be committing a crime if they go to Illinois to get an abortion.

MCNICHOLAS:  Yes.  You know, the first thing I would say is that perspective that women can just go somewhere else for an abortion is the perspective of privilege.  There are already Missourians for whom abortion access is essentially been eliminated because of the multiple levels of regulation and restriction.  Women driving multiple hours, multiple times, you know, navigating time off of work and negotiating child care.  It`s really quite astonishing how unrealistic and how unfamiliar Dr. Randall Williams is with the current situation.

VELSHI:  Doctor, I appreciate the time that you`ve taken to join us tonight.  Dr. Colleen McNicholas of the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Saint Louis, thank you for being with us tonight. 

MCNICHOLAS:  Thank you so much.

VELSHI:  Coming up next, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib joins me live.  She`s just introduced an important new bill to help Americans fighting to stay out of poverty.  We`re going to discuss that and her powerful moment during a hearing on domestic terrorism this week.

And later, the dangerous moment in the Pacific, captured on camera, a near disastrous collision between Russian and US warships.



VELSHI:  We are just two and a half weeks away from the first Democratic presidential debates of the 2020 cycle hosted by MSNBC, NBC News and Telemundo.  Already, the Democratic primary has become a contest of bold policy ideas.  And this month, the debate will be the first opportunity for candidates to try to make their ideas stand out from the wide field of candidates.  But presidential contenders are not the only ones unveiling ambitious proposals for how to solve our most pressing problems.

Yesterday, freshman Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib released a new plan to address poverty and inequality in America which the Washington Post is calling "the closest plan in Congress to universal basic income."

According to the Post, Tlaib`s plan would "give direct cash to help those at the bottom of the income distribution annually offering $3,000 to individuals and $6,000 to families in an attempt to reduce poverty in the United States and bolster the wages of the poor."

The idea is similar to one proposed by senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris in October of last year.  But unlike Harris`s plan, Tlaib would not require poor Americans to be working in order to receive the subsidy.  The plan is also similar to one proposed by tech entrepreneur and presidential candidate Andrew Yang that would give individuals $1,000 per month regardless of their income.  That`s universal basic income.

However, Tlaib`s plan would phase out for individuals earning more than $50,000 and for families earning more than $100,000.

Joining me now to discuss this is in greater detail, Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from Michigan.  She`s a member of the Oversight and Financial Services Committees.  Congresswoman, good to see you, thank you for being with us again.


VELSHI:  Let`s talk about what this is.  It is not universal basic income because you`re phasing it out at some point.  But, you know, the median family income in the United States is now about $59,000.  Tell me why $6,000 for a family a year will make a meaningful difference.

TLAIB:  It would make a tremendous difference.  I mean, my district is the third poorest congressional district in the country.  Majority of the children in my district are living in poverty.  Many of the residents across the country nearly half are literally emergency away from you know, striking into poverty and not being able to take care of their basic needs from food to healthcare to housing.   And more and more of our families are, you know, struggling.  I think one out of four don`t even have $400 in their savings account.

I mean, look, I`ve gone through bailout of the banks, bailout of corporations right here in the Metro Detroit Area and I`ve seen us trying to uplift them, these various corporations.  And we have continued to leave our families behind and this is a way to lift them up.

And we know over and over again from studies from all across the nation that when we put money back in the pockets of regular American people, that it goes right back into our local economy.  And to me, that is a win-win for our country and we need to be doing more again for children living in poverty.  We`re talking about 9 million children that will be possibly impacted by this plan as well as 3 million families.

VELSHI:  Yes, 2 million Americans have no income at all.  And you`re right that the lower someone`s income, the more any dollar they are given in assistance gets put in because they don`t any ability not to spend the money.  They don`t have the luxury of saying I`m not going to spend the money I just got from the government.

TLAIB:  That`s right.

VELSHI:  However, in the Washington Post article, Leonard E. Burman, a tax expert at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said, "The plan could run into political hurdles and warned that it would make the poor less likely to seek employment."  He says. "It will discourage people from working who can work and politically there`s much more support for people who are trying to support themselves."

Historically, this is even something Democrats have faced that working people who support Democrats say, "Hold on.  I`m working and you`re giving somebody who is not working but able bodied flee money?"

TLAIB:  No.  I don`t know who can live on $3,000 a year or even $6,000 a year.  That`s impossible.  This is about lifting up people and making sure that they`re not pushed in even more into poverty.  Most of the people that is going to be impacted by this are disabled, their caretakers, their students.  Many of them again are contributing in some sort of way to our society and to our neighborhoods.

Again, this is a win-win when we put money back into the pockets of the American people, real people struggling every single day in our country.

You know, when people talk about political hurdles, I can tell you some of the most bode transformative changes that we`ve seen in our country from earned income tax credit, I mean, this says to me earned income tax credit on steroids.  We have seen over and over and this is the best anti-poverty program that we have right now in our country.

And for alongside with education, I think this LIFT-Plus Act is as close as we can get to making sure that we`re lifting everyone especially working families, especially those caretakers and those that are, you know, living in with disabilities and things that I think every day Americans know and every single person around the world, country right now has someone in their family that this would help.

VELSHI:  So, I mean, I don`t disagree with you but I just got to point out, so many of your other Democrats including those running for president have said increase the earned income tax credit.  So you said it`s like that on steroids but the distinction is, you`re offering a benefit that doesn`t call for work.  The earned income tax credit by definition does.

TLAIB:  You know, Ali, this is what the problem is.  If we`re not helping every single American, even those that are inclusive, the broader umbrella of including folks in the LIFT-Plus even with zero income, is the fact that if we`re not helping them now, guess what, we subsidize for taking care of them anyways at the end.

So why not try to uplift everyone equally at the same time.  It is again, something that I know is going to fuel our local economy.  I know it`s something that is going to be as close as we can to universal income.  But it`s going to be something that I know even those that are earning income that they are going to be able to benefit from it in the local economy.  Even my small businesses locally here in the 13th Congressional District love this idea because they know when we are helping everybody in the community and neighborhood, that`s how we can be able to uplift everyone.

VELSHI:  Congresswoman, I did want to talk to you about a hearing on Tuesday that you participated in on white supremacy.  And I want to start by playing a clip of something you said.


  TLAIB:  I`ve been in office for about six months.  And when you get at something like this attention Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and rug-heads, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, I was totally excited and pleased when I heard about 49 Muslims were killed and many, many more were wounded in New Zealand.

This is a great start.  Let`s hope and pray that it continues here in the good old USA.  The only good Muslim is a dead one.  How is that enough, not enough to fall under domestic terrorism if they`re targeting solely based on my faith and others in saying that a good Muslim is a dead one, obviously directed to me.

By the way, they copied in this threat to my office.  They copied the US Department of Justice, the President, Department of Homeland Security and so forth.  And we get so many of them and I keep asking what happens?  What happens to these individuals?  Are they you know, I`m being sincere.  I`m not trying to -- I`m really sincere.  I`m a mother, so I want to go home to my two boys.


VELSHI:  The only good Muslim is a dead one.  What was the argument you were making there, that we do not take those kind of threats as seriously as we take others?

TLAIB:  Absolutely.  Department of Justice and the FBI have the tools right now to look at white supremacy and nationalism going on in our country right now as a global threat, as terrorism in itself.  And I feel like we`re not putting the resources nor are we treating it equally as if we were treating somebody that was, you know, immigrant, maybe somebody of different faith.

I`ve seen it over and over again where we are unequally treating the same people with the same kind of agenda of pushing violence through some sort of form of hate toward somebody solely based on faith, and their ethnicity, and their background.

And I really was trying to make a point that alone in the six months that I`ve been in office and these kinds of deadly threats invoking violence solely based on my faith is something that I truly believe the Department of Justice, FBI need to be working towards in addressing because those are the same individuals that are probably going after my, you know, Jewish neighbors and my LGBTQ neighbors, my African-American, Latino neighbors, these are the same people pushing this different agenda that I think is very harmful and is a big threat in our country.

VELSHI:  Congresswoman, good to speak to you again.  Thank you for joining me on a Friday night.  Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, all right.

Coming up, the near collision of US and Russian war ships, our guest tonight explains these are not accidents.  The Russians are making these provocations intentionally


VELSHI:  The US Navy is accusing a Russian destroyer of nearly causing a collision this morning with an American guided missile cruiser in the Philippines Sea.

The Navy released this video.  Look at this.  Taken from the USS Chancellorsville that says it shows the Russian ship accelerating and closing to within 50 to 100 feet of the American ship while it was in the process of recovering its helicopter.

The Chancellorsville was forced to put its engines in full reverse to avoid a collision, according to the Navy, which called the Russian move "unsafe and unprofessional, and not in accordance with the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea."  Now, the Russians came so close that Russian sailors can be seen sunbathing in the video.  The Russians are blaming the American ship claiming that it "suddenly changed direction and crossed their path."

Now, that despite this aerial photo released by the Navy that appears to support the US version of events, this is the second near miss with Russia in four days.

On Tuesday, a Russian fighter jet made a high-speed pass directly in front of a US plane over the Mediterranean according to the Navy.  This also comes as Vladimir Putin is strengthening Russia`s ties with China, hosting the President Xi Jinping in Moscow this week.

Now, some are wondering if today`s incident could be a gesture of support by Vladimir Putin to China.  So what is Russia up to and how will the President who endorsed Putin`s denials on election interference, react to Russia`s new aggression?

Naval War College Professor Tom Nichols joins us next.


VELSHI:  Acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, said this after a Russian destroyer nearly collided with a US Navy ship in the Philippines Sea.

PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE:  the behavior is unsafe and unprofessional.  We`ll have military-to-military conversations with the Russians and, of course, we`ll march them.  But, you know, to me, safety at the end of the day is most important.  It will not deter us from conducting our operations.


VELSHI:  Joining us no now is Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College and expert on Russian affairs and a former Republican Senate staff member.  Tom, good to see you, thank you for being with us.

Great that the acting secretary of Defense saying it will not defer us, does it matter if you don`t hear from the President on this?

TOM NICHOLS, PROFESSOR, NAVAL WAR COLLEGE:  I think it does matter, Ari.  Of course, I don`t represent the views of the government on this.  I think it`s good the secretary of Defense got out there in front, said that they`re going to raise this on a military-to-military level.

But yes, if the Russians suspect that the President himself doesn`t really have the Defense Department back on this.  They may shrug it off and simply say that that`s the bureaucracy and the American national security establishment just complaining as it always does about Russia.  So they may well be trying to take advantage of what they see as distance between the White House and everybody else at that level in the national security sphere. 

VELSHI:  You tweeted that, "This is happening with no other crisis in the hopper.  The Russians are doing it because they can.  Their audience is not Trump who they know they have cowering but the rest of US defense and national security community."  What do you mean by that?

NICHOLS:  This is the Russians and another audience of course is China because the fact that this took place in the pacific is really significant.  The Russian Pacific fleet is not exactly a mighty force and this is -- this is kind of like when they flew bombers to Venezuela.  It`s a stunt more than it is any kind of power projection.

But what they`re trying to say is, look, we matter.  You have to treat us like a peer.  You have to threat us like a fellow superpower, and it doesn`t, you know, it doesn`t matter if you`re the preeminent naval power in the world, we can still make your life miserable.  And I think that`s the message they`re trying to send.

Not just to us but to other people in the world to try and flex muscle in a place where they`re really not known for having very much muscle to flex in the first place.

VELSHI:  Well, President Xi earlier this week before this incident said of Vladimir Putin, "I have had closer interactions with President Putin than any other foreign colleague.  He is my best and bosom friend," he told the Russian news agency, TASS, according to the Washington Post.

What`s that about?  Why are Xi and Russia who do not have a military alliance becoming bosom friends?

NICHOLS:  You know, I think this, again, as one of those things, it seemed that a lot of audiences.

VELSHI:  Yes. 

NICHOLS:  I think Americans for a long time have worried about a kind of Sino-Russian axis forming.  I`ve worry about it less because the Russian and the Chinese really don`t have a lot of things in common.

But the fact that Xi would say this --

VELSHI:  That in itself is interesting.

NICHOLS:  -- is really alarming.  That in itself is an issue, yes.

VELSHI:  Tom gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts right now.