LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I just learned something from Senator Amy Klobuchar who we also are going to discuss this with.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Nice.
O`DONNELL: And that is she is a member of the Rare Disease Caucus in the Senate, which is a caucus that I did not know existed, but they actually are concentrating on the special elements of rare disease and what`s necessary in research and all those issues that you`ve been discussing that Isabel has brought forward to us in this case. And so, Senator Klobuchar will have a lot to say about that.
MADDOW: That`s -- and actually some of the -- I think some of the first political work she ever did was around medical advocacy, around, like, times you can stay in the hospital after having a kid and all that. I mean, that`s where she got -- that`s where she made her bones in terms of starting off in political work. So she`s got a lot to say on that.
O`DONNELL: We will hear more from her. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, tonight, Hurricane Dorian remains a category 2 hurricane and is gaining speed now as it moves closer to the Atlantic coast. The hurricane has already resulted in seven deaths in the Bahamas where new images show scenes of near total destruction in some areas.
Hurricane Dorian is now moving dangerously close to the Florida coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. We will get the latest, the very latest on the storm track at the end of this hour because the National Weather Service will update its forecast just a few minutes before the end of this hour. And so, we will have that breaking news for you as soon as the National Weather Service releases its latest forecast for the hurricane tonight.
We begin tonight with the sleeping giant in the presidential campaign. It is the issue that has not really been discussed at the Democratic presidential debates, but we will discuss it tonight with one of the Democratic presidential candidates. It could be one of the biggest issues in the presidential campaign a year from now when the Democrats have a chosen nominee.
And it could be the single, most damaging issue that really could cause Donald Trump to lose some support among some Trump voters, especially in agricultural states, and this issue which could spell economic disaster for America eventually, meaning a recession, is all Donald Trump`s fault. No one else has any responsibility for the creation of the potential disaster that could be coming our way, thanks entirely to the Trump tariffs and the Trump trade war which has so far been ignored by most of the candidates and questioners in the Democratic presidential debates.
Donald Trump is the only president in history who has told the American people that war is easy. He wasn`t talking about a shooting war, of course. He was talking about a trade war, but trade wars are called wars for a reason. They are not called trade games. And no American president prior to Donald Trump has said trade wars are good and easy to win.
Trade wars have casualties. People lose jobs and lose income in every country involved in a trade war, and Donald Trump should know that by now, but this week, he dropped more bombs in his trade war by increasing the tariffs that Americans must now pay for Chinese goods to the point where J.P. Morgan now estimates that the tariffs will cost the average American household $1,000 a year. For most people, coming up with an extra $1,000 a year to pay in taxes, which is what tariffs actually are, is not easy.
And the Democratic nominee for president will surely be running hard against the Trump tariffs, but so far, the Democratic candidates are staying relatively quiet about the Trump tariffs and giving Donald Trump a very long leash in which he appears to be getting himself all tangled up politically.
Donald Trump launched the trade war with China because he thought the United States trade deficit with China was too high. Now it is higher. "Axios" is reporting President Trump`s trade war has led to even bigger trade deficits with China, even though it was intended to improve the trade balance.
But it`s not just China. The deficit has increased with most of our other trade partners, too. Among the U.S.`s 15 biggest trading partners, the trade balance has moved in the wrong direction for Trump in ten of those countries between 2016 and 2018, while the aggregate trade deficit has jumped from $503 billion to $628 billion.
"The New York Times" reports the American manufacturing sector contracted last month. A key measure showed on Tuesday heightening fears that the trade war with China could bring on a recession.
The last team of presidential economic advisers who had to deal with the effects of a recession is the Obama team of economic advisers who came into office facing the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Our first guest tonight, economics professor Austan Goolsbee, was a member of the Obama campaign team of economic advisers and then served as the chairman of economic advisers for President Obama. Austan Goolsbee knows what economic crisis feels like from inside the White House and he joins us tonight with what the Trump White House and the American public might expect from the Trump trade war as it continues to fail to achieve any of the objectives that President Trump had when he started this war.
Austan Goolsbee, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Great to see you again.
O`DONNELL: Are you at all surprised with what the Trump tariffs have delivered?
GOOLSBEE: No, of course not. Look, we had the conversation back two years ago when President Trump first started saying he was going to launch this trade war, and I told you these tariffs if he does them they`re going to put the um in dumb. There is not -- this is the biggest tax increase on the middle class, I believe ever in U.S. history. We`re going to charge middle class Americans $1,000 each to entertain this fantasy that we`re achieving something.
We`re not. You don`t get the Chinese to change their behavior by publicly humiliating them and trying to bully them. That doesn`t work. We got them, for example, to stop devaluing their currency. And the way we did that is we got all our allies on same page and then we went with specific strategic demands.
We said, look, you need to change your currency devaluation behavior in this way and if you don`t, we will react in the following way, and that got them to change their behavior.
Donald Trump has not made any specific demands. He thinks that this is working. He thinks this is actually good, and as you pointed out, manufacturing starting to contract.
The University of Michigan consumer confidence numbers came out. I believe it was the biggest drop in consumer confidence in six years. And there are strong points in the economy. There`s no question. But if we keep escalating this trade war, as this week we had a major escalation, we`re going to get a recession. I don`t think there`s any doubt about that.
O`DONNELL: You have served as an economic adviser on a very successful presidential campaign, the Obama presidential campaign. If you were advising a presidential campaign now, a Democratic presidential campaign, what would you say about how they should handle the Trump trade war? So far, what I seem to be watching are that Democrats kind of sitting back and letting Donald Trump have a longer and longer leash on this, and the real debate on this seems to be waiting for next year.
GOOLSBEE: That might be true. I`ve talked -- I know Beto O`Rourke a little bit, and he came out with a pretty comprehensive trade plan that started with get rid of the Trump tariffs. This is defeat -- self- defeating. It`s doing the opposite of what they were intended.
And then it went through a lot of -- a lot more detail on trade policy. I think you`re right, over the next year, we`ll probably see more about it. But I think the impact of the tariffs in the short run is just a tax increase on ordinary Americans. Over the medium and longer run, we get the retribution and blowback that the Chinese both stop buying American agriculture products, stop buying a bunch of the stuff that we sell, and importantly, they lower the tariffs on our competitor nations.
So, they`re doing the double whammy. And it`s just -- this isn`t thought through. If that weren`t obvious enough, just look at what the president is saying. He`s varying back and forth between this is a great idea and easy to win and turning around and saying, and, actually, we`re going to throw $10 billion, $20 billion, $40 billion of relief because in our hearts, we know we`re hurting you.
O`DONNELL: THE LAST WORD I quoted from "The New York Times" before turning to your introduction was the word "recession." Is that -- is that where this is headed?
GOOLSBEE: I think it is where this is headed. Look, for the most part, the imports and exports aren`t that big a share of the U.S. economy. So, at first glance, you say how could it lead to recession if trade isn`t that big of a share and China isn`t that big of a share of our trade?
But the answers are, number one, it keeps escalating. Number two, these are the two biggest economies in the world now throwing haymakers at each other. And number three, we`re applying tariffs -- all tariffs are terrible, but the worst tariffs of all are tariffs on things that are supplies to your own manufactured products.
And now, we`re ramping up the tariffs on steel, on aluminum, on the stuff that U.S. manufacturers need to produce their own products. So, we`re just doubly shooting ourselves in the foot. I really don`t understand why he keeps pressing.
The economy has been the strongest thing he had going for him in the polls, as you know. And that is clearly starting to weaken, and I think recession if we keep going this way, recession is absolutely what`s going to happen.
O`DONNELL: Austan Goolsbee has been right about this so far. We`re going to have to bring you back. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Austan. Really appreciate it.
GOOLSBEE: Good to see you.
And we`re joined by a senator who is a member of the Joint Economic Committee, Senator Amy Klobuchar is also a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has seen the devastating effect of the Trump tariffs on American farmers, and Senator Klobuchar is a candidate for president of the United States who hopes to be on the Democratic stage preparing to debate Donald Trump.
And if you are the Democratic nominee, it seems to me the tariffs will surely come up.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think we should be talking about it now and I have --
O`DONNELL: Here`s your chance.
KLOBUCHAR: Here`s my moment.
O`DONNELL: Everything you`ve wanted to say that you haven`t been able to get into the debates.
KLOBUCHAR: Quietly, even brought them in my Labor Day speech because I think you know that we need to have trade enforcement, and I worked on this very hard during president Obama`s administration. When we come to iron ore and re-opening our iron ore mines in Minnesota because of the steel dumping from China. We got it done because we went -- focused on that problem.
Now, what we see Donald Trump doing, he`s using basically a meat cleaver. He is going wholesale to the point where you`re starting to see the soybeans now for years mounting up in the bins. You see pork now at nine- year low for exports. You see what Austan was talking about there in terms of what effect it`s going to have on consumers, and starting this week now, we`re going to start seeing tariffs on ordinary consumer goods like clothing and shoes and things like that.
So, it`s going to affect Americans and it`s going to start hurting our manufacturing, and I don`t think it`s a surprise that we`re at $891 billion trade deficit, the worst that we`ve been at since he`s been at the helm. And you look at the chaos. Instead of going to the negotiating table with our allies, figuring out our focus and getting this done with a very tough negotiating partner, what does he do?
He goes -- just look at the last month, August 1st he says that he`s going to put out $300 billion in tariffs. August 12th, they dial it back. The next -- August 20th, they say they`re going to lower taxes. The next day they change it.
The world is watching. And what they`re seeing is chaos. And there`s an old saying with trade negotiations, keep your promises and keep your threats, and he is doing neither.
So I think it is an economic issue. He inherited an economy because of our great workers and businesses and now he`s blowing it up.
O`DONNELL: And this is entirely Donald Trump`s personal doing. The tariffs are his idea. It`s maybe the only idea he`s had as president. And then the execution of it he leaves to the USTR and others involved in it.
But this is one of those things where he can`t duck it. He`s not -- this is not any other -- this is not something that the Senate voted on or that the Republican Congress helped him do, it`s entirely his own.
KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. And when you look at what he came into, we have big challenges, we know what -- China is one of them. They`ve been vesting in places like Africa and around the world. And our goal should be to take them on as Austan was pointing out on the currency manipulation, which we`re doing some of that.
The subsidies they`re doing with the industry, the stealing of intellectual property. And the best way you do that is with your allies. If they`re going to be tariffs, they should be focused tariffs. That`s why in my first 100 days, I would review all these tariffs and figure out a negotiation that is going to work for our farmers, work for manufacturing and stop something that to me just seems like a vanity crusade that he`s on.
O`DONNELL: You represent a big agricultural state. Do you think your ability to talk about this particular issue is going to be important in the general election?
KLOBUCHAR: It is. I don`t know that every candidate has spent time sitting in farmhouses, and not just in the campaign year but for years, and seeing that change where a farmer just bursts out in tears without the media there and the door closed saying, you know what, I might be getting these subsidies right now, but that`s not what I want. This is a farm that`s been passed on to me from generations and I want to pass it on to my kids and I don`t know how I`m going to keep farming.
O`DONNELL: Have you found any Minnesota farmers who are getting a subsidy that makes them whole, that is equal to what they`d be getting in the marketplace?
KLOBUCHAR: It`s certainly not equal to what they need to keep contracts. The problem is this goes on and on and on, these contracts are going to farmers in other countries and it`s going to be very hard for them to take it back, and that`s why we need a policy, and I think, you know, we know we didn`t get some of these votes, right, in 2016. I did in 2018.
But we need to gain the trust of these farmers and bring them back as well as rural America and the people that are being hurt by this trade war.
O`DONNELL: Can you stay with us? Because I want to get your reaction to an interview that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave today, in which among other things, he complains a lot about being called Moscow Mitch, after a commercial break?
O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back with Senator Klobuchar.
O`DONNELL: After Labor Day weekend, which saw another mass murder in Texas that killed 7 and wounded 25 with an assault rifle, when Mitch McConnell was asked today about gun safety legislation, he created a new operating principle for the United States senate. This is the latest of many new McConnell rules that he has introduced as majority leader that stifle democracy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We`re in a discussion about what to do on the gun issue in the wake of these horrendous shootings. I said several weeks ago that if the president took a position on a bill, so that we knew we would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes, I`d be happy to put it on the floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: If the Senate could only debate bills that are guaranteed to pass and become a law, be signed by the president, then here`s a small sample of things that would never have become the law of the land -- Social Security, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and many, many more.
Back with us is presidential candidate and senator, Amy Klobuchar.
So how about the new McConnell rule, we have to be guaranteed that this will become a law?
KLOBUCHAR: Literally, he is giving up the power of the Senate. Not only as a counterbalance, but as you know, the Senate has sometimes passed bills including some farm bills where then the president vetoes and we override the veto. So you have that situation.
And on a topic like this where the country is crying out for action, where a recent poll showed the majority of Trump voters want to see universal background checks, which is one of the three bills sitting on Mitch McConnell`s desk, where we saw the ordinary courage of these people who just rose to the occasion, saved their babies, cops showing up in one minute in Dayton, you think what`s happened in the country in just the last few weeks. And for him to say, well, I don`t know what the president wants to do. We should put those bills up for a vote. We should pass them.
And because I sat across the table from Donald Trump after Parkland and he nine times said -- I had some hash marks on a piece of paper. That he wanted to pass universal background checks. Let him veto it then. He said he wants to do it.
O`DONNELL: "The Washington Post" in an editorial that will appear tomorrow has a list of names of mass murder victims and it`s addressed specifically to Mitch McConnell. There we see it on the screen: Do something, Mr. McConnell. The Senate must act on guns.
So, "The Washington Post" is focusing the pressure on Mitch McConnell.
KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. He puts those bills up. I just challenge my Republican colleagues to vote them down. They have already passed the House with some Republican support. So, there is absolutely no reason he can`t put them up and then put them on Donald Trump`s desk. That`s leadership.
O`DONNELL: In that same interview today, let listen to what he said about Moscow Mitch.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: It`s an effort to smear me. You know, I can laugh about things like the Grim Reaper, but calling me Moscow Mitch is over the top. It`s modern day McCarthyism.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So he`d rather be called the grim reaper?
KLOBUCHAR: I don`t know.
I think the problem here is actually my legislation, my bill with Senator Lankford that Mitch McConnell stopped, we know that, as did P Trump`s White House, stopped it from advancing for backup paper ballots. That`s what caused I think Joe Scarborough and others do --
O`DONNELL: That`s what made Joe Scarborough call him Moscow Mitch, right?
KLOBUCHAR: That`s exactly what happened. It was that bill. And also bills for social media and things we can do to protect our democracy.
O`DONNELL: A Republican senator. You had a Republican co-sponsor on this.
KLOBUCHAR: We did. Now we have several versions of that bill that would simply say to those states, there are still 11 states that don`t have full backup paper ballots, if you`re going to get federal funding, you`ve got to do this. It pushes them to do it and also requires -- allows for audits --
O`DONNELL: The distinction --
KLOBUCHAR: It`s unbelievable to me.
O`DONNELL: What he doesn`t seem to understand about McCarthyism is McCarthyism -- Joe McCarthy was accusing a lot of people falsely of doing stuff they didn`t do. Joe Scarborough was accusing him as Moscow Mitch, of doing what he said he was doing publicly. There`s a very big difference there.
KLOBUCHAR: It was very public. He does not want to see these changes. And we really look at this -- this is about our democracy. It`s a foreign power trying to invade our democracy.
I don`t care if you are a conservative Republican or a liberal Democrat. It is not American to allow that to continue. You should do everything to protect the sanctity of our elections and he knows that. He just doesn`t want to do it.
O`DONNELL: I want to ask you about something we were discussing just before the show when you told me you were on the Rare Disease Caucus.
KLOBUCHAR: I`m actually the co-chair. Yes.
O`DONNELL: Which I didn`t even know existed in the Senate. Isabel Bueso, who Rachel has been doing a great coverage on. We`ve been talking about her on this show, really trying to save her life, trying to get her story told, "New York Times" broke the story, trying to get it to the attention someone in the Trump administration who can see this for what it is.
Apparently that has happened. The Trump administration appears to be in the process of reversing their death sentence to Isabel and all of the other patients in this country who have been getting automatic two-year renewals of their right to stay here for lifesaving medical treatment.
KLOBUCHAR: What this is about, it`s about these kids, of course, and saving their lives, but it`s more than that. It`s about saving the lives of Americans as well, because with rare diseases, especially with children, you`ll have such small number of kids that have rare diseases, and to do the necessary tests for drugs or for surgeries or for trials, you have to have the children to do those trials, and sometimes they live in countries where you`re not going to be able to have a supervised medical trial in those places.
Minnesota`s the home of the Mayo Clinic, so I`ve been involved in a lot of these cases, and you just can`t do this. This is not America to send a sick kid off to die. We know that, but we also should think about what this means for us as really a medical Mecca. Our country has been a lead.
We`ve relied -- the whole world has relied on vaccines that have been developed here and we`ve relied on vaccines that have been developed in other countries, so this is something that is a world problem that we cannot be as successful of saving kids` lives that are born in America and grow up here unless we also are saving the lives of kids in other countries.
O`DONNELL: Now, you had this struggle in your own family with your own daughter, a rare disease --
O`DONNELL: And so it seems like someone in the Trump administration, whoever did this, they didn`t have any public comment on it, they just made this decision.
O`DONNELL: They sent out these letters to people, possibly not even realizing that these were death sentences.
KLOBUCHAR: I have no idea. My daughter was very sick when she was born. She couldn`t swallow. We never actually quite figured out. She got better after being fed in tubes for two years.
O`DONNELL: But you searched the country for solutions.
KLOBUCHAR: When you have gone to do (ph) this, the thought that as a president you would just sign this off and saying these kids can leave, when you have seen as I have in those intensive cares these parents who are just holding on to keep their babies alive, this is not what you do as a moral leader.
And so, one of the things that I am -- my focus in running for president is we need to have a president that you can watch on TV and not turn the volume on. We need to have a president that makes decisions based on what is right for our country and the people of this country and for the morality of this country that we`ve always been so proud of. We need to be -- have a president we can be proud of.
And at its very core, I think that`s a lot of what this campaign in 2020 is going to be about.
O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. I appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: I appreciate it.
And when we come back, the House Judiciary Committee is going to schedule public testimony about Donald Trump`s participation in what federal prosecutors in New York call a conspiracy against the United States. That is next.
O`DONNELL: Today`s "New York Times" carried former Senate staffer, Mark Schmitt`s op-ed piece about, quote, "the extreme and unprecedented corruption of Mr. Trump and his allies." And right on cue, Mr. Trump and his allies provide yet another example.
The Vice President of the United States visits Ireland and decides to sleep on the west coast of Ireland and travel all the way across the country for his meetings with Irish government officials in the Irish capital of Dublin. Fly all the way across the country for the meetings.
Normally, when the Vice President of the United States goes to Dublin, he stays in Dublin, as Joe Biden did at the Phoenix Park Hotel when he was Vice President. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the first Irish Catholic President, and he became the first President of the United States to visit Ireland, and he stayed in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.
Former President Ulysses S. Grant visited Ireland in 1879 after leaving the White House, and he stayed in the Shelbourne Hotel. Former President Bill Clinton stayed in the Shelbourne Hotel when he went to Ireland in 2010. Michelle Obama stayed in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin with her children when she was first lady.
If you glance at the display in the Shelbourne lobby about notable guests who have stayed there, it seems every movie star who has ever been to Dublin stayed at the Shelbourne at some point. But Mike Pence says he and his entourage could not stay at the Shelbourne because they needed a place big enough, quote, "to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail."
How much bigger a footprint is that than the last Vice President`s footprint? The Shelbourne has 265 rooms, but Mike Pence decided to stay at a hotel on the west coast of Ireland owned by Donald Trump that has about 40 fewer rooms.
The Vice President`s Chief of Staff told reporters that the choice of the Trump hotel was suggested by President Trump himself. That would be like the President of Ireland deciding to sleep in Princeton, New Jersey while on an official visit to Washington, D.C. Princeton, New Jersey is exactly the same distance from Washington as the Trump hotel is from Dublin, about 180 miles.
And it`s not just ridiculous. At least one constitutional scholar believes that this is illegal. Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe tweeted, "Getting Pence and team to stay at the Trump property on Ireland`s west coast and commute daily to and from the meetings on Ireland`s east coast, all to line Trump`s pocket, isn`t just a waste of tax dollars. It violates the Article II Domestic Emoluments Clause."
The Domestic Emoluments Clause of the Constitution says "The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them."
Professor Tribe argues that the income Donald Trump is receiving at his hotel from the Pence visit, which is paid by the United States Treasury, is an emolument from the United States to Donald Trump. Black`s Law Dictionary defines an emolument as "an advantage, profit, or gain received as a result of one`s employment or one`s holding of office."
Today, NBC News is reporting that the House Judiciary Committee plans to hold public hearings on President Trump`s, quote, "alleged role in hush- money payments to two women during the 2016 election, a committee aide familiar with the matter told NBC News." A committee aide said that the committee wants to, quote, "highlight a case in which they believe prosecutors would have enough evidence to charge trump with a crime if not for the Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting President."
Joining the discussion now is a Democratic Congressman, Jamie Raskin from Maryland. He`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Congressman Raskin.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Delighted to be with you.
O`DONNELL: I want to start with Professor Tribe`s view of this emoluments situation involving Mike Pence. And let`s - let`s do full disclosure for the audience that you are a former student of Professor Tribe`s at Harvard Law School. You are yourself a constitutional scholar. What do you make of the emolument intersection with Mike Pence staying at Donald Trump`s hotel in Ireland?
RASKIN: Well, this has been the original sin of the Trump presidency. They`ve been using the White House as a money-making instrument for the President and his family and his business. It`s a for-profit enterprise that they`ve got going. And Professor Tribe is right. And I say that not just because I hold him in very high regard and esteem, but the language of the Domestic Emoluments Clause is clear. You`re limited to your salary in office.
Look, before the framers wrote the Constitution, it was all monarchy. And all of the kings and princes ran their governments as money-making operations. They were trying to make as much as they could. They wanted to continue to accumulate wealth. Our framers wanted our President to be a servant of the Congress and the people who takes care that the laws are faithfully executed.
You don`t go into that in order to make money while you`re in office. You`re limited to your salary. It can`t be increased. It can`t be decreased. And you cannot take other money from the government. Every time they go to Mar-a-Lago, the Secret Service, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the White House officials going are spending 50, 75, $100,000 every weekend. And he spent one out of three days at Mar-a-Lago or another Trump property.
Imagine, Lawrence, if the Obamas, rather than spending two weeks out of the year in Martha`s Vineyard, spent four months out of the year at Martha`s Vineyard and everybody who went from the government had a stay at the Michelle and Barack Obama hotel in Martha`s Vineyard. I mean, the Republicans would be staging sit-in strikes demanding impeachment of the President for that rip-off of the taxpayers, and yet that`s what they`re trying to get everybody conditioned to that it`s OK for Trump just to take the taxpayers for a ride every weekend.
O`DONNELL: And we have the Vice President`s Chief of Staff, Marc Short, saying that it wasn`t - he`s asked, did the President ask the Vice President to stay at the property? He says it wasn`t a request, like a command, but I think it was a suggestion. So that`s a suggestion that you pay me money, that you get the United States government to pay me money for your trip to Ireland.
RASKIN: Right. Well, he is both the spender of the government`s money there and the receiver of the government`s money there, as the owner of the Trump hotel. And that`s what`s been going on at the Trump hotel in Washington, where all the foreign governments go and where they also spend a lot of U.S. government money. That`s why I call the Trump hotel the Washington emolument. It should be a stop on the tour buses where they point it out to all the tourists and explain what the emoluments clauses are all about.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, when Michael Cohen`s case became public and the indictment came out and Michael Cohen pled guilty to it, it seemed to me that what we were looking at in the federal indictment was an obvious article of impeachment because the federal indictment said that Michael Cohen committed his crimes in paying off Stormy Daniels and the other woman in order to hide their stories during the campaign as a conspiracy against the United States.
And it said that he committed those crimes at the direction of Donald Trump. And that just seemed to me right there as the strongest impeachment case I`ve ever seen, right there made by federal prosecutors. That seems to be what your committee, Judiciary Committee, is now going to bring out in public testimony.
RASKIN: Yes. It`s an open and shut case, and obviously we`ve had to wait for the other federal prosecutors to do their thing with the witnesses and the facts. And now it`s our turn. But look, it`s very clear what happened from Michael Cohen`s testimony, from the documentary evidence like the cancelled checks.
The AMI group, the "National Enquirer" newspaper, gave $150,000 to Karen McDougal as hush money for her to remain silent about her affair with the President, which she wanted to talk about. And then Donald Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen $130,000 for money that he had paid to Stephanie Clifford, Stormy Daniels, for her silence about her story about the President. These are illegal corporate contributions, illegal conduit contributions. They are contributions 30 or 40 times above the federal max, and they are also unreported contributions.
So if they were committed deliberately, which almost certainly they were, that is with consciousness of guilt and an attempt to circumvent the law, then they are felony crimes, too. So this really is a conspiracy, and the President is at the heart of the conspiracy. And of course, the Republicans impeached Bill Clinton for far less. They impeached him for telling one lie about an affair, and here we have multiple campaign finance felonies committed in pursuit of a whole series of lies about affairs.
O`DONNELL: Who was on your witness list for this testimony?
RASKIN: Well, the witness list has not been drawn up yet, but the key players are known. From AMI, Mr. Pecker, and Michael Cohen obviously was involved in this, and the recipients of the hush money payoffs. So that would be a good starting place, but there are other people who were involved in it.
O`DONNELL: Jamie Raskin - Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
RASKIN: Delighted to be with you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the Trump administration sentenced her to death by mail. And after a week of great reporting by "The New York Times" and extensive coverage by Rachel Maddow and on this program, she might now be allowed to live. She has already saved lives and she might be saving even more lives now. That story is next.
O`DONNELL: "This is amazing. This is great news to wake up to." Those are the words of someone who truly understands the concept of lucky-to-be- alive. "This is amazing. This is great news to wake up to" is what Maria Isabel Bueso said yesterday morning when she woke up in California to discover that in Washington, D.C., the Trump administration issued a statement that appears to reverse the Trump administration decision not to renew permission for her to stay in the United States, permission for people who are being treated for serious life-threatening medical conditions.
Maria Isabel Bueso`s doctor appeared on this program Friday night to repeat what he told Rachel Maddow the night before, which is that Isabel would die if she`s forced to leave this country. Isabel has a rare genetic disease and has participated, for almost 20 years now, in medical studies in the United States that have helped extend the lives of people with her illness.
One of the people who has been fighting to save Isabel`s life by allowing her to stay in the United States is her local member of Congress, Congressman Mark Desaulnier, and he joins us now. Congressman Desaulnier is a member of the House Oversight Committee where Isabel is scheduled to testify next week.
Congressman, thank you very much for joining us tonight on this important story. What is your understanding of the Trump administration turn on this? Is it official? Is it clear?
REP. MARK DESAULNIER (D-CA): Well, first off, let me thank you for your coverage. It`s been a big help. As to - as far as the clarity of it, as usual, it`s not clear to us. It`s welcome news in the right direction. I introduced a bill yesterday that would go further and make sure that the family was on permanent status here in the country.
So we`re appreciative of someone over there coming to their senses, but we`ve got a lot of work left to do, and we`d like to hold the people accountable who have done this to these families.
O`DONNELL: The notice that they put out was really just a press release saying that they will send new letters this week to everyone whose cases were pending on August 7th, and all of those people, including Isabel, got letters saying time`s up, you`re going to have to leave the country in 33 days--
O`DONNELL: --from receipt of this letter.
And then the last line of their statement simply says that they will complete the caseload that was pending on August 7th. And no one quite knows what "complete the caseload" means.
DESAULNIER: No. This is consistent with all of this. We didn`t find out about it until the family called our office asking for help. I have a copy here of the letter that Isabel, her sister, and both of her parents got. It`s a form letter. It`s not officially signed. And it`s quite frightening. So we want to get to the bottom of it.
Right now, we`re scheduled to have a hearing in the Oversight Committee that Representative Pressley and myself asked for. And we`ve got a lot of support from our colleagues. So we`re hoping to get to the bottom of it, but mostly we`re hoping that this doesn`t happen again and the people who did this are held accountable.
O`DONNELL: Well, your hearing, I think, is going to be a very important element of this story. I mean, we`re going to see Republican members of Congress have to address this at your hearing, and it`s hard to imagine any of them attempting to defend this.
DESAULNIER: Yes. Well, I`ve - yes, it is hard, but I`ve seen them try to defend this administration before where it was hard to defend. But this one in particular, I can`t imagine even a supporter - a strong supporter of the President not being ashamed of what the United States - this government has done to these individuals and to Isabel in particular. They`re terrific family. They`ve done everything de jure for (inaudible). And they`ve helped other people get an extended life, and they were invited by the federal government to come to this country.
O`DONNELL: We will be covering your hearing, looking forward to what we can learn from it. Congressman Mark Desaulnier, thank you so much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
DESAULNIER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And coming up, Hurricane Dorian has now killed at least seven people. We will talk to a survivor of the hurricane in the Bahamas next.
O`DONNELL: Breaking news, we are continuing to track Hurricane Dorian as it moves up the coast. At least seven people were killed and at least 13,000 homes destroyed in the Bahamas this weekend. Officials told "The New York Times" they believe whole towns have been wiped out by the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Bahamas.
Joining us now by phone from Freeport is Alannah Vellacott. She is a marine scientist and a lifelong resident of the Bahamas.
Alannah, what is the situation there now?
ALANNAH VELLACOTT, MARINE SCIENTIST, PERRY INSTITUTE & BAHAMAS RESIDENT (via telephone): Hi. First of all, thank you for having me on your show. At the moment, it`s pretty dark. The power is out island-wide for Grand Bahama and I`m sure for also Abaco.
O`DONNELL: And you are in an area that was less damaged than other areas of the islands?
VELLACOTT (via telephone): Yes. I was fortunate enough to be on the southern side of the island, closer towards Freeport, in the Freeport area. And the wind came mostly from the north. And so the storm surge also came from that direction. And I`m in a rock-solid apartment. Thank goodness, I lucked out on that. And we remained quite safe and comfortable throughout Hurricane Dorian.
O`DONNELL: And how are you getting just the electricity to run your phone, for example?
VELLACOTT (via telephone): Well, I have like some old laptop computers that I charged up all the way, a Bluetooth speaker that can charge my phone. We`ve just about used all of those resources. And earlier today, I was charging my phone in my car. And tomorrow, we`re probably be going to go looking for sources, people with generators, so we can recharge those batteries that we can keep our phones on.
O`DONNELL: Do you have access to any water supply?
VELLACOTT (via telephone): Yes. We have about - between us, my dad and I, about seven gallons of drinking water. We filled up the bathtub with water that we can drink as well. Fortunately, I live at a complex with a pool, and we are designating that pool water to do everything else other than drink. That`s wash dishes, that`s take a shower, clean up any messes that we need to clean, stuff like that.
O`DONNELL: What is the condition of the general water supply for the islands?
VELLACOTT (via telephone): Well, very, very soon, Mr. O`Donnell, we`re going to be needing water. The main water supply for this island is groundwater. And the well fields exist on the eastern side of the island, which was described to me because I really haven`t been outside very much as of late. And so all of our groundwater is contaminated with salt water. Some are going to need to bring in a lot of water. We`re going to need a lot of help bringing in water and also message to take the salt out of the water.
O`DONNELL: Alannah Vellacott, thank you very much for joining us. Save your battery, and we`re going to try to stay in touch with you this week. We really appreciate you joining us tonight.
VELLACOTT (via telephone): Thank you. And I urge anyone who is listening to please reach out to help Bahamians in any way that they can. Go to your Bahamian U.S. Consulate, the Bahamas Red Cross Society, and the HeadKnowles Foundation. Thank you so much for having me, Mr. O`Donnell.
O`DONNELL: Thank you for joining us.
And now, for the latest of Hurricane Dorian`s path, we turn to NBC Meteorologist Bill Karins.
BILL KARINS, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Lawrence, that really brings at home here in Atlanta (ph). I know (inaudible) desalination ships - yes. It sounds like they should start heading there to help the people too if they`re going to need water for 50,000 people on Grand Bahama Island.
So let`s get into the new advisory for the 11 o`clock. You can see the huge eye we have here. You can see the bands of rain, safely off the coast, we`ve again splashed occasionally. But again, the worst effects are offshore.
The new update, the intensity hasn`t changed. And it`s not supposed to. Its border at line almost in a major hurricane that only has to go up five miles per hour. So it`s not like we`re dealing with just a small hurricane anymore. It`s still a big, strong storm. But all the really strong winds are around that eye, which is off the coast.
So the million-dollar question. Will those strong hurricane winds ever make landfall in the U.S.?
So let`s look at the new path forecast in the National Hurricane Center. Not in the next 24 to 36 hours. It`s going to head parallel to the coast, about 100 miles offshore. Closer it`s going to get to Jacksonville will be during Wednesday, tomorrow afternoon. And then we`re going to wait for another turn.
This time it doesn`t stall. This time it`s going to be a gradual turn and then it will head northeast. If it happens late, the storm will be dangerously close to Charleston. If it happens early, it will be far and off of the coast that we`ll just get a glancing blow. But you notice, if you`re looking at a map, North Carolina just - it sticks out. That`s a reason it gets hit once every four years by a hurricane. And we easily could have, Lawrence, a Category 2 landfall as we go through Thursday night, somewhere here, Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, or the Outer Banks.
O`DONNELL: We`ll be watching. Bill Karins, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate that.
That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END